Over the years, what defines a game as the “action” category has gotten more ambiguous than ever, as many games now include aspects of multiple core genres. However, one thing remains certain – games in this category give the player a polished, exciting experience. So, what is this list all about? This isn’t a Top 10 Action Games of All Time list or a Top 10 Action Games of a Generation list. Instead, we’re tackling this one from the angle of what’s important, what’s incredible, and what’s fantastic right now. As in today. This week. This month. So when you don’t see a Dark Souls game on this list, that’s why even though I’d recommend a fresh playthrough of Dark Souls 3 every day. This ever-shifting list aims to capture the highlights of the now and what we think you’d love to be playing this very moment. Presented in no particular order, this list keeps it fresh. Let’s dive in!
From a pure combat standpoint, Bayonetta’s third outing proves to be her strongest. The witch’s new Demon Masquerade and Demon Slave mechanics improve an already fantastic combat system with a slew of wildly entertaining weapons and abilities. Whether you’re slinging a giant yo-yo, conjuring a demonic train, or annihilating foes apart with a dragon-infused cannon, we couldn’t get enough of the game’s offensive variety. It also feels great summoning giant demons to end long combo strings with a powerful exclamation point. The Viola and Jeanne sections may be weaker, but when the spotlight shines on Bayonetta, she proves once again that few series can outshine her on the battlefield. | Our Review
What can we say about From Software’s latest that hasn’t already been said? A seemingly perfect evolution of the Soulsborne formula, Elden Ring instills its punishing combat with a newfound and unparalleled level of freedom. Shield parries, blade slashes, swooping arrows, and magical shockwaves erupt in wondrous flurries of multicolored sparks while spirit summons, weapon arts, and multiplayer companions amplify the chaos. Horseback battles also up the ante; well-timed double jumps make avoiding ax swings or incoming infernos feel appropriately cinematic. And we’d be remiss not to mention the various entities that call The Lands Between home. From the elderly but swift-footed, Margit, the Fell Omen to crimson-haired Malenia, Blade of Miquella, Elden Ring has no shortage of unforgettable encounters. | Our Review
Ghost of Tsushima Director’s Cut
Ghost of Tsushima impressed on many levels during its initial 2020 release, letting players explore breathtaking scenery while participating in riveting combat. Little touches like the Kurosawa mode that transforms the game into a black-and-white vision that one might remember from films like Seven Samurai make all the difference here, as you can tell that a deft and practiced hand went into the creation of every element that makes up the whole of Ghost.
The director’s cut is easily the best way to play Ghost today and comes with the new Iki island expansion that gives players plenty of more content to engage with. A director’s commentary is adds significant depth for players that want to learn more about the game’s creation, the real-life events that inspired it, the setting, and so much more. Since its release, Ghost has also received other major updates, including a massive multiplayer experience that you can take on with friends. | Our Review
God of War Ragnarök
Kratos and Atreus’ second outing may not be markedly different from their last when it comes to action, but that doesn’t make it any less of a fun adrenaline romp. Fine tweaks and new tricks (especially for Atreus) add fun wrinkles to the brutal action. Toppling the deadliest creatures and deities Norse mythology has to offer remains a thrill, and that barrage of bloodshed is wrapped around an engaging narrative brought to life by powerful performances. From its hot start to its epic conclusion, God of War Ragnarök is the total package. | Our Review
Roguelikes find plenty of appreciation these days, but Hades may be the one that gets everyone chasing their next run and rockets the genre to the spotlight in the coming years. The “just one more run” cycle has never been more apparent, and Hades throwing in some story to unravel and fantastic characters to meet adds a bit of zest to the equation that’s tough to beat.
Hades has style, it’s got permanent progression to keep things rolling along, weapons to master, and all kinds of secret unlocks to find. So why on earth are we talking about Hades now? You probably already knew this game rocks. However, it just came out for major consoles. Previously, you’d have to play on Switch or PC, but now you can take the trip through hell on PlayStation and Xbox. It’s absolutely a journey worth taking. | Our Review
Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales
For Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, if you can play it on the PlayStation 5, you should. Suppose PS5’s power isn’t obtainable due to the various factors from how COVID-19 or scalpers have impacted console availability. In that case, you could always go back and play Marvel’s Spider-Man, but if you have the means, Miles Morales on PS5 is the choice of the moment.
While it’s significantly shorter than the original game, it’s packed with epic moments and battles. Miles’ abilities change up the gameplay quite a bit, and zipping around the city is an incredible feeling. In addition to playing exceptionally well, Miles Morales on PlayStation 5 is one of few games available right now that takes advantage of current-gen hardware to show off what video games can do right now. | Our Review
Ori and the Will of the Wisps
Ori and the Will of the Wisps is action-packed and challenging, but it’s also an absolute work of art. Featuring stunning visuals to go along with the razor’s edge gameplay, few games ascend to this level of prowess within the neo-Metroidvania genre. Ori might just melt your heart as you maneuver through its best-in-class platforming and combat combo.
The story and setpieces arc you through wonderful whimsy and fleeting moments of terror, so be ready for an immersive, enchanting adventure that loves showing off and keeping the player completely enthralled. While Ori and the Will of the Wisps can be brutal, progression mechanics help keep things going even when the journey can be tough. | Our Review
Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart
This early into the console cycle, we’re looking for those big games to pave the way and show off the power of the new systems. Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart does this, and how. While there’s nothing new about jumping around and blasting enemies, does it ever look good here as you flip through rifts with absolutely zero load time, something that’s sure to wow even the most hardened game connoisseur.
Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart feels great to play, and more importantly, all of the action feels like it was crafted with fun as the focus. The cartoony world is a cohesive joy to explore, and everything from the DualSense haptics to the impressive graphics makes this a boisterous, festive ride. | Our Review
Terrifying, exhilarating, and epic, Housemarque successfully translates fast-paced arcade action into a mysterious alien shooter. Returnal is one of the best games of the year and brilliantly seams various genres and features together to create something special. From piecing together the mysteries of the alien planet to taking on unforgettable bosses in an atmosphere drenched with dread, Returnal serves up tension with unyielding action.
The only place you can play Returnal right now is on PlayStation 5, but perhaps we can hold out some hope that it may come to PC in the future. | Our Review
Rogue Legacy 2
One one hand, Rogue Legacy 2 simply offers more of what its beloved predecessor offered. On the other, that makes it just as hard to put down, if not more so. It’s almost frightening how quickly time melts away when taking generations of warriors for run after entertaining run through gauntlets of enemies, traps, and bosses. Expanded classes, new items, and game-altering house rules keeps every run fresh while adding strategic depth. In the roguelite genre, Rogue Legacy 2 stands near the top of its class. | Our Review
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