What’s that? Work? It’s January already? Excuse the bleary eyes, and the inability to get up when the alarm goes off. We’re still in Christmas mode. As we bed back in to working life bringing you all the hot video game coverage and all that, we thought we’d take a few moments to scoot around the team (except for Sherif, who is still off, the lucky sod) and let you all know what we’ve been playing over the holidays.
What games did you play during the break? Sound off in the comments…!
Alex Donaldson, Assistant Editor
I have to be honest - this wasn’t the biggest holiday season for me from a video game perspective. We’ve just had a baby, so as you can imagine, Christmas was busy with family and friends ramming into the house to see the new arrival. I also built a whole lot of Lego. With that said, I found time for a few things.
First up, I need to talk about The Forgotten City. I can’t believe I missed this last year - had I played this indie gem before we’d written up our game of the year articles, it would’ve been a serious contender for inclusion on my list. It’s a lovely adventure game, and is basically the perfect length for a game of this type. I finished it in two evenings, in two moderate-length sessions. It’s difficult to believe that it was made by such a small team - it’s a triumph. I love the setting - I’m a sucker for Rome - and likewise for time loop stories. It’s great.
I also returned to SimCasino, a game I’ve written about a few times on VG247 in the past. This is out of Early Access now, and while I think it’s still lacking in difficulty and challenge (the house always wins, after all), there’s still something incredibly satisfying about tweaking settings, the layout, and the general flow of your hotel-casino to maximize earnings. It’s quickly climbing into a list of PC games I’ll leave installed as a bit of gaming ‘comfort food’.
I got a lot of mileage out of the Analogue Pocket, which I reviewed right before the break. This astonishing little handheld has rekindled my love of a whole lot of Game Boy classics, and even some Game Gear games. I played through Sonic 1 & 2 GG on it, played a bunch of Final Fantasy 6 (GBA will likely still be the definitive version, as the upcoming Pixel Remaster will be missing that version’s added content), and picked up a probably twenty-year old save file on Super Mario Land 2: Six Golden Coins. Unfortunately, I also discovered that one of the most popular Game Boy flash carts, the EverDrive GB X7, is currently intermittently incompatible with the Pocket. Hopefully an update to one or both devices fixes that.
Finally, a few other things I want to shout out:
- I continued to play a load of Halo Infinite multiplayer, because of course I did. Damn, that game is good - when the netcode is functioning right, anyway.
- Halo Infinite also sent me down a lore rabbit hole, and I played some Halo Wars 2, though it didn’t grab me strongly enough for me to finish it. It’s good, but it’s no Command & Conquer, is it?
- On New Year’s Eve we had some friends over, and some Covid-isolating friends joined us over Discord. During that, we broke out It’s Quiz Time to partake in its 2021 quiz of the year event. That game is a real gem on Steam, and has been a key component of two pandemic New Year celebrations in a row now.
Tom Orry, Editor-in-Chief
You know what, I don't think I played a single video game over the Christmas break. Certainly not in a proper way, anyway. I jumped into a few to get my Microsoft Reward Points, but I didn't play anything. I also climbed onboard the Wordle bandwagon, making its world puzzle part of my morning routine, along with two mince pies, Nutella on toast, and some chocolates. At least Wordle should continue on for a while longer, even if the opulent eating has come to an abrupt end.
What I did, however, was give my eight-year-old Breath of the Wild for Christmas, along with a huge guide book. The good news is that he loves both and has been avidly reading when he's not playing. I'm very much looking forward to seeing how he gets on as he ventures further into Hyrule.
Aside from that, I did a fair bit of freezer rearranging, like I was in a tasty Resident Evil spin-off, multiple LFTs, and ordered far too many takeaways.
Oh, and I'm still not into Halo Infinite's open-world yet.
Dorrani Williams - Video Producer
We are back already!!?? I'm not even out of my Christmas food coma yet. That Holiday flew by way too fast but I'm sort of excited it did because this first quarter of the year is looking great for games.
One of the games I'm most looking forward to is Elden ring, and in preparation for it I decided to go back to Bloodborne and Sekiro over the Christmas break. I managed to complete them both and would like to think I'm more than ready for any challenge Elden ring will throw at me.
