Borderlands 3Xbox One
Exploring new worlds is novel, though it would have been nice to see them differentiated more from Pandora. The story and missions never quite hit the same highs as the previous game, but the core gameplay loop is more than enough to suck you in. Unfortunately, it’s hard to ignore the technical issues, which persist throughout the entire experience and hamper it. Borderlands 3 is a fun, looting experience — just don’t expect a fresh or completely polished adventure.
eFootball PES 2020 Standard EditionPS4
The Master League is a great endeavor for a single player experience, but may be a bit much for players who aren’t hardcore fans. There’s no doubt that Konami still focuses on the hardcore fan as it still needs to work on providing a more fun and enticing experience as it has the technological and simulation side down. There’s no doubt that eFootball PES 2020 is the best version of the game this generation, but it’s still geared towards its own community.
Be it alone or with friends (though the latter is the more recommended option), Heave Ho is still a truly unique and challenging platforming adventure with a ton of charm. The cute character designs, humor and costumes are likely to draw you in, but it’s the immaculate level design and a variety of obstacles to conquer that will keep you addicted. It’s a twisted game of mountaineering where the climb is a wacky delight that will easily have you willingly plummeting back down to the beginning when it’s done, ready for more. It makes for a brutal couch co-op party, but an enjoyable one.
Praise be to Blasphemous, for it’s an impressive game that has truly joined together the peanut-butter-and-chocolate-style union that is souls-likes and metroidvania games. While certain levels and enemies could benefit from a bit more polish, the end result is still a sinful delight filled with heavily-enjoyable combat, tons of areas to explore and secrets to uncover, and some jaw-dropping (if brutal) sights. It may be a game filled with countless unholy terrors, but it also oddly has a lot of love put into it as well, so don’t miss out on it (if you don’t mind the occasional nightmare).
Minor issues are frequent — at times garnering bitterness to some of the game’s unwarranted restrictions and absences — but there’s enough of a discovery, satisfaction and fascination with its world-building for those rough edges to not become that much of an issue. Easily Spiders’ best work and one that is confident in its own material, GreedFall, though flawed, is one more fine addition to the AA sphere and a great example of passion and dedication, succeeding where it matters.
NASCAR Heat 4PS4
NASCAR Heat 4 gets it right with properly replicating NASCAR and the racing is the best the series has seen. The AI does a wonderful job of not ruining the experience and is a better opponent than people online. The Career Mode continues to be deep. About the only knock the game has is that there is no major new mode but the advancements are enough. You won’t be worrying about that when you’re racing. I feel the dedication to eSports brought upon this upgrade of on-track action and the visuals get the necessary jump to be considered a major player in racing games.
NHL 20 made some noteworthy changes that were much needed, but the game feels mostly dated. The gameplay is faster, but the AI still can suck the life out of the fun. The focus is on the arcade multiplayer aspects as it seems that EA Vancouver is leaving the NHL experience behind. There are plenty of modes here, but it’s the same story. The presentation creates a new feel to each game and it was much needed. The NHL series is still a great hockey series, but it set expectations high early in this generation. NHL 20 packs a lot for players that don’t pick it up yearly, but others may want to wait on the bench.
WRC 8 FIA World Rally ChampionshipPC
In the end, with an expanded and much-improved career mode, some thoughtful, small-and-subtle tweaks and even more unpredictable elements to keep wary of — on top of all the care put into the physics, feedback and very sound — Kylotonn’s latest in WRC 8 stands as the studio’s best interpretation yet.
NBA 2K20 will continue to be supported by its giant community and hailed as a true NBA simulation. There’s no doubt that the game is fun as the grind and work throughout it gives such a feeling of satisfaction at the end because you battled for that win. Having that broadcast presentation helps with that since after the game there are so many options to do off-the-court management that it keeps the player engaged for some time. The quirks and issues become aggravating over time as you try to get better, but the core feel of the game has felt this way for a while.
Aside from the lackluster co-op and slow start, Astral Chain is one of those rare games where it’s difficult to say anything bad about it. The story and world building may fall short of the masterpiece that was NieR: Automata, which also involved Astral Chain director Takahisa Taura, but I dare say this is the best combat action in a Platinum Games title to date. The dual control of one of the Howard twins and the Legion in an innovative twist in battle and makes combat as fun to watch as it is to play.
GEARS 5Xbox One
I may sound negative, but the fact is Gears 5 is the best cooperative and competitive third-person shooter, at least mechanically speaking. Combat remains exquisitely satisfying, the sound and visual departments have upped their game, the multiplayer is once more highly addicting and the lore of the world has never been so compelling. Gears 5 doesn’t quite reinvent the genre, but instead acts as a stepping stone for a better future.
Monster Hunter: World - IcebornePS4
Iceborne does everything within its power to improve upon that and does it fantastically. From the wide and varied amount of new monsters and sub-species, to the quality of life changes in the new village, Iceborne nails it extremely well. Although load times haven’t improved, the emphasis on making things better without having to go through frequent loading areas helps leaps and bounds in making things significantly less tiresome to navigate. Anyone who wants even more fantastic combat against harder, more challenging foes need look no further than Monster Hunter World: Iceborne.
