Tony "OUberLord" Mitera
Espire 1: VR Operative is not a mechanically perfect game. Sometimes, the controls can feel a little clumsy in the way that many VR games tend to do, and I wish you could find more handgun ammo to make that class of weapons more useful. With so many VR titles that feel like glorified tech demos Espire 1: VR Operative has some real meat to it, and for most of your time in the game, you will feel like some sort of shadowy, robotic badass. Use all of the mobility and stealth at your disposal, and you will find that Espire 1 sets a pretty high bar for what a VR game can be.
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.