I don’t have anything newsworthy in my writing slate to report just now (at least, not anything I can talk about, as much as I would like to do so–keep checking back!), but I’ve been taking a look at a number of new games recently. This includes both new and new-ish releases I’ve gotten a chance to play, and future games which I’m anticipating playing. These games cover a pretty wide array of types, and I’ll be dividing them up into like categories–feel free to skip to one in particular if you want a particular kind of recommendation. I’m leaving out recommendations for older stuff that people are probably already familiar with, but I do have quite a few games of that sort on my radar as well.
Tabletop Role-playing Games
- Let’s start with the elephant in the room in any discussion of recent RPG releases right now: Dungeons and Dragons 5th edition. I have the Player’s Handbook and Monster Manual, and have played a couple sessions from both the DM and player perspective. My verdict? It’s good. It’s really good! It feels like it draws most heavily on AD&D 2nd edition and D&D 3rd edition/3.5, but does better than either of them at achieving their goals. It offers better mechanical depth and consistency than 2nd ed while being much more flexible and user-friendly than 3rd. It also pulls in some of the best innovations from the controversial 4th edition (which I liked a lot, to be honest–I’ve enjoyed elements of every edition thus far), but doesn’t draw especially deeply from that well. Overall, it has rapidly moved into the position of my favorite edition of D&D.
- I’m finally going to get the chance to run a holiday-themed game this Halloween, which has been an ambition of mine for several years now. I’m not a huge horror fan, so my plan is to use the Atomic Robo system by Evil Hat to do something sort of Ghostbusters-esque. The system is great for scientifically-themed games that don’t take themselves too seriously, which should be perfect for these sorts of antics. Atomic Robo is also very easy to work with on the fly or with minimal preparation, which makes it ideal for a one-shot session. It’s not something I’d use for every genre (although it can handle a surprisingly large swathe of topics with a little tweaking), but for wacky super-science and/or monster fighting, there’s very little that can compete.
- The Dragon Age RPG by Green Ronin has gotten a little attention from me previously, and as I mentioned before, I’m very much looking forward to the release of their Set 3 box, which shouldn’t be a very long wait at this point, from the news I’m hearing. My anticipation is all the higher because of Dragon Age: Inquisition (see the video games section, below).
- I’ve been really enjoying keeping up with the beta changes for Star Wars: Force and Destiny. It was already a great game when I was working on it in the earlier stages (in my admittedly biased opinion), and I think it’s only been getting better as people really get to tinker with the guts of the system. I can’t wait for the full release. As a minor side note, if anyone has played through the “Lost Knowledge” adventure in the back of the beta rulebook and wants to share their stories with me, I’m all ears! Getting a chance to post about someone playing through an adventure I wrote would be super-cool, if anyone wants to take me up on the offer.
- There’s a few other games I’ve been meaning to pick up releases for, but which have been stymied by a lack of money or time. Onyx Path’s Demon: the Descent sounds incredible, and I’ve already put together a campaign idea based on what I’ve heard from others with copies, for example. I also hope to get Privateer Press’s new Monsternomicon, and am looking forward to Iron Kingdoms Unleashed.
Other Tabletop Games
- Most of my current miniature, card, and board game fixations are not particularly new releases, but I got a demo game of Warhammer 40,000: Conquest at GenCon which convinced me the game had some serious potential. Unfortunately, they were sold out well before I had thought to look into it. Now that the actual release has hit, I’ve been playing a lot, and I am incredibly impressed. This is now a major go-to game for me at the local hobby store. The gameplay is solid, the decision points and meaningful, and the pacing is tight. Matches don’t usually take long, but they feel more weighty than you’d expect from the amount of time you put into them. And speaking as a huge fan of Warhammer 40k, I love how each of the different factions manages to encapsulate their themes in the mechanics of their cards. It’s a really beautiful piece of evidence that good game rules are not actually opposed to good game lore or story, but that they can back up and reinforce one another.
- Dragon Age: Inquisition. Other than GenCon, this is what I have been most excited about all year. I was afraid to hope it would be good for a while, as I am one of those fans who felt the Mass Effect series ended…poorly, to say the least. However, I’ve seen nothing but evidence of good things for this, and they’ve previewed a whole hell of a lot. It’s getting really tough to wait for November 18th, but at least that’s not too far away right now. If you haven’t gotten a chance to try the Dragon Age series, I highly recommend it–you might actually be able to get through both previous games (Dragon Age: Origins and Dragon Age 2) before Inquisition hits. They’re great RPGs with a wonderful cast of characters, and some potential for quite strong emotional investment.
- Saints Row: Gat Out of Hell looks absolutely preposterous and dumb in the best way possible. Saints Row IV was a game that was primarily about making the player grin and laugh and just have a ridiculously great time, and Gat Out of Hell looks to be continuing that trend. I got into the series with Saints Row the Third, so I’m not hugely invested in the character of Johnny Gat (and while Saints Row has surprisingly good characterization, the emphasis there is on “surprisingly” to some extent), but I don’t think I need to be. I just need to be invested in piloting around an armchair equipped with miniguns.
- I’ve been an off-and-on-again player of Star Wars: the Old Republic almost since its release, and there’s a new expansion coming out that should be pretty good. I’ve got a few concerns about the focus of the story, but they look to largely be doing good things with it. And if I must admit, anything that gives me more of an excuse to mess with my fancy virtual Star Wars house is welcome in my book.
- Pillars of Eternity and Torment: Tides of Numenera are old-school RPGs funded by Kickstarter that should both be coming out soon, and which have definitely earned some interest from me. I backed both of them, and am hoping to see my investment pay off. But even if they turn out to be not to my taste, I’m just glad to see more diversity in the games industry succeed, as that can only go good places overall.
Other games I have been playing recently include, but are not limited to: Relic (board game), X-Wing (miniatures game), Android: Netrunner (card game), Star Wars: Edge of the Empire (tabletop RPG), Advanced Dungeons and Dragons Second Edition (tabletop RPG), Shadowrun Fifth Edition (tabletop RPG), Diablo III (video game), and Hearthstone (videogame). I like all of these, and would be willing to recommend each and every one. I would provide the caveat that everything I like about AD&D is something I feel the new edition of D&D does better.