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The End of A Generation

Well the next generation is upon us. Across the globe people are sinking their teeth into Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla, Yakuza: Like A Dragon and Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War on the latest hardware from Sony and Microsoft. Of course, the eight generation isn’t over (I’m just being dramatic) but it has given us some great memories. During it we were enthralled by PlayStation’s first party line up, Xbox’s wonderful Game Pass and Nintendo’s innovative nature in both the Wii U and Switch. Below I’ve listed some of my favourite games from the generation. I will be missing some big names such as God of War, Horizon: Zero Dawn, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Gears 5, Red Dead Redemption II, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt and The Last of Us: Part II as I haven’t gotten around to them yet (I am so far behind, I’m still playing Shadow Hearts: Covenant). Of course, being a massive JRPG fan, this list will feature more than its fair share of them.

Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age (PlayStation 4)

One of my absolute favourite games of this generation. Dragon Quest XI was originally released on the PlayStation 4 in 2017 before seeing an enhanced version released on the Switch. All the tropes of the series return; the turn-based combat, the Akira Toriyrama designed characters and slimes (of course there had to be slimes). You take control of a hero as he sets out on a quest to discover his past and stop a powerful evil force. Along the way, you’ll recruit a handful of interesting characters, each with their own unique skill trees to develop. The skill tree system isn’t new to the series but it does allow you some customization over your party, fitting them to suit your style of attack. The combat, as mentioned above is turn-based, something which is sadly dying out. The game also features some excellent post-game content and is one I easily sunk over 100 hours into. It’s actually one of the few games I have the Platinum Trophy for.

Marvel’s Spider-Man (PlayStation 4)

Inomniac’s 2018 action adventure is one of the games PlayStation 5 owners will be able to experience as it’s received an upgraded version for the system. As expected, you play as Spider-Man as he swings his way around New York. The city is beautifully recreated, with Peter Parker able to go almost anywhere (as long as his webs have somewhere to catch on to). The main plot is excellent as you battle against the Sinister Six, with plenty of variety along the way. The side missions are probably one of the weaker areas in the game as they can become repetitive after a while. They do provide some much-needed experience points for the web-slinger, so I’d recommend doing them. One thing I love about this game is how it makes you feel like you’re Spider-Man. He moves so graciously through the air and is an absolute joy to control. This is another game I got a Platinum on, which really does say something.

F1 2020 (Xbox One)

As I write this, Lewis Hamilton has just won his seventh Driver’s Championship. A truly remarkable achievement. This game is another remarkable achievement. With the lockdowns and the F1 2020 calendar all up in the air, it’s amazing that Codemasters managed to release this terrific game. Not only did they update the visuals and make tweaks to the driving, they added in a whole new game mode in as well. The cars and tracks look stunning (especially with the new liveries), the game sounds fantastic and the level of customization is unreal. You can make it as much of a simulation as you want with a mountain of features from assists, damage, fuel usage, race length and even rules. Making slight tweaks to your setup can make a big difference to your cars performance and taking part in Practice sessions helps you earn points to upgrade your car. You can take part in a full F2 season before signing for a team in F1. Sadly, the story element has been removed but it’s still great to experience the full F2 calendar. The new My Team mode is a joy to behold, as you start out near the back of the grid and fight your way through the pack, upgrading your facilities along the way, to take on Mercedes. Pure bliss.

Xenoblade Chronicles X (Wii U)

The poor Wii U is often forgotten. Between Nintendo’s odd marketing, strange decision to ram multiple features into games that just didn’t work (I’m looking at you Star Fox Zero) and lack of third-party support towards the end, it really didn’t stand a chance against the other two behemoths. The Wii U did give us some amazing games and Xenoblade Chronicles X is certainly one of them. My first introduction to the series, it was a wonderful adventure. You can recruit a variety of characters as you tackle the wilderness of Mira. You’ll also acquire powerful tech suits to help in your adventure. One thing I found unique to Xenoblade Chronicles X (it probably exists in the others but I haven’t played them yet) is the construction of the world. You can go almost anywhere from the start and even right at the beginning you’ll face incredibly powerful monsters. This means you have to be a bit more cautious about exploring. The main story does keep you on a track that sees you face monsters your own level (as you’d expect from an RPG) but how you get to these objectives is up to you. My only main gripe was that even though there was a large selection of characters to choose from, the story missions often required you to take two specific team members. This meant I was leveling them up at the expense of others. Nonetheless, its an amazing game that hopefully Nintendo will port to the Switch soon.

Mario Kart 8 (Wii U)

Mario Kart 8 is one of a handful of games to see both a Wii U release and an enhanced Switch port. I played the Wii U version along with all its DLC. The game is the eight entry in Nintendo’s long running Mario Kart series (well duh). It brings back some of Mario Kart 7’s features, including the underwater and gliding sections. It also introduced the inverted tracks. These were a strange addition but worked really well on certain courses such as Dragon Driftway. As you’d expect, there’s a large selection of racers to choose from each with their own stats. It also introduced Link to the series along with a Hyrule Castle track (you collect Rupees instead of Coins!). It’s the most refined of the series and its wide collection of wacky tracks (both new and returning) are a thrill to race on. The only downside was that the original release did not have unique Battle Mode maps, but this was fixed in the Deluxe edition released on the Switch.

