Now Playing: Persona 5, Metal Gear Rising, Animal Crossing, And More

Which games are keeping you busy this week? Let’s share!

The weekend has arrived, which means it’s time to chat about what we’re playing! The GameSpot team is usually busy keeping up with the biggest releases, but other times we’re catching up on games we missed, replaying old favorites, experiencing classics for the first time, or just dabbling in odds and ends for a spell. Below you can see a sampling of the games that we’re playing right now, the reasons we’re playing them, and what we love about them so far.

But don’t just stop at reading our responses; we want to hear from you, too! Tell us all about what you’re playing in the comments section below and what you’re diggin’ about them.

Join us and ramble on about all the super cool video games you’re playing! We know you need to talk about it as much as we do. And if you’re playing the same games from previous weeks, that’s fine too! Let us know why you still love it! (Phil certainly did.)

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance — Matt Espineli, Editor

Platinum’s Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is a wonderful action game–but I’m ashamed to admit I didn’t like it when I first played it. As an elitist, self-serious college-aged Metal Gear fan in 2013, the Raiden spin-off was too bonkers for my tastes. Setpieces like Raiden lifting a Metal Gear Ray on his own and throwing it into the air so he could cut it in half were just too absurd for me to accept–even as someone who loved Platinum’s work at that point. And I know what you’re thinking: “But a WWII-era special forces soldier who can shoot bees from his mouth gets a free pass?”

I wasn’t too bright, but to be fair, I was eagerly awaiting Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes, which seemed to elevate the series’ storytelling, focusing more on subdued dialogue and cinematography. Kojima’s vision for what MGS could be at that time consumed me, keeping me from loving a game that was brilliant in its own right.

And how brilliant it still is. The exuberant flow of combat alone is enough to make it worth playing, regardless of your background with Platinum, Metal Gear, or character-action games. As Raiden, it’s a unique pleasure to decimate hostile cyborgs, hacking them into pieces, and ripping out their spines to gorge on their nutritious electrolyte juices. The Metal Gear component is also something that I can now willingly accept and believe. It’s impressive how well Platinum faithfully adapts the tone and language of previous entries in Rising, which helps make the game feel right at home with the series. There are odd logical narrative leaps and a few especially heavy-handed political meditations, but what Metal Gear game is complete without those?

I can’t wait to play more Rising. I’m so glad I decided to dig it out from my collection for another go. Anyway, enough talk: I think it’s time to LET ‘ER RIP! | Twitter: @MGespin

Fire Emblem: Three Houses — Dave Klein, Video Producer

In my new life’s mission to work my way through all the 2019 games I missed, I finally picked up Fire Emblem: Three Houses for a business trip to San Francisco. Due to the differences in Three Houses compared to the previous Fire Emblem games–and that I had to make a difficult decision right off of the bat of which house to choose as the one I would guide–it took me longer than average to get into the game. That, and I was disappointed by Fates, where I didn’t particularly like the changes made to the battle system.

But, enough with the negativity! I’m happy to say that Three Houses has me completely hooked. While it took me a little longer to get into the story and characters, I now have a rag-tag crew of knights-in-training who I’d die for, and do all I can to ensure they will not die as I play on the series’ infamous “Classic” mode. Seriously, don’t play around with my house–the Blue Lions (with practically every Black Eagle recruited) WILL MESS YOU UP. | Twitter: @TheDaveKlein

Animal Crossing: New Leaf — Kevin Knezevic, Associate Editor

With Animal Crossing: New Horizons looming on the (ahem) horizon, I’ve felt compelled to revisit the series’ 3DS entry before I inevitably retire it for my new island home. Despite being almost seven years old at this point, Animal Crossing: New Leaf has been a regular staple of my gaming habits pretty much since it first launched. While I don’t spend nearly as much time with the game as I did when it was fresh, I still periodically check in on my town every week or so, plucking any weeds that may have sprouted in my absence and ensuring none of my neighbors are trying to leave. (It’s like the Hotel California, but cuter.)

Even though New Leaf doesn’t command as much of my attention as it once did, I can still occasionally feel myself taken in all over again by its charm. I’ve been a fan of the Animal Crossing series since the titular GameCube game arrived stateside back in 2002, and while I liked Wild World on DS well enough, no entry has truly hooked me as much as the original until New Leaf. I think a big reason for this is that it features so many allusions to the first game. New Leaf’s 5 PM theme is a clear homage to GameCube’s (my absolute favorite hourly tune), and there are numerous other callbacks, from the way villagers build igloos in the winter to the humorous sea shanties Kapp’n sings as he ferries you to the nearby island.

