The current generation of gaming has been an incredible time for players with video games being bigger than they have ever been before. Today, I’ve listed what I have narrowed down to my 5 favorite of the games offered on PS4, Xbox One, Switch, etc. These are not in any particular order, and may change as there are some excellent games released just a few months into 2019. We also have not received much news as to when the next-gen consoles will be released.
Far Cry 5 – I have lost track of approximately how many hours I’ve spent running around Hope County’s gorgeous landscape in the fight against the Eden’s Gate cult. I have completed the game a few times and seem to keep coming back with how much I enjoy the mayhem the inevitably seems to follow me wherever I go. The rush of chaos and explosions is some of the most satisfying I have ever played in a game. Far Cry 5 and the entire Far Cry series for that matter are essentially being tossed into an action movie from the 80’s. Side note – Far Cry: New Dawn was released a month ago and I highly recommend that as well.
Red Dead Redemption 2 – There isn’t much I can say for Red Dead Redemption 2 that hasn’t been said already. Rockstar’s open-world wild west masterpiece will be discussed and played for years to come. The game is a very heavy, slow burn that certainly pays off in the end. The story is very nuanced, with new detail that I notice every time I play it. The in-game environment is easily the most impressive I have ever seen, with a landscape truly seems alive. The game conveys desolation, loneliness and at times hopelessness as well as the beauty and brutal struggle of life in the Old West. This game is a bucket-list worthy experience for anyone.
Super Mario Odyssey – When Super Mario Odyssey was announced, I admit I was mildly skeptical. So…Mario is running around a metropolitan looking world inhabited by humans…and he’s throwing a hat on things to transform into them? I mean…that is pretty accurate, but I absolutely loved this game! The main story itself is a little on the short side, but I invested 90 hours into this game going through and collecting all 999 power moons and different outfits for Mario. This aspect of the game along with the heavy dashes of nostalgia is where the most memorable moments of the game were for me. Going through the different worlds and collecting all the power moons and purple coins was reminiscent of the old “collect-a-thon” games on the N64 that I spent my childhood years playing. Super Mario Odyssey was the most fun I had playing a Mario game since the first Super Mario Galaxy on the Wii.
Horizon: Zero Dawn – Giant. Robot. Dinosaurs. That’s all I really knew going into my first play through of Guerrilla Game’s newest ip Horizon: Zero Dawn. There is so much more to this game than what may be first apparent. The gameplay itself is as good as it gets for an open-world sandbox game. The hours flew by just exploring the post-catastrophe world with terrain from snowy mountains to lush green open areas to vast expanses of rocky arid desert. The story is great and protagonist Aloy is one of my new favorite game characters as she is looking for answers to the world’s history as well as her own. An excellent brand-new series entry in a crowded space of remakes and remasters.
God of War – Another game that doesn’t need much else said about it, the most recent(and best) entry in the God of War series is as good as gaming gets. Kratos’ journey this time taking place with his son Atreus at his side. The game is this time around set in Norse mythology rather than Greek. The journey Kratos and Atreus embark on is as much personal as physical, as the story deals with grief, loss and allowing yourself to move on. Game director Cory Barlog stated he wanted to create a more mature Kratos whose past still weighs heavily on him. Everything about this game is excellent, and showcases what games can do as an artistic medium. The only thing left to say is…”Boy!”
The Nintendo Switch was released two years ago on March 3 2017 and has been a huge success for Nintendo. The console has sold over 32 million units as of December 2018. Today I am going through some of my favorite things about the Switch as well as some that I really would like Nintendo to correct.
I remember being cautiously optimistic when Nintendo announced their newest console they would be releasing to follow up what most consider one of their biggest failures with the Wii U( the Virtual Boy still tops that list….). I thought the idea of a hybrid portable console sounded like an interesting idea. Nintendo has always had interesting ideas…but they haven’t always been the most practical, something that you would use on a consistent basis. The Wii was a very successful console, that DID have a lot of great games…you just had to sift through all of the games that just cashed in on the gimmick of motion controls. I didn’t mind using the Wii-mote and nunchuk in place of a controller as much as I tired rather quickly of being forced to use motion controls where I would have greatly preferred a conventional controller. The Wii U brought about their Game Pad, complete with a touch screen that you could also use to play games if for example – someone wanted the tv and you wished to remain playing. (Yes, I know……only one tv in the house?) However, the Wii U was yet another system without a very large collection of third-party titles and was generally left for dead. You cannot talk about the Switch and it’s success without pointing out it’s essentially what started out as the Wii U Game Pad. Anyways…..here are some things that I really enjoy about the Switch.
Games – I’ll start by talking about the games the Switch currently has in its library. I am obligated to begin by mentioning launch title – The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. While BotW was released on the Wii U as well, the Switch has far, far more people playing it so will forever be known as a Switch title first and foremost. I absolutely LOVE Mario Odyssey as well, playing through Odyssey for me was similar to playing through Super Mario Galaxy . Splatoon 2 expanded on the first game and improved the multiplayer experience. And then there’s Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, which is essentially everything any Super Smash Bros. packed into one game. There are also exclusives that aren’t using their flagship franchises(i.e. Mario, Zelda, Donkey Kong) like Octopath Traveler and Xenoblade Chronicles 2. Nintendo has been putting an extra effort into getting more third-party support this time around, along with a robust platform for indie games in the digital store.
