Halo Infinite’s Grapple Shot Is A Game Changer

Master Chief is one of gaming’s most iconic figures. Standing at roughly seven feet in height and weighing nearly 1,000 pounds, he has the stature of a superhero. His exploits on the battlefield back up his size – a one-man army capable of turning the tide of war. We’ve seen how resourceful and powerful he can be in story sequences and advertisements, but many of those dynamic actions don’t cross over to when the player controls him. He can swing big hammers, pilot any vehicle, and run and gun with swift grace, but so can most combatants in the game. Prior Halo gameplay hasn’t made him look like the super soldier we envision. Enter the grapple shot, a new gadget in Halo Infinite that adds dynamic layers to this series’ beloved combat and makes Master Chief look like a gun-toting superhero.

The grapple shot’s most basic use gives Master Chief a boost in mobility. Fired from an arm-mounted device, the grapple rockets through the air a good 40 to 50 feet, and the second it connects to a surface, pulls Master Chief forward with just as much speed. Master Chief can use this device to reach heights he never could. He can also use it much like Spider-Man swinging on a web line to cover ground faster. Once the grapple connects with an object – like a tree, for example – Master Chief can cut the connection mid-movement to propel himself forward a great distance. If he doesn’t cut it, he will be pulled to the grapple point, which usually allows him to grab onto a ledge to climb up.

I can’t stress just how much fun Halo Infinite’s grapple-based movement is. It completely changes the way you look at the environment and how Master Chief can interact with it. No mountain is too high for him to ascend. Yes, you still cover ground faster in a Ghost or even a Warthog, but the grapple shot is the more satisfying way of moving around.

Click here to watch embedded media

The grapple shot is surprisingly versatile, especially when applied to combat. If you see a weapon that is out of reach, or perhaps an explosive container, a carefully placed grapple shot will pull that item to you, allowing you to wield it immediately.

Enemies with shields often require repositioning or specific weapons to be used against them, but another carefully placed grapple shot will stun these foes and make them raise the shield for a split second – plenty of time to light up their exposed bodies.

Click here to watch embedded media

Foes without energy shields can be viewed as moving grapple points. If you can latch onto them, the fight will quickly become intimate. In single-player, the grapple can stun foes, allowing for them to be finished off with a melee strike. In multiplayer, the grapple is best used to fell unsuspecting adversaries from behind but can make for exciting face-to-face moments, almost like a melee version of a high-noon showdown.

Long story short, the grapple shot adds dimensions to Master Chief, and using it successfully requires skill from the player. We always viewed this green giant as a super being, and thanks to this handy device, he truly fits that mold now. Halo Infinite is an excellently crafted game, and I think 343 Industries handled most parts of it with the care and attention that fans expect. The studio’s best work, however, is the grapple shot, an innovative element that truly takes Halo’s tried-and-true gameplay to exciting new places.


Mister Chief Joins The Fight! Here’s What Is In Halo Infinite’s Shop This Week

Halo Infinite’s shop updates every Tuesday at 10 a.m. PT with new items that players can purchase with credits. Since the launch of the free-to-play multiplayer component, 343 Industries has done a nice job of offering up colorful items for players to purchase. The latest rotation brings back someone who we may all love more than Master Chief.

That someone is Mister Chief! The adorable and overly intense comic version of Master Chief is now in Halo Infinite through a 2,000 credit bundle. This collection gives you AI models, charms, a nameplate, weapon, armor, and vehicle emblems that are modeled after this character.

The shop doesn’t offer any new Spartan armors today and instead focuses on vehicles. If you like your vehicles in shades of blue, you can purchase the A259 Collection, which gives you the blue Noble Principle vehicle coating, the Pilchuck Bumper for the warthog, and Blue Commando emblems.

You can also take to the skies in the all-white Snow Blind vehicle coating that is a part of the Snow Bird bundle. This pack comes with the Tundra Purist weapon coating and Sabre Response emblems.

The daily item listed today shows you what Master Chief’s skateboard would probably look like. The Shred or Die bundle comes with a Shreddin’ nameplate, UA/Type ST knee pads, a skull charm, and skateboard-themed emblems.


Echo Generation Is A Cozy, Comfy Holiday Game

2021 has been filled with a ton of great games, with high-profile titles and hidden gems both in abundance. However, there’s one that might be a perfect fit for your comfy holiday play sessions. It’s a turn-based RPG that’s got some adventure and puzzle elements with a bit of humor and a cozy aesthetic. That’s right, we’re talking about Echo Generation, which is also available on Game Pass, so if you’re not sure you’re interested, that’s a great way to give it a shot and see.

Click here to watch embedded media

Echo Generation, in a nutshell, is a burrito of homecooked 80s and 90s love.  So yeah, it’s basically Stranger Things meets Earthbound, with a fun turn-based combat system that’s more like Paper Mario or South Park: The Stick of Truth. In combat, you not only control the two main characters of the story as they use axes, ninja shurikens, and alien laser weapons, but you also get a cool pet to take along with the crew. There are a number of interesting companions to find and unlock over the course of the game, including a rapping raccoon and a curious cat. For all the abilities you execute, you’ll need to find a comic book to learn the sweet skill first.

“Modern era” takes on traditional RPGs are always enjoyable, something that Earthbound gets plenty of credit for popularizing and pioneering. Here, we get to roam around town, break into the school, discover the sinister secrets about the principal, and deal with aliens, monsters, mutants, and a ton of other oddities that threaten to break up the good times. If it weren’t for all these threats, we’d just be hanging out at the video store and a super cool treehouse. Echo Generation is rife with nostalgic elements for a time long gone, but it’s okay if you’re not into that – the combat mini-games are amusing enough to carry the game by itself, and the voxel art style is well executed. Locations like a spooky pet cemetery and an alien spacecraft are as interesting to explore as they are stylish, too. Boss fights are the best part, with a ton of mechanics to handle as you time command inputs and actually move your characters around to dodge lethal attacks.

While none of the systems get very deep, what’s there works really well for Echo Generation. This isn’t a massive game that you’re going to sink hundreds of hours into, or even ten probably. This is an RPG that delivers its characters and mechanics pretty quick, and tasks the player with handling some old-school adventure fare along the way, conjuring up notions of King’s Quest problem solving as you ferry items to various townsfolk and find critical objects to advance the tale. Plenty of optional quests and bonuses are out there too for those who really want to explore!

I completely missed Echo Generation when it landed, but I’m glad I discovered it here as the year wraps up. If you’re in the mood for a snack-size RPG that serves up a hearty helping of cozy vibes, look no further. Cookies!


Best Racing Game Of 2021: Forza Horizon 5

As a series, Forza Horizon has been on a roll for some time. After visiting Australia in the third installment and touring Great Britain in the fourth, we’ve known for some time that the newest and fifth entry in the long-running racer would transport us to the idyllic environs of Mexico. But it wasn’t until we got the final game in our hands that it became clear; Playground Games has gone above and beyond, crafting one of the best looking new-gen games on the market, and filling it with some of the most entertaining racing experiences in memory.

A good opener can go a long way to setting a game’s tone, and Forza Horizon 5 nails the landing – both figuratively and literally. In a rollicking opening sequence, one vehicle after another goes parachuting out from a cargo plane, dropping into various locales across Mexico. In just a few short minutes, the game makes a case for its tremendous potential, showing off everything from muddy offroad races through rivers and jungles, to blazing street races in supercars most of us will never drive in real life. Read more…


Riot Games Settles Gender Discrimination Lawsuit With $100 Million Payout

According to a report from The Washington Post, Riot Games is settling a long-running gender-based discrimination class-action lawsuit to the tune of $100 million. More specifically, $80 million will go to members of the class-action suit, with the remaining $20 million covering legal fees for the plaintiffs. 

According to The Washington Post‘s Shannon Liao, “All current and former California employees and contractors who identify as women and worked at Riot Games between November 2014 and present day qualify for a payout.” With the number of eligible participants counting upwards of 2,300 women, those who have a longer tenure with the company or were employed by Riot earlier are subject to receiving a larger claim of the payout.

This settlement agreement was reached with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH), California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE), and several private Plaintiffs, originally resulting from McCracken vs Riot Games lawsuit brought in 2018. In the lawsuit, former employees argued that the League of Legends developer’s work culture is deeply misogynistic. This includes discriminating against women in the workplace and refusing to hire women the company didn’t consider “core gamers.” Originally, this suit was to be settled in 2019 for one-tenth of the amount, which we had reported on at that time. California’s Department of Fair Housing and Employment stepped in to deny that amount which led to the payout agreed to today.

Riot provided a statement to Game Informer regarding the settlement. The company had this to say: 

“Three years ago, Riot was at the heart of what became a reckoning in our industry. We had to face the fact that despite our best intentions, we hadn’t always lived up to our values. As a company we stood at a crossroads; we could deny the shortcomings of our culture, or we could apologize, correct course, and build a better Riot. We chose the latter. We’re incredibly grateful to every Rioter who has worked to create a culture where inclusivity is the norm, where we’re deeply committed to fairness and equality, and where embracing diversity fuels creativity and innovation.

While we’re proud of how far we’ve come since 2018, we must also take responsibility for the past. We hope that this settlement properly acknowledges those who had negative experiences at Riot and demonstrates our desire to lead by example in bringing more accountability and equality to the games industry.”

On top of that, we received statements from the plaintiffs’ representatives at Genie Harrison Law Firm and JML Law. “This is a great day for the women of Riot Games – and for women at all video game and tech companies – who deserve a workplace that is free of harassment and discrimination. We appreciate Riot’s introspection and work since 2018 toward becoming a more diverse and inclusive company, its willingness to take responsibility for its past, and its commitment to continued fairness and equality in the future,” said Genie Harrison. Joseph M. Lovretovich of JML Law added, “We hope women everywhere take note and demand the fair pay and treatment to which they are entitled under the law.”

Other changes are being implemented to Riot’s workplace culture, including better throughlines for contractors or temp workers to become fully employed by the company and better payscale transparency for potential new hires to name a couple. Additionally, a press release provided to Game Informer by Riot states, “Riot has also committed to having its internal reporting and pay equity processes monitored by a third party jointly approved by Riot and the DFEH for three years.”

It should be noted that while a settlement has been reached, there is still another hearing needed to finalize its approval in the coming months. For the full story on what started this lawsuit, check out Kotaku‘s exposé on the matter from 2018.

Update 12/28/21 – 11:40 a.m.: We’ve updated this story to include statements from Riot Games and the plaintiffs’ representation.


Hideo Kojima Hints At Working On Two Upcoming Games

Death Stranding and Metal Gear Solid director Hideo Kojima has a couple of new projects in the works, according to SiliconEra‘s report referencing a New Year’s interview with Famitsu

Not a lot is said about the substance of Kojima’s projects, but he mentions he is working on both a “big” title and a “new challenging” project. Differentiating that second title as “new” may imply a fresh IP for Kojima Productions, while the other could be something the studio is already familiar with. We’ll have to wait a while longer to find out whether that’s the case or not.

Kojima also stressed the want to create media outside of the confines of gaming, which falls in line with Kojima Productions’ recent opening of a new business division focused on developing TV and film projects

Famitsu’s column includes interviews with 127 game developers looking forward to 2022 and their aspirations for the upcoming year. Other industry luminaries you can find in there include Koei Tecmo Games’ Fumihiko Yasuda, Capcom’s Takayuki Nakayama, and Yoshinori Kitase of Square Enix.


Great Anime Based On Video Games

Many video game franchises are ripe with fascinating characters that demand further exploration, and anime is often a natural fit to flesh out their stories and showcase those action-packed battles in pure cinematic form. But which ones are really worth your time? Some anime merely rehash the main narrative of their video game source material, while others flesh out characters with prequels or unique side stories. Truth be told, there’s value and entertainment in all types, and we’ve picked some of our favorites for you to enjoy.

Persona 4: The Animation

Persona 3, 4, and 5 have all had anime adaptations and are a delight in their own right, but Persona 4 serves as the best of the bunch. Persona 4’s cast was already a bit more lighthearted and fun to watch in-game, but the anime gets one new thing right: giving the previously silent main protagonist, Yu Narukami, more personality and development. From his shenanigans with Yosuke trying to pick up girls to bonding with the adorable Nanako, Yu is much more compelling in anime form – especially his deadpan snark. The anime follows the video game’s story, with Yu moving to rural Inaba and learning of the Midnight Channel and its connection to recent deaths. It is based on Golden, the enhanced Persona 4 port, which introduced new characters and new bonding scenes, so you can expect to see the fun snow trip and faces like Marie.


This Netflix series is merely influenced by Japanese animation and Ayami Kojima’s artwork, but it rightfully deserves a spot on this list as it’s one of the better video game adaptations in the animation space. The first two seasons adapt Konami’s 1989 hit Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse, focusing on Trevor Belmont, Alucard, and Sypha Belnades as they contend with Dracula and his army of demons. But the series isn’t afraid to draw on other games, such as Castlevania: Curse of the Darkness for season two, and using Castlevania: Symphony of the Night for inspiration to flesh out Alucard’s backstory. A standout voice cast and four mostly solid seasons make this one worth watching. The vampiric lore was already strong, but Netflix’s Castlevania fully embraces it and has a refreshing self-awareness that makes it all work.

Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie

An oldie but goodie, we couldn’t resist including the movie based on the game that gave rise to the Street Fighter frenzy and popularity. It’s also a darn good animated movie, showcasing the sides of good and evil as we know it in the series. The movie centers on series mainstay Ryu as he continues to dominate on the fighting scene and garner more rivalries. However, things get more complicated when a mysterious crime syndicate, Shadowlaw, led by M. Bison, brings more dangers to the acclaimed fighter and other familiar franchise faces, such as Chun-Li, Guile, and Ken. The adrenaline-pumping fights and realistic action remain a highlight, as well as the fleshed-out backstories for many iconic characters. Fun fact: Many elements and designs from the movie were integrated into future Street Fighter games, including a nod to that intense Ryu/Ken showdown in Street Fighter Alpha 3.

Ace Attorney

The Phoenix Wright trilogy set the stage for the Ace Attorney series, reaching a high bar with its charismatic cast, silly cases, and surprising twists. The Ace Attorney anime is just another way to experience or relive all the great moments from the first three games, as it is a very faithful recreation of the subject matter. Watch Phoenix Wright open his law office’s doors, bond with his spirit-channeling assistant Maya, and face the undeniably ruthless Miles Edgeworth. The anime showcases Phoenix’s past and includes all the over-the-top witnesses, from talkative security officer Wendy Oldbag to fierce photographer Lotta Hart. Come for the humorous hijinks Phoenix gets wrapped up in, but stay for the emotional revelations and the realization that the characters are just making the best out of the worst situations.

The World Ends With You: The Animation

The World Ends With You has plenty of style and sick beats, and this anime is your chance to learn more about Neku’s story. It provides a concise way to experience the basic plot points of the original game, albeit with some slight differences, like using smartphones instead of flip phones, for modern times. If you need a refresher or have only played the recent sequel Neo: The World Ends With You, this is an excellent opportunity to see what was so powerful about Neku’s journey and learn more about previous characters. The anime especially shines a light on the different Reapers and their motivations, and it’s a bit darker in tone. Not only do the visuals look slick, but the action sequences are also fantastic. Bonus: the series’ catchy music is also there to enhance the experience.

Pokémon: Origins

We couldn’t make this list and not include a nod to Pokémon, which is often credited for helping popularize anime worldwide. The television series has more ongoing episodes than we know what to do with, but instead of pointing to those, we want to highlight a wonderful spin-off called Origins. This 90-minute special closely follows the plot of Pokémon Red and Blue, featuring characters and settings from it. Unlike the main series, it doesn’t star trainer Ash Ketchum, but instead has a different protagonist with Red and his rival Blue. The anime takes us from Red capturing his first Pokémon and winning the Pokémon League to his pursuit of the mythical Pokémon Mew. For those who want to watch Pokémon anime, but don’t want the demands of trying to keep up with the main series’ 1,000-plus episodes, this is a great alternative that pays homage to the subject matter and video game mechanics wonderfully.

