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INCREASED F.O.V.

In video games, increasing your Field of View allows you to see more of the virtual world around you. The articles here will springboard off of these virtual worlds to encourage you to increase your F.O.V. in real life. From the biggest news in the industry, to reviews, to articles digging a little deeper to explore the messages within the world's most popular medium.

Game Recommendations While You're Stuck at Home - Part 4

At the time of writing this, we right in the midst of the COVID-19 kerfuffle, and there’s a ton of people who are stuck at home a lot more than usual. Some are working from home. Some can’t work and are just home. Some are kids and teens off from school. Netflix, YouTube, and other streaming services are struggling to keep up with the bandwidth demands, meaning people are desperate for something to do. We here at NEEERD Media are here to help!

In this series of articles, we’re going to take a look at my (Adam’s) personal recommendations of 20 (-ish…I cheated a bit) video games well worth the time in checking out. This is not a list of all time favourites, or what I would consider the all time greatest (yes, I delineate the two). Those will each probably have their own lists somewhere down the line. I made sure to keep in mind games on a variety of platforms, and for a variety of ages.

This is part 4 out of 4 in this series of articles. If you missed the first 3 parts, be sure to go back and check them out as well. The list is alphabetical, so reading order doesn't particularly matter. 

Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order

Platform(s): PS4, Xbox One, PC

ESRB: T

© 2019 – Electronic Arts

There have been a lot of Star Wars games over the years. Some have been incredible, like the old Battlefront games. Some have been pretty terrible, like as Super Bombad Racing. When Disney acquired Lucasfilm, a lot of people wondered what this would mean for Star Wars games, especially in the wake of highly anticipated projects like 1313 being cancelled outright. Then, there came more nerves once news came out that EA, a notoriously hit or miss publisher, had acquired exclusive rights to develop game with the Star Wars IP. Then came the first Battlefront from DICE, which, though certainly not perfect (why remove any narrative component from a narrative-focused franchise!?), it was generally fun, well constructed, and visually stunning! Then a wave of cancellations, the Battlefront 2 monetization controversy, and assorted other troubles hit, not to mention some other serious misfires from other EA games. So by the time the renowned developers Respawn announced a new single-player, story-driven Star Wars game, fans were…nervous. Then they kept so much under wraps for so long, and only released more details in a very short window before release. What we saw looked great, but we were still nervous. Then it finally came out. And it. Was. Worth. The. Wait. Is it perfect? No, of course not. At launch especially there were definitely some bugs and technical hiccups to deal with. However, I would stand by the claim that it is the best single-player Star Wars game ever made. Great story, set just a few years after the events of Revenge of the Sith. Great characters. Awesome nods to the established universe, while also adding its own unique contributions. The combat and gameplay are super fun and deep, making you actually stop and think verses the usual hack-and-slash lightsaber fare. Even the lowest-level enemies can kill you if you’re not careful. Despite the publisher’s obvious lack of faith and enthusiasm around the title, the developers lovingly crafted a fun, engaging, and authentically Star Wars experience that is well worth your time.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

Platform(s): Switch

ESRB: E-10+

© 2018 – Nintendo

I mentioned in my recommendation for the new Doom titles the simple joys, amidst stressful times, of unleashing some violence and carnage. Now, if you’re looking for a similar outlet as that, but aren’t too keen on the level of brutality and gore that Doom offers, then I offer up Super Smash Bros. Ultimate for your consideration. Smash has always been not only a top-tier fighting game, but also a celebration of gaming itself. And nowhere has that been more true than with Ultimate, which brings the signature gameplay perfection together with updated visuals, a ton of maps, and literally every character ever to be featured in the history of Smash, along with some exciting new additions from Nintendo and beyond. The DLC fighters have only continued to expand the roster into new and exciting territory, with characters like Joker from the (at the time) Playstation exclusive Persona 5. What makes this a perfect game while you’re stuck at home? Well, first of all, it’s pretty much a perfect game. Second of all, it’s as good as couch multiplayer gets, and while there’s definitely some co-op options, there’s also the golden opportunity to beat up your family members without anyone actually getting hurt! Plus, the single-player ‘campaign’ is not only creative, and challenging, but it’s also long. So between that and the endless variety afforded by the highly customizable multiplayer experience, you will literally never run out of things to do in the game. The online component is still pretty shaky, which detracts from the experience a bit. But overall, Smash Ultimate is one of the best games available for the Switch, and definitely sits comfortably on the ‘must have’ list of games on the platform.

