As we approach the end of the year, it’s time to start taking stock of what has been a phenomenal year for gaming. While our own picks for Game of the Year will come next month, the Golden Joystick Awards have returned to dish out all sorts of accolades to the hardworking souls who bring these experiences to life for us.
What stuck out in the award winners list for you? Did it make you think about playing something you wouldn’t have considered otherwise? Let us know in our Discord.
Out of all of this year's winners and nominees, I've only played a small handful. As such, I wasn't too invested in many of the categories but it was good to see a large variety of games on show, even if a lot of them were Baldur's Gate 3.
There was some strong competition for the Still Playing Award with No Man's Sky coming out on top. It's had a lot of content pumped into it since its initial release and still stands out as being fairly unique. Of course, there are other games that revolve around space exploration but few that offer the same sense of discovery in such a huge universe.
One of those exceptions is Starfield, winner of the Xbox Game of the Year award. Despite the numerous bugs I encountered during my (considerable) play time, it quickly became one of my favourite games. Each playthrough lead to new findings and a greater appreciation for the world. Though I think Craig Sechler should have been in with a shout for Best Supporting Performer for his work as the Adoring Fan.
Most Wanted Game teased some of the titles we can look forward to in the future, like Fable and some non-Fable games which aren't Fable. The last proper Fable released all the way back in 2010 and after 12 years of not-so-patiently waiting, it feels closer than it ever has. By the time it sees the light of day, the hype which I'm trying to create will have likely faded away and I can stop banging on about it.
I’ve already mentioned my keenness to play Baldur’s Gate 3, and the record-breaking seven wins is a fairly clear sign it’s more than just hype and I should definitely get in it before the end of the year.
The benefit of awards like this is that it can bring games to your attention that you’d dismissed because they had an odd name, didn’t look like your cup of tea, or maybe you just hadn’t heard about them at all.
This year the names that stick out are both Sea of Stars and Alan Wake II. Both games have been receiving praise all over my feeds for weeks and, interestingly, both couldn’t be more tonally contrasting to each other.
Elsewhere the fact that the PlayStation Game of the Year went to Resident Evil 4 is a surprise, given that it’s a remake and we had some very strong contenders in the category, including Star Wars Jedi: Survivor.
With so many releases, it’s hard to justify revisiting ongoing titles, though, like Liam, I’m tempted to give Cyperpunk 2077 another chance after being distracted and not diving into its world first time around.
Elsewhere in the very long Most Wanted category, the title that stood out for me is Star Wars: Outlaws, even though we don’t know too much about what it’s all about just yet.
While playing the new Forza Motorsport, I found myself pondering what the game says about the series, and gaming in general. So this isn’t quite a review of Forza Motorsport, but hear me out.
You may already know the eighth game in the original Forza series takes things back-to-basics, rebooting the game for a new generation. In short, it’s an excellent racing experience filled with the best simulated vehicles and tracks you can find in the genre today, and yet something feels a little…off. The question is why.
Racing games as a genre haven’t always had to try so hard. Back in the day, we were happy with a sprite and the odd pixelated tree on the side of the track, now the push for photorealistic visuals, arguably achieved by Forza Motorsport 4 back in 2011, has led to players’ expectations soaring higher and higher.
Like games as an industry, we keep wanting, nay demanding, more.
Forza Motorsport 7, released back in 2017, hit a staggering 830 cars – once all the DLC was said and done – with 200 track configurations in 32 locations, so it’s no surprise it’s taken a while for developers Turn 10 to feel like they had something new to bring to the table.
But where do you go?
More fidelity? More tracks? More cars? The driving and handling experience itself was long-perfected by the time the Xbox One’s entry in the series, Forza Motorsport 5, rolled up in 2013, and you can only tie-in with so many TV shows and films before even that variety wears thin.
You could argue that motorsport itself hasn’t changed in decades, giving the team an uphill climb from the starting line, but enthusiasm for the sport has never been higher. Slightly different, sure, but Formula 1, for example, passed an average of million viewers per race last year.
Drift into a powerslide
There seems to be only one obvious solution – double down.
The tuning and car customisation options in the latest game are incredible, and it would be ridiculous to expect even more in that department, but perhaps make more of a game of it?
Not everyone has a detail-orientated approach to games, and introducing minigames which play on some of the extremes of what tuning is capable of, a cleverly disguised opportunity to educate, could bring the experience to life in a new way, and allow the player to bring the knowledge back into the main game’s driving journey.
