What was the most surprisingly good game you played in the last generation?

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kronixi

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Considering their is a post about the most disappointing I thought id create this for balance.

My game is going to be Dragon Ball FighterZ, after a long list of rubbish fighting games this one felt the most like a good fighting game with all the characters i love. I looked over budokai's many faults in the past.

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liquiddragon

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Watch Dogs 2. That's the only WD I've played but I thought it was pretty solid. I love open world games in a contemporary urban setting and I'm sad open world games have generally moved away from them. WD2 did an admirable job of filling that void.

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fisk0

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#3 fisk0  Moderator

Don't know if it's quite in the spirit of the question, but I guess i was a little surprised by just how good Civilization VI was after how disappointed I was in Civilization V. With all the expansion and seasonal DLC stuff Civ VI is nearly on par with my favorites in the series, which I think was in a steady decline over the last 20 years otherwise.

There's of course also been some surprisingly good licensed games, like Terminator Resistance, Battlestar Galactica Deadlock and Gemini: Heroes Reborn. None of them will be on any of my all-time favorites lists by any means, but they still ended up way better than I'd ever have expected.

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sparky_buzzsaw

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For me personally, Stardew. I would not have expected to play a farming game this much.

What deserves to be mentioned even if I haven't played? Fortnite. From what the previews were to what the game became... Incredible.

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Humanity

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As a game that I didn't expect to be good but I ended up really enjoying that would probably be The Surge and subsequently the sequel. On the surface it looked like little more than another Souls type clone but that game has a lot of really clever and most importantly rewarding systems at play. I feel like a lot of games I've played recently are mostly punitive. The Surge gives you options and abilities that all enhance what is already fun instead of helping you play catchup with overwhelming odds.

I wrote about this game a lot already so I won't blabber but yah - was real surprised to become a huge fan of those games and hope they make another one.

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brian_

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The first thing that came to my mind was Wolfenstein: The New Order. I usually don't give a damn about FPS games, but I think that game just hit a really great mix of tone and fun gameplay.

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FacelessVixen

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Nioh 2. I went in thinking "Okay. This is Team Ninja's take on a souls-like. Let's just see how this goes" with my usual low expectations. Over 170 hours later, and it's probably my favorite souls-like, if not a very close second to Dark Souls 1. In any case, it's the Japanese themed souls game that I wanted Sekiro to be because character customization is my favorite feature in games.

Also, though I did enjoy Senran Kagura Peach Beach Splash at launch, Tamsoft tightening up the mouse and keyboard controls and me changing the game's soundtrack with Mick Gordon makes me feel like I'm playing either Quake or Unreal.

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LonelySpacePanda

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Loving Nioh 2 as well, thought that feels very much current gen to me as I'm playing on PS5 and it's very nice!

I'd give my vote to Ikenfell. This is a gem of a JRPG that mashes together Mother 3, Undertale, Harry Potter, and Steven Universe. It's such a pleasant and comforting game with fantastic visuals and music. I've seen some criticize it for being too difficult but that's perfect for me as I don't like most JRPGs because they don't require much thought. Really left scratching my head on why this went under the radar.

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El_Blarfo

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I borrowed Witcher 3 from a friend on a whim and ended up being totally sucked in. I had avoided it on the assumption that I'd need encyclopedic knowledge of the first two games, but nope! For as epic as it is, it actually gets you up to speed with Its world pretty quickly.

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Ben_H

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Dirt Rally for me. I had lost faith in the Dirt games after the third one and had essentially given up hope of Codemasters ever making a true sequel to the last Colin McRae game. When I heard they were making a dedicated rally game I had just assumed it'd be like Dirt 3 and be somewhat arcade-y. Instead what we got was a proper sequel to the Colin McRae games that was just as unforgiving and tough as I wanted. I ended up getting a racing wheel and between both of the Dirt Rally games have put in hundreds of hours.

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Nodima

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Just wanna walk myself through my trophies and list a few great surprises, then I'll go back and bold my choice! Partially because I just prefer lists to dropping a definitive statement, partially because I'm pretty sure I'll like a game before I play it so it's far less often I'm surprised by something I play in a good way rather than a bad way.

First up, while it straddles generations, I wanted to include Tomb Raider purely because I hated this franchise previously, yet Tomb Raider was such an enjoyable mix of Metroid and Uncharted that I played it for free on PS+, then immediately played it again at full price on PS4 after finishing inFamous Second Son. One of the few PS+ games I've found an alternative way to pay for later just as a show of appreciation.

