I adore Gloomhaven, the tabletop game. It’s a tactical RPG in board and card form, and has been the best board game on BoardGameGeek since 2017. Gloomhaven captures the turn-based combat and progression of Dungeons & Dragons along with unlockable hidden classes, a huge campaign of nearly 100 scenarios, over three dozen monsters and bosses, and a Choose Your Own Adventure story with multiple avenues and choices. I’ve completed dozens of scenarios and sunk well over a hundred hours, and now I’m starting over with the new digital version on Steam.
Killsquad looks and loots like the lovechild of Diablo and Destiny and plays like a co-op MOBA. It hit Steam Early Access this week as an action-RPG for up to four players, drenched in a hellish sci-fi theme that could almost be a Doom spin-off with some of its demonic alien creatures. The fast-paced action is easy to jump into, with gorgeous art design, fun attacks, and, refreshingly, zero microtransactions.
When I unlocked the Bone Prison specialization for my Mark for Death spell, I forgot to read the fine print. Though a wall of bones now encircled my enemies, my once insta-cast spell now had a nasty side effect: a 20-second cooldown. But I was delighted to find that I could now cast another spell on each individual bone piece, turning my new bone prison into a cascading wall of death.
Last Epoch‘s skill system is a brilliant evolution of Path of Exile’s labyrinthine web of upgrades and Diablo 3’s rune modifications.
I lived through the initial 3D gaming era of the mid to late 90s. Whether for better or worse, most games made the awkward, ugly transition from pixels to polygons. And for every Mario 64 there was, well, a Sonic 3D.
Thankfully we’re far removed from those days. But rarely do we see a series so completely, and effectively transform from 2D to 3D, as I’ve seen in Risk of Rain 2. The sequel was announced and released via Steam Early Access during the Gearbox panel at PAX East, and it’s already fantastic.
The fighter is too slow and clunky. The mage brittle and lacking. But the rogue feels just right. Rocketcat Games’ pixelated roguelike dungeon crawler Wayward Souls didn’t click with me until I stepped into the shoes of Renee the Rogue.
Renee has only a single ability aside from her basic dagger attack: the all-important dash. With a reliable way to avoid attacks I finally reached some level of success as I plunged deeper into the randomly generated dungeons… until I was devoured by a horde of angry boars.
Earthfall has a very simple goal: make Left 4 Dead, but slightly better. And with aliens. Left 4 Dead’s strict focus on cooperative survival gameplay endeared many co-op fans, and has left a noticeable void since Left 4 Dead 2 released back in 2009.
Earthfall is here to fill the gap. It shamelessly pulls all of its action beats, enemy types, and campaign structure from Valve’s zombie-survival series, but does it all very well. The Early Access version has all the right pieces to make a worthy spiritual successor to one of the best cooperative series in gaming.
The rogue-like genre has absolutely exploded in the last several years thanks to indie developers. FTL. Rogue Legacy. Spelunky. Risk of Rain. Binding of Isaac. Darkest Dungeon. The Flame in the Flood. It’s becoming a well-worn genre that demands more of each new game.
Streets of Rogue, now out on Steam Early Access, distills many of the most successful elements of the games before it with free-form, procedurally generated level designs that promote creative mayhem. And you can do it with friends.