As a sequel, Metro Exodus pulls ahead of the rest of the franchise in a big way by leaving the very metro itself behind. Aesthetically, the place is a joy to explore from beginning to end, and there's enough variation to keep things feeling fresh. Dig down deep and it's another Metro with a new skin, but it's a damned good one of those all the same.
But there's something about Darksiders 3 that still sort of works though. It's a B-tier production, without a shadow of a doubt, but it's the sort of thing that doesn't actually come along all that often these days. Fans of the series will no doubt get a kick out of the continuing story and there's just enough here to help Darksiders 3 stand out and make for an entertaining playthrough. It's no God of War, but it's not the harbinger of the apocalypse either.
Hardcore fans of turn-based tactics may be slightly put off by Mutant Year Zero's obvious missteps but that aside, The Bearded Ladies have cooked up a special game here that's got great potential for the future. Road to Eden isn't perfect but it's definitely stood out from the crowd for me in what's been an excellent year.
All told, Hitman 2 is a heck of a treat for Hitman fans, offering the most refined mechanics, craziest antics, and most complex levels yet seen in the franchise. Each of the five core levels can be played for potentially a dozen or more hours, offering fantastic replayability for those who like to mess around with the Hitman formula. There's an argument to be had that Hitman 2 plays it a little self, but when it's so damned good, and unique, at what it does, you'll hear little argument from me.
Red Dead Redemption 2 isn't just a great game. It's a game that sets an impossibly high new bar for how open-worlds can be handled. Its depiction of late 19th-century America feels both historically accurate yet abundantly open-ended, slow-paced and yet alive, grim and yet majestic. It makes the original Red Dead Redemption feel like a warm-up, the doodles on the page before the real thing has come to life.
Usually, I let my past experiences inform the present, but with Assassin's Creed Odyssey I'm attempting desperately delink my own fatigue with the quality of the end product. At the end of the day, not everyone will feel overwhelming by another AC less than a year after Origins. Or indeed there may be plenty picking up Odyssey that have never played Origins at all. For those players, Assassin's Creed Odyssey is a feature-packed, incredibly lengthy belter, but a colossal time sink in the same breath.
Ultimately, V-Rally 4 is a solid if comprehensively unremarkable rally racing game. It offers neither the simulation depth of Dirt Rally nor the arcade racing hijinks of Dirt, straddling the line somewhere between the two. It can be moderately entertaining despite its dry personality, but up against stiff competition, it's an all too forgettable entry. Perhaps V-Rally was best left in its nostalgia-fuelled haze.
By rights, a hospital management game should be narcoleptic in nature. Two Point Hospital is a glorified spreadsheet simulator, but it's a spreadsheet simulator shot through with just the right magic combination of humour and deep management systems that help it shine.
Arriving eight months late on PC, everything that can be said about Monster Hunter World already has done. Rest assured though, the wait was indeed worth it. Anyone looking for a deep action game they can potentially invest hundreds of hours into need look no further. This is Monster Hunter, back and better than it's ever been before.
Dead Cells is fast-paced, slick, action-packed and pitched just right in terms of difficulty. This is paired with a ridiculously addictive upgrade loop and drool-worthy animations, combining to deliver a roguelike which can stand tall alongside greats like Spelunky.
Ultimately, State of Decay 2 has proven a disappointment. Undead Labs laid the groundwork with the original, but it's failed to build upon this to any noticeable degree. It's a much prettier, just as buggy, State of Decay 1.5. To some, just having more may be enough, but it would've been nice to see them push the boat out just a little bit more. Perhaps they should've done that MMO zombie survival game after all...
For now, it's wholeheartedly recommended you dive in with a crew of friends, provided they're willing to take the long-term approach. The horizontal progression means players won't be punished for not playing, which could make Sea of Thieves fantastic to dip into as and when the content updates arrive.
For all the fervent hatred of Konami that forms the current gaming-hate-bandwagon of choice, based on its own merits, Metal Gear Survive isn't a terrible game. It's not a great one for sure, and certainly not near the pedigree we expect from a Metal Gear product, but it's a serviceable enough survival game that benefits greatly from layering in a few of The Phantom Pain's systems. It won't scratch that same itch of sneaky badassery that has made Snake a household name, and it's almost certainly not worth the full $40 / £35 asking price, but there's definitely fun to be had here even if it doesn't come close to troubling the series' heights.
The core of the game is sound, it just needs to be more upfront with the player about what it's doing. It's really frustrating for me because I keep booting it up and I keep playing it, but eventually tangled web of systems gets the better of me and I've got to close it in a rage.
Everything about Seven is just a bit of a shame. Fool's Theory has come so close, and in doing so proven itself the jack-of-all-trades, master of none. A game of this budget lives and dies on having one or two insanely unique or memorable standout features, and yet Seven lacks in this area. With the thousands upon thousands of games now at our fingertips, it's never been harder for devs to get noticed. None of Seven's particularly bad, it's just not especially memorable.
All in all, Steep: Road to the Olympics doesn't do much to upset the formula. There are tweaks and refinements, but at its core, this is the same uniquely playable game that delivers something nothing else quite manages. If the prospect of doing it all over again on a staggeringly beautiful new Japanese mountain appeals, then step up to the podium.