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The balls-to-the-wall gunplay in Apex Legends is second to none. It’s an argument that could be diffused with a round of Overwatch, but Respawn’s elevated approach to the battle royale takes the best of Titanfall, CS:GO, PUBG, and Rainbow Six Siege, and fastballs those mechanics into a John Wick-style video game. Skirmishes can erupt into non-stop bullet storms, and its use of 3v3s, ping systems, character powers, verticality, and top-shelf weapon design amplify it to new heights. It’s a rock’em, sock’em shooter, and while it’s still finding its legs, Apex isn’t wasting any time in becoming a contender for top battle royale game on the market. And loot boxes be damned — it’s free to play.

Metro Exodus is the best entry in the criminally underrated Metro series. It’s far more open-ended than the first two games, but it’s also more focused than sprawling sandbox games like Fallout 4 and Far Cry New Dawn. It gives you just enough freedom and space that you can discover things on your own and chart a personal course, but it’s not so massive that you ever lose track of what you’re doing. Missions and areas get more linear as you progress, and it quickly becomes clear that nothing was sacrificed in exchange for the game’s openness. It’s amazing how well the structured missions hold up, considering how much work must’ve went into the open worlds. The final area is especially brilliant, not only for how it brings the game back to the series’ tunnel-crawling roots, but also how it caps off Exodus’ powerfully human story, which still occupies my thoughts weeks later. See extra details on Best Gaming Hardware.

“The new God of War from Santa Monica Studio is a masterful reinvention of a now-classic PlayStation series and, primarily, its lead character. Kratos went from being a killing machine driven solely by rage in previous games, to, well, a killing machine driven by paternal instinct and a promise made to his deceased wife. But even without being compared to his former self, Kratos’ newfound sensitivity and self-awareness are as effective as they are because of how well the character and his journey are executed in general. For fans, it’s great to witness the character’s pivot from yesteryear’s action darling to today’s loving father figure in disguise, but Kratos and the game he leads are simply excellent on their own terms.”

Studio Ghibli may no longer be involved, but just like the first game, Ni No Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom truly looks and feels like a joyous anime adventure transformed into an absorbing role-playing epic. It’s still delightfully strange, and that’s a very good thing: this doesn’t feel like another Final Fantasy. And it makes some big strides over the first game, with improved combat along with an extremely clever player progression system that’s tied into the narrative. We’d still point you towards the original game to start, of course – but if you dug that one, there’s plenty more to like in this gorgeous sequel. See more info on