If there's a sticking point to Returnal, it's that it's a big PS5 exclusive that is most definitely not for everyone. It's next-gen beautiful all the way, but if you've never played a game like this before, even all that beauty and amazing design might not be worth the sense of dejection you might feel as the body count starts mounting. Returnal and other games like it will force newer players to ask questions about what kind of games they want to experience. It takes a little bit of weird thinking to relish the prospect of repeated punishment. I recommend it, just for the experience of it. If you're part of that wider audience who wants to give a next-gen roguelike a shot, then be prepared for an awakening. And another one. And … another one.
I could delve into more, but I'd just be filling space at this point. I did have some nuggets of fun with Werewolf: The Apocalypse – Earthblood, but there's too much I can't ignore to recommend it to anyone, especially with the dawn of next-gen systems and titles that execute their concepts much better and simply look like what current games should be.
The 2016 Hitman was one of my favorite games of the year, and the same could be said for the follow-up. As I said before, it truly made assassination a game, and an extremely replayable one at that. Hitman III is an excellent third act, and it will probably stay as one of the more fun titles you can have in your early PS5 library.
Fans of the franchise and many gamers of a certain age, especially those who have a next-gen console in the hopper, will still find enough to like in Call of Duty: Black Ops - Cold War. I personally still replay the mission with the arcade shootout just to get a little '80s cheeseball energy going, but I think the strategy of overwhelming people with as much content and as many shooter modes as possible might be starting to wear thin. We're not there quite yet, but I'm hoping the next Black Ops might have just a bit more than poking at my childhood memories of a culturally iconic president.
My only real gripe about Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales is that I wish there were more of it. Miles and the rest of his circle are absolutely capable of being compelling enough to carry a game for twice the length. I just like this kid, and I think a lot of other people will, too.
While NBA 2K21 is clearly different from its predecessor in several ways, I can't say it's significantly better than what we saw last season. The game still looks fantastic, the commentary is still top-notch, and many of the same battles you might have had with the previous edition are still there, like whether you want to spend so much virtual and real money. If you don't have any basketball games in your library and want to change that, then by all means, this is as good as it can possibly get.
Neversong is one of those games that feels like an impactful and interactive art piece rather than the kind of title you envelop yourself in for hours and hours at a time. As with many indie projects, you can tell it was crafted with great care and a message that doesn't need a lot of time to register. I enjoyed it and would recommend it to anyone looking for a little dark adventure.
Huntdown has been out for a while, but it's a good, silly tonic for players looking for a nice distraction from all of the heavy and involved open-world adventuring out there. It'll scratch most of your action itches and, if you're a certain age like me, it'll bring back a few memories of a bygone era. It's not the worst thing to think about.
Considering that this could be the closest thing we see to "normal" football for a long time, Madden NFL 21 works. However, I can't shake the feeling that more could be done. Some things feel practically untouched. The create-a-player faces are still weird. Why can there be such a discrepancy in head sizes? Why can't I seem to port over the player I created in Face of the Franchise into a regular roster or at least have him available in regular create-a-player? The array of quarterback throwing motions still seems limited, and it pales in comparison to the way players in other sports games are so heavily signaturized. I still feel there's plenty of work to be done with this franchise, and that so-called "next level" we keep looking for can be reached. For now, I might tighten up my Yard skills, see what new decisions I can make in a new career mode, and beef up on my RPO mastery while I hope for more in next year's Madden outing.
Even after achieving "G.O.A.T." status, I have a hard time peeling away from UFC 4. After hours and hours of play, I still feel like there's a lot more to learn about the fighting systems and all the moves that can branch out from each ground position. It's addicting to tinker around with it or map out a new career for another created fighter, messing around with building (or burning) bridges with either fighters to see how his or her path maps out. Whether you want a little action distraction or want to get lost in what the MMA world has to offer, UFC 4 has it. Just remember to apologize to your training partners in advance.