It’s time to look back at the gaming year, now on Game Pass for Xbox Series, S, and PC. There are so many beautiful, innovative, visually stunning, or just emotional, sentimental, sweet, or sometimes brave pieces that one can catch up on in winter. If you have Xbox Game Pass, you can play for free.
Strategy Game of the Year: Age of Empires 4
Age of Empires 4 is our strategy game of the year because it expands its core DNA meaningfully but feels like one of the best RTS games ever made: Age of Empires 2. It’s also the most crucial game of the year regarding gaming policy, as it shows how important it is as a platform. Most importantly, it’s The foundation of a good RTS game. Boosting the economy, balancing defense and offense, and preparing for and following up on sieges and battles make this genre extensive and exciting. There could be more, like more variety in fort buildings (catapults and ballistas can only move, they can’t be stationed on towers like in a fortress). Too many studios in recent years have gone crazy trying to innovate into beloved series, and it’s not working – I think every strategy studio out there thinks it’s a good idea to get rid of base building. Still, Remedy is already working on something new and controllable Balance and the French were too strong at launch. Microsoft is now back.
The effort has paid off—Microsoft hasn’t released Game Pass numbers, but about 60,000 people play games on Steam every day. Who knows, maybe someone at Electronic Arts will see this and think to himself: Well, we’ve got two more extensive series gathering dust somewhere in the closet, and we used to make a lot of money with it. Money: Command & Conquer it re-released in 2008 with the highlights of Red Alert 3 and then died in brutal Free2Play death. And Battle for Middle-earth 3. Hey, you can sit down with Amazon here, and they’re sure to fund a new spinoff of the wildly popular series to push their own Lord of the Rings franchise. At $1 billion, it will be the most expensive series ever and is said to revolve around the young Aragon of the First Age.
Xbox Shooter of the Year: Halo Infinite
Halo Infinite has more wit, more ideas, and says “yes, you can” when you want to attack from the air. Using a grab gun, we pulled the pilot out of the banshee, sat down by ourselves, and the air defense system couldn’t directly identify us. Or we run up a hill, jump over a tower on a quad bike, and takedown snipers in the air like Vin Diesel, aka the Triple X heyday. The story is emotionally written, and the action is brutal. The Master Chief serves as a comforter, a fighting machine, in the new Halo universe that will be expanded next year: with co-op, a forge editor, and new scenarios. We wish for snowy mountains or deserts, with more unknown companions and vehicles. Halo Infinite meets Red Dead Redemption 2. What about the elements in Halo Wars 2? The UNSC base we post online is under constant attack, but building walls, guns, and artillery here make sense. It would be great if we could better equip our Marines and make them a loyal army that can also use vehicles on its own. Kind of like recycling Zeta Halo.
The most beautiful and technically impressive game of the year: Microsoft Flight Simulator
There are a lot of visually stunning games this year, and Forza Horizon 5 deserves that spot, but let’s be honest: the most impressive title from a technical point of view is Microsoft Flight Simulator. Beautiful Sunset, Brutal hurricanes, every location is based on actual weather data. It’s insane—an incredible technical feat. You can travel the world like Santa in winter, with snow in the garden but no Christmas market in Corona times. Short and sweet, I like to enjoy the sea of lights in Singapore. Or fly the Munich-New York route in real time, taking eight to nine hours. In all the flight modes you know, the A380, the Boeing 747, and smaller models, sometimes it rattles because the lighter the plane, the more it vibrates in weather conditions. More and more models came in, and in each case, the cockpit was based on the manufacturer’s 3D model. Thanks for the updates. More and more, there are also real “oldies, but oldies.”
Whoever flew in the Douglas D-6, the troop carrier developed initially for American paratroopers and one of the first civilian aircraft in the postwar world? Hardly anyone, if only in a museum, is possible here. We can quickly enter the origin and destination on the world map, so we don’t have to go halfway around the world to enjoy Tokyo’s sea of lights at night. However, if you want to fly the entire route from Los Angeles to Tokyo in real time, you can do that. Impressive: We can set the weather individually, including cloud position, rainfall, and storm intensity, or switch to real-time weather data. Then the climate in the virtual cockpit is the same as when we fly this route in reality. As a LEGO fan, this is what you love to do. Go to Africa towards the sun. Or go to the North Pole and help the elves make Christmas Eve toys.
Catch-Up Loser of the Year: Outriders
Riders have a lot of good ideas, but for the April 2021 price tag of 70 euros, 3A is not enough. Not as polished, well-written, and perfectly staged as you might think, but there are a lot of mechanics that are just fun. It’s fair to say that Gears of War meets The Division 3 with Mass Effect 5 magic. With anomalous storms, EMP grenades, and the stasis ability we use to throw troops into the air. A con man who can teleport himself or activate slow motion to let him dodge bullets through Neo – “Everything old is new” is back for 2021, and Matrix Resurrections wants to be this year’s Christmas movie, set to hit theaters on December 23rd. Or the Destroyer, who shoots spikes from the ground. If you like something more creative and edgy than the classic Call of Duty formula,
Most Underrated Game of the Year: Marvel’s Avengers: Battle for Wakanda
Marvel’s Avengers is one of the victims of YouTube’s hate mob, and it seems to pick a new victim every month, and the hate train rolls over them until it barely twitches. Because actually, it was a great campaign. Multiplayer is just mediocre. It is just collecting loot in normal levels – like Destiny in the Marvel Universe, but some people will like that too. But this event is good. Nolan North plays Nathan Drake in Uncharted, playing the role of Robert Downey Jr. Tony Stark. Troy Baker (who played his brother in Uncharted 4) plays Captain America.
It’s a single-player game that brings exciting nuances to the MCU, games are classics, after all, and it gives us access to worlds we wish we spent more time in – a game set in Wakanda? We are at. Wakanda is astounding with its magnificent palaces, African flair, culture, and religion. Of course, Black Panther also invited his buddies Captain America and Iron Man. If it’s on Game Pass, try it again – the creators of Crystal Dynamics’ Tomb Raider put so much work into this creation that they deserve some love this holiday season.
Most Extraordinary RPG of the Year: Cyborg
If you want to play a crazy RPG in a well-designed world, you have to have Biomutant to play. It’s a bit like the happy raccoons from Assassin’s Creed’s Guardians of the Galaxy, in a world where there’s nothing: slime monsters, who would otherwise be captured by the Ghostbusters, selling ice cream in their mobile ice cream truck. We visited the Ewoks in the forest who ran around in their pajamas, carnivorous plants, and raccoons in general’s armor, leading the entire raccoon army. Dinosaur-like creatures and ogres in knight armor, crickets with mechanical legs, and many different biomes. Everything about this game is pretty crazy, and it draws a lot of charm from it: we ride the robotic hand of a robot that’s looking for it.
Then fight inaccurate Robo like Saber Rider and Star Sheriffs, and we can entirely level up. And airships, gunboats, motorboats. We don’t know why, but Biomutant hasn’t caught on with gamers, so you should catch up. Rarely do we experience a world so well-designed and self-coherent. Kind of like The Lord of the Rings’ army of raccoons who took their job very seriously and outfitted the medieval fort with modern equipment like automatic machine guns. But somehow, Zelda’s look and feel are akin to God of War boss fights and Max Payne’s bullet time. It doesn’t get any crazier. It’s also very well written and plays fast.