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.
The generically beautiful Summerset is on the smaller side in terms of overall new additions to The Elder Scrolls Online, but even after completing the majority of the side quests and all of the main storyline I feel compelled to go back. The storytelling continues to improve on last year's excellent Morrowind expansion, with Zenimax Online not shying away from some of the darkest sides of Tamriel. While the Psijic Order quest line has its boring bits, the down-to-earth, human story makes putting up with the repetitive quests worth the hassle. The new jewelry crafting profession, on the other hand, is far too time-consuming to be practical without spending money at the Crown Shop.
Conan Exiles is often slow and arduous, but even after 70 hours – 40 since launch – the idea of returning to the Exiled Lands still holds some allure. Crafting is largely a tedious grind, especially the higher up you get in the crafting tiers, and it's surprising that in a world about brutal combat, Conan Exiles falls flat there. However, the beautifully realized world is a joy to explore and it nails the atmosphere of the source material.
Yakuza 6: The Song of Life is a game I keep going back to. Even after finishing the main quest I want to keep playing and exploring the world of Yakuza. It also inspired me to get into the larger series, and as a result I just installed Yakuza 0 to start playing.
Destiny 2 on PC makes you feel as though the series really always belonged on the computer. The extra level of detail in each nook and cranny, the fluid, fast-paced and incredibly accurate movement thanks to the control set-up coupled with high framerates, and the support Destiny 2 has for multiple GPU and monitor setups really drive home that Bungie and Vicarious Vision made Destiny 2 its own on PC.
Madden NFL 18 isn’t the giant leap of the series, but I’m not entirely sure anyone really expects it to be. It is noticeably different than its predecessor, namely because of the Longshot mode. And while I didn’t walk away from the Longshot story a huge fan – it’s definitely worth a shot if you’re looking for something different in your Madden experience. However, if you just wanted more of the same, this isn’t necessarily a bad year to skip the game and save your money. That’s not to say the game is bad – it’s not. However, I’m not sure it does enough differently than it’s predecessor – and the things it does differently I’m not sure they do them well enough – to warrant a purchase day one.
Whether you're soaking in the cosmos around you, banking large sums of credits from a well-planned trading haul, or surviving a harrowing encounter with space pirates in dazzling ship-to-ship combat, Elite Dangerous has plenty to keep me excited to come back. And when those long-haul sessions become too much, Arena mode is there to inject some much-needed action at a moment's notice.
Styx: Shards of Darkness is an incredibly fun game - provided you are ok with slowing down the pace and willing to put up with uncompromising stealth. If you are looking for an action heavy stealth experience, this isn’t really your cup of tea. However, if you’re like me (though I’m terrible at stealth on the whole) and want a great, difficult challenge, Styx: Shards of Darkness might be right up your alley.
Hearts of Iron IV: Together for Victory does something that Paradox has been known for: adds compelling new content to an already brilliant title. The new Commonwealth mechanics give you a reason to explore this time period from a different lens, while the combat improvements make planning and executing battle plans easier than ever. However, the performance issues marring the experience, as well as frustrating AI, make Together for Victory one of the most poorly performing game in Paradox’s library.