With Cyberpunk 2077 getting a shot in the arm from a current gen re-release and titles like No Man's Sky being totally transformed by post-launch updates, it got us thinking about games that have had the best "glow up".
Remasters, re-releases and ports are all on the table, so what game became your favourite after a bit of a face-lift? Let us know in the comments, if you've got time between jumping into Horizon Forbidden West and waiting for Elden Ring.
Yakuza Kiwami | Liam
I never played the original Yakuza, which came out in 2005, but after hearing lots of talk about the latest (and eighth!) game in the main series, Yakuza: Like a Dragon, I decided to give the remake of the original a try seeing as it was on Game Pass.
I’m very glad I did, as it turned out to be a quality game. The story is captivating enough, and there’s also a few memorable characters knocking about, such as Majima, who periodically turns up for boss fights. Gameplay and is also solid, and the Tokyo-inspired setting is an interesting one.
But I’ve probably been most impressed by the visuals. Although the remake came out on last gen consoles, it could easily pass as a current gen title. The streets of Kamurocho look particularly impressive, with lots of pedestrians milling about, and, my personal favourite, super shiny puddles that reflect the buildings’ neon signs.
I’m not a graphics snob, but I don’t think I would have stuck with Yakuza if I have if I were playing the original version now. I understand the appeal of enjoying classic games in their original form, but sometimes it’s just nice to play a sleeker, more modern take on an excellent game.
Borderlands: The Handsome Collection | Chris
Borderlands passed me by upon release and I never really cared for the series until very recently. Although I was impressed with the first entry, it's certainly showing its age. It was only the promise of something bigger and better that drove me to see it through to the end.
Borderlands 2 (re-released as part of The Handsome Collection) is a much smoother ride with fewer of the (fairly minor, yet persistent) niggles which made its predecessor hard work as the game dragged on. I can't say how much of an improvement Borderlands 2 is over the original, nor how much the Ultra HD Texture Pack enhances the visuals, but it feels modern and looks crisp.
The story manages to be rather grim at times without ever seeming too serious. Events which would, in another universe, be dark and macabre are somehow lightened by the downright silliness that waits around every corner.
Once the credits roll, I can move on to the Pre-Sequel which has also been given a facelift. I'm unsure whether I'll be as drawn to the narrative, knowing that Borderlands 3 is out there and I may get some of my questions answered, but over-the-top weapons and frantic gunfights are the main reasons I find it hard to put down.
What game did you return to or discover after a revamp? Let us know below.
Nintendo has graced us once again with a treasure trove of game announcements for the rest of this year. Breath of the Wild 2 was conspicuous by its absence, all but confirming its release slips to 2023.
There were few first-party surprises for their most well-known characters, but plenty of goodies have been raised from the distant past for Switch owners to enjoy this year.
We've cherry-picked our favourites, but let us know what you're excited for in the comments.
Kirby and the Forgotten Land | Chris
As someone who hasn't owned a Nintendo console since the golden age of the N64, it's interesting to watch the Direct as an outsider. I've thought of Nintendo as the most innovative of the Big Three for the longest time and, although they don't always hit the mark (looking at you, Nintendo Labo), they've usually got something up their sleeves. Something fresh, something different, something weird (again, Labo. Why, Nintendo?).
This time, the main draw seems to be games you've already played on other systems. No Man's Sky, The Ezio Collection, The Force Unleashed and both Portal titles can provide many hours of entertainment but they probably aren't new for most players. At least Disney Speedstorm (which I will be referring to as Mickey Kart from here on in) is something almost new, even if it's made redundant by the existence of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. If there's any console in need of a kart racing game (and we can never have enough), it's one of the consoles that doesn't have some version of the definitive kart racer.
Granted, Kirby and the Forgotten Land would be a must buy if I owned a Switch, and some other first-party titles did catch my eye, but Nintendo haven't done enough to impress me with the re-release of games I grew tired of before the Switch was even conceptualised.
Mario Strikers: Battle League | Liam
I never played the original Super Mario Strikers on GameCube, but I did have the sequel, Mario Strikers: Charged Football, on the Wii, which was excellent. By this point in time, most of my friends were on Xbox or PlayStation and my brothers had moved out, so I never really got to try the multiplayer, but I did play a lot of the solo tournaments which were a blast.
Mario Strikers: Battle League looks like it’ll be just as fun, if the trailer was anything to go by. They’re sticking with the over-the-top, arguably quite brutal take on the beautiful game, which I like, and the addition of new power-ups, such as the one that lets you score two goals at a time, could add some spice to the competitive side.
While I’ll be getting this mostly for the solo offering, the option to jump online for some competitive multiplayer is a nice bonus, because as I mentioned before, it’s an aspect of the series I’ve previously missed out on.
The only downer was the lack of any more Zelda news; not BOTW2, which I’m happy to wait for, but ports of the excellent Wind Waker HD and Twilight Princess HD. They’re right there, Nintendo, make it happen!
What was your Nintendo Direct highlight?
