nDreams has succeeded wildly with Phantom: Covert Ops. The visuals are gorgeous, the goofy premise works perfectly in context, and the mechanics are an intuitive and downright rewarding use of VR. While you may need a great deal of VR callus to deal with the smooth motion of the game, Phantom: Covert Ops is VR stealth done right.
At $17.99 on Steam at the time of writing, it's hard to beat up The Academy: The First Riddle too much. It's a lot of fun, it's value priced, and the developers are actively engaged with the community and prepping patches for much of the things I've mentioned. Could it be better at launch? Certainly. Does it deliver a compelling stack of puzzles that'll have you scratching your brain for hours? Absolutely. We have to give credit to Pine Studios for trying something new, even if they might have gotten a C on that "Debugging" class.
The Last of Us Part II is a stunningly beautiful and impeccably written story of family, consequences, horror, and loss. It pulls you in and holds tight, forging a deeper connection with Ellie, her fellow survivors, and the hostile world in which they live. From start to finish, this could be the best game on the PlayStation 4 -- ever.
Desperados III feels both familiar and fresh at the same time. A great deal of the muscle memory and character interactions we learned in Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun are at play here, but a whole host of improvements, and a brand new character in Isabelle, make it all feel brand new. A true refinement of an already excellent formula, Desperados III is a masterclass in real-time tactical stealth, and I simply cannot recommend it highly enough.
There's a lot to love in this remaster. Eclipsing the 2012's "Ultimate" edition, this version may not contain all of the sequels, but damn if it doesn't make the originals truly fantastic. It might be too much to hope for a complete remaster of all of the sequels, but Command & Conquer Remastered is pure fan service. Welcome back, Commander.
I was surprised to realize that I'd already played Monster Train for 15 hours before I began to write this review, and I wasn't even halfway finished with unlocking everything. The randomization of the relics, cards, and other elements of the game keep it fresh and fun long after you've beaten the game a few (dozen) times. If you are a fan of card battlers, this is a must have.
XCOM 2 on the Nintendo Switch is the complete package, including all DLC and the War of the Chosen expansion. Tactical gaming on the go will cost you a little graphical fidelity and a few frames, but in the war against the Elders, it's a small price to pay.
Developer Moonshine Studios has built something fantastic for Stadia's first platform exclusive. Cooperative chaos combined with a delightfully goofy storyline of a salt company gone rogue makes for many laugh out loud moments. While there are some technical hitches to iron out, Get Packed is a must have for anyone on Stadia.