Happy New Year! Or at least we fervently hope it'll be a happy one. But before we dive headfirst into the flood of new PC games coming in 2022, let's take a quick look back at what everyone played over the holidays.
Did you fall back on some comfy old favorites? Or dip into your backlog of unplayed games to finally give one or two of them a try? Maybe you grabbed a new game that released toward the end of the year, or snapped something up on discount during from the Steam sale.
Here's what the PC Gamer staff played over the holidays, and we'd love to hear all about your holiday gaming sessions in the comments below.
Lauren Morton, Associate Editor: After laying bare my obsessive tendencies in Hitman 3 and my refusal to leave its first mission until I'd completely dominated it, I finally swallowed my pride and packed up for Dartmoor. The Carlisle family estate was much quicker to initially wrap my head around than the elaborate Dubai level, and I really enjoyed the intimacy. There's the family murder mystery to solve of course, but the mansion is also jam packed with overheard conversations about relationships—mostly failed ones. I still thoroughly enjoy the eavesdropping, all the while contemplating how to knock out a man using only a rolled newspaper.
I also squeezed in a little time to finally play Phasmophobia's latest update, the one that added cursed objects, with some friends. We spoke to a cursed mirror, which pissed off a ghost named Nancy badly enough to hunt and kill every one of us. It was the first full party wipe we'd suffered in months. Fair play, Nancy. Sorry for touching your stuff.
Tyler Colp, Associate Editor: I wanted to play way more over the break, but I ended up getting through two games I’ve been meaning to finish since they were released: Final Fantasy 14: Endwalker and Inscryption.
Endwalker queue times were short so I got enough time to push through its very lengthy story. Now that I’m on the other side, I’m still sorting through my thoughts about it. I think it was stretched out a bit too long and maybe got a little overwrought by the end, but that’s pretty normal for a FF14 expansion. Inscryption was also too long and too elaborate by the end. I figured trying one of my first card games over the break would be smart in case I needed time to adjust to an unfamiliar structure. It turns out I’m pretty good at them if I’m allowed to break the whole game wide open. I just wish the game ended after its first act.
Andy Chalk, NA News Lead: I finished up the last little bit of The Pathless, which was absolutely wonderful, and then finally got going on Disco Elysium, which—shamefully, in the eyes of some—was still a fixture in my backlog. So far, it seems clever, bizarre, and often baffling—good, in other words—but I haven't gotten too deep into it yet because shortly after I got started I saw something on Twitter that reminded me of HROT, a sort of Slavic Dusk that launched into Early Access in January 2021.
Turns out that it's had a few new levels added since I last played, and so I blasted through them and they were great; that put me in the mood for more retro-virtual gunplay, so I decided to finally give Prodeus a run and it's even better than I expected, so that was another good chunk of time gone. And then it was Friday, and that was that: Not a huge amount of gaming, and in hindsight I suppose my goal of starting and finishing Disco Elysium over the break was hopelessly naive—but hey, I at least got it started.
Jody Macgregor, AU/Weekend Editor: I finished off Final Fantasy 7 Remake. Running it in DirectX 11 mode dealt with the stuttering, switching to a controller dealt with the keyboard controls being absolute rubbo, and from then on it was a dream. It's actually great? One final piece of evidence for my thesis that 2021 was a solid year for old RPGs and old RPGs only.
After that I checked out the Amazons DLC for Troy: A Total War Saga. I played as Pentheselea, whose horde never holds settlements, just razes them to the ground. To get elite units the Amazons upgrade basic ones, as if blooding the new recruits before promotion. With veteran axe-and-spear ladies I burned my way across Greece, knocking Athens over then coming back once it was rebuilt to kick it down again. Good times.
Katie Wickens, Hardware Writer: Before I scuttled home, I made a point of downloading a bunch of couch co-op games for Christmas fun (because downloading them on my parent's internet was a recipe for disappointment). Sadly, Divinity: Original Sin didn't fly, but I managed to get quite far in Overcooked! 2. That's thanks to my partner, and not so much to my 5 year old nephew. Although he did manage to serve a couple of plates, once he realised he could just fall off the edge and respawn, that became the game from there. Much, much funnier than bashing into us while we're plating up.
We also got up to some mischief playing Heave Ho. Essentially that involved me trying to swing my way to victory alone while my partner's character grabbed my nephew's and yeeted him across the map, over and over. The floods of wholesome chortling from my nephew, and the pride in his eyes when he figured out how to fart with the X button, made this one of my most cherished holiday memories to date.
Graeme Meredith, Video Producer: I watched my partner playing Unpacking on Game Pass. And even though we moved into our house over 18 months ago and still haven't finished unpacking ourselves, we still really enjoyed it. The visual storytelling is not to be missed, especially if you have someone to play along with and discuss the details and clues you come across. I really hope Witch Beam considers expanding the game with another instalment or two, telling the story of different people's lives. It's such an intuitive and creative narrative concept that could only be fully realised in video games.
