GregHorrorShow’s Year In Gaming 2019

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It’s been a strange year for gaming, as I mentioned in my EGX round up – with both Microsoft and Sony in a holding pattern until new consoles land in 2020, the gaming landscape has been a lot quieter than usual. Luckily some stand out titles arrived through the year and we had plenty of ongoing games to keep us entertained.

For anyone who missed it my non gaming round up of 2019 can he found HERE.

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I started the year with a few titles left over that needed to be fully finished, namely Red Dead Redemption 2, Valiant Hearts and Lara Croft & The Temple Of Osiris. Red Dead I discussed last year and it was deserving of all the plaudits but I also thought Valiant Hearts was an excellent game, helping to give some further insight into World War 1. The Lara Croft spin off was ok, probably better played with friends but perfectly serviceable solo.

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A lot of the year was spent on catching up with other titles I’d missed and I finally got to play Firewatch, What Remains Of Edith Finch and Pyre. All of these were brilliant and had great stories to tell but the one that stuck with me the most was Pyre. In addition to the fact the game makes you learn a new sport, the story and characters are so well written it was a joy to spend time with them and see how their tales developed. Apparently there are a lot of different ways it can play out, great fun.

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2019 was the year I ended up switching from FIFA to PES, though in general my playtime for football seems to have dropped off slightly as well. PES is enjoyable and the realistic physics mean you see a lot of different types of goals, which is good. While it’s not a sport per se, I also found myself hooked on Gwent in 2019. A fictional card game from The Witcher games, Gwent is a deck building title that I had a huge amount of fun with. The tactics involved led to some of my favourite competitive gaming moments of the year.

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Other games I finished this year were Telltale’s Batman (which I thought was a good spin on an old, well told story), Overcooked (a hilarious co-op cooking game) and The Witness (I mean, I say finished but mean met my limit for puzzle solving). I also played through Spiderman, which I thought was absolutely brilliant. I’m looking forward to seeing what they can do with the next title on PS5!

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In terms of ongoing games I continued to play and love Overwatch, Battlefield V, Fortnite and Rainbow Six: Siege. All of these are among the best online games I’ve played and would still recommend them all to anyone who hasn’t dived in yet. In addition I also jumped feet first into For Honor and Warframe. For Honor is complex but very fun, my main issue is that it can sometimes find an age to find a game. Having said that when you get into a game it’s unlike anything else I’ve played. Warframe has been interesting, it reminds me of the horde side content in Mass Effect, which is no bad thing. I’ll probably stick with it and keep investing time.

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I finally got around to playing Hitman 2, which I thought was just as good as the first game. The set pieces were spectacular and although I mainly just used my own direction and a silenced pistol the first time through, I imagine I’ll dip back in and replay the levels to see some of the clever set ups included. 2019 also saw the best stealth drop of a game in recent history when Apex Legends appeared out of nowhere to steal Fortnite’s Battle Royale crown. A three player, squad based first person shooter that hit the ground running from the start. It is a brilliant game and well worth checking out if you haven’t tried it already.

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As you know if you’ve read my blog previously, I love games where the story changes based on your decisions. From the makers of Until Dawn, Man Of Medan landed this year – giving me an opportunity to try and guide a group of kids through a haunted ghost ship. Thankfully I didn’t kill everyone, so I considered my playthrough a success! I’ve written about Forgotton Anne before but when looking back on my year of gaming it was very almost my game of the year. The story was excellent and the animation, along with the music, was top notch. It’s a game I found myself thinking about long after I’d finished it, always the sign of a great title.

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There was one title that stood out slightly more than the others in 2019 though, Remedy’s Control. The story of Jesse Faden, who turns up at a kooky federal building looking for her long lost brother. The building in question hosts the American supernatural service, which means all bets are off as you begin a stunning mission to uncover what is going on. The writing here is brilliant and the design of the game, in terms of the levels and just stylistically, is phenomenal. One part of the game haunted me for a while due to the great voice acting. It isn’t without problems though as the performance of the game really does suffer at times, with action stuttering and slowing on screen if a lot is happening. Once I’d finished the main story I even went back and played another 2 or 3 hours to wrap up a few side missions and reveal more story beats. Control is my game of the year for 2019.

I’m excited for 2020 and the chance to see another round of new consoles. I can’t wait to see what the PS5 brings (hopefully less fan noise!) and fingers crossed we also get a bunch of great games announced for it this year.

