The GamerCast: Looking Ahead into 2021

Wow, what a year we just left behind, right? 2020 may not have gone the way that many people had hoped, thanks in large part to a global pandemic which basically forced us all to stay home and abandon many things we were hoping to accomplish out there. Thankfully, video games were there to pick up the slack as well as brand new next gen consoles for those who were able to snag one.

January 2021 is finally hear, promising a fresh start and just a ton of new video games over the next 12 months. As I do every January, it is time to look ahead at what’s coming this year and what I’m excited about with my annual GamerCast. Basically, this is my not so subtle version of the “FutureCast” segments that weathermen use to show you what the weather is going to be over the next few days.

crystal-ball-pic

However, we’re not just taking a look at the next seven days. Instead, I’m bringing you a years worth of games to look forward to over the next 12 months. Granted, sometimes my picks don’t actually make it to the finish line, but that’s part of the fun with forecasting releases this year in advance.  Of course, if there’s something you’re excited about that I missed, let me know in the comments.

So as I like to say, it’s time to dust off that crystal ball and have a sneak peek into the future to see what’s coming out in 2021.

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The Gamer Crash Awards: Game of the Year 2020

Part 4 of the annual Gamer Crash Awards is finally here! If you missed any previous categories, you can catch up with these handy links right here: End of Year Superlatives; Small Game/Indie; Soundtrack.

Well, here we are. The final day of 2020 and my final post of this year as well. What better way to celebrate than by talking the best games of the year. Thankfully, it was a year marked with a ton of major releases, meaning that there was a lot to pick from in 2020.

Gamer Crash Awards

Before we jump in, a couple of house rules. Below, you’re not going to see everything that was released in 2020, many of which you’d probably expect to see in a “Game of the Year” style list. I haven’t played everything. I’m one person with limited time so there are instances where I have to pick and choose what I’m going to devote my time to. I can acknowledge that games like The Last of Us 2 are good and probably deserves to be here. However, I haven’t played it as of yet so it wouldn’t be fair for me to put it here. How can I judge something, I haven’t played?

With that said, there’s still a ton of amazing games which I just had a ton of fun playing and really left me impressed this year. So, without further delay, here are my personal nominees.

HadesSupergiant Games

Ghost of TsushimaSucker Punch Productions

Animal Crossing: New HorizonsNintendo

DOOM Eternalid Software

Persona 5 RoyalAtlus

Ori and the Will of the WispsMoon Studios

SpellbreakProletariat

and the winner is…

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The Gamer Crash Awards 2020: Alternative End of Year Superlatives

It’s Part 3 of the 2020 Gamer Crash Awards! Did you miss anything already announced? Catch up with the Best Soundtrack and Best Indie/Small Game categories.

Gamer Crash Awards

Today’s awards are a bit of a take on what I did last year. Instead of having days worth of categories, I kind of combined everything into one post and included way more categories than I normally would have.

Since I’m not going that route this year, I wanted to sort of pay homage to it and decided to kind of create a Superlatives style award post. Here, you’ll find some of the wackier award categories, but I hope you enjoy! My Game of the Year will be coming later this week so keep an eye out for that.

Now, without further adieu, let’s get to it!

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Gamer Crash Awards 2020: Best Indie/Small Game

Did you miss an award? Catch up with the Best Soundtrack of 2020!

The next awards category for The Gamer Crash Awards is best small game/downloadable/indie. There were an absolutely ton of these this year, many of which came at a great time for gaming considering the global pandemic raging outside. With people trapped in doors, they had more time to discover these smaller independent gems. 

Gamer Crash Awards

Lot of games on this list that I wasn’t able to play this year, so naturally, I left them off. While many sites and people may highlight Among Us (even though it didn’t launch in 2020), Spelunky 2, and Bugsnax to name a few, you won’t find them on my list.

So, let’s see the nominees…

hades box artHades
Surprised? You shouldn’t be. While it’s been in Early Access for some time, the full game finally launched this year and quickly went on to be a behemoth. Supergiant Games quickly had another hit on their hands that went on to take on the gaming industry by storm. 

