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Another weekend awaits, but what to play? In case you’re feeling indecisive, we thought we’d share a few video games (and a tabletop card game!) that have us enthralled as we head into the weekend.
And OK, yeah, one of them is Diablo IV. Again. When that game gets its hooks in, well…you know.
Current goal: Collect every arcana
Play it on: Xbox Series X/S, Switch, Windows, Mac, Android, iOS
Buy it from: Microsoft
Giving myself a modest gaming goal this weekend: Out of 22 total arcana, I only have three of these suckers left. For those not versed in Vampire Survivors verbiage, arcana are game changers in every sense, modifiers that you add to your runs, typically with zany results.
With coach co-op and an engine refresh on the way, it now feels like the perfect time to hop back into Survivors to fully flesh out my collection of unlockables to prep for teaming up with pals.
What’s my go-to arcana? Well, I’m lazy, so I love number VIII, Mad Groove, which every 2 minutes pulls every item in the whole stage toward you in a tidy little ring: gems, stage items, power-ups, floor chickens, the whole deal. This means it’s also great for helping unlock other arcana by leveling characters to 50 much faster. Groovy. — Eric Schulkin
Current goal: Find out if a 1991 dungeon crawler can captivate me today
Play it on: Windows
I guess I’ve got a case of D&D fever. Baldur’s Gate 3 is almost here, and the tabletop campaign that I’m running is proving to be a blast, so I’m feeling the itch to finally tackle a game I’ve been fascinated by for a long time: the 1991 first-person dungeon crawler Eye of the Beholder.
Last year, the trilogy of EotB games got released on Steam with a free auto-mapper called The All-Seeing Eye included. Some feel this tool makes the game too easy, but I’m too spoiled by modern convenience to make my own maps today, so I’ll probably use it.
Once upon a time, I held the box for this game at the Software, Etc. in my local mall and wished I had a computer that could play it, all while thinking it looked like the future of video games. Will it actually hold my attention in the year 2023, or has it become too much of a relic to go back to today? I don’t yet know, but I intend to find out! — Carolyn Petit
Current goal: Finish the campaign
Play it on: PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X/S, Windows
Buy it from: Amazon | Best Buy | GameStop | Target
I never really stopped playing Diablo IV, but I’m really going to be diving back in this weekend as I try to finally wrap the game up ahead of season 1 dropping on July 20. I spent a couple dozen hours on the first two chapters but really need to get down to business and try to cruise through the rest of the story, even if that means dropping things down to World Tier 1. I’m sure Lilith would approve.
I love and hate Diablo IV, which is not an uncommon reaction and also part of why I didn’t finish it back in June. I love the feel of the world and the moment-to-moment loop of managing cooldowns to hack and slash my way through dungeons. But I hate the oppressive feeling of being on a treadmill that’s exacerbated by enemies scaling to your level, and the fact that loot cycles so quickly you never really get to lean into a coherent build for very long earlier on. It’s an incredibly old-school action-RPG in many ways, for better and for worse. But after a few weeks away to finish Final Fantasy XVI, I’ve been missing it, which is a nice problem to have with Diablo. — Ethan Gach
Current goal: Finish main campaign in co-op
Play it on: Windows, macOS, Linux, Android
Sonic Robo Blast 2 (it’s free, go get it) has to be in the running for most impressive unofficial fan game of all time. This sprite-based, 3D Sonic the Hedgehog adventure dates all the way back to the late ‘90s, and development is still going strong today. And it runs on the freakin’ (heavily modified) Doom engine!
When I first checked it out…oof, decades ago, I was tickled by its weird mix of 2D characters, 3D Doom-style maps, and surprisingly satisfying 3D platform action. It’s only gotten better since, and the game is legit beautiful now, in a distinctly retro way all its own. (The new digital music’s great, too.)
I rounded up some friends to co-op the main campaign, and we got about two-thirds through before we had to adjourn. We had two Sonics, a Knuckles, and a Tails, and let me just say you’re playin’ hard mode if you choose the ground-bound hedgehog. We had a good time, though most of us got lost in the sprawling levels, and we didn’t know Tails could pick up us less fortunates for impromptu flights. I’m looking forward to going back in to co-op the rest of the (still-in-development) campaign, and then exploring the wide world of Sonic Robo Blast 2…mods.
Yes, there’s a huge modification scene creating mods of a fan game that’s (essentially) a mod of Doom. (Check out their take on Mario Kart.) Sonic Robo Blast 2 is amazing. — Alexandra Hall
Current goal: Get good again
Play in on: PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X/S, Windows
Buy it from: Amazon | Best Buy | GameStop | Target
Because Final Fantasy XVI and Master Detectives Archives: Rain Code pulled me away, I haven’t been getting my Street Fighter 6 rounds in. It’s the nature of the job that sometimes you want to spend your time doing other stuff, but Clive Rosfield’s crying about his brother, and you’ve gotta tend to him so you can write about it. With other responsibilities pulling me away, I’ve not been able to dust off the theoretical fight stick (I play controller, sorry) and get back to training.
At one time, I was the best Street Fighter player of my friends. I dumped hundreds of hours into Street Fighter V while they were playing better fighting games, so I had a distinct advantage going into Street Fighter 6. I successfully convinced people I was an above-average Street Fighter player, but now that I’ve been away so long, the facade is fading. I’ve been playing a little here and there, but it’s clear not only have I gotten rusty, but people I bulldozed over with a hadoken have improved in my absence.
Clearly, this cannot stand. I have to reclaim my honor and my title as the best Street Fighter player in my circle, or they’re going to find out I’m a fraud. So this weekend is training time. — Kenneth Shepard
Current Goal: Screw over my friends until they succumb to Rom’s wrath
Play it On: A table or other hard, flat surface
Buy it from: Amazon
I am once again using this space to talk about Bloodborne, but this time with a little bit of a twist. This weekend, I’ll be putting down the controller and picking up a couple of dice. Bloodborne: The Card Game came out on the heels of FromSoftware’s 2015 masterpiece. It’s not quite as expansive or enveloping as the Bloodborne board game, but it’s not too bad for a themed card affair.
Bloodborne’s card game isn’t exactly flawless. In fact, I’d argue that it being Bloodborne-themed sorta drives my interest in it, but nonetheless I still enjoy breaking it out at game night. The general idea is that you and the other players are fighting your way through a Chalice Dungeon using cards that are based on various weapons and consumables from the video game. You have to work together to fight one monster at a time until you eventually face off against the boss. However, you’re also actively working against each other so you’re either the only hunter left or end up with the most Blood Echoes. I can tell I’m not doing a great job on selling the game here, since there’s a ton of other variables to the game, but that’s the general gist.
If you’re a Bloodborne freak like myself, then you might get a kick out of the card game. If you aren’t a Bloodborne freak like myself, then go change that right now. — Jeb Biggart
And that’s it for this weekend’s gaming guide. What games are you playing this weekend?