It feels exactly the way a Warhammer-themed Total War game should feel, and creates tons of dramatic battles and storylines over the course of each campaign. But to reliably generate all that excitement and tension, it secretly disconnects many of the strategic systems that hold good Total War games together.
Tharsis can never stop reminding you that you don't have control over its interstellar disaster, just the illusion of it. Every time I watched my ship fall apart, and every time I watched new events propagate across the ship that were completely impossible to stop, I felt like, win-or-lose, Tharsis was having all the fun.
When I started playing Thea: The Awakening, I was excited for its possibilities. I'd love to play the game that I thought, in those early hours, that I was playing. If the card battle system were better and less predictable, if there was more stuff to do with your village and a greater tension between exploration and protecting your home, if failure weren't quite so punishing or random at times… Thea breaks the mold by doing a lot of different things at once. It just needs to do all of them better.
Legacy of the Void is the most fun I've had with StarCraft 2, perhaps because it's more mellow, and more generous with players who don't want to focus entirely on the elite competitive experience. It's a challenging RTS when you want one, but it also lets you have fun stomping AI with friends and trying out new toys. Legacy remembers that it's a game as much as it is an esport.
The use of different classes and the evocation of the Warhammer setting is enough to make Vermintide a competent twist on the Left 4 Dead formula, but it doesn't execute them well enough to live up to its inspiration. Even at its best, Vermintide's co-op horde mode lacks a sense of suspense, and its addictive loot chase can't fully replace that. As I'm sure any Skaven would tell you, there are better things than being a rat in a maze.
I enjoy a lot of things about Act of Aggression: the bloody, orgiastic spectacle of it. The tactical combat that puts a premium on winning the battle for map vision and positioning. The nuanced faction differences. But Act of Aggression is also a game that obscures information rather than reveals it, and attempts to bewilder you with a million minor choices rather than a few clear-cut strategic decisions. In sharp contrast to Eugen's previous work, my first enemy is always the game itself.