My Most Anticipated Games, Expansions and DLC of 2020

2020 is looking to be a pretty good year for gaming, and having decided to make myself a game releases calendar for the stuff I’m personally most interested in, I figured I may as well go the extra mile and make an entire blog post about it. I briefly mentioned what I was anticipating at the end of my 2019 GOTY post, but there’s more to come and more to say about each title. So, going in order of release, we have:


Warcraft III Reforged

Anticipation Level: It’s Warcraft! But it’s also RTS.

maxresdefault

Release Date: January 28th

I probably don’t need to do the whole song and dance about how much of my life I’ve devoted to World of Warcraft at this point, but if you’re new here, allow me to summarise:

It’s a lot.

More specifically though, I’ve always been interested in the lore behind Warcraft’s universe, and indeed one of the reasons I’m so excited about the next expansion is that it’s mostly new material, expanding the story on a cosmological scale. More relevantly to this game, though, I’ve never played any of the original RTS games. I got my dose of Warcraft III lore in the form of Youtubers like nobbel, helping me to fill in important backstory for MMO characters such as Jaina, Illidan and the Lich King.

Due to this, though, my knowledge of the Warcraft III story is limited to a sort of cliff notes version of the plot, and I’m very much considering diving in to the Reforged edition and witnessing the story firsthand with the benefit of updated graphics and renewed relevancy. That being said, as with many other games on this list of a milder anticipation level, it all depends on income and free time.


Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Anticipation Level: If I could pay off my debt to Tom Nook in hype, I’d be debt-free on day one.

media-4.image

Release Date: March 20th

Did I make this entire blog post as an excuse to vent hype about the upcoming Animal Crossing game? Maybe. Your point?

My first game in the Animal Crossing series was the Wii one, and I loved it, but always lamented the lack of ease of play. This is going to come off as extremely lazy, but the requirement of motion controls (I assume? I had no Pro controller but you couldn’t play with the controller sideways) meant you needed to have at least some free space to wave your arm about, or a motion sensor that didn’t break every two months. Nevertheless, I enjoyed City Folk as much as Wild World (acquired later) and New Leaf. In all three titles I sunk many days of work collecting fruit, fish, bugs, laying down pathways, paying off debts, the works.

I criminally underused my 3DS, though, so New Leaf didn’t get quite as much love from me as it maybe should have, and I’ve subsequently not played any Animal Crossing in some time. I’m therefore bursting at the seams for New Horizons. And hey, you know how any seasoned Animal Crossing player has a favourite villager? Aurora. Aurora the goddamned penguin. She showed up in my first Wild World save as one of my original villagers, and then later showed up again in my New Leaf village. If I could get her to consider island life, then I am more than willing to resume being besties for life. Just, you know. Putting it out there.

Goldie is cool too.


DOOM Eternal

Anticipation Level: Tweet and blog. Until it is out.

hXs4EhwUkWzvTm4D3cKa2c

Release Date: March 20th

Yes, I see you doing the double-take. DOOM Eternal releases on the same day as Animal Crossing. That means that there is an excellent chance that I’ll be viscerally murdering swathes of demons and stomping through angel guts on the very same day that I’m moving into my new island home, setting up the furniture and watering the lovely flowers nearby. If I do have to choose, and common financial sense dictates that I likely will, then I’m probably going for the island life. As much as I love the shit out of DOOM, I’ve still yet to beat a single game in the series. I’m like 80% of the way through, but I always get distracted by something else.

Nevertheless, DOOM Eternal looks to be advancing the spectacular reboot into enticing new locations, with new people (demons) to meet (slaughter) and new locales (apocalyptic hellscapes) to visit (conquer). Maybe I’ll send a postcard.


DOOM 64

Anticipation Level: It won’t be the first DOOM release I try this year…

dims

Release Date: March 20th

DOOM 64 releases on the same day as DOOM Eternal, and given that one is old and one is new I’ll likely check out Eternal first. But as someone who sought out the original DOOM a few years before the reboot was even announced and loved it, I’m always interested in more retro DOOM. I’ve still not tried DOOM 2, though, because I haven’t beaten DOOM 1. Can you see a pattern developing here?

Before we move on, now’s a good chance to mention that this exists as a sort of apology for the delay; DOOM Eternal was originally going to release back in October, on the same day as Animal Crossing: New Horizons before that got delayed to March as well. These two titles are determined to stick together. How romantic.


Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary Edition

Anticipation Level: Duh-duh-duh-dunn!

Halo-Combat-Evolved-Anniversary-91-1362712317-1280x720

Release Date: March-April, we hope

As a newcomer to the franchise, I think that starting with Reach on PC was a fantastic choice, and the result of many things aligning – Reach being omitted from the Xbox collection meant that 343 could kill two birds with one stone in developing it for PC, as it’s chronologically the earliest game. Plus, it makes PC players’ first experience with Halo a more modern, polished one, as opposed to the original, which will have inevitably aged and could turn newcomers off. That being said…

I’m ready to be the Chief! Pump that shit into my veins!


Cyberpunk 2077

Anticipation Level: Mild, but pretty sure it’s a crime to not include this title.

maxresdefault (1)

Release Date: April 17th

I’m only just falling in love with The Witcher 3, and I’ve bounced off both previous Witcher games, so all throughout Cyberpunk’s pre-release hype I’ve been blind to the pedigree of CD Projekt Red. Plus, while the setting interests me, I’ve never personally fallen in love with a cyberpunk world. Nevertheless, this looks like an extremely high calibre game, and I’m excited to experience it secondhand; through Youtubers and streamers and surely my mate who’s going to be buying this day one, I assume.


