Building upon the foundation established in Assassin's Creed Origins, Odyssey brings together that title's RPG adventure with the ship-bound exploration of Black Flag. Choice and consequence feature heavily in Odyssey, with the player guiding Alexios or Kassandra through a massive journey to reunite their family and kill a lot of people. Not every feature is perfect, with things like recruitment and Conquest Battles needing a bit of work, but overall Odyssey is a grand next step for the journey Origins started.
Divinity: Original Sin 2 is simply the pinnacle of the CRPG genre. It offers a campaign with memorable characters, interesting role-playing options, and excellent systemic combat. The environments are beautiful and the soundtrack is solid. That alone would put it at the top of the heap, but then Larian added offline and online coop, a PVP arena mode, and Game Master mode, the greatest throwback to the Dungeons & Dragons pen-and-paper games that underpin the entire genre. I might have small issues here and there, but Divinity: Original Sin 2 is one of the best in a strong year for gaming.
Elder Scrolls Online doesn't tear down everything that came before in the MMO field and thrust the Elder Scrolls gameplay into the world of massively-multiplayer. In the end, the game is a theme park MMO in the standard World of Warcraft style, wearing the lore, characters, and locations of the Elder Scrolls universe. Visually, the game is consistent, but that consistency is boring and drab. The game itself is punctuated with exciting moments, but overall it's just above average and I have a hard time recommending that in a subscription MMO. If you're a big Elder Scrolls fan, give it a try. If not, there are better choices out there.
Firewatch doesn't provide the same emotional heights or satisfying conclusion you'd expect from such a story-heavy game, but Campo Santo definitely shows promise with their debut project. Even if it won't have you reaching for the tissues by the end, this woodland walking simulator still provides a pretty great way to burn through an otherwise unoccupied afternoon.
You can debate the merits of some of this version's additions, but the same strong core that has pushed Forza Horizon to the top of the driving sim heap remains firmly in place here. It's an incredibly impressive graphical production that puts even its beautiful predecessor to shame, and it's a true pleasure when out on the road. Forza Horizon 4 is one of a handful of showcase games that truly ought to sell you on an Xbox One X and a 4K TV.
Rockstar could do with a stronger focus next time, but there's a ton of content to play around with in Grand Theft Auto V. If you can look past a few problematic things, the core of GTA V is still an amazingly fun game.
Hitman 2 may just be more Hitman, but it's somehow even better than before. The levels are all fantastic, the assassinations possible are all clever (and silly), the satirical writing is at its best. The assassination sandbox has never been more satisfying, and its slight technical hiccups and lackluster multiplayer do little to hold back the baldest assassin of them all. Even in your sixth or so time prancing through a map, you're bound to discover a new opportunity, or a new potentially-weaponized surprise, around the corner.
Halo: The Master Chief Collection clearly sets out to be one of the videogame tributes ever assembled; and in doing so, its hard not to be impressed by the scope and ambition of its efforts. This is the definitive collection of Halo: Combat Evolved through Halo 4, effectively presenting both classic and remixed content in a way that makes it feel like more than a simple trip down memory lane. Assuming it avoids issues with multiplayer stability, it's possible that it will end up being relevant as a shooter for a long time to come.
We don't get games like Nier: Automata too often. And by that I mean games that simultaneously weave a deeply harrowing existentialist narrative, in addition to playing with our expectations on how we play games. There's nothing else around like Nier: Automata (except for maybe its predecessor). And in an industry that sometimes leans too heavily on sameness, it's wholly refreshing.
Eight years after the masterpiece that was Red Dead Redemption, Rockstar Games is taking a second shot. New protagonist Arthur Morgan gets a better supporting cast, an absolutely beautiful open world with more visual variety, and a ton of things to kill or collect. There's some occasional tedium in travel, and a few bugs and annoyances, but nothing that prevents Red Dead Redemption 2 from being an excellent game.
Sunset Overdrive is a welcome change of pace from the dour, serious AAA games we've been playing all year. Insomniac asks "who do you want to be?" with tons of customization options, some great weapons, and a very physical way to get around the city. The game feels a bit light in the content department, but it's undeniably fun.
Although it's a little on the short side, and its production values are a bit oldschool, Titanfall 2's single-player campaign is a really enjoyable experience while it lasts. It's very inventive and fun, and a great warm-up for the game's excellent multiplayer component, whose gunplay and controls are absolutely outstanding. All it needs is a few more maps and modes.
Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus builds on the first game, making for another superb linear first-person shooter campaign. It's an empowering journey that BJ goes on—rising from his near death experience from The New Order to be stronger than ever, befriending others who are just as tough and ready to take back what the Nazis stole from them: their country.