- XCOM: Enemy Within
- Fallout 4
- FTL: Faster Than Light
The world, exploration, crafting, atmosphere, and story of Fallout 4 are all key parts of this hugely successful sandbox role-playing game. Great new reasons to obsessively gather and hoard relics of happier times, strong companions, and sympathetic villains driving tough decisions make it an adventure I'll definitely replay and revisit. Even the technical shakiness that crops up here and there can't even begin to slow down its momentum.
Civilization VI will go down in history as the most fully-featured launch version in the series. Many of those are smartly revamped versions of Civ classics, buy it finds its own identity with great new ideas like spread-out cities, customizeable governments, research boosts, and leader agendas. And even though the AI has some improving to do, it can put up enough of a fight to make world domination a challenge.
With a focus on variety and replayability, this sequel has an answer to most of my complaints about 2012's excellent XCOM: Enemy Unknown, and aside from some mostly cosmetic bugs, it comes together brilliantly. Thanks to a new spin on the same great tactical combat, plus unpredictable maps and randomized objectives and loot, XCOM 2 is an amazing game I'll easily put hundreds of hours into.
Darkest Dungeon is a grim and merciless tactical strategy game whose great tension comes from its many layers of complexity, unpredictable randomization, and willingness to put our fragile characters in mortal danger if we dare to venture into its depths in search of treasure and glory. Brilliant narration and stiff yet surprisingly expressive animation make it easy to be drawn into its vague but tantalizing world, though the end feels artificially out of reach.
Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus is a fantastic single-player shooter, but what really got me invested was the brilliantly written characters and the performances of its cast. BJ and his crew are full of spirit and personality, and General Engel is as memorable a nemesis as you're likely to find in games. Machine Games has once again turned the well-worn act of mowing down Nazis into something to get excited about.