GregHorrorShow’s Non Gaming 2019 Round Up

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2019 was a big year for music, with the continued explosion of streaming and further disruption to how we discover and consume music. As time goes on I think curation, especially from friends, will have a strong focus – without guidance there is simply too much music being released to process. My favourite gigs from the year were Sophie and The Giants (Camden Assembly) and Carly Rae Jepsen (XOYO), both delivering fantastic sets and the chance to see a huge pop artist like Carly Rae Jepsen in a smaller venue was pretty awesome.

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I have a playlist of the year’s music, which I’ll embed below, but in amongst that I’d love to highlight a few favourites – Michael Kiwanuka delivered, for me, the album of the year along with excellent LP’s for Lewis Capaldi and Sam Fender. Fieh got their debut album out the door, most definitely worth a spin. Billie Eilish was everywhere but for good reason and The Big Moon continue to develop into a really strong band – looking forward to their album shortly. If you need pop then look no further than the immense trio of Halsey, Julia Michaels and Sigrid. Julia Michaels is one of the most underrated pop stars of the last few years, in my opinion. On a slightly more indie focus I’d also recommend checking out Palace and Liz Lawrence’s latest efforts – beautiful. And a quick shout out to the game Forgotton Anne, whose soundtrack was absolutely stunning.

 

Highlights from the year’s films for me were Zombieland 2 (more of the same but still enjoyable), Eternal Beauty (a tough watch but very rewarding) and The Aeronauts (a well made and interesting story of exploration and adventure). However my favourites were Frozen II, somehow just as good if not better than the first, and Knives Out, a stunning murder mystery that is excellently written and delivered with aplomb.

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Books-wise I read a few great titles this year – 84 Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff, Heartburn by Nora Ephron and The Psychology Of Time Travel by Kate Mascarenhas were all really enjoyable. On the graphic novel front Lumberjanes by Noelle Stevenson was cool but the stand out for me was Paper Girls (Vol 1) by Brian K. Vaughan. Brilliant and I look forward to reading the next volume that I got for Christmas 😊 I’m still making my way through the lengthy tome that is Yeah Yeah Yeah by Bob Stanley but it is a fantastic look back at the history of pop music. My book of the year though is Journey Into Fear by Eric Ambler, a thriller set on a boat as the protagonist attempts to stay alive for the duration of the voyage. I found it really gripping and would heartily recommend.

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On the TV front it was a good year for returning shows – Barry, The Good Place and Stranger Things all came back with enjoyable seasons. Matt Berry is always a joy and Year Of The Rabbit, his Victorian cop show was great fun. Temple was intense but mostly thrilling and I really enjoyed Giri/Haji. For some light relief I found The Rookie to be a good slice of easy watching fun. Nathan Fillion continues his run as the good hearted, but out of his depth, leading man. Initially both Carmen Sandiego and She-Ra were intended to be shows to watch with the kids but I found myself enjoying them just as much, if not more! The animation on both are excellent and there are some interesting character arcs developing in both. Watchmen is brutal but brilliant, a different take on the universe which lays to rest concerns that the show couldn’t be made for TV. By, mainly, steering away directly from the comic the creators delivered a dark look at vigilante justice. My show of the year though came early in 2019 with Netflix’s Russian Doll. What a concept, what a story, what a soundtrack. The acting all round was great and Natasha Lyonne was amazing in the title role. It also didn’t outstay it’s welcome, a most refreshing change of pace from some of the bloated shows hitting our streaming services.

So there you go, a little look at the stuff I’ve been enjoying over the last twelve months. Gaming round up to follow!

EGX 2019 – Round Up

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There was a strange vibe to this year’s EGX – not a bad one, just different and a little muted. With the major companies prepping their new consoles for late 2020 it meant that there was a lack of big, playable games.

Avengers was probably the biggest playable draw but with a queue time of between 90 minutes and 3 hours it wasn’t something I got a chance to play.

Death Stranding was here but wasn’t playable, despite the fact it is coming out later this month. Cyberpunk 2077 was the hot ticket (more on that later) but that was only a hands off demo of the game.

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The move to the Excel centre seems to have created more space for Indies, which is great. There was certainly a huge amount of games to experience at EGX this year and plenty where you were only waiting 5-10 minutes to play.

