MOST WANTED 2021 EDITION

I’ve been wanting to get another selection of upcoming games I’m excited about up on the blog for a while but games kept getting announced or revealed and adding to the list! So I’ve narrowed it down to ten, as below, in no particular order.

In addition I’d like to quickly highlight a handful of other titles that didn’t make it onto the shortlist – namely Back 4 Blood, Cris Tales, Goodbye Volcano High and Ghostwire Tokyo. All games I’m really looking forward to checking out.

Not all of the below are out in 2021 but here’s the list!

Aliens: Fireteam

I know after the Aliens: Colonial Marines debacle a few years back I shouldn’t get my hopes up for a squad based Aliens game but I just can’t help myself. Alien: Isolation nailed the horror aspect of the first Alien film, might Fireteam finally be the Aliens game we’ve always wanted? The footage shown so far looks promising and I am keeping everything crossed for this title. Release date is currently scheduled for mid 2021 but we’ll have to see if it actually makes it out this year.

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Horizon: Forbidden West

The first Horizon game was a fantastic achievement from Guerrilla Games (the studio previously known for the Killzone series) and went on to have such huge success that a sequel was more or less inevitable. We are back with Aloy in Forbidden West and I’m interested to see how Guerrilla deal with the age old problem of an end game level hero starting out on a new adventure. The trailer looks excellent and I can’t wait to get my hands on this title.


Lemnis Gate

This intriguing title comes from small indie developer Ratloop Games. It’s a tactical 1v1 first person shooter in which you take turns of 25 seconds to play. With each turn the time loops over and starts again, taking into account your new actions. So for example if an enemy captured an objective on their previous turn, you might position a sniper to take them out when the time loop starts again on your turn. On the new run your enemy will no longer complete their objective but again, now it’s their turn to control the round. Sounds complex but fun and with a host of characters/abilities to use it might be a nice change of pace from your average shooter.

Division Heartland

While I’m still to fully get to grips with The Division 2, I really liked the first game. Although it was a bit light on story the gameplay was excellent while the gunplay felt tight and responsive. Mixing abilities and weapon tech into the equation gave the game a different feel from other third person shooter games out there. So perhaps a free to play version of the game, possibly with shorter, story based seasons within the larger mode could be a really smart move for Ubisoft. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on news for this one.


Cyberpunk 2077 (PS5)

I know that this might be a slightly controversial pick with everything that happened around it’s original PS4 release last year but I’m hoping the technical issues will have been ironed out by the time the official PS5 version of the game arrives. Whether that will be enough to gloss over the other problems people had with game length and story content is something I’ll have to wait to find out. The idea of this game is something I’ve lived with for so long I feel like I have to at least see how it turned out.


Circuit Superstars

This title is a throw back to the pre-pandemic days for me. I played it at the big EGX event back in 2019 and had an absolute blast with it. Reminiscent of classic racing titles like Super Off Road and Micro Machines this is a really fun driving game in which nailing the fastest lap time is the aim of the game. The cars handled so well and it had that ‘just one more lap’ vibe that is so important for games like this. What I played was an early version of the game but was full of promise so hopefully the final product can add to what was there and deliver a top notch driving experience.


Overwatch 2

Come on, you must’ve known this one would be on the list 🙂 As someone who still regularly plays, and enjoys, the original Overwatch some 5 years after it’s release, I am very excited for the sequel. A switch to 5v5 (as opposed to the first game’s 6v6) has me interested but the reduction in the number of tanks does concern me a little. Graphically the game looks great and the new maps seem to be well designed. They need to deliver a really strong package to pull people away from the first game but fingers crossed they can pull it off.


Deathloop

I was a big fan of the Dishonored series and Deathloop looks set to follow in it’s footsteps but with a fresh setting and a cool time loop mechanic added into the mix. The style of the game is a really big plus for me and the gameplay looks very strong. In a way it also reminds me of the recent Hitman games, in which your first objective is often to work out your target’s routine and see when is the best opportunity to strike. Another delay (from May of this year) will hopefully mean a very polished game and, with Microsoft having bought the developer, a nice swansong to end my relationship with Arkane Studios game titles.