Imogen Mellor, Features Producer: I finally tried out 2021’s surprise hit Guardians of the Galaxy over the Christmas break. Upon release I heard a lot of positive comments about the game’s story and character banter as well as its soundtrack. Those are all details I’m happy to confirm are a delight. I had trouble progressing through the first area of the game, simply because I liked listening to the fictional band Star Lord and didn’t want to leave their album behind. Hanging out with your space buddies, bickering, and annihilating aliens all combine to make the perfect holiday game.
Additionally, I got back into playing Valorant. I’ve been enjoying the FPS more as the playerbase has grown, the esports scene has boomed, and a whole host of overly positive Gen Z players have joined in on the fun. Though yes, it’s a little toxic here and there, it gave me the competitive fix I needed over the holiday, and time to hang out with my little sister as she carried me through every match.
Chris Livingston, Features Producer: I finally gave Forza Horizon 5 a go—I think it's the first Forza game I've ever played, actually—and it's a really nice slot machine simulator with a bit of driving between spins. Turns out I hate doing circuits but really enjoy cross country. I guess I like going from point A to point B instead of going in circles (maybe there's a metaphor there). Most importantly I've got a 1987 Pontiac Trans Am with a KITT skin so I can pretend I'm in Knight Rider, which is my ultimate goal in any game about cars.
Non computer-game-wise, my wife and I tried out Hunt A Killer over the holidays—basically, a multi-part murder mystery in a big box where each episode you get new information, new evidence to examine (it even comes in little evidence bags), and more of the story as you try to eliminate suspects and hone in on the villain. It's mostly a lot of fun and we're nearly done with the first case. If we do another I think we're actually going to set up a big conspiracy corkboard with pushpins and red string to really get into it.
Fraser Brown, Online Editor: I got a wee puppy, Cosmo, at the beginning of December, so during the holidays I mostly played Pick Up That Poo and No, Cosmo, Don't Chew That, neither of which are games I'd really recommend. When I wasn't trying to stop my tiny tornado from eating his own bed—I failed—I did manage to fit in a few games, though only in brief spurts.
Vampyr took up most of the break. It's from 2018, but given that it's all about a city gripped by an epidemic that's been exacerbated by a bunch of soulless bloodsuckers, it felt very appropriate for the end of 2021. Some of the writing is questionable, and for a game that hinges on making or not making ethical choices, the consequences sure are disappointing, but the sheer novelty of playing a vampire game where you're also a doctor trying to solve a pandemic won me over.
When I had to pause my adventures in plague-infested London to visit family, I managed to squeeze in some shenanigans in Overboard! on my Switch, trying to cover up the murder of my dickhead husband while snacking on Christmas food and chasing a certain furry sock thief. My Switch also proved useful in distracting one of my nephews, who's just about at the age when he's ready to graduate from the random crap he downloads on the tablet to quality games. I've started him off with Mario Odyssey and Lego DC Villains, and yes, I am terrified of the prospect of him accidentally deleting my saves—surely it's inevitable.
The highlight, though, was The Forgotten City, a game that feels like it's been tailor made for me. It's short, for one, clocking in at under 10 hours, and my useless Classical Studies degree makes me a sucker for any game that's enthusiastic about Roman history. It also ticks the boxes for social puzzles—why Hitman is a fave—and adventure games with a proper investigative bent. I was captivated throughout the whole time-looping mystery, and it was probably my favourite day out of the whole break. Just me, the pooch, and a trip back in time. Sorry, family.
Sarah James, Guides Writer: I went into the holidays planning to finally finish AC Valhalla. So naturally, I ended up finishing my 100% playthrough of Final Fantasy 12 instead. Christmas Eve saw me fighting Yiazmat, and on Boxing Day, I got increasingly sweary as I tried to snag the elusive Black Hole concurrence, which would mark the final achievement I needed.
I also bought a handful of games in the Steam sale, including The Witcher and The Witcher 2—watching the Netflix show made me want to play through them all. But while I got as far as downloading the first game, I spent the rest of my time off flitting between my latest Valheim build and a new playthrough of Final Fantasy 10.
Evan Lahti, Global Editor-in-Chief: I was in the mood for passive co-op over the break with my friend. As it turns out, Rimworld has a surprisingly functional multiplayer mod that can accommodate about eight players, all with their own individual cursors.
As a first-time player, RimWorld's slow pace has been pleasant and a bit punishing. Building a simple bedroom can take two in-game days of effort, if you're mining rock to make it happen. Growing a single piece of corn might take five in-game hours. When snow hits the ground, it halves the walking speed of everyone. An ugly encounter with a squirrel can put someone in bed for a couple days if you don't manage their wounds. But it's strangely fun to be randomly attacked, to orient your base in a way that can deflect assaults from steadily more dangerous raiders. It feels like a true survival game in that sense.
The struggle is worth it for emergent moments like this one: a character peacefully staring at the sky, huddling in the radius of warmth emitted by the crematorium we use to burn the bodies and wretched clothes of our enemies.