Doom Eternal: The Ancient Gods Part 2 is a workout for your hands.
That isn’t a result of inaccessible controls; with this DLC, id Software has added the option to fully remap console controls. Even with that flexibility, after a few hours with the new DLC expansion to the 2020 shooter, my palms and knuckles begin to ache. I’m playing on PS5, and the DualSense is a beefy controller. The Ancient Gods Part 2 pushes you to use every square inch of it. There are a lot of demons to kill here and with Ancient Gods Part 2, id Software has given us the Doom Slayer’s most expansive arsenal of weapons to do so yet. Far from being just a set of three new levels, Doom Eternal: The Ancient Gods Part 2 introduces multiple new enemies, a new traversal mechanic and a new weapon, all of which alter the flow of battle for the better.
I had my frustrations with The Ancient Gods Part 1, most stemming from the introduction of new enemies (like the Blood Maykr and the Turret) that required pinpoint accuracy to eradicate, which had a tendency to slow fights to a crawl. But The Ancient Gods Part 2 thankfully leans back in the other direction. One new addition to the bestiary, the Cursed Prowler, can (as the name suggests) curse you if it manages to land a hit with its projectile attack. To break the curse, you need to kill the Cursed Prowler. Simple enough. But this durable creature can only be killed with a Blood Punch. And, if you don’t have a Blood Punch ready, you’ll need to Glory Kill other monsters to build your meter up. So, instead of rooting you in one spot with your eye to the scope, the Cursed Prowler encourages you to dive into the fray. It can be frustrating to get hit with a curse and begin losing health in the middle of a tough battle, but it’s a change for the better: one toward frenetic movement and away from the occasional aim-down-sights inertia of the first DLC.
Editor’s note: At the time of publishing, we still need to play more of Monster Hunter Rise’s multiplayer. This review will remain in progress until we’re able to do that at launch. Stay tuned for the final review in the coming days.
The locations you explore in Monster Hunter Rise have already felt the delicate touch of humanity’s hand. Traditional Japanese torii can be found weaving through mountainside paths, leading to sacred shrines, while decaying temples have been reclaimed by nature as local plant life envelops the aging architecture. Signs of human life can even be found at the base of a raging volcano and in the midst of a flooded forest, where a Mesoamerican-style pyramid dominates the landscape.
If 2018’s Monster Hunter World was all about unearthing a new continent as an intrepid frontiersman, then Rise is a triumphant return to the Old World with valuable lessons learned. An enhanced port of the 3DS title Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate may have already graced the Nintendo Switch, but Rise is the first game in the series built from the ground up for Nintendo’s latest console. As such, Rise closely follows in the footsteps of World while reneging on some of its changes and introducing plenty of new impactful ideas that excellently shift the focus towards the series’ heart-pumping action.
If the fights in John Wick were choreographed by the plays you made with a deck of cards, you’d get Fights in Tight Spaces. The roguelite deck-builder puts you in increasingly cramped and intricate spaces, challenging you with figuring out an efficient and safe way to punch, kick, and outsmart every enemy stuffed in there with you. It’s a fascinating mix of recognizable genres that produces something distinct and satisfyingly complex, even in its Early Access state.
Fights in Tight Spaces currently features the core loop of the game spread out across five stages, each their own unique enemies, rewards, and final boss fights. You have four styles of play to choose from, with decks of moves focused on counter-attacking, all-out assault, or combinations of the two. Each run is unique, too, shaped by the small decisions you make regarding what routes to take in each stage. These influence what rewards you might get out of each fight, what vendors you’ll have access to, and what random events you can happen upon. Die, however, and everything resets, without any persistence between runs to make the next one any easier.
