For a moderate investment, DropMix will have you feeling like a house DJ in no time, with the added benefit of being able to prove you're a better mixologist than your friends. There's an ease of play that Harmonix just knows how to put into all its efforts, and DropMix is no different. The competitive play is a lot of fun, and DropMix has plenty of legs thanks to its ability to let you put a show, whether it's for a crowd or just to give your day-to-day a fun soundtrack.
Knack II is more engaging than its predecessor, but there's still not much about this franchise that can make it one of Sony's defining original properties. This sequel is an easy game to enjoy, but Knack II fades from memory just as fast as the character can shift between forms.
Everybody's Golf nearly delivers on all its promises, and adds some things we didn't even know we wanted from the franchise. The PlayStation 4 entry reached for greatness, but came up just a bit short of that goal due to the lack of impressiveness online. The end result is still one of the finest golf games of the last 20 years — we did put in time on over 800 holes — even if it's not quite the masterpiece we hoped it would have been.
Mario + Rabbids Kingdom BattleSwitch
Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle takes familiar characters to very different places than we've seen them before, and the experiment works. While the premise is about as ludicrous as one would expect from the Rabbids, there's a real strong game underneath all that goofiness. The strategic action isn't quite as punishing as some of the more established franchises in the genre, but Kingdom Battle still manages pack some smart gameplay tricks into a welcoming experience for Switch owners.
Madden NFL 18PS4
Madden has been good for a long time, but this year it's great. There are so many small improvements made to the core of Madden NFL 18's gameplay thanks to the new engine, it's hard not to be excited when hitting the gridiron every time you fire up a game. Even after hours of play, we're still noticing new ways in which players are reacting and moving between the hash marks.
Uncharted: The Lost LegacyPS4
Uncharted: The Lost Legacy had a lot to live up to given the pedigree of the franchise to this point. Being the coda of sorts for the series also stacked the deck against Lost Legacy a bit, but Naughty Dog has delivered another impeccable game that stands among the best in its library. Lost Legacy takes all of the positives of the series and combines them with protagonists that bring a fresh take on adventure to the series.
Agents of MayhemPS4
Agents of Mayhem is another strong entry in the developer's fan-favorite library, and has just as many memorable characters and moments as the best Saints Row titles. There are times where it feels like a bit of a grind, but even those elements are outmatched by Agents' charm. Saving the world has never been this vulgar or felt this good, and we wouldn't have it any other way.
Nidhogg 2 is a game you can quickly lose an afternoon to, and you won't mind one bit. Few games are as friendly to players as all skill levels, while still providing intense matches and a few good laughs. Don't let the simple controls fool you. There's a lot of strategy to devise, particularly when you get continually matched up against your closest pals. The humor is delightful, and sometimes a little gross, but the cartoonish style makes it all work in tandem with the swordplay.
Still in its infancy, PlayStation VR is waiting for its killer game. Superhot VR is a solid contender, but one that falls short of the mark due to the hardware's imprecision. It's a puzzling game that rewards you for patience and thoughtful approaches to difficult situations, but those tracking limitations spoil the fun more often than not.
Crash Bandicoot N. Sane TrilogyPS4
It would be easy to dismiss Crash Bandicoot N Sane Trilogy as a nostalgia play, but it's quite a bit more than that. This collection celebrates a franchise that was once a hallmark of a bygone console, and that hasn't been relevant for quite some time. Vicarious Visions has done a fantastic job recreating everything that made Crash Bandicoot such an appealing series, and it's done it with style and improvements that only this latest generation could provide.
The Walking Dead: A New Frontier - Episode 5PC
The Walking Dead: A New Frontier didn't just have an ambitious title, it also had a great deal of promise. The start of the third season was as memorable as anything Telltale had done before, but the story took turns in some strange directions that didn't have the payoff hinted at early on. Given Telltale's track record, we're not writing off the future of The Walking Dead, but A New Frontier's finish certainly raised questions as to whether or not Telltale has anything exciting left to say about this world.
Injustice 2Xbox One
Just having the likes of Gorilla Grodd and Aquaman in a fighting game would have been enough for most fans, but including as much depth in the story, loot system, online options, and customization takes Injustice 2 above and beyond. It's not all that rare for NetherRealm to have success in the fighting genre, but to accomplish this level of excellence for players of all skill levels is a fantastic achievement.
The Walking Dead: A New Frontier - Episode 4PC
As strong as this season has been, the latest episode, "Thicker Than Water," did little to change the stakes or present new angles to its cast. Were it not for the final minutes, this episode may as well have been called "Treading Water."
Prey's pacing may turn off players unwilling to let the story unfold in due time, but Arkane has crafted a special, authentic world that's worth combing over for every last detail. The things we do in the name of science are surprising and sometimes shocking. The events of what happened on Talos I definitely fall into the latter, and exploring them as Morgan Yu was a terrifying and thrilling experience. JFK was right when he said exploring space was "the most hazardous and dangerous and greatest adventure on which man has ever embarked."
What Remains of Edith FinchPS4
Equal parts somber, whimsical, devastating and charming, What Remains of Edith Finch is a moving exploration of what it means to be a family, to be loved, to be missed, and how the places we call home become just as much a part of us as we are of them.
Thimbleweed Park is built on a foundation of nostalgia and reinforced with pop culture references, but it's the clever puzzles, funny characters, and stellar design that hold it all together. It reminds us what's great about classic point-and-click adventures while showing that there's still a place for the genre in modern gaming. Lucasfilm Games and its beloved IP may be lost to us, but the creative forces behind those classics still know what it takes to make a compelling, funny, clever adventure.
Deus Ex: Mankind Divided - A Criminal PastPS4
Deus Ex: Mankind Divided was already one of our favorite games of last year, but both add-ons in Jensen's Stories have kept the game feeling fresh long after release. "A Criminal Past" was a bit more enjoyable than "System Rift" if only because "System Rift" took place in the same confines as the main campaign, and this new DLC lets us see someplace new and different we haven't been exploring for hours on end already. Whatever Square and Eidos have in store for Deus Ex in the future, "A Criminal Past" and Mankind Divided show there are plenty of ways to keep us coming back for more.
Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: WildlandsPS4
Repetition notwithstanding Ghost Recon: Wildlands is a great way to blow off some steam with a few friends for a couple of hours at a time. Co-op gameplay is some of the best I’ve ever seen and this in-game world will take weeks to explore, just don’t expect to be wowed by the mission variety during the adventure. My world wasn’t rocked, but these Wildlands offered enough fun for me to recommend it to those looking for some co-op shooter fun.
Mass Effect: AndromedaXbox One
Mass Effect Andromeda truly shines in the smaller moments when the weight of having to colonize an entire galaxy isn't on your shoulders. The Andromeda galaxy feels full of life however, and it's a place we're eager to return to in the future.
Nier: Automata's story is a rich tale, both tragic and whimsical, told expertly through the medium of video games by melding thrilling combat with a profoundly imaginative world well worth exploring. Director Yoko Taro is a madman with a box, and he's been kind enough to open that box to let us play with it.