Rage 2 contains some of the best shooting of any game in 2019. Taking numerous cues from Doom, the familiar gunplay is loosed upon a more open environment. Shredding bandits and mutants never gets old, regardless of if you have a campaign-only focus or you are pushing past the 20th hour on a completionist run. The achievement set by the gunplay reveals how far below it other areas sit. The open world isn’t utilized to its fullest potential, characters (including Walker) are as forgettable as the story, and driving leaves much to be desired. Rage 2 may be considered a one-trick pony, but that single aspect is so gratifying that it carries the lesser parts on its back to the finish line.
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is From Software at its best (so far). The developer has beautifully married the demanding nature of their Souls games to a narrative-driven action game. The swordplay is engaging, requiring quick learning and quicker reflexes. All in all, Sekiro is top of its class, offering one of the most memorable experiences of 2019.
Far Cry New Dawn hardly reinvents its core formula, for better or worse. The expected bits are all there, peppered with a few low-impact RPG elements. This isn’t an evolution of the franchise, but rather a more favorable pairing of gameplay and setting than past releases. New Dawn sure feels familiar, but it definitely knows how to have a good time.
Metro Exodus emerges from the underground to explore a world far more colorful than the Moscow railways. Exodus does a fine job of injecting larger spaces with familiar gameplay, even if the two don’t always compliment each other. The refocused survival aspects are welcome additions and add to the hopelessness of the post-apocalyptic setting. The game goes off the rails a bit due to abundant technical issues and restrictive movement that reveal the lack of AAA polish. Even with its lesser parts, Metro Exodus takes the franchise forward with an experience worth seeing through to the end.
All in all, Insurgency: Sandstorm is a competent, exhilarating tactical shooter. Even after countless hours of capturing objectives and eliminating aggressive AI, each battle maintains its high level of tension. The weapon behavior and audio work beautifully in tandem to provide an offering that is difficult to find elsewhere currently. The small flaws that crop up occasionally do little to detract from the overall experience, although they don’t go completely unnoticed. New World Interactive has crafted a quality FPS that builds emergent war stories in every battle. Here’s hoping they someday release the cancelled single player/co-op story mode. One could only imagine what their advanced grasp of sound design could do in a structured, nail-biting narrative.
Battlefield V is very much a work in progress. The core experience is thrilling and comes together beautifully with the right players. It’s a multiplayer offering that DICE could no doubt expand upon in the coming months with meaningful updates to put it more in line with community expectations. Once the balancing issues and technical problems become a thing of the past, Battlefield V will stand as one of the most engaging multiplayer experiences on the market.
Destiny 2 has been trudging along, kept alive by the weekly log ins of its most faithful Guardians. Forsaken makes Destiny 2 fun again, giving more meaning to those log ins. The Tangled Shore and Dreaming City are visual treats and the Barons make for deserving recipients of those new Supers, but it may be the hefty collection of smaller changes that accompany Forsaken that make it feel all the better. The weapon slot revisions, return of random perk rolls, and other back-end modifications bring Destiny 2 closer in line with what it was expected to be from the start.
Yakuza Kiwami 2 is the culmination of the greatest parts of the franchise. Utilizing Yakuza 6: The Song of Life’s Dragon Engine and physics-enabled combat pairs beautifully with the high stakes tale born on the PlayStation 2 over a decade ago. I might even go as far to say that this recreation could be an even more fitting send-off for Kiryu before the series embraces its new protagonist. Simply put, Kiwami 2 is the peak of Yakuza.