Next, leave the drivers out of it entirely.
While it might seem like a bit of fun to watch them frantically change gear through the rear windscreen as you tear around the track, more than a cursory glance confirms that even in this latest instalment the animations are rigid and one-note. Far from adding to immersion it actually creates a distraction for those used to an exterior view of the car in their driving games.
Finally, a more clear line between the serious, buttoned-up sim experience and the more relaxed, even arcade-y side of the genre would avoid players who aren’t quite as into the realism angle have more fun with the game.
Introduce more extreme damage options as additional challenges, daring you to make it down the track with only a single hit or jolt between your car and a written-off mess.
The tracks could stand to have a little more flexibility and customisation too, letting you customise environmental effects and add hazards to remix existing tracks in fun new ways. Or even leverage Xbox’s vast back catalogue of franchises to have you explore exciting, even out-of-this-world locations.
There’s nothing wrong with Forza Motorsport, and the team at Turn 10 no doubt will have a lot of fun additions and improvements still to come after release, but if they want to really bring in new fans to this series, something has to change.
Forza Motorsport (2023) is available now on Xbox Game Pass. Code provided by Microsoft.
The We Were Here series is back with more co-op puzzling for players to sink their teeth into. Join us as we take a look at the fourth and latest entry, We Were Here Forever.
Tell me about the puzzles.
For the most part, we found the puzzles to be fairly engaging. Being separated often means one player has access to information that can help the other, such as a book that contains the correct combination to a vault at the other player’s location, and there is certainly enjoyment to be had beating them this way, via a combination of teamwork and brain power.
However, there were times where puzzles felt a little lopsided, with one player having more to do than the other on occasion. Others featured unique symbols that had to be described to the other player, which wasn’t always as straightforward as it sounds given the vague nature of their shapes.
Would you recommend it?
If you’re a fan of the series then yes, certainly, although newcomers who have little or no investment in the story shouldn’t be put off as you’ll at least be getting the most premium entry in the series; WWHF is a more visually polished game than its predecessor, with lots of detail in the chunky stylized visuals, decent animations, and well-crafted atmospheric environments.
If you’re into puzzle games, especially co-operative ones with friends (online only, mind), then for the low entry cost it’s probably worth a shot.
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.
In the return of our conversational quick look series, we check out Team 17’s Hell Let Loose.
What are the basics?
There’s a long list of classes, though it’s best to keep things simple at first by picking a Rifleman. Clutching an M1 Garand, you might be charged with storming the beach at Normandy, or defending it, then the game plays out a lot like Battlefield’s Rush mode. It’s on a much larger scale, however, so enemy encounters can be few and far between.
What happens when you get into a fight?
There’s a realistic slant on gunplay in that you won’t take more than a hit or two before going down. You can bandage yourself up to avoid bleeding out, or a Medic can do the job for you, but supplies are very limited.
Working as a squad helps, since the Officer can put spawn points down in an attempt to keep everyone together. There’s also an element of wider team coordination here; Officers have access to a special command comms channel, enabling them to coordinate with other squads and even tanks.
Ooo I like tanks, can I drive one?
Vehicles are fairly hard to come by, but yes. Those different roles include a Tank Commander and Crewman, both of which must work closely together.
In even rarer air, there’s a spot on each team for one Commander. This role directs friendly forces in a kind of a real-time strategy meta game, without ever getting stuck in on the frontline alongside everyone else.
Sounds interesting. Is it worth sinking some time into?
Because of how matches are structured, each leg of an attack has a fairly significant time limit - if the defenders almost hold out at each stage, an individual match can last well over an hour.
Hell Let Loose is a faithful and unforgiving take on World War 2, but some players will miss the creature comforts offered by almost every other modern shooter. It definitely throws back to the heyday of the Medal of Honor series, both in the way it plays and the inevitable similarities in weapons and themes. Overall, it’s definitely worth a go – especially for PS5 owners as it’s an October 2021 PlayStation Plus title.
The final Marvel’s Avengers beta has only just finished and we recently got our first glimpse of Gotham Knights in action, so we thought it's about time to resurrect that decades old argument: Marvel or DC?
James | Gotham Knights
While Marvel have had a fairly firm stranglehold on the film universe for over a decade, their gaming past has been less successful.
Enter Marvel's Avengers, trotting out by now very familiar characters, Kamala aside, and asking the gaming public to love them.
