DiRT Rally 2.0 is a simulator designed for the most hardcore off-road racing fans, and offers one of the most challenging rallying experiences I've ever played. Casual racing fans may shy away at this title, but if you want pure, uncut racing simulation straight into your veins, this is the game for you.
Salt and Sanctuary isn't the most original game in the world, but Ska Studio's take on a 2D Souls game has enough going for it to stand on its own two legs. It's held back somewhat by occasionally cheap difficulty spikes, but that shouldn't deter you from picking the game up if you're looking for a game that will kick your ass.
Crackdown 3 makes no sense on paper. Its story is nonsense, you spend way too much time searching for hidden orbs and leveling up, and the presentation isn't anything spectacular. And yet, the over-the-top madness and hilarious, memorable moments it brought me made it impossible to put down. While the PvP multiplayer mode falls short of what it's trying to achieve, there's a lot to love about Crackdown's long overdue return.
Just Cause 4 is another solid entry in a franchise that continues to bring me hours of over-the-top, hilarious action. It doesn't do enough to evolve the franchise, and doesn't make enough use of the new weather effects, but the new tools available to Rico and the improvements in customization options is well-worth the price of entry.
Thronebreaker is a masterful RPG with a version of Gwent that is well-suited for a single-player experience. Even if you aren't into card games, this one is worth a try for the story and RPG mechanics alone. [OpenCritic note: Travis Northup separately reviewed the PC (85) and Xbox One (80) versions. Their scores have been averaged.]
It's a strange thing to find yourself smiling so much while playing a game that has you carrying out a series of grisly murders, but that's exactly what Hitman 2 does. Whether you're disguising yourself as a cupcake salesman to get close to a target, or spending an hour to make someone's death look like an accident, Hitman 2 is the best stealth action game of the year.
Fallout 76 is sure to be a divisive game. I'm confident that most people won't be able to forgive its many flaws, especially those going into it expecting a solo experience similar to Fallout 4, but I also think that those looking for a multiplayer Fallout experience will get a kick out of Fallout 76, particularly once Bethesda patches some of the game's most glaring bugs. As much as I'd like to be able to tell you that this title is terrible or amazing, the truth is that it's just okay.
Destiny 2: Forsaken is shooting and looting at it's best. Taking down Uldren and conquering the Dreaming City is an absolute blast. And with the changes and additions to the sandbox, there are more ways to be a badass than we've ever seen before. Destiny is back, baby. And this time it's in it for the long haul.
NieR: Automata is a masterclass action game with deep RPG mechanics, and a beautiful open world. While it's held back by a weak narrative and a clunky game format that mandates replaying hours of content, it offers a wide variety of enjoyable experiences that make it well worth the asking price.
The Crew 2 is an ambitious undertaking that puts over-the-top arcade racing front and center. Though it makes large strides in the right direction over its predecessor, it suffers from odd game design choices, a lack of PvP, and a lackluster presentation that puts it squarely in the rearview mirror of its competition.
Sea of Thieves is a disgustingly enjoyable game that is endlessly entertaining among friends. That said, it has an incredible deficit of organized content, too few customization options, and needs a bigger, more varied world map. I have no doubt that as the game grows and evolves, it will become an iconic, phenomenal title, but for now it remains deeply flawed even while being relentlessly fun.
A Way Out is a game that everyone should take the time to play with their best friend. It's not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but it succeeds at being highly entertaining despite its flaws. It's a unique experience, unlike anything else I've ever played, and a worthy follow-up by the developers who gave us the titular “Brothers.”
The Fall Part 2: Unbound is a solid follow-up to its predecessor with a moving story and interesting puzzles. It is held back somewhat by occasionally obtuse solutions and bland action sequences, but is well-worth the price of admission for players eager to continue ARID's story.
theHunter: Call of the Wild isn't for everyone. It takes a lot of patience and can be impenetrable for those without experience in hunting simulators. But for those with the grit to push through the steep learning curve, this game is quite possibly the best hunting game of all time. If you're curious about it, I highly recommend giving it a go.