I quite enjoyed Predator: Hunting Grounds but, certainly playing as a marine, it felt a little generic. Perhaps some more polish will help. Journey to the Savage Planet seemed fun but like War Groove it felt like a game you’d need to play at home to get the best of, rather than at an event like EGX.

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First person space shooter Boundary was cool, although graphically it didn’t look amazing, which was an issue when you are trying to shoot enemies at a distance. Speaking of shooting enemies, Zombie Army 4 was a messy, blast of a game. I also got to play the new DayZ map but didn’t encounter anyone else or any zombies so it felt a bit TOO sparse.

Although I didn’t play the first game, Beyond The Steel Sky looked interesting, with a good style and some nice puzzle mechanics. Ready Set Heroes was quite enjoyable, a sort of party game with dungeon crawler pre-match set up. I’m wondering why they didn’t use characters from the PlayStation Universe for this one though?

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Some hands on time with Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare‘s multiplayer confirmed it was the usual, fast paced FPS action. If you like COD, you’ll love this.

But there were a handful of games that stood out for me, starting with the title everyone wanted to see…

CYBERPUNK 2077

Cyberpunk 2077 was talked of amongst my most anticipated games of 2014 following its announcement. 5 years later I finally got to see what the game looks like with my own eyes, though it still isn’t out until 2020. It looks as polished and detailed as you’d want from a game that has been almost 10 years in development. With a Cyberpunk flourish throughout, there were the usual character options; stealth, action, hacking etc. However the skill tree looks to be huge and this is going to be about experiencing the world the developers have created. That world looked fantastic, full of neon and the tropes you’d expect. The violence was full on at times but I feel like that is a decent reflection of the game world, even if during the demo it felt a little like playing to the crowd.

CIRCUIT SUPERSTARS

Circuit Superstars was probably my favourite title of the games I played at EGX. Similar to the old Micro Machines games from back in the day, this is played at an angle slightly behind the car as opposed to directly above. It also reminded me of one of my favourite Vita games, Motorstorm RC. This could be genuinely the racing game I’ve been waiting for. I spent every lap fighting to shave milliseconds off my time, which is always a great sign. Hopefully the online will hold up and if the developer can add in some different race types this might become a mainstay of my gaming time.

STREETS OF RAGE 4

When they announced Streets Of Rage 4 I was really hopeful it would be good. Finally, a follow up to one of my favourite Mega Drive series. The good news for me is that this plays like a Streets Of Rage game and, even with a new art style, manages to capture the vibe of the original game. I feel like the demo here was set to easy as there wasn’t a huge challenge but that makes sense in an environment where they want to try and attract a wide audience. If the finished product has a decently sized campaign and a scaling difficulty, this could be one to watch.

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Cris Tales is one of those games I mentioned earlier where you really need to play it at home, in a comfortable environment, rather than a packed and noisy event space. Having said that there was something about the whimsical character design and writing that pulled me into this title. The game is a party based battle title, meaning you will be exploring the game world and then jumping into turn based fights on the fly. There is also a time travel/multiverse angle, which I didn’t get to in the short time I played. With the right price point I could be very tempted to pick this one up.

So there you go, EGX 2019 is in the books. It certainly had a different flavour, the mix of a new venue and lots more stuff to do besides games (talks, speedruns, cosplay competitons/talks and live programming) meant that there was always something to see or do.

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Rule #32 – Enjoy the Little Things: A Selection Of Smaller Titles To Consider

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I recently picked up Forgotton Anne, a game I’d been meaning to play for a while. It was on sale on the PSN so I finally caved and bought it. What followed was a whimsical 5 or 6 hours of gameplay that I thoroughly enjoyed. Was it the best game I’ve ever played? No. Did it have something interesting to say? Yes. Was it worth checking out? Most definitely.

That got me thinking about smaller, shorter game experiences from the last few years that people might’ve missed. So here are some games I’d recommend that are not as time intensive as some of the bigger titles on the market.

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FORGOTTON ANNE

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I had to start with this one! Forgotton Anne is a puzzle/platformer in which you play as the aforementioned Anne. She is an enforcer in the game’s world, which is a place when forgotten items (odd socks, old light bulbs etc.) end up. Everyone in the city is working together to build a bridge back to the human world, until a group of rebel ‘forgotlings’ try to sabotage it. Cue lots of jumping, climbing and pulling levers. The big selling point of this game is the animation, which is glorious.

