When DiRT 4 released in 2017, I thought it was a great racing game that offered both simulation and arcade playstyles for different kinds of players. Though, this lack of commitment to either was ultimately a problem. As a result, I felt that it was in a crisis of identity and personality, to which it had neither. Codemasters heard these complaints, because DIRT 5 doesn’t have that problem. DIRT 5 is beaming with personality, full of off-road arcade excitement, and every location is vividly detailed, while nearly spilling mud into your lap with every turn – a game that is next-generation, top to bottom.
Windbound comes at you strong, with a striking sense of visual style that lands somewhere between Sea of Thieves and The Legend of Zelda: The Windwaker, and it seemingly deliberately dabbles with similar visual themes. Its rich, vibrant world is presented with striking colors and beautiful, fluid animation, all of which breathe extraordinary life into the lush environments and highly animated local fauna. It’s a gorgeous game to look at, and it helps set a tone early for itself as a game about discovery and wonder. The story begins with your character at sea in the middle of a violent tempest, captaining one of many small boats struggling to fight their way through the storm. Waves swell, and suddenly a massive sea creature the size of a small island breaches the surface, threatening to destroy everything around it. A gigantic tentacle raises from the depths and crashes down upon you. You awake to find yourself standing on the surface of a calm sea in the still of night, with a giant, swirling portal of light before you. What choice do you have but to step through and see what fate awaits you? You awake again, this time on a very small island in the middle of an expansive ocean. It’s daytime, the sea is calm, and you have nothing to your name except the clothes on your back and the knife in your belt.
Real-time strategy games like Company of Heroes and Dawn of War II are now considered classics, relics of the past. Iron Harvest aims to capture the mid-2000s era of RTS gaming, and mostly succeeds at that goal. It’s got a lengthy, strong campaign full of heart that offers three distinct viewpoints with focus on giant, hulking mechs that release wanton destruction. The multiplayer is lacking in a few key areas, hurting the longevity of the game for the time being. As it stands, Iron Harvest is a revitalization of the RTS genre that’s sat dormant for too long, until now.