Minecraft Dungeons

Anticipation Level: It entirely depends on the quality of the final product.

Minecraft Dungeons Screenshot Lava Bridge

Release: April

I like Minecraft a fair bit. I can’t see how that translates into hype for a completely different genre as a spinoff title, but the aesthetic translates cutely enough, and it’ll be interesting to see what new avenues are explored in the world of Minecraft – new monsters, locations etc.

Best case scenario, this game is a Minecraft themed Diablo-like that’s fun to play on and off for a good twenty hours. If it’s cheap or if I re-activate Game Pass, I’ll be sure to check it out.


Sidenote – Marvel’s Avengers releases in April? We still don’t know what the hell’s going on with that game. Last I heard they did a 180 and now it’s focusing on a character who wasn’t in any of the trailers / shown story material.


The Elder Scrolls Online: Untitled Skyrim Chapter

Anticipation Level: SHOW ME WHITERUN BABYYYYYY

Elder-Scrolls-Online-Skyrim

Release: Likely Summer

This one’s a difficult one to talk about, because they haven’t technically announced it yet. If I was patient, I’d be making this blog post next week, which is the announcement date. But at The Game Awards they teased that their next Chapter (see: Expansion) is taking us into “the dark heart of Skyrim”, which many have speculated to mean the underground area known as Blackreach. I wouldn’t be surprised nor disappointed if that was the case, but hopefully as an Artaeum-style accompanying zone, with the main focus being on the remainder of Skyrim that’s yet to be included in game, such as the areas containing Whiterun, Falkreath, maybe even Solitude?

Oh, and a new class would be nice, too, though I’ve hardly explored outside of Sorcerer so far. New profession? Would fit the pattern, but can’t think of what. Or they could surprise everyone and include a new race, like the snow elves, though I’m not sure how they’d fit into the lore. I mean, they did dragons during the second empire, so I’m assuming anything’s on the table at this point. Dwemer, even?


Halo 2 / Halo 2: Anniversary Edition

Anticipation Level: Duh-duh-duh-DUNNN!!

Press-Tour-2014-Halo-2-Anniversary-Cairo-Station-Sword-to-a-Gunfight

Release Date: My guess is Summer?

Given that I’m just a Reach boi right now, I can’t really formulate an idea of what this game is in comparison to Combat Evolved. All I know is that it has dual-wielding, an Elite campaign element, that turbine map, and more recently, that Halo 2’s Anniversary graphics do more for that game than I expected, they’re gorgeous.

Is it enough to be hyped about? ABSOLUTELY IT IS.


Pokémon Sword: Armour Island Expansion

Anticipation Level: Lrrroooaaaarrddd!

pokemon-sword-shield-isle-of-armor_feature

Release Date: June

These were announced a few hours ago, so excuse my relatively unformed opinions. These kind of caught me off guard, but heck yeah, I’m ready for this! Both areas have an overworld that’s entirely wild area-like, which is hopefully how the full games are moving forward.

It’s a little hard to separate what belongs to which expansion given how they’ve marketed it, but it seems that the first expansion contains Venusaur and Blastoise and Gigantamax forms of each, out of which Blastoise sadly wins design-wise; looks like we’ll be chasing after a legendary fighting Pokémon themed after a panda-looking bear dude, and that it’s going to be primarily story focused. I think, of the two expansions, I’m more excited for this one’s environment, but the second one’s actual game content.


Pokémon Sword: Crown Tundra Expansion

Anticipation Level: Whatever noise Eternatus makes?

map_crown_2x

Release: Autumn 2020

The second expansion is almost a mirror of the first when it comes to how it’s an open area, with a running story, and a legendary Pokémon to chase after (some weird biped that looks like it should be a quadraped but it has a bush for a hairdo), but this expansion also allows you to team up with friends and venture into underground Pokémon dens to capture old legendaries, which sounds fun. They’ve also given the legendary birds some awesome new forms – did I see concept art of Articuno shooting eye lazers? – and there’s some new Regis in there to boot.

Not much else to add, just pleasantly surprised they’re fleshing out Pokémon Sword and Shield in a meaningful way, especially as Sword is the most fun I’ve had in a Pokémon game since Soul Silver. I now make it my mission to finish the Pokédex before Armour Island releases (I got distracted breeding and wonder trading).


Gods and Monsters

Anticipation Level: Just don’t add towers and pointless collectables

Gods-Monsters-1080P-Wallpaper-2

Release: Q3/4

Literally the only thing I know about this game is that it’s made by the developers who did Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, and that they want to make a similar game, but one which focuses more on the mythology side of things.

So far, I’m sold.


Watch Dogs: Legion

Anticipation Level: A healthy curiosity, and a suspicion of secretly spry elderly people

zcp2mCSG4BD3ADAAynDnAd

Release: Q3/4

I’ve never played a Watch Dogs game before because it’s Ubisoft, and GTA V exists, but from what I’ve heard the second game was pretty decent. The premise behind Legion has got my attention, though. The possibility of any NPC becoming a playable character with a fully fleshed out story and character traits, plus permadeath, in a GTA style world makes my sandbox tastebuds tingle with excitement. It’s also an incredibly difficult formula to perfect, and I have many concerns about how things will actually play out, so I’ll keep a watchful eye on the game past launch.

I’m also super intrigued by the whole post-Brexit dystopia thing they’ve got going on. Besides maybe some spy or war focused games, I can’t think of a single title which tackles modern events with such reckless abandon. And I’ve already seen a pretty huge red flag in the form of Ubisoft claiming that it’s not a political game in any way. You set it in a post-Brexit London gone wrong, how the fuck do you create the world without political connotation out the wazoo?