Some quick “Hey, I liked that” things from both games.
- Enemies in yarnham screaming “This towns finished!” upon death.
- Weapon transform attack combos with the trick weapons
- Being able to play aggressive to get my health back
- Great map design
- The death blow sound is eargasmic and never got boring
- Infinite stamina
- Fun bosses, even Guardian ape -_-
- Easier to understand than the other Fromsoft games
- Also great map design
I really enjoyed my time with the two games but I wouldn't recommend Soulsborne games to everyone as I don't think a lot of players will have the patience to persist through dying to the same boss over and over again.
Also, Banged out some Apex Legends as I always do.
Connor Makar - Staff Writer
Believe it or not, I think I actually played less games over the holidays than I would have if I were working. The plan was a total detox, a full top-to-bottom cleanse to refresh myself for the new year. However I must confess, I did have a few cheat days. Okay, maybe a bunch of cheat days, but it’s the thought that counts right?
Wasteland 3 was a great time sink through a fair few chilly evenings. A brilliant RPG by inXile entertainment, you as a ranger in a post-apocalyptic America must secure a valuable supply line back to your faction in order to survive. Being in the holiday spirit, I proceeded to play the most deranged murderer I could reasonably justify. The best part? The game let me do it - I even got a good ending! Brilliant game.
I did actually want to jump into Final Fantasy 14 this holiday season, but that game is apparently popping off so hard they had to stop letting people buy it. As a result, I fell back into Classic World of Warcraft, the video game equivalent of going out for a fancy meal, only to drunkenly stumble towards the local kebab van. I logged in practically everyday and ran decades-old heroic dungeons with divorced dads, scratching that MMO itch that always seems to pop up once every four months.
I may be the only person in the whole of Games Media more excited about King of Fighters 15 than Elden Ring for February, because I’m a massive loser. Such is the extent of my lack of coolness that I actually went back to play a bunch of the older titles in the series. King of Fighters 13 is so good. Did you know that it’s the last game in the series where they used 2D sprites instead of 3D models? The game looks gorgeous mate, and it’s packed full of deep enriching gameplay that you just can’t get from other games. Me and the fifteen other people playing it agree, it’s stellar.
I’m happy to be back to work, writing about some of the most popular games out there for you wonderful people. That is unless an NFT mess takes the number one spot, at which point I’ll likely go and fashion a home out of an old Tekken 3 arcade cabinet and Genshin Impact Primo Gem gift cards, before disconnecting from the internet forever.
James Billcliffe - Guides Editor
I started 2022 how I intend to go on, a year where we get a FromSoft and Team Ninja game back-to-back, in what I’m calling: The Year of the Aneurysm.
Before I committed to playing it over the break, I asked Dorrani about his game of the year, Metroid Dread.
“I just want a kinda relaxing adventure to play over Christmas”, I said, a dummy dumb dumb dumb.
“I dunno, man,” he murmured in reply.
He was right to doubt.
Throughout Metroid Dread, the planet ZDR plays host to a baffling mixture of near-perfect ambiance, engrossing sci-fi, joyless trial-and-error, and inscrutable navigation that goes full Simon’s Quest on more than one occasion.
I love it. I hate it. 4 stars.
Elsewhere, the insatiable collect-a-thon of Forza Horizon 5 continues to rev my engine, even if the niggling realisation that every car in the game will need to be imminently banned lest the Earth set on fire has dissuaded me from trying to get a real-life Nice Car.
There are just so many iconic cars to jump into, so many endlessly varied races to complete, so many challenges to master and rewards to hoard that I can see myself booting it up nightly for a good while yet.
Then finally, on the PS5 I’ve been plodding through the excellent Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart. It’s a perfect example of one of those near-launch, first-party games that’s pretty much a must-play simply because it’s so expensively produced.
While I don’t think it quite troubles Sly 2 at the absolute pinnacle of younger gamer-friendly character action games, it has a similar emphasis on exploring diverse worlds and drawing on tons of different gameplay mechanics and mini-games to tell its story (as all Ratchet games have too tbf) and is very easy to recommend.