You play as Zagreus, son of the Greek God of the Underworld, Hades. Fed up with his tyrannical rule, Zagreus attempts to escape the underworld to not only find his mother but to reach Mount Olympus to live with his extended family in what he thinks is a better life. This rogue-like has a ton of charm thanks to the amazing visual style, crisp melee combat, and the amazing dynamic dialogue system which may change and react to things the player has done or unlocked. What sets this rogue-like apart is that death leads to a progression of the main story, side stories, and plenty of other things. You never feel like you’re starting from scratch as new opportunities, abilities, and options are constantly appearing. 

spiritfarer box artSpiritfarer
I thought I knew what I was getting into with the visually gorgeous Spiritfarer, but what I discovered was a game with so much more. You play Stella, who has suddenly been tasked with taking over for the Boatman, Charon. Yes, that Charon. Traveling across islands, players will pick up lost souls and help their journey to the afterlife. The game mixes action-platforming with resource gathering to improve the boat as well as make life as comfortable as possible for the souls aboard. It’s a very interesting mix of genres and one that works extremely well. 

While players may immediately notice the cute animals and vibrant colors, what’s surprising about Spiritfarer is the emotional journey that it takes the player on. Ultimately, Stella is the person responsible for helping these souls who have passed to reach the other side. The unique characters players will come across are all so endearing and each have their needs and likes that the player will have to uncover to help make their journey more comfortable. Each one also has a unique story that players will unravel as they progress, giving them insight into who they were before death. The game handles topics like loss, death, and moving on extremely well and it may even surprise some people 

ori and the will of the wisps box artOri and the Will of the Wisps
The first Ori was magical in every way and I don’t know how but Moon Studio managed to somehow top even that experience. Again, the visuals are just stunning and as I mentioned in the previous awards, the soundtrack continues to elevate the experience. 

At its core, Ori and the Will of the Wisps is a Metroidvania style game with a large map to explore, secrets to uncover, powers to acquire, and zones to complete. While the first game had a few notorious difficulty spikes, this one felt much more even across the board. The story is touching and emotional at times but what really pulled me in was the ability to upgrade your home base. I’m a sucker for these types of mechanics and while the one in Ori was simplified, a absolutely appreciated it being in there and changing how I accessed certain areas. 

fall guys box artFall Guys: Ultimate Knockout
Very simple to understand and addictively fun can easily describe this quirky game from Mediatonic. Players will be doing a lot of falling in this new spin on the popular Battle Royale genre that was once exclusively home to shooters. In Fall Guys, 60 players compete in a wacky, over the top game show style experience to see who will be the last bean person standing. 

Fans of Takeshi’s Castle or the U.S. version, Most Extreme Elimination Challenge, will feel a bit nostalgic while playing this one. Mini games range from team events, race to the finish line through obstacles, and even survival style games where you hope to not be knocked into a pool of slime. Games are short, which probably is a big reason why it’s so easy to justify ‘1 more game’ before bed. 

streets of rage 4 box artStreets of Rage 4
Even though I never personally owned a Sega Genesis, Streets of Rage was one of my favorite franchises growing up. Thankfully, I knew people who had the system and game, so I got plenty of time with it before it appeared on Virtual Consoles and other places over the years.

Obviously, one of the standout features was the soundtrack, though the side scrolling beat-em-up gameplay was also rock solid. Thankfully, Streets of Rage 4, appearing 26 years after Streets of Rage 3, continues that legacy while also modernizing it. It’s a massive love letter to fans, bringing back a huge roster of playable characters, references, unlocklable bonuses, and more. However, the game also manages to stand on its own with a new story, slick visuals, and fun beat-em-up gameplay. 

desperados 3 box artDesperados III
I won’t lie, I was not familiar with this series before hoping in. Word of mouth and positive reviews got me onto this one. For those of you who don’t know, this is a real-time tactics game set in the Wild West during the 1870s. It features five playable characters with different weapons and abilities. 

The main character, John Cooper, is a bounty hunter hot on the trails of a notorious bandit leader who was involved in his father’s death. Gameplay favors stealth to assassinate enemies, though it can also be played as an action title instead using a menu to coordinate and chain attacks. It may sound complicated but it’s a ton of fun to play and even replay thanks to the freedom and various ways you can approach missions. Mimimi Games certainly proved themselves with this one and it’s totally worth checking out. 

moving out box artMoving Out
For me, this one came out of no where but went on to become an amazing couch co-op experience similar to what Overcooked did a few years ago. 

Instead of cooking, players work together to essentially move people’s furniture out of their house and into a truck parked outside. It sounds simple enough but as expected, things quickly go off the rails with not only the house layout and obstacles, but trying to meet various challenges. It’s a literal blast with friends and is a great party game.

and the winner is…

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The Gamer Crash Awards 2020 – Best Soundtrack

Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to The 2020 Gamer Crash Awards! This is the annual event where we celebrate the latest and the greatest over the past year.

