I haven't played anything new besides Sekiro this year; it did consume me for a month or two though. This is self-centered, but I prefer a lean year like this with one or two games that really speak to me, rather than a year with a bunch of high-profile releases that I end up feeling ambivalent about as was the case with last year.
Video games' lowbrow status doesn't exempt them from being critiqued from a social or political angle, regardless of whether or not a game sets out to make a political statement from the outset. Video games, after all, aren't made nor consumed in a vacuum. So, yeah, I find the type of discourse Waypoint engages in to be of value.
I usually don't play games purely for escapism. I care deeply about cultural representations in media, naturally including games, and it has informed my thoughts on many things, from a news segment to a video game character. Although to be fair, plenty of harmful cliches and stereotypes go over my head, which, again, why I find outlets like Waypoint to be important, and why I found discussing video games – media in general – from different perspectives to be truly educational.
I don't think approaching video games from that angle has lessened my enjoyment of playing them — not in the slightest.
I've yet to grow tired of the combat in the Souls games, so I'm interested, especially since it sounds like a successor to Dark Souls and not a direct sequel. Normally, I would roll my eyes on hearing that a developer wants to make an open world game, but I'm curious if From manages to marry the interconnectedness and design sensibilities of their worlds to a more expansive space.
I'm not sure what the GRRM collaboration entails, so I'm sort of ambivalent. GRRM is clearly a good writer and does world-building well, but I haven't felt like Fromsoftware's past games were particularly lacking in that regard. There's always room for improvement though, so why not?
I, too, have been "chosen" to play the closed alpha. After a couple of hours though, I'm not sure Nioh is for me. It draws inspiration from games that I really like, but its giant skill trees and focus on loot have put me off a bit. That said, I do appreciate that there's nothing like it.
Based on my brief time with the alpha, the combat seems competent in the very least; I imagine some of the depth comes from mastering the Ki recovery mechanic. Although, as a gameplay mechanic, it's too abstract and it kind of doesn't feed into any "fantasy" that I have playing the game.
Since I don't have the numbers, I can't really say if open-world games will remain popular, or even if they're as popular as they were in the past. Maybe the push for unionization discourages publishers and studio upper management from overworking developers to make enormous games with laundry lists of things to do?
The problem with many open-world games is that they don't justify their scope. Not in terms of gameplay (limited interactions with the world), nor quests and objectives (linear quest lines and restrictive objectives). If a studio doesn't have the means to invest in designing mechanics and systems for an open world game, then maybe they shouldn't.
I generally agree with @barrock, give me something like FromSoftware games, Prey, and Hyper Light Drifter, or more level-based games like Dishonored and Hitman. I'm hoping God of War's success encourages more developers and publishers to consider smaller scale open worlds.
Realizing the third movie is just around the corner, I decided to see the first two over the weekend. I think the second movie is markedly better than the first. There was plenty of bad acting – really bad acting – and writing in the first, and even though it was shorter, I felt like it dragged toward the end. I thought the world-building of the second movie was more engaging than the trite revenge tale of the first. Also, the music during the action set-pieces were less offensive in Chapter 2. I'm kind of curious where Atomic Blonde ranks. I've only seen it the one time, but I remember thinking it was better than the first John Wick.
The first thing I think of at the mention of world-building is immersive-sims: games like Bioshock, Dishonored, and Prey. Compared to a computer RPG, I don't know if the lore in those games is as dense, but each game establishes a good sense of place. Supergiant Games' games do a great job of presenting an otherworldly place. Pyre, in particular, gives the impression of having rich mythology and centuries worth of lore. Oh, and the world of Hyper Light Drifter was one of my favorites to explore, even though the game doesn't have any text.
I haven't played much else, but I'm still enamored by Sekiro, 40+ hours in. Marquee releases are becoming more homogenous, and there's less of them, so it's not common for me to play something that feels genuinely new. Sekiro may be the best game I've played in a while.
I should've realized this sooner, but yeah, blocking an attack mitigates all damage, even if it breaks your Posture. At which point, you can just safely retreat, or even start deflecting again after a second or two.
Speaking of things the game doesn't explicitly explain: when an enemy interrupts your attacks with a well-timed deflect (you should hear a louder clang), they will almost always counter-attack, which means it's time for you to start deflecting or blocking. Once I realized this, combat encounters had a much more enjoyable rhythm. Also, Posture recovers faster while guarding.