Battlefield 6

I think I’m in the minority but I really liked Battlefield V. I still play it regularly and it feels fantastic. While I do believe Dice bungled the ‘Grand Operations’ mode (see here for what I felt it could’ve been), the general moment to moment gameplay is very rewarding. With the promise of an upgrade on PS5, the content of which at this stage hasn’t been confirmed, I’m hoping for an improvement in scale, player count and destructability as well as graphics. The vehicle play and map size really marks Battlefield out from the competition so I’m excited to see what advances the developers have made with the new consoles.


Dark Pictures Anthology: House Of Ashes

Supermassive Games make great narrative titles that often host a wide variety of dialogue options and branching storylines. The latest episode in the Dark Pictures Anthology is House Of Ashes, a horror story with a slightly different background to previous titles. Taking place in Iraq during 2003, two opposing military factions fall down sinkholes during an earth tremor. They find themselves stranded in an old temple as an ancient evil awakes to greet them. The games are known for their choice based gameplay and it will be interesting to see what changes are made now that we will be handling trained military people as opposed to the regular civilian characters we have controlled previously.


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As well as everything mentioned above I’d also like to quickly highlight that I am SUPER excited to keep tabs on whatever both Jade Raymond and Amy Hennig announce via their new studios. Two industry legends that are long overdue a game release!

So, there you have it! Anything else I should be keeping an eye out for? As always feel free to give me a shout on Twitter @greghorrorshow





Top 10 Multiplayer Games – 2021 Edition

As we head into the twilight years of the PS4 and the new beginnings of the PS5, I thought it would be worth taking a look at my favourite multiplayer games, the titles that still pull me in regularly for a few rounds of immersive gameplay. Here’s my top ten games to play, if you haven’t given them a spin already.

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10. THE LAST OF US REMASTERED

My love of The Last Of Us is no secret and I’m super excited to see what the new multiplayer offering will be when it lands (hopefully this year!) but there is still a solid (albeit highly skilled) community playing the original title’s multiplayer component. My favourite mode is Survivors, a 4v4 game played over numerous rounds in which you don’t respawn when killed. The tension is unreal and leads to some fantastic fights. The gameplay is as strong as the single player game and the online is also quite dark and brutal. It’s like no other online offering so I highly recommend it.

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9. UNCHARTED 4: A THIEF’S END

The Uncharted series is, quite rightly, known for it’s great single player story mode but over the numerous titles in the series the multiplayer offering has been much improved. The online brings in the supernatural element that the series is known for by including mystical abilities, such as the healing Cintamani Stone (that originally featured in the Uncharted 2 single player story), along with interesting climbing and rope swinging mechanics to really make the game feel different to other online titles.

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8. STAR WARS: BATTLEFRONT II

I’m not the biggest Star Wars fan in the world but the appeal of a shooter in that universe is something that could pull in even the most casual of gamers. The cool thing about this title is that you play mostly as a low level soldier but can cash in points you’ve earned during the round to take control of a well known hero or villain that has special abilities, for example Princess Leia or Darth Vader, for a short time. The shooting feels great and the game can be played from a first person or a third person viewpoint, depending on which you prefer. Also it looks glorious and the attention to detail in level design and style is fantastic.

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7. RED DEAD ONLINE / GRAND THEFT AUTO ONLINE

I’ve been a bit cheeky here and included both of these massive titles in one entry. The reason for that is I suspect your choice will be based more on the setting than the gameplay. Both of these feature huge, living, breathing worlds for you to explore – with different missions to take on, characters to meet and a huge variety of activities to take part in. So the question really is do you want to take on heists, armed robberies and car races in Grand Theft Auto? Or would you prefer to track down errant stage coaches, shoot down rival wild west gangs and maybe hunt down animal pelts in Red Dead Online. I’ve enjoyed both titles and would certainly recommend giving them a shot if you want to get lost in a massive game world, whether that’s the urban sprawl of San Andreas or the open vistas of West Elizabeth.

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6. FORTNITE

Fortnite continues to be a goalith in the gaming space and for good reason. Aside from some very clever marketing and promotion outside of the actual gameplay, the reason is that the on screen action still holds up really well. It’s one of those games that you can not play for weeks, then jump back in and it’s like you’ve never been away. The shooting feels great and the ability to traverse terrain via building/construction is as strong as ever. Fortnite remains the best Battle Royale out there – jumping out of a plane and fighting to the death for victory remains a thrilling prospect and map updates and in game events help to keep things from ever feeling too stale.

