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Home / Features / The best games of 2024 (so far)

The best games of 2024 (so far)

All the games you need to play this year - which is your favourite?

2023 was one of the strongest years for games on record (even if it was sadly pretty terrible for the people who make them). Time will tell if 2024 can stand toe-to-toe with its predecessor for bonafide bangers, but the first half wasn’t bad at all, with some great games emerging – especially for consoles.

Once the quietest time of the year, January-March has reinvented itself in recent times – and 2024’s was up there with the very best of them. And while things have slowed down a bit since, there have been plenty of excellent games to occupy us through the spring and into the summer months we now find ourselves in. Whether you’re looking to sink 100 hours into a meaty AAA RPG or prefer to get your gaming kicks from the reliably creative indie scene, 2024 has more than likely served up something you really want to play. 

With the rest of July looking pretty quiet, now is the perfect time to take stock and catch up on any games you might have missed, because once we get to August things really heat up again. With an open-world Star Wars game, a first-person Indiana Jones adventure and a brand new Zelda game in which you finally play as the titular princess still to come, there’s plenty to look forward to. 

We’ll check in again in a few months, but for now, here are the best video games of 2024 so far. 

Final Fantasy VII Rebirth

The second part of Square Enix’s wildly ambitious Final Fantasy VII remake trilogy was probably the most anticipated game of the year. And it’s fair to say that the Japanese giant came good. Final Fantasy VII Rebirth‘s open-world pivot successfully recaptures the original game’s sense of adventure, as Cloud and the gang leave the slums and skyscrapers of Midgar in pursuit of Sephiroth. While we could have lived without some of the tired genre tropes, there are few video game road trips that are more memorable. Seeing Final Fantasy VII’s iconically blocky PS1 locations reimagined for the modern era is a constant thrill for anyone who played the 1997 game, and Rebirth manages to nail all the major story beats while bringing plenty of new twists to what is now a very familiar tale. 

The superb hybrid combat system from the first game is even better in its sequel. There’s a focus on synergy attacks that ensure you’re using every party member in battle, while an extraordinarily wide variety of mini-games mean you’re never doing the same thing for long. It’s not perfect, and at times it’s downright messy. But this epic retelling of one of gaming’s most beloved stories gets more than enough right, and we can’t wait to see how it all ends. 

Dragon’s Dogma 2

The long-awaited sequel to this cult classic 2012 RPG is weird, unapologetically punishing in its design and often hilariously janky. But if you can overlook some pretty glaring flaws and take the time to learn its unique systems, you’ll be rewarded with a game like no other.

As the Arisen, you’re chasing down a dragon that has pinched your heart. You’re joined on your quest by a rotating selection of dutiful pawns that exist only to serve you. Dragon’s Dogma 2 isn’t interested in holding your hand, though. With just one save file you have to live with your mistakes, there’s barely any fast travel, going out at night is asking for trouble, and rarely will a few minutes pass without you being attacked by a mob of vicious goblins. But the ability to change your class whenever you like, a meaty combat system and some decidedly Shadow of the Colossus-esque giant monster climbing ensure your adventures are always enormous fun, even when everything wants to kill you. And like the best RPGs, those adventures never feel scripted, and always feel entirely your own. 

Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown

The Prince of Persia series is older than Sonic the Hedgehog, but much like the Blue Blur, it’s had a hit and miss track record since the turn of the century. While we continue to wait for the supposedly still in development remake of the much-loved 3D entry, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, this all new title sees Ubisoft’s stuttering series return to its 2D roots, reimagining it as a Metroidvania. And it’s genuinely up there with the very best in the genre. 

Ubisoft Montpellier gets pretty much everything right here, from the excellent platforming (as we’d expect from the studio that gave us Rayman Legends) and surprisingly deep combat that lets you parry attacks and deal huge damage by memorising aerial combos, to the intricately designed world that you gradually discover as you gain new abilities. Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown is happy to make you wait for those – you don’t get the Metroidvania staple double jump for hours – and we weren’t all that interested in the story, but if you’re looking game to fill the Silksong-shaped void and enjoy a challenge, then we can’t recommend this one enough.

Princess Peach: Showtime!

Princess Peach has featured in the majority of Mario games, but usually that’s because she needs rescuing after Bowser’s latest kidnapping scheme. Not since 2005’s largely forgotten Super Princess Peach for the Nintendo DS has Peach been the star, so Princess Peach: Showtime! is long overdue. Happily, it’s also a lot of fun, and a great pick for younger gamers who might find Mario games a bit too tricky. 

