If you are new to Forza Horizon's Hot Wheels expansions, you’ll likely have a blast with the latest one. It's once again a nice change of pace from the main game – with cars reaching all-new top speeds. For returning players, you can go into this paid DLC knowing what to expect, although it may not be quite as thrilling as the first time for some veterans. At the same time, you could say the Hot Wheels expansion for the Forza Horizon series has now been fully realised thanks to the power of Xbox Series X|S. It’s got us excited to see what’s next for the fifth entry in terms of future expansion content. So go on, get out there and burn some rubber.
Even if you’ve been looting and shooting in the Borderlands for the past decade, Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands is still well worth a look. It’s got fantastic and addictive gameplay, the pacing feels quite good as well, and there are enough new features, enemies, and bosses that will keep you and your friends coming back for more adventures. Tina's fantasy spin-off proves it's more than worthy alongside the mainline entries.
In most cases though, you should know what you’re signing up for here – this is an addictive but challenging 2.5D skateboarding game. The story and characters gel the colourful levels together, and the avatar customisation and unlocks add personality. One other thing that will keep you coming back is post-codes – these generate levels for you to play on, and you can share them with other players. Simply put, OlliOlli's newest entry is god-tier, and places it up there with the best skateboarding games on the market.
Forza Horizon 5 is an amazing game, don’t get us wrong – if you’re a newcomer to the series you’ll likely have a blast, assuming you like car games. Returning fans though can expect a similar experience to past entries. For some, that’s where driver fatigue may very well set in. After five games, at this point, you could argue the series is no longer doing enough to protect its crown as the top open-world racer. It’s the same process of going to a festival, unlocking cars, racing a lot, levelling up and repeating the whole cycle. And the new additions - such as the EventLab - are more reliant on community efforts. It is mostly a flawless experience, but the lack of evolution is how other franchises like Need for Speed fell behind in the first place.
Whether it eventually comes to Xbox consoles or not, Age of Empires IV is still well worth a look if you've got access to Game Pass on PC, as it's a "Day One" title. If you're a long-time fan of the series, this is like the return of an old friend, and what's available at launch are the foundations to make this particular entry even better in years to come – with new content and updates (including mod support, arriving in 2022). This is easily one of the best Microsoft game releases of the year, and one that reminds us why we fell in love with the RTS genre in the first place.
If you are a long time D&D player or have played any fantasy action brawlers in the past, you’ll likely enjoy this game – either with friends, or even if you go for the more challenging route of playing alone. It certainly doesn't revolutionise the genre, but considering it’s available on Game Pass at launch, there’s no reason not to give it a go. There’s also some free DLC and a paid expansion on the way, giving Dark Alliance a chance to level up in the future.
Although the Ninja Gaiden: Master Collection could have been much more, the three games included run better than ever and should still be satisfying enough for returning fans. The bloody and brutal gameplay is just as exhilarating and will keep you coming back for more, and the collection is a great way for newer audiences to learn about Ryu Hayabusa's history.
The Banner Saga 2 expands on the series' existing foundations with more of the same. There's no drastic overhaul to the text-based elements or battle segments, and similar systems are in place when it comes to managing your caravan party, fighting enemies, and talking your way out of a tight spot. If you've played the original, you'll know exactly what to expect. Subtle refinements make this a sequel that truly lives up to the standards of the first entry, however, paving the way for the final chapter.
From the beginning, this series has very much been about the journey to the destination in both a literal and figurative sense, and now we've arrived at the end, it's clear that this was the strongest point all along. The development of characters and the gradual progression of the story naturally have less emphasis this time around, as this is the end of the saga, but what you do get is multiple endings with fitting outcomes. Now all that's left is for you to decide whether or not this game and series are for you, much like the many choices present within the games themselves.
Holy Potatoes! A Weapon Shop?! isn't anything we haven't already seen before. Forging and selling weapons is fun once you get into the rhythm of it, and there's plenty within the potato world to work towards. This is a game that can be played for a few minutes or hours per day, depending on how much you enjoy the genre. What's frustrating is how this title has been adapted to the Switch. It's got a clunky user interface that doesn't really feel compatible with the Joy-Cons and even if you opt with the screen by itself as a touchpad it still feels difficult to complete the most basic of tasks. All up, this makes it the hardest version of the game to play. Overlooking these problems, it's still worth checking out if you're looking for a game of this type and one with plenty of humour - it's just far from spud-tacular.
There's nothing particularly revolutionary about Bomb Chicken, it's enjoyable predominantly because of its classic approach and how refined each aspect of the game is including the core bomb-laying mechanic. Each level is intelligently designed and has a great sense of flow. The puzzles and enemies are fair but challenging and the controls are precise and responsive. Unlike fast food, this isn't a cheap, quick and nasty solution that will leave you regretting your purchase - this is a blast.
SpiritSphere DX is possibly the closest we may ever get to a tennis game based on The Legend of Zelda series. In fact, in contrast to similar offerings currently available on the Switch eShop, this is a good budget pick. It's got a small but challenging campaign mode with three difficulties, an adequate amount of local multiplayer content for up to four players and does a sound job channeling the spirit of retro games.
Replace the blood and brutality of Super Meat Boy with paint, add invisible levels and marginally tone down the difficulty, and what you have is INK. The practical use of the featured art style is a novel idea, but somehow the title still lacks a distinctive sense of character - even with all the vivid colours on display. What's left is a streamlined but more basic fast-paced platform game that does a competent job recreating the same types of experiences we've seen in the past, requiring twitch-like reflexes and pinpoint accuracy.
Super Sportmatchen deserves some praise for including online leaderboards to help prolong the replay value of the individual experience. A lot of games of this calibre fail to add this feature. Competing against the A.I. will definitely get old, fast, so this is a great way to sustain interest. For some, this still might not be enough. The main contest here is the local multiplayer. Provided you have friends or family around, this is another one of those titles that is fun for brief sessions in between more prominent multiplayer titles.
White Night does serve up some scares and a few twists along the way, however, there's nothing particularly different about what this title has to offer over only a handful of hours, even with consideration of the black and white film noir aesthetics including the special mechanics built around it. Despite its eagerness to run with clichés, it at least sticks with its style through to the end and does everything competently enough to make it a satisfactory experience for anyone looking for a colourless curio.
If you happen to love Norse mythology or epic fantasy stories full of consequence and deft storytelling, then look no further than The Banner Saga. This is a beautifully crafted game that uses its intriguing cast, gripping tale and absolutely stunning artwork and soundtrack to transport you to a world filled with plenty of danger and surprises. The turn-based strategic battles might not be equally as thrilling to everyone who plays this, and the interface in this part of the game can be a bit clunky at times, but this doesn't detract too much from the collective offering.
The Adventures of Elena Temple does a solid job recreating a certain era of platform gaming, despite minor problems linked to level design. What's unfortunate is how more time, effort and focus seems to have gone into the fictional history of the game and the machines it can be played on for the sake of nostalgia, rather than the gameplay. It's nice there is reasoning behind the visual filters, but this and the silly story comes across as overbearing when the actual gameplay perfectly captures the feeling of nostalgia. It's a pity the developer didn't just release the game in its rawest form, cutting out the excess trimmings and adding in more playable content.
Wizard of Legend has some novel concepts. Being able to swap and mix spells to create a seemingly unlimited amount of combinations keeps the action fresh and encourages you to experiment on each run. What's also likable about this game is how polished the entire package appears to be. It's these aspects that make it more favourable than the average offerings that frequently pop up on the Switch. If you are looking for yet another dungeon crawler with rogue-like elements, Wizard of Legend is a step above the competition.