Likewise, Until Dawn is nominally in a genre I generally steer far clear of (horror) in a style of game that was beginning to feel stale fast (choose-your-own-adventure-but-not-really) that might still be the definitive example of how to make both things extremely palatable to general audiences? It's also the ultimate pass the controller game for people in relationships, especially when you play the opposite sex and get into all kinds of silly fights over your choices.

Apex Legends wasn't just legitimately a surprise for the entire gaming world, it's the only competitive FPS I've played a significant amount of since the original Modern Warfare. I was genuinely getting into the meta up through season 3 and getting almost to level 100 on the battle pass each season. It even had me scheduling gaming sessions with a couple dudes I mostly aged out of friendship with from high school and using a mic to communicate with both them and strangers - I never do that! I probably fell off around the time Loba was introduced to the game, but I'm still kinda shocked I spent so much time with a FPS in general, let alone one as competitive as Apex.

Gotta give a shoutout to Horizon: Zero Dawn, which I'm pretty sure isn't going to be my choice in the end, but for as much as I enjoyed the Killzone franchise overall it just seemed like a stretch that Guerilla would be able to pull off an open world pseudo-RPG. Turned out, not only could they build intriguing worlds but they'd learned how to make them tick beyond the broad strokes and aesthetics, and giving them the keys to a third-person character with a more diverse/creative set of offensive tools allowed them to design either the best or tied for best combat system in, I don't know, all of video games? That's my humble opinion, anyway. I figured this game would be good, but how strongly it figures into my personal game of the generation conversation is wild.

Final Fantasy VII Remake, and there's not much reason to discuss why. I just want to say that it's still remarkable to me that they were able to make the combat both feel more active and modern but also completely indebted to how us gamers in our 30s now used to play RPGs like this back then. It's somehow deeply nostalgic without ever fully investing itself in that nostalgia, and that's no easy feat.

13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim deserves a shoutout because it's the only visual novel I've ever played in my life, and may maintain that distinction for the rest of my life, but I wouldn't be surprised if I play this game again during some cold winter. What a ride.

Nier: Automata also deserves a nod, though it was hard to be surprised by what it was after assuming I'd never play it and listening to so many podcast conversations go in-depth on what made the game so surprising for so many critics. My experience with this game was one of admiration, not shock.

...Thinking back, it just has to go to Apex Legends for me, almost solely because it is a type of a game I just couldn't care much less about and have no itch to either return to or find a replacement for now, and yet for nearly an entire year it totally upended how and why I played video games. Major props to Respawn for that one.

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noboners

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Final Fantasy VII Remake for me. Between the development cycle and the fact that I hadn't enjoyed a Final Fantasy game since X, I just did not expect to love it like I did.

Honorable Mention to Wolfenstein: The New Order and Assassin's Creed: Origin though.

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noboners

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@lonelyspacepanda: ohhh I've been sitting on Ikenfell for a minute. I might play that after Chicory based on your description.

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Kyary

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This past generation was so insanely long that it's hard to feel like I'm not forgetting something, but Mario + Rabbids sounded like hot garbage and turned out really great.

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Mezmero

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#15  Edited By Mezmero

I'm looking over a games of decade draft I was putting together to try to puzzle out my levels of surprise. I know expectation should have a lot to do with it but even that seems like an iffy criteria in some cases.

I want to say Prey 2017. Some people were tepid on it, some were hot on it, some were bitter that Prey 2 didn't happen, I didn't know what to believe so I put off playing it. Finally I just played it and was pleasantly surprised how much I liked it. I wouldn't call it a flawless masterpiece but it nails the vibe of what it's going for a lot better than most stuff set in space. On top of that the Mooncrash add-on is an incredibly cool rogue-lite done with these same assets.

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DoctorFaust

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Yeah, the past generation started in late 2013 and I have perpetually low expectations for video games, so about a couple dozen titles come to mind. But the one that was both "most surprisingly" and "most good" would be Final Fantasy XIV.

MMOs are one of my least favorite genres by a wide margin, and Square had already left a bad impression with FFXI and the first attempt at FFXIV. It's still not for everybody, but it's very accessible for an MMORPG. What was most surprising about it was how each expansion was better than the last, so I'm talking about the experience of the entire FFXIV evolution rather than just playing A Realm Reborn or Shadowbringers as standalone games. Beyond that, I would say the story and the writing is better than most of the other Final Fantasies.

