Garrick D. Raley
Yet, although I did enjoy the time I spent with Wo Long, I don’t really want to invest more time into it. And I think that fact alone speaks more than any of my words in this review could ever convey. My main reason for not wanting to jump back in is simply because of its optimization issues on PC. I’ve seen that it suffers other problems on Xbox, such as ridiculously long loading times, whereas the PlayStation version is relatively free from these worries. Which makes sense, given that Team Ninja’s last two titles, Nioh and Nioh 2, initially launched exclusively on PlayStation consoles before. On PC however, it just feels like a bad port. Which, to be clear, it is. I found the overarching experience in Wo Long to be enjoyable on the whole, though I do lament the fact that they chose to develop a new IP instead of making Nioh 3. Despite the optimization issues and random difficulty spikes, I do think that Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty is ultimately good – it just could have been so much better.
Although WILD HEARTS puts up a valiant effort to capitalize on the success that Monster Hunter has found in the West these past few years, it still leaves a lot to be desired. The most disappointing aspect is how bogged down it is with technical issues that prevent a seamless online co-op experience. A lot of the joy in hunting monsters is being able to do it with friends. Despite featuring cross-platform play, I preferred to play WILD HEARTS alone rather than be bothered with the slow-downs that I encountered. It shows great promise with their weapon types and the upgrading mechanics, but ultimately WILD HEARTS feels like an unfinished product. I hope that the upcoming content updates can turn that around. In the meantime, I’d look elsewhere for getting that next hunt in.
Monolithsoft has culminated in an ending that they’ve had their sights on for over a decade, and it shows in the level of detail and quality of life improvements that they’ve made emanating from that ten-plus years’ worth of experience. It’s a robust conclusion to the JRPG franchise and spans well over a hundred hours of gameplay, leading up to a finale that long-time fans will thoroughly enjoy without leaving newer players wanting. Although the true potential of Xenoblade Chronicles 3 feels held back by the limitations of the Switch’s hardware, developer Monolithsoft has clearly taken all of the lessons and experiences that they’ve accumulated over the years and crafted a gem that even Riku the Nopon would consider priceless.
There’s nothing new to see here, just a port of an old classic. For some, I’m sure that this is all that they want or need, but for others I feel that it’s a shame Dark Alliance II hasn’t been modernized - at least a little bit - to bring the gameplay more in line with the times so that it would feel more accessible to newer players. Even still, Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance II’s price tag at $29.99 feels too steep for what it is. Unless you’re a diehard fan of the Dark Alliance series, I’d wait for a hefty sale before picking this up.
Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands isn’t a masterclass in game design or storytelling, but it is a notable improvement over Gearbox Studio’s previous entries. Multiple quality of life additions, like holding down the melee button to just keep swinging as well as changing the Mayhem Mode difficulties to the new and less confusing Chaos Levels, are a great step forward. The weapons feel more inventive than before, and the addition of spells make combat more fun and engaging. It’s unfortunate that the story fails to live up to the events in Assault on Dragon’s Keep but it’s still more memorable than what Gearbox has recently done. The fact that Chaos Runs are randomized and offer a rogue-like mix already makes it one of the strongest launches for endgame play.
Mortal Online 2 is not a complete game. This feels like an early access title in disguise, just waiting to start charging its players a $15 monthly subscription fee in order to keep development on track. The fact that its first two and a half weeks after launch was unplayable by the majority of the playerbase is the most telling of all, but in tandem with too many missing systems and features it’s not hard to think of it as an unfinished product.
It’s fun for nostalgia’s sake to go back and reexamine the past, but Aion Classic doesn’t seem so much like a “revisiting the past” as it does a “let’s hop on the ‘Classic’ bandwagon” that World of Warcraft started. As evident by the absolutely insane pricing for the Daeva Pass, Aion Classic comes across more like a cheap cash-grab than as a service to the fans. For my money, I wouldn’t recommend wasting your time in Aion Classic.
I wanted to love Dungeons & Dragons: Dark Alliance so badly. I grew up reading R.A. Salvatore’s novels about Drizzt and his companions. Baldur’s Gate was my first CRPG that I ever played. The original Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance and Dark Alliance II are probably my favorite games from the PS2 era. But sadly, Dungeons & Dragons: Dark Alliance just misses the mark in so many categories. It was a slog to get through, and there is almost no reason for me to ever pick it up again.
By itself, Resident Evil Village is a fantastic addition to the survival-horror genre and focuses more on empowering the player rather than cheap horror elements. As part of the series, Village lacks in the story department and seems like it tries to cast too wide of a net to appeal to a greater audience rather than catering to the hardcore fans. Diehard ResE fans might be disappointed at the lack of lore in Village, but casual fans won’t feel like they need to have played every prior entry in order to have a good time. Ultimately, I’d recommend Resident Evil Village to anyone that loved Resident Evil 4 or who felt like Resident Evil 7 was too horror-focused.
After the upcoming planned title updates, Rise could be a real winner. As it stands right now, I still highly recommend picking up Rise, but if you’re on the fence then it might be best to hold off at least until the story is complete. The good news for PC players is that Monster Hunter Rise will be coming to PC next year, so maybe it will launch alongside a new expansion that adds G-Rank hunts and even more monsters into the mix. Until then, I’m going to go beat that elder dragon just one more time… okay, maybe two.
Rehydrated doesn’t offer up more than a few hours-worth of content to distract from the doldrum. It took me roughly 8 hours to beat the story, but it would probably take up to 12 to collect everything. If you’re looking for a new game to play in quarantine, this isn’t it. Despite the nostalgia, I honestly can’t recommend this game to anyone except for families with small children. There’s no penalty for dying, except for having to backtrack through areas, and the combat is simplistic enough that any kid will be able to pick it up easily.
I think that, despite showing its age, Xenoblade Chronicles Definitive Edition lives up to being one of the greatest JRPGs in the last couple decades. Its story and gameplay are timeless and, although I was personally overwhelmed by its inventory system, the amount of customizability and freedom that comes with the plethora of gear available makes it highly replay-able to boot. The additional content, including the new Casual and Expert modes, the Time Attack Challenges, and the extra story Future Connected epilogue, makes this the best version of Xenoblade Chronicles available to date, as well as cements it as one of the best values in gaming on the Nintendo Switch.
Although a lot of the Kafkaesque story beats, like the father-son relationship and the surreal, absurdist scenarios the boy found himself in, were unique and initially interesting; SELF just didn’t have the metamorphosis it needed to turn into something greater.
I think anybody that enjoyed playing the Fallout games, as well as anyone that has enjoyed the Mass Effect titles, would unequivocally enjoy their time playing The Outer Worlds. I had so much fun exploring every nook and cranny, scouring out-of-the-way locations for loot, taking everything that wasn't nailed down, and immersing myself in the otherworldy locations around Halcyon.
Overall, I enjoyed my time with All-Star Fruit Racing. I'll admit, it initially gave me a bad impression. The combination of a 50-second long initial loading time (I timed it!), a music-less and boring tutorial, and the awkward inane witch's laugh that persists throughout a race while I'm playing all led me to a preconceived idea about this game. The more I discovered, like how the creepy laugh was apparently my car horn and how I could customize it to sound more like a real horn, all led me on a journey through a magical Fruit-kingdom of fun kart-racing goodness. Unfortunately, the unintuitive U.I. and overall poor polish of the game detract from an otherwise delightful experience. Races felt too unfair one moment, and ridiculously too easy the next.