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With the next generation of consoles due this year, Back to the Gaming took a moment to reflect on our personal favourite games that the current generation had to offer. The PlayStation 4 and Xbox One had some incredible gaming experiences, and the following list barely scratches the surface. Don’t be offended if your favorite isn’t on here. These are our picks, but there are most definitely more amazing games from the last six years than there are writers on this piece!
God of War (2018)
My game of the current console generation has to be the magnificent God Of War (2018) made by Sony Santa Monica Studios. I was a fan of the older God of War games and played all of them. Although I did not think they were anything special, I loved Kratos as a character and I enjoyed his whole backstory in the games. 2018’s God Of War changed the way we see Kratos, with the addition of his son Atreus. Seeing Kratos bring up his son, who has a completely different attitude to his father, was incredible.
I also loved the story of God Of War. We meet some amazing characters, including main villain Baldur. Some of the fights with Baldur are superhero-like, and keep you gripped to your seat. Brok and Sindri are also two great characters who help Kratos and Atreus on their journey.
One of the big changes with God of War was making the game into more of an RPG compared to the previous action-adventure style games. The whole system fits well and allows a lot of customization especially with armor and weapons. You can tailor Kratos for whatever fight is upcoming. Need fire resistance? Equip a piece of armor with this on, and your fight will be a little easier. The combat system with the ability to chain skills is another amazing feature as one again you can tailor your skills to whatever fight you are about to have. Some enemies will take more damage from fire, or from ice. Boss fights are amazing and brutal, especially fights against the Valkyries. These are the hardest bosses to fight but they reward great loot if you manage to defeat them. God Of War is not only my favorite game of this console generation, but is one of my favorite games of all time. I definitely recommend it as a game you have to play at least once in your lifetime.
Horizon: Zero Dawn
I guess you can teach an old Guerilla new tricks. It was so nice to see the Killzone boys spread their wings and try something new. And they did not fall, they flew. Horizon: Zero Dawn is a wonderfully constructed world. I honestly thought this might just be your typical open-world loot-a-thon, but the key element of the machines really make it stand out amongst the crowd.
The story elements are way more involved than I was expecting. I thought maybe I would get a few cutscenes here and there, as Aloy did side quests for villagers. Instead, there is a full chat wheel to let you have as in-depth conversations with the inhabitants of the world as you wish. Sure the “choices” you make are pretty meaningless, but the game never sells itself as a choice-driven experience, so I viewed those as just a little extra flavor.
The different machines you encounter are all incredibly unique. They also have a story purpose that really took me by surprise. The first time I saw a Tallneck around a corner, it took my breath away. The draw distance is fantastic. Being able to see a Storm Bird gliding on the winds of distant lands as a speck in the distance really immersed me in this creative environment. Aloy herself is a wonderful protagonist, who I enjoyed every minute I got to spend with. Horizon: Zero Dawn is easily one of the most unique games I’ve played in a long time, and easily deserves a spot in the list of top games from the current generation.
Devil May Cry 5
Ten years since Devil May Cry 4 released and five since the much-loathed series reboot DmC, it was clear to most Devil May Cry fans that the series was completely dead. It was then at E3 in 2018 that finally, a new game was announced. Naturally the fanbase, myself included, had astronomically high expectations for its return, so it makes me so happy to say that Devil May Cry 5 has turned out to be one of my favorite games ever.
As far as the gameplay is concerned, each character plays completely differently while retaining the same control scheme. Additions like Nero’s Devil Breaker arms, Dante’s extra weapon slots and the more defensive new character V all help with the game’s replayability. This is also helped by the ridiculous move set variety, with Dante being able to specialize his move set on the fly, Nero’s robotic arms giving every level a new layer of strategy, or the versatility of V’s familiars coming together to create unbelievable combos. Experimentation is incentivized through the void practice mode and the style system, which rewards you based on your move variety with red orbs to buy more moves to experiment with. The difficulty levels that gradually unlock with each playthrough push you further and further until you completely master the game.
What makes Devil May Cry 5 truly special is its understanding of what made the series great. Sprinkled throughout are a bunch of references to the series’ past, with things as simple as a single word in a description, or as major as the inclusion of characters from the Devil May Cry anime. Devil May Cry 5 also exemplifies the series’ tone, treading the fine line between cool and utterly stupid. It does so with a self-awareness that is especially apparent in the taunts and many of the game’s one-liner filled cutscenes that hits a tonal balance that the series has never achieved before. On top of this, the series’ iconic blend of gothic architecture and modern technology has been perfected in Devil May Cry 5’s Redgrave city, which is my favorite location in the series.