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Leviathan_Dive

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Horizon Zero Dawn for me. Loved the gameplay and the world. One of my all time favorites.

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Junkerman

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Days Gone for me. A surprisingly sincere and well performed story as well as a fun and interesting open world to explore.

At first glance ANOTHER zombie game with some edgey looking biker dude didnt strike me as interesting at all but I was pleasantly surprised once I eventually did pick it up.

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UranalTruce

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Gravity Rush 2 ended becoming my 2nd favorite game of all time.

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quasiconundrum

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For me, probably Hades. It's just a great game all around, of course, but it was surprising to me because I had never even remotely enjoyed rogue-likes/lites before.

If someone had told me that a rogue-like would end up being one of my favorite games of the last few years I would have thought they were nuts.

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octavis

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Mutant Year Zero (+ DLC) ended up being the game I played the most on my PS4 last year and for good reason. It was hella fun, great difficulty option and engaging story.

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ll_Exile_ll

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#22  Edited By ll_Exile_ll

I suppose there are multiple ways to interpret what it means to be most surprisingly good.

Horizon Zero Dawn is a new IP that became one of my favorite games of the generation, but I have a hard time considering a AAA first party Sony game being good a surprise.

Control was not on my radar prior to its release and I enjoyed it immensely, but I've liked other Remedy games and Control is a very much a Remedy game, but refined.

I guess when I really consider the idea of games I really enjoyed that were a surprise, I think more about games like Life is Strange and A Plague Tale: Innocence. I had no expectations nor any prior history with the developers of these game and I really enjoyed both of them.

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eccentrix

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Hot Lava

I thought it would be a generic first-person platformer based on similar mods, but it feels so good and the world and story drew me in. Plus all the collectables and hidden stuff kept me replaying levels to get all I could out of it.

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yyninja

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CrossCode for me. The QL for it wasn't demoed well (sorry Ben!) and it seemed like the entire crew quickly forgot about it.

It was on GamePass and I decided to try it on a whim. Absolutely loved it, the MMO sim aspects reminded me so much of my time playing vanilla WoW.

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chamurai

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#25  Edited By chamurai

Billion Road is a game I didn't think I'd play as much as I have.

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AV_Gamer

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I've already said it in a couple of different threads, but Days Gone surprised me with how good it turned out to be. This was mainly thanks to the PS5 taking advantage of the game's unlocked frame rate, allowing me the play the game at 60fps, unlike on my original PS4 where the game was slow, sluggish, and felt like a drag. Because of the improved frame rate and loading times, I was able to truly enjoy what the game was trying to do and it ultimately proved to be a very fun experience.

Another one would be Assassin's Creed: Valhalla. After the grind that was Odyssey, I thought the sequel would be more of the same, and while it is in some ways, they improved on all of the short comings in Odyssey and Origins and made one of the best games in the series. Yes, its long, but not as long as Odyssey, but more importantly, the pacing is much better in terms of missions and the overall story, so I didn't feel as long and overbearing. The raids are actually fun and a nice change to the ship battles that were introduced in Black Flag. And the new combat system they introduced in Origins and improved upon in Odyssey, is almost perfected in Valhalla.

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daiphyer

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I don't have a lot of time to play games anymore, but the ones I do play, I am very picky on. So with that in mind, I don't usually play something I am not super excited for. I was hopeful about Mutant: Year Zero after seeing the quick look, but man, did I LOVE that game.

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stealydan

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Remnant: From the Ashes was an extremely solid souls-like third-person shooter that I had way more fun with than I thought possible. At this point, I think I'm ready to be done with that style of game, but I'm so glad I have Remnant as a last hurrah in my gaming history (unless Elden Ring is amazing and I get sucked in again, here's hoping!).

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Giant_Gamer

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#29  Edited By Giant_Gamer

Bloodborne!

it was a console release game. Yet, to this day many consider it as one of the best Souls games.

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BaneFireLord

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I probably have a better answer lurking somewhere, but the first thing that springs to mind on a personal level is Jedi Fallen Order. I bought it dirt cheap to test-drive a new graphics card and didn’t expect to play much of it, since whatever fondness I once had for Star Wars was mostly dead at that point and I generally can’t abide Soulslikes. Turns out two mediocre tastes tasted great together and I devoured the game in about five days. Probably helps that Respawn is a hell of a developer and all the mechanics felt fantastic.

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pooky1979

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Return of the Obra Dinn. Didn't have many expectations as I'd not played Papers Please but Obra Dinn straight up fascinated me. Looking forward to forgetting everything so I can play it again one day.

