DrLitch seems to know what’s up! Lol. I’ve played a ton of retro stuff this generation, so staying 100% on top of the current big releases has been tough. But I’ve still played a lot of excellent games this gen, so let’s talk:
HORIZON: ZERO DAWN is quite simply one of the best games in Sony’s first party catalogue. Ever. People love to hate on them, but I actually enjoyed the Killzone series, particularly 2 and 3. But even as a fan I was skeptical that the team at Guerilla could transition their skills from a linear FPS series to an open world Western RPG. They. Crushed. It. How good is it? By the time I was near completion (Game + Frozen Wilds) I though, “I’ve gotta be at 45 hours total. Maybe even 50.” It was 95 hours. That’s the only time in my gaming history I’ve played a single player game so long that didn’t have “Persona” in the title. Speaking of which...
PERSONA 5 is a dark horse candidate for Game of the Generation, but should absolutely be in that conversation. I Am Thou, Thou Art I. Everything is a little more streamlined; it’s welcoming to new players and will still satisfy vets. The Shin Megami Tensei patented “Press Turn” system is it’s most fleshed out here, it’s faster than ever before, guns return (1st time since Persona 1), and it’s easier than ever to tell what magic attack can start combo (probably makes the game a little TOO easy, tbh). Amazing characters, immersive world, fun dialogue (too much dialogue???), meaningful social links, the best dungeons in SMT history... Oh! And it’s probably the most stylish game ever made. Just FYI.
NIER AUTOMATA... yep. People are probably getting sick of me talking about this game. I’ll be to the point: this game has the greatest soundtrack I’ve ever heard and tells the best story I’ve ever experienced. The graphics are gorgeous, the characters are as quirky and Japanese as you can be (apologies to Persona), and running through the war-torn cities is surreal (though it had some technical hiccups on PC/base PS4 but are more or less eliminated with the PS4 Pro/XBox One X). The game has 26 ENDINGS, but 22 of them are jokes (death by... bad fish?), which highlights how effortlessly the game transitions from world ending catastrophe to not taking itself too seriously. The story will fill your heart one moment and rip it out of your chest the next. And once you reach the end, be prepared to have the story race through your mind for the next few MONTHS. If you never listen to another suggestion I make on this board, hear this: NieR: Automata is one of the greatest video games ever made. It’s my choice for Game of the Generation and in my Top 3 games of all time. For the glory of mankind, indeed.
ZELDA: BREATH OF THE WILD may not be the greatest game ever made like many on the interwebs claim, it’s still a crowning achievement by Nintendo and a modern masterpiece. Face it; even if you love the series, the 3D entries were becoming derivative. Nintendo did something they haven’t done in their software for a long, long time. They took a risk. Gone was the Navi-esque guide, gone was the somewhat linear progression. Even the narrative was slashed so you could focus on the playground. You’re left with a beautiful, challenging world with dungeons of varying size and scope that can be tackled in any order you like. This one obviously isn’t a surprise on a list like this, but it deserves its accolades. It’s the second best Zelda after A Link to the Past.
GOD OF WAR - Act surprised for this one. In my humble opinion, God of War has been one of gaming’s most consistently excellent series. Every entry had unrivaled set pieces and impossible boss fights. Atmosphere, beautiful visuals and solid combat. The problem? Derivation. The were all excellent, but also all basically the same game. Same perspective, same mythology, same anger, same graphical style, same COMBAT... remember “press square, square, triangle to win???” All of it’s changed here and it’s for the better. For all the hubbub of the previous entries’ over the top violence and sex mini games being “adult,” this is the entry where the series *actually* grew up. I won’t say more about the game. I’ll just leave it at this: play one of the finest action games ever. You deserve it.
Though my love for Half-Life 2 may prevent any game game from claiming the title of GOAT in its genre, DOOM (2016) is probably the greatest First Person Shooter of all time. Sometimes to move forward, you have to go back to the Past. Doom 2016 is essentially Doom (1993) in a gorgeous, modern coat of paint. It’s wicked fast and smooth as glass. Every gun has weight and feels satisfying. Every enemy is both grotesque and comically ridiculous. It’s somehow the most violent game I’ve ever played and completely palatable. With modern touches like collectibles, upgrades, double jumping, verticality and GLORY KILLS, this game has to be seen to be believed.
RESIDENT EVIL VII is the shrewdest move Capcom has made with the series since RE4. Fans were over the moon about the possibility of “Silent Hills,” a collaboration between Hideo Kojima and Guillermo del Toro, famously teased in the free demo “P.T.” Then Konami happened. The game was cancelled, Kojima fired, and every ounce of fan good-will burned in the largest funeral pire modern gaming has seen. Capcom took all of that negative energy, bottled it up, flipped it upside down and poured it onto RE7. It’s a great game on its own, but the first person dilapidated hallways *have* to be experienced in VR, at least once. It succeeds where most horror games fail; it actually scared me. A lot.
Note: Bloodborne should be added to this list. Once I’m able to finish Spider-Man and Red Dead Redemtpion 2 my guess is they round out my Top 10 games of the generation. The Witcher 3 has potential to make it if I ever find the time, though WRPGs aren’t usually my bag.
Also consider: Mario Odyssey, Bayonetta 2, Ori and the Blind Forest, Yakuza 0, Gravity Rush Remastered/2, Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon, Shin Megami Tensei 4, The Evil Within (note: XBox One X eliminates most of its technical problems), Danganronpa 1 - 3, Steins;Gate, Odin Sphere: Leifthrasir, Titanfall 2, Detroit: Become Human, Uncharted 4 and Ys VIII.