You should absolutely buy Devil May Cry 5 now. The game is fun, frantic and I had a huge grin on my face every second I played it. It is at its best when you have played the older games, but even on its own, I would quite easily say that it’s the best action game ever made and it’s absolutely worth your time.
Resident Evil VII
My favorite game of this generation is Resident Evil VII. While I had my reservations when it was revealed back in 2016, those reservations were put to rest once I played the demo. In contrast to installments from the last generation, Resident Evil VII takes note from the classic games making horror the main focus. It also addressed my problem of Capcom constantly reusing the same characters. Instead, Resident Evil VII puts players in the shoes of Ethan Winters, who isn’t part of a special trained task force, but just an average man searching for his wife. Do not let the switch to a first-person perspective turn you away from this title.
Resident Evil VII was a pleasant surprise and a great experience. It returns to the slow paced and tense style of the classic games and focuses on survival and item management. It has its flaws — I would have liked Ethan to have a bit more personality and the game’s enemies (The Mold) to have a bit more variation. Despite this I enjoyed Resident Evil VII immensely for its overall gameplay and design.
INSIDE, a 2.5d puzzle-platformer developed by Playdead Studios, is my favorite game of this generation. Building off the successes of its predecessor LIMBO, INSIDE combines a haunting atmosphere, a rich soundtrack, and intuitive gameplay into what I would call an unmissable experience. I myself played the game in one sitting (quite manageable at the game’s three hours average playtime), and I would recommend this approach to anyone who has the ability to do so. In this setting, the game truly sucked me in. The experience and the emotions it provoked within me are still fresh even now. It is not a happy game. It stays with you, unresolved.
INSIDE explains very little to you, from the controls to the narrative, but I think that this adds to the experience. Without spoiling anything, I can say that the player is encouraged to look upon both the game’s world and also their own actions with a critical eye. This is something that many games avoid, content instead to spoon-feed players the story and circumstances of the world they are playing in, and their role within it.
Whilst there are many outstanding and inventive moments within the gameplay, my one consent to criticism is that certain sections of the game can become slightly easy and repetitive; changing from a puzzle-platformer into something more resembling a walking simulator. And yet these moments are rare and, in my opinion, fully complimented by the intriguing and disturbing world in which the game takes place. As a final word then — INSIDE is a game for those people who want to be brought into a dark and mysterious world, left, at the end, with little comfort and many things to think about.
Persona 5 Royal
Persona 5, (and by extension, Persona 5 Royal) is the best game of the generation. As a JRPG, it is the Mona Lisa of JRPGs. The gameplay is as smooth as it is buttery. The flow of gameplay is easy to get swept into. The “Once More”, “Baton Pass”, and “All Out Attack” mechanics are parts of JRPG combat that I didn’t know I wanted. The dungeon-crawling is encouraged to be done all at once and makes what is normally a slog into an action-packed experience.
The visuals may not be what you expect from a triple A game. Major cutscenes are rendered as regular models, or they are 2D anime videos. Yet, ignoring the models and the cutscenes, the visuals are breathtakingly good. The UI is gorgeous. Not in the simple elegance, but rather oozing in style. Nothing is linear, each menu gives more information in a way that is easy to understand, and still looks amazing. The characters look fairly plain, until they wear their Phantom Thieves outfits. The Personas are beautifully designed. Each is highly detailed and greatly animated. Persona 5 has the best soundtrack of any video game I’ve ever played. Each song fits in each situation.
Yet, JRPGs live and die on their story. P5 is a story about freedom and imprisonment. The story tells you that the world is terrible, and it’s up to you to fix it. Then it gives you the tools to change the world. Each character is well designed to express these stories of sadness, but gives each one the ability to liberate themselves from the wretched adults that wish to restrain them. This culminates like seemingly every JRPG, where you eventually have to fight God. You don’t want the game to end, and when it does it makes you say goodbye to each and every one of your friends.
Everything that Persona 5 does, it does well and with style. There isn’t a portion of the game that feels bad. I highly recommend everyone playing it. If you can get past the overtly Japanese parts, you are in store for the best game I have ever played.
Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
It is hard to pick the defining game of a generation, but for me I have to say that the fourth title of the Uncharted franchise stunned me on release and still does to this day. The series has always tried to be bold, and it got more and more grand with each passing title. The fourth title continues this step up in grandeur, whilst keeping the experience a lot more grounded and relatable. A Thief’s End still has you trying to find a treasure, but this time the stakes are more personal.
Nathan Drake’s brother has resurfaced after being thought dead, and Drake must step out of retirement to save him. He lies to his wife, and even ignores Sully (his father figure) in the pursuit to save his brother. This kind of thing is much more relatable and therefore compelling to the player, especially when you get later in the game where you see both betrayal and forgiveness.
The gameplay is refined from the third title but doesn’t feel so different that it alienates long-time players. There are new mechanics which worked extremely well on the upgraded PS4 hardware, such as the mudslides and grapplehook jumps. Set pieces also make a return and even though there are less this time round they are all extremely well put together and feel almost cinematic. Uncharted had small beginnings, but Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End truly achieved greatness.
With the jump towards the next generation of video games, there were a lot of titles that held a special place in my heart. Games that made me laugh and cry, but there were also titles that made me feel like a total badass while wreaking havoc amid scattered blood and guts — Borderlands. A string of titles that shaped a genre of shoot and loot. It was a hit of nostalgia, and a personal favorite.
From the very first game to the latest installment, the adrenaline rush never ceased. From the explosive face-smashing journey I had with Brick, to the hell raised by Moze and Iron Bear, Borderlands always had this familiar formula that only got better and better, while managing to stay within its roots.
Borderlands 3, this generation’s title of the Gearbox franchise, is truly a masterpiece. It made its predecessors proud by taking the beloved Borderlands formula and expanded it a thousand-fold — down to its cell-shaded and heavily outlined art style. Looting while blowing flesh up into smithereens only got better with Borderlands 3, and with the leap towards the new generation, I hope to see more of it — even improved in ways that I could never imagine, while letting me reminisce the moments of my childhood.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
From my early days playing Mass Effect and Dragon Age, I’ve always loved a big expansive RPG to get lost in. I was one of the rare few that loved The Witcher, the original game in CD Projekt Red’s genre-defining franchise. Even then, I couldn’t imagine what The Witcher would become.
I didn’t jump on the hype train with The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt until much later. I was intimidated by its size, knowing that my tendency to complete every last inch of a game would result in 100s of hours spent traversing The Continent. By the time I played it, both DLC expansions and a Game Of The Year edition were out. I’m glad I waited, I played the definitive edition of the greatest RPG— no, the greatest game— ever made.
The Witcher 3 doesn’t settle for filling its enormous world with filler nonsense. Every quest, from the dramatic main story to the smallest of fetch quests, have purpose and logic. Their characters are memorable, and even a monster-hunting commission can twist into a heart-wrenching question of your own morality and cause. The combat is simple or as complex as you want it to be. Depending on your difficulty setting, it can vary from simple dodging and sword swiping to a multi-faceted combination of drinking the correct potions, using the correct magical Signs, and parrying and dodging sword play. The world is beautiful to behold, to the point that my screenshot key was beginning to look worn out by the end of it. Geralt himself as a complicated character, but driven by your choices he can be the kind of Witcher you want him to be, with decisions that leave a genuine lasting impact on the world and your endings. Even the mini-game in The Witcher 3 is expertly thought-out — Gwent is so addictive and enjoyable that it created not one but two separate spin-off games of its own.
The Witcher 3 released five years ago, and even now it remains one of the biggest, prettiest, deepest, and best-written games ever made. If, like me, you’ve been scared off by its size, I can only say that it’s totally worth it.
Agree or disagree with our choices? You can let us know in the comments below or on social media. No matter your preference, there’s no denying what a great console generation this has been. Here at Back to the Gaming, we’re super excited about the next generation, too!
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I have had a passion for writing almost as long as my passion for video games. Which came first, the controller or the pen?
My earliest memories include stapling A4 papers together to make books to write on, and playing Super Mario on the NES with my brother. Now I play a huge variety of game genres, platforms and styles, from indie to AAA, from 2 hour experiences to 50 hour marathons, from RTS to FPS to RPG and every three letter acronym in-between.