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5. DESTINY 2

Destiny 2 has had plenty of issues across its life cycle so far but one thing that has never been in doubt is just how glorious the moment to moment shooting/traversal gameplay feels. For a lot of people the story quests and cooperative modes are where they spend the most time but I love the player vs player Crucible modes. I’ve had some thrilling rounds of Control and its great to see the different abilities and classes playing off each other. Whether you’re chaining lighting attacks or hitting people with void energy, the abilities combined with the amazing gunplay makes for a brilliant online experience.

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4. BATTLEFIELD V

For all the missteps that the Battlefield series makes, often a necessary evil for online focused titles, there is a time in every title’s life where it just feels… truly fantastic to play. When you get into the flow of Battlefield its pull is immense. While I’m ready to move back to a current day setting, Battlefield V’s version of World War II was a brilliant sand box that really stands out when it works. Dodging incoming fire and taking enemies out before jumping into a jeep and speeding to the next objective is exhilarating but the freedom of play does come with a downside. Being repeatedly killed by the same plane pilot over and over again can be an issue if you come up against an expert plane player and sometimes matches can be very one sided. Having said that, as I mentioned above, when it works there really isn’t anything else like it, certainly in terms of scale.

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3. ROCKET LEAGUE

Speaking of games there isn’t anything else like… in Rocket League you play football with turbo charged cars! It’s a lot more nuanced than it sounds and can be a highly skilled game but even if you’re a more basic player like me this is an extremely fun game to play. Whether you’re playing solo or with friends, Rocket League brings some much needed hilarity to the table as crazy or unusual things happen throughout the game. It’s also wildly competitive and very addictive. The games are short so it’s definitely a title you can pick up and play in smaller bursts and the skill level is insanely high if you want to get more into the mechanics of play. Added to that the game is now free to play so there’s no excuse not to check it out.

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2. RAINBOW SIX: SIEGE

Rainbow Six: Siege continues to go from strength to strength, after a shaky start following release back in 2015. This online shooter is grounded in reality, despite some outlandish near future technology, and if you get shot you are more than likely dead. The game is 5v5 with one team holding a section of a building (usually a room or two) and the other side infiltrating/attacking the space. Each character has their own special equipment, things like toxic gas grenades or proximity alarms that trigger when enemies are nearby. With a whole host of characters this leads to a meta-game of who has picked which characters, which definitely plays a part but as I said earlier if you get shot no grenade or alarm will help you out. At times it does feel brutal, you can be shot and killed with no warning and this is a game in which you have to think about every step you make. The fact it is so good is what pulls me in for Just. One. More. Round.

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1. OVERWATCH

Anyone who has read my blogs previously will know what a huge fan of Overwatch I am. It is without a doubt the game I’ve played the most in my gaming life and I still play every season competitively, as well as copious amounts of the other regular modes. Overwatch is a 6v6 objective based game in which each team tries to achieve something, or stop the other team getting to their goal. Every character has different abilities and there is a large selection of colourful heroes to choose from. Not every character shoots weapons, some are healers and some are tanks – large stocky characters used to shield the rest of the team. While you have two ‘regular’ abilities that can be used every few seconds you also build up an ultimate ability which can be devastating when triggered and turn the tide of a fight. This can be something offensive, like a large explosion but just as easily something defensive like a shield or increased healing for your team. The mix of heroes and abilities is what drives the game and keeps people playing – it helps that the characters are well designed and memorable as well. Think 80’s/90’s Saturday morning cartoons and you’re in the right ballpark. For me, Overwatch makes it really easy to get into a flow state but even for new players the game does a good job of getting you on board quickly – trust me, you’ll be landing the coveted ‘Play Of The Game’ highlight reel in no time!

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So there you have it, as always interested to hear what games you’d have on your list or which titles I’ve missed that are still active. Shout below or on Twitter.

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GregHorrorShow’s Year In Gaming 2020

As we ease ourselves into 2021, it’s a great time to reflect on the last year of gaming. As always this isn’t a piece about the games that came out in 2020 but the titles I played throughout the year.