Dragon Quest: The Adventure of Dai

The Dragon Quest series has an undeniable classic feel, and The Adventure of Dai fully captures that nostalgia with iconic monsters, sounds, and spells to keep fans smiling. Based on the manga series of the same name written by Riku Sanjo and illustrated by Koji Inada, the anime stars an unlikely hero named Dai, who was raised on a peaceful, remote island with monsters, who he also calls friends. With an innocence and heart of gold, Dai learns of the evils of the world as a demon threatens everything he holds dear. Seeing Dai figure out what it really means to be a hero is heartwarming, but there’s also plenty of fantastic reveals, such as the true evil force behind the demon’s arrival and Dai’s own hidden powers surfacing during big moments. Great music, stellar monster designs, and a fantastic script that stays true to the manga make this a story not to miss if you have affection for Dragon Quest in any capacity.

Tales of Vesperia: The First Strike

From Abyss to Zestiria, the Tales series has no shortage of anime adaptations, but prequel movie Tales of Vesperia: The First Strike adds fantastic backstory to an already beloved cast. The story centers on knights Yuri Lowell and Flynn Scifo, who couldn’t be more different but must work together to protect their town from deadly monsters. The movie shows Yuri’s reluctance to work with others and follow orders, with some terrific scenes showcasing his carefree attitude and the consequences it can bring. At the same time, you also see Yuri contend with the difficult decisions he must make in battle. However, let’s be honest, the real reason to watch is to see Repede as a puppy and learn how the pipe-smoking dog became Yuri’s ride or die.

This article originally appeared in Issue 341 of Game Informer.


Games You May Have Missed In 2021: Propnight

Ever wanted to play a 4v1 asymmetrical horror game where four survivors face off against a killer? Wait, that’s called Dead by Daylight. Propnight essentially combines the asymmetrical antics of Dead by Daylight with PropHunt, which creates a different experience entirely, as survivors can turn into books, chairs, hot dogs, crates, giant pianos and stuffed bears, and basically anything else in the environment. While the game has a lot of various features and mechanics that players will recognize from Dead by Daylight such as the survivors working on various objectives to open the exit gates, the game has a decidedly different tone. While games can still get plenty sweaty, it’s hard to take things seriously when players are possessing giant pigs and jumping on the killer’s head, stunning them, and then hopping into a backpack and hiding on a bookshelf.

Click here to watch embedded media

There are no perks to sift through on either side of the equation, so whether you’re the survivor or the killer, props are the key element for success or failure. Some props, like giant pigs or rolling wheels, are easy to spot and chase, but others like diminutive soda bottles or logs can blend in seamlessly with the environment. If you turn a corner as a survivor under a chase and spot something you can turn into, the killer could easily run by your location completely oblivious to you standing still right there. Props also let you get around the environment in far more dynamic ways than as a human, being able to execute flittering swoops, jumps, and other fare around the board with verticality. Of course, the killer isn’t defenseless here, as they have their own tools. In fact, one killer, The Imposter, can actually pretend to be a survivor and turn into props as well. Talk about deception!

If you’re looking for a bizarre take on existing mechanics, this is one you might want to check out.

Propnight is currently available on PC.


The Best Board Games Of 2021

Whether getting together with old friends or settling down for a weekly family game night, great tabletop games bring people together and ­create lasting memories. Even during a year that many game nights had to be put off or canceled, game makers continued to release some remarkable new projects.

Here are 10 of the best games of 2021, from cooperative party experiences to challenging asymmetric strategy competitions and everything in-between.

For more on some of the best tabletop games of recent years, head to our Top of the Table hub and explore its recommendations.

7 Wonders Architects
Publisher: Repos Production

The original 7 Wonders is phenomenal, but its manifold strategies can intimidate newcomers. Architects simplifies and streamlines without losing the core fun. Players work to build a wonder of the ancient world using a straightforward card selection as the central mechanic. Attractive cardboard pieces represent the landmark as it takes shape. Add in the playful art and cleverly designed components, and Architects claims a spot as one of the best new gateway games in years. 

That gateway experience will be a perfect way for enthusiasts to invite new players into the thematic board gaming scene. And since the game plays so fast, you don’t need to worry that inexperienced players will lose focus. Architects is an elegant and engaging release; it doesn’t replace the larger and more complex 7 Wonders – it’s better than that since Architects perfectly complements its older sibling.

Ankh: Gods of Egypt
Publisher: CMON

Following on the heels of its myth-focused predecessors, Blood Rage and Rising Sun, this sumptuous strategy game casts players as Egyptian gods, struggling to remain relevant as the old ways of worship fall away. Asymmetric powers, non-random combat, and a tense, tight area control map lead to fierce confrontation. The fantastical artwork and immaculate miniature sculpts capture the imagination in a way few other games can.

While Ankh isn’t exactly a great entryway into board gaming, its subtle, tight strategies and exceptional production values easily win over veterans. One particular feature – the way players in the back of the pack eventually merge and begin to work together – is a perfect encapsulation of the game’s thematic drive, where we see old gods dying off, combining, and changing as the epochs pass. Thoughtful and beautiful to look at and play, this one is not to be missed.

Descent: Legends of the Dark
Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games

Don’t be fooled by the name; the massive new entry in the Descent franchise is a standalone dungeon-crawling experience, separate from earlier games. Featuring 3D tile setups and a digital app that doubles in function, running the game and telling the story, this is an impressive cooperative fantasy adventure filled with combat and upgrades, perfect for groups looking for a months-long gaming night go-to.

Fantasy Flight has toyed with app-aided design for years now, but Legends of the Dark is the company’s most comprehensive and rewarding implementation of the concept. That reliance on a digital element may rub some players the wrong way, but if you embrace its potential, the art and storytelling weave back and forth between the physical and digital aspects to create something magical.

Machi Koro 2
Publisher: Pandasaurus Games

Small but essential changes update this popular family-friendly city-building game. Players compete to build a city of bakeries, stadiums, and gardens, establishing landmarks and setting each urban center apart. Brisk playtimes and easy-to-learn rules make it an easy pick-up-and-play experience, but one with a significant luck factor. Pre-game strategy and greater replayability than the original make this the definitive version and an easy choice for a light night of gaming.

The randomized cards for each game make a massive difference in giving this renewed take on Machi Koro a new lease on life. If you’re an established player of the original (and its expansions), you have a tough decision in front of you. Machi Koro 2 represents the logical revisions the game needs and makes it a more robust overall play experience. But whether you’re ready to abandon the familiarity of the original and its quirks is a decision you’ll have to make for yourself.

Merchants of the Dark Road
Publisher: Elf Creek Games

One of the most innovative releases in recent months, Elf Creek Games’ newest release is a fantasy adventure in which intrepid merchant caravans must brave the night, deliver goods, and recruit heroes between isolated cities. Players need to balance prestige and money acquisition to win the game, and success demands you always think three steps ahead. Richly imagined and lavishly illustrated, this is an excellent fit if you’re looking for a novel new twist on tabletop strategy, awash in fantasy styling.

One of the most intriguing aspects of the game is its use of action dice and its interaction with how you can move your wagon around the board. There are a lot of distinct play mechanics at work in any given game of Merchants, but there’s unique fun in seeing the way they all tie together, especially to fuel your travel to new locations. For many, it’s the innovative connections between different gameplay systems that will be the chief draw here, but for players who prefer a more straightforward gameplay experience, Merchants of the Dark Road has the potential to overwhelm.       

Oath: Chronicles of Empire and Exile
Publisher: Leder Games

Leder Games is known for asymmetric game design, where each player can leverage different abilities to win. Oath charts the course of a sprawling empire, and each player takes on a role in that complex mix, from the ruling chancellor to exiled revolutionaries looking to topple the regime. In a fascinating twist, the results of one game establish the start-up conditions for the next playthrough, sometimes even introducing new cards and situations. 

It’s that final dynamic that sets Oath apart. This is not a legacy game by most measures of what that descriptor means, but it is a game that develops a history and a literal chronicle of events as you invest more time and sessions into it. That’s an appealing possibility for playgroups who are willing to return to the same game multiple times, instead of moving on to something else. If your gaming cadre is willing to invest the sessions to see the empire develop, there’s a fascinating sense of continuity that begins to bubble up.

Sleeping Gods
Publisher: Red Raven Games

This stunning campaign game follows the crew of a 1929 steamship as it navigates mysterious lands and waters, all the while vanquishing monsters, tracking down hidden totems, and trying to find a way home. A spiral-bound atlas book is the board, opening up new vistas with each session, while an accompanying storybook fills out a rich narrative. Even after playing through a whole campaign over many sessions, subsequent campaigns could play out entirely different – with over a dozen possible endings.

It’s hard to overstate the fun in store for storytelling enthusiasts. Sleeping Gods features some wonderful writing alongside clever twists and narrative developments. Echoing the theme of a boundless sea voyage, your explorations in a given campaign playthrough always tease that there’s something else to discover and learn just over the horizon.

So Clover!
Publisher: Repos Production

Sometimes the simplest concepts are the most rewarding. So Clover! is a breezy cooperative party game of word association. Players arrange a selection of cards with random words onto a four-space grid, and then write down clue keywords that link specific terms seen on the cards. Other players work together to try and arrange the grid in the correct orientation. Simple but surprisingly nuanced, this is one of those easy staples you can bring to the table whenever and please everyone.

While comparisons aren’t always the best way to articulate a game’s identity, it’s worth mentioning that So Clover! fits in a very similar place to other Repos games like Concept, Just One, and the hit game Codenames. All of those games lean heavily on word association, deductive reasoning, and emergent ways of thinking, but in simple ways that any player, young or old, can grasp. So Clover! is another success story in that style of play, and quite frankly, it’s one you should feel comfortable adding to your library without hesitation.

Publisher: Orange Nebula

Sci-fi fans should take note of this incredible new game of exploration and survival, in which all players work together to confront the dangers of deep space, discover new worlds, chart mysterious anomalies, and advance science. Unsettled features a core game system and connected “planet boxes” that plug into that framework, each offering a standalone and unique experience. This is a cooperative adventure for experienced players looking for an engrossing thematic and complex play.

Like your favorite sci-fi TV show, Unsettled finds its success by establishing some baseline parameters and expectations. Those expectations are then challenged as individual planet boxes throw surprises at you, and the explorers encounter new threats and discoveries. There’s a lot of joy in how the game has your group effectively crafting its own rich science fiction narrative. If you’re up for the complexity it takes to put all the figurative pieces together, you’ll be delighted with the results.

World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King
Publisher: Z-Man Games

The Pandemic games have a winning blueprint that has stood the test of time. In this new cooperative twist on the formula, the board gaming juggernaut franchise aligns with its first licensed partner, transporting players to Northrend and into the roles of Azeroth’s heroes as they stand against the Lich King. A fun questing system demands teamwork, and each hero brings awesome unique powers to the table, leading to a climactic battle atop Icecrown Citadel to end Arthas’ reign. 

Especially for players familiar with both Pandemic and this classic World of Warcraft expansion, you’ll be surprised at how smoothly the concept and mechanics combine to capture the epic conflicts described. The other thing that is likely to blow you away is the lovely components and card art that fill the game. Z-Man has nailed the vibe here, and brought one of MMO gaming’s most memorable periods into uncanny focus.

2021 was filled with any number of other remarkable tabletop games to discover, and you’ll find at least some of those highlighted in our Top of the Table hub. If you’d specifically like to delve into the backlog of selections for the year’s best, you can jump straight to the best tabletop games of 2020, 2019, 2018, and 2017.


Games You May Have Missed In 2021: Bloons TD Battles 2

If you’ve been into tower defense fare at all in your gaming escapades, you’ve probably come across one of Ninja Kiwi’s bloons games. 2021 took things in a different direction from the incredibly popular Bloons 6 with a title that has a decidedly competitive slant, as two players battle it out in tower defense action. Tower defense games are all over the place, but the Bloons franchise has really taken off in the wake of an era of incredibly popular map mods that embraced the genre, many of which got started in Warcraft 3 or StarCraft. Dedicated tower defense games exist as well and are especially pervasive on mobile platforms, with titles from the Kingdom Rush franchise being notable. Anyway though, this time it’s all about the bloons! 

Click here to watch embedded media

In Bloons TD Battles 2, it’s a head-to-head experience as you attempt to bolster your side of the field with towers to pop bloons (for those of you who don’t yet know, bloons are balloons. And it’s satisfying to pop them) while also sending balloons to try to break through your opponent’s defenses. You have to use the same resource pool to do either, but sending attacks at your opponent will increase your income value so that you will get more cash per turn. Of course, there are other ways to increase your resources on hand as well with a variety of cute monkeys and/or banana power-ups, like snipers calling in supply drops or building a banana stand. There’s always money in the banana stand. Some of the more powerful attacks you can unleash on your opponent also reduce your income instead of raising it, so an alpha strike with a bunch of huge blimp bloons might be an all-or-nothing play since you’ll be broke after executing it. When a bunch of small balloons or a single giant blimp-class balloon break through an opponent’s defenses, that’s game over.

A wide assortment of strategies is available, complete with hero-class monkey defenders, and you can take one hero and three tower types into any given match. Upgrade trees give you a good deal of options even within that small assortment, however. If you take a tack sprayer into a match, you could theoretically build each one out differently with multiple perks, abilities, and specializations. You could make one shoot incredibly fast, one lay down fire, and another produce rotating blades – all from the same base tower!

Competitive TD is sort of niche within the tower defense genre, but it’s great to see that it’s still getting offerings in 2021. If you are looking for a tower battle, check out Bloons TD Battles 2 for some good times! 


The Outcast Comes Home – The Life And Career Of Edmund McMillen

Over the last two decades, Edmund McMillen has made a name for himself in the game industry as one of the preeminent hitmakers in the independent development scene. Whether you’re talking about his early days churning out cult-classic games with Adobe Flash or his mainstream success with titles like Super Meat Boy and The Binding of Isaac, McMillen is one of the greatest success stories to come out of the millennium’s early indie boom. And yet, through all this success, McMillen has felt like an outcast.

We sat down with McMillen for an extended conversation to learn about the unique path the artist and designer took to become one of the most successful independent game developers of this era.

New Paths to Newgrounds

McMillen has long felt like he doesn’t belong. Hailing from Watsonville in Santa Cruz County, California, McMillen mostly grew up with his grandmother. His mom’s side of the family, including his grandmother, consisted of devout Catholics, while members of his dad’s side were what he called “A.A. Christians,” or born-again Christians recovering from addiction.

“I didn’t fit in really anywhere in my family,” says McMillen. “I just felt like a giant weirdo. The closest thing to me was my grandma. Nobody else really had any interest in art. My dad sang in a Journey cover band, but other than singers, there weren’t artists, illustrators, or creative types.”

To this day, McMillen is a massive fan of music, even calling it a bigger inspiration on him than other media. As he sports a Nine Inch Nails t-shirt, he rattles off his favorite bands, including The Smashing Pumpkins and The Breeders. McMillen says he found himself drawn to the level of independence musicians have when crafting their art and the way they can express themselves.

“That was the thing I always strived for as an artist: the idea that this small group of people could sit down and do and write whatever the f— they wanted, and then thousands of people would hear it and could enjoy it was just so cool to me,” he says. “That’s what I wanted primarily – the same thing for animation and anything that I was doing. I wanted my voice to be heard so desperately.”

McMillen floated through high school, feeling like he didn’t fit in there either. However, he loved drawing, so he started self-publishing comics. Following a rejection letter from an indie comic publisher, McMillen had a fire lit under him. “It was one of those failures that motivated me heavily,” he says. “Not only did I want to show them up, and show them what they missed, but also, I got real and was like, ‘Okay, if I want to continue doing this, I can’t just keep printing 50 comics at Kinko’s and selling them at Streetlight [Records in Santa Cruz].’”

This led him to begin taking classes at a community college to learn web design to create a website to showcase his comics to a broader audience. He transitioned to putting his work online, with Flash becoming his weapon of choice thanks to its popularity as a web tool at the time. Shortly after, McMillen discovered Newgrounds.com, which hosts user-created games, movies, and other content. 

Dead Baby Dressup!

His first taste of success as a game developer came with Dead Baby Dressup!, a series of interactive Flash games based on his comics. He bought a domain for his comic series, This is a Cry for Help, and began experimenting more with Flash and implementing interactive elements. 

