Lords of the Fallen is a game of uneven quality. At its best, it offers level design, bosses, and combat that’s generally up there among the best Souls-likes. At its – more often – worst, it leans hard on quantity over quality, and a fundamental misunderstanding of what makes those games challenging. My issues with its balance and difficulty can improve with patches, and my misgivings about its design pitfalls are the sort of thing that sequels improve on all the time. It’s left me wanting to play Lords of the Fallen 2.
There’s some enjoyment to be found in Lies of P. Its action is competent, but lacks the polish and stir of its contemporaries. Its atmosphere can be engrossing, but it’s a hodgepodge of themes and aesthetics you’ve seen before that never rises above the familiar. I was never impressed by it, and I never stopped questioning the point of the entire endeavour throughout my time with it.
However you feel about Evil West, the $50/$60 asking price is too steep for what’s on offer: the nature of its level design, limited enemy variety, and forgettable story will get in the way of your enjoyment, even if you’re only there for the combat. As engaging as it is, that action just doesn’t make up for Evil West’s shortcomings elsewhere.
Modern Warfare 2’s campaign is a cocktail of modern mechanics, updated characters, and callbacks to classic missions and villains. By the end of it, the campaign ends up saying little of substance. And though that is certainly true of its predecessor, it at least had the gall to try.
It’s easy to recommend Midnight Fight Express. For one thing, it’ll launch into Game Pass on the day of its release, August 23. But even if Game Pass wasn’t a factor, it would still be worth buying for just how cool it makes you feel, how good it looks in motion – and best of all: how it allows both of those feelings to be accessible to most players.
What ultimately matters, however, is that Elden Ring succeeds at almost every goal it sets out to achieve. It’s the culmination of years of refinement of FromSoftware’s formula. Mechanically, and thematically, this is a game making a statement: that you can buck industry tendencies even as you adopt their trends.
I am hopeful that 2042 will be a more interesting Battlefield game at some point next year, but having been through varying degrees of rough launches with this series - from BF 2142 through BF 5 - I can’t say I have the stamina to perform the dance of chastising DICE for technical problems and missing features, only to turn around and celebrate when the game is inevitably ‘good now, actually’ a year into it.
Judged on its own terms, Call of Duty: Vanguard offers a solid, albeit predictable campaign, an engaging multiplayer with deep progression systems and satisfying gunplay, and a Zombies mode that will only serve as a minor distraction in its current state.
The Ascent’s ambition is often the most surprising thing about it. I went in expecting a decent, simple cyberpunk top-down shooter. Instead, I got a compelling action game that feels great to play, and an introduction into a world I can’t wait to see expanded in future sequels. The Ascent is the type of indie superstar game you bring up to prove how much can be accomplished by a small team today.
Another Call of Duty that doesn’t really change anyone’s mind about Call of Duty. Whatever’s there that I thought might actually be making a leap was seemingly just good marketing. In that sense, I suppose, it’s been pretty successful. [OpenCritic note: Jeremy Peel and Sherif Saad separately reviewed the campaign (4/5) and multiplayer (3/5). The scores have been averaged.]