Every year I poll my friends on whether they’ll buy the new NHL game. Last year was tough, and to play together we had to give a couple of people copies of the game. When I polled them this year, it was nearly unanimous. Anyone who had to play NHL 24 for work was getting the game, and the four other people had zero interest. That may not seem noteworthy, but that’s about $400 in lost sales for EA among my friends alone. That is four people who are looking for games that can bring our group together and give us a nightly social experience opting out because the price tag has long outgrown the product. I said as much last year, and this year remains no different.
Assassin’s Creed Mirage is a worthwhile experience for invested fans of the series. It’s going to give you that stealth and stab gameplay that you’ve enjoyed before, even if it doesn’t build upon it outside of the tools. It’s bookended by exceptional first and third acts, but Ubisoft has again failed to create a detailed and meaningful world that you want to explore beyond its waypoints.
I wanted desperately to find a good game underneath all the bugs in Redfall, and every now and then a tiny ray of light would shine through and give me hope. I took my time to give it a fair opportunity where others wrote it off only a few hours in. Unfortunately, they were right, and this will go down as one of the more disappointing games that I’ve played in recent years. All we can hope for now is that Redfall’s disastrous journey serves as a warning to Microsoft and its stable of development studios. Not because the world’s second-largest company can’t take the hits, but because players deserve better.
As harsh as this may sound, I’ve lost faith in the NHL franchise. My first game was NHL 93, and although they haven’t all been good, it’s clear that this franchise has settled into an annual loop of delivering the bare minimum. There is zero justification for a full-game price tag when you consider that other games offer free updates larger than what’s on offer as new in the entirety of NHL 23. It’s mind boggling.
The Angler has a lot of soul. Every time I log in and see the (approximate) time and weather, I know exactly what spot I want to go to and what fish I’m looking for. I get excited when the conditions are just right to target that pike, and I know just the spot. The pull is there to keep me coming back. Even though it’s rough around the edges and somewhat feature-bare, you’re going to find your own spot that you don’t tell anyone about. Your own little slice of Golden Ridge heaven where you hope to one day land your Diamond.
Way of the Hunter is a game that I should love, and despite the plethora of problems, there are fantastic ideas here and a world that could be incredible if it’s given a lot more attention from Nine Rocks Games. However, it’s not there yet. It’s not even close to where it needs to be, and I’m not talking about the amount of content on offer. There is more than enough game to play here. What holds Way of the Hunter back is that most of it doesn’t feel fully realized or polished. Performance is an issue, bugs are an issue, accessibility is an issue and, in many cases, the quality of the game’s systems are an issue. While I suspect things will improve over time, Way of the Hunter is a long way from where my expectations lie.
When I watched the reveal trailer for Stray, I was expecting it to be fun to run around as a cat, and it is. What caught me off guard is just how detailed and thoughtful the experience was from start to finish. This game is both cute and entertaining, but there is real detail and passion on display that makes it so much more. Stray is a must-play for cat lovers, or anyone who just appreciates a stellar game.
The Quiet Apocalypse isn't without problems, but Hinterland's commitment to adding new content, while refining the experience over the years, has positioned The Long Dark at the top of the survival genre's pecking order. The Long Dark is a must-play for anyone who is even remotely intrigued by it.
I’m not old school like the coaches and GMs that still make up a large part of the NHL, but I’m old school in that I grew up in the 80s and 90s and value hard hockey played the right way over flashy dekes you might see once a season. I love dekes as much as the next person, but not at the expense of solid core gameplay. EA Vancouver tried to sell dekes, cosmetics, and the idea of being a superstar, but what resonated with me, an old-school hockey guy, were the core gameplay improvements.
It’s a fine game under any circumstances, but it’s a top-notch RPG with heavy consequences at almost every turn for those that are willing to immerse themselves. The Outer Worlds doesn’t tell you a story, it gives you a world full of interesting characters and asks you to tell your own.
There is no doubt in my mind that six months from now Breakpoint will be a more playable game. Ubisoft Paris will iron out the bugs, bring back AI teammates, concede to player demands on some design, and tweak the experience to be more playable. However, this is the Breakpoint that was offered up on release, and it’s a mess.
Like a biker, though, Days Gone lacks a certain level of polish. It took me a long time to care about the story that was being told and the characters in it, and it always felt just a bit out of sync for me. I think that’s partly due to the world not feeling very welcoming, which may have been intentional, but robbed me of that precious exploration and downtime that open-world games should offer.