Starting with some older titles, I finally picked up and made a start on the excellent Celeste, a challenging puzzle/platformer with a wonderful art style/music. I really enjoyed Absolver, a title that lets you customise your fighting style/stance as you progress through the game. Exploring the game world was peaceful and it was another game with a decent sense of challenge. I’d had my eye on Dex for a while, an old school looking Cyberpunk RPG title – while I’m far from finishing it, I’d recommend giving it a whirl if you like that genre.

Erica is a title that is all film footage, you make your choice of what to do and the next scene plays until you get to the end of the story. I quite enjoyed it, although there seemed to be a fair few plot holes unfortunately. Close To The Sun tells the story of Rose Archer, a journalist searching for her sister on a vast ship. It’s 1897 and set in an alternate universe where Telsa and Edison are vying for dominance of the science world. It’s essentially a first person horror title with some neat jump scares and tricks up its sleeve. Again the story ended up with some gaping plot holes but it was a fun 8-10 hours. A game I adored was Sayonara Wild Hearts, a rhythm action game with a killer synth pop soundtrack. Highly recommended.

Last year I also ended up doing something I rarely do, replaying old games – or at least the remastered versions. I played through Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune (which was a great walk down memory lane) and Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (which had some fun moments but didn’t really do it for me). A title that came packed in with the PS5 was Astro’s Playroom, a love letter to the PlayStation brand and stellar showcase of the new PS5 controller. This is one of my highlights of the year, such fun and a lovely look back at the previous four PlayStation generations.

PES 2021 was a minor update to the series but the gameplay remains strong and I got into NBA 2K20 as well via PlayStation Plus. Dirt 5 was, without doubt, the best feeling racer I’ve played in the last few years and the free PS5 upgrade was a great touch.

On the multiplayer front I tried HyperScape, Ubisoft’s battle royale offering, but it didn’t really stick for me. I was happy to switch between Call Of Duty: Warzone and Fortnite for my fix of large numbers of players jumping out of planes. I stuck a fair bit of time into Red Dead Online, the recently added character specialisations (I went for nature photographer) bring some new life to the game beyond just wild west shoot outs.

In terms of ongoing games Overwatch, Rainbow Six Siege, Rocket League, Battlefield V and Destiny 2 all kept things ticking along nicely by either running regular events or giving the entire game a fresh lick of paint. All remain immensely playable and highly recommendable, especially as they still have high player counts and it’s easy/quick to get into a match.

But my favourite multiplayer game of 2020 has to be Fall Guys. Out of nowhere came this insane bundle of joy. Mixing a battle royale format with ‘It’s a knockout’ style games was a winning recipe. I am still yet to claim a show victory, despite my best efforts, but Fall Guys is a title I’ll no doubt return to again and again.

In terms of bigger, longer games I really liked A Plague Tale: Innocence – the story of a brother and sister trying to escape the clutches of the Inquisition that also has a supernatural twist. Dishonored: Death Of The Outsider is definitely substantial enough to be considered stand alone, in my opinion. A great story well told and another excuse to visit one of the most stylish game worlds of recent times. I’ve only recently started The Outer Worlds but after 8 or so hours I’m really enjoying it so far!

Unfortunately, while I was loving Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey finding out I was only halfway through when 35 hours into it meant my playthrough ended there. I had been ready for things to wrap up but couldn’t face another huge chunk of time, sadly. I recently started Ghost Of Tsushima (on PS5) and it is a glorious looking game. I like the way it plays and am finding roaming the game world to be quite laid back. I’m also playing it with the Japanese language option, which is cool. So far, it’s a great game.

One huge title I did finish was Death Stranding. While I think it was 3 or 4 hours too long, the story was nonsensical and some of the dialogue was not great, I did actually really enjoy it. Traversing the world and exploring was fun and fairly peaceful. Walking everywhere didn’t seem too much of an issue when played in short bursts of a couple of hours. I’m interested to see what Kojima comes up with next.

