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.
Soulcalibur VI ticks all the boxes I expect from a Soulcalibur game: its iconic characters, the compelling stories, fast yet measured movement, and a skill curve that allows newer players to jump in, but enough depth for masters to truly enjoy. It isn't perfect, and while its story mode feels dated in its presentation, the real issue is the lack of a real training mode that benefits all users. At the end of the day, though, it's fantastic to see Soulcalibur return to consoles (and finally come to PC!) in top form.
Unravel Two looks to expand and improve upon the critical success of its predecessor. Charming and beautiful, Unravel Two does have some bright spots. However, those spots are few and far between thanks to some clunky platforming and dull puzzles throughout.
At the end of the day, Madden 19 is much like Madden 18 before it. The formula works, so I don't blame EA for not wanting to drastically change it up each year. However, as a result, I'm left wondering whether it's a waste for someone who really doesn't play most of Madden's modes to upgrade to 19 this year - and I would say that answer is no. If all you play are a few exhibition games with friends, last year's installment is perfectly fine. However, if you're invested in the Longshot story and want to latest installment of MUT, Madden 19 isn't a bad pick up.