It’s either going to be a fantastic game, or an utter shitshow. Or a little bit of both, because nuance exists.


Halo 3 + ODST

Anticipation Level: DUH-DUH-DUH-DUNNN!!!

maxresdefault (2)

Release Date: Fall, hopefully? May be getting too hopeful.

This is it, the granddaddy of all Halo, the epitome of Chiefage. Or so I know from osmosis. I remember an interview someone did in a line of Halo 3 purchasers outside of Gamestop once, where someone said that Halo 3 would be without a doubt the greatest game ever made. As a kid I kinda just believed that, but thinking about it now that speaks more to the success of Halo 2 than anything.

Anyway, what do I know about Halo 3? Well until recently I thought it introduced energy swords. I know that there’s some desert levels and, hey, didn’t they redo Blood Gulch for this one?

Look, I’m excited, what more do you want from me.


World of Warcraft: Shadowlands

Anticipation Level: aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

wp4855005

Release Date: “2020”, history says Autumn, reality says Holiday.

aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

AAA

A

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

Okay, I should probably articulate instead of screaming.

I am completely in love with everything we’ve seen regarding Shadowlands so far. Actual fantastical setting? Check. Thematic variety across zones? Check. Linear story so it has room to be something good? Check. New lore on a cosmological scale? Check. Meaningful solo content? Check (I hope). Roguelike elements to it? Check. Interesting expansionary feature? Check – emissaries.

I could keep going, but this isn’t a WoW based post so I’ll leave it there.


Godfall

Anticipation Level: WHAT IS THIS GAME

godfall

Release Date: Holiday 2020, PS5 babyyyyy

I’m mostly just excited to learn about what the hell this game is. It is the most shounen anime looking shit and I am all about it. And people aren’t talking about it. Why the hell aren’t people talking about it?!

Oh, right. Because the gameplay could be anything.


Halo 4

Anticipation Level: Duh-duh-duh-dunn!!!!

h4_004-c06b315842e045c2a214237dc8df3836

Release Date: Literally just guessing by this point, but before Halo Infinite? As a goal, at least.

I know this as the Episode VII of Halo. The “they tried to revive it and it was okay but not amazing. Also similar but different” game. I know it has orange guns? And modernised FPS handling, including sane sprinting. And something called the Praetorians? I might have made them up.

IT’S MORE HALO I WANT ALL THE HALO MOVING ON.


Halo Infinite

Anticipation Level: Duh-duh-duh-dunn?

hi_stinger_chipout_wtrmk-1920x1080-c1bd8a4c06b94e9ea65708a7a9f05613

Release Date: Holiday 2020, Xbox PC babyyyy

Am… am I allowed to be excited for Halo Infinite? Narratively speaking, I’m all the way back in Reach. I don’t even know what a Halo is, besides that it’s “like a Death Star but it’s already got a big hole in it”. I haven’t even met Master Chief yet. But I’m super excited about playing Halo 1-4 (and reading up on 5 lol) so… yay? I guess?


LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga

Anticipation Level: Fuck the movies, gimmie them BRICKS

D5tCw9VS9RoTuNy4ZEYwe5

Release Date: 2020

LEGO Star Wars is my childhood. It was basically my introduction to the entire franchise. I’ve played through it so many times! And now they’re completely remaking the originals as well as making the Disney trilogy. Can you imagine how weird it would be seeing an Episode I character next to an Episode IX character?

oh right they did the Palpatine thing didn’t they

Anyway, I should mention that I’m somewhat cautious. While I loved the original PS2 games and the remaster of them, I simply cannot get into LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The entire way they handle the story is completely offputting to me. Give me a cantina! Let me walk among the characters I’ve unlocked. And please, please don’t make it a cover shooter. Also, the quality of puzzles varies wildly between LEGO games. For reference: LEGO Marvel Superheroes good, LEGO Marvel’s Avengers bad, very very bad.

I’m not fussy.

Update: When looking this up I’ve found the Steam page, and I’ve just learned that, quote, “For the first time ever in a LEGO video game, explore the galaxy your way as you fly to some of the saga’s most legendary locales. You can start your journey with Star Wars™: The Phantom Menace for some podracing on Tatooine. Or choose to launch right into Rey’s adventures in Star Wars™: The Rise of Skywalker. Players have the freedom to seamlessly travel to any planet, in any order, at any time.” Open world hub? Verrrry interesting.


Rune Factory 4 Special / 5

Anticipation Level: I like this… in theory.

rune_factory_4_special_screen_6

Release Dates: 2020

I’m bundling these two together, because I don’t have a lot to say about them. I own Rune Factory 4 on 3DS, but it’s the very last game I bought for that system, and I’ve subsequently spent about two hours in that game. I’m probably due time for the neglect I’ve inflicted upon my 3DS at this point.

But hey, these games interest me! Harvest Moon plus a bit of fantasy RPG. And I’ve never played a Harvest Moon game, but boy have I put time into Stardew Valley!

Okay this one might be a little tenuous.


Dwarf Fortress

Anticipation Level: just insert ascii text here it’s a funny joke

ss_94ed0dcdcfab1c78fe867f9fed30514ff4459a49.1920x1080

Release Date: 2020?

My tale of experience with the original Dwarf Fortress is the same as many others: I learned of the game, got excited about the emergent narrative capabilities, booted it up and promptly shat myself when greeted by a bunch of numbers. The learning curve is steeper than a screen of n’s (did I do the ASCII humour right?), which is why I was very excited to learn that a slightly more user friendly version of the game is coming to Steam in… 2020? Maybe? Hopefully? Possibly?