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THE SEXY BRUTALE

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This hidden gem was one of my favourite games of last year. You play as Lafcadio Boone, who awakes during a friend’s annual party to find himself stuck in a time loop. The aim of the game is to save all the other party guests, who meet grizzly fates otherwise. You play through the day and then the clock resets, letting you explore further or use the knowledge you now have to influence events. It’s a game with a fantastic sense of style and is great fun. I was pretty sad when I finished this but it was a game I’d recommend to anyone.

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PYRE

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I wasn’t sure about Pyre when I first heard about it. A game that had created it’s own fictional sport? Sounded like more hassle than it was worth. However, once I started it up I got sucked into the world and its wonderful cast of characters. You play as The Reader, a type of coach if you will. Your team, The Nightwings, need to win matches to earn their freedom from the land they dwell in, a kind of purgatory. The sport itself, while fun and well designed, plays second fiddle to the character development and story here. I haven’t quite finished the game yet but I am thoroughly enjoying my time with it.

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THIS WAR OF MINE

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This War Of Mine is a really bleak game. You take control of several characters that share a house in a war torn area. You have to defend your house from looters, while also going out and scavenging yourself. Everyone’s game will be different, with various characters and events, on each playthrough. This is a very serious title that treats issues like violence and desperation with the respect they deserve. At one point a character had to kill someone while scavenging, it was him or them and so I had him kill the other guy. My character then went home and basically sat on the floor, crying and wouldn’t move. He was broken by that experience, nothing I could ‘press’ or do would get him out of it. Shortly afterwards it was ‘game over’, when another gang broke in and killed everyone in my house. A brutal but essential game.

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ICONOCLASTS

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When I think of the title screen and music for Iconoclasts a big smile spreads across my face. A 2D title in the same vein as Sonic or Castlevania, Iconoclasts see you play a mechanic called Robin in a world in which access to machinery is strictly limited by the government. This is a platformer very much inspired by older games. You will be backtracking a lot, finding keys and unlocking new routes to different areas. All in glorious, bright colours accompanied by some excellent music. The writing is pretty good too and does a nice job of bringing the characters to life.

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FIREWATCH

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Speaking of characters, a game in which the majority takes place with only two people talking doesn’t necessarily sound like it would be a gripping title but Firewatch manages to keep things interesting until the very end. You play as a man called Henry, who has taken a job as a fire lookout at a national park in the US. I don’t want to spoil anything but what unravels from there is a tense and, at times, sinister story which focuses on grief, isolation and paranoia. It’s also lovely to look at, with a very nice art style.

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So there you have it, a few titles you might not have heard of to check out. Hopefully if you give any of these a try you won’t be disappointed!

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Games As A Sevice – The Future Of Games?

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As technology has advanced, a lot of games have moved away from simply creating a product, selling it and then making extra content to be sold for it in batches. Being able to regularly update games via downloadable patches has meant that titles can now have a lifespan long beyond traditional game releases.

This means that older games like Overwatch (2016), Rainbow Six Siege (2015), For Honor (2017) and Battlefield V (2018) can have very high engagement rates and keep players coming back to discover new content, whether it’s new maps, characters or game modes.

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But as a large amount of titles look to move towards becoming what is known in the industry as ‘Games As A Service’ (GAAS from here onwards), what benefits – and drawbacks, are there for gamers?

One of the biggest positive effects of this trend is the fact that it can really help keep games fresher for longer. Take Overwatch as an example. In the old days, a character based Mega Drive game like Eternal Champions would release and if the characters were unbalanced or disliked you were stuck with the game as it was. Now if a character isn’t being used because people feel they are ineffective (Symmetra in Overwatch, for example) the developers can tweak the character to make them better or, as in the case of Symmetra, completely rework her ability toolset. This allows the game to evolve, rather than being stuck in a static state.

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These changes can help mould the game around the desires of the players. Although it must be said, depending on the game this could also be a negative because pandering to your audience doesn’t always bring the best results.

Something else that often gets raised when talking about GAAS is the ability to bounce back from a rocky release window. As a developer if you continue to support and tweak your title following a negative or disappointing release you can still find an audience. Rainbow Six Siege and For Honor are both great examples of this, titles that struggled at release but have gone on to be very successful and popular titles. On a personal level I started playing Rainbow Six Siege TWO YEARS after it released!

