Gears 5 is an impressive evolution in the Gears of War series with a campaign that feels like a huge leap forward and a dizzying amount of excellent multiplayer modes. The story isn't without its issues, especially the final act which I'm sure will draw controversy, but that does little to hold back this awesome next chapter in the Gears saga.
Wolfenstein: Youngblood falls dramatically short of its predecessor in most ways and feels like a missed opportunity for a great focused, story-driven co-op game. That said, killing all of Hitler's best friends with a co-op partner at your side isn't without its enjoyable moments.
Operencia is a great dungeon crawling experience that you shouldn't sleep on, especially if you're a fan of the genre. While some of the mechanics and presentation are a little hit-or-miss, that shouldn't scare you away from the unique world, memorable characters, and excellent combat that Operencia has to offer.
The transition from portable devices to consoles hasn't hurt the quality of the Ace Attorney Trilogy, which remain some of my favorite games of all time. Phoenix Wright and company are deserving of the big screen, and this game is well worth your time if you haven't gotten around to playing it elsewhere.
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.