Fire Emblem: Three Houses is exactly as I feared, a game that puts as big an emphasis, if not more, into building relationships, teaching classes, and walking around Garreg Mach Monastery as it does the actual turn-based tactical combat the series has been known for. Yet by deftly weaving these relationships and seminars into gaining new skills, new class recruits, and new story opportunities, Three Houses has proven that not only are the non-combat sections enjoyable, but are now integral to the series.
In 2014 Triumph Studios revitalized the niche 4X strategy series Age of Wonders with the excellent Age of Wonders 3. After two solid expansion packs the studio quietly began working on their next project, and was acquired by Swedish publisher Paradox Interactive, known for big, densely packed strategy games.
Age of Wonders: Planetfall is the long-awaited next step in the franchise. It’s less of an evolutionary leap forward, but builds upon the successes of Age of Wonders 3 along with several smart and fun gameplay improvements and dozens hours of replayability.
The second stand-alone expansion to excellent asymmetrical card game Disney Villainous, Evil Comes Prepared, finally adds Scar as a playable villain, along with dark-horse picks Yzma from The Emperor’s New Groove and Professor Ratigan from The Great Mouse Detective. Scar is mildly disappointing but the others make up for it with unique and interesting play styles, proving that Villainous continues to host an impressive pantheon of Disney favorites.
Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 is a flawed but fantastic action-brawler. One of its biggest flaws is how poorly it describes some of its underlying mechanics, such as attributes and synergies. We’ve compiled some quick tips, details, and strategies so you can spend less time staring at statistics and more time punching bad guys.
Once upon a time, before the Marvel Cinematic Universe, there was a fun, easy to play, co-op action brawler series called X-Men Legends. Later they bequeathed the Marvel Ultimate Alliance series, featuring a huge roster of Marvel heroes and villains in co-op action full of fireballs, laser blasts, swift punches, sword strikes, and plenty of shield-throwing and Hulk-smashing.
The series lay dormant for the last decade, until now. Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order is a triumphant return, showcasing classic comic book writing, art, and action in a post-MCU world. The Black Order retains the deep stat-based RPG elements while maintaining its easy and co-op-friendly action gameplay with an impressive amount of content and replayability.
Super Mario Maker was a clever delight when it launched in 2015 on Wii U. The simple premise – a full editor suite for making and playing Mario levels across multiple eras – was an instant hit, recreating the dreams of many a dreamy kid scratching out level designs in a school notebook.
The Switch sequel keeps the same solid editing and classic Mario gameplay, while adding several high quality pieces, a vastly expanded story mode, and online and local multiplayer.
No one was prepared for the popularity of Pokémon GO when it launched in the summer of 2016. Least of all mobile developer Niantic Inc. Explosive would be an understatement. The augmented reality mobile game was uniquely poised to combine a well-known, beloved brand with meta-social real world gameplay. The result was a cultural phenomenon that lasted months as we ran around our towns and cities trying to catch ’em all.
Three years and many content-rich updates later, Niantic has returned with an all new AR game with Harry Potter: Wizards Unite. The similarities between Harry Potter: Wizards Unite and Pokémon GO are impossible to ignore. Both are based on beloved and popular children’s franchises, and both are AR games that require physically moving around to collect resources. Wizards Unite has the benefit of learning from Pokémon GO’s limits and early stutters, resulting in an enjoyable and worthy followup.