I did mess around with the lore generator that comes packaged with Dwarf Fortress and was legitimately impressed, though I do question the uniqueness of a world which was started by a dragon named One. Regardless, shit hit the fan when he was killed a few hundred years later.


think that’s everything, but more games and DLC will doubtlessly be announced for 2020 as the year goes on. For instance, doesn’t Destiny 2 do a yearly expansion now? That’ll be announced around summertime if they’re following their usual pattern. And there’s probably heaps of indie games which have already been announced, and maybe even caught my eye in a Direct or something, that I’ve failed to note down here. The Survivalists, for example. Ah well. I think 3100+ words is a big enough list to be getting on with.

Kritigri’s Top Games Played During 2018

Welcome back to Kritigri’s Top 10 Games Played, this time during the 2018th year since some kid was born in a barn or something. Once again I would like to reiterate that since I don’t always play the most recent games, this list is not restricted to games released this year (although to be honest most of them were this time around). I’d also like to clarify that a game previously featured can be featured again if there’s been a major DLC or expansion release, or some other transformative update that has changed the game significantly. Also, I bought a PS4 about a month ago, so that marks three years in a row where I’ve introduced a new console (or PC) to my gaming arsenal.

Let’s begin with not one, but three honorable mentions.


Honorable Mention – Marvel’s Spider-Man (PS4)

A-HA! Caught RED-HANDED, FRATERNISING with CRIMINALS!

The only reason that this isn’t on the list is because, well, I’ve only just started playing it. I’m about five hours in, but I’m already gushing about what a bloody masterpiece it is, and how proud I am of Insomniac for creating yet another brilliant game that’s rocketed to the top of my favourites. The world feels lived-in and vibrant, and the game keeps throwing things to do at you as you progress throughout the campaign (I watched 60% of a playthrough when it released). The unlockable suits and powers are excellently crafted, but most beautifully of all, this game has a story which is every bit as captivating and authentic as any Spider-Man comic or movie I have ever read or watched. Just… bravo, Insomniac. Bravo.


Honorable Mention – Fortnite (PC)

Well I say PC, but my best played game was on the Switch. Go figure.

I played a lot of Fortnite during season 4 with a friend, as I was interested in the Battle Royale experience but not quite willing to shell out money at the time. Plus, I preferred the look of Fortnite’s cartoony aesthetic compared to the gritty military visuals of, say, PUBG. I played a lot of Fortnite when I was invested, and had an unashamedly fantastic time doing so, but the way the Battle Pass system works eventually made the game feel like a bit of a chore for me, as I was determined to unlock the full Omega skin but had a long road ahead of me and little time to accomplish it. Plus, I found myself altering how I played games in the hopes of completing challenges, as opposed to playing it for the enjoyment of it. After unlocking the full Omega skin shortly before the end of season 4 I ultimately felt burnt out, and have only rarely returned to the game since. Still, I can see why the kids love it. Stop mocking them. Let them dance. But remember, this game is more than just memes. Epic have built something really unique here within the Battle Royale subgenre.


Honorable Mention – Runescape (PC)

Wouldn’t be Runescape without a yak in the picture

This game doesn’t qualify for the list as it’s one I’ve been playing on and off for almost half of my life, and it hasn’t had any kind of expansion or game-changing update to warrant inclusion as something new that I’ve played this year. And yet, I wouldn’t be surprised if I sunk the most hours into Runescape in 2018 than any other year. This year I finally achieved my first level 99 in Woodcutting (it was an auspicious moment), and then followed it up with 99s in Firemaking, Divination and Fletching, in that order. I also unlocked the endgame city of Prifdinnas, which requires effort enough to be considered a 99 in itself, in my opinion. Crucially, I achieved a high level (70+) in almost every skill, which has opened up so much more of the game for me. Runescape doesn’t attract too many new players these days, but it keeps the ones it has, and therefore most of the updates that are made for it are skewed towards the higher levels so as to be appetising to its active player-base. While you certainly don’t start in a barren wasteland at level 3, it does create this interesting situation where the game just gets bigger and bigger, the higher level you are.

Another important reason for my increased time in Gielinor is my clan. Hi, clan! The game is so much better when you have people to talk to, let alone awesome people such as yourselves.


#10 – Celeste (Switch)

Down I go…

Celeste is a difficult platformer with a heart of gold. I’ve not finished it (or admittedly picked it up in a while), but it nails the level of difficulty required for stubborn players like me who want to bash their heads against a level for a good half an hour if necessary until completion, when the sense of satisfaction becomes palpable. Plus it is not shy about throwing new mechanics at you and moving on, without milking each mechanic for as long as they probably could. The game also lets you know how many times you died on each level, which is always a fun statistic. The Switch’s easy sharing functionalities have made for some fun moments on my Nintigri Twitter feed, too. I’ll be coming back to this one.


#9 – Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker (Switch)

Have you ever accidentally thrown your key to escape into an endless void? Toad has.

Bloody hell does this game make me smile. I’m not a huge puzzle game kinda guy, but I bought this on a whim during a sale and at the recommendation of a streamer, and boy am I glad I did. The game is bursting with charm, although its bright exterior belies some truly perilous situations in later levels. The level design philosophy seems to be all about packing as much stuff into as small a level as possible and it truly is impressive how successful they were in this endeavour; what at first seems like a simple chunk of world is often home to many nooks and crannies that you’ll need to access if you want to complete every objective. Plus, bonus objectives add replayability post-completion, and the level count is nothing to be sniffed at.