“I didn’t choose games; games chose me,” he says, laughing. “I wanted to make comics. The thing is, even on Newgrounds, my animations didn’t do that well; it was my games that did well.”

His work eventually caught the eye of Tom Fulp, founder of Newgrounds. “He promoted my work pretty heavily and showed me the way,” McMillen says. “I didn’t know I was making games, even when I was making Flash games back then. There wasn’t even a category for games yet. They were just considered Flash animations that have interactivity to them.”

McMillen and Fulp began working on a game McMillen designed, but Fulp had to stop working on it to focus on another game called Alien Hominid. Fulp had grander ambitions for Alien Hominid than publishing it on Newgrounds; he wanted to bring the game to consoles. McMillen couldn’t wrap his head around the idea of getting a game made in Flash to consoles, but Fulp had his mind set on it.

Fulp’s Alien Hominid HD for Xbox Live Arcade

To accomplish this, Fulp co-founded a studio called The Behemoth. McMillen’s collaboration with Fulp on that project fell through, but the success Fulp and The Behemoth experienced with Alien Hominid and Castle Crashers served as early showcases for what indie games could accomplish in the home console market.

McMillen still didn’t feel like he entirely fit in despite the attention and audience he found online through sites like Newgrounds. Instead, he felt somewhat of a rivalry with other creators on the site, which drove him to become better at his craft. Over his first decade in development, McMillen created nearly 40 games, some of which were collaborations with other programmers within that same community. But, like Fulp, McMillen was thinking beyond Newgrounds.

Carnivorous Console Conception

In the late 2000s, McMillen compiled what he refers to as a portfolio of sorts, containing all of his games, comics, and animations on one disc, which he, alongside his wife Danielle, sold out of their house. He saw what his fellow indie devs achieved through the newly established Xbox Live Arcade and wanted in on the gold rush. “Suddenly, my peers were becoming millionaires, and they were having these options for their futures, and I would really like the same,” he says.

One day, McMillen received an email from then-Epic Games designer Cliff Bleszinski telling him he bought his disc and liked what he saw. McMillen viewed this as his chance to get his foot in the door with the console market, and upon request, Bleszinski gave him contacts at Microsoft and Nintendo. 


After sending emails to both, McMillen received an enthusiastic response from the Xbox Live Arcade team. McMillen initially pitched them on a remake of one of his most successful games: Gish. McMillen reached out to original Gish co-designer Alex Austin and Tommy Refenes, another programmer he met through Newgrounds, to work on the XBLA version.

However, as the Gish project began, things quickly headed in the wrong direction, and development halted, with McMillen departing the team. Despite this, McMillen knew this was his big chance, and he couldn’t just walk away from the opportunity, so he began looking at what his most successful recent Flash games were. The one that stuck out to him was a 2D platforming game called Meat Boy.

McMillen showing then-Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aimé a demo of Super Meat Boy

“It had eclipsed all of my other games as far as views go, and it was the most mainstream-appealing game on the internet that I had done,” McMillen says. “It was the most simplistic as well; it was a platformer, so it didn’t even involve physics. It was just straightforward.”

McMillen pitched a Meat Boy port to the Xbox Live Arcade team and asked Refenes to program it. When all parties agreed to it and development started, Super Meat Boy was born. As release neared in 2010, Microsoft informed McMillen and Refenes, or Team Meat as they’d become known, that the sales projections for Super Meat Boy were low thanks to it being a 2D game. Despite this notion, Super Meat Boy was bolstered by strong reviews and Team Meat’s grassroots promotional efforts.

McMillen during the filming of 2012’s Indie Game: The Movie, which chronicled the development of Super Meat Boy

McMillen’s highest hope for the game before release was that it would sell enough that he and his wife could afford a mobile home in Santa Cruz. According to McMillen, the sales helped him hit that mark in the first couple of weeks, and when the dust had settled (and the housing market crashed around that same time), he was able to afford something far nicer than his original target.

Super Meat Boy sold hundreds of thousands of copies and gave McMillen mainstream recognition and a certified hit on consoles.

The Unbinding of Edmund

To this day, Super Meat Boy is a beloved title synonymous with McMillen, but rather than create a sequel, he wanted to forge new paths. “[The success] screwed with me a little bit because there was an expectation,” he says. “Everybody wants a sequel, and the first thing I said was I would never make one. I would never make a sequel to Super Meat Boy because how could I do it better than that?”

Unfortunately, that’s where he and Refenes differed. According to McMillen, Refenes wanted to make it into a franchise (and he did, eventually releasing Super Meat Boy Forever under the Team Meat moniker in 2020), but McMillen didn’t find the idea of a sequel creatively gripping, and it led to a rift between the two. “I think we were just moving in very different directions, and we wanted very different things,” McMillen says. “The option was there to do The Binding of Isaac as a Team Meat game, but Tommy did not want to. I think he wanted to work on more Meat Boy stuff, which he did. I found out quickly that we were extremely different people.”

Shortly thereafter, McMillen left Team Meat to resume developing games under his name. His instinctual reaction to these expectations of a sequel or franchise was to defy them and begin work on something completely different less than nine months after Super Meat Boy. The result was The Binding of Isaac, a top-down roguelike game that takes inspiration from The Legend of Zelda series. 

The Binding of Isaac

“I wanted to get back to the headspace of not caring about money, like in the Flash days, not caring about ESRB rating, not caring about who I may or may not be upsetting, not caring about impressing some faceless suit, or whatever else; just do whatever I want to do,” he says. “Even though I didn’t make huge compromises with Super Meat Boy, it was me playing it safe because I knew what was on the line, and I knew what I was risking.”

To work on The Binding of Isaac, McMillen reignited a previous collaboration with Florian Himsl, a Newgrounds programmer he worked with on several Flash titles in the 2000s. The Binding of Isaac draws heavily from McMillen’s experiences as a child, delving into topics of religious fanaticism, feeling like an outcast, and the worlds we escape to in our minds during challenging times.
For this project, McMillen returned to his favorite source of inspiration: music.

“There’s something about how music is written that speaks to me a little bit more than traditional game design,” he says. “Kind of in the way that the story and the theme of The Binding of Isaac is written more like the lyrics of a song with visuals than it is a traditional story in a book or movie. I pull more from that: more from abstract poetry and words to set the tone that gives you these little empty spaces that you can fill in, instead of this drawn-out explanation of everything in a story structure.”

The Binding of Isaac launched in 2011 and has sold millions of copies and continued to grow through multiple releases across its decade of existence. McMillen initially decided to expand on the game because his wife got really into playing it, and he wanted to create more content for her. However, the personal nature of the game drove him to continue creating in the universe, even releasing a prequel deck-building game called The Legend of Bum-bo and a Kickstarter-funded tabletop game called The Binding of Isaac: Four Souls amidst the various main-game expansions. 

“[The Binding of Isaac is] the only game I think I’ve worked on that I’ve been so brutally honest, and I want so desperately to paint this picture of what it’s like to grow up as a poor, single-parent household’s kid, who’s a creative weirdo and doesn’t fit in anywhere,” he says. “Writing from that perspective and being able to tell that story in an abstract sense felt very important.”

Despite the continued focus on The Binding of Isaac, McMillen continued working on new games, once again linking up with an old Newgrounds collaborator. McMillen reconnected with Tyler Glaiel, with whom he had worked on various Newgrounds titles years prior. Together, they released The Basement Collection, a 2012 compilation of McMillen’s old Flash titles for PC, Mac, and Linux.

Five years after The Basement Collection, McMillen and Glaiel joined up to create The End Is Nigh. Thanks to its gameplay style and punishing difficulty, many drew comparisons to Super Meat Boy. While the parallels are easy to make, McMillen thinks The End is Nigh stands above the rest of his catalog.

The End Is Nigh

The End is Nigh

“It’s the most beautifully elegant game that I’ve ever made,” he says. “In a lot of ways, The End is Nigh was my version of Super Meat Boy that was more true to who I am and more brutally honest about where I was in the world at that time.”

Just as he did with The Binding of Isaac, McMillen wrote autobiographically, this time dealing with his struggles with mental health. “I wanted it to feel like you’re riddled with anxiety at all times, and it felt like this looming, horrible darkness over you and that you’re always waiting for the next shoe to drop, and it never does,” he says. “I wanted you to feel panic. I wanted you to feel anxiety. I was not feeling mentally well at the time, and I wanted to simulate that in a game form.”

Oddly enough, McMillen thought that The Binding of Isaac, with its abstract ideas and more difficult-to-describe premises, would be his cult hit, but it turned out The End is Nigh was, as he describes it, his “arthouse midnight movie.” 

The platformer launched in 2017, and the designer’s work again received positive reviews, but it did not receive the same mainstream attention as games like The Binding of Isaac. However, McMillen returned one last time to his biggest hit to release Repentance, the final planned expansion in Isaac’s journey. The 2021 expansion serves as a fitting bookend to the previous decade of McMillen’s career and the last foray into that world – at least for now.

The Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth

“I’m done … until I decide to make a sequel in like 10 years,” he says with a smirk. “I need to become a better designer. I need to grow more because I’ve had like five years of stagnation and kind of playing it safe with my projects that I’ve been doing.”

McMillen has found a new lease on design through Mew-Genics, a revitalized project from his Team Meat days that he describes as a combination of Pokémon, Animal Crossing, Final Fantasy Tactics, and Dungeons & Dragons. After shelving it for nearly 10 years, he’s again making good progress on it, once again joining forces with Glaiel. He estimates Mew-Genics is still about two years from release, but he’s happy with where he is on the project and how he’s once again growing as a designer.

No End In Sight

As McMillen charts his path forward, he hopes to continue sharing the characters and worlds in his head with the same level of freedom and uncompromised vision as those musicians he admired growing up. Following the release of Mew-Genics, McMillen wants to take a few years off from big games and create smaller titles every few months to scratch his creative itches.

During his two decades making video games, McMillen has focused on creating the kinds of experiences he’s wanted to make – with minimal compromise – rather than what would appeal to a mainstream audience. The approach has worked for him, as he has forged his own path to create unforgettable experiences, with any fame or fortune largely being a side effect of the work he produced. 

McMillen may still feel like somewhat of an outcast, but perhaps that’s precisely why his work resonates with so many people. When you combine that notion with brutally honest writing, striking visuals, rock-solid gameplay, and inspiration drawn from some of the greatest games of all time, it’s a recipe for why critics and fans alike continue to eagerly anticipate his work and welcome his creations into their lives time and time again. 


Genshin Impact Gets New Area, Characters, And More On January 5

Genshin Impact’s 2.4 update, Fleeting Colors in Flight, arrives on January 5th – that’s next week! This patch contains plenty of content, including the new area Enkanomiya and two new characters, Shenhe and Yunjin. Players can earn rewards including Intertwined Fates to draw characters and items via gacha, discover new cosmetic outfits, and collect some characters that aren’t always available in rotation, including Xiao, Ganyu, and Zhongli. You can check out the trailer for Fleeting Colors in Flight here. Which upcoming addition is your favorite?

Click here to watch embedded media

This update includes the Lantern Rite celebrations (now locked in as an annual event and includes a web event called Enchanting Journey of Snow. If you haven’t participated in one of these web events yet, they can be played right in your browser and often just plop the rewards right into your account after you go through some dialogue or simple mini-games that expand upon the Genshin universe and lore.

Of course, the major addition here is the new playable area, Enkanomiya. Are you headed into Genshin Impact’s 2.4 update? Let us know in the comments!


The Top 10 Xbox Series X Games

Click to watch embedded media

So you got your hands on an Xbox Series X? Congratulations! As you’ve probably noticed by now, the hardware allows for lightning fast gaming when compared to previous generations, and the Quick Resume feature that allows you to seamlessly change games is, well, a game-changer. While the feature set of the Xbox Series X is impressive (not to mention its stellar backward compatibility library), you probably want some games to play on that beast of a console.

The team at Game Informer worked together to compile a list of the 10 games we think are the best on Xbox Series X/S. As more games come out, we’ll update this list with the latest releases that we feel deserve to crack the top 10.

Please note that while the list below contains 10 entries, we aren’t ranking them. If a game has made it this far (and managed to stay here), it’s a must-play, period. As such, we’ll be listing entries in reverse chronological order. Also, with future updates, you’ll find a rundown of previous entries at the bottom of the list. While those titles have gotten bumped over time, they are still all great games in their own right and worth exploring if you’re already caught up on the latest hits.

Here are Game Informer’s picks for the top 10 games on Xbox Series X/S:

Halo Infinite

Release: December 8, 2021

Halo Infinite is a genuine love letter to what originally made Halo, as a series, the powerhouse franchise it is today. It did so while also breaking new ground for the sci-fi shooter. Opting to ditch the more linear structure of previous Halo campaigns, Halo Infinite presents players with a semi-open world set on the broken but lush ring known as the Zeta Halo. It’s filled with Forerunner secrets, collectibles, Banished outposts, and so much more. When you’re not exploring Zeta Halo, you’ll likely find yourself enthralled with the story missions set throughout the ring.

Featuring a more Halo: Combat Evolved-style of storytelling, if you’re a fan of the older games, something tells us you’re going to really enjoy what the Halo Infinite campaign has to offer. On top of that, Halo Infinite comes with a full multiplayer suite that’s entirely free-to-play, which means if you own an Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, or a PC, you can jump in right now. Complete with a unique battle pass system, nearly a dozen maps, punchy weapons you know and love, and some of the series’ best combat to date, Halo Infinite’s multiplayer is sure to have you saying “just one more match.” Halo Infinite isn’t just a great game – it’s the best Halo’s been in years. | Our Review

Forza Horizon 5

Release: November 8, 2021

From the moment Playground Games’ latest semi-arcade, semi-simulator racer begins, Forza Horizon 5 shines. Its opening is a thrilling adrenaline-inducing experience that doesn’t let up, and the same can be said for much of the game that follows. Forza Horizon 5’s Mexico is stunningly beautiful, teetering on the line of “is this real life” regardless of where you’re racing, be it the Baja desert, a tropical jungle, or a sun-soaked beach. Add in hundreds of cars realized digitally in the same life-like manner, and you’ve got a racer filled with dozens, if not hundreds, of hours of exciting gameplay. It’s a perfect showcase for the Xbox Series X/S generation of consoles, but it’s a fun time on Xbox One as well. | Our Review

Psychonauts 2

Release: August 25, 2021

Arriving 16 years after the original, Psychonauts 2 absolutely delivers on the promise of what a new entry in the series could be in 2021. Featuring all of the heart of the original with revamped gameplay that feels at home on modern Xbox consoles, Psychonauts 2 is one of the best Xbox games to play today. It highlights mental health in a way not often seen in gaming, turning fears, worries, and more into both enemies and fun levels, and it does so to a beautiful effect. Not only will its diverse cast of characters and lineup of stories pull on your heartstrings, but your eyes are in for a great time, too, thanks to Double Fine Productions’ stunning visuals. If you’re looking to boot up Psychonauts 2 but are wondering if you should play the first before that, you can play both with ease, thanks to Xbox Game Pass. | Our Review


Release: August 13, 2021

Supergiant Games released Hades in 2018 as an early access title before it hit Xbox consoles this year, and you can tell Supergiant learned a lot during that time, as it shows in the final release. Today, Hades is a fantastic action game and one of the best titles available on Xbox. It charts new ground for the roguelite genre; proving games can tell meaningful narratives through the traditionally story-light format. It does so with a colorful cast of characters, great voice acting, a memorable score, and a beautiful art style that shines on Xbox consoles. If you’re looking for an enthralling romp through the hellish underworld or a game that’s easy to play in quick 20-minute bursts, you need to try Hades. | Our Review

Resident Evil Village

Release: May 7, 2021

Following two remakes of classic Resident Evil games, the franchise is back and pushing forward with the changes made in Resident Evil 7: Biohazard in tow. Resident Evil Village continues the story of Ethan Winters as he tries to save his daughter from werewolves and vampires. The first-person gameplay, which debuted alongside Ethan in Resident Evil 7, feels better this time around. Village also expertly carries forward the tension you feel while being stalked by a powerful and ghastly creature, and the boss battles only bring the tension to new levels as you take on all manner of abhorrent beasts and baddies. | Our Review