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Another reason people sometimes like GAAS is that you often feel you are getting a lot more value for your money. That depends on the game though, as if you’ve played full price for something you might feel the value proposition is less than a free to play game that gets constant updates.

Which brings us onto the negative aspects. The first of which is the flip side of the final positive point – sometimes GAAS can feel like a complete rip off. If you’ve paid £50 for a game there is an expectation that extra content will arrive without further cost but that often isn’t the case, especially with games that feature microtransactions, even ones just for cosmetic goods. This also plays into the Loot Box conversation and whether blind boxes are ever a good thing. I don’t mind them as a mechanic in games if I can also use in-game (earned) currency to unlock the same items. I do find them a bit sleazy if they are the only mechanic to unlock items.

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Another issue is regarding the care of workers and the people making the game. The more updates and changes the developers have to make, the harder and quicker people are expected to work. This has recently led to a series of articles about the poor work environments on some games:

The developers of the game Cuphead have also announced they are delaying new content exactly for this reason. Although it isn’t a GAAS, I still think this is great. It also leads us to the question of whether a GAAS will ever be truly finished? And if that even matters any more?

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The most valid criticism I’ve heard was actually around the game Overwatch. It was recently leaked that the game will be moving to a 2-2-2 locked format. Currently there are 30 characters formed into three ‘classes’: Damage, Tank and Support. At the moment you can play any characters you want – 6 Supports? No problem (although you’ll likely lose the game). The developers feel that having 2 characters of each class will better balance matches and gameplay.

As someone who plays the game a lot this makes sense to me, a balanced team is more likely to get results and probably has a higher chance of playing closer, enjoyable matches. But where this is a problem (along with the point I made earlier about tweaking and changing characters) is that the game can feel very different and might end up completely unrecognisable to the one you bought at launch and had enjoyed up until the changes. Perhaps you had a favourite character and now, months or years later, they now don’t match your playstyle and have completely different moves and abilities – I can imagine it would be really disappointing.

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So there are definitely positives and negatives to Games As A Service. Most of my experiences so far have been good but I can certainly see why some people might have reservations about them. I think my biggest concern is that every title might try to be a GAAS which would leave gamers worse off both financially and in terms of the actual time we get to play games.

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E3 2019 Preview

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E3 2019 starts on June 11th and looks set to be a strange version of the annual conference. Following moves by several of the big publishers (EA/Bethesda) over the last few years to host their own events around the conference rather than as part of it, this year Sony has declined to take part. Mainly this is because, with the PS5 not quite ready and no new games to talk about, they simply wouldn’t be in a position to hold an interesting event.

The good news for gamers is that Microsoft looks set to follow in Playstation’s steps and finally confirm details of their new console. Rumours continue to swirl about power and features but, alongside the official news on PS5 last month, it means that after E3 the new generation of consoles will be on the way!

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There are plenty of games already announced that I want to know more about. Dragon Age Origins was a title I really enjoyed but the company behind it, Bioware, is reeling from two high profile games that have failed to make an impact. Mass Effect Andromedia disappointed fans of the series, while Anthem released in a bit of state and still hasn’t really recovered. Can they return to form on the new Dragon Age title? The teaser trailer confirms Solas will be involved and I wonder if many of the other characters will return. It’s not listed as part of the EA conference but I’d love it if they dropped another trailer as a surprise during their E3 presentation.

We had a good look at Cyberpunk 2077 last year so I’m not sure if it will be back again this year but I hope we get to see another slice of the game – maybe a different aspect of the game world. Another title I’ve been keeping an eye on is Indivisible, an RPG from the makers of Skullgirls. I had a chance to play this at Rezzed a few months ago and really enjoyed it. Would be great to get a release date for this one.

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Remedy have spent the last decade exclusively making games for the XBox so their switch to multiplatform means that the upcoming Control is the first of their games for a long time that I’ll have the chance to play. It looks really impressive and as it’s releasing in August it would be a pleasant surprise if they dropped a demo on the day for people to try out.

In addition to announced titles there are always a few new games that crop up, some more surprising than others. There is a lot of talk online around the next Watch Dogs game and whether it might be set in London. I think it would be great to have a big open world set outside of the US for a change and it’s been a while since the UK featured as a main game hub.