And so it comes to pass that perhaps my favourite puzzle platformer is one that features characters who can’t even jump. (Their backpacks are simply too heavy!)


#8 – Pokemon Let’s Go: Eevee Edition (Switch)

He RIDES on your HEAD

I feel ashamed. I’ve only beaten the first three gyms, and then I got distracted by the PS4 I purchased. But make no mistake, my time in Kanto is far from over. Because holy heck have I had a fantastic time rediscovering all my favourite first generation Pokemon and interacting with a familiar world in new ways. I’ve always favoured the remakes over new games (my favourite Pokemon games peak with Pokemon Soul Silver and Pokemon Leaf Green), because they’ve always felt like a perfection on old ideas, and the Let’s Go games take it one step further by reinventing the nature of capturing and levelling up Pokemon. It’s honestly refreshing, although I’m glad it’s a spin-off and not the prevailing philosophy for the core series.

One gripe I do have is that the game feels somewhat too easy, as the focus is on collecting and levelling rather than battling trainers, but I’m still fairly early in the game and I have noticed a bit more variety being introduced to trainer battles, so maybe that’s not a problem later on.


#7 – World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth (PC)

“To find him, drown yourself in a circle of stars.”

Seeing as I expected this to be at the top of this list pre-launch, expect most of this entry to be me exploring why it isn’t. Firstly, though, it is here because the continents of Kul Tiras and Zandalar are beautifully realised, new expansionary features such as Allied Races and the War Campaign were welcome additions, and because ultimately it’s still new content for World of Warcraft, which is ever contesting with the real world for possession of my soul.

To start with, the levelling experience didn’t grip me as much as I’d expected. I feel like this is in part because the story was building up to a war between the Horde and Alliance but focused instead on local issues, in part because Blizzard have jumped the narrative shark of dealing with the Legion, and in part because when stretched across three zones, the pacing of questing felt elongated and never-ending. Stormsong Valley is beautiful, vast, and bloody endless. This isn’t helped by the fact that zones were designed with side-quests in mind, but there was no indication that what you were doing was vital to the story or not until you’d spent half an hour killing quillboars only to check your story progression and find it hadn’t moved an inch. Hence, after cleaning out Tiragarde Sound and Stormsong Valley of every yellow exclamation mark I could find, I only made it a few quests in to the hauntingly atmospheric Drustvar before hitting level 100, and being required to finish the zone to continue the over-arcing narrative without getting any further relevant rewards became a frustrating grind despite the fantastic setting.

At end-game, everything became time-gated. You needed to reach certain levels of reputation with certain factions in order to progress, which was an issue when the only method of earning said reputation was to grind World Quests. Island Expeditions, while delivering on promises of exotic landmasses and a new style of gameplay, actually gave little reward and amounted to little more than a stressful combat rush which didn’t let you stop and take in the setting or provide any sort of narrative. And Warfronts were so impressively time-gated that I actually gave up on waiting.

8.1 may have fixed a lot of these issues, but I’ve not yet returned to have a look, and don’t think I will until I have much more time available to me. There’s no doubt that the expansion is fun and gave me hours of entertainment, but when ranked up against Legion it just doesn’t yet compare.


#6 – Elder Scrolls Online: Morrowind (PC)

Who needs Star Wars Droids to project a messenger? Just possess an elf!

Right, so I did include ESO in my 2016 list, but this is about an expansion sorry, chapter, that was released in 2017. Sorry for the confusion. Anyway, I wasn’t expecting too much outside of the ordinary ambling around Tamriel I do in my occasional bouts of playing the game (I’m almost level 50 now, you know), but to my surprise Vvardenfell hooked me in. Before that, I’d spent some time in Coldharbour completing the main quest line, so it helped that I was already immersed in the game, but questing in Vvardenfell was so interesting and fun that it almost reminded me of some of my deepest dives into Skyrim. Not that you should ever compare ESO to Skyrim. They’re different genres, okay? STOP GIVING IT NEGATIVE REVIEWS FOR NOT BEING MULTIPLAYER SKYRIM i’m fine.

Maybe I’ll play Summerset in 2019!


#5 – Assassin’s Creed Origins (PC)

Every game needs a photo mode.

Origins, not Odyssey. I’m a bit behind. But Assassin’s Creed Origins marks the first RPG(ish) that I’ve fallen off of, and successfully returned to six months later without needing to restart the game and subsequently fail at progressing. I’ve still not finished it and I have put it down again for the time being, but I have faith that when I return to Egypt once more it’ll be the game’s refined stealth and combat systems that keep me entertained, while exploring Ptolemaic Egypt will keep me immersed far better than Bayek’s decent-but-meagre personal plot. This game feels like a deep dive into ancient history and my favourite parts are always the things I learn about the contextual world that genuinely fascinate me.

Shooting bandits in the back of the head without alerting the rest of the camp is a close second, of course.


#4 – Spyro Re-Ignited Trilogy (PS4)

I love how the PS4 takes screencaps upon earning trophies. Also, game’s bloody pretty innit.

This game is what caused me to finally buckle and buy a PS4. I have no doubt that it’ll be announced for Switch and PC eventually, but I have no regrets. Reliving my childhood was a complete blast, and the games look absolutely gorgeous in their new rendition by Toys For Bob. I spared no time in getting a Platinum trophy in all three games, and even streamed my playthrough of Year of the Dragon, the game I was most familiar with. The only gripe I have is the Sgt Byrd was a goddamn disgrace to control, but that may have been the case in the original, too, I don’t remember.

I was excited for this game for a long time and after completing all three, I’m still itching to play more Spyro. I could honestly replay the whole trilogy right now, if I didn’t have so much else I wanted to play!