It Takes Two

Release: March 24, 2021

Hazelight Studios’ debut effort, A Way Out, pioneered new ways to tell a narrative in the context of cooperative multiplayer gameplay, but the team truly perfected it with It Takes Two. The splitscreen co-op multiplayer game leverages its unique mechanics to provide fun and challenging puzzles, platforming sequences, and minigames as you work your way through several creative levels. It Takes Two isn’t just one of the best co-op games of all time, it also features a heartfelt story that touches on themes you don’t often come across in games. | Our Review

Hitman 3

Release: January 20, 2021

The “World of Assassination” trilogy from IO Interactive came to a thrilling conclusion with 2021’s Hitman 3. The latest game in the series not only provides players with an abundance of killer content, but also a ton of side activities, gameplay that rewards experimentation, and outstanding level design. On top of all that, if you own the last two Hitman games (or their content packs), you can import the levels from those games into Hitman 3 and play through the entire trilogy in one seamless experience. | Our Review

Yakuza: Like a Dragon

Release: November 10, 2020

Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio’s long-running Yakuza series bid a fond farewell to its protagonist Kiryu after seven mainline games. With Yakuza: Like a Dragon, the developer took a chance with Ichiban Kasuga, a loud, dorky, and well-intentioned protagonist that players immediately fell in love with. However, the changes didn’t stop with the gold-hearted Kasuga. This also marked the series’ transition to turn-based combat, which it transitioned to in seamless fashion. Despite these massive changes to the well-worn formula, Yakuza: Like a Dragon still feels decidedly at home when stacked alongside its predecessors thanks to the serious drama, the goofy side quests, and the nonstop action. | Our Review

Ori and the Will of the Wisps

Release: November 10, 2020

The 2D platformer genre isn’t what it used to be, but that hasn’t stopped Moon Studios from releasing some of the greatest entries in the illustrious genre’s recent history. Ori and the Will of the Wisps took everything the first, beloved game did and made it better. With a fantastic story, a breathtakingly gorgeous world, and gameplay that allows you to run, jump, and fight through any challenge thrown your way, Ori and the Will of the Wisps is an action-packed platformer that delivers on all fronts. | Our Review

Call of Duty: Warzone

Release: March 10, 2020

Call of Duty has always garnered attention with its massive campaigns, intense competitive multiplayer, and tense zombie modes. Those hallmarks are still alive in Call of Duty: Vanguard, but it’s the battle royale component of the Call of Duty franchise, Warzone, that is perhaps the biggest draw for players these days. Featuring amazing visuals, fantastic gunplay, and a ton of content delivered in a steady stream, Call of Duty fans have more than enough to keep them coming back for more. | Our Review

For more lists about the best games on other platforms, check out our lists of the top 10 games on PlayStation”>https://www.gameinformer.com/2021/05/07/the-top-10-playstation-5-games”… 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Switch.

Previous Entries: 


New Trailer For The Batman Shows Off Catwoman, Riddler

A new trailer unveiled today for The Batman, which is coming to theaters on March 4 of next year, showcases just a taste of the action. The DC comics IP has a long history of films, and this particular one features the classic Catwoman alongside our caped crusader. Watch the trailer right here!

Click here to watch embedded media

A bit of a lesser-utilized villain in comparison to notable giants like The Joker, The Riddler could make for an interesting antagonist in this film. I do hope that it doesn’t turn into the Batman version of Saw given how the Riddler is more of a hands-off style foe, and now we have a big two-minute trailer to check out. In it, we see plenty of staples – the dark, gritty Gotham, the Batmobile, an ostensible journey into the Wayne family’s checkered past, and more. All-in-all, this looks like a suitably dark take on Batman.

That said, a trailer doesn’t really ever capture the essence of a movie, so we’ll have to wait and see quite a bit more. The theatres only decision may turn out to be an interesting choice – while I’m sure many folks are eager to return to theaters to see high-profile films, especially after the resounding success of the latest Spider-Man, it’s unknown where society and the world will be in March regarding the ongoing pandemic situation. Let’s hope for the best and prepare for popcorn! What were your takeaways from the trailer? Let us know in the comments!


Best Adventure Game Of 2021: Life Is Strange: True Colors

I don’t cry easily. That isn’t a brag; I just know that I’m built in such a way that I often feel disconnected from my emotions. In other words, it takes a powerfully constructed piece of storytelling to crack through my emotional outer bark. Life is Strange: True Colors is that kind of storytelling. Deck Nine’s affective adventure game didn’t just punch through my hard outer shell. It sliced through me like a hot iron.

True Colors isn’t an action-packed thrill ride, but its narrative is incredibly engrossing and hard to put down nonetheless. From the jump, players meet Alex Chen, a young woman re-entering society after a stint in a foster care center. As the game opens, Alex arrives in the small mountain town of Haven Springs, Colorado, to live with her brother. However, after Alex and her friends get caught in a mining demolition explosion, Alex is thrust into a larger corporate coverup that tears apart the lives of nearly everyone in town. Read more…


Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak News Coming Spring 2022

Did you see the Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak trailer at The Game Awards 2021? Well, the large expansion that’s headed to the core game is scheduled to get more news in the spring of 2022. With all of the complicated moving parts that go into game development, 2022 is shaping up to be a year full of awesome, great games – but also plenty of shifting in terms of when things are announced, when things come out, and when we can expect to see significant information drops on big titles. This announcement follows the revelation that Final Fantasy XVI will also see news hitting in the same timeframe, spring 2022. Will spring be packed with a ton of new info for a bunch of different games? We’ll have to see, but it’s shaping up that way!

As previously revealed, Sunbreak will bring Master Rank hunts to the game, challenging players with tough beasts and battles. A new hub area will be the base of operations in Sunbreak for players looking to obtain the finest gear and take on the hardest challenges. Heck, maybe there will even be a way to upgrade your awesome canine companions. Possibly even some new ice cream flavors. You can check out our entire review for Monster Hunter Rise here.

Are you looking forward to Sunbreak? More Monster Hunter? Let us know in the comments!


Horizon Forbidden West – Introducing The Mighty Slitherfang

The Slitherfang stands among the most impressive new machines of Horizon Forbidden West. Fans got their first glimpse of this intimidating hybrid of a cobra and rattlesnake in a new trailer from The Game Awards. This towering serpent packs a wallop, and we got to watch Aloy go head-to-head with it.

A new hands-off look at a jaw-dropping boss fight against this mechanical serpent gave us a good idea of everything it can do. First and foremost, the Slitherfang can fire pressurized acid streams generated by a tank at the base of its throat. Given the extended range of this attack, firing arrows at the acid tank to disable this attack and other orange-colored components should be done as early as possible. 

Of course, acid isn’t the only weapon at the Slitherfang’s disposal. The rattle on its tail fires bolts of lightning that produce a wide-reaching wave of electricity. We noticed the Slitherfang shakes its rattle shortly before firing, much like the warning sign of a real rattlesnake, which is a nice touch. The rattle is fragile, though, and skilled archers can detach the tail with a few well-placed arrows. Best of all, you can pick up and use the rattle as a weapon against the Slitherfang (although the machine does sport a resistance to shock damage). 

Click here to watch embedded media

Acid spit and a lighting tail are problematic for sure, but the Slitherfang’s “hood” might be its most dangerous element. Nodes covering its neck fire sonic pulses that temporarily deafen Aloy, slowing her movements and rendering her incapable of attacking for a few seconds. This can leave her vulnerable to a follow-up attack if players don’t scramble for cover. Game director Mathijs de Jonge described this attack as “hard to dodge,” so getting out of range when you see the attack being charged is your best bet.

Although disabling these weapons by shooting off certain parts can help de-fang the Slitherfang, so to speak, its sheer size and agility still make it a formidable foe. It can quickly whip its body and coil up structures to gain a higher vantage point for its ranged attacks. The Slitherfang’s attack pattern also changes depending on the state of its health, meaning you’ll need to stay alert and not rely on the same strategy throughout the fight. Furthermore, the Slitherfang is smart enough to knock Aloy off any perches she climbs upon, forcing players to keep moving. 

Despite all we saw of the Slitherfang in this lengthy boss battle, de Jonge teases that we still might not have seen everything it can do. “The snake has a whole heap of attacks,” says de Jonge. Stealth attacks are not effective against it either. Like every creature in Horizon Forbidden West, felling the Slitherfang can be accomplished in many ways. It’s vulnerable to fire, ice, and plasma-based attacks, so it’s ideal to use weapons sporting those attributes. Seeing Aloy finally bring it down felt triumphant even from just watching, so we can only imagine the adrenaline rush we’ll get from doing it ourselves.

Trust us when we say that the Slitherfang looks fantastic, and the battle against it is a spectacle that should be a definite highlight for players. To learn more about Horizon Forbidden West, be sure to keep an eye on our coverage hub to read new features about the game in the coming days.


Final Fantasy XVI News Coming Spring 2022

Final Fantasy XVI producer Naoki Yoshida took to Twitter for an announcement regarding the game’s development. Citing COVID-19 issues, including how remote work has had impacts on critical aspects of the game development pipeline, Yoshida explained that news about the title has been delayed out of this year and should be expected in spring 2022.

Given that the year is almost over, the fact that this news drop fell out of 2021 shouldn’t be very surprising, and many, many games the world over have been delayed or impacted by COVID-19 in various capacities. You can check out the entirety of the messaging right here in the Tweet below!

Final Fantasy XVI has big expectations behind it, as does any numbered title in the mainline Final Fantasy series, and what we’ve seen so far has been brief. We do know it is supposed to feature an “expansive” skill tree. While there’s plenty to dig into if you want to hyper analyze small bits of trailer footage, a proper information drop has yet to occur. We’ll see what the new year brings for Final Fantasy XVI! Do you think that Final Fantasy XVI will launch in 2022? Or perhaps a more popular question, which game do you think will end up arriving first – Final Fantasy 7 Remake Part 2 or Final Fantasy XVI? Let us know in the comments!


Exploring The Full History Of Halo 2 | Video Gameography

After tackling Metroid in Season 1, the second season of Game Informer‘s Video Gameography podcast moves on to one of the biggest shooter franchises in existence: Halo. This week, we examine Bungie’s blockbuster Halo 2.

Halo 2 was released on the original Xbox on November 9, 2004, and it was an even bigger success than the original. The lead-up to Halo 2 was full of anticipation, but its development was anything but easy. For the next hour as we talk about Halo’s massive lore, the Arbiter’s secret origins, Bungie’s original grand plans for multiplayer, and how the studio was almost forced to release Halo 2 several years early.

Join hosts Ben Reeves (@BenjaminReeves), Marcus Stewart (@MarcusStewart7), and former Game Informer video editor (@WadeWojcik) as we unpack the history and impact of Master Chief’s grand sequel.  And for more Halo, be sure to check out our definitive ranking of every Halo game.

Check out the rest of our podcast on the Video Gameography hub. If you’d like to get in touch with the Video Gameography podcast, you can email us at podcast@gameinformer.com. You can also join our official Game Informer Discord server by linking your Discord account to your Twitch account and subscribing to the Game Informer Twitch channel. From there, find the Video Gameography channel under “Community Spaces.”


Boba Fett Is Now In Fortnite

The Book of Boba Fett arrives on Disney+ on December 29, but you don’t have to wait that long to play as the feared bounty hunter in Fortnite. He was added to the store today, sporting his new look from the forthcoming streaming series.

If you purchase just the Boba skin, you’ll also get his Z-6 jetpack, as well an emote where he using his targeting computer. You can also separately purchase his starship (formerly named Slave One) as a glider, and his gaffi stick as a harvesting tool. You can get everything together in a bundle should you want it all.

Boba isn’t the only Star Wars character in Fortnite today. While it’s a bummer he’s the only new face from The Book of Boba Fett, Epic Games did bring back the previously released imperial storm trooper skin, along with a Y-Wing glider, and a dark side emote.

There’s a chance more characters from this series will appear in Fortnite over time, but for now, we’ll just have to use the new renter of Jabba’s Palace. Unlike Fortnite’s release of The Mandalorian content last year, Boba Fett’s arrival doesn’t add new missions or armor upgrades – it’s just the skin and themed accessories.

Epic updates Fortnite’s store every day with new content at 4 p.m. PT. We’re still waiting for Matrix skins, which we believe will be coming after the recently added emotes and glider, but there’s a chance that’s all we’ll get. Epic may be moving on to Star Wars and other properties in the days ahead. We’ll have to wait to see what comes next.

Click image thumbnails to view larger version




The Best Games Set During The Holidays

Those who enjoy gaming have their reasons for loving the hobby. Still, one prevailing thing that keeps us coming back to keyboards and controllers is the ability of video games to take us to new worlds, introduce us to new characters, and ultimately tell us stories that stay with us long after the credits roll. Maybe someone’s looking to explore a fantasy realm to get away from what might be a more mundane setting here on Earth. Perhaps someone feels homesick and wants to visit a game world that happens to be their old stomping grounds.

Games can even take us to different time periods and seasons, too. Here are some of our favorite games that take place during the holidays.

Dead Rising 4

PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

Harking back to its origin, Dead Rising 4 puts players in control of Frank West yet again…in a mall, yet again. This time, though, the mall is decked in Christmas decorations as zombies took it over during the rush of Black Friday. While seeing another mall in a Dead Rising game colored by Christmas lights and Black Friday sale signs is a treat, it’s the meta-commentary of this setting that solidifies Dead Rising 4’s place alongside other games that take place during the holidays. Dead Rising 4 is a fun and raucous reminder that Black Friday and really, the holidays in general, can turn people into monsters. Take care not to become one by allowing this game to remind you of that.

Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales

PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4

The most recent winter holiday-themed game, Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales is a crowning achievement in video games, sitting on a throne joined by others such as Marvel’s Spider-Man, and of course, Rocksteady’s Batman Arkham series. However, one thing that sets Miles Morales apart from most other superhero games is its usage of the festive, gift-giving season. With a story centered on community and family, Miles Morales uses Christmas to accentuate what the narrative is trying to accomplish. Could a story about a Spider-Man becoming the Spider-Man for Harlem have occurred during any time of the year? Sure, but a Spider-Man becoming an integral part of a community, almost as if to become family to everyone he protects, feels all the better surrounded by the glow of Christmas lights, the chill of falling snow, and the theme of what gathering for the holidays is all about. The winter holiday setting of Insomniac’s latest web-slinging game is the blanket that makes the story of Miles Morales feel as warm and as comforting as it does.

Batman: Arkham Origins

PlayStation 4 (via PS Now), PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, WiiU, PC

You can’t talk about video games that take place during the holidays without mentioning Batman: Arkham Origins. The first Arkham game developed outside of Rocksteady (this time, WB Games Montréal took the reins of the caped crusader series) some perceived Origins as the weakest entry in the series. Despite that, it might have the best setting, and that’s not just because it was the first to unleash the Bat in larger Gotham; it’s also because it takes place on Christmas Eve. There’s something so fitting about Batman, and consequently, Bruce Wayne, fighting against a rogues gallery looking to claim a massive bounty placed on his head on a night when most are bundled up in bed awaiting Santa to bring them gifts for the morning. A hero like Superman might be with the family on Christmas Eve, preparing for the joyous occasion. Not Batman, though. Sure, he had to get out there and kick some butt, but there’s a part of Bruce Wayne that was happy to learn he’d be spending the holiday on the bloody streets of Gotham. Why enjoy the holidays with the family (probably just Alfred) when you can spend the night as Batman? It doesn’t hurt that a completely evacuated Gotham is a gorgeous setting to feast your eyes upon, either.

Bayonetta 2

Switch, WiiU

Bayonetta 2 might be the greatest Christmas game of all time and what’s astounding about such a statement is that the holiday veneer largely falls away after the prologue. However, that opening features Rodin as Santa Clause, and that’s a win across the board. I saw on Reddit once that Bayonetta 2 is a Christmas game in the same way that Die Hard is a Christmas movie (which yes, it is) – does the game have anything to do with Christmas? No. Is it a better game because of the Christmas stuff that’s there? Yes. Is it a game I think about playing every December? Yes. Is the reason because of Rodin Clause? Absolutely. I mean, just look at the image up above – iconic, legendary, the best Santa there’s ever been.