Resident Evil 2 (Xbox One)

In a generation that saw remakes and remasters galore (and it won’t be the final one here), Resident Evil 2 stands out as one of the best. I had already covered this in Count Rockula’s 13 Games of Terror but here’s a quick refresher. A full remake of Capcom’s 1998 masterpiece, Resident Evil 2 has you once again escaping from the Raccoon Police Department as the city crumbles around you. You can take control of either Leon or Claire as you experience the decrepit old Police Station and sewers below. Each character follows a similar path but there are some unique moments exclusive to them and when you finish one playthrough, you can experience the second character’s journey out of the city. While not as elaborate as the original Resident Evil 2, it does add a decent amount of game time. The game’s sound, graphics and brooding atmosphere make this a must have for horror fans. Just remember to save your ammo, you’ll never know when you’ll need it.

Persona 5 (PlayStation 4)

There’s style and then there’s style, and Persona 5 oozes it. The game looks fantastic in every way (even the end battle screen looks amazing). You play as a bunch of high school Phantom Thieves as they dive into people’s hearts to stop them. Each dungeon is themed after a specific person’s vice and is incredibly large. So large in fact, you’ll probably not get through it in one trip. The game also has you balance dungeon crawling with teenage life. Here you’ll build bonds with people, attend school to build your skills or just spend your time in the bath house, its up to you. You can also capture and fuse Personas, making your team stronger. It has a turn-based battle system, where you’ll have to adjust your strategy and Persona to each encounter. This game was my first introduction to the Persona series and I loved it. There is an updated version called Persona 5 Royal that adds in new characters and features.

Yakuza Kiwami 2 (PlayStation 4)

It was so hard to pick just one game from the Yakuza series (really, you should play them all) but Yakuza Kiwami 2 gets the nod. It took the Dragon Engine from Yakuza 6: The Song of Life and refined it. The combat feels smooth and Kiryu floats from enemy to enemy seamlessly. Kamurocho feels more open as you can explore almost anywhere seamlessly without load times. The story is probably the most aggressive and immersive of the series as you fight both the Omi Alliance and the Jingweon Mafia. There’s also a tonne of sub-stories and mini-games to get lost in from Cabaret Clubs to Clan Creator. It’s an absolute masterpiece that perfectly balances its serious side with its comedic side to wonderful effect. An absolute must-own for anyone and it has me pumped for Yakuza: Like A Dragon. If you want to know more about my experience with the Yakuza series, you can read all about it here.

Super Mario Odyssey (Nintendo Switch)

Is the Switch this gen or last gen? Ah heck, I’m putting Super Mario Odyssey on this list anyway because it’s amazing. Once again, the plumber has to chase Bowser through a multitude of worlds to rescue Princess Peach. Along the way he’ll battle Rabbits, traverse the moon and take control of a dinosaur… wait what. Yep, the game introduces a new feature in the form of Cappy. Mario can throw Cappy at an enemy to take control of them. This means you can use Goombas, Bullet Bills and a T-Rex to solve a wide variety to puzzles and collect the moons you need to power your ship. Each world is unique, from the city heights of New Donk City to the frigid Shivera. The game also features a few throwbacks to the moustached hero’s earlier days. The open levels are fun to explore and have a certain Super Mario 64 feel to them. Super Mario Odyssey is a must-own for Switch players.

Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night (PlayStation 4)

During this generation we got a few classic-inspired games such as Mighty No.9 (and coincidentally Mega Man 11), Cosmic Star Heroine, Torment: Tides of Numenera and many, many more. These were often funded through Kickstarter. One such game was Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night. From the genius of Koji Igarashi, Ayami Kojima and Yoshitaka Amano we get this fantastic Metroidvania game, that borrows heavily from Castlevania. You play as Miriam in her quest to stop Gebel. Along the way you’ll encounter a unique cast of monsters whose shards you can obtain. These shards will give you unique abilities to help you on your way. The game plays in a 2.5D perspective and has a large number of rooms to explore. At first, you won’t be able to go everywhere but as you obtain more shards, the map will open up to you. The combat is smooth and easy to grasp. You can also tailor Miriam’s fighting style to suit you through the use of distinctive weapons and shards. This means everyone’s play style will be a little different. It’s worth tracking down this game and its spinoff Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon for some good old Castlevania nostalgia.

Final Fantasy VII Remake (PlayStation 4)

How could I make a list about some of my favourite games from the eight generation and not include a Final Fantasy. This one was a game I had been waiting on for a long time. This is the first chapter in a new saga that takes place entirely in Midgar. The city has been fleshed out a bit since the original Final Fantasy VII, with new areas to explore. The combat has been refined from Final Fantasy XV and feels quicker and more fluid. The materia system has returned, providing both stat boosts and useful spells to use in combat. The characters look wonderful and it is amazing to finally hear them speak. Each character’s personality has been expanded, especially the minor ones from the first game. Everything about it is a massive throwback to the original dialed up to 11. I am slightly optimistic about what the future holds for the series but at the same time reserved thanks to the story beats they’ve changed. Still, it’s worth experiencing this beauty once, even if you do have to change the water filters…

I hope you liked some of my favourite games of the eight generations. What were some of your favourite games? What are you most excited for in the new generation? Is it the hardware, games or even the online connectivity?

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