Super Mario Maker 2

Platform(s): Switch

ESRB: E

© 2019 – Nintendo

Speaking of infinitely replayable Nintendo ‘must-have’ games, here’s Super Mario Maker 2. Fun single player campaign to help you learn about all the basics of the game? Check. Ability to create and share your own Mario levels set in a bunch of iconic Mario styles, from the original on to more modern 3D offerings? Check. Infinite number of creations ranging from the cute and creative, to the punishingly difficult, shared by people online for you to attempt? Check. Co-op play? Check. Slopes? Check, check, and check! It is literally impossible to run out of things to do in Super Mario Maker 2. If you get tired of just simply making individual levels, why not try your hand at designing a whole game start to finish? 8 worlds, ten levels each, with a mid-boss and a final boss. Go on. Try it. I mean, why not? You’ve got the time, right?

The Uncharted Series

Platform(s): PS4

ESRB: T

© 2016 – Naughty Dog

One thing we all tend to crave at one point or another in our lives, especially when we’ve been stuck indoors for any great length of time, is adventure. I think there’s a part of us all that dreams of venturing out across the globe, piecing together clues, dodging dastardly fiends or fighting our way through them in search of long lost treasure. It’s why things like Indianna Jones have always had an enduring charm and appeal. We also live in an age of cinematic blockbusters with spectacles on a scale unheard of on our screens prior. So the ultimate dream would be to take the adventure of Indianna Jones with the spectacle of a Hollywood blockbuster film, and put ourselves right in the centre of it. Man…wouldn’t that be something? Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to the Uncharted series. For all but the most recent entry (which was a DLC that became a spinoff), you are put in the shoes of one of gaming’s most loveable rogues, Nathan Drake (impeccably voiced by the legend that is Nolan North). Nate has spent a large portion of his life, along with his mentor Sully, searching the globe for the lost treasures of his supposed ancestor, real-life historical figure Sir Francis Drake. Along with aspiring documentarian Elena, the first game starts by uncovering a new clue leading to Drake’s lost fortune (thus, the title Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune). The series launches from there from one stunning set piece to the next in a often hilarious, sometimes emotional, but always exhilarating adventure. In the tradition of games like Tomb Raider before it, you spend your time working your way through Nate’s story as he hunts for hidden treasures, solves puzzles, and guns down hoards of baddies. Beneath all the spectacle is a genuinely engrossing story, with extremely well-written and developed characters, and an absolutely stunning voice cast. Naughty Dog, the same developers behind The Last of Us, are absolute legends in the industry, with a pedigree of games matched only by the likes of Nintendo, Valve, or CD Projekt Red. The Uncharted games are pioneers in action gameplay and storytelling, as well as on a technical level in design and visuals (Uncharted 4 is, in my opinion, still the best looking game on the PS4…at least until the upcoming Ghost of Tsushima, or even more likely when Naughty Dog outdoes themselves with The Last of Us Part II). If you haven’t experienced the tale of Nathan Drake for yourself yet, go ahead and download The Nathan Drake Collection, which is a remastered collection of the first three entries in the franchise. And then get Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End and experience what the PS4 is really capable of, while also closing out Drake’s story. Then treat yourself to the lovely little epilogue that is The Lost Legacy, starring one of my personal favourite characters in the franchise, Chloe, voiced by the ever-so-delightful Claudia Black. Uncharted is one of the premiere franchises in gaming history, and certainly sits atop an auspicious pile of Playstation exclusives. I highly recommend giving them a go!

Hitman 2

Platform(s): PS4, Xbox One, PC

ESRB: M

© 2018 – IO Interactive

I know you’re a little confused. This list was supposed to be alphabetical, but the final entry start with an ‘H’ and immediately follows an entry that starts with ‘U’. No, I’m not illiterate, but as I was working on my final entry on this list I decided, for a variety of reasons that I won’t bother getting into, to make a last-minute substitution. So in this final slot stands the most recent entry in the longstanding Hitman franchise. Put very simply, this game is stupid, hilarious fun. The premise is very simple. You are a Hitman, serving largely on the side of the angels taking out some of the worst people the world has to offer. You enter a mission with a target, or targets, described in some way for you, as well as potentially another side objective or two, and then you get about the business of doing what a hitman does. From there, the game has a number of predetermined ‘opportunities’ of which you may avail yourself, but you don’t have to. Each level essentially serves as a large sandbox filled with a variety of toys for you to mix and match however and whenever you want to whatever over-the-top effect you desire. As you progress, you unlock a massive arsenal of gadgets and weapons that you can smuggle in with you, with everything from your typical firearm fare, to exploding rubber duckies, to a ninja throwing star, and just about anything in between. From using a giant fan to blast a scummy film director off of the roof of a skyscraper, to locking a whacko secret society/cult leader inside of a giant burning effigy, there’s an endless variety of ways to handle every situation. Each map comes with a variety and abundance of main mission challenges, as well as various remixes, ranging from bonus missions featuring unique side stories apart from the campaign, some of which offering radical changes and adjustments to the pre-existing maps, to Escalations, which are a series of missions that add additional victory conditions as you progress through them, to custom contracts, to timed ‘Elusive Targets’ that prove highly difficult and with a perma-fail condition to up the stakes above the norm. Whether you’re going through as a highly skilled and lethal spectre to achieve the ‘Silent Assassin’ rank, or if you’d prefer to run around in a giant pink flamingo mascot costume knocking everyone you can unconscious by whacking them with a large fish, there is no end to the variety this game affords. In addition to the second game’s levels and campaign, you can also get the entirety of the game’s predecessor, including all DLC and bonus content, with all of the visual, mechanical, and quality-of-life improvements of the second game, meaning you essential get two games in one. I’ve invested dozens of hours into this game, and still haven’t come close to experiencing all that it has to offer. The second game even includes some multiplayer offerings in the form of the cooperative ‘Sniper Assassin’ mode and the competitive ‘Ghost Mode.’ This is a super fun, super well designed romp that affords near endless replayability, as much challenge as you want, and a ton of laughs. It’s a personal favourite of mine, and a perfect way to cap off this list of game recommendations.