Stephany Nunneley, News Editor
When it comes to the holidays, it is always a busy time for me. Running here, there, and everywhere to buy presents, baking cookies, bread, pies, and roasting cinnamon and brown sugar nuts which are always in demand with my family and friends. I also had to decorate the outside of the house, and while I usually do the inside as well, like last year, I didn’t put up a tree. I bought this house last year, and it is so much smaller than the large late-1800’s era farmhouse we lived in prior, so our tree is just too big to fit. I will get a smaller tree at some point I suppose.
Anyway, that said, I did find some time to play a bit during my time off. A friend of mine gifted me a Steam Early Access game called Potion Craft, and I am enjoying it so far and absolutely adore the visuals inspired by medieval manuscripts and medical books.
It’s basically an alchemist simulator that features sandbox-style gameplay, and as the title implies, you are tasked with creating potions. You work with all sorts of ingredients such as leaves, flowers, roots, minerals, mushrooms, and more, and then grind them up using your mortar and pestle. You then pop the ingredients into your cauldron and voila! - you have a potion. There’s the ability to create new recipes, and some of your concoctions will have consequences depending on what you sell to customers.
You can even grow your own ingredients, or if you prefer, buy from merchants. There’s the option to make your bottles more appealing by picking a color, creating labels, and giving each one a custom name. I have found it to be rather fun and relaxing so far, and my goal is to become not only wealthy but possibly even decide the fate of the town.
The other game I played during the holidays was The Lord of the Rings Online. The Yule Festival was live during this time, and while festivals can always be a bit of a grind, I was anxious to earn enough tokens to add a new mount to my stable and buy a new dress. After all, you can’t run around Middle-earth looking shabby and riding a generic-looking horse, can you?
Dom Peppiatt - Features Editor
First, let me take this opportunity to say a formal hello! I have been freelancing for VG247 for a few years now, and as of 2022 I’m officially part of this ragtag family. Nice to meet you all – let’s get to know each other.
In December 2021, my partners and I were struck down pretty hard with Covid-19. Boo. The upside? It meant I got to share gaming with two people that are very close to me, who usually do not spend that much time wrapped up in virtual worlds.
This meant I, once again, spent a lot of time trying to score drugs off kids and making questionable romantic choices in Disco Elysium’s Revachol. Conducting a playthrough with my protagonist set up as an apocalypse-tempting neoliberal empath as my partner ran through it all as a feminist communist philosopher was a fun exercise in seeing just how disparate different runs of the game could go. Trading stories over calls and texts about little lines that do and don’t happen here, what characters we did and didn’t meet, which events went well and which may as well have ended the game… that’s the beauty of these sprawling RPGs, and there’s something about sniffing around the deserted streets of Revachol whilst you’re locked in the house with rain beating on the windows that provides a certain amount of pessimistic comfort. Shout out to Sea Power for soundtracking a particularly dreary December, then.
At home, my nesting partner and I needed something a little more wholesome. Taking all the speed in Disco Elysium was starting to take its toll on me, after all. We headed to Pelican Town and set up a two-person farmship in Stardew Valley, writing the outline for our own rags-to-riches story on a riverside allotment specialising in selling beans and fruits. It turns out we may have been cut out for that kind of bucolic life; the two-person venture has kicked off a lot quicker (and become a lot more profitable) than any of the solo farms I’ve ever attempted to get off the ground. Turns out Stardew Valley is a much easier game when two of you can share the watering, the weeding, the chopping and the mining. Whoda thunk it. We named the dog we were gifted from a local farmer Frodo – naturally named after our own anxious little ball of fur, and we were on the precipice of expanding our fledgling chicken empire the last time we put the pads down.
In terms of solo gaming, I’ve been getting back into Halo via Halo Infinite. Lots of solo multiplayer sessions after too much beer and running rampant in SWAT – oh, sorry, Tactical Slayer – was the name of the game as I digested my Christmas ham. I wrapped up the Campaign on Heroic, and I’m already hovering my finger on the button to confirm the start of my Legendary, All Skulls On run.
Finally, I had a couple of little blasts of Monster Hunter Rise here and there, too – I’m eager to get my sword and shield arms ready and muscle-memory primed for the game’s glorious release on PC next week.