Now, a couple of things to note before we get into today’s nominees. I am a singular person with a limited budget and time. IGN this is not. As such, I realistically can’t get around to everything so you will absolutely find that not every game you’d expect to be listed here. Some games I just haven’t played or gotten around to yet so I can’t rightfully give them an award. It wouldn’t make sense and would be a little fraudulent on my part.

So the first award category for this year is easily one of my favorites. As I mention every year, a game’s soundtrack can have a huge impact on the player’s experience. A good soundtrack can even enhance the gameplay further, really tying everything together. As such, there’s been no shortage of ear pleasing tunes in 2020.

So, let’s get to it. Here are the nominees:

doom eternal box artDOOM: Eternal – Mick Gordon
When a DOOM game releases, you know it’s going to be on this end of year list. Granted, with Mick Gordon and id Software having a bit of a falling out, this is likely the last time you’ll be seeing the two linked.

If it is the last Mick Gordon led DOOM soundtrack then the man went out with a bang. It retains a lot of what fans remember from his work on the previous game with those heavy riffs that fit oh so well with the fast paced demon slaying on the screen.

ghost of tsushima box artGhost of Tsushima – Ilan Eshkeri and Shigeru Umebayashi
Unlike DOOM Eternal, Ghost of Tsushima takes a more subtle approach to better blend in with the background and epic scale of Tsushima Island. What makes it memorable is just how cinematic the score is. The music is able to dynamically change and shift to match the actions on screen whether the player is in a tense battle or simply riding through an expansive field across the island.

The other standout feature is how well it manages to encapsulate the feeling of being a Samurai and being in the shoes of Jin Sakai. The range of music manages to convey that emotion and weight being the last Samurai while also trying to do what’s necessary to save the people from the Mongols.

hades box artHades – Darren Korb
Once again, Darren Korb delivers. It’s pretty much a given that when Supergiant releases a game, it’ll be nominated in this category. Hades is absolutely no exception.

Again, the music perfectly encapsulates everything happening on screen, increasing in intensity for those high combat moments to dropping back down when a room is cleared. Each realm in Hades has a specific sound to it and there’s even a few tracks performed by Korb and longtime collaborate Ashley Barrett. There’s at least a few tracks that will get stuck in your head and never leave.

ori and the will of the wisps box artOri and the Will of the Wisps – Gareth Coker
The only thing that can really be said about the Ori soundtrack is that it’s haunting, beautiful, and dramatic. It intertwines itself with the visuals and gameplay so well that it truly does enhance the game.

The soundtrack manages to capture the essence of what made the first one so good and then ratchet things up from there. Filled to the brim with orchestral goodness, you can really feel the emotion with each track.

tony hawk box artTony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 – Various Artists
This may be a bit of a copout, especially for those of you who didn’t grow up with the franchise but man, this soundtrack really hit me right in the nostalgia. Growing up with the classic Tony Hawk games, you developed a fondness for the gameplay as well as the music being played. Over the years, the tracks stuck with you and hearing them anywhere else would instantly recall the grinds, spins, and flips on a virtual skateboard.

Kudos for Activision for bringing back pretty much the exact playlist from the original games while adding a couple of new tracks on top of that. Lagwagon, Millencolin, Rage Against the Machine…they’re pretty much all here as you remember and make this latest game a true time capsule for anyone that players the originals back in the day.

persona 5 royal box artPersona 5 Royal – Shoji Meguro
Okay, technically this is a soundtrack to a game that is an expanded version of the original which was released in 2019. I don’t care, the soundtrack is straight fire. Persona 5 Royal launched this year so to me, that qualifies.

This thing is so much fun to listen to, featuring some truly funky, catchy, and memorable tracks. It fits the unmatched style of the game perfectly and I guarantee when you listen to it, you won’t be able to tap your toes or bob your head. It’s a body mover, that’s for sure.

streets of rage 4 box artStreets of Rage 4 – Olivier Deriviere, Yuzo Koshiro, Motohiro Kawashima, Yoko Shimomura, Keiji Yamagishi, Harumi Fujita, Das Mörtal, and Groundislava.
That’s a big list! When you’re talking about Streets of Rage, one of the defining aspects I immediately think of is the soundtrack. Yuzo Koshiro’s work on the old Sega Genesis games still sticks with me to this day and I’m happy to report that this latest game continues that tradition with a slew of artists including Olivier Deriviere who leads the way on most tracks.

