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.
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
© 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!
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!
Platform(s): ALL (+Mobile)
© 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
© 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
© 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.