Horizon

Guerrilla Games have been very quiet since the release of Horizon: Zero Dawn. Rumours are that they are busy working on a follow up to that game which would be fantastic, although (and I know I’m in the minority) I would love it if they returned to the Killzone universe – either with a new title or a remaster of the excellent Killzone 2. Usually by this time EA would have a DICE-made shooter waiting in the wings for the Autumn but with content for both Battlefield V and Star Wars Battlefront II recently dropping, I’m not sure whether we’ll see anything else cropping up. Perhaps it’ll be more content plans for the games they have. To be honest I’d probably prefer if they supported the existing games longer and gave DICE more time to develop the new titles.

Bethesda have remained silent on a new Dishonored game but I really hope to see one announced at E3. The games have always been fun and got better with each title. Quantic Dream are another company that have gone multi-platform and, despite some heavy handed plot points, I’ve enjoyed almost all of their titles so far. We can’t be far away from them at least teasing their next game, even if it’s for the next generation of consoles.

So there we go, a slightly muted E3 compared to recent years but still plenty to look forward to.

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Top 10 Single Player PS4 Games

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I often get asked to recommend games to people, especially if they have just got a console and are looking to jump into the best games on offer. As the PS4 generation comes to a close I thought it’d be fun to try and whittle down a Top 10 to recommend.

Quick disclaimer, obviously I haven’t played every game out there and some of the well regarded, bigger releases (Spiderman, for example) may well have made the list if I had played them. It was pretty tough to get the list down to a Top 10 of just the stuff I’d played!

As you’ll see, even the Top 10 isn’t just 10 games… here we go, in no particular order:

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The Last Of Us Remastered

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The Last Of Us originally came out at the tail end of the PS3’s life cycle but received a welcome remaster when the new consoles arrived. Even now this is still one of the games I’m first to recommend to new PS4 owners. It tells the story of Joel, a grizzled old survivor, and Ellie, a young girl, as they travel across America in a post-disease world where the majority of the population has been wiped out. A mix of action and stealth, along with a strong story and some excellent voice acting, drive the gameplay while the stylised graphics look fantastic, especially with the HD remaster treatment.

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God Of War

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Having already played six God Of War titles on the PS3/PSP I genuinely wasn’t sure I needed another game when they first announced the PS4 title. I was quickly reassured when I saw the footage as this new game is a masterclass in single player storytelling. Whereas the previous games had a fixed camera and were viewed from a distant perspective, the latest game is much more up close and personal. It is set long after the other games and Kratos now resides in Norse mythology as opposed to Greek mythology, which adds a nice spin on things. The story focuses on a journey that Kratos has to make with his son and the many characters they meet along the way. The gameplay can sometimes be frantic and challenging but it’s almost always enjoyable.

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Horizon: Zero Dawn

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Guerrilla Games were most well known for the Killzone series of games, first person shooters with a sci-fi leaning. When they announced a new, open world third-person adventure game I was hopeful but had some reservations. Killzone had always been linear so could they deliver on an open world game? Thankfully the answer was yes, in abundance. In Horizon you take control of Aloy, an outcast who is looking to shed some light on her past. She lives in a world where most technology has faded and giant dinosaur-like robots roam the land and need to be avoided. The moment to moment gameplay in Horizon is truly fantastic – the way you need to plan encounters, especially for some of the bigger enemies, is a welcome change from the hack and slash of a lot of other games.

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Grand Theft Auto V / Red Dead Redemption 2

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I’ve included two entries under the same section here as this will boil down to your preference of genre. Do you prefer a satirical, current day gangster/heist setup? Or a lawless Wild West affair, with cowboys and Sheriffs? The gameplay isn’t too different whichever option you pick. Both are third person action adventure games with compelling stories told over tens of hours. Red Dead Redemption 2 is actually a prequel, wherein you take control of outlaw Arthur Morgan. You’ll see some familiar faces along the way but you don’t need to have played the previous game to appreciate this title. Grand Theft Auto V on the other hand sees you take control of three different characters as their lives intersect and unravel in various ways. The game features numerous heists, which I found to be great fun.

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Uncharted 4 / Uncharted: Lost Legacy

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Another entry with two titles, this time simply down to your previous experience with the series. If you’ve played the previous titles Uncharted 4 is a great game to play through as a final goodbye to the characters we’ve known/loved throughout the series. In Uncharted 4 Nathan Drake is retired but can’t resist the lure of ‘one more job.’ Will it cost him his marriage and every he’s worked so hard for? A globe-trotting adventure awaits! If you haven’t played the other games I’d probably recommend Lost Legacy as it doesn’t rely as much on previous knowledge of the other Uncharted games. Lost Legacy features Chloe and Nadine, both side characters from other Uncharted games. It’s well written and more concise than the mainline Uncharted games. Both titles have similar gameplay, with lots of exploring, climbing and gunplay. Both are graphically superb and would be a great addition to your collection.

