The enormity of PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds' success will have surprised even its developers. This is a shooter that didn't invent the Battle Royale genre in gaming, but which certainly perfected it to the point that it found a massive, massive audience. With more than 30 million copies sold, PUBG is a bona fide phenomenon with an influence that will be felt in the industry for years to come.
Bluepoint Games has masterfully given new life to a masterpiece of the genre, making their Shadow of the Colossus feel in many ways like the definitive version. Porting and remaking the games of others isn't as trying as making something new, but doing so does come with significant pressure that Bluepoint have made their name dealing with. However, the studio's work wouldn't have been possible without the initial, groundbreaking efforts of Team Ico.Shadow of the Colossus is an adventure that's still every bit as breathtaking and astounding as it was over a decade ago.
Call of Duty: WW2 is for the most part exactly what you expect it to be. Sledgehammer Games has made a solid entry in an annualised series that rarely disappoints, which treats its subject matter surprisingly well. Its few surprises are to be found mostly in the campaign between the moments of cheap spectacle, when it successfully recaptures exactly why World War 2 shooters were so popular and prevalent over a decade ago. The multiplayer is the simplest definition of an online shooter, with few thrills, but it's essentially exactly what fans have been asking for.
With Battlefront 2, DICE has done everything to please Star Wars fans short of bending space and time so they can experience the original film's 1977 release as excitable ten-year-olds. There are problems, but the biggest are the fault of EA; a publisher publicly, frantically figuring out how to run a game as a live service, and which crossed a line now well-defined by its mistakes.
Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus's story is a rich tapestry of violence, wild ideas and memorable characters, but when its excellent cutscenes end, its play struggles to reach the same heights. Mowing down Nazis is always a blast, but often those moments are undercut by the encumbrance of a counter-intuitive health system. New Colossus hosts some exceptional storytelling and unforgettable moments, but underneath all that is a shooter that never really excels.
Nintendo proves once again why it is the very best at what it does, with the Super Mario game players have waited 15 years for. Rooted in an wonderfully absurd design idea, Odyssey is a glorious and jubilant adventure for all that, like its plump hero, revels in the freedom to explore, experiment and play.
MercurySteam takes no time at all proving it is the perfect fit for a series overdue a resurgence. Another studio may have recreated Metroid as it was, but the Castlevania veterans modernise the Nintendo franchise with new abilities, freer movement, quality animations and lush alien design brimming with mystery and the unknown.If this remake was a test to see if there's life yet in the franchise, it passes with flying colours, only let down by a lack of the memorable boss encounters the series is known for. Maybe in a sequel the MercurySteam team could address this. They've certainly earned the right to try.
Nothing about Mario Rabbids should work. It's enough of a shock that Ubisoft Milan managed to bring together these two worlds so well, then it successfully makes its cast the stars of a genre none of them has ever been near. Robust in how it plays and confident in its presentation, Kingdom Battle is exactly the kind of bold and fun exclusive Switch needed in its first year.
Dontnod's first season of Life is Strange is a wonderful work, and one of the finest episodic adventure games of its kind. That's a lot to live up to, but Deck Nine does a top job recreating what fans love about the series while setting up a new story to be told about a pair of young women bound by new, exciting feelings and a shared distrust of the world around them.
The Lost Legacy is both Naughty Dog's fun farewell to the Uncharted franchise, and a pitch for where it could go next. The smaller scale works for such swashbuckling adventures, and its more open-plan design shows how the series should evolve. Early promise falters around the halfway point due to some noticeable shifts in what the player is able to do in any given space, but it quickly ramps up again to a spectacular finale. The game also serves as a reminder of how strong the supporting cast of these games has been. Chloe makes for a fine hero, and Nadine would have been as well. Perhaps they'll get a chance to return one day.
What Remains of Edith Finch is an astonishing patchwork of inventive ideas rich in unforgettable moments. This is interactive storytelling in its truest form. A narrative adventure game that serves as another nail in the coffin of the reductive and derogatory term 'walking simulator', imbued with the ideas of a talented team working at the peak of its powers. This is a game that needs to be played. It's an essential new text in the history of video game storytelling.
It's quite literally everything the first game was and more, which might not mean more revolutionary features but does mean a greater depth and variety of options for the new players it is sure to ensnare. With free updates promised for the best part of a year, the game will only improve, and this time it'll have the audience it deserves.
Tokyo 42 has been sold on the strong, vivid visual design of its world, but how player's view it is at the root of the game's biggest faults when it comes to play. The isometric angles and transitions between them often hinder smooth movement and a player's understanding of where they are in the world.When the game comes together as intended, it serves up inventive missions with the thrills to match its obvious influences, but those moments are broken up too frequently by frustrating design choices.
Rime is a beautiful ode to life, loss and childhood that's as much a pleasure to behold as it is to play. Genteel puzzling and exploration make for great bedfellows in a memorable adventure only let down ever so slightly by some minimal frame rate stutter and a final act that while emotionally resonant provides little challenge or escalation in terms of gameplay. Nearly four years on from its much-hyped debut, Rime proves itself to be have been absolutely worth the wait.
Little Nightmares is the kind of horror game we don't see often enough, one that doesn't shock with fountains of viscera but crawls under the skin. Its flavour of terror is unnerving, burrowing its way deep inside you to nest and feed. Its story is one of hope, innocence and corruption that plays, often sadly, to contemporary fears. Issues with its presentation rob it of the same classic status as Inside, but if you're in the market for a slice of horror rich in artistry and carnal dread, Tarsier Studios have crafted a must-have.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe takes the best game in the series and improves it. It looks better, plays better, the soundtrack remains an utter joy and the inclusion of a fully-featured and fiendishly fun Battle Mode is the cherry on top. This is the best Mario Kart game ever, and it's hard to see exactly how Nintendo will ever be able to improve upon it.
Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series gets off to a good start with a story that intrigues about a set of characters all too familiar. How closely the game looks to the recent movie and upcoming sequel for its tone, characters and design is to some degree understandable, but also seems like a missed opportunity – at least this early on. As ever with a Telltale series there's potential going forward, but if the Guardians are to strike out on their own in video games, they need to play something new. At the moment, they're a bit like a covers band.
Snake Pass is designed for 20 to 30 minute bursts, getting a little frustrated during that time but revelling in the satisfaction of completing a climb and finding a new trinket for the pile. It has issues with its structure and pacing, but not at all with the artistry of its mechanics or audio-visual design. Given life by David Wise's laid back, fun and thoroughly-hummable score, Noodle's world is rich, vibrant and a joy to slither around.