- No Man's Sky
- Horizon Zero Dawn
RIDE 4 is the motorcycle racer for motorcycle fans. This is a double-edged sword, of course, because outside of this core audience there won't be much pickup from non-fans. The demanding physics helps to achieve great immersion in first-person view, custom liveries can easily be crafted, and the career mode gives a nice sense of progression, even if it is very low-profile. This all adds up to a neat package that fans are sure to enjoy.
WRC 9 continues to give the Dirt series a run for its money. This year saw a safe update to the series, with extra content being the main new feature. If you enjoyed WRC 8, picking up WRC 9 is a no-brainer. If you skipped out on last year's entry, however, it can be had for a cheaper price these days, and by the time you've seen all that game has to offer, WRC 9 will then be an even better deal. This is the off-roading game to play while we await DiRT 5 later this year, when the competition should really get interesting.
Project CARS 3 represents a huge shift in Slightly Mad Studios' attitude towards racing games. I suppose this means the studio lives up to their name! What Project CARS 3 lacks in realism, it now makes up for with accessibility. However, lacking the flair of other established racers in this arcade-sim genre such as The Crew 2 or Need for Speed will make it a tougher sell. Still, there are a couple hundred new events to try, with hundreds of cars to tweak, upgrade, and drive. So, if Project CARS is to continue down this path of more friendly racing, then they are on the right track, but whether their regular fans will be along for the ride is another question entirely.
PGA Tour 2K21 appears to be taking the series in a good direction, with a larger PGA license to boot. The presentation may be lacking, but the feel of the game is spot-on. Tuning up the graphics, expanding the license to include more pros, caddies, and the like, and filling out the commentary will really help to sell the immersion that games such as this rely on. Despite the issues present in the game, PGA Tour 2K21 is a solid golf game for fans of the sport.
Hellpoint is a sci-fi Souls-like with one killer feature: local split screen co-op. The rest of the game lacks the polish of its obvious sources of inspiration, and ultimately the technical issues including a wildly inconsistent frame rate, hit detection problems, and interface glitches hold Hellpoint back from achieving more. But if you're looking for a Souls-like hit that you can take with a friend, you may want to check out Hellpoint, albeit with tempered expectations.
Project Warlock is a fun, affordable ($14.99 USD) homage to a bygone era of first-person shooters that did not hold your hand and only allowed you to progress after you earned it. Fast-paced gameplay, tight, secret-filled levels, a fitting soundtrack, and sprite-based graphics all add up to a game that feels ripped from another era, while introducing a few ideas of its own to keep things fresh. Some balancing issues and an occasionally-glitchy weapon wheel hardly detract from what is ultimately a modern blast from the past.
Trials of Mana is an escape from reality many of us can use these days. The plot is easy to follow, generally lighthearted, and as mentioned combat is about as easy as it comes. The beginning eight hours or so are very slow-paced, but once the first chapter is cleared, things really pick up. The graphical overhaul leaves a bit to be desired, but the audio work makes up for this, even with the occasionally cheesy dialogue or overdone acting. While RPGs have come a long way since the '90s, Trials of Mana stays true to its roots as a game most everyone can enjoy.
MotoGP 20 represents an iterative upgrade over last year's entry. Fans who skipped MotoGP 19 should definitely pick up this year's release. The challenge is there for those who want it and taking care of the business side of being a professional rider can be its own reward. Taking a no-handholding approach will no doubt turn off new fans of the sport, but difficulty sliders help to ensure all but the most incompetent leaners will see a podium finish. There may not be many choices when it comes to MotoGP simulations, but thankfully what is here is choice.