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Game Recommendations While You're Stuck at Home - Part 3

At the time of writing this, we right in the midst of the COVID-19 kerfuffle, and there’s a ton of people who are stuck at home a lot more than usual. Some are working from home. Some can’t work and are just home. Some are kids and teens off from school. Netflix, YouTube, and other streaming services are struggling to keep up with the bandwidth demands, meaning people are desperate for something to do. We here at NEEERD Media are here to help!

In this series of articles, we’re going to take a look at my (Adam’s) personal recommendations of 20 (-ish…I cheated a bit) video games well worth the time in checking out. This is not a list of all time favourites, or what I would consider the all time greatest (yes, I delineate the two). Those will each probably have their own lists somewhere down the line. I made sure to keep in mind games on a variety of platforms, and for a variety of ages.

If you missed parts 1 and 2 with the first 10 recommendations, be sure to go back and check them out as well. The list is alphabetical, so reading order doesn't particularly matter. 

Rainbow Six Siege

Platform(s): PS4, Xbox One, PC

ESRB: M

© 2015-2020 - Ubisoft

This isn’t a list of my all-time favourite games. If it were, this would be right near, or possibly at, the top. Rainbow Six Siege is easily my favourite online shooter of all time, and if sheer number of hours played were to be any sort of indication, then Siege would take my top spot by a country mile. This is another game I’ve been playing ever since the open Beta test, and what a journey it has been since! Rainbow Six Siege may well be gaming's all-time greatest comeback story! A launch that was fraught with all manner of technical issues, coupled with being a game that, at its core, people didn’t really get. It had no single-player element to speak of, instead being a purely online team-based tactical shooter. It was kind of a hero shooter, with 21 unique ‘operators,’ each bringing something unique to a match, but the diversity was quite shallow on the face of it, especially if compared to something like Overwatch. There was no respawning during rounds. The maps were complicated. The learning curve steep. Somewhat understandably, people had a hard time getting into it. But the developers refused to give up on the game. Updates, patches, tweaks, new maps, new operators, and a whole host of other changes and additions came at a steady pace. Slowly but surely, as the game continued to get past some of the surface issues, more and more people started giving it a chance. What they found was one of the best playing, most fun, tactical, and overall best designed first person shooters of all time. Yes, there is a ton to learn with this game. But honestly, that’s half of the fun! Finding a new angle to play on a map, or discovering a fresh utility for an operator ability or gadget, experimenting with your team’s attack strategies or defensive setups, there’s constantly new ways to play and approach matches, meaning endless replayability. Add in that the developers are nowhere near done supporting and adding content to the game, with the roster having grown now to 55 operators (with plans to get to 100 before they’re through), new maps added, old maps completely reworked and updated, regular limited-time modes, some of the most unique in-game event modes in any multiplayer game ever (look up “Rainbow is Magic” from April 2019 for a taste), and tons of cosmetic items frequently being added. Even the micro-transactions, though not a perfect system, generally stand as one of the best implementations of ongoing monetization in a game I’ve ever come across. I’ve probably spent hundreds of dollars on this game, but for the number of hours I’ve invested over the last 4+ years of playing almost every day (no joke!), I’ve never batted an eye at an extra ten dollars here or twenty-five dollars there. The game is worth every penny. And I have to emphasize here that apart from the upfront price tag (although the devs are exploring moving to a free-to-play model at some point), every dollar spent is totally optional, and only gets you cosmetic items or early access to new ops (by, like, a week). That’s it! I should probably stop myself from going on about this too much further. I love this game! It’s literally the only esport (or regular sport!) that I follow. Yes the learning curve is very steep, and it can seem almost an impossible game to get into at the start. I highly recommend finding someone who already plays it to help teach you. If you’re on the PS4, just drop us a line on the NEEERD Media Facebook page. I’d be more than happy to squad up and show you around!

