Arrowhead Games Studios has delivered an impressive sequel that elevates the concept they introduced back in 2015, and has established a commendable foundation for a live service title. I can already see Helldivers 2 being at the top of people’s minds when they are faced with the question – do you have any co-op shooters to recommend?
I took my time with Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio’s latest entry in the long-running Yakuza franchise. The turned-based combat has greatly improved, the myriad of activities feel endless and entertaining, and the overall story left me teary-eyed and wanting more. I’m now more invested in the series than I ever was thanks to Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth with Kasuga leading the charge.
Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora features a familiar open-world formula that is a perfect match for this adventure, as this is a planet with so much care and thought put in that despite its flaws, I found myself itching to explore what’s beyond all those floating rocks. But if you’re not on board with how Ubisoft does open-world games, then you’ll be struggling with half of the game’s core pillars right off the bat.
It’s tough to recommend Final Fantasy XVI’s first DLC called Echoes of the Fallen as it doesn’t deliver much to the core experience, or even something completely different. At the current price point, I was expecting a bit more to stand out, maybe focus on one aspect of the game we haven’t seen before, but sadly this isn’t the case. You’re not missing much here as it would be best to wait for the second DLC called Rising Tide coming next year.
If I’m comparing Persona 5 Tactica against the original game and the other spin-off, it’s my least favorite of the bunch, but the effort didn’t feel like an afterthought, as the story, character designs, and level designs make it an entertaining strategy game for those already well-versed in the Persona 5 world.
Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name isn’t Ryu Ga Gotoku's best work, as combat feels bland and we’ve seen these side activities before, but this is a nice distraction for hardcore fans and a more touching and satisfying sendoff to Kazuma Kiryu as the leading man.
This is how you bring back a classic to the spotlight with a remake treatment that respects the original team’s vision, improves the game where it's needed, and understands the key points as to why The Second Story is still embedded in people’s minds as one of the greatest JRPGS they’ve played years ago. Hopefully, Square Enix will use this as a blueprint for future projects similar to The Second Story R as they nailed it.
You can’t go wrong with Spider-Man 2 if you were sold on the original game - it’s a fantastic use of the source material, and I think the studio has found its new specialty as they’ve delivered a superhero video game that might not only make one a fan of Spider-Man but a fan of Insomniac Games as a studio.
Assassin’s Creed Mirage is proof that the original, stealthy approach to the series’ formula still works just fine in 2023; Ubisoft’s commitment and focus on a single concept is a testament to its core strengths. Mirage lacks ambition, but it’s welcome a correction from recent bloated series entries.
Starfield isn’t as groundbreaking as one would expect it to be, but the developers held true in delivering the game fans have come to expect from Bethesda Game Studios, and in that regard, they succeeded, as this game has the potential to be relevant to players years after it was released, similar to what The Elder Scroll V: Skyrim is to this day.
FromSoftware did not disappoint at revitalizing the Armored Core series with Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon, a title that superbly balances the parts and loadout of a fantastic Armored Core game while injecting the studio’s now-well-known specialty.
I was worried about the series shedding more of its JRPG roots when this title was first introduced, as recent entries have been straying away from more traditional forms for years. But my fears faded in the first five chapters of FFXIV; the essence of what makes Final Fantasy so great shines brightly here, and as such, this is one of my favorite high fantasy adventures this generation.
In the realm of punishing roguelike experiences, Darkest Dungeon 2 stands as one of the greats. With its immersive art style and complex gameplay mechanics, paired with relentless difficulty, players will be left more battered and bruised, but also wiser and more satisfied as they keep on playing.
Dead Island 2 failed to stand out as the original game did since there are now a good amount of zombie-themed titles that are more than capable of scratching this particular itch. It feels so late in the game that other games like it have evolved and experimented with different concepts while this series is still trying to get back on its feet.
Minecraft Legends is a fun strategy built around the Minecraft world, and it’s easy to grasp. Fans will get a kick out of the base campaign (especially with a friend or two), It just has its limitations and mechanics that could lead to frustration.
Resident Evil 4 is another example of why I appreciate remakes, as it revitalizes the love for a beloved title. This game was delivered in such a way to not only appease veteran fans but also to welcome those who have experienced the series only through the previous remakes.
The fact that the developers implemented so many quality of life changes while simultaneously maintaining the game’s charms with such finesse makes Tactics Ogre Reborn stand tall and easily become one of the biggest surprises this year, as I didn’t think I would have so much fun with a strategy RPG released over 25 years ago.
I simply enjoyed the hell out of this video game. This journey comes out swinging and never lets up. Even during its subtle moments, you'll be captivated one way or another by the characters, the scenery, and the level of quality that only a handful of creators can accomplish. The folks at Santa Monica Studio are true masters of their art, and I can’t recommend God of War Ragnarok enough.