Rainbow Six Siege is the finest shooter of the year. Its systems combine to create a game that's immediately tense and feels several steps beyond what we've come to expect from yearly Call of Duty iterations. AAA games aren't usually this bold, but in this case the gamble has paid off. Rainbow Six Siege is sublime.
It's a testament to the quality of XCOM 2 that despite performance hiccups on a mid-range PC I have been unable to put it down. It's at once radically different and reassuringly familiar, improving what needed to be improved and refining what needed to be refined without losing the core appeal of the series. XCOM has once again proven itself to be the strategy king.
Overwatch is a great package: fun, accessible and extremely well-made. It's a shooter as much for those pledge their lives to online play, as those chiefly interested in the occasional fun foray. It's an instant classic that, with the kind of good post-launch support Blizzard is known for, could prove the go-to shooter for an entire generation of gamers.
If you loved the original Mirror's Edge, or enjoy the concept of free-running around a beautiful city without the fear of falling off a skyscraper or crotching yourself on a railing, Catalyst is most definitely right up your alley. As an open world adventure game however, it has some way to go. There are too many elements in the mix, and not all of them pan out.
Batman - The Telltale Series doesn't reinvent the wheel and it has plenty of confusing design choices, but in giving it the Telltale treatment, the studio have made a fascinating adventure game and a unique portrayal of the Dark Knight that, if the rest of the series can live up to it, might stand the test of time.
Deus Ex: Mankind Divided doesn't reinvent the wheel, nor does it need to. Compelling, tightly paced and most importantly, fun to play, Mankind Divided has created an exquisitely detailed world and now it wants to turn you loose in it. A stronger contender for Game of the Year in a year already filled with great games, what are you waiting for?
RIGS is suffering from a content deficit and made me feel sick every time I've played it, but as a competitive game it's compelling, albeit frequently frustrating. It's a bold step towards the sort of content VR needs, even if it falters in its execution.
Battlefield 1 is a bold reinvention of the Battlefield series, proving not only that DICE aren't afraid to move in brave new directions, but also that they have a genuine understanding of what makes a Battlefield game really tick. Series veterans will feel immediately at home in the multiplayer, while those scared by the online battlefields will find the campaign, while short, provides a great diversion and a good way to ease yourself into the chaotic world of Battlefield.
EVE Valkyrie is a simple game, but keeping the scope small has allowed CCP to achieve something special. This is the space dogfighting game, and I can't imagine playing another space combat game now I've experienced Valkyrie. The microtransactions are a particularly gross negative from CCP, but it's the only misstep in a near flawless dance.
I was expecting Watch Dogs 2 to be more enjoyable than its predecessor, but I didn't expect it to be so well designed and full of heart. Watch Dogs 2 isn't reinventing the open-world game and fans of Ubisoft's special brand of go-places-and-pick-things-up gameplay will feel right at home, but it's one of the best examples the genre has to offer – as long as you don't want to shoot anything.
Sniper Elite 4 is a good game by many metrics, and is the best in the series so far. It's a good shooter, a good stealth game and has exceptional shooting mechanics, but as a whole it's rarely exceptional. It's one of the better stealth games of the last few years, with several distinctive ideas combined to create a tense game that, while not all that much bigger in scope than its predecessor, feels bolder and more interesting.
Halo Wars 2 isn't a bad game, but compared to the wealth of excellent strategy games we've been spoilt by over the last few years, it feels positively ordinary. Exceptionally well-handled Halo fan service obfuscates a mediocre game that doesn't really have any new ideas. Fans of the franchise will appreciate what is here, but RTS buffs will be better served elsewhere.
Horizon: Zero Dawn is a stellar open world game. Guerrilla has crafted a magnificent and utterly gorgeous adventure game with surprising depth that rewards player skill and will more than likely prove to be PS4's next major action franchise. It's just a shame the game's open world is so desperate to validate its own existence that it never lets you truly enjoy the thrill of the hunt.
Ghost Recon Wildlands delivers on the promise of a special operations sandbox, but its version of Bolivia is toothless, with its vivid colours and bright ideas coming together to create just a bland grey. The stealth gameplay is satisfying, and co-op gives the game more tactical depth than might first seem apparent, but technical issues and mediocre AI teammates and enemies lead to a performance that's more "meh" than "yeah!", and it's unlikely you'll hear anyone talking about Wildlands a month from now.
Its flaws are legion, but I can't begrudge the game when it's so much fun to play. The single player is shallow nonsense, but the game pulls it back in multiplayer, and Warhammer fans will struggle not to smile when everything whirrs into explosive motion.
Dead Cells could be the most surprising success of the year. Coming into the crowded Metroidvania genre was a bold move, but one that seems to have paid off as Dead Cells has delivered the best example of the genre in years. The game is deep and rewards exploration, with exceptional combat and so much content it's honestly a little intimidating.
Scoring Strange Brigade was a tough proposition. When the game works and you're in the thick of combat with friends fighting alongside you, it sings. However, there are moments when it doesn't quite come together, and the adventuring feels like an asinine dawdle through a variety of pretty locations. However, it's key to state that these are incredibly pretty locations.
Marvel's Spider-Man has a surprising amount to say for itself and continues Sony's run of best-in-show first party exclusives. Comic book fans will fall in love with Insomniac's loving rendition of the webhead's Manhattan, but fans expecting the next God of War might find themselves a little disappointed.