Marvel’s Spider-man

Platform(s): PS4

ESRB: T

There have been some incredible superhero games. There have also been some terrible ones. There have been some incredible portrayals of everyone’s favourite wall-crawler. There have also been some terrible ones. When reputed development studio Insomniac Games announced their new PS4 exclusive Marvel’s Spider-man, everyone watched with cautious optimism to see whether it would fall into the former or the latter on both fronts. Having personally, and quite enthusiastically, completed the game 100%, I’m happy to report that it is an unqualified success on both fronts. This is one of the greatest superhero games ever made. Quite possibly the greatest (picking between it and the Arkham games is an almost impossible ask). The visuals, design, and gameplay are pitch-perfect. It boasts a breathtaking open-world Manhattan more realistic and lifelike than any of the literal dozens of previous attempts in gaming. The combat is fun and varied, and feels authentically Spidey-esque. But the real litmus test for a Spider-man game in particular is traversal, and in particular web-swinging. And this game absolutely nails it! Forget the story, forget the crime-fighting, forget the collectibles, the single most fun thing to do in this game is just swing, sling, and parkour your way around Manhattan as ol’ web-head. So it is, indeed, a great superhero game. But how does it do as a portrayal of Spider-man? This might be a bold claim, but it is one that I will happily defend: This game is the singular best portrayal of the character of Spider-man, and his world and secondary characters, that has ever existed outside of the comics. Boom. From a boldly written story that remixes classic Spider-man elements and characters in a way that is all at once fresh and faithful, much like Bendis did in the comics during the early 2000’s with Ultimate Spider-man. It’s narrative doesn’t pull any punches, taking the web-slinger (and the player) on a fun, thrilling, and genuinely emotional adventure that, especially given the influences of veteran Spidey scribes Christos Gage and Dan Slott, perfectly captures what makes great Spider-man stories so engaging. Yuri Lowenthal leads an outstanding ensemble cast, delivering a powerhouse vocal performance presenting the definitive versions of both Peter Parker and his spandex clad alter-ego. Insomniac knocked the ball clean out of the park with this game. If you’re a fan of the wall-crawler, or just a fan of great open-world adventure games, then you need this in your collection!

Stardew Valley

Platform(s): ALL (+Mobile)

ESRB: E-10+

© 2016 – ConcernedApe LLC

I’ve gone extra long in the previous two entries, so I will keep this one more brief. In the first article I talked about the joy of a simple, relaxing experience during these stressful times. Stardew Valley captures a similar feeling and charm as Animal Crossing in many ways, but also stands apart in several ways as well. Firstly, Stardew is more of a farming simulator in the vein of the classic Harvest Moon games, with you inheriting a worn down old farm property that’s overgrown and almost completely without resources or viable cropland. Slowly but surely you are able to build this up until you turn it into a full-fledged agricultural wonder. All the while, you are spending time getting to know and building relationships with the local townsfolk, running errands and engaging in business and trade to help open up new opportunities to grow and expand your farm, crop, and livestock. If all of that starts to get a little boring or tedious (which, it generally doesn’t), then you can always grab a sword and go slay some monsters in the nearby caves. While I love the charm and polish of Nintendo’s offering, I find progression to be stunted and limiting thanks to the game being tied to real-world time. I often play at night, and so the shop is usually closed and half of my island’s residents are asleep! Stardew’s progression is much more typical, with an in-game day and night cycle, meaning you have much greater control over the flow of progression in the game. It’s a rich and diverse world, with an abundance of variety and freedom, and tons of things to constantly see and do. And all of it was created by just one guy! If you don’t own a Swtich, or just want something a little different from Animal Crossing, you can’t do any better than Stardew Valley.

Star Wars Battlefront 2

Platform(s): PS4, Xbox One, PC

ESRB: T

© 2017-2020 – Electronic Arts

Okay, look...if you follow the video game industry at all, and honestly with this one even if you don’t, then you might be surprised to see me including this one on the list. I mean, it’s not everyday that a video game is so controversial it prompts new laws to be created in certain parts of Europe around children’s access to gambling! And let me also be clear, the criticism lobbied at Dice’s second foray into the Star Wars franchise around loot and progression at launch were 100% justified. It sucked. It completely took away from the experience, and made the game horrendously frustrating to play, no matter how much I passionately love the world of Star Wars. But I want to emphasize that these criticism were valid, past-tense. In a comeback story not too dissimilar from Siege (though more controversial and less successful in regaining popularity),  Star Wars Battlefront 2 stands today, in 2020, as one of the best, most polished, and most fun Star Wars gaming experiences ever made. It unabashedly celebrates all eras of the franchise with love and attention to detail, and provides a fantastic means of jumping into the epic-scale battles we all grew up watching on the silver screen. The game’s still not perfect, mind you, and the single player is still wanting (check out the prequel novel, though…that was actually pretty rad), but Battlefront 2 is genuinely worth a second chance if you felt burned by it at launch, or if all the bad press kept you away before.