Princess Peach: Showtime! is theatre-themed, with levels taking the shape of various stage plays that see Peach transforming into their leading lady. In one she might be a cowgirl, lassoing enemies from their horses during a chase, and in another she becomes a superhero capable of picking up buses. Not all transformations are action-focused; Patisserie Peach bakes cookies and decorates cakes, while Detective Peach inspects clues and questions witnesses to solve mysteries. It all adds up to an enjoyably (if a little slight) varied platformer that proves that Peach has outgrown her damsel in distress role. 

Pepper Grinder

The first quarter of 2024 has been front-loaded with enormous RPGs that demand 50+ hours of your time just to make a dent, with several of them featuring in this list. But if you gravitate towards games you can easily blast through in a weekend, you really should check out Pepper Grinder. Currently exclusive to PC and Switch (and ideally suited to the latter given its decidedly GBA aesthetic), Pepper Grinder is a fast-paced 2D action platformer in which you play as a girl named Pepper who awakes to find herself shipwrecked on a mysterious island, having had her stuff swiped by pirates. 

The hook of the game is the titular Grinder, a super-powered drill that Pepper can use to burrow in and out of the terrain at speed, attack enemies and solve environmental puzzles. You do get weapons later in the game, but the Grinder is always the star. While clearly inspired by classic side-scrollers like Drill Dozer, Donkey Kong Country and Ecco the Dolphin, Pepper Grinder has a vibe and style all of its own, while excellent controls that ensure you’re always just about in control make navigating the often very challenging levels a joy. It’s definitely on the shorter side, but for many that will be a selling point. 

Helldivers 2

Have you ever dreamt of a Starship Troopers video game? Do yourself a favour and pick up Helldivers 2 if you haven’t already. A refreshingly old-fashioned third-person squad-based multiplayer shooter, this sequel to the 2015 top-down game of the same name is one of the surprise hits of the year so far, so much so that for the first few weeks after launch the servers crumbled under the weight of all the people trying to get online and play with their friends. 

The premise is pretty straightforward: the galaxy is being invaded by giant alien bugs, and in the name of freedom and democracy you need to shoot them all dead. Helldivers 2 is a very solid shooter, but it’s also one of the funniest games we’ve played in years. That’s partly down to the knowingly ridiculous propagandic rallying cries you’ll hear every few minutes in the game, but also the slapstick deaths and dysfunctional teamwork. Once you’ve accidentally (or entirely intentionally) killed one of your pals with an airstrike you called in, you’ll eagerly await the next time it happens. If we’re talking plain and simple fun, Helldivers 2 is probably the game of the year so far full stop. 


Balatro is 2024’s Vampire’s Survivors. Like that BAFTA-winning indie sensation, it’s a roguelite designed to be played over and over again until you have enough skill and the right build to put together a winning run. But in Balatro, rather than mowing down seemingly unrelenting hordes of monsters, you’re playing poker hands. It sounds simple, and crucially teaches players its basic rules very quickly. But very quickly you’ll realise that Balatro isn’t so much about playing poker as it’s about breaking it. 

You see, as you progress you’ll level up those traditional hands to amass more chips, allowing you to eventually make a one pair worth more than a full house. You can also add new cards to your deck, but the real genius lies in the joker cards, which can completely transform the whole game and, when properly deployed, result in some dizzyingly huge scores. It’s incredibly addictive and stupidly fun, even (and arguably even more so) if you’ve never played a proper game of poker in your life. 

Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth

Beloved above pretty much all else by its longtime fans and incredibly intimidating to newcomers looking to jump in for the first time, there really is nothing quite like the Like a Dragon (formerly known as Yakuza) series. The latest entry, Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth, unites the OG protagonist with the new one introduced in 2020’s Yakuza: Like a Dragon, and whisks them off to Hawaii for a truly bonkers island adventure. 

While it’s definitely true that those who have followed the series since its formative PS2 days will get the most out of the otherwise convoluted and often confusing story, we defy anyone not to be charmed by Ichiban Kasuga, the loveable former yakuza who’s a joy to spend tens of hours goofing around with. Like its predecessor, Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth is a turn-based RPG, with combat made more action-packed now you can move your character during a turn. And you’ll be doing a lot of fighting, that is, when you’re not playing classic Sega arcade games, managing your own Animal Crossing-esque island resort and pitting conquered enemies against each other in a ridiculous parody of Pokemon. Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth might leave you confused at times, but you’ll always have a grin on your face. 