As expected, Streets of Rage 4 continues the EDM focused sound, though it also leaves room to push things forward a bit as well. The energy and tempo shift with the action on the screen bringing the energy that the series is well known for. Plus, it features new music from Koshiro himself, which is again, quite excellent.

fall guys box artFall Guys: Ultimate Knockout – Jukio Kallio and Daniel Hagström
A surprise pick for me this year is Fall Guys, a game which burst onto the scene thanks to its cute little bean people and gameplay that is clearly inspired by the wacky gameshow Takeshi’s Castle.

To help enhance the quirky game, the music is also incredibly fun to listen to and incredibly catchy. Even with rounds being fairly short, the music never manages to outstate its welcome or become mindnumbingly simple. The music is colorful, fun, and rather inviting, really lending itself to pushing players into ‘one more round’ before turning it off.

And my favorite 2020 game soundtrack is….

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Hands on with KontrolFreek

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been putting some KontrolFreek accessories through their paces. I’m familiar with the company largely due to their controller accessories, especially the performance thumbsticks. A couple years back, I was able to grab Destiny 2 themed thumbsticks and I won’t lie, I’ve been using them ever since. Obviously, 2-3 years later, the company has certainly expanded and has a host of new content to dig through.

First off, I want to give a big shout out and thanks to the KontrolFreek team for not only contacting me but sending me a bunch of stuff to check out. They sent over two sets of performance thumbsticks for the Xbox One and PS4 consoles each as well as LED powered gaming lights.

Here are my thoughts on everything.

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Destiny 2 Beyond Light Impressions

Since it was revealed earlier this summer, Destiny 2: Beyond Light was positioned as a new beginning for the three year old game. When you think about it, a lot has changed in almost two years. Bungie broke up with Activision and basically started handling everything itself. Shadowkeep was the studio’s first real expansion by itself and over the months we’ve seen a massive list of big time changes like Cross-saving, Steam support, and so much more.

Now with Beyond Light, we’re getting a brand new destination and a new darkness-based subclass which has certainly made its presence felt in modes like the Crucible. Outside of new content, the expansion and corresponding update also saw Bungie make one of the most dramatic changes the franchise has ever seen through weapon sunsetting and the Content Vault.

destiny 2 beyond light stasis

There’s an absolute ton to digest here and while I’m slowly nearing the max power level of this season, it’s time to talk about the Beyond Light expansion, massive game changes, and corresponding Season of the Hunt. Let’s dive in.

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It’s Coming! The Gamer Crash Awards 2020

Whew, what a year, right? Pandemics aside, it’s been a pretty good year for fans of video games. I mean, we’ve seen a ton of remarkable titles this year, from expected triple AAA releases to surprising indie darlings.

Gamer Crash Awards

Not only that, we also saw the launch of the next generation thanks to Sony with its PlayStation 5 and Microsoft launching both the Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X. I say “saw” there because, lets face it, these consoles are incredibly hard to come by without paying exorbitant rates on eBay or from resellers. It sucks that this is where we’re at now, but hopefully both companies can continue manufacturing hardware at increased rates. We’ll see.

With the end of the year rapidly approaching, it’s that time once again where we take a look back at the year that was and hand out some awards. It’s nearly time for The Gamer Crash Awards!

Through the month of December, we’ll be tackling the familiar topics like Best Soundtrack, Biggest Surprise, Best Download/Indie, and of course, Game of the Year. However, I kind of really enjoyed what I did for the Awards last year, so perhaps I’ll be creating some unique 2020 categories as well. We’ll see.

As I always say, it’s always a blast putting these lists together and I want to hear from you as well so feel free to list out your own favorites in the comments. See you soon for some awards!

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Destiny 2 Live Events: Take 2

With the delay to Beyond Light extending the Season of Arrivals beyond its original start and end dates, I’ve taken the opportunity to put Destiny 2 down to the side over the past month or so to just get away for a little bit. While that has certainly helped me catch up on other things I’ve wanted to do, I’ve still followed along with all the current happenings at Bungie and its upcoming expansion.

destiny 2 pyramids io

While I can’t wait to dive into Beyond Light later today, I was able to log back in last night to witness a season ending event. What made this one a bit interesting is that Bungie is about to basically remove a huge chunk of content from the game including five destinations and all of the related content. It’s a lengthy topic that I’m not going to get into here, but the studio was able to basically tie that into the game’s narrative. Many assumed this event would showcase how and why.

Now, early this year, Bungie tried a similar live event for the first time ever. I wrote about my impressions and how it dragged on for way too long. However, I absolutely loved the fact that Bungie was trying something like this and I hoped they could learn from this and apply it to future events. This was the chance to make that happen.

