What We're Playing

by: Randy -
More On: What we're playing
NASA made a video game where you map the Earth's real-world coral reefs so now you're basically saving the planet. Tactical hero shooter Valorant is tackling toxic behavior by making you watch before you get to play. And right now, if you need an antidote to adrenalized, goal-driven, fight-or-flight content, the BBC might have found something for you.
Here's what we're playing.
Sean Colleli
I'm still enjoying the tranquility and productivity of quarantine and telework. I'm a shameless indoor enthusiast so I've been cooking, writing and gaming a lot. In particular I picked up Broforce and Bastion on the Switch spring sale.
I'd forgotten how good both these games are. I played a lot of Broforce in early access so it's great to run through the polished final product again on a different platform. It's amusing my wife and I can't wait to have my friends over again for co-op. It's still hard, cathartic and a deliciously self-aware laugh riot.
I'm ashamed to admit I never got far in Bastion all those years ago but I'm amazed at how well it's held up. The art, gameplay and, of course, the narration are so complementary and elegant; there's no gimmickry or pretense here and that makes it feel like a game that came out last week, not in 2011. Of all the media darlings during the indie gold rush back then, I feel like Bastion actually deserves its praise.
Eric Hauter
While playing Final Fantasy VII Remake for hours and hours on end, I found myself hungry for an old-school RPG. Browsing around on Switch, I found that SnowCastle Games' Earthlock was on sale for five bucks. What better way to break up hours spent playing an enormous RPG but to take a break with hours spent playing an enormous RPG? 
Earthlock feels very much like the old-school RPGs of the '90s, which is just what I need to remind me why gloss and glimmer isn't everything. That's not meant as a slam on FFVII Remake. But when I come out of a game hungry for grinding, that has to say something. 
Randy Kalista
I won't admit it, but I was scared. Only a few hundred yards out of Vault 76, barely wiping the sleep out of my eyes, and I hear a thump, Thump, THUMP approaching me. I was like, Oh no this game has got Deathclaws running around the new player experience? This is not gonna be—and then some level 300 player stomped past in thickly branded Fallout 76 power armor. The thump-thumps faded away into the distance and I went about my business, slapping cassettes into my Pip-Boy, boiling dirty water for some Simple Soot Flower Tea, and scrounging through two-headed Radstag roadkill for enough hide to craft a leather shoulder pad. 
In Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord I've got a motley crew of two dozen mercenaries rolling with me, some of them ex-citizens, some of them ex-looters and raiders. It's just enough people to make me wonder how we're going through so much butter, but too few people to raid anything bigger than a tent-strewn bandit hideout. I'm a long ways from conducting one of Mount & Blade's famous thousand-man army sieges. The good news is, however, that the gameplay feels just as meaningful during a one-on-one match in the arena.