Tekken 8

Fighting game fans have been eating awfully well recently. Last year we called Street Fighter 6 a ‘victorious return to form’ and ‘the best fighting game in generations’. It turns out Tekken had something to say about that second point, with the eighth mainline entry going out of its way to welcome back both hardcore fans and newcomers alike. Much like the most recent Street Fighter entry, Tekken 8 introduces a newbie-friendly control scheme that streamlines the inputs needed to pull off those brutally sexy combos the series is known for. The excellent Arcade Quest mode, with its decidedly un-Tekken Nintendo Mii-like avatars, is a great way to learn the basics. 

For the already initiated, there’s an enjoyable story mode to dive into, while the new Heat Gauge mechanic, which expands your character’s move set for a limited time once per round and lets you recover some of your life bar (and they’re just the basics), is a meaningful addition. As you’d expect from Tekken, it all looks stunning, and offers one of the largest rosters in the series’ long history. Tekken 8 doesn’t quite match Street Fighter 6’s single-player content, but it’s never played better. 

Minishoot’ Adventures

Considering how many video games come out every year, it always surprises us that the people who make them are still coming up with original ideas for a game, especially those that seem so obvious once they’re out there. Minishoot’ Adventures is one of those games. The pitch? What if you reimagined old-fashioned Zelda as a twin-stick shooter with Metroidvania elements? You get a very fun game, is what. 

In Minishoot’ Adventures (yes it’s a bad name) you play as a little spaceship trying to rescue your friends (imprisoned fellow spaceships) by shooting waves of enemy spaceships that you encounter as you explore a mysterious land. Minishoot’ Adventures’ intricately designed map gradually opens up as you gain new abilities, and like any good Zelda-like, its dungeons are protected by bosses that will really put your skills to the test. Crucially, the shooting feels superb, while the perfectly tuned controls allow you to weave between waves of bullets in a way that feels enormously satisfying throughout the game’s brisk runtime. Don’t let this one pass you by.

Super Monkey Ball Banana Rumble

It’s tough being a Monkey Ball fan. The first two games, both GameCube exclusives, are held up as some of the greatest arcade games ever made, but it’s fair to say that pretty much every entry since has been a step down in quality, and even the 2021 remake of the first two games messed with the physics system so much that many longtime players wouldn’t touch it. But Super Monkey Ball Banana Rumble is a return to form, and probably the best game in the series since its early noughties glory days. 

The beauty of Super Monkey Ball is its simplicity. You’re (for some reason) a monkey in a ball, and the aim of the game is to guide that ball to a goal at the end of each level by tilting the track. And that’s it. Banana Rumble doesn’t mess with that winning formula, but adds a Sonic-inspired Spin Dash that gives the ball a sudden burst of momentum. As you make your way through the 200 levels in the generous single-player mode, mastering that Spin Dash lets you pull off the kind of skips that have made Monkey Ball a great speedrunner spectator sport for years. An underwhelming multiplayer party mode prevents Banana Rumble from being the ultimate Super Monkey Ball package, but solo players haven’t had it this good for a long time. 

Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door

The Nintendo Switch’s final act is proving to be a pretty special one for fans of Mario RPGs. Not content from remaking the beloved SNES game, Super Mario RPG, last year, Nintendo finally listened to the army of GameCube fans who have spent years begging to bring Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door into the modern era. The sequel to the N64’S Paper Mario turns 20 this month, but still feels as fresh as ever in this handsome Switch remaster, which unsurprisingly makes the Nintendo classic look even better in shiny HD. 

Like Super Mario RPG, Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door comes from an era where Nintendo was less conservative with its moustachioed mascot’s RPG outings. It’s a cracking adventure filled with delightful weirdos, imaginative level design and some of the funniest writing you’ll find in any game. The turn-based battles are deceptively deep, and more interactive than your average JRPG, with timed button presses that deal more damage or guard you from attacks. While there is some tedious backtracking that a ground-up remake could have got rid of, TTYD remains one of Nintendo’s greatest ever games, and finally one that everyone can play. 