Yakuza 5

PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, PC

Many Yakuza games could find a place on this list, considering most take place around the winter holidays, but Yakuza 5 leans into that aspect of the setting and season the most. Christmas in Yakuza’s Japan is great, but we’re going to highlight one particular part of the game here: The Santa Hunters. Taking place in Chapter 4, when you get close to a certain hideout entrance you’re tasked with finding, you encounter a man on the ground dressed as Santa. You decide to help him by finding the Santa Hunters, a group of people who beat up Santas. It’s as comical and as Yakuza as it sounds. If you change into a Santa outfit as instructed to find the group, you learn that the Santa Hunters might be a group of children who want their presents early. Saejima yells at them that they’ll get their gifts on Christmas day, but that doesn’t do it, so he flees. After a short chase, Saejima runs into the real Santa Hunters – a group of criminals who enjoy beating up Santa Clauses because they don’t like the holiday. Essentially, you’ve found the Grinch(es) of the Yakuza universe. While Dr. Seuss’ famous story lets the Grinch run rampant and almost ruin the holiday, Seajima stops these Grinches right in their tracks with some roundhouse kicks and a couple of solid sucker punches. It’s what we all wanted to do to the Grinch the first time we heard the story, right?

Special Shout-Outs: Limited-Time Holiday Events

  • Overwatch’s Winter Wonderland: New game modes, the return of some fan-favorite game modes, rewards that are free for everyone to earn, and holiday-themed skins make this event a standout. 
  • Fornite’s Winterfest: An entire lodge dedicated to the holidays, a character to help ring in the wintery cheer, daily presents, and skins galore keep us coming back to the battle royale every December. 
  • Apex Legends’ Winter Express: While it’s one of the minor Christmas-themed events here, it’s still a wintery treat for Legends, and that’s because it presents a fun and unique game mode to enjoy. In Winter Express, three squads fight to board and capture an always-moving train. It’s a blast. 
  • Call of Duty’s Festive Fervor: This year’s holiday fun in Call of Duty Vanguard and Call of Duty Warzone Pacific spices up classic game modes and store bundles with holiday cheer…well kinda. There are new holiday-themed bundles to buy, presents and Christmas trees spread throughout maps, and a Krampus out to kill anyone and everyone who ignores a mode’s objective.
  • Stardew Valley’s Feast of the Winter Star: There’s nothing better than a good ol’ festival in Stardew Valley, and the Feast of the Winter Star is perhaps the best. That’s because it turns your community into a winter wonderland complete with Secret Santa-like gift-giving fun, a massive Christmas tree, and candy canes galore. 
  • Animal Crossing New Horizon’s Toy Day: The Winter season in Animal Crossing brings with it plenty of snow, but Toy Day on December 24 (and into the next day) is the real treat, and that’s because Jingle the Reindeer arrives. Plus, you can craft wrapping paper, deliver toys to villages, purchase new items, and more. Best of all, you can gift your villagers with presents, and nothing’s more heartwarming than that. 


Top 5 Video Game Characters Getting Coal In Their Stockings This Year

It’s the most wonderful time of the year: the holidays. If you’re reading this, I’m not at work right now, and it’s great. My brain is happily free of thoughts about video games, video game articles, and the people who play and read both. I’m free. Free at last. Until January. 

But taking a a day or two off also means filling this website with the almighty drip of pre-written content. The wheels keep turning, no matter the day of the year, and as a lowly worker bee, I am happy to oblige the Game Informer CMS’ never-ending need for listicles. 

So, what should we rank this time? Really, it could be anything. We don’t put too much thought into these – they’re pretty low-effort, moderate-to-high gain pieces. You just come up with a couple of good buzzwords – something at least a few thousand people will click on – throw a few hundred words at it, and you got yourself a list. Typically, you want to theme it around something timely to cash in on good SEO or Twitter trends; something a lot of people are either looking for or talking about. 

I got it! Here are our top five video game characters that would get coal in their stockings this holiday season. 

5) Nathan Drake – The Uncharted Series

Everyone loves Nathan Drake; he’s one of the most iconic heroes in Sony’s ever-growing roster of triple-A games that are mostly boring to play. He’s handsome, funny, charismatic, and if you’ve never seen an Indiana Jones movie, he seems like a totally unique and original character. 

But underneath Drake’s every-man veneer lies a deep, dark secret. 

He is literally a mass murderer. Period. Point blank. The whole thing about Uncharted games is Nathan Drake and his merry band of idiots go to a different country, kill several zip codes worth of people, then steal local ancient artifacts. In a medium filled to the brim with reprehensible behavior, Drake really is a special case here.  

An easy argument in Drake’s favor would be that he never kills good or innocent people – or at least not intentionally. I guess if you’re doing mental gymnastics at an Olympic level, killing thousands of people over the course of one short decade is fine, so long as they’re “bad.”

What that doesn’t excuse is the plundering of a nation’s historical artifacts. This is utterly appalling, and Drake should be tried by the United Nations for his crimes against human history. Our knowledge of ancient civilizations’ art and technology has been set back untold decades by this guy trying to make a quick buck. Until Naughty Dog releases a DLC where Drake returns these artifacts to their rightful countries, then I refuse to take that studio seriously as a video game storyteller. I’m sorry, I know that’s harsh, but as the series stands now, I can not overlook this irresponsible narrative.

Nathan Drake is a terrible person. You can quote me on that. Put coal in that man’s stocking. 

Post-script: Did you play Uncharted 4? Drake’s also a terrible husband, good God.

4) Trevor Phillips – Grand Theft Auto V

He’s also a mass murderer. 

3) 97.39845-percent of all characters in modern triple-A games

They’re all mass murderers! I don’t want to get political here, but I don’t think mass murderers are on Santa’s “Nice List.” Sorry, but that’s just how I was raised. 

Now look, I am not espousing the idea that video games cause real-world violence – that’s a harmful idea regurgitated ad nauseam by right-wing pundits that both ignores actual research and is reductive to video games as an art form. Nor am I saying video games are too violent. I love violence. You can quote me on that. 

What I’m saying is, when we’re considering this list – and believe me, a lot of consideration has gone into it since I started writing it seven minutes ago – if we’re coming down on characters like Nathan Drake and Trevor Phillips for their propensity for mass murder, then we must hold all other, similar video game characters accountable as well. If we want video games to be taken seriously as a medium, then we must be willing to criticize the art form we love, hold it to higher standards, and expect better from it. 

This is why I am here to say: 97.39845-percent of all characters in modern triple-A games are getting coal in their stockings this year during the holidays. Too many bad boys out there on the shelves of your local GameStop being too willy-nilly with guns, swords, bombs, and the such. Unfortunately for all of them, Santa is skipping their houses this year. 

(Full disclosure: Game Informer is owned by the GameStop corporation, however, our parent company had no insight into the rankings or evaluations present in this article) 

2) Cloud Strife – Final Fantasy VII

As my colleague Jason Guisao so elegantly puts it:

1) Louse The Mouse – Daze Before Christmas

If you’ve made it this far into this list, then this one should come as no surprise. Of course, the video game character Santa is skipping the most this year is Louse the Mouse from Funcom’s landmark 1994 game Daze Before Christmas. 

I know I’m preaching to the choir here – everyone is always saying this – but Louse is such a little rat. Pun fully intended. This little son of a gun had the audacity to tear through the world’s Christmas presents, casting a curse on all the gifts. I swear if I could get my own hands on Louse the Mouse, for what I would do, you best believe there’d be coal in my stocking this year, too. It makes my blood boil just thinking about it.

Louse the Mouse is a menace to society and a threat to the holidays. And therefore, he earns the top spot on our list of video game characters most likely to get coal in their stockings. 

Was our list correct? It was! No need to leave a comment this time; we got it right. Have a good holiday!


The Best Of 2021 | All Things Nintendo

This episode of All Things Nintendo is devoted to looking back at the best that 2021 had to offer in the world of Nintendo. Join Brian as he runs down the categories, nominees, and winners of the podcast’s inaugural awards. Following the announcement of each award winner, Brian invites a colleague of his to chat about why that game deserved to win the award that it did.

If you’d like to follow Brian on Twitter, you can do so at @BrianPShea.

The All Things Nintendo podcast is a weekly show where we can celebrate, discuss, and break down all the latest games, news, and announcements from the industry’s most recognizable name. Each week, Brian is joined by different guests to talk about what’s happening in the world of Nintendo. Along the way, they’ll share personal stories, uncover hidden gems in the eShop, and even look back on the classics we all grew up with. A new episode hits every Friday!

Be sure to subscribe to All Things Nintendo on your favorite podcast platform. The show is available on Apple PodcastsSpotify, and Google Podcasts.

00:00:00 – Introduction
00:01:57 – Best Action Game
00:05:33 – Best RPG
00:09:46 – Best Platforming Game
00:14:26 – Best Sports Game
00:19:05 – Best Indie Game
00:23:12 – Best Multiplayer Game
00:27:41 – Best Remake or Remaster
00:31:44 – Best Content Updates
00:37:58 – Most Wanted Game for Switch
00:42:28 – Best Third-Party Game
00:48:56 – Best Nintendo Game
00:53:49 – Definitive Ranking
01:00:03 – eShop Gem of the Week: BoxBoy! + BoxGirl!

If you’d like to get in touch with the All Things Nintendo podcast, you can do so by emailing AllThingsNintendo@GameInformer.com, tweeting to Brian (@BrianPShea), or by joining the official Game Informer Discord server. You can do that by linking your Discord account to your Twitch account and subscribing to the Game Informer Twitch channel. From there, find the All Things Nintendo channel under “Community Spaces.”

For more Game Informer podcasts, be sure to check out The Game Informer Show, which covers the weekly happenings of the video game industry, and Video Gameography with host Ben Reeves, which explores the history of video games – one series at a time!


Editor Top 10 Picks 2021

Earlier, we announced Game Informer‘s official Top 10 Games of 2021, but that list doesn’t paint the whole picture. That list was compiled after a hard-fought battle over many hours as we struggled to squeeze our collective favorites onto one official list. Unfortunately, many of our favorite games of the year couldn’t be represented in the official Top Ten, which is why we put together these editor-specific top 10s. Read more…


The Top 10 Games On Switch

The Nintendo Switch has an incredibly strong library of games, with many worth recommending. For our 10 absolute favorite games, however, you can check out the list below. It’s a list we will be updating as often as games worthy of inclusion release. We will kick games off and add new ones as the Switch’s library grows.

Please note that while the list below contains 10 entries, we aren’t actually ranking them – if a game has made it this far (and managed to stay here), it’s a must-play, period. As such, we’ll be listing entries in reverse chronological order. Also, you’ll find a rundown of previous entries at the bottom of the list. While those titles have gotten bumped for bigger and better experiences, they are still all great games in their own right and worth exploring if you’re already caught up on the latest hits.

Here are Game Informer’s picks for the top 10 games on the Switch.

Metroid Dread

Release: October 8, 2021

Metroid fans have been begging Nintendo for a brand new 2D Metroid adventure for nearly two decades. Thankfully, when Nintendo finally delivered, it didn’t disappoint. As the name implies, Dread is a tense experience, full of challenging boss fights and deadly robots who doggedly chase Samus across the various biomes of Planet ZDR. Metroid’s classic exploration-based platforming remains intact, and we eagerly hunted down new upgrades like the Phantom Cloak and the Spider Magnet. The race to 100 percent was over all too quickly, but we can’t wait to see what Dread’s big story reveals mean for the series’ future. | Our Review

Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury

Release: February 12, 2021

Rereleases rarely capture our full attention these days, but the Wii U’s 4-player Mario title was so joyful and fun that we couldn’t resist jumping back in for the Switch port. As if that wasn’t enough, Nintendo also included a brand new single-player campaign titled Bowser’s Fury. In this standalone experience, Mario travels across Lake Lapcat, completing various platforming challenges to collect Cat Shines. The larger, open-world design of Bowser’s Fury feels incredibly refreshing for a Mario experience, and we loved how each act ends in a Kaiju-sized boss battle. | Our Review

Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Release: March 20, 2020

The tranquil, low-stress Animal Crossing: New Horizons hit at the exact right time in the world. With the news cycle becoming more tumultuous since 2020, Animal Crossing: New Horizons offers refuge in the form of a virtual tropical island. Building and customizing your house and island the way you see fit is immensely rewarding as New Horizons delivers a fun daily loop full of goals and rewards. | Our Review

Pokémon Sword & Shield

Release: November 15, 2019

For two decades, Pokémon fans have been waiting for the series’ mainline RPGs to come to home consoles. While 2018 delivered remakes of the first-gen games in Let’s Go Pikachu & Eevee, 2019’s Sword & Shield represent the dream’s realization. Players get an exciting story based in an all-new region with a new generation of Pokémon, and with the titles receiving post-launch story expansions for the first time in series’ history, fans have more reasons than ever to revisit the games after becoming champion. | Our Review

Fire Emblem: Three Houses

Release: July 26, 2019

The Fire Emblem series has built a cult following through handheld platforms in recent years, but with Three Houses, the turn-based strategy series explodes back onto TVs in the best way possible. Featuring outstanding strategic gameplay, a fun story to interact with and influence, and multiple paths to take through the narrative, Fire Emblem: Three Houses is one of the best strategy games available today. | Our Review

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

Release: December 7, 2018

A crossover event two decades in the making, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate represents the series in its most realized form. Containing superb fighting mechanics, a terrific suite of modes to play, and a roster of fighters that features every character in series history and then some, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is all but an essential title for the Switch. | Our Review

Super Mario Odyssey

Release: October 27, 2017

Every Nintendo console has to have at least one fantastic Mario platformer, and the Switch is no exception. Mario Odyssey released a few months after the launch of the console and it hits all the Mario checkboxes necessary to be considered a classic, plus a few surprising new ones. It’s whimsical, has perfect controls, tons to discover, and features a city level where all the humans have normal proportions while Mario runs around as his short, cartoony self. It’s a strange adventure and a must-have for Switch owners. | Our Review

Stardew Valley

Release: October 5, 2017

The future of Harvest Moon is unclear and its recent past is underwhelming. Thankfully, Stardew Valley exists and improves on nearly every mechanic that series popularized. Managing a farm may sound like a chore, but in Stardew Valley it’s a joy. Watching your crops grow over time and selling them for profit while getting to know the townspeople creates an experience that is difficult to put down. Adding the portability of the Switch only makes the experience better. | Our Review of the PC version

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

Release: April 28, 2017

Far more than a simple port of the excellent Mario Kart 8 for Wii U, Deluxe includes all the game’s DLC (extra tracks, racers, and cars), and Battle Mode, which was curiously absent from the original release. Playing split-screen Mario Kart is always a hit, and having a version of the game with two controllers you can take anywhere makes it the perfect showcase for the Switch. | Our Review

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Release: March 3, 2017

We’re not exaggerating when we say The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is one of the best games ever made. We gave it the rare 10/10 in our review and gave it our 2017 Game of the Year award as it sets a new high standard for open-world video games. Being able to go anywhere you can see on the map has never been more true than it is in Breath of the Wild and it is also filled with the kind of excellent puzzle-design you expect from a Zelda experience. It’s a journey you won’t soon forget and the optional DLC packs add additional challenges and new items worth pursuing to the overworld. | Our Review

The games considered for this list that didn’t make the cut, or have been cut since we originally published this article: Hollow Knight, Fortnite, Celeste, Golf Story, Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle, Splatoon 2Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, Doom, The Elder Scrolls V: SkyrimWolfenstein II: The New Colossus, Sonic Mania, Luigi’s Mansion 3, Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age – Definitive Edition, and recent classics that have been ported, Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove, Inside, and Axiom Verge. They’re all still great games, so give them a try, too!

Follow these links to read comparable lists for the PlayStation 5, Xbox Series XPlayStation 4, and Xbox One!


