Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.
Best Atmosphere: Buy Resident Evil 2 at Amazon
"Upgraded combat makes Resident Evil 2 feel more like an action game than ever before."
Best Hard Game: Sekiro at Amazon
"Not for the faint of heart, but a worthwhile experience nonetheless."
Best Creation Tool: Super Mario Maker 2 at Amazon
"It’s a blast toying with the intuitive creation tools to see what’s possible."
Best Presentation: Dragon Quest Builders 2 at Amazon
"Between its smart design, sweeping musical overtures, and stellar RPG elements, there's a lot to love."
Best Story: Judgment at Amazon
"One of the best in the Yakuza universe, and it plays out like a binge-worthy TV legal drama."
Best Action: Devil May Cry 5 at Amazon
"The most flashy, entertaining combat in recent memory."
Best Concept: Buy Outer Wilds at Microsoft at Amazon
"What if the world was going to end in 22 minutes? That’s the premise behind Mobius Digital’s indie gem."
Best Combat: Mortal Kombat 11 at Amazon
"If the gruesome "Fatality" sequences pique your morbid curiosity, you won't be disappointed."
Capcom’s latest entry in its survival-horror juggernaut is a complete retelling of the 1998 classic, Resident Evil 2. More than just a paint-by-numbers remake, 2019’s Resident Evil 2 maintains the core story and atmosphere of the original while bringing the gameplay and visuals up to modern-day standards. A new dynamic camera and upgraded combat make Resident Evil 2 feel more like an action game than ever before, but limited ammo will make you think twice before pulling the trigger. The gameplay is filled with desperation, risk, and reward, descriptors best highlighted by the true star of Resident Evil 2, The Tyrant.
As Claire Redfield and Leon S. Kennedy, you’ll explore the Raccoon City Police Department after a zombie breakout. However, while traversing through the winding halls, The Tyrant is never far behind. He’s tall and terrifying, and his footsteps will constantly echo in your ear. If he catches you, he’ll beat you to a pulp. The looming threat of The Tyrant gives an unrelenting sense of urgency to Resident Evil 2’s gameplay, making it one of the most intense survival-horror experiences out there.
FromSoftware is known for its brutally difficult action games set in dark, dreary environments. Taking place in a post-apocalyptic 16th century Japan, filled with disease and devastation, Sekiro undoubtedly fits that bill. In true fashion, you can expect a steep learning curve, though Sekiro is easier to get into than the developer's other most popular games, Dark Souls and Bloodborne. With no multiplayer elements, you don’t have to worry about other players entering your game to take you out. The RPG elements are also much lighter in Sekiro, so you can focus on what really matters: Lots and lots of boss battles.
The combat is also much different than previous FromSoftware games, emphasizing speed and counterattacks more than before. It feels intimidating at the start, but it’s very rewarding for those willing to invest the endless hours needed to improve. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice isn’t for the faint of heart, but it’s a worthwhile experience nonetheless.
In 2015, Nintendo put gave the power to the players in Super Mario Maker for the Wii U. While that game featured one of the most fully fleshed out level creators ever made — with an active community of builders and players to boot — Super Mario Maker 2 on Nintendo Switch recaptures what made the first game so special. Even better, it adds a standout single-player campaign blessed with over 100 Nintendo-made levels.
There’s virtually no limit to what you can create in Super Mario Maker 2, and it’s a blast toying with the intuitive creation tools to see what’s possible. If you need some inspiration, it’s super easy to hop into user-created levels on the internet. Nintendo greatly improved the search functions in Mario Maker 2, so you can quickly find whatever type of level you’re in the mood for. (There’s four-player competitive multiplayer, too!) The frame rate can be rough when playing online, but it’s still a blast to race against other players.