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infantpipoc

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About any game I truly enjoyed since 2016. I'm cynical to the point that going into a game with lower to no exception is apparently the only way I can enjoy playing anything at all.

In 2016 I excepted to enjoy XCOM 2, that turns out to be a mess. Didn't except much from DOOM, personally game of that year.

In 2017 I excepted to enjoy Horizon Zero Dawn and Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild, played very little of both and fell into the NieR Automata deep hole.

In 2018, Shadow of the Tomb Raider came out to closed a trilogy I liked with a whimper, Hitman 2 came out and blew my socks off.

In 2019, I went into RESIDENT EVIL 2, Fire Emblem Three Houses and CONTROL with low exception and enjoyed all 3 a lot.

In 2020, DOOM Eternal came out finally and disappointed, Hades came out and surprised me quite a bit . I love Transistor, but went into not except much.

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tumes

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#33  Edited By tumes

I didn't really expect to like or not like What Remains of Edith Finch -- Mostly my expectations were just super tempered because Unfinished Swan felt like a entry from a particular era of indie game that had a really nice core but was kind of hamstrung by the limitations of tools being ok but not great and indie games generally being on the come up. Finch, however, is a game I still think about at least once every few weeks. Not necessarily perfectly fun or perfectly executed the whole way through, but it has stuck and probably will stick with me for a very long time.

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judaspete

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Slice, Dice, and Rice. I bring this up in a lot of threads, but I was very surprised how good it is. Not a lot of reviews to go off, and the few that it had were mixed. But it was on sale cheap, and I'm always on the lookout for a successor to Bushido Blade. In the pile of simple, one-hit-kill indie fighting games, this is the best.

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F1REv2

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I have multiple answers but at the top of the list has to be

The Witcher 3 because I did not think much of The Witcher 2. TW2 was just one of those 360 titles I played through once and none of it was really memorable to me.

I had finished Dragon Age Inquisition in mid 2015 and didn't really think too much of it, very formulaic and the side cast of characters just didn't click for me. I wanted to sink my teeth into another open world RPG and so I bought The Witcher 3 digitally on a whim about a couple of weeks after its release. Played it for about 3 hours and dropped it because it didn't click. A few weeks later I was off of work for 2 days because of a cold and so I restarted my play through and about 200+ hours and several weeks later, with both Velen and Skellige maps cleared out I was watching the ending.

The Witcher 3 is the game of last generation that ruined all other open world games for me. It made me realize how shallow Assasins Creed had become (before Origins) and how Bioware were just phoning it in with Andromeda and Inquisition. As I said I've had plenty of games where I've been surprised by them but The Witcher 3 was the only one where I didn't think much of the franchise and then it proceeded to ruin a whole genre for me after completion because of how great it was.

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bizarrohash

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Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order surprised me so much it ended up as my personal GOTY. I hadn’t enjoyed a Star Wars game that much since KOTOR, so I’d all but given up hope on ever getting one that good again.

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monkeyking1969

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I'd have to say Yakuza 0. I don't think I would have enjoyed Yakuza as a game until they hit the 0 engine. So when that game arrived and was so enjoyable it was nice.

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Panfoot

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A Plague Tale: Innocence was an incredibly great surprise that just kinda came out of nowhere.

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imhungry

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I could probably find another answer if I thought hard enough but The Missing: J.J. Macfield and the Island of Memories springs to mind. I went into that expecting some goofy, campy SWERY game and came out of it having played one of the most well told narratives of the year, about a surprisingly progressive subject matter as well. Particular praise goes to the alignment of gameplay mechanics and story telling, something I'm a huge fan of.

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privajoni

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How far are we going back though, I still think we are not that far but it also feels like the last generation type of game. I would say Spore, it might not have been a hardcore game. But as a casual gamer myself, I'd like to say the amount of contents Spore gave was a childhood dream. I really wish they still do something about the games. Don't you think like its time some old games are to be reborn!

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johnnyvash

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GTA 5, Hitman, and FFXIV

I Remember getting GTA5 for the ps3. My lil brother and I tested how the Ai reacts from swinging a bat. We were generally Surprise with laughter. I'm Still surprise that this game despite the age, is still fun to explore and do random stuff to kill time.

Hitman 2016 had better gameplay plus large scale open environments.

