What's On Your (Game) Playlist for December?
Another month has gone by, bringing with it the chance to tackle that backlog or get stuck in something new. Between penning the content that keeps you occupied, the good folks behind GameSkinny have been busy with a wide variety of games this past month. Here's just a sampling of what we've all been up to.
Contributor and self-proclaimed geek enthusiast El Conquistadork has been sampling some of the most recent blockbuster releases. Why stop at just one, after all?
Assassin’s Creed Origins: I’m only a few hours into this one, but it’s succeeded in being the first AC game that hasn’t royally annoyed me to death. Part of that has to do with how much better the controls feel. The other part has to do with [Ubisoft] keeping the Abstergo crap to a minimum. I’ve always found modern day subplots in AC games to be boring, time-consuming, and completely superfluous. I’m also loving the protagonist. A surprisingly good entry so far: hopefully, it keeps up the pace.
Call of Duty: WWII: I’ve never been much of a CoD guy, but I will say that this one is pretty great. The campaign is fun, the multiplayer is engaging, and even the loot drops aren’t that distracting (compared to other loot boxes, that is).
Hand of Fate 2: I’ve only just begun this one, but damn, is it good. All the excellent combos of action, card playing, and choose-your-own-adventure gameplay, combined with a big graphics upgrade, and a much larger overworld.
Stephen Johnston, site founder, is also mixing some well-known and niche games, with two in particular that are probably on a lot of people's lists.
- Horizon: Zero Dawn expansion because HZD is the game of the decade.
- Supreme Commander: Forged Alliance -- this game is basically my version of solitaire. I just play it to kill time.
- Dungeons III -- A great little strategy game and dungeon builder, maybe a touch easy, but good humor and fun.
- Super Mario Odyssey -- Because it's amazing. Easily top three Mario game.
Contributor and freelance writer Thomas Wilde is also balancing some old and new -- not always an easy task.
I'm constantly wrestling with my backlog, which goes back roughly 12 years and spans across 20 platforms. I managed to knock Oxenfree off my list on Halloween, which I liked; it's a short, genuinely creepy game that's a bit hamstrung by its characters never seeming to act like they're in as much danger as the narrative suggests.
Every so often, I still check in on World of Warcraft to chase achievements or run a mythic dungeon. I'm one of the people who's not really satisfied by the new expansion, Battle for Azeroth; I like the idea of warfronts and procedurally generated mini-dungeons in the form of uncharted islands, but Legion opened with both the Horde and Alliance being crippled by their losses at the Broken Shore. As per the current narrative, they just shouldn't have the resources for yet another hot war.
(Yes, I'm a lore nerd.)
The next thing I play is likely to be more horror. Right now, I'm eying ObScure, a title for the PS2 and Xbox, which is a self-conscious homage to '90s-style horror. I got almost to the end back in the day, but its sequel is really bleak and killed a lot of my momentum at the time.
Then again, I really ought to finally start The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Decisions, decisions.
Editor Zach Hunt is the newest edition to the GameSkinny team, and he, too, added Mario's latest outing to his catalog, along with some other big hits.
Most of my time is being spent collecting moons in Super Mario Odyssey (think I'm at 235 right now, so I have a lot of work to do). I'm not a completionist by any means, but any excuse to keep PLAYING in that world works just fine for me. I really love this game. Like, REALLY love it.
I downloaded Rocket League for my Switch recently, but I haven't had a chance to check it out yet. I was pretty terrible at it on PS4 and considered skipping this version, but the $20 price point and the mobility factor won me over. It'll be fun to get murdered on the go.
Aside from the Switch, I've been having fun with South Park Phone Destroyer and trying to get back into Starcraft 2 (since Blizzard kindly gifted WoL owners with Heart of the Swarm).
I'm going to try and be disciplined and not buy Skyrim (for the third time) when it hits the Switch, but somehow, I already know that I'll bite. BoTW really scratches that open-world exploration itch for me, but those bow and arrow motion controls look pretty sweet. And, you know, Link and the Master Sword. I mean, c'mon.
On the mobile side, I just got into Battleheart and feel like I was really missing out. It's got a fantasy style that will strongly appeal to RPG fans while taking the typical dumb, mobile timewaster elements and really using them to the game's advantage. The simple tap and drag mechanics are elegant, but still make you feel like you are actually playing something substantial. I haven't had this much fun with an Android game since Pocket Mortys, and it's not often I actually want to play a tablet game, instead of it being something you do when you need to pass some time and would prefer to not sit in silence doing nothing instead.
On the full game front, its been a whole lot of Shadow Of War for me lately. That first game in the series is still one of the Xbox One's best entries, so I was stoked beyond belief for the sequel. There are a few things I'm not crazy about (the much bigger world and areas leads to a lot of repetition, some of the wall pathfinding is awful when trying to climb, and I wasn't a fan of how the Balrog basically becomes Godzilla with a fire whip), but on the whole, this is a game you can lose yourself in for a stupid number of hours. I'll be conquering fortresses, riding drakes, and commanding orc armies for weeks to come before getting tired of the experience.
Community writer and RPG enthusiast Greyson Ditzler (aka PurplePocketPirate) added a bit of retro to his catalog recently, with one game, in particular, that might be rather familiar to some of you.