Which brings us to the title I’ve given my game of the year award to – The Last Of Us Part II. Expectations were high for this one, the first game is a masterpiece in my eyes and so there were questions as to whether Naughty Dog could deliver. Deliver they did, in terms of story, gameplay and technical achievement. I haven’t played many games like this where you are forced into making bad choices or doing bad things by the characters. You’re complicit with each button press. This isn’t a fun, easy play. The violence is brutal and at one late stage in the game I had to take a break from what was going on. Despite all that it was well worth seeing it through. Without a doubt one of the best games I’ve ever played.

And so there you have it. 2020 in a nutshell – mentions must go to Spiderman: Miles Morales, Bugsnax and Sackboy: A Big Adventure, unfortunately I simply didn’t get time to put enough hours in with them for consideration here. I’m sure they will be here next year 🙂

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GregHorrorShow’s Non Gaming 2020 Round Up

I’m kicking off my round up of the year that was 2020 with a look at all things non-gaming, the gaming round up will land early in the new year!

I was lucky enough to use some of my extra time at home from not commuting to plough through lots of books, mainly over the summer months. In terms of fiction I particularly enjoyed Before The Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi, a wonderful time travel story, Call For The Dead by John le Carre, an old school mystery thriller and Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto, a touching tale of loss and grief. The second Black Prism book, The Blinding Knife by Brent Weeks was also a novel I enjoyed – coming in at over 700 pages meant it was a hefty read though!

On the graphic novel front I really liked the 4th instalment of Lumberjanes by Noelle Stevenson, The Last Of Us: American Dreams by Druckmann/Hicks and Vox Machina: Origins by Mercer/Colville. However my absolute highlight was Paper Girls (Vol. 2 & 3), which might be one of my favourite graphic novel series ever. The story continues as the four paper girls meet future selves and travel through time – I imagine it won’t be long until this gets made into a TV show.

I read a lot of factual books as well in 2020. Spotify Teardown was an interesting, if dry, look at what makes the streaming giant tick and I really liked Ed Catmull’s Creativity Inc, a look inside how Pixar works and the best ways to work in a creative environment. Rockonomics by Alan Krueger was a brilliant look at the music industry and everything in it while my favourite book this year, EMI: Selling The Pig by Eamonn Forde, focuses solely on the troubled times of the legendary record label EMI before it was acquired a few years back. Fascinating stuff for music buffs.

As usual I have a playlist of some of my favourite tracks from the year, embedded below:

In terms of big artists it was hard to avoid Dua Lipa or Billie Eilish during 2020, with both delivering a great run of singles. Blackpink continued their dominance of the pop scene with tracks that included duets with Lady Gaga and Selena Gomez. Taylor Swift dropped two excellent albums within months of each other to remind everyone why she is one of the biggest, and best, pop stars in the world.

It was brilliant to see Haim back with another superb album and very early in the year The Big Moon released a fantastic album after some really great singles last year. Celeste was everywhere and for good reason, she is an amazing artist with a wonderful voice and we also saw a new album from Disclosure that had a host of bangers on, along with some brilliant vocal guests.

I discovered some awesome new artists in 2020 – Baby Rose, Gracey, Bree Runway and Tiana Blake all had a big impact and Chelsea Cutler‘s debut album was a huge highlight during a tough year. However my album of the year goes to Kelly Lee Owens for ‘Inner Song.’ What an amazing collection of songs, On, Melt!, Re-Wild – I could probably just list them all as high points. It sounds familiar but fresh, a most enjoyable listen!

I didn’t see a huge amount of new films this year, as we spent a lot of time as a family rewatching old classics (Bill & Ted, Sister Act, The Goonies etc.), but I loved The Go-Go’s and Motown Records documentaries. Both were brilliant looks at legendary performers and the Motown one was packed with stories about famous songs and artists. A great watch. One film that really had an impact was the excellent Rocks, the story of a young girl and her brother surviving in London after their mother leaves them alone. Trolls 2, Onward, Jumanji 2 and Spies In Disguise were all fun kids films and for the festive season we found some new holiday classics in the shape of Christmas Chronicles 2, Noelle and Jingle Jangle. My film of the year though was one that I actually didn’t have high expectations for – Enola Holmes came highly recommended via Netflix and ended up being a really smart, well written film that all the family enjoyed.