While designs have been tweaked slightly since the initial reveal (see Thor's new hair do), the gameplay feels like an abstract mix of gameplay ideas which don't quite hang together convincingly.
Contrast that with DC in general. Not only is there the stunning Injustice games beating out Marvel efforts in the fighting genre and more charismatic portrayals in their LEGO games, there's the Arkham series, which took superhero games to a whole new level back in 2009.
Where Marvel has an ace in the hole though, as in the MCU, is Spider-Man. The Miles Morales-led expansion of the 2018 PS4 outing for Spidey looks shiny and will make the most of the PS5. Arguably though the combat that made the first so compelling is strongly influenced by the aforementioned Arkham series, giving DC the last laugh.
Batman taught Spidey everything he knows.
Sam | Gotham Knights
Having played the Marvel’s Avengers beta over the weekend, I was left pretty underwhelmed. In fact, I couldn’t even be bothered to finish all of the missions and quit out before the end. Throw in the controversy surrounding Spider-Man’s PlayStation exclusivity and, somehow, Square Enix has managed to turn this Marvel fan away.
Gotham Knights, on the other hand, came as a nice surprise. The game’s DC FanDome reveal was expected in advance, though with Warner Bros. Montréal at the helm and not Batman: Arkham custodians Rocksteady I half feared the worst. WB Montréal’s Batman: Arkham Origins is hardly the acclaimed series’ highpoint, after all.
Granted we need to learn more about Gotham Knights to draw reliable comparisons, but the co-op gameplay shown in the reveal showcase puts what we’ve seen (and played) of Marvel’s Avengers to shame. There’s a veritable mix of combat and stealth, along with thoughtful use of gadgetry and teamwork; Avengers just tasks players with barrelling in and mashing buttons instead.
You can argue that there’s a place for that and you’d be right, but it got boring over the course of a single evening with the beta. When Marvel’s Avengers plans to stick around for years to come, that’s serious cause for concern.
It's not real co-op without fancy tag team abilities.
Liam | Gotham Knights
I missed out on the Marvel’s Avengers beta, so I’m still judging where I’ll get my next superhero fix with information gleaned from trailers and gameplay footage. Having just caught up on the deluge of justice coming our way, I can say that Gotham Knights has edged it.
The fact that it’s made by Warner Bros. Montreal and not Rocksteady doesn’t bother me the slightest. I know Arkham Origins is not held in as high regard as Rocksteady’s efforts (even though it still has its fans), but what I’ve seen of gameplay looks solid and reassuringly familiar.
I also think ditching Batman is a good idea, as not only do we get an opportunity to play as some of the lesser known heroes, but it eliminates the inevitable arguments that would have come about (at least in co-op) from everyone wanting to play as the Dark Knight.
But the inclusion of the Court of Owls and their Talon assassins as potential big baddies was by far the most exciting part of the Gotham Knights reveal trailer. Having read the comics in which they debuted as antagonists, they make an excellent ‘hidden hand’ type organisation, and Chris will be glad to know they’re also quite fond of psychedelic torture.
Whoever the Court of Owls are, you can be sure they're up to no good.
Are you more hyped for Marvel's Avengers or Gotham Knights?
The latest State of Play was a rather toned-down affair. Sony had previously confirmed that it was, once again, all about the games, with no news on the upcoming console, but were those games enough?
Ol' Big Face returns for a walloping.
Sony’s latest State of Play was the first time I’d seen Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time in action, and I have to say it impressed me. I’m not the biggest platformer fan out there, but the lovely art-style and slick gameplay certainly has me tempted (I especially liked the gameplay changing new game+ modes). Even though it might not be a day-one purchase, the footage has got me thinking about going back and exploring a series I’ve yet to fully appreciate.
Other highlights included The Pathless. As a big fan of Abzu, I’m definitely interested in Giant Squid’s next project. The fluid traversal system, in which you hit targets with a bow to keep up momentum, looks like it’ll be incredibly satisfying, and, like Abzu, I like the whole wordless mystique surrounding the game’s setting (not to mention the adorable eagle companion and big boss battles).
I wasn’t so sure about HITMAN 3 and it’s virtual murder (a bit too grim for me), but the inclusion of VR news (and Vader Immortal) in the stream was welcome, although my last lingering hopes for a potential PS VR 2 reveal ahead of the PS5’s winter launch seem a bit fruitless at this point.
