Although over the decades comics have become ever more reflective of the complexities and concerns of contemporary life, in the end, they are still often the literary or cinematic equivalent of fast food: momentarily delicious, exactly what you need to fill the void, but not necessarily memorable or nutritious. Guardians of the Galaxy isn’t afraid of touching on some weighty themes, but they’re always secondary to an absorbing story, entertaining characters, and engaging action. Guardians of the Galaxy isn’t perfect, but overall, it’s a very effective translation of Marvel’s iconic band of misfits from page or screen into interactive entertainment.
World War Z’s story was, and remains, a background element whose task is to move the player from episode to episode. Aftermath’s two new episodes are set in interesting environments, and the game’s additions and fixes will be welcome to those returning to World War Z as well as to those just starting out. The first person mechanic has potential but remains incomplete, and the new Vanguard likewise might appeal to those wanting to level a new class. Like the base game, Aftermath sans human players might not be a hard pass, but it isn’t the experience the developers intended. With some friends, or at least competent random homo sapiens, World War Z Aftermath provides a unique take on a familiar enemy and does a great job of translating the terror-inducing swarm of zombies mechanic from film to videogame.
At its core, Far Cry 6 both shines and suffers from many of the same strengths and weaknesses that have characterized the last few entries in the franchise. On one hand, it has incredibly engaging action and an open world begging to be used creatively. On the other, it has repetitive and sometimes rote mission design, with disconcerting tonal shifts that seat inconceivable brutality and violence at the same table with silly, absurd humor that feels at best disrespectful, and at worst, wildly inappropriate. What finally elevates Far Cry 6 is a better-than-average cast, and a more comprehensible and grounded story that is set in one of the most lavish and beautiful environments ever created for a game. It’s fascinating, flawed, and full of contradictions. It’s a Far Cry game.
Rogue Lords’ approach to turn-based combat — with or without cards — isn’t radically different, but the Devil Mode and ability to “cheat your way to victory” offers a new mechanic that will have you rethinking your usual strategies. Some issues with bugs, balancing, and its overlong, weariness-inducing campaigns are made less egregious thanks to its amusing writing, great music and fantastic gothic horror art direction. Unlike some of the games in this style, Rogue Lords demands a bit of patience, thought and tolerance for complexity while still be accessible to fans of the genre.
All MMORPGs are major time commitments by definition, so whether New World can hold your attention long term is probably a function of your expectations, and whether you connect with what the game has to offer. New World probably won’t ever surprise you, but it won’t disappoint you either.
If there’s a sticking point to really enjoying Xuan Yuan Sword VII, it’s that not everyone will respond to its pace and insistence on story and character over action. While its mythology, history and politics are firmly rooted in Chinese culture, this 20-hour family drama is moving, universal and entirely relatable, and its action is rewarding. For those with patience, Xuan Yuan Sword VII is a unique and memorable action roleplaying game experience.
In those areas where Diablo II: Resurrected attempts to improve on the original, it absolutely succeeds. It looks infinitely better, it’s more accessible to a wider range of gamers, and it mostly feels like it deserves to live on current-gen systems. At the same time, some of the changes seem arbitrary when looked at through the lens of what could have, and should have, been updated. Part of Diablo II: Resurrected feels wonderfully nostalgic and timeless, but another part feels mired in outdated mechanics from decades past, and pretty graphics alone can’t fix that.
I think that whether you enjoy Sable will very much depend on your mood and expectations. Some gamers will appreciate it for the chill, Zen-like, conflict-and-combat-free, emotionally resonant story that it absolutely is. Other gamers may grow impatient with its lack of real incident, and weary of the pace and absence of challenge. I tend to land in the latter camp. Sable is a beautiful game, but it needs to rev up the dramatic engine or raise the stakes for the player to keep fidgety gamers like me engaged.