What is Rivals? It's the assertion that EA's true flagship for the core in the new generation isn't Battlefield, but Need for Speed. It's thrilling, it's beautiful, it's chaotic, and it's the best thing going on those expensive new black boxes you have. Ghost Games, the spawn of Criterion, really brought it.
Born from a Ludum Dare scenario (an updated version of which has been included in the middle of the game) and spread into a full-length game, Gods Will Be Watching is far and away the most interesting game from 2014 thus far, and it wouldn't really be a stretch to call its design "pioneering." But the true joy, above its other admirable traits, comes from the emotional trauma and frustration it inflicts on the player. Accept no substitutes.
I love it. Unrest is another indie that exposes the lie of AAA that says games need some physical skill element to be worthwhile. It gives us many layers to ponder with its narrative, wrapped in a package that feels culturally relevant even as it's firmly rooted in a past and culture that is not my own. That, my friends, is something worth experiencing.
Between MyLeague, MyGM, MyCareer and multiplayer modes like MyPark and the more tradition types — all of which have functioned admirably online, I should note, though MyPark has been less busy than I would prefer, in my experience — NBA 2K15 is as fleshed out as a sports game gets these days.
The gist of Reaper of Souls is a good experience. It's more of stuff that keeps people coming back, but you'll have to trudge through dungeons for a few hours because there's another threat to all existence Tyrael says needs your attention before you can bathe in the cleansing waters of the main attraction, which is Adventure Mode. You do what you gotta do, I guess.
But when it's working correctly, Wasteland 2 is stellar. The tactical combat is pretty standard, but challenging and only occasionally overwhelming (those are essential moments, to me). Learning to deal with everything that goes wrong as you wander the wastes is a thrill that makes it all the more satisfying when a plan actually does come together. Wasteland 2 is a Real Game, bro.
Age of Wonders III is a game that excels at almost everything it set out to do. It has well executed turn-based strategy, beautiful freedom of choice and some really interesting, but definitely tried and familiar, tactical combat. It's major flaw is the clumsiness in easing you into the experience. The game almost seems set on alienating the player from the start, but if you if you stick with it, you might find a quite rewarding gem beyond.