Somehow we’ve made it to 2023, a glorious achievement for a species that seems completely intent on finding dumber and dumber ways to wipe themselves out. The last year had some pretty awesome games, though, with almost everyone getting at least one or two titles they could run home and bug their mum to buy. And the coming year looks like it’s going to be stacked with stuff to play.
Holy shit, it’s New Year. How the fuck did that happen? Another year has hurtled past my eyes like my dog running toward the muddiest puddle he can find, and like my dog it was kind of dirty and in dire need of a wash. At the ripe old age of 31 (stop sniggering) I’m beginning to appreciate the concept of time seeming to pass quicker and quicker. I hadn’t even got used to being 30 before my birthday snuck up on me like it was planning to sexually assault me in an alley.
After spending a year as a timed Playstation exclusive, while being owned by Microsoft, Deathloop has finally arrived on the Xbox, giving a whole new group of people the chance to discover the genius of Arkane.
Gamepass is already one hell of a value proposition, which is exactly why people continue to debate whether it actually earns Microsoft any profit or if it’s an unsustainable model kept afloat by Microsoft’s vast cash reserves. Either way, for us gamers it is an almost absurd deal. And in that absurdity is even more insane value: The Hitman Trilogy, combining the World of Assassination trilogy from IO Interactive into one massive package boasting 20 levels with some of the best replay value around. Even if you just play around once or twice in a level you could easily spend a few hours in it, but if you’re like me that just isn’t enough and dozens upon dozens of hours later you might finally wrap up your career as Hitman.
For months we’ve been hearing rumours and reading reports that Sony was going to be launching some kind of new service. Allegedly codenamed “Spartacus” the new service was heavily speculated to be Sony’s answer to Microsoft’s Game Pass, a subscription service boasting an absurdly huge library of games, including first-party titles, for one very low price. However, numerous people have claimed that Game Pass is not profitable and that Microsoft is actually losing money by offering the service, begging a simple question; would Sony really attempt something similar, especially since they aren’t even in the same financial ballpark as Microsoft?
With another year having tripped and fallen flat on its stupid face it’s time to round up the best games of the year, list style! Of course, my list here doesn’t have the same level of gravitas as the big names, but to be honest I love writing this at the end of every year, so here we are.
Let’s take a meander down the ruined street of memories to a console generation where grey and brown were the predominant colours. The Xbox 360 had been out for a year and was doing well for itself, with several games managing to shift over a million copies. As for me, I was finally looking to move on from my ageing Playstation 2 and join the new generation of consoles with their shiny graphics. As a PS2 owner, the PS3 was naturally tempting – I was familiar with the games already, after all, but the price tag was pretty hefty. The Xbox 360 looked great, but nothing on it stood out to me. And then Epic Games and Microsoft revealed their new game, Gears of War, and suddenly the choice was obvious. It turned out to be a good choice because the Xbox 360 era was glorious.
The Avengers heading to Xbox Game Pass was probably, to steal a phrase from Thanos, inevitable. It sold okay but struggled to make its development budget back, and its reception was rather lukewarm. Hell, my own review was hardly a glowing recommendation. But now that it’s on Game Pass? Well, Marvel’s The Avengers becomes a more enticing prospect. It may have found its true home. Time to suit up.
Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous beings with a daunting boss fight, the kind that makes mere mortals tremble in their boots. I’m not talking about some hulking beast, although one does turn up quite quickly – I’m talking about bewildering and terrifying character creation system with its legions of numbers and arcane terms. By the time the game starts proper I already feel like I’ve had my head kicked in by some demonic foe. In the game’s defence it explains everything in detail, it’s just that to a Pathfinder noob like me those details might as well be written in Latin. While the visual customization is quite limited, there’s approximately 25 different classes, along with sub-classes. There’s tons of feats and skills and abilities to choose from. In short, this CRPG where you control a party of six has a lot going on and is probably only going to be for the kind of people who can invest dozens and dozens of hours into playing it.
It’d be easy to recommend jumping into DOOM Eternal, the 2020 sequel to the 2016 reboot that amps up the action to even more insane levels and complicates the gameplay mechanics. Arguably, it’s the better game, and yet I can’t help but think there’s something a little more pure about DOOM 2016. And anyway, they’re both on Game Pass so why not start at the beginning?