Tony "OUberLord" Mitera
The biggest issue with MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries is that it hits you with all of its shortcomings at once. Keep playing, though, and the game establishes itself as a fun title that's worthy of the MechWarrior moniker. Play it with friends, and it becomes even more entertaining. Dated aspects of its presentation aside, the combat remains fun mission after mission, and it continues to test you as you become more powerful. Start blowing apart enemy mechs with a small array of PPC cannons and make a few big pay days, and you'll appreciate the game for what it is.
I suspect that many players will have an uneven time with Planet Zoo. At times, it's pretty straightforward and provides the player with plenty of feedback so they can improve their zoo. Other times, the game has you digging around in areas that are unnecessarily tough to figure out, with tutorials that barely touch on the feature (if at all). The thing with Planet Zoo is that it is so charming and appealing that the fun parts outweigh the frustrating ones. It's not a perfect game in the genre, but it is one of the best ones you can play right now.
There are some issues within WRC 8, and they're not small, but the game is otherwise so good that it's easy to overlook them. For all the times your engine switches to stealth mode or a fence post sends you into low Earth orbit, there are hundreds of times when you are blissfully guiding your car into a drift around a dusty apex in Argentina, or masterfully twisting through a series of highly technical corners during heavy rain. The vehicle handling is so good — and that is so important for a rally game — that even with its flaws, WRC 8 is likely the high bar that other rally games should aspire to.
The campaign is done well, the cooperative multiplayer is challenging, and the adversarial multiplayer is arguably better than it has ever been. Perhaps most importantly, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare appeals to long-standing fans and new players alike.
As a fan of the movies and a fan of creative approaches to games, I've had my eye on John Wick Hex since the day it was announced. Its bizarre approach works satisfyingly well in the context of how John Wick would think in the same situations: risk versus reward, careful observation and planning, plays and counter-plays. It is a simple game to understand yet rewarding to attempt to master. It also makes a compelling case of how great movie-inspired games can be if developers really think outside of the box.
To its credit, there's a good amount of fun to be found within Monster Jam Steel Titans. Although the game can feel limited or repetitive, it rarely feels unpolished or incomplete. The truck controls are spot-on and feel fantastic, which is the most important landing to stick. More than anything else, the game feels like it has a limited scope, but importantly, it does well within the goals that it clearly has for itself. It's a fun game involving monster trucks, and the freestyle mode alone carries a lot of the game's entertainment, as it should.
This is what makes Fallout 76 painful: many worthwhile moments surrounded by a game with just as many nagging issues. The bare-bones plot and general lack of direction mean you must make your own fun. It's set in a largely static world that doesn't care about the choices you make, and the few times when you can impact the world may be lost to you or circumvented by others with a mere server hop. There's fun to be had if you enjoy the thought of poking around a Fallout wasteland with a friend. Otherwise, very little here feels new, and it feels like a lot of content is missing in comparison to previous games in the series.
Despite the issues, I'm really enjoying BattleTech. Get past its learning curve and get a few missions under your belt, and you begin to feel like a capable commander. The company management gives a backbone to your progression, while the mission gameplay is an enjoyably tangled web of tactical options and trade-offs. It's far from a perfect game, but it's a solidly good title that's a welcome entry in a long-overlooked franchise.
The core gameplay of the original Vermintide was an incredibly strong formula that was wrapped in a package that didn't live up to the same level of quality. The sequel, Warhammer: Vermintide 2, has clearly taken what was learned from that game to heart and delivered an awfully gleeful gameplay loop. Hop into a match, lop off a few heads, gain experience and gear, and next time, lop off stouter heads while carrying a couple of grims. Vermintide 2 is exemplary of what the genre can become, and it's an especially great reason to grab some friends, sit down, and slay a few thousand foes.