Super Mario Odyssey

Platform(s): Switch

ESRB: E-10+

© 2017 – Nintendo

Alright, I’m cheating a bit with the “alphabetical” conceit of these recommendations. Technically, Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order should be the fifth entry in this article, and then Super Mario Odyssey should be starting us off next time. But I just talked about a Star Wars game, and putting this entry in the next article means 3 out of 5 entries will be Mario related. I can’t help it if Nintendo has a…shall we say consistent philosophy when it comes to naming its titles! Anyway, Super Mario Odyssey is my all-time favourite entry in one of gaming’s all-time greatest franchises. Mario games have always, right from the very first one on the NES, been the gold standard for both 2D and 3D platformers both in terms of gameplay and design. Odyssey continues this trend, going even bigger and bolder than ever before, taking the mustachioed ex-plumber on a grand adventure across a vibrant and diverse series of levels and worlds, coupled with platforming gameplay and level design that is, of course, pitch-perfect. This time, you’re chasing after moons instead of the usual stars. In a bizarre twist, there are a far greater abundance of moons than there have ever been of stars in any of the prior entries. While some might find this overwhelming, what this serves to do is make you feel a near constant sense of progression, while also providing a level of accessibility to the game. Younger or more casual players will still find hundreds of moons readily attainable, and be able to get through the games campaign no problem. The die-hard crew, on the other hand, will find the task of fully completing the game a much greater challenge worthy of their skill and patience. It’s a Mario game built for all to enjoy, and enjoy it you will! Oh, and you can dress Mario in tons of different unlockable costumes too, which is a surprisingly fun and hilariously welcome new addition to the franchise! I won’t be so bold as to say that this is the best 3D Mario game ever made, but it’s definitely a top contender, and my own personal favourite.

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Game Recommendations While You're Stuck at Home - Part 2

At the time of writing this, we right in the midst of the COVID-19 kerfuffle, and there’s a ton of people who are stuck at home a lot more than usual. Some are working from home. Some can’t work and are just home. Some are kids and teens off from school. Netflix, YouTube, and other streaming services are struggling to keep up with the bandwidth demands, meaning people are desperate for something to do. We here at NEEERD Media are here to help!

In this series of articles, we’re going to take a look at my (Adam’s) personal recommendations of 20 (-ish…I cheated a bit) video games well worth the time in checking out. This is not a list of all time favourites, or what I would consider the all time greatest (yes, I delineate the two). Those will each probably have their own lists somewhere down the line. I made sure to keep in mind games on a variety of platforms, and for a variety of ages.

If you missed part one with the first 5 recommendations, be sure to go back and check that out as well. I'm putting them out 5 at a time, and alphabetically, so it doesn't matter what order you read them in. 

Destiny 2

Platform(s): PS4, Xbox One, PC

ESRB: T

© 2017 - Bungie

I started playing Destiny way back when the Beta for the original game ran. My internet wasn’t quite dial-up, but may as well have been for the connection speeds I would get . The game noted that it requires a 1MB/s upload and 1MB/s download, and my router could just about manage that, on a really good day. I had only recently gotten into playing Halo because I grew up a Playstation kid, my brother was a Nintendo kid, and we had no third sibling, so there was no one left to be the Xbox kid. Between hearing that this was Bungie’s next big project, and then seeing the trailers and gameplay footage and getting some serious Star Wars vibes, I knew that I just had to get it. And I loved it. I loved the gameplay, I loved the design, the characters (portrayed by a ridiculously talented and star-studded cast) and I really, really loved the world and lore. A few years later, Destiny 2 came out and was even bigger and even better, and I was totally distracted with other things at the time. I bought it and played for a little bit, and then just kind of let it fall by the wayside. I had never even completed the main campaign. Then, when Shadowkeep came along, my brother and I decided it was time to get back into Destiny 2. And oh boy…did we ever. I had a couple solid months where Destiny 2 was basically all I played (for reference, I tend to have anywhere from 4-7 games that I’m playing concurrently at any given time…I have a problem…). Then, after I’d finish playing, I’d go onto YouTube and watch literally hours of lore deep dives (shout out to YouTuber My Name is Byf. Great stuff!). A fair bit of the base content is free-to-play now with New Light, so if you’ve never stepped into the world of Destiny, do it. Eyes up Guardian!