There was so much new TV arriving during the year that I feel bad about the amount of programmes I started but didn’t get through the season – I really liked The Comey Rule, The Mandolorian, The Pale Horse, The Queen’s Gambit and Devs but never made it all the way through. I’m sure I’ll return to them at some stage. We enjoyed Glitch Techs and Fast & Furious: Spy Racers with the kids but it was the Netflix trinity of She Ra, Carmen Sandiego and Kipo & The Age Of Wonderbeasts that really got the majority of family view time. All three of those are excellent, which work on various levels for both the adults and the kids.

DC’s Legends Of Tomorrow and Umbrella Academy provided some much needed superhero escapism, while The Inbetween and Evil brought the scares. Evil has been great so far and while The Inbetween isn’t up to that standard it does have my favourite scenery chewer Paul Blackthorne (Laurel!) so it’s not all bad. I really enjoyed Small Axe: Mangrove, an important show and a difficult watch but much needed during these times.

Blood and Treasure was continent hopping nonsense but good fun and Stumptown showed us the life of a struggling P.I, unfortunately the show was renewed but then cancelled due to the pandemic. I enjoyed Miss Scarlet & The Duke, a sort of historical Murder She Wrote with a new crime each week. The Rookie was back again and delivered some tense thrills and lots of warm hearted fun. Looking forward to seeing where they take things in the next season.

My favourite show of the year though, was Blindspot. Something I could sit and watch with a smile on my face and just enjoy. Is it a ridiculous premise? Even more so as time has gone on but the writing is fun and it’s fast paced with enough action and laughs to sustain every episode. And that’s exactly what I needed during this year. (Also can we get some sort of a Patterson/Rich DotCom spin off please?!)

So there we go, a weird and wild year in the rear view – hopefully better times ahead in 2021.

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Playstation 5 – Reveal and Games

PS5 Console

On 11th June we finally got a chance to see the Playstation 5 and had an opportunity to see some of the games that will be coming to the console over the next few years.

After Microsoft got some criticism for a lack of games at their new console launch event, Playstation was taking no chances – showing more than 25 titles that would be coming to the PS5. The official Playstation YouTube channel has got all the trailers shown in one playlist HERE if you haven’t seen them already, or want to check out something specific from the below.

PS5 Controller

More good news came in the form of backwards compatibility. While not as broad as Microsoft’s offering, Sony confirmed the top 100 PS4 games would be playable on PS5. Obviously it would be great to have everything working backwards but I suppose if you’re limiting your efforts then the top 100 games is a good amount of titles.

I won’t be going too deep on all the titles shown at the event, especially already existing ones, but I thought it would be worth having a look at some of the games that caught my eye during the presentation.

PS5 Ratchet

Let’s start with some game series we were already aware of. Spiderman is back with a stand alone game featuring Miles Morales, which is great. Look forward to going back to the city and slinging some webs! It wouldn’t be a Playstation launch without Gran Turismo and, as usual, the racer looked phenomenal. Ratchet and Clank (above) are back, with a new time/dimension rift mechanic that shows off what the PS5 can do.

Sackboy returns in his Big Adventure, which should be fun. The trailer looked colourful and the four player co-op could be awesome. I loved the previous games so Hitman III was a highlight for me. More of the same but using the power of PS5 to create even better environments for assassinations! I haven’t been in the world of Resident Evil since game 5 but Resident Evil 8: Village looked interesting and might tempt me back.

PS5GoodbyeVolcano

There wasn’t a great deal shown for Project Athia but I thought the trailer, which showed a young woman in a fantasy setting with dragons and magical wolves, looked impressive. I’m not sure whether Kena: Bridge of Spirits is a game I’d pick up, it certainly looked stunning, almost like an animated film but the Pikmin-style gameplay didn’t really interest me. I did love the style of Goodbye Volcano High though, can’t wait to see more about that title.

I thought Ghostwire: Tokyo continued to look encouraging, for me it’ll probably come down to how the game handles and the moment to moment gameplay. Solar Ash had a great sense of style and the developer has made cool stuff in the past. We didn’t really get to see much of what Pragmata was about from the trailer, I enjoyed it but would like to see more on the game and what it actually is.