Best Action Game Of 2021: Returnal

In a year full of satisfying time loops, Returnal’s were often the longest and most punishing. But every time Selene’s ship would crash into the damp, misty enclave on Atropos, it was another opportunity to chase the mysterious white noise. Another shot at challenging the ever-shifting landscape packed with deadly eldritch horrors. One more run at discovering out how long Selene has been making futile attempts at figuring out why she’s on this bleak planet in the first place. Read more…


Game Informer’s Ultimate Super Fun List: Top Trees In Gaming

Ever wonder what are the best trees in gaming? No? Look it’s the holidays and we’re strapped for stories. Let’s just run with this and see what happens.

#1 Deku Tree – Why does the Deku tree outrank every other tree in gaming? Because it’s from The Legend of Zelda, and The Legend of Zelda is like the coolest thing ever. Haven’t you heard? Everything Zelda related should be ranked number one. That’s how journalism works. Also, the Deku Tree has a mustache. Double win.

#2 Teldrassil – The old world tree from World Of Warcraft is home to the Night Elves. Of course, the Night Elves suck because they are part of the Alliance, so we weren’t going to include Teldrassil. However, then we heard that sometimes stupid Night Elf noobs fall off the tree and die, so we moved this tree up to number two. (This isn’t in a Zelda game after all.)

#3 Sunwood or Sudowoodoo or Sunwoody – Whatever that tree thingy from Pokémon is called. This tree placed third because it’s a tree in a video game, so it qualified for the list.

Boy, this is embarrassing. You see, we had planned to do this big elaborate story about the top trees in gaming, but it turns out that there really aren’t many gaming trees worth writing about. I know, we’re upset too. We were planning on making award stickers and everything.

Well, we sort of blew our wad there. Our mistake. Don’t bother scrolling down any further. This story is over. We already cancelled the caterer.



What? Why do you keep scrolling down? Is that a mistake? We told you, this story is over.

Do you still want more gaming tree related content? Are you crazy? There really aren’t that many cool gaming trees out there.

Seriously, that super happy tree from Yoshi’s Story and that tree from Kirby’s Dreamland that blows trash at you can go jump into a forest fire for all we care. Go check your email or something. That would be more interesting than this article.





Okay, come on dude! Why do you have to be like this? Stop scrolling.

You keep moving down the page, so now we feel like we have to give you more content. Now we have to come up with a fourth best tree in all of gaming, so…

#4 Diablo’s Skill Tree – What! You think that doesn’t count? It’s a tree. It’s in a game. You pressed us! We had to do something. Now stop scrolling down, this story is over.



Wow, we didn’t think you’d make it this far. We really had no idea people loved trees to this extreme. Fine, we’ll give you one more piece of tree related content, but then we’re cutting you off. It can’t be healthy to think about trees this much.

Secondary Award: The worst Tree in Gaming

Any tree that has fallen to block your path in a way where you can clearly see where you need to go, but that damn tree is in your way and you can’t jump over it even though it’s only like three feet high and your character should easily be able to jump over the thing, so instead you have to traipse through the forest for another 20 minutes before you emerge on the other side of the path. Screw that tree.

That’s it. This list is over. Now go draw, climb, or plant a tree, you crazy tree-loving nut.


What I’d Like To See In Persona 6

Earlier this year, Atlus announced that it wants “to create a 6 which exceeds 5.” I can only speak for myself, but that’s a hard bar to rise above. Persona 5 (and its Royal expansion) is easily one of my favorite games of all time. The limited details surrounding the next game’s narrative, combat, and music have forced superfans like me to make their own wishlists. So, here are six that’s right, six! features I’d like to see in Persona 6:

All-Adult Cast

Look, I love Persona’s tried and true narrative DNA a crew of teenage outcasts call upon their mystical alter egos to defend the world from evil forces while also juggling hobbies, romance, and classes. Nevertheless, I’m ready for Atlus to bring the series’ mature themes to the adult world. 

I’ve got two solid pitches for the writer’s room: keep the traditional school backdrop, but give us a university campus with a cast of 20 somethings instead. Or, a more unconventional route could thrust players into the white-collar world. Nothing says “evil supernatural conspiracy” more than a soul-sucking office job, complete with alienating cubicles and overseer-esque managers. Give us a crew of young adult professionals down on their luck, introduce them to an array of badass Persona, and let us run free in a distorted, hyper-corporatized Japan.

Mandatory Female Lead

We haven’t had a selectable female protagonist since Persona 3 Portable, which launched over a decade ago. Remember P5 Royal’s earliest teaser trailers and how fans hypothesized that all-star gymnast Kasumi Yoshizawa was the male MC’s playable counterpart? Sure, Kasumi might’ve had one of the best character arcs in the entire franchise, but finding out she was an NPC was a bummer. Here’s a hot take: When it comes to Persona 6, I don’t want a choice. Just give me a mandatory heroine or implement the following entry on my wishlist.

Artwork by Mocah

Character Creator

There’s a distinct difference between playable characters and playable avatars. The former indicates that we’re meant to inhabit people with pre-made backstories, ideals, and relationships, while the latter can’t work effectively without complete player-to-protagonist projection and customization. Persona MCs often straddle this threshold, but a deep character creator might help bridge the gap. We can already enter a preferred name for our voiceless hero; why not also let us choose backstories (à la Bioware games) and define important physical features? 

Persona Equipment

If we can’t customize our protagonist, we should at least be able to spice up the looks of our favorite mythological entities. Besides, Personas reflect our innermost selves, so why wouldn’t they aesthetically reflect that spiritual parallelism? As it stands right now, persona collection relies on releasing, sacrificing, or fusing your favorite battle buddies for newer, stronger ones. If Atlus integrated a persona-centric cosmetics/accessories system – similar to gear you’d purchase for party members – players would feel less inclined to toss their favorite, weaker persona away. Here’s a thought: let us buy weapons for our trusty sidekicks! I mean, who wouldn’t want to equip Santanael with a legendary revolver?

Switch & PC Availability

It’s bad enough that Persona 5 isn’t on either platform, especially since Joker is a fighter in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, and the Strikers spin-off launched on Switch earlier this year. Moreover, Persona 4 Golden is a testament to the fact that Atlus can create fantastic PC ports. Persona 6 has an opportunity to bring both mediums into the fold. Switch and PC gamers are still missing out on 5 and Royal. It’d be cruel to overlook those same players again. 

Historical Fiction

From Persona 4’s rural Inaba to Persona 5’s lively Tokyo, it’s hard not to fall in love with modern-day Japan. However, the next chapter might raise some eyebrows if Atlus went back in time. 

We’ve seen several depictions of feudal Japan over the years, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t interested in experiencing a Persona story in the Edo period. Hell, what if we explored a postwar Japan? How would yesteryear’s societal norms and technologies influence the fantastical, pocket monster-inspired loop or the life-sim mechanics that the franchise is known for? If Persona 6 took a page out of The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles’ historical fiction, then we might find a genuinely compelling answer to that question.

Is there anything not on this list that you’d like to see in Persona 6? Better yet, what genre of music do you think Atlus will explore next? Drop your thoughts in the comments below!


The 12 Days Of Video Games

In concept, the song “The Twelve Days of Christmas” is just a big list of amazing gifts to get your significant other for the holidays. But in practice, it’s useless! Seriously. Who has twenty different kinds of birds on their wish list, and where would you even put them all? But it’s undeniably catchy. So, we thought we’d spruce up this classic carol by replacing all those unwanted fowl with some great game-related gifts you could get your true love (or really anyone) this holiday season. Hopefully, this version will catch on soon.

Twelve Spartans Fighting

Halo Infinite

Well, at least in Halo Infinite’s Big Team Battle multiplayer mode, twelve Spartans are fighting on your side. Another twelve are trying to take you down. But, because the developer made the latest Halo entry’s multiplayer free, it’s an easy gift to give. There’s also a really impressive single-player campaign if your giftee wants more Halo Infinite.

Eleven Engines Humming

Forza Horizon 5

Imagine sitting behind the wheel of a parachute-equipped car being pushed out of an airplane. Then, when the tires touch down, finding yourself in the middle of a race that runs through Mexico’s diverse landscape. Forza Horizon 5 players don’t have to imagine because this all happens in the game’s epic opening sequence and only gets better from there.

Ten Bikes A-Speeding


Who doesn’t want to fly across the desert on a hoverbike? Sable will leave your gift recipient feeling like a mix between a Jedi and Link in Breath of the Wild as they ride, climb, and glide through the beckoning environment. With no ever-present, over-arching mission looming over the adventure, players can simply enjoy this experience.

Nine Planets Rifting

Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart

The absolutely gorgeous return of PlayStation’s familiar mascots, Ratchet and Clank, sees the heroes battling across both space and time. The nostalgia-filled platformer features nine distinct planets, all of which are affected by the rifts that have begun to open up across the galaxy. This dimension-breaking game is an upgraded walk down memory lane.

Eight Marks A-Slaying


Colt is a man on a mission. He’s going to get off the isolated island he’s stuck on and break the loop that keeps him repeating the last day over and over again. To do that, he must kill eight powerful people. But with everyone against him and time running out, that task is easier said than done.

Seven Souls A-Reaping

Death’s Door

In Death’s Door, you play as a crow whose 9 to 5 sees him reaping the souls of the living; until something goes wrong. To set things right, you have to fight your way through seven main bosses, each being harder than the last. The combat mechanics are top-tier and match the game’s surprisingly thoughtful narrative.

Six Geese A-Honking

Untitled Goose Game

We tried to get all the birds out of this carol, but one managed to sneak its way back in. Untitled Goose Game was initially released as a single-player experience but later expanded, allowing for couch co-op. So, really you’d need to get three copies of the game to get six geese honking all at once, but if you managed to get that set up, it would be worth it.

Five Tiiiiime Loops

Returnal, Loop Hero, Outer Wilds, 12 Minutes, The Forgotten City

It’s tempting to call 2021 the year of the time loop, as so many amazing titles featured the concept in their designs this year. Instead of being repetitive, these games managed to weave the idea into the gameplay in thoughtful and unique ways, ensuring each new take felt fresh and fun to play.

Four Colors Stirred

Life is Strange: True Colors

Represented by various hues, the hero of Life is Strange: True Colors, Alex Chen, can see others’ sadness, anger, fear, and joy. The latest entry in this much-loved series sports an enhanced new look but retains the moving narrative fans have come to expect from a Life is Strange title.

Three Henchmen


A slightly spooky title; Inscryption is short but perhaps the most unexpectedly interesting game of the year. It starts as a desperate card game. Your foe, a wild-eyed, cabin-dwelling baddie, throws three minor minions in your path to victory and freedom. This game is sure to surprise even the most seasoned video game enthusiast. 

Two Dolls In Love

It Takes Two

Okay, so the dolls aren’t so much in love as they are getting a divorce. And they’re not really dolls, but a pair of humans magically trapped in bodies of wood and clay. But that doesn’t stop It Takes Two from being one of the best games of 2021, and it’s a co-op adventure, so you can play it along with whoever you gave it to.

And The Tall Lady From That One Meme

Resident Evil Village

Resident Evil Village may not seem to exude holiday cheer at first but just look at that castle entryway. You could fit an amazing tree in there. Plus, there’s even a quaint, snowy village nearby. If you’re cool with a veritable smorgasbord of horror tropes haunting your winter wonderland, pick this game up.


Top 10 Music Games To Play Right Now

Music games can provide some of the most fun in all of gaming because music is something everyone can enjoy. Add in gameplay mechanics like puzzles, shooting, dancing, or the use of electric instruments that can be played with a group of friends, and you’ve got a genre that easily becomes a house favorite. While the music genre is not as clear-cut as it used to be – remember when it was basically “Do you want to play Guitar Hero or Rock Band?” – there are many more creative renditions of these experiences, so the scene has never been better than now. However, with the abundance of options now afforded to fans of music games, picking out the one to play can be tough. This list has you covered, though. Here are ten great music games – listed in no particular order – you’ll have a great time jamming in.


PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC

Harmonix’s Fuser is perhaps the most musical game on this list because you’re creating new music while playing. It puts you behind the DJ booth of your own character who’s attempting to climb the ranks of electronic festivals. What’s more is that you’re not just hitting notes to the beat of a song like you might in the studio’s more famous music game, Guitar Hero, but rather, it’s you that’s creating the song. You can splice drums from one track with keys from another. Continue to build your song by adding in some guitar, maybe, and when you’re ready, drop in a vocal track – boom, you’ve made a wild remix that the judgmental crowd hopefully enjoys. Fuser is currently the closest we’ll get to becoming a DJ without, you know, actually becoming a DJ. | Our Review

Rock Band 4

PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One

Rock Band was the natural evolution of where Guitar Hero took music games, and while the latter eventually tried to replicate the full band setup, it just didn’t work as well as the former. Harmonix continued to develop its Rock Band series alongside other music games, and it eventually led us to the fourth game in the franchise, released in 2015. It’s just as good as you remember it, too. Thanks to new-gen backward compatibility, it’s still wholly playable on Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 consoles. However, tracking down the electric instruments won’t be as easy as we wish it were. You and up to three friends can still take on drums, vocals, bass, and guitar and play popular songs well into the night, becoming the highway stars you always were. | Our Review

Cadence of Hyrule


Deviating from the more “you create a song by playing to a beat” formula of many music games, Cadence of Hyrule is a crossover of The Legend of Zelda and Crypt of the Necrodancer. Like the game it’s based on, this Nintendo-influenced sequel sees Crypt’s main character, Cadence, transported to Hyrule by the Triforce, tasked with awakening a sleeping Link and Zelda. To do that, Cadence must navigate a strangely music-driven Hyrule while attacking enemies in her path, all to the tune of amazingly-remixed Zelda songs. Not only is the game filled with fun takes on melodies we all know and love, but it’s downright fun, and it looks beautiful, too. What’s better is that you don’t need to play Crypt of the Necrodancer; just hop in with a semblance of love for Koji Kondo’s classic Zelda score and prepare for a good time. | Our Review

Beat Saber

PSVR, Oculus Quest, PC

There’s no music game that makes you feel as cool as Beat Saber does. Not only is it a Guitar Hero-like rhythm game, but a lightsaber simulator, too. Okay, maybe Beat Saber developer Beat Games wouldn’t describe it as a lightsaber simulator but like, come on, you’re hitting neon blocks with a large light sword, and it feels very Star Wars meets Tron. It’s an absolute blast too. Beat Games’ original tracks are upbeat and hype as hell, and it doesn’t hurt that Beat Saber kind of tricks you into a small workout while playing. Add in some tracks from real-world artists like Linkin Park, Panic! At The Disco, Timbaland, and more, not to mention the custom song possibilities that arise when playing on PC, and Beat Saber is easily one of the best music games released in years. | Our Review

Rez Infinite

PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Luna, PC

Rez Infinite is a 2015 standalone expansion to the original Rez, first released in 2001. It comes with the original game, of course. Still, it features a new level called Area X, so not only are you getting one of the best music/rail-shooter hybrid games ever made, but you’re getting brand new content developed in the same world first hacked into on PlayStation 2 and Dreamcast. The entire experience is playable in PSVR, too, which makes the open cyberspace of Infinite’s Area X all the better. If you want neon lights, electric music, and an addictive gameplay loop that begs you to give it one more try for a new high score, you can’t go wrong with Rez Infinite.

