Simply put, Diablo 4 may be Blizzard's best-ever game, and that's a really tough legacy to live up to. Immaculate storytelling meets stunning art, polished, bug-free gameplay, atop endlessly customizable combat with the promise of dozens, maybe hundreds of hours of content — Diablo 4 might be Blizzard's most important, pivotal game since World of Warcraft. Do yourself a favor and go in completely blind. Even if you're not a typical fan of isometric action RPGs, I'm confident that you won't be disappointed.
Redfall is a serviceable first-person open-world shooter with perhaps the most needless "RPG layer" in the history of always-online games. Tools that might make the sandbox more fun are arbitrarily spread across four separate playable class characters. Weapons you enjoy using will lose effectiveness as you "level up" with the game's pointless progression system, which only hinders the otherwise interesting campaign. There are far too many similar shooters out there that simply do almost everything Redfall is trying to do, only far better. Redfall struggles to grasp an identity of its own in a very noisy market. While embers of fun do exist in Redfall, it's maddening that this is the product of the legendary studio that gave us Prey. Arkane is very clearly out of its depth with Redfall.
Age of Wonders 4 is the first entry in the mainline series I've ever played, and I had little to no idea what to expect. Age of Wonders 4's stunning high-fantasy tapestry immediately captured my imagination, and it wasn't long before I was creating my own personal undead army and marching across the land, leaving chaos and decay in my wake. Despite the game's complexity and depth, the biggest hurdle for me was its performance on Xbox Series X. However, it's by no means unplayable, and I suspect I'll find myself playing it for many dozens more hours before I get tired. This is a stunning 4X game that Civilization fans will most likely adore.
Ghostwire: Tokyo is an atmospheric and somewhat ambitious game, with a vertical semi-open world gameplay arena dotted with ghoulish nasties and side-quests steeped in folklore, atop a supernatural thriller plot. The game's combat is sluggish initially, but it becomes increasingly satisfying as you unlock more powers. Weaving elemental magic sprinkled with some stealth elements for good measure. Sadly, everything new and fresh Ghostwire: Tokyo brings to the table is hamstrung by the game's awful performance on Xbox, which makes the game a true slog.
Resident Evil 4 is a true technical marvel on Xbox Series X, with utterly stunning visuals and wonderful ray-tracing implementations. While the game is a bit thin in the "survival horror" department, Resident Evil 4 is an absolutely spectacular action horror game with varied and satisfying combat, memorable characters, and a meaty amount of content.
World of Warcraft: Dragonflight is somehow a breath of fresh air and a celebration of classic design principles in equal measure. The return to more dynamic, old-school talent trees enhances the class fantasy with a seasoning of new abilities across the board. At the same time, the retreat of pressuring, artificial power-gating systems promotes a more healthy gameplay loop. The game is also gorgeous, with a more promising storyline, elevated cinematic delivery mechanics, and deeper core systems which make for one of WoW's best expansions in years.
RimWorld has become a lauded classic on PC, and with the Xbox port, Double Eleven delivers a master class in how to bring games designed for mouse and keyboard intuitively to console. RimWorld is an utterly brutal survival sim where cutesy simplistic graphics belies endless depth, and you get procedural drama on a scale I have never before experienced in video game form. This game is a masterpiece, and RimWorld for Xbox faithfully shepherds the budding franchise to a brand new audience.
Initially, I was concerned Dying Light 2 wouldn't find its own voice in a world crammed with shallow open worlds designed for busy work rather than fun, but the more I played, the more I found that wasn't the case. Dying Light 2 truly shines with its high-stakes nighttime gameplay, which turns the modern and tired open-world formula on its head. While some of the writing isn't the best and next-gen console performance is a bit disappointing, Dying Light 2 offers a tight experience that builds on the original.
FUGA: Melodies of Steel cuts through the bleakness of its setting with heartwarming characters and childlike optimism, although its punishing turn-based tactical play may force you into gut-wrenching perma-death situations. FUGA is an underrated gem, and deserves the attention of JRPG fans everywhere.
The Ascent is a solid evolution of the twin-stick formula, offering some of the most detailed and impressive visuals the gen has to offer so far. However, The Ascent needs a couple of polish passes as of writing, due to bugs and other glitches. Additionally, the game suffers from a lack of testing, with balance problems and structural issues that weaken the latter half of the game.
Resident Evil Village is one of the first games that feels truly "next-gen," with absolutely stunning tech bolstered by the industry-leading RE Engine. Stunning visuals, truly bizarre creatures, a memorable parade of eccentric characters, and truly satisfying gameplay make Resident Evil Village soar, even if a few quirks in the plot delivery deflate the spectacle. Resident Evil Village is a truly excellent game and one of the best entries in the legendary franchise. Long may it continue.
Blizzard clearly learned from the mistakes from Battle for Azeroth's endgame launch state, injecting piles of content that actually contribute to player power in meaningful ways. On the one hand, the time gating on the story elements is irritating, but it's not like most players will find themselves short of things to do. Shadowlands has some of the most stunning art in the game's lengthy history, and the cinematic treatment represents a step up for the studio. Despite balance issues, Shadowlands may end up among the likes of Legion and The Burning Crusade as one of the game's best expansions to date.
Cyberpunk 2077 is an open-world masterpiece that features some of the most immersive and liberating storytelling this industry has to offer. With full freedom to choose V's personality, looks, and gameplay style, Cyberpunk 2077 gives the player an unrelenting amount of control in a world that delivers dozens upon dozens of hours of high-quality content. Cyberpunk 2077 is a mammoth achievement and solidifies CD Projekt RED's place at the top of the pile.