gives me a deep sense of dread and satisfaction I didn’t think a city management sim could deliver. Unlike its contemporaries, which might include fiddling with a city’s economy, zoning and the happiness of its citizens, in this game, all my decisions have life and death consequences. Because in this world, resources are limited and there’s hardly any safety nets to be found. Mismanagement could mean folks might starve, freeze or beat each other to death.
While I enjoy the leisurely pace of similar sims, I really love how Frostpunk always manages to keep me on edge. Keeping a society alive, stable, and most importantly hopeful, in the darkest of scenarios is reason enough to keep playing. Not every decision I have to make is easy — many of which are the toughest I’ve ever been asked to make in a virtual world — but being the pillar of a crumbling society is a task I couldn’t help taking on time and time again. There’s something about crawling from the depths of despair to find hope over the horizon that keeps me coming back, even when all I could see ahead was an approaching storm.
DRAGON BALL FIGHTERZ
its various manga and anime incarnations, the world of Dragon Ball has defined an unmistakable look. While those versions of the series remain untouchable classics, the franchise has always been playing catch-up on the video game front. Thankfully, Dragon Ball FighterZ lives up to the series’ legacy and delivers one of the best fighting games of the year.
The game’s cel-shaded art style is a clear nod to the aesthetics of Dragon Ball’s illustrated and animated forms, even down to ripping the same angles from the manga and anime. The visual spectacle goes hand in hand with the game’s simplified control scheme, which turns experts and newcomers alike into players who can dish out damaging laser light shows with ease. These elements work together to deliver one of the most satisfying multiplayer experiences of the year and the Dragon Ball fighting game I’ve always dreamed of.
CALL OF DUTY: BLACK OPS 4
of Duty: Black Ops 4’s multiplayer suite is both bigger and more refined than those of its predecessors. The traditional multiplayer and Zombies modes — two hallmarks of the Call of Duty franchise during the last decade — have been freed of the bloat accumulated over recent years, with developer Treyarch refocusing the central mechanics that give Call of Duty its iconic feel.
Rather than release another overwrought single-player campaign, Treyarch has invested in a huge multiplayer expansion. Blackout is battle royale with the signature Call of Duty shine. It’s faster and smoother than almost any other battle royale game. But where the mode really sets itself apart is the map. Each town in the massive space is taken from the multiplayer maps of previous Call of Duty games, ensuring it was designed to stand on its own as a full multiplayer map. It has a level of authorship that borrows from over a decade of top-notch multiplayer design, something its contemporaries haven’t matched.
Each of the three modes that make up Black Ops 4 could easily stand on its own as a worthwhile game, but together they prove that to survive this year and into the future, Call of Duty’s creators are wise to focus on what the series does best.