It's the doldrums of summer, and the gaming calendar is taking a rest after a jam-packed first half of the year.
In a year dominated by massive titles like 'Elden Ring' and 'Horizon: Forbidden West', some other games have fallen by the wayside and we're now just starting to catch up.
With a clear schedule, we've been working through the backlog or catching up on some old favourites.
Our crack writing team of gaming experts are here to share what they've been playing recently, both old and new.
Mike, Gaming Editor:
I’ve been quite enjoying ‘Evil Dead: The Game’. I’m a huge fan of the movies and ‘Ash versus Evil Dead’ was just added to Netflix here so I gave it a whirl again. Even though the game has some problems it’s still really good fun.
A decent chunk of problems from my review have been rectified and perhaps I was a bit harsh on the game.
How could you possibly dislike a game that lets you play as my idol Bruce Campbell?
I’ve also been working my way through ‘Weird West’ recently and I think that game has a strong chance of being in my year-end top 10.
It’s a brilliantly gonzo little game, and we’re just now starting to see the result ‘Disco Elysium’ is having on game narrative.
As a critic, I instantly respect a game that puts a major focus on its writing, and 'Weird West' puts it front and centre.
‘Fallout New Vegas’ is maybe my favourite game of all time, and ‘Weird West’ scratches a similar itch.
I would regard the sandbox as my favourite genre, and to that end I've been playing 'Saints Row 2' on the Xbox.
'Saints Row 2' is one favourite sandbox game in terms of the sheer chaos and variety it can provide, and I hope the upcoming reboot is as brilliantly demented as my beloved 'Saints Row 2'.
The PlayStation Plus revamp adding some PS3 titles is a welcome addition (although I wish Sony could figure out a way to emulate the games instead of streaming!) so I’ve been checking out some older favourites.
The original ‘Deadly Premonition’ is on the service so I’ve been playing through that, and yes, the game has awful combat, inane AI, and doesn’t explain basic gameplay mechanics but there is a bizarre charm to the game that cannot be denied.
There is really nothing else like it, and if you’re a fan of ‘Twin Peaks’ who hasn’t checked out the game, be sure to give this a go!
I've also checked out 'Tekken 2' on PlayStation Plus, and I love that it feels the same as it did on the PS1. Mind you, my fighting skills have gotten worse in the 20+ years since I last played it because the AI handed me a beatdown as this video shows.
Ultan, Video Producer and Reviewer
I’ve been flitting through a ton of games trying (and failing) to make a dent in my backlog.
From the Playstation games that I missed like 'Ghost of Tsushima' and 'Returnal', to trying to make a dent in 'Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice' in an attempt to fill the 'Elden Ring' shaped hole in my life - the latter has not gone well so far.
I understand how people could claim that 'Elden Ring' is easier than other FromSoft titles - not because the actual game is more forgiving, or less punishing, but because there is the freedom to leave a challenging encounter and go explore the world and gain experience.
With 'Sekiro' being more linear, the only way to progress beyond a tough foe is to beat them which, after twenty failed attempts in a row, becomes incredibly frustrating.
The game I’ve been sinking the most hours into is 'Divinity: Original Sin 2.'
I finally picked this bad boy up after finishing a 'Dungeons and Dragons' campaign with friends, and wanting a video gaming experience that reflects the player agency and customisation that the tabletop game offers.
So far, the game does just that! The isometric tactical turn-based RPG won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but I have loved playing it with a friend, and even though we are sharing the experience in co-op, we are not railroaded into whatever decisions the party host decides to go for.
Each player is able to affect the world around them, for better or worse. There are always plenty of ways to approach a quest, and with the combat being fairly challenging even on the lower difficulties, choosing violence actually has high stakes.
To top off my gaming experience, I’ve been playing the 'Spyro Reignited Trilogy.'
This is my gaming comfort food, and I often go back to both remastered and original versions to 100% the games again.
The collectathon gameplay, simple enough difficulty, and nostalgia-inducing music transport me straight to my happy place after making no progress over several hours in 'Sekiro' or a full party wipe in 'D:OS2.'
Karl, Gaming And Esports Director
Recently most of my game time has been taken up by 'Mass Effect Legendary Edition.'
I played the initial releases of 'Mass Effect 1' and 'Mass Effect 2', but never got around to 3.
After seeing the Legendary Edition was coming to Game Pass I thought it was as good a time as any to give it a go.
Of course, after loading up 'Mass Effect 3' and being asked if I wanted to import a previous save I knew I had to start from the start.
I remembered the original 'Mass Effect' as being a good game for its time, and while some of the mechanics are a bit clunky (space to sprint, shift to open the squad menu, no jump, etc) I was pleasantly surprised by how well it has held up.
Having played through it once before and getting a "bad" ending, I had always meant to go back and try to get the best ending.
With the aid of Mr. Google, I’ve made all of the right decisions this time around!
Due to the summer games drought, when the lads all want to play something, we typically spend 30 minutes trying to decide then default back to 'GTA Online.'
Having grinded out the very lucrative Cayo Perico heist to the point where I could speed run the setup and heist solo in less than an hour to get $ 1 million +, I was able to buy all of the new facilities like bunkers, office buildings, casino penthouse and access the content that for so long had been blocked off.
While the grind wasn’t fun, some of this content has been really enjoyable, and only made better when I can get my mates in to help.
At time of writing, I'm currently working through stage 2 of the Doomsday Heist
My somewhat guilty pleasure is 'Battlefield 2042.'
I know what you’re going to say - no it’s not as bad as it was at release!
As usual. it’s a case of too little too late for most players, but EA/Dice finally got their act together and have it in a working, stable state.
Adding a new game mode of 32 vs 32 on some new maps and some classics from older games like Caspian Border and Arica Harbor, as well as the first season of Battle Pass, has given the game a new lease of life for me.
I’ve been enjoying playing solo but unfortunately having a hard time convincing the guys to re-download and install is proving difficult, so without them my 'Battlefield' time is limited.
Eoin, Video Producer
I've been playing a heap of 'Ghost of Tsushima.'
I missed out on it when it first came out, so it seemed like the perfect game to test out the PS5. I'a huge fan of those big-map RPGs with loads of story, near-infinite collectibles, and meaty side-quests.
On the sliding scale of RPG quality - from 'Witcher III' (glorious, perfection, magnificent, makes you feel like a Witcher) to 'Assassin's Creed Odyssey' (mundane, too long, makes you feel like crying) - 'Ghost of Tsushima' sits comfortably in the middle.
Sure, the fetch-quests can feel formulaic, and even the stunning landscapes can't stop your mind from drifting during long horse rides, but the core setting and gameplay is just so much fun for me.
The samurai sword combat feels right, the cutscenes are filled with drama, and I'm totally invested in Jin Sakai's story.
Shout-out to the easily accessible Photo mode, and the 'Kurosawa mode' filter you can put over the whole game to feel like you're in a proper 1950s samurai movie!