Crow Country

PS1-inspired horror games are having a moment. 2022 gave us the spooky Signalis (often on sale these days if you’re interested), and this year we’ve been seduced by the low-poly scares of Crow Country. With a visual style clearly inspired by the likes of Resident Evil and Final Fantasy VII, with their blocky character models and pre-rendered backgrounds, Crow Country could easily have been plucked straight from the 90s. That is, until you start playing it and notice the modern camera and character controls that developer SFB games wisely chose to implement.

But this is otherwise deliciously old-school survival horror fare. As Mara Forest you’re exploring an abandoned theme park crawling with hideous monsters. True to its Resi-ish roots, you have to manage a limited inventory, solve cryptic puzzles and conserve ammo wherever possible as you try to uncover the dark truth behind the park’s closure. And for those who would prefer to take in the surroundings without something trying to kill them at every turn, there’s even an exploration mode that removes all combat. Great stuff. 

Animal Well

A lot of the games on this list are so massive that you’ll need to delete half of your console’s hard drive to accommodate them. Somehow, Animal Well is comfortably one of the best games you’ll play this year and only asks for 38MB of space on PC. Solo developer Billy Basso had this non-combat marvel of a Metroidvania in the oven for seven years, and you can tell it’s a passion project as soon as you start playing. 

To say much about what the game actually is would risk spoiling it, but the basics are that you play as a little blob navigating a pixelated well filled with creepy animals. This interconnected labyrinth quickly reveals itself as a stunningly intricate puzzle box, many of its mysteries solved by using items like a yo-yo or a frisbee that you find as you explore. You can technically see the end in a handful of hours, but Animal Well will reward your curiosity with its secrets long after the credits roll. If you’re intrigued (and you should be), the game is free to all PlayStation Plus/Premium subscribers. 

Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree

Ordinarily we wouldn’t let DLC for an older game into one of these lists, but to call Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree mere DLC is like saying Lionel Messi is just a footballer. This add-on to FromSoftware’s genre-defining masterpiece is bigger than many standalone games, and introduces a huge new map so rich with secrets and things to discover that it can almost feel like you’re playing Elden Ring for the first time again. That said, make no mistake that Shadow of the Erdtree is for experienced Tarnished only, so much so that it remains completely inaccessible until you’ve successfully downed a number of endgame bosses.

Once you’re in the brand new Land of Shadow area, you’ll find all manner of fresh monstrosities awaiting you, and they all hit hard. Getting through the story – centred around the mysterious Miquella – is going to be very difficult unless you’re willing to explore, with the hidden Scadutree Fragments key to increasing your attack power and defence in preparation for some of the most fearsome bosses in FromSoftware history. Making the most of all the new gear requires some grinding, but a game this generous never feels like hard work for long. Is Shadow of the Erdtree just more Elden Ring? Sure – and we’re very grateful for that.

Lorelei and the Laser Eyes

If you’re into your indie games, you may recall Simogo’s previous effort, Sayonara Wild Hearts, the incredible playable synth pop album that required little more from you than a few hours of your time and a basic sense of rhythm. It couldn’t be more different, then, from follow-up Lorelei and the Laser Eyes, the meticulously crafted and unapologetically obtuse puzzle game that’ll have fans of the genre grinning from ear to ear as they guide the female protagonist around an old baroque manor in search of answers. 

Actually playing Lorelei and the Laser Eyes couldn’t be more simple, with just the one button needed throughout. But solving all those handcrafted puzzles, many of which are randomised to prevent you from turning to Google for help, is anything but. You’ll ponder its riddles for hours, draw patterns in a notebook, and marvel at the arresting monochrome visuals as you search for answers. Like any great puzzle game, Lorelei and the Laser Eyes can make you feel like an idiot for the longest time, until you’re suddenly struck by your own genius. If you’re willing to commit to it, you likely won’t play a more fulfilling game all year. 

Profile image of Matt Tate Matt Tate Contributor


I'm fascinated by all things tech, but if you were going to leave me on a desert island, I'd probably ask for my Nintendo Switch, a drone, and a pair of noise-cancelling cans to block out the relentless seagull racket. When I'm not on Stuff duty you'll probably find me subscribing to too many podcasts, playing too many video games, or telling anyone who will listen that Spurs are going to win a trophy this season.

Areas of expertise

Video games, VR, smartwatches, headphones, smart speakers, bizarre Kickstarter campaigns