Tetris Effect

PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC

Tetris Effect is perhaps more well-known for being one of the best puzzle games ever made, if not one of the best Tetris games at that. However, it’s also uniquely positioned in the music genre because every tetromino flip and drop is attached to a note that further escalates a gradually evolving song playing throughout a stage. In one stage, you’re building a crescendo of drums. In another, the tetrominoes represent key piano touches that create a symphony of metropolitan jazz. And don’t forget the more emotional songs like “Connected (Yours Forever)” that quickly transition from “oh, this is a fun neon Tetris stage” to “I’m crying a lot while playing Tetris???” If you haven’t yet played Tetris Effect, it’s pretty much available everywhere (we highly recommend playing it in VR if you can) and is an absolute must-play for fans of the music genre. | Our Review


PlayStation 4, Switch, Stadia, PC, PSVR, Oculus Quest, Oculus Go, Android, iOS

Thumper asks a question not asked before in the music genre: what if a rhythm game was terrifying? Released in 2016, Thumper feels more like a dystopian hunt where you’re the prey and a violent, moving song is the predator, and in doing so, it places a special emphasis on the beat behind each track. Relying mainly on a suite of percussion instruments rather than vocals and pop tunes you might find in other music games, Thumper sees a metal beetle race along a track, like an on-rails shooter. However, simply surviving requires fast reflexes and close attention to tempo. Thumper is not for the faint of heart – it’s downright stressful – but if you’re looking for a unique spin on the rhythm-based music game, it’s worth your time. Play it in VR for an especially heart-racing experience. | Our Review

BPM: Bullets Per Minute

PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

What if a rhythm music game was also an action FPS? Sounds great, right? What if it was also a roguelike? Even better. That’s exactly what BPM: Bullets Per Minute is, and it’s one of the most unique shooter experiences out there. It plays out like any other heavy metal-influenced shooter a la Doom or Quake, but instead of firing guns wildly, you have to time your shots to what is essentially an on-screen metronome. You’ll be doing this while traversing through hellish castles and landscapes inspired by Norse mythology, all while your screen is drenched in warm colors like orange and red. It’s as stressful as it sounds – as if these fast-paced shooters weren’t stressful enough – but if you’re up for the challenge, you’re in for one of the most rewarding rhythm-based games in the music genre.


PSVR, Oculus Quest, PC

Yet another rhythm music game from Harmonix, Audica is a unique take on what the studio is best known for. Instead of playing with a guitar in your hand, you’ll be holding VR controllers that translate to a blue and orange gun within your headset. That’s because Audica is a rhythm FPS. Opting to go a more ethereal sci-fi route versus its more hellacious brethren, Audica feels like a shooter version of Beat Saber. As colorful squares and diamonds line up on-screen, you must pull the trigger to the beat of the music. In doing so, you’ll create colorful lines of rhythm that explode on screen, and similar to other neon rhythm games, it’s hard not to be obsessed with it.

Just Dance 2022

PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, Stadia

If you’ve played a Just Dance game before, the 2022 iteration isn’t doing anything dramatically different from the standard formula. Sure, it includes an updated tracklist, but it’s the same feel-good dance game it’s always been. What makes it different from others in the genre is that Just Dance emphasizes the fun and excitement of dancing to a tune rather than focusing on staying on beat to get a high score or advance to a new level. If you want to play a music game that doesn’t involve guns, lightsabers, or puzzles, then Just Dance 2022 has you covered.

What games on this list do you enjoy? What games would you add that aren’t currently listed? Let us know in the comments below and if you enjoyed this list, be sure to check out our other recent genre lists by hitting the “List of Lists” hub below!


Secretlab Unveils New Pokémon Collection Gaming Chairs

It’s always awesome when you can see your favorite pokémon tagging alongside you in the well-loved RPG. But now, some fans can recreate that feeling in real life with the new Pokémon Collection from Secretlab. The gaming chair company has given its Titan Evo 2022 Series the very best makeover, with the ergonomic seats sporting two of the franchise’s most recognized mascots. One of the offerings features an adorable image of Pikachu, with yellow lettering and accents to match. The other orange-and-blue-laced option in this fresh collection is packing a Zard. Both chairs come with a pair of pokéballs stitched into the upper left corner, the creatures’ pokédex number in the right, and a handful of themed, custom stitching throughout. 

But before you go off to try and snag one of these functional gaming collectibles, we have good and bad news. The bad? Secretlab’s collection is only available in Japan right now while supplies last. So, it would seem like anyone outside that country is out of luck for now. However, there is a glimmer of hope as the manufacturer has provided a link on its website that will allow you to “register interest.” We hope this means that – given enough people click the link and provide their email – Secretlab will consider selling these unique products around the globe. So if you’d like to get more news on the chairs and hopefully bring the Kanto-region pokémon to your region, check out the collection’s official website

Click image thumbnails to view larger version





Sea Of Thieves Giving Away Emote To Celebrate 5 Million Steam Copies Sold

The Xbox-published title that aims to simulate life on the high seas has sailed past another milestone and is giving away a special gift to mark the occasion. Sea of Thieves has sold five million copies on Steam, and it’s heading into the holiday season full of festive cheer, as well as a little bit of a pirate’s favorite beverage. If you want to join in, the developers at Rare suggest you play the game now through the middle of next week to snap up a special emote. The team announced this achievement on the game’s official blog, along with the news that over 25 million players have dived into Sea of Thieves to hunt down treasure, explore the oceans, and live out the life of a scallywag with their friends.

In reaction to the horde of new pirates picking up the game, Rare penned a thank you post. It reads in part:

With Sea of Thieves being our first game developed in-house for PC as well as Xbox, we’re absolutely delighted to see such a huge influx of new pirates starting their adventures since the game made it to Steam in June last year. No matter which platform you play Sea of Thieves on, it would never have had this success without the support of you, the players – so all we can say is thank you! 

While Sea of Thieves is currently basking in the glow of its current fortune, it’s strange to remember that the ambitious game didn’t shine so brightly at launch. The game released in 2018 and received a mixed reception, with our initial review of Sea of Thieves stating the game concept was sound, but the experience was a little bare bones. This first lukewarm impression seemed to spell doom for the game, but the developers stuck with the title. Eventually, content like A Pirates Life expansion, which introduced a brilliant crossover between Sea of Thieves and Pirates of the Caribbean, attracted players back to the swashbuckling adventure. 

The resulting boost has turned the title into a wonderful cooperative experience to share with friends, earning it a spot on our list of the 10 best co-op games to play right now. It’s possible Rare hopes the game’s impressive sales numbers will swell as players look for games to share over the holidays, prompting a holiday offer. If you log in between now and Dec 29, you’ll get a complimentary emote titled All Together Now!


The Best Heroes And Villains Of 2021

deathloop review

A new year, a new slew of video game heroes and villains. This year had a lot of great stand-outs – from characters we met for the first time to old favorites. Narrowing down our favorites wasn’t easy, but after much deliberation, here are our top picks for the best heroes and villains of 2021. 

Please note: Neither list is ordered, so just because one character comes before or after another doesn’t mean we consider them better or worse in any way.


Ethan Winters – Resident Evil Village

The best horror protagonists are relatable; people who find their circumstances both as terrifying and hard-to-believe as we would in the same situation. This is what makes Ethan Winters such a good lead in the two Resident Evil games he’s starred in – Resident Evil 7: Biohazard and this year’s excellent Resident Evil Village. 

Ethan is completely beside himself with his surroundings compared to other Resident Evil protagonists – who often have more in common with the Terminator than Laurie Strode*. Throughout the runtime of Village, he’s disgusted, horrified, and sometimes even annoyed with all the bad happening to him and others. When first confronted by a pack of werewolves in the game’s opening, Ethan is relatably scared out of his wits. When he’s stalked mercilessly by Lady Dimitrescu (see below) through her impossibly large castle, he runs away and hides. When the end of the game rolls around, Ethan feels exasperated and annoyed, completely over the horror he seemingly will never escape. 

For a game as horrific as Village, Ethan’s relatability grounds the game’s scares. We see how we, too, would likely react in similar situations through his reactions. While he might not be the most interesting or charismatic character on this list, he is at least a character we can see ourselves through. 

Alex Chen – Life Is Strange: True Colors

Alex Chen is empathy personified. Which sounds a bit on the nose typing it out, but somehow, Life Is Strange: True Colors pulls this off. 

We were wowed by actress Erika Mori’s performance of Alex, the latest in a long line of great Life is Strange protagonists. Mori’s believable and human portrayal allowed us to fit into Alex’s world – easily allowing us to relate to her, care about her wellbeing, and want to make decisions that worked best for her future. Her humor and charm were simply the cherries on top. 

Alex is one of the best heroes of the year because her power of empathy helps us to care about others in this game world – helping us as the player to relate, sympathize, and work for a better future in this universe. 

Razputin “Raz” Acquatto – Psychonauts 2

Of all the characters on this list, Razputin “Raz” Acquatto might be the purest of heart. At his core, Raz is a kid that just wants to help people – even if he often fumbles along the way.

Raz is a welcome change of pace compared to most characters in big-budget, first-party-developed video games. Especially up against one of Microsoft’s other main characters from this year, Master Chief – who while acting nobly as determined by the fiction, is still killing scores of people – Raz’s playful innocence and tendency to question the world around him in a way that doesn’t require loss of life and limb is a wonderful breath of fresh air. 

Raz’s writing by Tim Schafer, founder of developer Double Fine Productions, brings a healthy dose of humanity to the character. He is passionate and naive in equal measure, the same way most 10-year-old kids are. While Schafer being the sole writer on Psycnoanuts 2 does tend to feel pretty one-note after enough hours, the care and thought put into its protagonist shouldn’t go understated; Schafer excellently walks a tightrope between making Raz the character we remember from 2005’s original Psychonauts while updating him for 2021 sensibilities. 

In a year full of new games for legacy characters – Ratchet and Clank and the aforementioned Master Chief, to name a few – Raz stands out as one of the freshest video game characters of the year.

Kit – Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart

At the very least, Kit is the most adorable character of the year. But that’s selling this robot a bit short. In a game full of great characters – including but not limited to long-time fan-favorites Ratchet and Clank – Kit stands out for her unique approach to the game’s world, selflessness in the face of danger, and ability to bring people back together from the brink of collapse. 

Though Kit’s past is marred by tragedy, and her present colored by depression, by the time credits roll on Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, she’s gone through a whole hero’s journey, coming out the other end a new, self-confident, and sure-of-herself robot. We hope to see more of her in future Ratchet & Clank games, because not only is she one of the best characters of 2021, she’s the best character the series has had in years. 

Colt Vahn – Deathloop

It hasn’t been Colt Vahn’s day – for a couple years. What’s a couple more? Trapped in a timeloop, asked to complete a near-impossible task – kill eight targets within 24 hours or repeat the same day – this poor man just wants to go home. But whine as he might, until his job is done, he’s doomed to repeat the same cycle over again. 

Not too unlike Ethan Winters above, Colt** works as a character mainly because he’s relatable given his in-game circumstances. Deathloop makes no bones about the fact being trapped in a timeloop would suck, and Colt perfectly captures how we all might react to repeating the same day ad infinitum – with anger, annoyance, and confusion. 

All of this is lifted entirely by voice actor Jason E. Kelley, who turns in one of the best performances of the year as Colt. Funny, sarcastic, charming, and occasionally mean, Kelley seamlessly transitions between Colt’s various emotions as Deathloop goes on, giving him depth and personality. Tack on the game’s excellent writing, and you have an easy pick for one of the best characters of the year.


Lady Dimitrescu – Resident Evil Village

There are two huge reasons the internet adhered itself to Resident Evil Village’s Lady Dimitrescu earlier this year. One was, simply put, her looks. She’s hot. The other was the way she wielded her sexuality in a way that was both seductive and terrifying. She’s the type of character you can’t help but find yourself drawn to despite your fear – but by then, it’s much too late. 

Though she’s only in a handful of hours, Lady D, as the internet likes to call her, is the standout antagonist of Village’s cast. Functioning near-identically to the ever-stalking Mr. X in the Resident Evil 2 remake, Lady D constantly stalks protagonist Ethan Winters, and by extension, us the player, as he tries to find his way through and out of her castle. Toying with our fear, insulting our intelligence, and most memorably, mutilating our bodies, she proves beyond a shadow of a doubt who’s in control in this situation. 

And yet, despite this, Lady D is a character the internet has proved itself infatuated with. Before Village was even released, fanart and cosplay flooded the internet. As did a slew of tweets expressing how much the sender wanted Lady D to enact her violent and terrifying means of cruelty on themselves. By the time the game came out, Lady D – excellently portrayed by actress Maggie Robertson – seemed to acknowledge the internet’s thirst for her; playing her character menacingly, sure, but also flirtatiously and seductively. Add on a character design that leaves little to the imagination, and you have a sure-fire way to get the internet’s attention.  

It’s hard to think of any other character in 2021 that so captured the video game zeitgeist – especially one so unimaginably cruel. And for that, we can’t think of anyone better to give our top acknowledgments.

Jean Baptiste – No More Heroes III

After returning to Earth and reuniting with his human companion, the fluffy, adorable alien we met in No More Heroes III’s opening moments called FU reveals himself to be a smarmy a—— galactic prince known as Jess Baptiste VI. Now that he’s all grown up, Jess isn’t just back to visit his now mega-rich CEO friend Damon but to conquer the planet with his gang of space cronies in vile and violent ways.

Jess Baptiste VI is immature, vindictive, surly, and will send his own friends to die at the blade of Travis Touchdown before getting his hands dirty. Despite his offputting nature, FU does have a heart for those close to him, often treating his comrades to a final meal before delivering them to their grizzly fate. These quiet moments bring some surprising depth to the evil prince and his short-lived subordinates. No More Heroes III is a game with many problems, but its colorful villain does plenty to drive players through the galactic assassin ranks to see his eventual bitter end.

Leshy – Inscryption 

Inscryption is host to a family of great villains, but to even discuss most of them would spoil what makes the game so great in the first place. One villain, however, is met almost immediately upon starting the part-deck-builder, part-escape room-thriller, and that’s Leshy. 

Leshy begins as ostensibly an adversary wanting to play cards with you. Lose a couple of matches, and you’ll discover he’s much more than that. Sure, he wants to play cards, but he also wants to watch you carve your own eye out just to defeat him, too. 

He also expects you to play through his roguelike card game over and over until you can rise above all of its unfair rules and best the creepy old man that is Leshy once and for all. Not only does he feature some great villain highlights – he’s a scary elderly man, absolutely out of his mind, intent on watching you endure pain, and unwilling to let you leave his forest cabin – he’s also someone with more depth than one might perceive at first. Without spoiling what you might experience in Inscryption, Leshy will appear in ways that will surprise you. His ability to keep us on our toes through the game’s 12-hour journey, while also maintaining a sickly grin through it all, is what makes him one of this year’s best and most memorable villains. 

Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury

Kaiju Bowser – Bowser’s Fury

One of the most surprising games of 2021 might have been Bowser’s Fury – a new pack-in game with the Switch re-release of Super Mario 3D World. And one of the most surprising things about Bowser’s Fury might just be that it has one of the best villains of the year. 

The Bowser of Bowser’s Fury is more or less the Koopa we’ve known for decades, but this time he’s really big. Like, really, really big. Kaiju-level big. 

Compared to other villains on this list, Bowser might seem like a boring pick. But in terms of Bowser’s Fury, the monster’s constant threat, ability to impede progress, and uncanny ability to start a fight created a Mario experience we hadn’t seen before – one where danger was unexpected and menacing. 

And let’s not avoid the elephant in the room here. One of our favorite things about Big Bowser was that it gave us the chance to also play as Kaiju Mario in a cute little cat outfit. 

Julianna Blake – Deathloop

Deathloop’s Julianna Blake is a great case of a villain not taking themselves too seriously. Sure, she takes her cause seriously – stop Colt from breaking the loop – but she’s not constantly monologuing about her mission. She’s having fun, reveling in the twisted rules of the game’s world, and poking fun at Colt every chance she gets. In that sense, it may be more accurate to call her Deathloop’s greatest foil, rather than antagonist***. 

While Deathloop is by no means a dour game, Julianna’s writing stands out as some of the game’s most consistently funny. Portrayed by actress Ozioma Akagha, coupled with the aforementioned performance by Jason E. Kelley, Julianna’s constant banter with Colt brings life to both characters – highlighting their personalities, oppositions, beliefs, and even senses of humor. When the game finally plays its hand, exposing the truth behind the two’s relationship, the revelation adds a new sense of gravity to a lot of the conversations you’ve heard throughout Deathloop. 

Julianna has charisma and charm; she’s funny and easily likable. She’s also not inherently evil. And while that may make her a bit of an outlier in a “Best Villains” list, of the video game characters we met in 2021, she stands out as one of our favorites to go up against. 

*While writing this, I realized that Laurie Strode has more in common these days with the Terminator than she does her humble beginnings as a scared teenager in the original Halloween. This is largely why the 2018 Halloween reboot is a terrible movie – though by no means is it the only reason. 

What makes Laurie such an iconic character in the 1978 film is her complete lack of control; faced by the always-present, always-stalking Michael Myers, she has no choice but to hide, scream, and cry. By the end, when she does fight back, her victory over Myers feels more like a lucky break than any heroic good deed. 