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Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

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I’ve always been a fan of Metal Gear’s over the top gameplay and story. Metal Gear Solid V continues the tradition with a story that I’m still not 100% sure I understand. Once you get past the slightly sluggish and bizarre opening section the game opens up and the fun begins. The gameplay here is some of the best the gaming world has to offer – there is such flexibility that almost anything is possible. The game does an amazing job of letting you escape from situations, as opposed to killing you quickly and giving you a game over screen. The story doesn’t make much sense and the game, in my opinion, makes a serious mis-step in it’s treatment of Quiet, one of the female characters in the game, but overall MGS V has some of the finest gameplay out there.

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Dishonored 2

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Another title that gives you a lot of freedom to carry out your objectives is Disnohored 2. The first choice you make is whether to seek revenge as Corvo, the male character from the original game, or Emily Kaldwin, the Empress of Dunwall. Both have different abilities and approaches to the game. Even within these differing disciplines you still have the option of stealthing through levels as opposed to fighting everyone you see. For me, most missions started as stealth and developed into combat when things went wrong 😀 Set in a steam punk-like future and with a very distinct visual art style, Dishonored 2 is a game that you shape around your playthrough and choices you make along the way. The abilities you gain are very inventive and fun to use and it’s different to almost every other game out there.

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Persona 5

Persona5

Full disclosure I haven’t actually finished Persona 5 at this stage – I’m around 40 hours in though so feel confident enough to strongly recommend it in the meantime. The Persona series of games have been around for some time and the fifth instalment continues the series tradition of turn based combat, where each member of your party and the computer each take it in turns to attack/defend during each round of the battle. Some of the fights are over quickly while others take a bit more strategy. You play as a school kid who can turn into a superhero-type in an alternate reality. So as well as saving the world you’ll also be dealing with the day to day of school! One of the big draws of these games is the graphical style, along with the music, and Persona 5 doesn’t disappoint. With a cast of characters including a talking cat this is definitely a game you’ll love or hate. One word of warning though, as I mentioned at the top of the paragraph – it’s a looooong game. Likely to be over 100 hours to get through, this isn’t one for a quick playthrough.

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Detroit: Become Human / Until Dawn

Until Dawn 5

Both of the entries here feature the ability to create your own story. There are no game over screens on these games – you continue to make choices, both good and bad, until the credits roll. It makes for a fairly seamless gameplay experience but the fact is your version of the story might be wildly different from someone else. Perhaps a character survived that died in someone else’s playthrough? Or maybe because you chose not to intervene in a situation it escalated and had a knock on effect further down the line? The gameplay in these titles is very similar, locked in camera angles and lots of exploring areas looking for clues. There is also the odd chase and action scene thrown in for good measure but these games are all about the story. The reason I’m recommending both is down to your personal taste – Detroit is a sci-fi thriller set around Androids in the near future and Until Dawn is a horror game where a killer is stalking a bunch of kids staying in a remote lodge. Take your pick (or play both!) and enjoy the ride.

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No Man’s Sky

No Mans Sky

No Man’s Sky is what I always hoped that games could be when I was growing up. The game is essentially a randomly generated universe that is ready for you to explore. Once you repair your spaceship in the game’s tutorial you can start making your way across the universe and start your adventure. It has a brilliant visual style and the randomly generated planets really can spark a sense of awe. There is a story path to follow but you can ignore that for the most part and just check out the different planets, mining for materials or discovering new creatures. The game is so huge and over the last few years a lot has been added, base building and underwater exploration for example, that I feel it’s easy to recommend as there is something here for everyone!

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So there you go, my top 10(ish) recommendations. It was really difficult to narrow this list down and so I have plenty of Honourable Mentions: Hitman, Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate/Odyssey, Life Is Strange, Telltale’s The Walking Dead, Middle Earth: Shadow Of Mordor, The Order 1886, Transistor, Valiant Hearts and The Sexy Brutale all deserve a shout but ultimately missed out on making the list.

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