Phoenix Point fits firmly on the foundation of modern XCOM, but rethinks combat with an action point system and the ability to free aim. While the latter seems like a gimmick, it's actually a wonderful tactical option that pushes the strategy forward. It's a shame then that a reliance on procedural generation leads to a lack of variety, weapon balance isn't great, and the technical execution is rough. Phoenix Point is a great starting point for something amazing, but it's not quite there yet.
Need for Speed Heat is a conglomeration Need for Speeds past. A little Payback, a little Rivals, a little Hot Pursuit, a little Underground. The result is a good foundation to build upon, but weird AI issues, a lack of variety in events, and some poor tuning in cop chases mean it's not great. Maybe next gen will see Ghost Games bringing a little more real heat.
With the remake of 1998's MediEvil, Other Ocean has done great work bringing the PlayStation title in 2019. Visually, this game is a winner. The problem is the decision to keep the gameplay largely the same. MediEvil's combat is muddy and its level design lacks any sense of exploration. This needed to be a more extensive remake. As it stands, it's only for those with heavy nostalgia for the property.
In an alternate reality where modern Fallout retained the the focus on choice and role-playing, The Outer Worlds would be the result. Obsidian Entertainment delivers this small window into that alternate reality, a game that prizes picking the right skills to tackle weird and wild situations. The Outer Worlds shines in the writing, but the combat doesn't equally rise to the occasion. Likewise, the planets you visit could use a few more quests or interesting spots to explore. The Outer Worlds is still a fun romp though, something that will hopefully build to something bigger in the future.
Disco Elysium wants to get you in touch with the voices in your head. This detective RPG calls back to the old Infinity Engine games like Planescape: Torment and Baldur's Gate, but it put a unique spin on everything. With a beautiful oil painting aesthetic, it also features a system that treats your skill like additional party members, each with their own opinions on your actions. Ultimately, every lengthy run-though of Disco Elysium is about the consequences of your choices and actions, adding up to some fantastic stories. A great, surprising entry into RPG canon.
Ghost Recon Breakpoint is a game that wants to evolve, but has trouble picking a direction. There's an extensive amount of loot, but that can get in the way of player choice in terms of specific playstyle. Equipping loot to keep up your gear score is needed to fight drone enemies, but most human enemies can be killed with a headshot, making it useless at the same time. The survival system is a selling point, but it can be largely ignored. Breakpoint needed a real direction, because what's left is just Wildlands 2.0. And doing the same thing has less impact years later.
With Man of Medan, Supermassive builds on the foundation established in 2015's Until Dawn. While the core of the game remains the same, driven by dialog, choices, and quick-time events, the developers has added some multiplayer action to the mix. The two-player online Shared Story is the primary highlight here, allowing two players to simultaneously determine the course of the story. Unfortunately, the story itself isn't as good as the horror yarn spun in Until Dawn.