Oh, how we've missed the dulcet tones of Aku Aku.
Sony managed expectations going into its latest State of Play, though it was still somewhat underwhelming. By no means bad, but just okay.
HITMAN VR is intriguing, though since getting the supremely convenient Oculus Quest I struggle to muster much enthusiasm for PlayStation VR. Same issue with Vader Immortal, which has been available on Quest for quite some time.
When it comes to games you play on the telly, indies won the day. Braid: Anniversary Edition is the perfect reason to experience or revisit one of the inaugural indie darlings; Spelunky 2 looks like it’ll be a faithful continuation of the punishingly moreish original; meanwhile, The Pedestrian is one of those ingenious-yet-simple concepts that make you wonder “Why didn’t I think of that?”
Most of the show was dedicated to PS4, though Sony did throw us a bone with some PS5 gameplay. The Pathless looks lovely, and I appreciate the lack of a map to encourage spontaneous exploration. We finally have an idea of what Bugsnax will be outside of an internet meme as well, which might be something akin to Slime Rancher? Maybe? It wasn’t immediately clear what Hood: Outlaws & Legends is either, though it at least looks more entertaining than fellow next-gen brawler Godfall.
We're hoping for Slime Rancher meets Red Dead Redemption 2.
While the return of Crash Bandicoot seemed inevitable after he returned last year in remastered form, a title I don’t know, but have heard a fair amount about, is Braid, and that commentary track seems interesting.
Really it was the in-game, PS5 footage from The Pathless which really demanded attention by showing off a more deliberate art style, though admittedly one that is very possible on current gen, with the gameplay shown giving off a real Breath of the Wild vibe. The climactic boss battle with one of the cursed spirits in particular had a great sense of scale to it as well.
The Star Wars VR title Vader Immortal gives an impression similar to the one Star Wars Kinect did a fair while ago, which leaves me extremely sceptical. HITMAN 3 on the other hand offers a neat spin on the tried-and-tested franchise with its first-person VR perspective.
The Pokémon Snap-inspired Bugsnax is looking just as quirky as it did on first impression, though not as Pokémon derivative as TemTem. The Pedestrian fares better with its slightly overdressed puzzling and a final highlight for me was the snippet of Control’s latest expansion, which is almost enough to claw me back in...almost.
There's something familiar about The Pathless...
What did you think of last week's State of Play?
During the latest Marvel's Avengers War Table livestream, Hawkeye was announced as the first post-launch DLC character. Spider-Man has since been confirmed as a PlayStation exclusive. With a long list of other superhumans to choose from, these are the heroes (and villains) we'd like to see added next.
There's no need for myriad customisation options when you already look like this.
Liam | Damage Control
Damage Control has been around for a long time, but I only discovered the stories a couple of years ago when someone handed me a collection of comics for Christmas.
Although I was initially sceptical, it turned out stories about a company formed just to clean up the chaos caused by rampaging heroes and villains could be surprisingly entertaining, and I think the concept could work just as well (albeit as a bit of a curveball) in the upcoming Marvel’s Avengers.
I don’t think it would be fair to pit a bunch of technicians and middle management up against the likes of AIM and its armies (though it could be sadistically fun!) so Damage Control missions would instead be used to break up the action, with players given the opportunity to unwind and de-clutter the ravaged streets.
Perhaps as an extra incentive to play clean up, players could uncover hidden items left behind by heroes and villains in the rubble of destroyed structures, or come across some of the more fantastical characters that crop up in Damage Control lore - such as sentient buildings that want to go travelling - and have to negotiate solutions to these types of bizarre problems.
The behind-the-scenes workers of the Marvel universe deserve more credit.
Sam | Professor X
Professor X is the eponymous leader of the X-Men and a beacon of all things good in mutantkind. Charles Xavier insists that Homo sapiens and Homo superior can coexist, despite his species’ greater power and humanity’s many flaws. If that isn't a noble enough cause to earn the Oxford graduate a place on the heroic Marvel’s Avengers roster, I don’t know what is.
Xavier would fit narratively, serving as a leader to help reunite the team during the A-Day Aftermath that’s explored within the upcoming action game. He’s also the perfect counter to leading villain M.O.D.O.K., possessing his own great intellect and suite of mental powers that are used to opposite ends.
