If you were a fan of the first game, Armada 2 is a no-brainer. For the rest of us, it’s the same as before with more stuff in there. The new factions add some much-needed variety into the mix, but the campaigns are static and uninteresting – at least for the first few hours. The unchanged combat is still off-putting to me, but it’s still good for a quick bit of dumb fun. Most importantly, it’s not a bad 40K game. It’s not amazing, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not heresy incarnate.
Trying to bring the feel of a different era into the modern limelight is quite the task, and YIIK almost pulls it off. While it sports great old-school visuals, it just can’t overcome its other flaws. The shallow combat gets old quickly, the characters aren’t all that endearing, and the pacing doesn’t do the game any favours. You’d be better off playing one of the games that YIIK imitates. Those who want to go back in time may very well find a game they love, but I didn’t.
The most important takeaway from all this is that I had a good time with Mutant Year Zero. Me. I once disowned a kebab because it had a subpar mouthfeel. A kebab. Thanks to the deep combat and some delightful moments in the writing, I enjoyed my time with the game. Looting is a chore, and you can’t walk off the main path like the tabletop game, but it’s still a satisfying experience. I just pushed those parts out of my brain like the useless information it was, because after all, what use are memories after the apocalypse?
Take caution before letting Artifact consume you. The monetisation is an egregious disaster, the RNG practically runs the game sometimes, and casual players will have no reason to keep coming back. There’s some fun in there; it’s just locked behind statistically improbable gauntlets and marketplace auctions. Worth the asking price? I’d lean towards no. Worth the investment required? Absolutely not. The buy-in isn’t enough to sustain your time with the game, and it’s almost insulting that there’s no way to earn cards when Valve already takes a cut from marketplace sales. The cards must flow, and thy wallet is tribute.
Farming Simulator might not be the most exciting game, but it's not without virtue. Vehicles can be impeccably modelled, the gameplay frees up space in your mind, and harvesting large swathes of grain can be satisfying. Those moments of joy are few and far between, though, and only the most dedicated farmer could take FS19 as a standalone experience without being consumed by Kantian levels of apathy. Perhaps I'm too cynical to appreciate the simple act of creating food in a virtual sense, calloused by the constant stimulation that the internet and games provide me. On the other hand, it could just be that farming is super dull.
HITMAN 2 is more of the same, with an emphasis on more and same. The gameplay is damn near unchanged, but it’s still satisfying to line up the hit and carry it out. The more massive levels and challenges lend themselves to more replayability, and even if the AI is one acid tab away from brain-death, it’s fun to see what you can pull off. Those hankering for a better-told story than the last game will be left wanting, but it’s a small price to pay for such elaborate and dense levels. If you liked the first game, you’ll like this one, because it’s practically the same but bigger.
Star Control: Origins fails to capture the magic from its source material. The gameplay is dull, shallow and technically flawed, and it’s not like the story is super engaging either. There’s the occasional small-scale encounter that works well, but these alone aren’t enough to warrant a recommendation. I told one of my friends this afternoon to avoid buying the game, so “not recommended” seems about right. Hell, the fact I stopped playing after only 6 hours should give you an idea of how quickly this game loses its appeal. It’s a shame because I know how good space games can be, it’s just that this one didn’t quite cut it. One day, man, we’ll have a No Man’s Sky that doesn’t suck…
Dead Cells is a fantastic melding of two seemingly contradictory design philosophies. A Roguelike at heart, the game utilises Metroidvania levels in a way that gives the player freedom of choice without making any style of play pointless. There’s plenty of opportunities to employ your brain cells in crafting different builds of stats and items, and even with the simplistic combat, the game is a blast to get through. I cannot recommend the game highly enough, and it may very well have cracked a gap through my cynicism for the first time since I saw Yennifer on a unicorn.
For fans of the BattleTech IP, this game is a no-brainer. For everyone else, it's still worth a go but not the best game out there. While the core gameplay is fun enough, the difficulty of entry can be off-putting until you wrap your head around everything. Thankfully, the freedom of customisation that has kept so many BattleTech fans loyal to the series is on full show. Though its execution leaves much to be desired, the game is a solid entry in the BattleTech video game line-up that'll satiate your need for another Mechwarrior game for a while yet.
A Way Out offers a well-made game with a functional but dull story. There’s certainly fun to be had, but depending on who you’re playing the game with, you might want to stick to Fortnite instead. There’s nothing particularly profound about the game, and the story doesn’t stand up to the immense pressure the game forces on it. If you’re looking for a 5-hour detour into cinematic gameplay with a buddy, I’d say try A Way Out, but don’t expect an Oscar-winning performance.
With new enemies, new careers and new missions to check out, Vermintide 2 is a fantastic sequel to an already phenomenal game. It’s not perfect, with a difficulty spike so sharp that scientists could study it to make better laser pointers, but it’s great once you get into it. With satisfying combat in a vivid imagining of the Warhammer End Times, VT2 is almost a no-brainer. The real no-brainer is our undying faith in Sigmar, which should never wane even in the face of bile trolls.
ELEX is a game that has a great idea but awful execution. While there are moments to roleplay, the progression feels incredibly forced, and combat is a wholly unenjoyable experience. You can’t go and be the Jax you want to be without spending far too long with Viking hippies first, which was enough for me to be put off the game. If you like being one-shotted by inappropriately placed enemies or are really, really, really longing for an RPG that channels old-school design, maybe ELEX is for you. Don’t say I didn’t warn you, though, because the future is always on the horizon, and it’s got better games than this.