Red Dead Redemption 2 isn't just a great game. It's a game that sets an impossibly high new bar for how open-worlds can be handled. Its depiction of late 19th-century America feels both historically accurate yet abundantly open-ended, slow-paced and yet alive, grim and yet majestic. It makes the original Red Dead Redemption feel like a warm-up, the doodles on the page before the real thing has come to life.
So as I sit here drinking the last of my fine lager, pondering the meaning of existence, I wholeheartedly recommend you pour yourself a glass of Nier Automata too. PlatinumGames has had many high points throughout its 11-year existence, but never has it delivered something quite as mesmerising as Nier Automata, an action-RPG to be truly savoured.
Superhot VR is still a joyous experience and one which I have to admit I enjoyed more than the original. It's the sort of game that once you come out of VR, you're dying to tell people what you've done. You actually feel like you've briefly lived in an action movie, and there can be no better argument for the power of VR. Superhot VR is impossibly cool, unbearably stylish, and horrendously addictive. SUPER. HOT. SUPER. HOT. SUPER.
I could wax on about Assassin's Creed Origins for a long time. For all its foibles it's a staggering achievement, and most certainly the best the series has ever offered alongside Black Flag. Those who prefer the dense city networks of the original games may bounce off it a little, but for anyone even remotely interested in the prospect of The Witcher and Assassin's Creed crossing paths, this comes highly recommended.
All told, Hitman 2 is a heck of a treat for Hitman fans, offering the most refined mechanics, craziest antics, and most complex levels yet seen in the franchise. Each of the five core levels can be played for potentially a dozen or more hours, offering fantastic replayability for those who like to mess around with the Hitman formula. There's an argument to be had that Hitman 2 plays it a little self, but when it's so damned good, and unique, at what it does, you'll hear little argument from me.
Dead Cells is fast-paced, slick, action-packed and pitched just right in terms of difficulty. This is paired with a ridiculously addictive upgrade loop and drool-worthy animations, combining to deliver a roguelike which can stand tall alongside greats like Spelunky.
Arriving eight months late on PC, everything that can be said about Monster Hunter World already has done. Rest assured though, the wait was indeed worth it. Anyone looking for a deep action game they can potentially invest hundreds of hours into need look no further. This is Monster Hunter, back and better than it's ever been before.
By rights, a hospital management game should be narcoleptic in nature. Two Point Hospital is a glorified spreadsheet simulator, but it's a spreadsheet simulator shot through with just the right magic combination of humour and deep management systems that help it shine.
Hardcore fans of turn-based tactics may be slightly put off by Mutant Year Zero's obvious missteps but that aside, The Bearded Ladies have cooked up a special game here that's got great potential for the future. Road to Eden isn't perfect but it's definitely stood out from the crowd for me in what's been an excellent year.
But that's all for the future. In the here and now, Planet Zoo is the best zoo management game around and it's not even close. It also features far stronger management systems than Frontier has ever achieved before, culminating in a fantastic package for tycoon and animal fans alike. There's a lot to love here, even if the scope for creativity can't hope to match Planet Coaster.
PES 2018 is Konami's classic back at its strongest on PC, and the small changes to the feel of the gameplay have genuine ramifications on the pitch. It might lack the big budget feel of FIFA, most keenly felt in the match atmosphere, commentary and the lack of TV-like production values, but it plays a damn fine game of football.
The Evil Within 2 is definitively better than the original. An already great horror game has been refined and expanded, offering just the right balance between overwhelming oppressiveness and a satisfying fight for survival. It's another love letter to fans of Resident Evil 4.
All in all, Steep: Road to the Olympics doesn't do much to upset the formula. There are tweaks and refinements, but at its core, this is the same uniquely playable game that delivers something nothing else quite manages. If the prospect of doing it all over again on a staggeringly beautiful new Japanese mountain appeals, then step up to the podium.
As a sequel, Metro Exodus pulls ahead of the rest of the franchise in a big way by leaving the very metro itself behind. Aesthetically, the place is a joy to explore from beginning to end, and there's enough variation to keep things feeling fresh. Dig down deep and it's another Metro with a new skin, but it's a damned good one of those all the same.
All in all, Mortal Kombat 11 is a great package, and nicely fleshed out with a ton of content and modes for both the casual fighting game players like myself and the hardcore community who want to get stuck into the online battling. The heavy involvement of microtransactions can be an annoyance, for sure, but there's more than enough to get busy with to help beat the grind.