(Contains bad language and violence)

Deathloop (above) was the highlight of the show for me. Knowing the studio’s track record with the Dishonored series, I cannot wait to see a similar game in a different setting/world. The trailer exuded Tarantino vibes and I love the look and style of the game. Horizon 2 was also a huge highlight as I loved the first game and can’t wait to see what new things we will be facing off against and exploring. Bugsnax (below) was an unexpected surprise, coming from the makers of the brilliant Octodad. While I don’t know if I will play it personally, my kids are hyped so I expect it to get a lot of playtime in my house!

PS5 Bugsnax

I think Little Devil Inside could be awesome, it looked bizarre enough and stood out from a lot of other titles. Stray, in which you play as a cat in a robot world, looks fantastic and could be brilliant, depending on how the gameplay works. Returnal had an impressive trailer (still can’t decide if I like the game title though!) and anything with a recurring time theme definitely has my attention. The other game to make an impression on me was Destruction Allstars (below). It’s been a while since we had a fun, multiplayer racer so I’m keeping this one firmly on my radar.

PS5 Destruction Allstars

And of course they showed us the actual console, which… wasn’t what I was expecting. Having said that I like the design and don’t have a problem with it being bigger if it means the console is quieter. At times my PS4 sounds like it’s on the verge of taking off! It’s also interesting that there will be a disc-less digital only version as well.

So there you go, all that’s missing is the price. There’s been a lot of talk from Playstation about the value the console will bring, so my thoughts are that it will be expensive. I’d been hoping (perhaps unrealistically given the power of the new consoles) that £399.99 might be an option, or even cheaper, but I suspect we are now looking at £499.99 at launch for the PS5.

We’ll just have to wait and see!

Coronavirus: The Impact On Gaming

fortnite-switch-hero

With game use reportedly up 75%, versus video streaming’s 12% increase, during the Coronavrius pandemic there are going to be a lot of hours spent worldwide in virtual worlds. With a likely lockdown incoming here in the UK and with schools now closing, the online game services are going to hit hard over the next month. So who are likely to be the big winners in the gaming field with so many people playing?

It likely won’t surprise anyone for me to suggest that Fortnite, one of the biggest games in the world, will see a huge spike. It’s free-to-play and relatively child friendly so will be a hugely popular choice in households around the country. I would also imagine that Minecraft will also see a big pick up, it remains an evergreen title with new users coming through all the time.

Warzone

For the more grown up gamers a title that will benefit for the timing of everything happening will be the new Call Of Duty Battle Royale, Warzone. Released just a few weeks ago, and still in it’s ‘buzz’ phase, this is a free to play version of Call Of Duty that has a similar style of game to Fortnite. 150 online players drop into a map (in squads of three) and try to the last group standing. It’s fast paced and with no cost to entry it is sure to be something a huge amount of gamers will try over the coming weeks/months.

Overwatch League Grand Finals - Day 2

We have already seen a lot of the big esports leagues begin to move their matches online, a luxury traditional sports don’t have but one that certainly isn’t without it’s issues. Currently they are on lockdown but the Overwatch League expects to be up and running with live (online) matches again by the end of the month. It will be interesting to see if viewership will spike, or possibly drop if gamers are too busy playing titles themselves in isolation.

For those of you looking to prepare for the impact of the pandemic, a couple of games to recommend would be The Division and The Last Of Us. Both great titles, both feature a post apocalyptic vision of a post pandemic world. The Divison is more about humanity, gangs of looters and other survivors trying to get by as best they can under lockdown in New York. The Last Of Us is a more horror based experience but also tells a wonderful story as well.

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Obviously with what is unfolding in the real world, perhaps playing a game with similar themes is definitely not what you’re looking for – so here are some titles to get you away from it all. Firstly, Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey – a title that takes you back to Ancient Greece, playing as an assassin warrior, carrying out missions and taking down targets. Red Dead Redemption 2 is a beast of a game and will take you a while to complete but if you fancy a trip to the wild west, this is the one for you.

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If you’re more of a superhero person then you can’t go wrong with the recent Spiderman title, it has a great story and some fantastic gameplay. Also a nice chance to see a bustling city in these desolate times! If you fancy something really off the wall, I’d recommend Control – which is essentially, the Twin Peaks of gaming. Very weird and kooky but a real blast to play.

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.

CRIS TALES

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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