Professor X is most commonly depicted with a disability, and keeping him confined to a wheelchair would add diversity to both the in-game representations and mechanics. Having spent the last week wreaking havoc in Destroy All Humans! (2020), it can be a lot of fun to fling enemies around telekinetically and telepathically extract brains. There’d be far fewer cranial extractions, granted, but with a little expansion on the core concept a mentally-powered combatant with limited mobility could work.
He’d especially shine in co-op, serving in a befitting support role. A more direct comparison here would be to Bleeding Edge healer Zero Cool, who also occupies a chair, if this time entirely by choice.
Few heroes are better suited to taking on the mind-bending M.O.D.O.K.
James | Gambit
Unloved in the cinematic world and a fairly consistent background player in video games over the years, the X-men’s other gruff-voiced loner, Gambit, could be a fun - if unlikely - powerset to throw into the Avengers’ mix.
Given the characters already on the team, Gambit could be a quieter presence, almost a Solid Snake-like presence to tackle a more covert type of mission, on the Black Widow end of the spectrum, compared to the bombastic action of The Hulk or Iron Man.
You might think it’s all about throwing a few playing cards around, but in fact, Gambit’s ability to turn potential energy into kinetic energy could be applied to almost anything. It could be difficult to balance without breaking the game, presenting a challenge for developer Crystal Dynamics, but could make for some really interesting gameplay.
How well he’d play when teaming up with the rest of the group could be interesting too, combining with other powers, and we know from the trailers alone there’s plenty of story time when the group aren’t diving into battle, which could bring an interesting twist to the story side of the game as well.
A fan-favourite hero for many from back in the 90s cartoon days, this could be Gambit’s chance to get some time in the spotlight.
It's been too long since Gambit had a chance to shine.
Who would you like to see added to Marvel's Avengers?
The not-E3 livestreams continue and Xbox Games Showcase was Microsoft's latest attempt to woo us into buying their shiny things. Though Xbox Series X garnered a few nods, it was all about the games, but what did we think of them?
A short teaser, but sweet nonetheless.
Xbox fans have spent the current console generation begging for more exclusive titles, and it looks like the upcoming Xbox Series X will address that. I can’t say that any games shown at Microsoft’s first-party 20/20 event were visual showstoppers, but the diversity was certainly impressive.
Halo Infinite looks like it’ll be a bombastic blast, Everwild seems serene and thoroughly lovely, while Tell Me Why and As Dusk Falls tackle deeper themes usually reserved for smaller stages.
Though it was disappointing not to see any new footage from Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II following last year’s immense debut trailer, a specific trio of reveals more than made up for it.
State of Decay and Fable are perhaps my favourite Xbox-exclusive franchises, so seeing new instalments from both is exciting if not fully unexpected. Avowed, on the other hand, took me by surprise. Obsidian’s RPG looks to be a marriage of The Elder Scrolls and The Lord of the Rings, with just a tinge of FromSoftware - that’s basically a recipe for perfection in my eyes!
Best of all? Everything I’ve talked about (and everything I’ve not) will be available on Game Pass. Plus there’s still more to come! Only 9/15 developers comprising Xbox Game Studios have shown their hand so far.
Can Ninja Theory top the original Hellblade?
Halo Infinite seems to be getting a lot of stick following the Xbox Games Showcase, but I for one thought everything shown looked excellent (apart from those odd Minecraft-like cliffs) and it was very much my highlight of the event.
Gameplay looks like a return to the classic Halo formula, which is excellent news, but even better than that, there wasn’t a Promethean in sight! I’m not against the inclusion of new enemy factions, but I think Halo just works better when it’s you versus the classic Grunt/Jackal, Elite/Brute Covenant setup (or in Infinite’s case, The Banished).
As for the rest of the show, I thought Rare’s Everwild and Obsidian’s Avowed both looked intriguing, even I’m still not completely sure what either is about, and, like Chris, I think that Vermintide 2’s combat in a futuristic setting, which is what Warhammer 40,000: Darktide seems to be, is an appealing prospect.
For some reason I also found the news of Destiny 2’s impending arrival on Game Pass surprisingly pleasing, despite owning a physical copy of the game and never actually playing it. Perhaps the ease of access and extra content will be enough to convince me to give it another try.
Rallying around in a Warthog looks just as fun as ever.
After deciding to not get either next gen console on release this year, I came at the Xbox show from a very different perspective to normal - as a cross-platform gamer.
