Now that the weekend is over and another grim, wintery week has begun, I can't help but gaze wistfully back upon another fine weekend of gaming (even though my copy of XCOM 2 is still broken). With some exemplary examples of digital funs to be had, what did you guys play this weekend?
Here's how we over at Now Loading spent our free time:
Tom Clancy's The Division Beta
I was pretty gutted to have missed out on the closed beta of Ubisoft's Destiny killer, because I've been looking forward to this game for ages (which leads into an interesting discussion as to whether games are announced too early).
But now, despite being a little jaded from open world adventures, I was thoroughly impressed with how solid The Division's gameplay and UI is. And Ubisoft's servers need particular bigging up, because only once was I booted back to the home screen whilst gunning through the Dark Zone.
And, also, more props deservedly go to the game's ability to make me feel legitimate fear when heading into the Dark Zone. There's nothing quite like being chased around the map by rogue agents intent on stealing your hard earned work gloves.
Football Manager 2016
I've been avidly playing this franchise for over 15 years now, and I am as sure as heck not stopping any time soon. The FM games are by far my favorite games of all time, despite how annoying the 3D match engine is at times. Though FM16 brings some exceptional new tweaks and game modes, the 3D engine is, at times, lacking, laggy and crazy buggy.
When your inside forward is completely through on goal, after chasing a lofted ball, and then proceeds to head the damn thing out for a goal kick instead of having a pop at goal (something you instructed and trained them to do), no swear word on earth will sate the 4am fury felt after your team go crashing out of a cup. Or maybe I'm just a sh*t manager, who knows.
Is it too early to call Game of the Year? Probably, but I'm going to avoid my better judgment on this one and call XCOM 2 the game of 2016 in February. Come at me, bro.
But in all seriousness, I can't stop playing XCOM 2. I finally "finished" the game this weekend but I'm already planning all of the changes I'll be employing on my second playthrough, as well as the names for my soldiers, when I'll construct the Psi Lab and whether I'll actually test myself with a higher difficulty level. The future is bright as long as XCOM 2 is on the horizon. Welcome back, Commander.
Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4
Though I wouldn't exactly call myself a connoisseur of fighting games - I wouldn't even regard myself as a fan, to be honest - Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 has its hooks in me. With stunning visuals, mind-blowing special moves and general Japanese madness, this 3D fighting game has managed to keep me playing all the way through its story and I've even ventured online (when servers permit).
Seeing as Street Fighter V's lack of singleplayer content infuriated me as my enjoyment of its mechanics quickly dissipated, Naruto Storm 4 has been the perfect replacement for all my fighting needs. Inferno Syle: Flame Control!
Once again, PlayStation Plus comes through with another terrific freebie I managed to miss out on the first time round. It might not be the most sophisticated game going, but grab three trigger happy buddies and savor the white-knuckle satisfaction of mowing down giant bugs on hostile planets.
The game's punishing friendly fire feature forces you and your squad to coordinate as a unit and cover ground tactically. It's also got a gleefully self-aware sense of satirical humor that'll delight Paul Verhoeven fans.
It's been 7 whole months and I still can't drag myself away from the surprise smash hit of the summer, logging back in this weekend to perfect my aerials and get my trunk handed to me by the viciously unforgiving community.
The recent addition of the Experimental Labs playlist has added a whole new dimension to the game, introducing some new contorted map shapes that completely change the flow of matches. Just when I thought I was out...