On the surface, Dragon Quest Builders 2 looks like a straight imitation of Minecraft. While there’s no question that Builders 2 heavily borrows from its Mojang-made spiritual predecessor, it introduces plenty of unique mechanics and features that set it apart from other crafters. Builders 2 comes from the minds behind the mainline Dragon Quest series: Yuji Horii, Akira Toriyama, and Koichi Sugiyama. Because of their involvement, Builders 2 is oozing with charm. Between its smart design, sweeping musical overtures, and stellar RPG elements, there's a lot to love about Dragon Quest Builders 2.
Along with the presentation, Builders 2 excels by assigning dozens of structured missions to complete throughout its story mode. You’ll recruit villagers, build cities, and learn new crafting recipes. If you ever tire of the campaign, you can hop into multiplayer to build with your friends. There’s always something different to do in Builders 2, and it’s an easy recommendation for any fan of Minecraft.
Sega’s Yakuza franchise takes place in Kamurocho, Japan: A glitzy, over-the-top neighborhood crawling with criminals. The series has been around since 2005, but it didn’t start picking up steam in the West until 2017’s Yakuza 0. Yakuza is more popular than ever, even if new players don't know where to start. Well, we'll have you know that the latest entry in the Yakuza universe, Judgment, leaves all of the series' baggage behind, serving as the perfect starting point for newcomers.
Rather than playing as a Japanese gangster, Judgment puts you in the shoes of a private investigator trying to solve Kamurocho’s biggest mysteries. Longtime Yakuza fans will be excited to return to Kamurocho, while new fans can jump into the investigations with no prior knowledge of the series. The story, which focuses on a serial killer that gouges out his victim’s eyes, is one of the best in the Yakuza universe, and it plays out like a binge-worthy TV legal drama. The gameplay is fun, too, with stylish, wacky street fights where anything goes — including whacking someone over the head with a bicycle.
The Devil May Cry (DMC) franchise took a strange turn in 2013 when Capcom released DmC: Devil May Cry, an entry that took place in a different universe than the first four DMC games. So, fans were thrilled with the return of Dante and co. in Devil May Cry 5, a stylish, fluid, action-packed return to form for the franchise that picks up where the main series left off. Set five years after the events of Devil May Cry 4, Devil May Cry 5 features three playable characters: Dante (from DMC 1-3), Nero (from DMC 4), and V, an all-new protagonist.
Using some of the most flashy, entertaining combat in recent memory, these three characters work together to stop the Demon King Urizen from destroying humanity. In Devil May Cry 5, you can wield swords, guns, and buzzsaws to create wild attack combos, taking out hordes upon hordes of enemies. Learning the different combos and strategies is endlessly entertaining, and it plays like a dream once you get a handle on chaining different moves together. If you’re looking for a deep, edgy action game of the year contender, look no further.
What if the world was going to end in 22 minutes? That’s the premise behind Mobius Digital’s indie gem Outer Wilds. A supernova threatens to destroy the player’s planet in 22 minutes, so you have to do all you can in that short amount of time to progress the story. In true Groundhog Day fashion, you restart the game after the supernova, still clinging to the memory of everything you learned before the planet was destroyed.
Thus, the game enters an addictive cycle where you must gather all the information you can before fate forces you to try again.
Mortal Kombat is one of the most famous fighters in all of gaming, and parents have been banning it since 1992. The newest game in the franchise, Mortal Kombat 11, is as gory and disturbing as ever, which will no doubt please longtime fans of the series. There are 25 playable characters to choose from, so you’ll never get bored with one specific fighting style. The core fighting in Mortal Kombat 11 is fantastic, and between CPUs, local battles, and online multiplayer, there’s no shortage of different ways to play.
Mortal Kombat 11 is headlined by an expansive story mode, which ties together all of the fighters in a fun, meaningful way. The two challenge modes, Klassic mode and the Towers of Time, add tons of replay value to the game. Mortal Kombat 11 does an excellent job combining spot-on fighting mechanics with satisfying rewards, along with the classic Mortal Kombat flair. And if the gruesome "Fatality" sequences pique your morbid curiosity, you won't be disappointed, even if you might end up decapitated.