Hardware – I try to be as careful as possible with all my consoles but I can say the Switch is a very sturdy little console. I knocked it off a side table(to my utter horror) a couple times and not even a scratch, and have heard stories of much worse from others who have noted how durable it is. I also put a screen protector on to minimize fingerprints and scratches. I actually was pleasantly surprised with the Joy-Con controllers for the Switch after using them for the first few times. I was a bit skeptical at first, they seemed likely to feel anything but durable and having tiny, impossible to use buttons but I have really grown to like using them, even with lobster claws for hands. The HD Rumble feature works remarkably well(I CAN feel those ice cubes in my glass),even though it isn’t something that is utilized to any great extent. Nintendo also tweaked their Pro Controller they launched alongside the Switch, and is a very sound, sturdy controller. There is just enough of a weight to the console and controllers, not enough to make it heavy or cumbersome. The touch screen works as good as anything currently on anyone’s smartphone, even after putting a screen protector over it. The motion controls do work surprisingly well, though I honestly don’t use them much.
Function – The Switch is designed so that you can play it either in handheld mode, or you can place the console in the accompanying cradle to use in docked mode. It performs equally well in both modes, although the video quality isn’t quite as well as you would want for some games. I was surprised at how seamlessly you can be playing in handheld mode and place it onto the dock and your game is on your tv screen, or vice versa. Nintendo is improving their online services, even if it seems to be baby steps. The Switch is a completely enjoyable console to play, I have spent many, many hours playing it either on the tv in my living room or lying in bed, or should I actually venture outside my home and spend any significant amount of hours(not something that happens real often…). I have found myself buying multi-platform games almost entirely because I want to play it on the Switch, yes I bought Skyrim and Final Fantasy IX….but along with many others too.
On the flip side of all that, here are some things I’m not crazy about and wish Nintendo could or would change…
Games – I will begin talking about the games. I love many Switch games and have bought titles that are ports or remastered versions and released on the Switch, but it does seem like Nintendo is padding their catalog with games that were Playstation and Xbox titles from previous generations. You can buy versions of Skyrim, Doom, Diablo 3, and a remastered version of Dark Souls. Also, these games are generally more expensive for the Switch than you can currently buy on the PS4 or Xbox one. Nintendo has gone with a physical format for their games by using a proprietary SD card, rather than a standard Blu-Ray disc so that can have an impact on cost. I’m not even going to begin discussing how much the upcoming Resident Evil ports of 0, 1, and 4 are going to cost….<sigh>. Nintendo does also seem rather determined to re-release just about every one of its Wii U exclusives on the Switch like Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, Mario Kart 8, Bayonetta 2, etc. It can seem like they’re simply recycling titles from the previous console…..I mean hardly anyone bought the Wii U and there were good games for it but a lot of them were too little too late as most people had already long passed on ever buying it.
Hardware – The hardware aspect of the Switch has several things I am not real fond of. First, would be a seemingly minor gripe about the Pro Controller d-pad. It has too “soft” of a feel making it easy to rotate 360 degrees if you were for example playing a fighting game like Street Fighter, but it can make it difficult to hit a specific direction. I have been playing a lot of Tetris 99 lately and the d-pad on the Pro controller can cause you to inadvertently hard drop a block when you where simply be moving blocks around. I have heard that the more recently produced Pro Controllers have corrected this issue, in the mean time I have been using the Joy-Cons with the smaller, more accurate d-pad for games like Tetris 99. There is also a number of people that have had problems with the battery of their Switch and the charging dock not working properly. I personally haven’t had any issues with the battery or charging for mine, but the design of the dock could use a revamp if Nintendo does begin to manufacture different versions of the Switch. I do also wish there would be a headphone jack in the controllers, at least in the Pro Controller. Should you ever want to play something in docked mode but want to be able to hear the game more clearly with a good headset you’re out of luck. This is one of the reasons why I am skeptical as to the quality of playing games like Fortnite on the Switch. You would benefit from using a headset but you can only use the headphone jack ON the console itself and are simply unable to enjoy using headphones AND the Pro Controller. The Switch hardware does have its drawbacks and limitations…
Function – Here is where I complain about Nintendo’s continuing battle with getting online gaming right. The Switch Online service still needs more to it to make it really worth paying for. There is the Members Only Deal of purchasing a set of wireless NES controllers for your Switch at $59.99. The controllers are impressive, but the fact that you have to subscribe just to be able to purchase something isn’t something I’m really crazy about. I have an NES Classic so I do have the option to play those games currently on the NES Switch Online. I would prefer something more along the lines of Microsoft’s Games Pass. When Super Smash Bros. Ultimate was released a lot of people, including myself had lag issues with the online play, making it feel like you were playing entire matches in slow-mode. The online play for games like Mario Kart 8 have been pretty good, whereas Splatoon 2’s online play is generally good with not a lot of matches getting disconnected. The online infrastructure in general I really really would like Nintendo to improve, this being my biggest wish to Nintendo. However, there are the rumors that Microsoft and Nintendo may be partnering up to bring Xbox live service(or something similar) to the Switch. If true, this could be incredible for Nintendo. Xbox Live has consistently provided the best most stable online gaming network since launching back in 2002. I also wish the Switch was not WiFi only; it would be beneficial to be able to use an ethernet cable for stability. There are some things that I dislike about the Switch versus other consoles, but the things I enjoy about it seem to overwhelmingly make up for a few minor(mostly) gripes. It has been a great success for Nintendo so far…I am truly excited to see what the next few years bring.