After the upcoming planned title updates, Rise could be a real winner. As it stands right now, I still highly recommend picking up Rise, but if you’re on the fence then it might be best to hold off at least until the story is complete. The good news for PC players is that Monster Hunter Rise will be coming to PC next year, so maybe it will launch alongside a new expansion that adds G-Rank hunts and even more monsters into the mix. Until then, I’m going to go beat that elder dragon just one more time… okay, maybe two.
Persona 5 Strikers is a brilliantly executed melding of the Dynasty Warriors style gameplay with Persona 5 characters and systems. It delivers a solid story while staying true to the roots of both games. There were some small issues with how some of the systems were set up, the default sorting for the items list for one, and I wish some of the actual content of my P5R saves would have carried over. Despite these minor issues, I had a blast hanging with the Phantom Thieves again and working to make the world a better place. I would never have thought to ask for this melding, but it's a beautiful experience.
So is it the perfect game? No, unfortunately, it is not. But if you like werewolves, are familiar with the original Werewolf: The Apocalypse universe, or just want to hulk around as a giant wolf throwing people around like ragdolls then it might be worth your time.
Hitman 3 defies every expectation I had for it, from the size of its maps to the scope of its missions. I am truly free to approach these jobs however I wish, so long as the objectives are met, and that freedom is downright exhilarating. It’s not without its foibles, the inconsistency with its enemies being one that I ran into, but any issues are easily overcome by the quality of the overall experience. This may be 47’s last hurrah for a while, but dang if he doesn’t go out swinging.
Cyberpunk 2077 is not perfect. But the fact is, it doesn’t need to be to completely surpass my expectations. Given my experience and placing that against my expectations, I can unequivocally say that Cyberpunk 2077 is one of the greatest games I have ever played. The brilliant world, outstanding level design, seemingly endless density of detail paired with exceptional performances in incredibly engaging stories, all backed by truly groundbreaking graphics technology combine to create a supremely exceptional experience.
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is a triumph for Ubisoft, and one of the best games I’ve played all year. After almost 70 hours in Viking-era England, I still have more to explore and uncover with Eivor, and I can’t wait to dive back in for more. The story is excellent, leaving me eager to see what’s next, and while it had moments where it felt a little dissonant with what Eivor was doing as well as some pacing problems, overall I enjoyed my romp through England. Even as I finish typing this review, I’m already planning where to sail next and what to do differently in another playthrough. Assassin’s Creed Valhalla has lingered on my thoughts, beckoning me to come back to England and continue exploring, raiding and going a-vikingr, even almost 70 hours after I took my first steps as Eivor in Norway.
Ghost of Tsushima is the samurai game I’ve personally always wanted, and it’s one I can find myself diving into just to explore the world and take in the sights as I play, helping Jin find some small measure of peace along the way, assuming the wind guides us there.
I think that, despite showing its age, Xenoblade Chronicles Definitive Edition lives up to being one of the greatest JRPGs in the last couple decades. Its story and gameplay are timeless and, although I was personally overwhelmed by its inventory system, the amount of customizability and freedom that comes with the plethora of gear available makes it highly replay-able to boot. The additional content, including the new Casual and Expert modes, the Time Attack Challenges, and the extra story Future Connected epilogue, makes this the best version of Xenoblade Chronicles available to date, as well as cements it as one of the best values in gaming on the Nintendo Switch.
I’m honestly happy I waited until Persona 5 Royal came out to play Persona 5. It is well polished and feels like a game that could have come out for the first time this year. This is absolutely an excellent example of how to rerelease a game and make paying full price for it worthwhile. For me to only have minor complaints about a game, which is easily well over 100 hours of gameplay, even if you don’t do everything is rare. If you loved original Persona 5, Royal is worth your time. If you’ve never played the original or any other Persona game, Persona 5 Royal is a perfect game to pick-up and get into the series.
As much as I love Animal Crossing, I suppose I expected just a lot more than what we’ve seen in New Leaf and Pocket Camp. I would even throw my hands up in elation if Gyroids made their triumphant return as audible and visual furniture once again. Despite some of these minor misgivings, and lost opportunities in my estimation, Animal Crossing: New Horizons delivers on an island building simulation that will not disappoint. If you’re headed to the island, say “Hi” to Nook for me.