Children of MortaPC
While Children of Morta‘s surprising flexibility — without too comprising on the challenge of its gameplay — is one to take note of, it’s Dead Mage’s ability to find harmony with so many [figurative] moving parts that’s more impressive. Don’t let the tag or implication of hollowness throw you, Children of Morta — like Dead Cells before it — is an addictive, well-orchestrated and brilliantly-devised take on the roguelike template.
One could easily make the argument that Control could very well be Remedy’s magnum opus. Not only have they managed to craft a fun and insane world full of surreal delights and impressive visuals, but they loaded it with a massive amount of secrets to hunt for and paired it alongside some of the year’s best combat. The end result is a superb third-person action game that you shouldn’t miss out on. The game may end with a not-so-subtle hint at upcoming DLC set to come in the future, but the terrific gameplay leaves one wanting more.
Blair Witch makes a valiant effort to revive the franchise, and while it won’t generate the hype of the 1999 film, it’s a worthwhile horror title despite some flaws discussed above. Its biggest problem is that the execution of a lot of its ideas fall short of their potential. Bullet is a great addition to the experience, but poor pacing and not the greatest game mechanics hold this one back from being a must-play title. For hardcore horror fans or people who are really into the Blair Witch franchise, this title is worth checking out.
Catherine: Full BodyPS4
Catherine: Full Body is successful. The game looks and sounds great, its new remix mode offers refreshing challenges to player both old and new alike, the new safety mode makes seeing all the endings easier than ever, and the addition of a fully-featured online multiplayer is sure to keep die-hard block-stackers happy for a good long while. New players and serious fans likely won’t regret picking up Catherine: Full Body on release, but everyone else would likely be better-off waiting for a sale.
GRANDIA HD CollectionSwitch
Grandia HD Collection has a few issues but in spite of these is a still a worthwhile addition to any JRPG fan’s collection. The two games are classic gems that flew under many people’s radar during their initial release but are also fun even if this is the first time playing them. There are minor modernization tweaks to the titles and some technical issues do mar the experience, but even with these concessions, having these two titles available to play on the go is hard to complain about. They show their age and have some flaws, but their good outweighs their bad and each title provides a different but memorable adventure.
Her Story is a tough act to follow, and unfortunately, Telling Lies does not hit the same emotional highs that Barlow’s previous game did. Opting to use the same barebones video player both does not make sense for this storyline and introduces an annoyance that players are forced to deal with. The story is still intriguing, but not to a binge-worthy degree. Telling Lies is worth playing for Her Story fans, but can’t quite hit those same high notes despite its best efforts.
The Dark Pictures Anthology - Man of MedanPC
Despite how negative I may have seemed there, I do genuinely want The Dark Pictures Anthology to continue and succeed (the game even seems to tease the next entry in it, seemingly already in the works), as I loved Until Dawn and would love to see more similar experiences from Supermassive. But despite having the same solid mechanics as its big brother, Man of Medan starts the anthology off on a thoroughly “meh” note, thanks its unimpressive, poorly-constructed story. Hopefully things will improve by then, because an improved sequel to a slasher story can always be a rare and pleasant surprise.
Crystar pairs an original and compelling story with fairly average gameplay. The repetitive nature can become tedious, especially during the later parts, but the narrative concept is interesting enough to push the player to guiding Rei to the end of Purgatory. This is one of those games where the recommendation would have more to do with the level of personal interest in the story than anything else as that’s the most noteworthy feature in an otherwise good but unremarkable action RPG.
Ancestors: the Humankind OdysseyPC
Panache Digital Games has created a truly immersive, lush environment that’s thrilling to explore and traverse. Utilizing our natural instincts for discovery is truly the most ingenious aspect of the game, as it rewards us for problem solving in ways that already come naturally to us. It’s such a gratifying experience to see our hominids start out with no understanding of the world, to then become fairly self-sustaining creatures thanks to education and discovery. More than anything, Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey shows us what amazing creatures we truly are and how far we’ve come as a species.
Knights and BikesPS4
For those who are fans of this kind of colorful, semi-abstract, exaggerated style of visuals, Knights and Bikes lives up to the promise of reflecting both the silly as much the sincere side of two friends off on an adventure. Foam Sword’s use of child-like imagination and stretching the “realism” of its game world’s scenario to suit the situation is well-placed and there’s an appreciation to be had for the way their game’s aesthetic combines with their main protagonist’s wild-and-naive strive for adventure.
Yu-Gi-Oh! Legacy of the Duelist: Link Evolution!Switch
Collecting the cards from any TCG series is fantastic and rewarding, but realistically not everyone can afford to participate in such a hobby. Yu-Gi-Oh! Legacy of the Duelist: Link Evolution gives players a way to access over 9000 cards by simply playing and earning them as they go along. No micro-transactions or DLC keep them locked behind a wall; it’s all wrapped up in one package.
Life is Strange 2: Episode 4PS4
While there might be some time to wait before Episode 5’s release in December, Episode 4: Faith delivers a fantastic story-focused episode and sets up the perfect springboard for the Diaz brothers’ next stop of Puerto Lobos. Sean might have been battered, bruised and forever wounded by his scars, but Life Is Strange 2 charges to the finishing line with significant momentum behind it.