Whether or not you consider The Last of Us Part II to be a worthwhile continuation of Joel and Ellie's story, there's no doubt that Naughty Dog has crafted a sequel that's every bit as ambitious and well-considered as the original, with quite possibly the best stealth-action gameplay realized to date.
On a superficial level, Predator: Hunting Grounds succeeds at translating elements of the original 1987 movie into a four-on-one multiplayer game, and the matchups are occasionally tense and thrilling. But shoddy game balance, sloppy design, frequent bugs, and significant technical shortcomings squander most of the potential.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare does a lot right from a gameplay standpoint—at least as far as campaign and multiplayer are concerned. But a confused story that simultaneously has too much and too little to say about war makes it a poor successor to the legacy of Call of Duty 4.
The Outer Worlds is an impressive spiritual successor to Obsidian's work on Fallout: New Vegas, mixing familiar design elements and the same zany attitude with an imaginative new universe and even deeper role-playing. While you can breeze through the main questline a bit quicker than in similar games, this is the sort of RPG experience you'll want to play through multiple times, with multiple builds, to see all the systems and narrative paths on offer.
Concrete Genie's painting tech impresses at first and its heart is certainly in the right place, but the game ultimately proves too aimless to support its already brief running time. Adorning the city in landscapes of your own creation quickly loses its luster as you realize that what you create lacks meaningful interactivity. Even the jarring addition of combat midway through doesn't do much to counter the sense that Pixelopus couldn't find a way to build out a full game around a simple gameplay idea.
Telling Lies may borrow its core mechanic from Her Story, but shifting from monologues to two-sided conversations brilliantly expands the investigative gameplay, and a pivot from murder mystery to political thriller gives director Sam Barlow a much richer set of ideas to explore. A few storytelling hiccups and awkward edges do little to detract from a thought-provoking look at the modern surveillance state—delivered not through soapbox lecture but by forcing you, unsettlingly, to participate.
Derivative and beset by astounding technical problems, Days Gone is a rare misfire among Sony's first-party efforts. While the core fantasy of surviving in a world overrun with infected occasionally shines through, Bend Studio doesn't deliver nearly enough compelling moments to justify the long slog it takes to see this mediocre story through to its end.
Fire may have rained from the skies and wiped out entire nations, but the action in Far Cry New Dawn is pretty much the same as it ever was, only less so. A few interesting new tweaks to the series' formula are overshadowed by a cut-rate campaign, a story that gets colossally dumb in the third act, and a resource system that feels both unbalanced and pointless.
Spider-Man's three-part DLC, The City That Never Sleeps, feels a bit like it's trying to have it both ways by telling a story set after the main game without changing up too much for the sake of anyone who might not play it. It might not be entirely fair to complain that an add-on doesn't feel like a true next chapter, and the gameplay certainly remains satisfying and tacks on some welcome challenge, but the full package is an unquestionable letdown after the soaring heights of the original campaign.
Forza Horizon 4 delivers another standout racing experience with plenty of cars, races, and charm, but the way the game implements its much touted seasons feels unnecessarily restrictive and takes away from what would otherwise be a neat addition.
Donut County isn't really bad at what it sets out to do, but its ambitions are so meager that you can't help but feel the concept hasn't been explored to the fullest extent. This is indie game design at its most disposable. I'd be shocked if anyone is still talking about—or even remembers—Donut County a year or two from now.
Marvel's Spider-Man mixes the prestige ambitions of a Sony exclusive with the hyperkinetic fun of a great superhero game. It's not a pairing you'd expect to work, but it mostly does here, though some aspects of the open-world design, like repetitive side content, let down the overall package.
The Crew 2‘s digital recreation of American remains as inviting as it was in the first game, and the diverse event types and new air and water vehicles mix things up in a good way. Eventually, however, the aggressively grindy loop of replaying races to upgrade your vehicles will leave you feeling like a theme park custodian: You're surrounded by attractions that should be such fun, yet you're stuck doing mindless chores instead.
While the new content in The Frozen Wilds is on par with the rest of Horizon Zero Dawn, it's hardly a must-play expansion. The story tells us little we didn't already know, and the new weapons and quests feel like more of the same.
That Danger Zone's core design works is unsurprising, given that it's been borrowed wholesale from a different series, but Three Fields has done little to build out the concept into anything worthy of a full game. You'll enjoy what's here well enough, but don't expect it to last very long—or to dazzle much beyond the explosions and sparks.
What Remains of Edith Finch masterfully shows that narrative-driven games can tell stories in creative ways without sacrificing gameplay. Ultimately, though, the experience is let down by the story itself, which doesn't do much of anything interesting with its characters or subject matter.