I had a ton of fun with Milestone’s offroad racer – so much so, I even came back to it each time new DLC events were added. The racing feels good, the tracks are fun and the car selection varied.
However, Gravel doesn’t really bring much to the table that’s unique. It’s very much a standard, semi-arcade racing affair. Not terrible, but not exactly setting the world on fire either.
God of War
Let me get this out of the way first: I don’t hate God of War. It’s not my favorite series by a longshot – I much prefer Devil May Cry and games of that ilk over the mindless, repetitive hack & slash mechanics of Kratos McAngryGodKiller – but the games are still fun to play, as well as being rather visually impressive.
That being said – 2018’s masterful reboot isn’t in my Top 5 for one reason: a lack of personal playtime. I’ve played the game here and there, through Shareplay and demoed in store as well as having watched the Super Best Friends playthrough – but I don’t actually have the game myself yet.
I do really love that while they’ve made some pretty jarring changes to the formula – taking more of an RPG-like approach to upgrades and shirking the old isometric, fixed-camera views for a more GodHand style behind-the-back view – those changes work to better the experience. Upgrading feels more involved and rewarding as opposed to just dumping a currency into a meter – it feels like Kratos is actually growing. The new camera lets you play with scale more and have more dynamic, cinematic moments in combat.
Add on to that a more human and personable Kratos who actually regrets his mistakes and isn’t putting innocent bystanders/prisoners/concubines into flame puzzles or using them as door jams, and you’ve got the makings of greatness – it’s won GOTY for a reason.
Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition
Sadly, Arcade Edition didn’t make the list as it technically isn’t a new game – it’s just an update to an already existing game. That said, I debated including it as the update made massive, game-wide changes. New V-Triggers that all do well to spice up the characters. New stages that are gorgeous remakes of classic stages. Returning characters that feel extremely fresh and fun. New modes and overall tons more content – something Street Fighter V was certainly lacking. Even the arcade mode is more than just a standard ladder and covers the series entire history, with routes themed after each of the mainline games – from the original Street Fighter and all the way through to V.
It’s great – and each route only features characters that were present in those games (Or at least characters who came later but fill their original role, like Balrog filling in for Mike in the original Street Fighter
Tons and tons of artwork and endings to unlock by playing through the ladders.
They even fixed up Survival Mode for this season, making it a lot more fun and possible.
And all of that extra content? Completely free. If you own Street Fighter V, you automatically own Arcade Edition.
It’s not all sunshine, though – there are missteps here that can suck some of the joy out of the overall great changes. No more Fight Money rewards from doing trials/story/survival. You now only get money when a character levels up. This is fine for a fresh player (Leveling a character from 0-28 is easy and nets a good 28K in Fight Money) – but pretty bad for someone who’s been playing for the last 2 years and has likely gotten every character to a high level through the older content already. Fight Money is hard to come by. They’ve also reduced payouts for weekly challenges – by half. What used to be an easy 6-7K FM a week, becomes 3-4K.
Personally – I didn’t mind the changes as I’ve already got the characters I wanted – and it’s not that hard to come up with 100K on a smurf account if I want to try one of the other characters/record their trials. There are plenty of trials and story modes to complete for experience and levels, especially now with 4 seasons worth of trials. But I can understand feeling a bit screwed over here.
That said – AE ultimately didn’t make my final list for the simple fact that, while I massively enjoyed the update and have been playing the game more than ever, it’s still, for all intents and purposes, just an update.
Mutant Year Zero: Road To Eden
This one is just a case of the game releasing a little too late. I haven’t had a chance to actually finish the game yet, but so far, I’m enjoying the new take on the old XCOM formula.
The stuff that this game does new and unique to the genre is great – but the game is also kind of marred by some slightly wonky performance issues in places (Weird audio cut-outs, framerate drops, textures popping in and loading slow). However, it still runs better than XCOM2!
Override: Mech City Brawl
Override is a lot of fun. It’s also a game I think I designed myself in my sleep. The campaign is surprisingly robust – though it doesn’t really change much based on character, it’s a lot deeper than I actually anticipated originally.
I thought it would just be a bog-standard arcade ladder or something, and instead, I got a Pacific Rim-like Kaiju punching simulator with upgrades, loadouts, and even deadlines!
I just wish there were a little more to the game outside of that. Maybe a co-op/versus mode where instead of battling other mechs, you work together/compete to destroy more monsters (Or buildings, since the environments are super destructible).
As it stands, the game is great fun, especially with friends (I really love that everyone can control an individual limb of the mech in co-op), but there’s definitely room for improvement and overall more game