#3 – Crash Bandicoot N.Sane Trilogy (PC)

Crash symbolises life. The bear symbolises me.

I just had to choose between Crash Bandicoot and Spyro the Dragon and I do not want to talk about how difficult it was to put one above the other. When it comes down to it, though, I love difficult platformers, and while Crash may not have been designed to be difficult for its time it’s certainly aged that way. I’ve gotten every crystal and gem in the first two games, and am very slowly working my way through the relics (speedruns, for the uninitiated). In Warped, it seems that you need to get relics first to unlock every level, so that one is slightly more complex. Regardless, I intend to fully complete them all if I can. I’ve certainly made the most of my many many failures within my playthroughs.


#2 – Ratchet and Clank (PS4)

This legitimately took my breath away.

You didn’t think I was just going to let Naughty Dog beat Insomniac, did you?

Ratchet and Clank was my original reason for wanting a PS4, and the strongest, and holy shit I finally got to play it and it was amazing and Insomniac please marry me. This game was not only a recreation of the original but an improvement upon it, with new areas and a new story, which was incidentally based off the animated film that was also based off the original game! (It was okay). Not only that, but this game feels like an amalgamation of the best parts of the entire series, including favourite guns from previous games such as the Groovitron and Mr Zurkon. Not only that, but Insomniac cooked up some new guns too, such as the brilliantly inventive Pixelizer and the Proton Drum. The game added a set of collectables in the form of Holo-Cards, cards which showcased some of the series’ other guns and characters as well as providing some fun lore about them.

The game is beautiful. The first time I saw Novalis I nearly cried, and I wish I could tell you I’m exaggerating. Seeing something you’re intimately familiar with and have a plethora of childhood memories attached to recreated with such care and skill is an experience that cannot really be summed up in words.

As it stands, I’ve beaten the game’s campaign and its challenge mode, and only have four trophies left: fully upgrade every weapon, fully mod every weapon, fully upgrade Ratchet’s health, and witness the Groovitron animation for every enemy. That last trophy is so easily missable that I legitimately had a bad dream about forgetting to do it last night. If you miss an enemy, you have to redo an entire playthrough. Not cool.


#1 – Destiny 2: Forsaken

I have been ironing some banners recently

I BET THEY DIDN’T EXPECT THAT! – Lord Shaxx

Yes, Destiny 2. I shunned it a little in 2017, but hello, 2018 called and it wants its GOTY back. I’m attributing this to the Forsaken DLC as it is for all intents and purposes a major expansion, but if I’m being honest I started to get back into the game when my friend convinced to give the Warmind DLC a go. Unlike Curse of Osiris it actually had content, and Mars is still my favourite location to this day.

Forsaken, though, added an enthralling campaign, two new locations, a new type of enemy, wove a compelling narrative, redesigned the way gun slots work, and most importantly, added Triumphs and Collections, essentially adding achievements into the game as well as a way to see what gear you’ve earned (and potentially re-acquire it) with ease. These simple features have made the game immediately more quantifiable in scope, and have allowed players to set themselves goals and drive themselves to replay content they otherwise wouldn’t. By players, of course, I mean me.

The bounty system is also a welcome return, as I feel I’m never short on things to do, especially with the release of the Black Forge and its daunting Power Level requirements. (I’m still in the 570s.) Many of the issues that plagued the game in Year 1 have gone, and while Bungie still makes some questionable design decisions, I find that I experience two moments of satisfaction for every one moment of bafflement.

I’m yet to determine whether DLC of the Black Forge variety is particularly lucrative or worth the money, but here’s hoping for more expansions like Forsaken in the future.

E3 2018: What Has Me Hyped

Firstly, I’ll mention that I missed the Sony and Square Enix conferences due to time constraints. I watched the EA Play, Microsoft, Bethesda, Ubisoft, PC Gamer and Nintendo presentations. Now, here’s what I’m hyped for in order of most to least hype. All of the following entries are what I’m hyped for, so the bottom isn’t something I hate but something I’m mildly excited for.

From the top, then:

The Elder Scrolls VI

Did you expect anything else from the top of this list?

Bethesda Game Studios rarely announce games so far ahead of time, but with the growing demand for a new Elder Scrolls game I’m thankful that they decided to give us some reassurance. The landscape shown in the teaser looks like it belongs to High Rock, native home of the Bretons who, thematically, I’ve always seen as the medieval kingdom style of civilisation. If this is the case, I think Bethesda have made a very wise choice in setting, as High Rock has many similarities to the style of Game of Thrones including the visual setting and political intrigue. I think that taking inspiration from Game of Thrones and emulating its style of fantasy would be a fantastic fit for the Elder Scrolls series, and wouldn’t come as a surprise given that each Elder Scrolls game since Morrowind has been catered towards a different style of fantasy – alien, traditional, and Nordic for Morrowind, Oblivion, and Skyrim respectively.

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey

I am very far behind in the Assassin’s Creed series. The last game I finished was Assassin’s Creed Revelations, and I’ve been stubbornly refusing to skip the following games as I’m invested in the present-day story. I’ve had my eye on the modern games in the series since Syndicate, and the existence of Origins has had me willing to get back into the series for a long time. When Odyssey was revealed, however, to be in Ancient Greece, my hype levels went through the roof and I have since purchased and begun playing Origins, which luckily has no present day story at all.

If they make a game set in the decline of ancient Rome, it would complete the holy trinity of fascinating ancient eras. And I will play all of them.