I generally like Final Fantasy Stories, but never the JRPG gameplay standpoint? I try all of any FF and never got hooked on. But FFXIV was a game i truly got hooked. Because there's Balance between gameplay and Ui. Like the whole system made sense to me. Its always fun to have alot of people to play with on fates or Alliance raids. I understand not everyone can financially pay to play An MMO( As a NEET you can Start the free trial up to lvl 60 heavenwards DLC ). But I also understand there's two different crowds that SQuare Enix must support.

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FacelessVixen

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#43  Edited By FacelessVixen

Sword Art Online: Fatal Bullet bears mentioning as well. I still won't watch the anime, but the game being a Phantasy Star Online clone works to its benefit for when I just wanna shoot shit and fashion souls.

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anywhereilay

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Jason's Deli rekindled my love with the culinary genre. By removing artificial micro transactions, they iterated on my favourite series in a positive way. Definitely helped me get over the disappointing RDR 2.

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serryl

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Shadow Warrior was my suprise favorite of the generation.

I believe I got it used as part of a "buy one, get one" sale when I bought my Xbox One. The only thing I knew was that it had the most interesting cover of all the used games sitting on the shelf.

For whatever reason, it ended up being the first Xbox One game I played when I got the new console hooked up. It was also my first game played on a 1080p TV, and it really blew me away coming from the Xbox 360. Beyond being impressed by all the next-gen wizardry, I was surprised at how fun the core gameplay and story were too.

Definitely the game that most exceeded my expectations.

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Onemanarmyy

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#46  Edited By Onemanarmyy

The Sexy Brutale and Obra Dinn for me. Sexy Brutale unfolded slowly, but at the end of it all the story worked so nicely on multiple layers that i looked back upon it being quite impressed with this game that i didn't even finish the quicklook for. It felt like a mixture of Bioshock, Majora's Mask, Cluedo & Luigi's Mansion, while still giving you gameplay that felt quite novel with it's timeloop aspects. If you like games like Outer Wilds, definitly check this out.

Obra Dinn, i played a demo of it a while ago and didn't think too much of it, but once the whole thing was out there i really ended up enjoying it all.

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rand0mZer00

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Stardew Valley.

Gave it a shot years ago and couldn't get into it. Tried it again after how much my brother loved it and 188 hours later, it's one of my favorite games of all time.

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AshuSP

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#49  Edited By AshuSP

A few that stand out as games I would have expected to either drop the ball, not be my kinda game or just wholly surprised the heck out of me as an unknown.

Mario + Rabbids: What a good video game. I don’t have the chops for X-Com but serving a light variation of it with easy to digest dressings and mechanics really had me smiling in surprise in the early hours and enjoying the longivity in the later hours.

Monster Hunter World: Like many, this one finally hooked me. I finally got “it”. The appeal of a hunter style game. I didnt break 200 hours but to break 100 and have a great time with friends much of it was a treat.

Hades: I loved the art and worldbuilding of the developer’s previous games but never finished any of them. I didn’t even play Pyre. Hades though. I mean… HADES THOUGH. What a video game. What fantastic mechanics, what style, what longivity, what moment to moment action that reminds me of Halo’s self-described “30 seconds of fun” philosophy. I will come back to Hades once a year most likely the way I do with Zelda and Metroid.

Sayonara Wild Hearts: I’m not a fan of mobile games beyond solitare and other card games. I begrudgingly played Sonic 1 and 2 on mobile because they are the best available versions (a mistake that is finally being fixed next year). Sayonara Wild Hearts had me from start to finish. Sure it was on console but I was checking out Apple Arcade. It certainly won’t be everyone’s cup of tea and some would likely respond with “overrated runner”. Music taste is subjective like all art. But the music, the visuals, the light gameplay and the way it all blends to tell a story of lost love and anger, it surprised the hell out of me. I loved Sayonara Wild Hearts and had every expectation not to. That is the very best flattery I can pay any game at the end of the day.

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FacelessVixen

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Fallout 76, with the one major stipulation being that I started playing the game this year as opposed to at launch.

It's Fallout 4 with multiplayer, which already works for me. But the game runs better than Fallout 4 and, mostly, supports 21:9. I'm getting a good sense of progression with 76's S.P.E.C.I.A.L. system. The micro-transactions are tempting but not predatory/pay-to-win. And people seem to be more cooperative than cantankerous.

I was expecting a shitstorm, but I got a new pseudo-MMO to kill time in, but I am hoping that Bethesda has the foresight to be able to easily turn this into an offline game when the servers are eventually shut down.