What we’ve been playing | Eurogamer.net

15th December, 2023

Hello! Welcome back to our regular feature where we write a little bit about some of the games we’ve found ourselves playing over the last few days. This time: spaceship battles, space, and classic Final Fantasy.

If you fancy catching up on some of the older editions of What We’ve Been Playing, here’s our archive.

Outer Wilds, Switch

I know I wrote about Outer Wilds earlier this week, but I’ve been back in again and again and I keep being so thrilled by what I find I can’t stop babbling about it to everyone I meet.

And I think I’ve isolated my Favourite Bit. It’s the Interloper, which is the perfect name for the comet that is winging through Outer Wild’s solar system, outgassing joyously as it goes. To land on a comet is the kind of thing that still feels special in games, an art form in which you can and often do achieve the impossible. To land on a comet! Wow!

And landing is just the start. The Interloper has a frozen surface that conceals a secret, and towards its tail it also hosts something properly alien. Even now, when I know what I’m expecting, I still get a chill from seeing that THING frozen in the ice.

I remember the first time I landed on a comet. I think it was the third book in the 2001 cycle. Heywood Floyd as an old man taking a pleasure cruise. What stuns me about Outer Wilds is that getting here is not something you have to work up to. They give it to you from the start. On my first ever game, I think it was the first thing I did in Outer Wilds. Such boldness. Such confidence. Such beauty. That’s comet thinking.

-Donlan

Cobalt Core, PC

How can I deny a game I have been told is a “certified Bertie game”? And how can I deny a game that’s just been given a whopping five golden hens by Eurogamer? I can’t!

What I love immediately about Cobalt Core is how immediate it is. There’s so little faff, so little preparing you to play. It’s like the game is already moving and you just jump in and learn as you go. Then at some point about 15 minutes in, the stabilisers come off and you’re on your own but you never look back. I love that.


A screenshot from Cobalt Core. Two pixelated spaceships face each other, locked in battle. Below them is a row of cards which are the player's powers. To the left of the screen are a line of characters' faces.


A screenshot from Cobalt Core. A pixelated spaceship has just destroyed another spaceship. There's a big pixelated explosion. Pixel-yay!


A screenshot from Cobalt Core showing a dialogue box with a little face above it. The character talking is Dracula. Yep, that's right, the Dracula.

Yep, that’s Dracula in space. Why not? It’s little touches like these that keep you smiling through Cobalt Core. | Image credit: Eurogamer / Brace Yourself Publishing

I also love the difference I feel in understanding between looking at a screenshot before I’ve played a game and then after I’ve played it. I’ve read Ed’s brilliant review of Cobalt Core but when I looked at the screenshots there, I only half-understood, and so the screenshot felt hollow and thin – empty somehow. But now they’ve gained substance. Now, when I look at them, I see the puzzle at hand – the possibilities for moves, the conundrums, the pickle. I see strategy.

One more thing I love: the plucky dialogue. It’s that line by line delivery like an old Japanese role-playing game I find very hard to resist. I think perhaps it’s the sparing nature of it – the way it never swamps you. Even if it’s a long speech, it’s always pre-digested (yuck, Bertie) and presented in small chunks. Plus, it’s filled with lots of uplifting exclamation marks! It just feels happy.

In summary: Cobalt Core is consuming me. And I am happy about it.

-Bertie

Final Fantasy 2 Pixel Remaster, Switch


The Final Fantasy 2 Pixel Remaster.

I’m in a bit of a Final Fantasy mood at the moment. I know, this probably won’t come as a shock to you Eurogamer readers. Final Fantasy 16 was my most played PlayStation game this year (thanks to Sony for the wrap-up) and I’ve recently switched to controller instead of mouse and keyboard for Final Fantasy 14 as I aim to get up to date on console rather than PC (please do send me your controller setups!). Plus, with Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth out early next year I have a real urge to replay the original in preparation.

Until then, I’ve been going through the Pixel Remasters to brush up on my series knowledge. I finished the first game a couple of months back, which was an enjoyable curio, but I was genuinely impressed by Final Fantasy 2 which I completed this week. It’s a little derided by the community due to its odd levelling system that wasn’t replicated again in the series, though it reminded me a little of Final Fantasy 8 in its weird, exploitable experimentalism. It’s also the first game to really set up many of the series tropes: Cid and Chocobo in particular, as well as a focus on airships, an evil Empire, familiar weapons and enemies, and a story full of shock deaths. It helps playing with the modern boosts too; I switched off encounters for exploration and focused instead on the world and plot. Above all, it set a precedent for the series by changing up key elements of its gameplay: Final Fantasy has never shied away from being different.

-Ed


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