I'm rather disappointed in myself for picking Overwatch 2 as my most anticipated game of the year because it is, in my not-so-humble opinion, more of a full-price DLC. The new maps, modes and heroes will be playable across both titles, with all of your unlocked customisation options carrying over into the "sequel" should you choose to upgrade.
Overwatch 2 promises to keep things fresh by allowing players to modify their abilities, maybe trading a little bit of burst damage for more consistent DPS, or vice versa. The mission variety is what will make or break it for me. I'm hoping for both short and long missions, some adding to the overall narrative and others just there for intense, horde-like, firefights.
When it comes to PvP, there are significant changes being made. Overwatch will shake things up by transitioning from 6v6 battles to 5v5, with teams losing one of their tanks. This would make some of the "off tanks" a terrible choice in the current live game but, with a host of reworks in the pipeline, and not just for the tank class, I'm hopeful that players won't feel pressured to choose a barrier tank.
In fact, tanks may not be tanks at all; Blizzard have expressed a desire to switch the name of the class to brawler. Still, it's hard to see the benefit of forgoing a reliable Reinhardt in favour of a dive-bombing D.Va. Heroes are already getting slight tweaks and reworks (though, like most multiplayer games, this has been a constant ongoing process throughout Overwatch's life), suggesting that the developers are going to drip feed changes until the sequel's release.
I've read and heard nary a thing about the Overwatch Workshop, a tool for knocking together custom game modes. It's already being used in creative ways and could add endless longevity if it's expanded to allow for the easy creation of new missions, not unlike the track editor in the Trials series. It's not very intuitive, nor expansive, but imagination can push technology beyond its limits.
As Liam mentioned, Microsoft's recent acquisition of Activision Blizzard means that we can expect Overwatch 2 to be playable via Game Pass from day one. This not only saves money, but also saves me from having to persuade/bully my other half into purchasing the sequel. Playing with friends and loved ones is always more fun and I find that those closest to me are less likely to bitch and moan when I spend a little too long trying to sink a basket in the spawn room.
Following a successful launch on PC, Black Matter’s tactical first-person shooter, Hell Let Loose, made its way to Xbox Series X|S and PlayStation 5 late last year.
But, more often than not, it’s people trying to work together to organise a victory. I remember one match where several squad leaders were in routine contact with each other, relaying information about enemy locations, reporting armour sightings, and even saying if a capture point was safe to push or not. Leading it all was a commander who doled out instructions to the team, where to flank, which sector to avoid if they were calling in air support.
It was great stuff, and even though as a team we couldn’t quite get the victory, the defeat was met with calls of “well played” all around. It was the type of experience I didn’t think I’d ever find on console, particularly in a multiplayer shooter.
Engaging in this chat isn’t a prerequisite for victory, however. As long as you’re not a squad leader, it’s more than possible to just be a body and silently do your bit, whether that’s as a run of the mill rifleman or a more specialised role, such as anti-tank or machine gunner. But even if you’re just part of the rank and file, being able to hear orders or know that someone is trying to organise things still enriches the experience.
The strong player base also suggests console users aren’t averse to a tactical style when it comes to gameplay, particularly with gunplay. As much as I enjoy over-the-top, fast-paced shooters like Call of Duty, I’ve also got a penchant for slower, more tactical FPS games like Operation Flashpoint or even Verdun and Tannenberg.
I’ve always thought I was in the minority when it came to one-hit kill weaponry and a lack of aim-assist, both present in HLL, but it seems there’s plenty of other console users who share this mindset, going by the regularity with which I find myself on a full server.
While the high recoil on weapons and lack of sights, scopes and hit markers meant this was a steeper learning curve compared to other realism-based shooters I’ve played, it made mastering the gunplay all the more satisfying. In my first few matches I was lucky to get one or two kills per game, but, after learning the nuances of the gameplay, I’m regularly entering double figures.
Even if you’re not a sharpshooter, the team-based nature of the game means there’s always some way to assist. There’s a regular in our squad who usually takes the role of medic, earning their XP by patching allies rather than dropping enemies. A lot of the time, simply shooting in the same direction as your team mates is enough to suppress enemy movement, even if you can’t actually see any.
It sounds like the combined PS5 and Series X|S player base is strong enough for Black Matter to keep supporting the game on those platforms alongside the PC version, if this interview by The Loadout with studio founder Maximillian Rea late last year is anything to go by, who suggests new content such as British and Commonwealth forces could make their way into the game at some point. A recent tweet from the studio confirmed this via a roadmap, which outlined their intentions to add more post-launch console content throughout 2022.
Hopefully Hell Let Loose’s success on Xbox and PlayStation will encourage other developers/publishers of tactical shooters, particularly those popular on PC, to give the platforms and their user bases the proper consideration they deserve.
While there have been many instances of more ‘hardcore’, realism-based shooters not being embraced by the console community, such as the aforementioned Verdun, where AI bots outnumber human players in most matches, HLL has shown that there is an audience for these types of games, and that they can thrive on console as well as PC.