I've been playing a lot of different games lately, but I'm usually juggling a lot of them at once, so that's not all that different. I've been playing a lot of Battle Chef Brigade, and It's been a lot of fun. It gives you a lot more freedom to be creative than most cooking games, and the art is pretty nice, even if there isn't a lot of movement. I'm replaying it on Hard mode right now and making different story choices, so I can get the most out of it.
I also recently got a Sega Genesis, and that's been an interesting learning process. I bought it to play Rocket Knight Adventures -- which is Konami hard so far, but a lot of fun and really charming -- because it's never been ported, but looked like it would be right up my alley. Getting used to a button scheme with three primary buttons instead of two or four has been a surprising bump in the road for me, and I've had to adjust to the stiffness of the Genesis D-Pad, but other than that, I'm having a blast. Rocket Knight has a lot of surprises, a cute, bumbling protagonist, and boss fights every five minutes or so. Hard, but creative, and lots of fun. Also, it has a possum with a jet pack and a sword, so of course I had to try it at some point.
I've also been playing a lot of Streets of Rage 2 on my Genesis. I picked it up because I heard that it was one of the best beat-em-ups you can find, and so far, they're pretty right. Slick, pixelated graphics, tons of combos, and a wonderfully robust and bright '90's radical aesthetic. And the music. Oh sweet lord, the music. A lot of Genesis games can have flat out awful music, made of nothing but bubbling blips and chips with no direction, but this stuff is Grade A classic. The theme of the first level is so good I would seriously blast it out of my car's windows if I was driving downtown... You know, if I had a car. Yuzo Koshiro knows what's up. Check out the soundtrack if nothing else.
Super Mario Odyssey has been great, but there's not much point going in to that, since most people have heard about that already. Though I will admit that I've been playing it a lot when I've got a spare minute--just picking it up to collect a few moons before I leave for a class or whatever. Fantastic game; still not sure if it beats Galaxy for me, but it's damn good.
I also replayed VA-11 HALL-A recently on the Vita for the sake of my review on GameSkinny. Nothing much to say here I haven't said already. It's just a really pretty, compelling, well-presented visual novel with unique gameplay and a great cast of sci-fi and manga misfits, in a world of Bladerunner meets Cheers.
Lastly, during the Thanksgiving festivities I played a lot of Jackbox Party Pack 3 with my friends and family. I seriously think Jackbox might be the best names in Party games right now. They make cheap, easy to understand, fun and funny games that basically anyone can understand and play without a lot of complicated set-up. If you haven't played Quiplash 2 or T.K.O. with a full group of people at least once, then you haven't lived.
That's most of the interesting stuff I've been playing. The list will grow after Christmas, I can tell you that much.
Kat De Shields
Kat De Shields, our Journalism Training Program coordinator and communications manager, found some excellent mobile indies to keep her company during her holiday travels.
This past month, mainly due to travel, it's been all about games I can play on my phone or iPad.
Milkmaid of the Milky Way is a gorgeous, point-and-click adventure game set in western Norway in 1929. Ruth lives on a farm alone and makes butter and cheese from the milk her cows produce. When an alien ship abducts her beloved cows, it sparks the adventure she was waiting for. The soundtrack is lovely, and the game displays just how gorgeous pixel art can be.
Old Man's Journey is more of a story than a game with puzzle elements. If you're a sucker for atmosphere, this game has a lot of it, with wonderful artwork and a charming soundtrack. As an old man, you travel through the French countryside and stop at locations packed with memories to discover what sparked the spontaneous journey in the first place. It's bittersweet, in the best way possible, and is a lovely illustration of the love, loss, and hope we all experience as humans.
I'm also sinking more hours than I should into Game Dev Story (not to be confused with Game Dev Tycoon). It provides an entertaining glimpse into the world of game development, encompassing hiring/outsourcing work, how decisions are made as consoles are released, and how genre popularity and your fan-base changes.
In between gear reviews, our Senior Editor Jonathan Moore has been playing quite a few games in different genres over the past month -- some new and some old.
As a self-proclaimed Star Wars nerd, it was inevitable that'd I'd be playing a lot of Battlefront 2. And over the last month, for better or worse, that's exactly what I've been doing. Sure, the game has a ton of things wrong with it and its MMR leaves a lot to be desired (that's not to mention the loot and progression system ... but I won't get into that cluster here). But at its core, BF2 is a fantastically fun game -- and that's what we're all here for anyway: fun. If you're not sure if you should pick it up yet, I'd say let the price come down a little and bite. The mechanics are solid, the story is great fun, and StarFighter Assault is hands down my favorite gameplay mode of any shooter this year -- to be melodramatic: it saves the game.
On top of that, I've been rummaging around the world of Fallout 4 quite a bit. I never played when it first came out -- it was one of those games in my backlog that just sat on a digital shelf for about a year. But man, am I glad I jumped in. The base-builiding aspect of F4 put its hooks in me and I can't stop scavenging to build walls, workshops, and turrets. I've put in around 42 hours so far and have barely scratched the surface of the story. Help -- I have a problem.
Stephen keeps saying I need to play Horizon: Zero Dawn (which I really do). But these two games are going to carry me well through December.
What are you playing this month? Let us know down in the comments!