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ICYMI: Watch Dogs Legion Review

Hey everyone, I know I’ve been scarce lately. The big reason is that I’ve been incredibly busy and part of that is due to the fact that I was in charge of the review for Watch Dogs Legion at Game Rant.

I know I’ve written about this game quite a bit lately, questioning the decision to basically remove the lead protagonist entirely. I honestly wasn’t sure what that was going to do to the game’s overall narrative as well as creating a character that players could essentially bond with over the 30 plus hours.

watch dogs legion art

If you want to get my take on how Legion actually turned out, make sure to read my full review on Game Rant right here. Needless to say, the game really surprised me especially with how it handles the “play as anyone” mantra. If you’re a fan of the franchise in general, it’s an easy game to recommend. It’s got some very interesting things going on, so check it out when you have a moment.

For those of you currently or planning to explore this fictional version of London, I have some news for you as well.

As we approach the Next-Gen storm, there’s going to be plenty to talk about in the coming weeks. See you guys soon!

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Hades Is A Hellishly Good Time

Hi, my name is Derek and I’m addicted to Hades. The first step is admitting you have a problem, right?

Wait, that’s not right. Loving Hades isn’t a problem, not at all. In fact, you should all be playing it because it’s the best game that Supergiant Games has made to this point. If you’ve been following me a while here, you know what a comment like that from me means.

hades zagreus

I may have spoiled my impressions of Hades already, but lets dive a bit deeper into the game, shall we? There’s a ton of just wonderful things to unpack.

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What. A. Mess.

Even though we’re less than two months until the next generation of consoles launch and both Sony and Microsoft have basically revealed plenty of new details and information, things are just not as great as they should be.

Over the past two weeks, both the PS5 and Xbox Series X/S have gone up for pre-order. Unfortunately, between the chaos of trying to pre-order this new tech online and the clearly smaller than anticipated inventory, many fans have been left out in the cold. Orders being canceled or delayed, pre-orders going live earlier than expected, and scalpers posting consoles online for outrageous prices have really dampened the experience for many.

Yes, the world is in a situation that’s a little different than normal, but you’d think that both Sony and Microsoft would do everything they could to make this moment truly exciting for buyers. Instead, it has turned into a nightmare.

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The Next Gen Table is Finally Set

Whew! For those of you keeping up with next gen console news, it’s been an interesting summer considering that E3 was taken away. Both Microsoft and Sony have had to scramble to change their plans and announce things over the course of months rather than at a major event in front of everyone.

While we can all agree that there has been hits and misses on both sides, one thing that seemed to be an endless struggle was getting pricing and release date news out of either side. It’s like Microsoft and Sony were playing a game of chicken, daring the other to go first so they could gain an advantage and adjust accordingly. Following the sudden reveal of the Xbox Series S pricing, Microsoft finally gave in and gave fans whta they wanted. A week later, Sony followed suit.

Now, all of the information is out in the open and people can finally plan their course of action. So, let’s talk about what we know.

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History Behind The Game: Ghost of Tsushima

It’s been a very long time, but after playing through (and absolutely loving) Ghost of Tsushima, I knew it was time to bring back this feature.

For those who don’t know, History Behind The Game is something I used to do on this here blog to dissect historical features, people, and things in video games. Naturally, Assassin’s Creed was featured quite often considering how much the games lean into actual history to influence the game world. Ryse: Son of Rome and The Last of Us also made guest appearances here as well.

Ghost of Tsushima sunny field

Now we have Ghost of Tsushima, a fictional tale with many historical elements woven in about Samurai Jin Sakai as he pushes back against the Mongol Invasion of the northern Japanese island, Tsushima.

So, what’s real and what has been adapted to better fit the game? Let me be your guide as we fill in the gaps and take a look at some interesting details and facts regarding this time period.

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Marvel’s Avengers Beta Impressions – A Fine Game

I’ve really been struggling with this one. I’ve played the beta on PS4 for the past two weekends and my thoughts on this game are all over the map. Trying to sort them out has been tougher than expected. My original plan was to post this earlier in the week and I’m glad I didn’t because this post got pretty negative. I’ve had some time to reflect and kind of come at this a new way.

I’ll be honest, I had mixed expectations going on. On paper, Marvel’s Avengers sounds awesome. Basically taking the gameplay loop of Destiny, adding loot, and giving players access to customizable heroes. Yeah, that all sounds great.

Unfortunately, I just never felt that same vibe once I actually got my hands on the game. Even though it’s a bit disappointing that the game didn’t reach what I had hoped it would be, it isn’t bad by any means. The game certainly has potential but as of right now, it’s just fine.

Okay, let’s start from the beginning.

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