Throughout the entirety of my runtime, I felt transported, compelled to help find a way to save myself and the companions I had grown to love over time. And it’s a world I don’t want to leave, at least not yet. Baldur’s Gate 3 is, simply put, the greatest RPG I’ve ever played.
What it all amounts to is one of the most detailed and beautifully made games in the series. Final Fantasy XVI is a masterpiece. From its stellar writing, music, world-building and incredible cast, this has easily taken the mantle as my favorite Final Fantasy in the series to date.
Despite performance issues throughout my gameplay, Star Wars Jedi: Survivor meaningfully improves on many of the gameplay issues from the previous title. From a more rewarding cosmetic system to side quests that give more meaning to exploring the beautifully rendered and realized worlds, it was a joy to explore the galaxy as Cal once more. Add on the much-improved combat system that fuels the Jedi fantasy beautifully and the touchingly emotional storytelling and Star Wars Jedi: Survivor is a triumph.
All in all, Company of Heroes 3 is great, and should be on the list for any strategy fan looking to get stuck in one more turn, or one more fight. It's a fitting inclusion in Relic's library of incredible RTS games, and continues to show why the developers there are some of the best in the business. I cannot wait to tuck myself back into the fray, delighting in its beautifully crafted RTS-goodness over and over again in the coming weeks and months.
I really wanted to enjoy Dual Universe, and at first I was. I truly did enjoy the grind early on, until I realized that, for the most part, the grind was all there was. The ambitious systems that define Dual Universe also doom it, and as a result there just isn’t much to do aside from harvest, sell and rinse and repeat, even if you add layer and layer of industrial complexity to the loop. While player ingenuity and artistry will make some of these systems more and more interesting, especially with LUA scripting and more, for me, it just doesn’t make for a compelling experience I can recommend.
At the end of the day, the story is the one thing - the only thing - that differentiates The Last Hero of Nostalgaia from the rest of the pack. Everything else lacks any innovation. The names of certain elements (memory, beacons, etc.) may have been changed to match the theme of the storyline, and although character creation, progression, and combat are all done very well, they are all extremely by the book Souls-like.
The Elder Scrolls Online: High Isle brings with it many great moments, and the landscape of the Systres is a joy to explore, especially the jungle prison of Amenos. While its story is predictable, I’m not uninterested as I look forward to the rest of the year’s content drops. In the end, it's this formulaic malaise that keeps The Elder Scrolls Online: High Isle from being truly great.
All that said, I’ve really enjoyed my time in Fate of Gundabad, and while it’ll be interesting to see how the story of the Dwarves progresses from here, the journey has been worth it overall. The Dwarves are an interesting race in Middle-earth, often overlooked in favor for Men or Elves, so seeing them get their due after years of fast tracking the War of the Ring story has been a nice change of pace.
New World is off to a rocky start, but if Amazon can right the ship and address real player concerns, it has the chance to be something really special. But right now, it’s an okay experience overall that leaves me wanting more in order to stick around.
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is a triumph for Ubisoft, and one of the best games I’ve played all year. After almost 70 hours in Viking-era England, I still have more to explore and uncover with Eivor, and I can’t wait to dive back in for more. The story is excellent, leaving me eager to see what’s next, and while it had moments where it felt a little dissonant with what Eivor was doing as well as some pacing problems, overall I enjoyed my romp through England. Even as I finish typing this review, I’m already planning where to sail next and what to do differently in another playthrough. Assassin’s Creed Valhalla has lingered on my thoughts, beckoning me to come back to England and continue exploring, raiding and going a-vikingr, even almost 70 hours after I took my first steps as Eivor in Norway.
If you like previous Yakuza games, Judgment is right up your alley. A spin off that holds its own in the fictional Kamurocho, Judgment is a worthy entry in the world of Ryu ga Gotoku's Yakuza world. And while I found the story to be sluggish and in its own way at times, it's excellent combat and unique detective mechanics kept me engaged in my more than 20+ hour playthrough. Judgment is outrageous fun at times, relaxing at others and above all else tells a great story. It's definitely one I'll be coming back to over the next few months, uncovering more of Kamurocho's secrets with its favorite detective.
For any Persona fan, Dancing in Starlight is a solid entry. It gives you a chance to go back and experience more stories with the main characters, and it's a nice change of pace from the RPGs and shooters releasing this fall. But it's main gameplay mechanic - the actual rhythm gameplay - does get in its own way. But if you're just wanting to experience more stories and groove to the amazing soundtrack, Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight is definitely a good place to do so.