But when we meet Laurie in the 2018 reboot, inexplicably, she has undergone firearms training akin to a military member and somehow fortified her tiny house with enough protection to make Fort Knox blush. None of this makes sense considering the movie paints her as an alcoholic that can’t hold a job or her life together – which, it’s worth pointing out, is handled with as much taste and class as a wrecking ball, perpetuating harmful stereotypes about addiction. 

Anyways, let this annotation serve to remind the reader that I solely mean Laurie’s characterization in the original Halloween movie.  

**Depending on how you look at Deathloop, there’s a fair read that Colt is actually the villain and Julianna is the hero. Even then, it might be safer to consider them both morally ambiguous. Both act for selfish and noble reasons, and their disparate causes directly clash with each other. In other words, in Julianna’s world, she is the hero, and Colt is the villain. In Colt’s world, vice versa. 

*** See note above.  


Xbox’s January Games With Gold Features Futuristic Titles

New year, new Games with Gold lineup, and this upcoming month’s titles all seem to have a theme. We are looking forward and backward with a slew of games that run the gamut from ultra-futuristic to retro-futuristic. Come January, Xbox owners with Xbox Live Gold membership or that subscribe to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate will be able to grab the titles listed below for free:

  • NeuroVoider: Available January 1 to 31
  • Aground: Available January 16 to February 15
  • Radiant Silvergun: Available January 1 to 15
  • Space Invaders Infinity Gene: Available January 16 to 31

As usual, the games are only available for a limited time, so make sure you catch anything you are interested in before it leaves the service. The first up on the list is NeuroVoider, a twin-shooter RPG that sets waves of robotic baddies after you. You’ll have to take each of them down to end the neverending war that’s been tearing up the cyber futuristic world. Coming in the same window as NeuroVoider during the first half of the month is Radiant Silvergun. The vertical scrolling shoot ’em up was first released in 1998 but has been shined up for modern players.

In the back half of the month, players will be able to pick up Aground and Space Invaders Infinity Gene. The second title, a fresh twist on the well-known Space Invaders franchise, is only available until the end of January, so pick it up as soon as you can. However, Aground, a game focused on building and crafting set amongst the stars, will be available until the middle of February. 

While the end of the year is fast approaching, we still have a little bit more time left in December. So, if you have not picked up last month’s Games with Gold, you can pick those up now. This month’s free titles included The Escapists 2, Tropico 5: Penultimate Edition, Orcs Must Die, and Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet. There are some good titles in there, so don’t miss out if you have Xbox Live Gold or Xbox Game Pass Ultimate.

What do you think about 2022’s opening Games with Gold? Let us know in the comments below. 


Horizon Forbidden West Cover Reveal And Editor Top 10 Lists | GI Show

Click to watch embedded media

Happy holidays from The Game Informer Show! We’re bringing the holiday cheer and taking a deep dive into everything we learned about Horizon Forbidden West as part of our latest cover trip. After that, we bring on a huge rotating crew of GI editors to talk about their favorite games of the year, including Halo Infinite, Metroid Dread, and so much more! As always, we finish another bumping show with a fun round of Listener Questions, this time with a festive theme.

Follow the crew on Twitter: Alex Stadnik (@Studnik76), Alex Van Aken (@itsVanAken), Marcus Stewart (@MarcusStewart7), Kimberley Wallace (@kstar1785), Dan Tack (@dantack), Ben Reeves (@BenjaminReeves), Wesley LeBlanc (@LeBlancWes), and Blake Hester (@metallicaisrad)

The Game Informer Show is a weekly gaming podcast covering the latest video game news, industry topics, exclusive reveals, and reviews. Join hosts Alex Stadnik and Alex Van Aken every Thursday to chat about your favorite games – past and present – with Game Informer staff, developers, and special guests from all around the industry. Listen on Apple PodcastsSpotify, or your favorite podcast app.

Check out the timestamps below to jump to a particular point in the discussion:

00:00:00 – Introduction
00:02:58 – Horizon Forbidden West Cover
00:25:23 – GI Editor Top 10 Lists
00:25:57 – Marcus Stewart’s Top 10
00:39:55 – Kim Wallace’s Top 10
00:53:41 – Ben Reeves’ Top 10
01:09:53 – Blake Hester’s Top 10
01:26:16 – Dan Tack’s Top 10
01:41:38 – Wes LeBlanc’s Top 10
01:52:23 – Housekeeping
01:56:12 – Listener Questions

Topic Of The Show:

Horizon Forbidden West Cover Reveal

Horizon Forbidden West is this month’s cover story and we’re going big on today’s episode of the podcast. Join the Alexes as they bring on Kimberely “Kstar” Wallace and Marcus Stewart to regale us about the time they spent with developer Guerrilla Games! The two go over all the new features they saw, including discussions of the new mechanical monstrosities Aloy will be fighting, what’s going on since the original game, and so much more. We also go over the game’s new crafting system and how it weaves more heavily into the different armor Aloy will dawn in Forbidden West. If you’re excited about Guerrilla’s next game, this is one you won’t want to miss!

Check out our Horizon cover reveal here

Editor Top 10 Lists:

We’re breaking down our favorite games of 2021!

The year is finally coming to a close, but that doesn’t mean we’re done talking about how many amazing games there are! We’re bringing a huge rotating cast of GI characters, including Marcus, Kim, Reeves, Tack, and Blake, to talk about how they ranked tremendous titles such as Resident Evil Village, Metroid Dread, and a ton more. Did we all agree on Halo Infinite as Game of the Year 2021? Does Tack have some games on his list that no one has heard of? You’ll just have to tune in to find out!

Check out our official Game Informer Top 10 here

Listener Questions:

The Game Informer crew answers your burning questions.

We’ve got a festive round of Listener Questions for your enjoyment, and this week we’re chopping it up about what games we’d give loved ones for Christmas and what our favorite holiday memory entails.

Read their questions below, or submit your own via the Official Game Informer Community Discord or by emailing us at Podcast@GameInformer.com:

Hey GI crew! With Christmas almost here, what game from this year would you gift, and why? Was it your favorite game of the year, or a more meaningful/ emotional game, or one you think everyone should play and experience? – AFireOutside (Discord)
What was your favorite video game-related Christmas/holiday gift? I was a wee lad when I got a Game Informer with X-Men Legends inside it. I played that game for years and still have some of my favorite co-op game memories. – Derek (discord)

For more Game Informer podcasts, be sure to check out https://www.gameinformer.com/podcast/2021/10/12/introducing-video-gameo…; delay=”150″ href=”https://www.gameinformer.com/podcast/2021/10/12/introducing-video-gameo…; rel=”noopener noreferrer” tabindex=”-1″ target=”_blank”>Video Gameography, our video game history podcast, and https://www.gameinformer.com/podcast/2021/10/06/introducing-all-things-…; delay=”150″ href=”https://www.gameinformer.com/podcast/2021/10/06/introducing-all-things-…; rel=”noopener noreferrer” tabindex=”-1″ target=”_blank”>All Things Nintendo with host Brian Shea which deep dives into Nintendo’s library of games every week.


Xbox’s January Games With Gold Features Futuristic Titles

New year, new Games with Gold lineup, and this upcoming month’s titles all seem to have a theme. We are looking forward and backward with a slew of games that run the gamut from ultra-futuristic to retro-futuristic. Come January, Xbox owners with Xbox Live Gold membership or that subscribe to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate will be able to grab the titles listed below for free:

  • NeuroVoider: Available January 1 to 31
  • Aground: Available January 16 to February 15
  • Radiant Silvergun: Available January 1 to 15
  • Space Invaders Infinity Gene: Available January 16 to 31

As usual, the games are only available for a limited time, so make sure you catch anything you are interested in before it leaves the service. The first up on the list is NeuroVoider, a twin-shooter RPG that sets waves of robotic baddies after you. You’ll have to take each of them down to end the neverending war that’s been tearing up the cyber futuristic world. Coming in the same window as NeuroVoider during the first half of the month is Radiant Silvergun. The vertical scrolling shoot ’em up was first released in 1998 but has been shined up for modern players.

In the back half of the month, players will be able to pick up Aground and Space Invaders Infinity Gene. The second title, a fresh twist on the well-known Space Invaders franchise, is only available until the end of January, so pick it up as soon as you can. However, Aground, a game focused on building and crafting set amongst the stars, will be available until the middle of February. 

While the end of the year is fast approaching, we still have a little bit more time left in December. So, if you have not picked up last month’s Games with Gold, you can pick those up now. This month’s free titles included The Escapists 2, Tropico 5: Penultimate Edition, Orcs Must Die, and Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet. There are some good titles in there, so don’t miss out if you have Xbox Live Gold or Xbox Game Pass Ultimate.

What do you think about 2022’s opening Games with Gold? Let us know in the comments below. 


New Uncharted Movie Trailer Reveals Sully’s Signature Mustache

Click here to watch embedded media

The new Uncharted film is only months away and we just got a brand new trailer to pick apart. Much of the footage isn’t new, following the first trailer that was released back in October pretty closely. However, this new look at the upcoming adaptation does give us a few fresh tidbits, including a little more backstory on Moncada, the movie’s antagonist played by Antonio Banderas. It seems, his family did more than search for the unbelievable fortune central to the story, they found it but were then betrayed. We’ll have to see how this ties into Nathan Drake (played by Tom Holland) and Victor “Sully” Sullivan’s (played by Mark Wahlberg) plans to recover the glittering treasure. 

One of the biggest reveals of the trailer came at the end when we get our first glimpse of Sully in the film with his characteristic mustache. In the games, Sully’s facial hair is one of his defining features, and one that Uncharted fans immediately noticed was missing in early character reveals. While it felt strange to see the mentor without it, the change made some sense considering this movie takes place before the Naughty Dog series. However, it looks like Sully won’t stay clean-shaven throughout the whole film, and you can check out the reveal, along with the rest of the new details in the trailer above. 

Sony Entertainment Picture’s Uncharted will release in theatres on February 18. Recent posters found on Fandango showcase some pirate-worthy imagery, of which we see more in today’s trailer. This led some to believe that the upcoming movie may have ties to Uncharted 4: A Theif’s End, which features a graveyard of similar-looking vessels. However, it’s hard to tell exactly what connections we will see between the games and the upcoming adaptation. There’s only two more months until we find out. 


Best RPG 2021 – Tales of Arise

Every long-running series has its turning points, times that demand reinvigoration and forward-thinking. Tales of Arise was Bandai Namco’s opportunity to enact meaningful change and enter a new console generation soaring. The developers didn’t let the opportunity pass by, rising to the challenge and breaking franchise sales records in the process. Tales of Arise took interesting risks and made smart improvements, resulting in a fantastic RPG full of endearing characters, intense battles, and rewarding exploration.

In its 26-year run, the Tales series has always had a passionate fanbase, but Tales of Arise helped expand the franchise’s reach and elevate its established formula to make it one of the best entries in years. While retaining the series’ essence, Bandai Namco brought in a new visual style, more strategic combat, and a mature story about warring nations. The latter especially made its mark for how it tackled socio-political issues, like racism, authoritarianism, and mental illness. Read more…


Telltale Games, Currently Developing The Wolf Among Us 2, Shares 2022 Plans

It’s been just around two years since Telltale Games announced its return. Populated by some of the former studio’s staff and led by a new team, the company announced a follow-up to The Wolf Among Us during The Game Awards 2019. Then things seemed to go quiet, leading many to speculate on how the newly reformed studio was doing. However, Telltale has recently been very vocal about the status of its projects and the studio itself. This most recent post from Telltale’s official Twitter account runs down a list of the studio’s recent milestones and what it hopes to achieve in the near future. It begins, “Telltale is back.” Then the post moves on to assure readers that the company, while trying to stay true to the Telltale legacy, is changing things up and steering clear of the problems that plagued the original studio.

Perhaps the most eye-catching part of the message comes near the end, in the section detailing what comes next. It seems like we will be hearing more about The Wolf Among Us 2 soon. As you can read below, the post states the team will be ready to reveal more news “early next year when we can go deeper into things.”


While we are excited to hear news about Telltale’s upcoming sequel, the studio has more projects on the horizon. Announced just weeks ago at The Game Awards, The Expanse: A Telltale Series will be an adaptation of the popular Amazon TV show and is being co-developed with Life is Strange: True Colors studio Deck Nine. The two developers have a strong storytelling history, giving us a lot to look forward to in the title. 


Where I Found Humanity Inside Inscryption

I’ve been pretty open about this recently, but a few years ago, there was a time when I was feeling overwhelmingly lonely. My days at work were mostly spent alone in a dark projection booth above a corporate auditorium. To spice up my evenings and force some human interaction on myself, I started playing Magic: The Gathering at a local game shop. I spent multiple days a week there, learning how to draft, build decks, and catch onto the lingo and language of the game. Slowly, I incorporated myself into the small group of regulars, and day by day, I felt less alone.

While shuffling decks and slinging spells against these new acquaintances, I noticed shared mannerisms and social archetypes people took on within my little corner of the Magic community. Let me tell you how pleasantly surprised I was finding similar traits engrained within Inscryption’s pantheon of four Scrybes. Daniel Mullins, the developer of Inscryption, obviously knows card games and their culture. That knowledge is coded in every aspect of his game, and it’s that care and attention to detail I’m most fond of. Before I get into more details, be warned that I will divulge some Inscryption story spoilers from here on out. I’d encourage you to come back after finishing the game or stay if you don’t mind knowing.

In my initial weeks grinding out games in sealed and draft tournaments, I was always happy to meet a player like Inscryption’s initial Scrybe, Leshy. He’s an intimidating veteran who’s welcoming enough to show new players the ropes but won’t hold back from using his advanced knowledge of the game against you. He’s quiet and patient while waiting for a play to be made, sometimes with some finger taps on the table akin to someone killing time as many real-world players would. I could imagine seeing him flick and shuffle his cards in hand if the room was adequately lit. Being a seasoned veteran of the game, Leshy is quick to catch the golden teeth rewarded for overflow damage, already calculating the amount needed before the lethal strike hit. No matter how bad players like Leshy may trounce newcomers, there’s always knowledge to be shared or nuanced strategies to teach after a match.

P03, on the other hand, is the player at the draft table who will let anyone in earshot know what he thinks is wrong with the game. Sitting next to P03 would possibly result in remarks on your plays despite being unwanted nor warranted feedback. We see this trait in the robotic fiend’s card form, introduced early on, trapped within the lowly Stoat card. P03 will make sure to let you know on any given turn whether he’s used correctly, often chiming in to provide verbal jabs at your decisions. Whether he’s right or wrong is irrelevant, but he does make you second guess good moves from time to time.

When P03 gains control of Inscryption and inserts you into his Dark Souls-like cyber adventure, he’s constantly pushing and insisting this version of the game is more impressive than those you’ve experienced before. However, this level of know-it-all attitude is more commonly found online than in a card shop. While he’s annoying and somewhat aggressive in his plight to show you the idyllic version of Inscryption, P03 does have good, valid ideas on how the game can mechanically improve. Like many players, including myself, he just needs to find a better way to communicate those thoughts and ideas, so others are more likely to listen and engage with them in a meaningful way.

After the climactic events of Inscryption are triggered, you’re provided some final moments with three of the Scrybes, sitting across from you to enjoy their last turns of the game they love to play. Leshy, Grimora, and Magnificus continue to play while pieces of the game dissolve away, insisting on continuing even when the scale-keeping score vanishes. Winning doesn’t matter at this point. Instead, the act of playing any semblance of the game is more than enough. In the end, each Scrybe reaches out their hand to show respect and a sign of sportsmanship.

Like them, nearly every card game player I’ve met in person has shown similar respect not just for the game but for the person willing to join them at the table to play. It’s one of the reasons I still enjoy making it to my preferred store and playing in person. The experience of dueling with some digital avatar online pales in comparison to the fun and mutual joy I share with the person sitting in front of me. I’ve sincerely missed those opportunities over the past 18 months. I was lucky enough to play paper Magic a few times over the summer, but those opportunities are once again few and far between. Hopefully, one day soon, we can safely gather regularly to enjoy each other’s company and the games we cherish playing together yet again.