I'd declare Half-Life: Alyx the new age of the first-person shooter, if the uptake of virtual reality had been a little more promising so far. It is a cut above everything I've ever played within a headset and it's a brave, risky step for a long-dormant series to take. It takes a special team to withhold for thirteen years and deliver on an impossible hype and yet Half-Life: Alyx was worth every one of those 4,548 days.
It's clear that Ghost Games has taken a touch of Paradise and applied it to Heat, resulting in a thrilling and beautiful racing game that's bursting with things to do. Though their ambition was bold, they strayed too far from comfort in putting Heat together. When measured up against its own franchise, Heat does a lot to move the series in the right direction and it's a clear, marked improvement over Payback.
Hideo Kojima has long been a visionary auteur, his feted career stands as proof. With no walls to contain him, he has given birth to Death Stranding. It's an experience that will be remembered for a long time, from its early hype to the untethered lunacy of its narrative. It's an art installation of a game that filled me with rage as often as it did joy. It is sweeping in both lustre and purpose, though it wears a few warts on the pleasant, bare bones of a game about deliveries that has no right to be as memorable as it somehow is.
The humanisation of Eris Morn, a once bleak caricature shrouded in mystique, along with a number of brave narrative turns help Shadowkeep along to a thrilling conclusion that sets Destiny up for another year to come. Though the core tweaks haven't all landed, Shadowkeep takes a beatseat to only two before it in terms of delivering rounded, high-quality expansion experience.
I wish I could say that Sea of Solitude excels in every way a game can. Though it offers an honest, raw depiction of how unfortunately disparate life can be and the toil that goes with that, it fires few shots as an interactive experience. A rather barren world and repetitive core loops only serve to mar what is an otherwise overwhelming sensory treat.
A Plague Tale, at times, feels like a missing early chapter of the Assassin's Creed catalogue. Its ability to bend a truly fascinating point in documented history into a fantastical, mythical story that keeps you invested from start to finish is remarkable. It's a cinematic journey that is uncomplicated in its delivery, managing to occupy gamers without distracting from the game's narrative and the bond that develops between the de Rune siblings which, in the end, is A Plague Tale's undoubted strength.
Bend has delivered on a largely enjoyable open-world game with Days Gone. It has its fair share of hang-ups and though most are forgivable, some are not. Their depiction of Oregon, while bleak, is truly breathtaking and strikes me as the ideal mould for open-traversal. Its map isn't as big as many in the genre, though it's densely populated by things to do.
Rising is without a doubt the best Trials game yet. The community this series has garnered over the span of two decades finally gets a little of the limelight and, quite frankly, serves as the lynchpin of this game. The gameplay is as tight as ever while the tracks themselves are scintillating, showcasing the developer's creativity which is, even at this late stage of the Trials saga, first-rate.