My return to Calradia wasn't entirely jubilant, though Mount & Blade 2 Bannerlord is a game I'll likely stick with, simply due to my love of the original. A wealth of new systems and activities help this sandbox strategy sim feel more alive than ever, though the busywork required to get anywhere can feel like a grind. Overall, existing fans will rejoice while newcomers may look on unimpressed, unsure what all the fuss is about.
Kratos has come a long way since first flinging himself into the Aegean all those years ago. God of War, as a series, has come a long way too, pushing the boundaries of hack and slash action to their goar-soaked limits, then breaking free of a years-long slumber to become one of the biggest names in modern gaming. As our own winter approaches, God of War Ragnarok makes for the perfect adventure to lose yourself in.
The best thing about Marvel Snap is that it requires so little effort to play yet has brilliant strategic depth. Matches are so quick that you'll rarely feel the sting of disappointment upon defeat, while each win pushes you towards the next card reveal. Like any live service game, it's constantly evolving with balance patches a roadmap teasing new content and features. Let's just hope we'll see the developers lessen the grind and give players more ways to unlock their favourite Marvel heroes and villains in future.
The Tomorrow Children is a weird, unwieldy game that had me sighing at just how obtuse it is while still somehow simultaneously entranced. The social action concept is a strong one though moment-to-moment gameplay will quickly become too much of a grind for most players. Hopefully it can find a new audience but, at the very least, it will help rehouse those fans who adored the original release and mourned its server shutdown.
After so many facelifts, there were fears Saints Row would fail to recapture the unconventional beauty of the earlier games, but this reboot proves how adept Volition is when it comes to reinventing their flagship franchise. This latest outing is my favourite game in the series to date, so while basic combat and dips in visual quality are disappointing, they did little to keep me away from Santo Ileso. You'll struggle to find anything ground-breaking though this sandbox is bursting with entertaining things to do, ideal for sharing with a partner in crime.
Evil Dead fans will love the amount of fan service on offer here, from the painstaking recreation of movie locations to Bruce Campbell's goofy one-liners. However, when it comes to raw entertainment value, there's an imbalance between the forces of good and evil. Playing as the survivors can be fun with friends but lacks the fun or variety of being an evildoer.
Stranger of Paradise is one of "those" games - a scuffed diamond that's a joy to play, yet has unmissable imperfections. However, while annoying, a poor story and bland visuals don't diminish its punchy RPG action, nor its rewarding web of character customisation options. Needless to say, we're pretty eager to see how Stranger is received by the Final Fantasy fandom.
After countless epic sieges, splintered shields, and gnarly executions, For Honor has firmly cemented itself as one of the best multiplayer games we've ever played. It's unlike anything else out there, weaving together a unique combat system while cherry picking the best parts of being a live service game.
Dynasty Warriors Empires has always been for the die-hard fans. Those who enjoy the hack n' slash combat and love adding their own tactical twist. Those wanting to direct custom campaigns and create their own musou legend. Even if DW9 left a sour taste, there's some solace to be found here within its repurposed carcass, though redemption may still be lost.
Dying Light 2 expands and refines a formula Techland has been peddling since its breakout success with Dead Island. This sequel learns a lot from modern open world video games, its massive, zombie-infested sandbox rarely feeling empty, especially as you breeze through city blocks with a Mirror's Edge-like finesse. However, Dying Light 2 inherits the same problems - a dull story, tiresome combat, and character progression that's a tad too sluggish.
It's perhaps not what Tom Clancy fans had envisioned for the series, but there's something to Rainbow Six Extraction that's definitely worth checking out. It stands apart from similar co-op shooters thanks to that tactical edge and gunplay it's inherited from Siege. That said, the repetitive nature of running missions, difficulty spikes, and overall presentation hold the game back. This is Ubisoft we're talking about, however, so Extraction will likely sprout a long tail that will continue to grow over the coming months and years.
Long after Nathan Drake hung up his holster for the last time a half decade ago, Uncharted’s legacy still remains. This collection crams two genre-defining prestige hits together – the kind of linear AAA action games we rarely see today.
A brief fumble in the darkness of space, Heavenly Bodies is designed to beguile you with floaty, physics based puzzles. It will scramble your brains as you perform the most straightforward of tasks, at times testing your sanity and (if playing in co-op) the strength of any relationship.
If you're coming into Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy expecting each game to look and play like GTA V, prepare for disappointment at a passionless upscaling effort. On the flipside, if you fancy reliving these open world wonders with some of their rougher gameplay edges sanded down, prepare to lose yourself for sixty hours or more.
The stars have aligned for Call of Duty: Vanguard. For the first time, this truly feels like a full package without any caveats. Sure, some parts are naturally stronger than others but there isn't a weak link in sight. After back to back triumphs, Call of Duty is now on a killstreak.
Riders Republic is a game players can effortlessly lose themselves in, even if the gameplay itself is pretty shallow. The endless barrage of events populating the world map become less exciting over time, resembling a shopping list rather than milestones in your ascension to extreme sports godhood. If you're still keen to take the plunge, make sure you have a posse ready to party up with.
Kena: Bridge of Spirits is a great palette cleanser, not just in terms of tone but the way it's carefully designed. Well-paced and beautiful to behold with plenty to see and do, Ember Lab has well and truly captured the spirit of the 3D platformers many of us grew up adoring.
Samurai Warriors holds onto its status as the best of the three Warriors series. Omega Force has refined their aged formula with a focus on narrative, more challenging combat, and more rewarding character progression. Let's just hope they can hold onto this momentum...