My favorite aspect of New Leaf, however, is how much freedom it gives you in customizing your town. The series has always allowed you to plant and arrange trees, but New Leaf introduces different types of shrubs to the mix as well. As mayor, you can also fund public works projects for your town, which range from amenities like a police station to park benches and other outdoor fixtures. I’ve long since hit the limit on how many public works projects I can build, so I can regrettably no longer place any more lampposts around my town, but I’ve spent hundreds of hours over the past few years carefully arranging them. Seeing New Horizons expand on this idea not only by letting you craft your own furniture (which can also now be placed outdoors) but by giving you the ability to terraform your island’s terrain makes me excited. Just a few more weeks….

Vagrant Story (Again, But I’m Good At It Now) — Phil Hornshaw, Editor

When I first played Vagrant Story some 20 years ago, I really enjoyed it–but it was also a slog. The game is full of dense combat systems that aren’t explained well, even by its in-game manual. Every enemy has a stack of stats and affinities, and for a long time, I never managed to figure the system out well enough to use it as the developers intended. Bring the wrong weapon to a fight, and you’ll find yourself dishing out tiny 1 HP hits against massive enemies.

Luckily, you can chain additional hits together in combat with timed button presses, so I’ve been able to brute-force my way through Vagrant Story in the past. It’s incredibly difficult to beat the game’s toughest bosses 1 HP at a time, chaining together 10 or 20 hits to knock off a sliver of health. But I’ve done it. On my new playthrough, I was determined to finally really understand how Vagrant Story’s combat works (thanks, online guides from 10 years ago and my friend Zack)–and damn, this game is way better when you know how to play it correctly.

It turns out, Vagrant Story’s weapon system is kind of excellent once you understand its idiosyncrasies. Finally figuring out which menu can show you enemy vulnerabilities turns you into a freakin’ killing machine. In a lot of ways, Vagrant Story feels like a proto-Dark Souls, requiring a bunch of tactical thinking and attention to your equipment for every fight you enter. But once you’ve got the right tool for the job, combat becomes a rhythm game-like dance, where you can wallop an enemy with slash after slash before they can even draw against you.

It’s been 20 years, and I’m finally feeling like a proper Riskbreaker. I’m looking forward to bringing down Guildenstern in a final boss fight that, for once, won’t take me three hours. | Twitter: @philhornshaw

Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age — Chris Pereira, Engagement Editor

As I approached the 55-hour mark in Dragon Quest XI, it looked as if the game was wrapping up. Indeed, I faced off against the Big Bad, the credits rolled, and things seemed to be done. I knew there would be more to do afterward because I had numerous side quests unfinished, and mysterious locked doors remained throughout the world. But I wasn’t expecting what feels like another big quest to unfold that could take many hours to complete.

I’ll avoid going into specifics to avoid spoiling anything, but I find myself in something of a weird position. After five-dozen hours, I felt ready to put DQXI behind me and move on to something else, but to do so now would feel like I’m leaving the game very much unfinished. I don’t know what to expect from this new wrinkle in terms of playtime, but it’s clearly core to the story despite coming after the credits.

Luckily, Animal Crossing: New Horizons and Doom Eternal are still a few weeks away, so it’s easier to justify sticking with Dragon Quest XI for now. It hasn’t outstayed its welcome by any means, and the opening portion of this epilogue (if it can be called that) was fun to see play out. But I am a little worried that having to retread old ground might take the wind out of the game’s sails in what will actually be its final hours. | Twitter: @TheSmokingManX

Pokemon Sword — Jake Dekker, Video Producer

I haven’t stopped playing Pokemon Sword since it came out late last year. Whether it’s breeding, shiny grinding, or battling, I feel like there’s always something worthwhile for me to do in that game. However, thanks to the Pokemon Day event this weekend, I plan on raiding as many dens as possible so I can fight Mewtwo and hopefully catch some Gen 1 starter Pokemon! | Twitter: @jacobdekk

Persona 5 — Will Potter, Social Media Producer

For a couple of years, I’ve had the vanilla version of Persona 5 sitting on my PS4 hard drive, but I rarely touched it. But in preparation for a Persona 5: Royal event a few weeks ago, I felt inspired to boot it up to get a taste ahead of the preview. And now, three weeks after attending, I haven’t stopped playing. I know it might be unwise to start a 100+ hour JRPG just before a new version is released, but I’m just too hooked on the stylish aesthetic, catchy soundtrack, and the “so-fashionable-I-feel-underdressed” characters of the Phantom Thieves.

I’ll admit I’ve mostly lost interest in JRPGs in recent years; their typically glacial pace and mammoth playtime is too daunting for someone with a full-time job and a handful of adult responsibilities. But Persona 5 is different. The turn-based combat never feels like a drag. You can make as little or as much progress as you feel like in a play session, with dungeons and extracurricular activities digestible and bite-sized. And honestly, the game is just, cosy? I love hanging out with Ryuji, Ann, and Morgana. I like making coffee and running around Shibuya. It’s a welcome and colourful escape from the drab of London right now. Maybe I won’t get to Royal for a few more years, if ever, but for now, I’m having a great time with 2017’s Persona 5. | Twitter: @thequiffisdead