Each themed stage is littered with levels you need to complete, with the namesake of the game coming to fruition in their design. Each level plays out across a tile-based grid, with enemies randomly placed throughout. You use cards to initiate actions–moving to adjacent tiles, attacking enemies, or more complex combinations of the two–with action points restricting how many cards you can play per turn. These are densely-packed grids, sometimes as small as 4×6 battle arenas that make just avoiding attacks a delicate dance. Like other tactical games like Into the Breach, you have to use every tile to your advantage. Enemies prepare attacks should you come within range at any point during your turn, and will execute them regardless of whether you leave that space by the end. This means turns aren’t solely about using your limited action points to dole out damage, but also trying to position other foes in the line of fire of their comrades.
The journey, rather than the destination, is the focus of Mundaun–the reasons you take it and the travel required to reach its conclusion. In this way, it feels like a spiritual successor to Half-Life 2’s Highway 17, a mid-game chapter that finds crowbar-toting protagonist Gordon Freeman traveling by buggy along the lonely coast. It’s a lengthy, melancholy section of the 2004 shooter where the driving is occasionally interrupted by combat, puzzles, and on-foot exploration. Mundaun is like Highway 17 expanded to a full 10-hour experience. In your journey to the mountaintop, you sit passively in a bus, drive a hay-baling truck along bumpy terrain, and ride a sled across quiet alpine slopes. You’re guided through a series of dark, labyrinthine tunnels by a trolley car the size of a toaster. You ride a chair lift. The inclusion of vehicles might not sound noteworthy on its own, but traversing the mountain in all these different ways–on foot, by sled, by truck–has the effect of making the mountain feel like a real place; a peak that must be considered to be conquered. You don’t cover dozens of virtual miles in your quest, but Mundaun feels like a journey nonetheless–personal and physical–as a result of this fixation on the vehicles we use to make our pilgrimages.
This horror adventure game’s distinct point of view is obvious the moment you see it in action. Each first-person frame looks like hand-drawn pencil art, and the entire game is presented in black and white. Developer Hidden Fields uses this to terrific, eerie effect. The mountain lake where those beekeepers are doing their work is beautifully alien, a rocky landscape that’s empty except for these strange beings in their protective suits accompanied by an unnerving buzzing. Night on the mountain’s snowy slopes feels eerie in a different way–dark, save for the light of the moon, and quiet, save for the sound of your snowshoes or sled on the powder. With winning art and sound design, Hidden Fields brilliantly brings home the feeling that you are alone, and that this lonely journey is one you must take on your own.
As that journey begins, protagonist Curdin sits on a bus winding its way up narrow mountain roads to the sleepy alpine town where he often visited his grandfather growing up. The young man is returning to the village to attend his grandfather’s funeral after receiving news that the old man died when his barn caught fire. But something’s wrong. Despite the village priest’s claims that his grandfather was already buried, Curdin finds a charred corpse in the barn. When he goes to see the priest, the chapel is locked. He goes to the graveyard–grandfather’s grave is empty. As Curdin attempts to get to the bottom of these mysterious events, he begins a trek to the top of the mountain, whose towering pincer-like twin peaks can be seen from almost anywhere in the game.
In a sense, Apex Legends is not the same game that we reviewed back in February 2019–the roster of playable characters has doubled to 16, three full maps are in rotation, and several different modes (including ranked) are included. There’s also a story that’s delivered weekly via map changes and comics that have built the game’s lore. Additional features have been implemented, like clubs for players to join, cross-play support, and limited-time events. On top of all that, seasonal content introduces substantial meta changes, daily/weekly challenges, and rewarding battle passes, transforming Apex Legends into something greater.
And yet, despite these adjustments, the core of Apex Legends remains intact. It’s still a squad-based battle royale that encourages teamwork with an excellent ping system, where you begin each match picking from a roster of hero characters that possess unique abilities in order to fulfill different roles in battle. The core principles that made Apex Legends work so well back when it first launched haven’t changed over two years later.
All of which is to say, Apex Legends is still really fun and worth jumping into if you haven’t yet. And now you’re able to do so on Nintendo Switch. But just because you can play Apex Legends on Switch does not mean you should. This port works, but only in the loosest sense of the term; this is the worst way to play Apex Legends.