Doom (2016) & Doom Eternal

Platform(s): ALL

ESRB: M

© 2020 – id Software

These are stressful times. Sometimes, de-stressing means playing a nice, relaxing game like Animal Crossing, Stardew Valley, or Minecraft. Sometimes, it does one some good to unwind by ripping and tearing your way through legions of hellbeasts as a furious blur of bullets, blood, and splattered viscera. To my mind, there is literally no better game for achieving the latter than Doom (2016), and its very recent sequel Doom: Eternal. I was late to the party with Doom (2016), having only just played it for the first time about a month ago, and that mostly because Doom: Eternal just looked too good to miss. Upon playing it, I discovered one of the best, most fast-paced, most technically proficient, and best designed first person shooters ever made. Then, Doom Eternal came out, and literally improved upon every single aspect of its predecessor, in every conceivable way. I may just stake a controversial claim that it is the best single-player FPS ever made. The multiplayer is crazy fun as well, allowing you to continue your rampage as the Doom Slayer, or joining a friend as one of a selection of grotesque monstrosities to play as. Let me be very, very clear, in case I haven’t been already: This is one NOT for the kids. Or teens. Or for those who have a weak stomach. These games are the definition of violent, though generally in a way that’s so over-the-top that I’d liken it to a more blood-filled Tom and Jerry cartoon moreso than, say, a Mel Gibson movie. My brother maintains, however, that it is a good Christian game. I mean, you’re literally hunting down, blasting, and tearing apart demons. That’s in the Bible somewhere right? ...right? All joking aside, if you’re a fan of first person shooters, you do yourself a disservice by skipping out on these fantastic titles.

Fire Emblem: Three Houses

Platform(s): Switch

ESRB: T

© 2019 – Nintendo

Prior to playing Fire Emblem: Three Houses last year, virtually all of my exposure and familiarity with the franchise came from Super Smash Bros. I used to light it up as Roy in Melee. Then I was seeing the promo for Three Houses, and my curiosity was peaked. I would talk about how interesting it looked, and how there were a number of things that intrigued me about the game (taking on the role of a teacher, building relationships with your students, developing their skills in battle, etc). But I wasn’t super into the turn-based strategy elements of the game. My back-and-forth only became more pronounced once the game’s rave reviews started coming out. All in all, I decided I was interested, but was going to wait and save my money because I knew there were other things coming up that I wanted to get for sure. But then, my brother bought it and gave it to me as an early birthday present. And I will forever be in his debt (just don’t tell him that). Fire Emblem: Three Houses was my personal game of the year for 2019. I don’t even want to start getting into all of the reasons why that is, because that would make this article way longer than it should be. Just…go play it. It’s an unforgettable experience, and a single playthrough alone takes somewhere in the ball park of 70 hours, and the structure of the story is as such that it encourages at least 3 playthroughs. And now there’s DLC released on top of that, which I have not had the chance to check out yet. I love this game. I love the world. I love the story. I love the characters. I love the combat. I love it. I never thought a game would have me be equally as concerned with winning a battle as I was with making sure I had the perfect tea time!x` If you take no other recommendation on this list…take this one. You won’t regret it.

Halo: The Master Chief Collection

Platform(s): Xbox One, PC

ESRB: M

Halo 5' And 'The Master Chief Collection' - Business Insider© 2014 – 343 Industries

It’s Halo. What more do I need to say? I was tempted to leave this entry at that, but I’ll elaborate a bit. The Master Chief Collection originally was just that, a collection of the Chief’s adventures (i.e. the mainline entries into the franchise), collecting Halo: Combat Evolved, Halo 2, Halo 3, and Halo 4. Since then, they’ve also added Halo 3: ODST and Halo Reach to the mix. Each game received a graphical boost, with Halo 2 getting a complete visual overhaul similar to what Combat Evolved received with its Anniversary Edition. However, if you’re feeling nostalgic, you can swap back and forth between the original and the revamped visuals. The campaigns remain fantastic as ever, remaining some of the best FPS campaigns ever created. The music is iconic. And the multiplayer…oh, that sweet, sweet multiplayer! Revolutionary in its time, Halo’s multiplayer remains some of the most fun you can have in a video game. One thing I have always wanted to address with this franchise is the sheer madness over giving these games an M rating. I’ve never understood it. I won’t go so far as to say the games are kid-friendly, but rating them higher than T has always seemed grossly unnecessary. There’s a lot of shooting, but virtually no blood or gore (well, there’s some colourful alien blood, and the flood can be a bit grotesque, but apart from that there’s really nothing). Language is basically PG levels. And there’s absolutely no sexual content to speak of, shy of the design of Cortana, Master Chief’s A.I. companion, which is no worse than that of Rebecca Romijn’s portrayal of Mystique in the X-men movies (which, as I recall, were all rated PG). Halo in both its campaigns and its multiplayer are timeless classics that are just as fun to play now as they ever were. Maybe even more so. If you’ve never played, or if you played back when the franchise first hit the shelves but haven’t gone back since, it is well worth jumping back in!