DOOM Eternal

I really, really need to go back and finish DOOM (2016). It’s a fantastic game, and I only ever uninstalled it due to my then limited SSD space. That’s not barrier to me now, and the fact that a sequel is coming up – Hell on Earth, no less – has sent it rocketing back up to the top of my must-play list.

RAGE 2

I’ve never played the first RAGE. It looked like a less colourful version of Borderlands. RAGE 2 does not look like a less colourful version of Borderlands. RAGE 2 looks like it wants to PARTY HARD YEAH WOO PARTY PARTY MURDER MURDER

Andrew W.K aside, the gunplay looks as heavy and satisfying as DOOM (2016) and the abilities look very interesting. The main character sounds gruffly charismatic and you know what fuck it I’m just going to buy RAGE 1 even if it is mediocre

Pokemon Let’s Go Eevee Edition (HE RIDES ON YOUR HEAD)

“This,” Nintendo says proudly, “is Pokemon Let’s Go. It is based off of Pokemon Yellow, but is a uniquely different experience to the Core RPG series.”

“That’s not Pokemon Yellow Remastered” says the internet. “It’s different.”

“Yes,” say Nintendo. “You see, in this game-”

“I HATE IT” says the internet.

The internet is very dumb. Pokemon Let’s Go looks fantastic and I’m excited to see how their changing up the formula feels as I play through the game. The internet is too busy focusing on the fact that there’s no battling wild Pokemon to realise that trainer battles and gym battles are still a thing, as is online play. The shift has definitely changed to collecting Pokemon, something which honestly excites me. I’ve grown a little bored of the newer Pokemon games. I might be more excited about this than a potential Gen 8 game.

Forza Horizon 4

I’ve played about 20 hours of The Crew, which is basically Need for Speed turned MMO. And I really like it. I have plans to delve back into it. The Crew 2 is coming out soon, and honestly, I might have been interested in it, if I hadn’t seen Forza Horizon 4.

I’ve never played a Forza game, but this looks gorgeous. The multiplayer stuff looks similar to The Crew, and having an open world racing game that’s actually set in my country for once piques my interest as well.

I want to race through the UK, collect and customise as many cars as I can, and hang out with other players. And this looks set to deliver.

Super Smash Bros Ultimate

When the Nintendo Direct ended with Super Smash Bros, I was disappointed, but that was because they hadn’t announced Animal Crossing, Mario Maker or more details on their retro games. Also, the last Super Smash Bros I played was on 3DS, and it didn’t make much of an impression on me. But put out and disappointed as I was, I continued watching. And then I remembered how much I loved Super Smash Bros Brawl on the Wii. And then I decided that I was pretty excited for this one, too.

Starfield

I DON’T KNOW WHAT IT IS YET BUT IT’S A SINGLE PLAYER BETHESDA RPG IN SPACE SO THAT’S COOL

Fallout 76

I’ve always been more of an Elder Scrolls guy rather than a Fallout guy. I’ve played a couple hours of Fallout 4 and I feel like that’s the one that I could really get into, though, so seeing Fallout 76 and how it’s modelled after Fallout 4 makes it interesting by default. The fact that it’s an online multiplayer game made by Bethesda Game Studios makes it a total wildcard that I don’t quite know what to think about. I’m going to watch this from afar as it releases and wait for the dust to settle, and the inevitable game-fixing patches to roll out.

Star Control: Origins

Star Control: Origins is based off of an older game of the same name which I’m pretty sure was a major inspiration for the Spore space stage. And anything that is similar to the Spore space stage is sure to tickle my pickle.

I’m sorry. That’s gross. I shouldn’t have said that.

Star Control: Origins looks to be a game about exploring the stars, meeting new alien races, collecting resources and engaging with hostiles. The planets are charmingly simple spheres that you can fly around on, and their simplicity looks to mean that there’s plenty of them. They’re not all trying to be totally unique. They know what they are, and they’re okay with it. I’m okay with it, too. You go, little spheres. You do you.

This isn’t quite going for the scale that No Man’s Sky did. It may, however, achieve more than No Man’s Sky due to its simpler nature.

Super Mario Party

I’ve never played a Mario Party before, but this one looks fun!

The Elder Scrolls: Blades

YEAH IT’S A MOBILE GAME but it’s also coming out on PC. As long as it isn’t driven by microtransactions, I’m down for a little distraction where I can build up my keep and go on little Elder Scrolls themed roguelike dives. Plus, apparently there’s a story mode. In short: I’ll take it!

Whatever the hell Halo Infinite turns out to be

Is there anything to say about this that I haven’t said in the header? It’s coming to PC. Woo, I think.

And that obvious one that I probably missed

Yeah, the one. Not that totally big and cool release that everyone’s talking about, but that little indie one that showed up for 5 seconds on the PC Gamer show and then left my memory. Oh, like Two Point Hospital! And Satisfactory! Okay, those are added to the list. I don’t have much to say about them, though? They cool.

what do you people want from me

Kritigri’s Top 5 Games Played During 2016

So it’s around this time of year that every starts making their top 10 games of 2016 lists, but as somebody who only got a decent gaming in August and was subsequently too busy playing all their older games in glorious 60fps at ultra settings, I’ve not exactly played much of this year’s games. So instead, I’ve created a list of the top five games that I’ve either started playing, or played the majority of in this year. So, without further ado:

5: The Elder Scrolls: Online

This game has a bad reputation for launching with a subscription fee, with many features of Elder Scrolls games missing, and apparently most inexcusably, for not being multiplayer Skyrim. Since launch, however, the mandatory subscription fee has been waived, a plethora of updates have polished the game and brought it up to standard, and whenever the game goes on sale, a rush of excited new players give negative reviews of the game for it not being multiplayer Skyrim.

