Shovel Knight is a loving homage to an era we left behind long ago. The graphics, gameplay, and soundtrack are all pitch-perfect for an NES game... all you're missing is the original cartridge. Yacht Club Games has crafted an amazing experience from beginning to end.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild draws from many sources of inspiration, including older Zelda games and titles like Skyrim and The Witcher 3, to create something wholly unique. Nintendo has crafted a wide, beautiful world to explore, underpinned with some interesting emergent mechanics. Breath of the Wild stands as one of the best in the series and a great opener for Nintendo's newest console.
Divinity: Original Sin 2 is simply the pinnacle of the CRPG genre. It offers a campaign with memorable characters, interesting role-playing options, and excellent systemic combat. The environments are beautiful and the soundtrack is solid. That alone would put it at the top of the heap, but then Larian added offline and online coop, a PVP arena mode, and Game Master mode, the greatest throwback to the Dungeons & Dragons pen-and-paper games that underpin the entire genre. I might have small issues here and there, but Divinity: Original Sin 2 is one of the best in a strong year for gaming.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is a victory lap for an amazing entry in the series. The only place Mario Kart 8 faltered was in its Battle Mode and Nintendo has rectified that here with a full-fledged version. 48 courses, 42 characters, 8 battle arenas, 5 battle modes, extensive multiplayer action, and the ability to take console Mario Kart with you wherever you go. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is absolutely worth the asking price.
This is how you do a reboot. After Kratos lost his way, Sony Santa Monica has set the God of War on a new path. A more measure, nuanced character, a great supporting cast, an excellent combat system, and some of the best graphics in the PlayStation 4 game to-date add up to a winner.
DmC Definitive Edition beefs up the excellent original with better graphics, all the DLC, retuned combat, and a host of difficulty modes. If you loved the original, Definitive is better. If you were avoiding it because you're a Devil May Cry purist, Definitive is closer to the original series than ever before.
OlliOlli 2 will test you. The controls are simple and straightforward, but success requires precision. Across 50 levels and five worlds, you will trick, you will combo, you will fail, and finally... you will succeed. OlliOlli 2 is a wonderfully tight zen experience from beginning to end. It's worth the price of admission.
Guilty Gear Xrd -SIGN- is a triumphant return for a fighting series that stayed in hiding for an entire generation. Arc System Works has laid a visual salvo with 3D models that animate like 2D art. Combined with the amazing soundtrack and technical gameplay, Xrd is a great fighter. The only thing that holds it back is an obtuse online match system and a relatively lean roster. If you're a guilty Gear fan, it's definitely worth a purchase.
Rockstar Games revisits last year's heist-filled romp with a new version on PS4, Xbox One, and PC. With the new power, the developer has added more depth and life to the world of Los Santos. It's the same game, but the new visual effects and first-person mode provides a strong experience. It's not completely worth a double-dip if you tore through the original GTA V, but it's definitely worth a second look.
Shadow of Mordor is a great first step into the open-world action-adventure genre for Monolith. It up-ends what's come before with the Nemesis System, which brings the player closer to the game with personalized foes. The game isn't perfect - resurrecting foes can be frustrating - but those issues won't hold you back from enjoying yourself.