Marvel’s Avengers has proven to be a pleasant surprise, even if its live service identity arguably hinders the true potential of its world, story and characters. Engaging combat and rewarding progression have established a solid foundation for Crystal Dynamics to build upon with new heroes and scenarios in the months and years to come.
Crusader Kings 3 is a fantastic entry in Paradox's historically-rooted strategy series. New RPG elements help to create a more engrossing character-driven experience, while lots of quality-of-life improvements make it more accessible and digestible to both Crusader Kings veterans and newcomers. There are still a couple of issues, such as as inconsistent AI-controlled allied armies, but this is still nonetheless one of the absolute best strategy games you can currently buy.
Tell Me Why is an engrossing narrative adventure that pushes inclusivity to the forefront, setting a new benchmark for queer representation in the blockbuster space. As a transgender person, this is the level of research and respect that I anticipate from games going forward, and knowing it has the backing of Xbox Game Studios gives me that hope.
UFC 4 is an enjoyable trip into the world of mixed-martial arts which makes some ample improvements to the formula when compared to previous entries. While it can still feel underbaked and bland in certain areas, such as the career mode, it has been refined with a stellar onboarding experience that makes it super accessible to newcomers.
Microsoft Flight Simulator is a triumphantly ambitious venture which pushes the boundaries of photorealism in the gaming medium. It requires a lot of horsepower and the support of Azure technology to accomplish such a feat, but these barriers are washed away when you're staring down at endless cities and thick jungles from thousands of feet in the air. It's breathtaking, and I hope it brings such simulators further into the mainstream.
Mortal Shell is one of the year's biggest gaming surprises, offering a deep, fascinating journey into a melancholic world. It takes blatant inspiration from Dark Souls and Bloodborne,. But innovative tweaks to its combat and progression mechanics let it easily stand on its own two feet.
A Total War Saga: Troy is a superb entry to Creative Assembly's strategy series, with both combat and diplomacy proving incredibly addictive. However, there have been a few tweaks to the Total War blueprint in order to accommodate the Bronze Age setting. Hardcore Total War fans may be dismayed by the lack of unit variety, but newcomers may well relish the simplified approach. The new economy system also adds a new depth to diplomacy and strategy, making non-combat play significantly more enjoyable no matter your Total War experience level. And with a smattering of Greek mythology, Troy feels one of the most distinctive entries to the series yet.
Fall Guys is an absolute delight. It feels like a natural evolution of the battle royale genre that abandons the expectation of violence and exchanges it for a bright, colourful multiplayer experience that sinks its hooks in and refuses to let go.