ESO is a great MMO in its own right, and it might have been higher up on my list had I not only scratched the surface of it. While it’s true that I have 75 hours logged in the game, you can pretty much divide that number by 10 in regards to how much experience that’d give a gamer in a typical RPG. My character is yet to hit level 30, but I’ve very much enjoyed working my way through the quests in Stonefalls, Deshaan (both provinces of Morrowind), Shadowfen (part of Black Marsh) and have recently arrived in Windhelm (part of Skyrim, though the not the entirety of Skyrim is in ESO… for now.) I find the storytelling to be unique and interesting, and the fact that every quest and NPC in the game is fully voice acted is an achievement not to be sneered at, considering the sheer size of ESO’s Tamriel. The quest objectives themselves may be somewhat copy/pasted, but this is a problem – a trope, even – that many (if not all) MMO’s are doomed to follow.

So far, the only downside to ESO, for me, is that I mostly play alone. When I joined WoW some years ago, I was able to find a social guild that I could talk to before I’d even hit level 30; in ESO, most of the ‘social’ guilds I’ve joined say almost nothing to each other except for when they need somebody to join them for a dungeon. Perhaps it’s simply bad luck. More likely, it’s me missing my WoW guild. But this is a personal downside; ESO is actually a very solo friendly game.

4: Assassin’s Creed 2

Okay, so I’ve played AC2 before. What I really mean with this listing is the entirety of the Ezio trilogy. But I chose AC2 specifically because I believe it had the perfect amount of collectables and side-missions to complete, and was the most fulfilling experience of the three games.

The Ezio trilogy is a masterpiece of storytelling, and this is coming from someone who appreciates both the past and the present aspects of the story. Ezio himself is a truly likeable character, and the fact that we stay with him from his birth to his elderly life and watch him mature only increases my connection to the character. I also loved uncovering all of the templar conspiracies in the format of Subject 16’s scraps of code, and getting a sense for the wider narrative of Assassin’s Creed. I recently wrote a full blog post on the games here.

3: Grand Theft Auto V

More specifically, GTA Online. More specifically still, the PC version. More specifically still, the Cunning Stunts DLC. Because there’s a reason why the people of GTA: San Andreas Online went through the hassle of modding in silly midair stunt ramps, and Rockstar recognised this and capitalised on it wonderfully. It may help that I’m a longtime fan of the Trackmania series, but this is the first update to GTA: Online to really grip me. There’s a decent selection of tracks (plus you can make and share your own), and I’ve always loved the way cars handle in GTA V. Plus, it’s yet another wonderful way of making in-game money and numbing the microtransaction-enforced grind to get the things you want.

I’ve written more about the game here.

2: World of Warcraft: Legion

What, not number 1?

Anyway, if you’ve been reading this gaming blog over the last 5 or so months, you probably got a little sick of hearing me talk about WoW. Namely, I discussed it here, here, and here. And yes, I went on to play many hours of the expansion, partaking in dungeons and guild raids (for the first time) and world quests and all of the amazing things that Legion has to offer. In fact, I pretty much tunnel-visioned the game for 4 months straight. And Legion has so much content, you could never keep on top of it all. Blizzard more than made up for the barren of dead content that was their previous expansion.

But I burned myself out on it. I have no doubt that within a few months I’ll be back at it again, but I’m currently taking a break. For once, this was not because I’d log in and wonder what I could possibly do with my time, but instead, because I’d log in and be hit with a wave of indecision with so much choice. And I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, but when you burn out on a game, you burn out all the same, whether it’s because of there being not enough content or just because you’ve played the damn thing for 4 months and ended up dreaming that the next raid tier was released early and got a little embarrassed and decided to focus on other things.

But that’s not why this game is in second place. Legion would be number 1 were it not for a game that actually trumped it.

1: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

At the beginning of the year, I was getting a little fed up about how bad my attention span was. For instance, I recognised that I had started up maybe four different saves of Skyrim over the last few years, always getting to Whiterun and then failing to continue, even though I was having fun. So, as part of my New Year’s resolution, I decided that I was going to 100% complete Skyrim. As in, get all 75 achievements, which include hitting certain levels, completing multitudes of quest lines, doing crafting, doing DLC, doing damn near everything there is to do besides clearing every single dungeon in the game.

And I did it.

I don’t think any game has held onto me the way that Skyrim has. I love the sassy NPCs and the physics bugs and the skill trees and the combat system and I love that I know the game inside-out enough to start a second playthrough with the Special Edition and know every nook and cranny but still not be bored. I love that after 170 hours I can still find a random encounter that I’ve never seen or play a fully unique quest that I never knew existed, that I can replay the civil war as a filthy Stormcloak instead of a faithless Imperial, that I can build a house again, that I can learn archery and sneaking and blind bloody murder and that I can look away from my screen and realise that 8 hours have gone by and that the real world still exists. I love that I still have so much to learn about the incredibly expansive, unique and hard to wrap your hard around lore, and that I can do this by deciding to go book collecting for my own library.

I’ve always said that my favourite game of all time was Ratchet and Clank 2 but I think we have a very strong contender here.

I’ve not even tried mods yet.

Honorable Mention

I feel like I owe Kingdoms of Amalur an apology. It should have been on this list. I bought it in February and played 9 hours of it and absolutely loved it, but for whatever reason, I stopped right there. And I always meant to get back to it, and I didn’t. But I feel like it’s another big, open-world RPG that I might just go ahead and 100%, because it is a rich, colourful, unique world that deserves attention.

Maybe 2017, eh?