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“Another great year in gaming as I was finally able to transition to next-gen consoles.”


Ahh, 2021. The world collectively held out hope that things would get back to normal. It looked as if the end to the pandemic was finally starting to happen, but boy were we wrong! Perhaps instead of viewing 2021 as the year that the pandemic would finally end, we should retrospectively view it as the year in which we realized COVID might be our new normal. Instead of seeing the demise of COVID’s worldwide dominance, we were treated to new variants, Delta and Omicron, that saw the virus spread more rapidly and sicken even more people. As we look ahead to 2022 and year three of the pandemic, I believe there is more cause for hope than before.

Even if COVID never truly goes away completely, at least we can look forward to a new year for gaming in 2022! Gaming is perhaps more important than ever before, as the escapism that gaming offers becomes more of a necessity than ever before, allowing us to disconnect and disassociate from the harsh reality of the world, if only temporarily.

Despite disastrous timing, the release of the newest consoles in November 2020 offers the world the chance to experience gaming on the next generation of consoles: the PlayStation 5 and the Xbox Series X/S. That is, for those lucky enough to find them. Hopefully the supply shortage will resolve itself in 2022 and more gamers will be able to legitimately purchase next gen consoles from retailers without having to spend a fortune.

My gaming Year-In-Review: Playstation 4 & 5

A rather light year for me when it came to gaming on PlayStation consoles, mostly because I was able to score an Xbox Series X in April 2021. Given the choice between gaming on the PlayStation 4 or the Xbox Series X, I was more likely to choose next-gen hardware. But I do truly believe that in the future, when I look back on my time gaming on the PlayStation 4, it will be one of my favorite consoles of all-time. The feel of the controller in my hands (despite an internal battery that didn’t seem too generous with overall charge time), the sleek look of the console itself, the ability to use themes to change your PS4’s display, and high-quality games and remasters made me quite a contented PS4 owner.

Though it didn’t come out in 2021, the remastered version of Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch took my breath away once again when it was re-released on PlayStation 4. And what is quite possibly my favorite game on PS4, Dragon Quest Builders 2, saw me spending countless hours crafting and building my own blocky paradise on multiple play-throughs. It wasn’t until the middle of December 2021 that I was able to purchase a PlayStation 5 and experience all the new console had to offer. The first game I played on it was Toem, an original and remarkably deep black-and-white photography game that I enjoyed. Of course, with the new hardware, I had to pop in Ni No Kuni Remastered again, load up an old save, and continue playing just to see the visual upgrades to the game.

My Gaming Year-In-Review: Xbox One & Xbox SEries X

2021 marks the year that I enjoyed gaming on my Xbox console more than its PlayStation counterpart. It’s true I’ve always seen myself as more of a PlayStation gamer due to the sheer amount of JRPG content that is available on Sony’s platforms. But in 2021, with brand-new Xbox Series X hardware, I was completely enthralled with Microsoft’s new system. Its super-quick load times, ability to custom-design your own controllers, and surprising variety of games (thanks to backwards compatibility all the way back to the original Xbox & console exclusives) made me eager to spend lots of time gaming on this system.

Some Xbox games for 2021 that stood out for me were Grow: Song of the Evertree, Hot Wheels Unleashed, Dragon Quest Builders 2, Cozy Grove, Rainbow Billy, Kitaria Fables, and Art of Rally. I was beyond thrilled that Square Enix decided to port Builders 2 to the Xbox, and I was pleasantly surprised at how fun Rainbow Billy and Kitaria Fables were to play. Cozy Grove scratched my Animal Crossing itch and Hot Wheels Unleashed proved to be a very competent licensed racing game.

But the first game I had to try out on the new Xbox hardware was Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla. After starting my playthrough on the Xbox One, and decidedly not impressed with the loading times and visual stutters, I was pleasantly surprised at how much better the game looked and ran on the newer Xbox Series X. It was truly my first foray into experiencing a next-gen game and a memorable one at that. I am nowhere close to being done with this game and no longer routinely play it. But when I do have a craving to experience ninth century Britain and Ireland, it is an easy game to get back into.

My Gaming Year-In-Review: Nintendo Switch

Animal Crossing: New Horizons remained my top-played game for 2022.

Thank you, Nintendo, for doing another year in review. It made this portion of the article a lot easier to write, seeing as how Nintendo Switch does not allow you to see dates of play for the games you have played in your profile.

Logging almost two hundred hours into Animal Crossing: New Horizons in one year is quite the accomplishment for me. Put simply, there was no other game that held my interest on a regular basis as much as New Horizons. Sorry, Microsoft and Sony: Your new consoles are a dream, and while I enjoy playing titles on your respective systems, nothing can match Nintendo’s behemoth of a life sim. I typically lose interest in a game after less than half of that time: case in point, Bravely Default II, in second place with only 99 total hours. I haven’t touched the game since the summer and don’t currently have any plans to go back to it. I left off somewhere in the bit of story leading up to the final boss battle but, due to frustration with difficulty spikes and needing to grind my characters to level up their jobs, the game fell out of favor with me.

Other titles I enjoyed on Nintendo’s flagship system this year included: Big Brain Academy, Toem, Garden Story, Littlewood, Ni no Kuni Wrath of the White Witch, Songs for a Hero, Labyrinth City, Dragon Quest Builders 2, and Charterstone: Digital Edition. Special kudos goes out to Dragon Quest Builders 2, which I played on every system it was released for in 2021. One thing that always keeps me coming back to the Switch is the sheer number of titles available on the system. Granted, not all of them are top-notch by any means, but titles like Garden Story, Big Brain Academy, and Littlewood just can’t be found on other consoles. As anyone with a Switch will tell you, Nintendo stopped competing head-to-head with their rivals generations ago. No, the Switch isn’t the most high-powered, high definition, beast of a gaming device out there. And that’s ok, because the experiences you will have playing on the Switch are unique and fun.

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