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Platform(s): Switch

E-10+

© 2017 – Nintendo

Speaking objectively, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is widely considered to be one of the greatest games, if not the greatest game, ever made. It has a 97 out of a possible 100 on Metacritic! Only 5 games are rated higher, and the most recent of those was published in the year 2000, so the reviews are a little…outdated. Speaking subjectively…I agree with this assessment. From its unique and vibrant visual style, to it’s incredible and diverse open world, to it’s fun and experimental gameplay, this game is an absolute masterclass in video game creation. All of this doesn’t even begin to delve into the way it provides a variety of abilities, mechanics, and physics for players to mix, match, and experiment with in diverse and creative ways. Nor does it take into account the daring lack of linear narrative or direction. You can go anywhere and do anything you want, almost straight away. The world is completely open and free to explore however and whenever you want. While we’ve largely moved past the time where every single game felt like it needed to be an open world RPG, there came a time when the genre was almost over-saturated and needed some measure of evolution to push things forward. The trouble was, no one really knew what that evolution could possibly look like. Then Nintendo came along and dropped Breath of the Wild on the unsuspecting masses and reminded everyone why they have been, still are, and likely will continue to be industry leaders in game design, creativity, and innovation. If you have a Nintendo switch and somehow have not added this to your collection…I mean…just why?

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Game Recommendations While You're Stuck at Home - Part 1

At the time of writing this, we're right in the midst of the COVID-19 kerfuffle, and there’s a ton of people who are stuck at home a lot more than usual. Some are working from home. Some can’t work and are just home. Some are kids and teens off from school. Netflix, YouTube, and other streaming services are struggling to keep up with the bandwidth demands, meaning people are desperate for something to do. We here at NEEERD Media are here to help!

In this series of articles, we’re going to take a look at my (Adam’s) personal recommendations of 20 (-ish…I cheated a bit) video games well worth the time in checking out. This is not a list of all time favourites, or what I would consider the all time greatest (yes, I delineate the two). Those will each probably have their own lists somewhere down the line. I made sure to keep in mind games on a variety of platforms, and for a variety of ages.

Before we jump into the list itself, I have a couple of notable exceptions I would like to highlight:

Exception Group A: The Last of Us, Days Gone, Resident Evil 2 & 3

As was already stated, these articles are being written in the midst of COVID-19, a major viral outbreak. As such, games centred around the outbreak of a virus causing the apocalypse didn’t seem like the best way to distract yourself. That being said, the remake of Resident Evil 2 was one of the best games to be released last year, and the remake of 3 coming out soon seems like it will follow suit. Days Gone was divisive in many ways, but personally, I had a great time with the game, and heartily recommend it for anyone who is a fan of open-world action games. And the Last of Us? Possibly the greatest game ever made…so there’s that (more on that particular topic to come). Honourable mentions all, but given the subject matter, they didn’t quite make the cut.

Exception Group B: The “Next-Level” Popular Picks

The second group of exceptions are for the sorts of games that everyone and their mother is already playing. Yes, I’ll be talking about some very popular games in this list. But there are certain games whose popularity has become somewhat transcendent. Battle Royales, in particular, like Fornite, Apex Legends, and the new Call of Duty: Warzone are hot right now, and everyone is playing them. I think all three are fantastic games, to be sure, but everyone’s already playing them. Similar to this, Minecraft pretty much the  is the biggest thing ever, so I didn’t really feel it needed an entry. I will comment however that, as I was writing this article, news came out that, with kids being out of school (possibly for the rest of the year in some places), Minecraft is providing free educational resources, which I think is pretty cool. Honourable mentions again, but not what I want to focus on.

So, without further ado, here’s the first set of game recommendations. I will likely be putting these out five at a time, just so no one article ends up being too long. I’m presenting these in alphabetical order, not in order of preference or priority.  

Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Platform(s): Switch

ESRB: E

Image result for animal crossing new horizons

© 2020 - Nintendo

This one is hot off the presses, as it were. It’s been seven years since the last Animal Crossing, and fans have been chomping at the bit for a new one, especially since the Switch released a couple of years back. I was not one such fan. I had never played any of the previous Animal Crossing, and never really knew what they were about. My brother, on the other hand, had played a ton of New Leaf on the 3DS, and knowing my taste in games, particularly Life Sim stuff like Harvest Moon and Stardew Valley and my fondness for Nintendo, he figured it would be a good fit for me. He was very right. I’ve been playing a fair bit on my and my brother’s shared island for the last few days. Chopping down trees. Hitting rocks. Catching fish and bugs. Digging up fossils. Paying off debt. It’s all things that sound very, very mundane, and maybe that’s the point. Especially in a time when we are being encouraged not to leave our houses, and are outright barred from being able to travel, who doesn’t want to get away to a deserted island paradise free from stress or worry? These are stressful times, and games don’t get a whole lot more relaxing than this. Also, with it cute characters, colourful world, and relatively simple mechanics, it’s a game to be enjoyed by gamers of all ages.

Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey

Platform(s): ALL

ESRB: M

© 2018 - Ubisoft

I’ve always loved Greece. No, I’ve never actually been there. But I’ve always been fascinated by the rich history, culture, and in particular the mythology. I’m also a huge fan of lose-yourself gigantic open world games, as well as stealth games, action games, story-driven games, and RPGs. In many ways, Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey is my perfect game. It blends Greek history and culture, with a smattering of mythology (especially in the Fate of Atlantis DLC), as well as all of the genre elements I just listed. It’s open world is enormous. Almost too big, really, with an exorbitant amount of things to do. But again, you’re stuck at home, nowhere to go, so now might be the perfect time to invest the 200 or so hours it takes to work your way completely through this sprawling world. The main story is not complicated, but engaging enough. The main characters are interesting. Many of the side characters and quests range from fascinating, to disturbing, to genuinely hilarious. The world is beautiful, and a genuine treat to explore, even if many of the camps, activities, side locations, and mission can get a little repetitive. All said, it is a grand adventure befitting of the title “Odyssey.”

Celeste

Platform(s): ALL

ESRB: E-10+

© 2018 – Matt Makes Games

Usually when one might describe a game as “beautiful,” they are probably referring to the graphics and/or visuals of the game in some way. In the case of Celeste, while the visuals certainly aren’t bad, with their retro pixel art aesthetic and colour palette, it’s the story and overall meaning behind the game that would put it into the category of “beautiful.” Celeste is, as the game tells you right at the start, is a game about climbing a mountain. A very simple premise, backed by tight, at times punishingly difficult platforming. You will die. A lot. And that’s okay. Mistakes, as the game again tells us, are how we learn. Sometimes it takes a hundred attempts before we learn how to do something right. Through this gameplay, and a narrative that is shockingly fleshed out for a game of this type, Celeste opens up it players to a conversation around mental health, and the struggles of those who suffer from anxiety and depression. I haven’t invested enough thought as yet in to pondering whether or not I agree with every aspect of the game’s conclusions on the subject, I will say I’m thrilled that a game has tackled these subjects, and does so with such care and nuance. I love when games to try to be anything else, but instead embrace the unique capabilities of a video game, by nature of its interactivity, are able to tell a story. Sometimes a game’s story and minute-to-minute gameplay can almost feel disjointed from one another. But that is far from being the case in Celeste. This is a game that is, on every level, beautiful. And the world could use a little more beautiful right now.

Control

Platform(s): PS4, Xbox One, PC

ESRB: M

© 2019 – Remedy Entertainment

Control is…hard to explain. You play as a woman named Jesse who is in search of her long-lost brother. That search brings her to the headquarters of a very secretive government agency known as the Federal Bureau of Control, just as it comes under attack by a mysterious force. That’s about all I can really say without getting into spoiler territory. Oh, actually there is one other thing. Super powers. There you go. The game itself in unashamedly weird, reveling in its trippy, off-the-wall style. The atmosphere is eerie, though it never quite dips into full-in horror territory. Progression and exploration are fun, and combat is engaging. The story is quite obtuse and hard to follow right until the very end, at which point I think I had a pretty good idea of what was going on. It’s a game that you can tell was lovingly crafted by a gifted team of developers with a strong track record and history in the industry. I should also say that the cast and voice acting are pretty stellar. The game seems to have been somewhat of an underrated gem, at least in the public sphere. Critics and reviewers almost universally loved the game, with IGN even naming it their game of the year in 2019. If you hadn’t heard of it, or perhaps you had but weren’t sure about it, I highly recommend giving it a go.

Death Stranding

Platform(s): PS4

ESRB: M

© 2019 – Kojima Productions

Speaking of unashamedly weird games (see previous entry for Control), here’s what is quite probably the strangest triple-A game ever released! Hideo Kojima, finally afforded completely and total free reign over every aspect of a game, proved himself once again to be the maddest of geniuses ever to grace the video game industry. The trailers and teases presented Death Stranding was the most mysterious and enigmatic video game project of the last decade, with everyone trying to make heads or tails of just what they were in for. From weird trailers featuring film director Guillermo Del Toro trudging through black goop in a war torn city cradling a fetus in a jar, to naked Norman Reedus covered in hand prints standing on a beach, to Kojima telling people he was “creating a new genre.” Then the game was released, and people still didn’t know how to take it. Some people likened it to “Postman Pat: The Video Game,” little more than a glorified walking simulator, and complained about the arduous, and tedious, central task of the game. The vast majority of your time spent in the game is spent carrying packages, largely on foot, through difficult terrain with intentionally quirky controls, from one isolated bunker dweller to another. However, it’s my opinion that most people couldn’t see the forest for the trees. At it’s core, Death Stranding is exactly the game we need right now. Koijma created this game already feeling like our cultural climate is one of division, distance, and separation. In these days where “social distancing” is the most common phrase we use, this game stands as a clarion call to come together. It recognizes that this is no easy feat, and can at times be painful. But building bridges, strands of connection between one another, is always worth the pain and the sacrifice. From it’s main character’s journey, to the story of the world he inhabits, right down to the innovative use of indirect cooperation between anonymous players, every in Death Stranding comes together to reinforce an important message: we need each other.

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