Fortunately with every release card there was additional information, highlighting the games were for PC too and those which, importantly, would be debuting on Game Pass. As a result, subscribers could get invested in these games by default, due to the minimal barrier to entry.
One of the titles which did stick out, which we’d heard about before but seen fairly little, was Psychonauts 2. As someone who’s heard good things about the original my interest is certainly piqued by the latest trailer.
While Halo: Infinite will offer plenty of opportunities for slashing, no doubt (those Grunts won’t massacre themselves, after all), the prospect of a return to the world of Phantasy Star Online, with New Genesis: Phantasy Star Online 2, is enticing. While many might not be familiar with the first game, its debut on the Gamecube in particular marked the beginning of the internet gaming era for some, including yours truly, and so the nostalgia repeaters were on full blast from the off.
While it might take a while to see some of the titles on show, there were only one or two which held no interest at all, which suggests the future is looking fairly bright for Xbox fans.
Did you get that same hit of nostalgia?
Catch up with the Xbox Games Showcase below and share your thoughts with us.
Ubisoft Forward gave us a glimpse of the future, with details about Watch Dogs: Legion, Assassin's Creed Valhalla and some of Ubisoft's other flagship franchises. Have they done enough to grab your attention or is it just more of the same?
So much potential...
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, Far Cry 6 and Watch Dogs: Legion - as different as these games may seem on the surface, they all boil down to the same rote formula.
Assassin’s Creed Origins mixed things up back in 2017 and I gave credit where it was due. I did, however, also hypothesise that the new direction would be recycled ad nauseum and the franchise would soon find itself feeling tired again. That happened immediately, as very little changed in Odyssey and very little looks to be new with Valhalla.
Far Cry 6 manages to be in a worse position. The series peaked with 2012’s excellent Far Cry 3, with every reskinned sequel thereafter getting more and more drab. It’s caused me to hate what FC3 now represents, despite loving the game initially.
Watch Dogs 2 was actually a decent improvement over the original, but the implementation of Legion's differentiating mechanic is really underwhelming. Being able to recruit and play as almost any NPC is certainly ambitious, but the characters lack true individuality and recruiting them is a simple case of granting tedious requests.
I’ve basically played all of these games before. Bothering to keep up with the most prevalent Ubisoft franchises is a genuine chore at this point, and something I’m not going to sign up for.
Will Valhalla be just another reskinned Origins?
I am too old and slow (in real life and video games) for twitch shooting and parkour, so as much as I thought Hyper Scape’s setting was a cool one, I’ll definitely be giving it a miss. Cowering by the gas and hoping people don’t notice me is my preferred battle royale strategy, and CoD Warzone allows me to do that just fine.
Far Cry 6’s cinematic trailer was very well made, and set the tone of the game’s story nicely, but it would have been good to see some actual gameplay. I haven’t enjoyed a Far Cry game since the underrated Primal, and I could be tempted back.
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla gameplay was what I was expecting it to be, but I thought the central map in your hub area that shows what alliances you’ve made was a cool addition. It gives me hope that we’ll be able to build and expand our settlement through other, less brutal means, and not just hours of violence.
Most impressive though was Watch Dogs: Legion. I had no interest in the previous games but being able to recruit random, throwaway characters off the street and utilise their unique skill sets for missions just seems like chaotic, silly fun.
Chaotic, silly fun just about sums it up.
Unfortunately for Ubisoft, a couple of things were stuck in my mind going into the reveals of its Forward event. Firstly, Far Cry 6 (while hardly unexpected anyway) leaked, including the inclusion of its Breaking Bad alumni antagonist, Giancarlo Esposito.
Secondly, and more importantly, there have been significant and widespread allegations of misconduct across the company, which has led to a number of executives being “allowed” to go on “extended leave” while investigations are made, while others have left the organisation.
That shouldn’t be cause to punish the hard work of the developers who have put these new games together, but it shouldn’t be ignored either.
As far as the games themselves are concerned, I found Far Cry 5 to be pleasant enough, but ultimately more bark than bite when it came to making a point. We’ll see if the sixth installment, this time set in the Cuba-esque country of Yara, has anything memorable to say, or will we be longing for the series’ past glories instead.
From the rest, Watch Dogs looks set to not live up to its gimmick, Assassin’s Creed has a lot to prove and Hyper Scape hasn’t quite sunk in just yet.
If Giancarlo Esposito isn't enough to get you excited, there's also an adorable pooch.
What was your highlight from Ubisoft Forward?