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Mike's Big Juicy Summer Backlog

Published on May 26, 2021

Oh it's summer, folks. And to me, that means just one thing: stay inside and play video games.

I've always been an indoor kid. I'd much rather spend a beautiful sunny day on the couch with a controller in my hands than outside at the park or the beach. Not only have I always been a nerd and very into video games, I also just don't do well in the heat. My body just starts to shut down in anything hotter than 75 degrees. I don't want to be this way, but you've gotta dance with the hand you're dealt.

My summer video game excitement is a combination of this and the fact that summer is a big season for the video game world. E3 blasts a million new teasers, trailers, and gameplay demos into the world, all the major players host their own announcement extravaganzas, and there's always something exciting to read or watch.

And so it goes that every summer, I get very excited to play video games. This year is no different! After a quick one-two punch of 80-plus-degree days, I had a sudden shower epiphany that it is summer and I would like to play some video games, thank you very much. Thus, I quickly drew up a list of all the games I suddenly got the urge to play, most of which I've been meaning to play or finish for years. In my Notion database, I'm simply calling it "Mike's Summer Games List," but that isn't bombastic enough for the internet or for this blog, AND it contains enough older games that I've been sleeping on for it to be considered a backlog, so it shall now be officially known as...

Mike's Big Juicy Summer Backlog

Most of the games on my summer list can be found in the Steam screenshot above, but there are also some Switch games in there, so here's the full list, in no particular order:

1. Rocket League (Switch)

For me, any solid summer lineup needs a light, jump-in/jump-out game. Something you can play a match of, not get too deep into, and then move on. A quick snack when you don't feel like a triple-A meal. I think Rocket League on the Switch is going to be that game for me. After playing a tiny bit years ago, I've finally been pulled back in on Switch with the release of some Formula 1 skins. Because that's who I am now.

2. XCOM 2 (Switch)

I've got an 80+ hour file in XCOM 2 on PC with characters that I care deeply about, but at this point, I am all-in on Switch. The Switch port of this game is inferior to its PC counterpart in every imaginable way. It's slower, it looks worse, there is somehow more jank. But I can play it in bed. I can play it anywhere. And it doesn't take up my computer's hard drive space. It's just convenient enough, and not quite shitty enough, to keep me playing on the little guy.

XCOM 2, to me, is a summer game because it's about a group of friends (they're all friends in my head) uniting to take on something bigger than themselves. It's the ultimate road trip flick. And swear I will succeed on Switch where I failed on PC: by seeing this road trip through to the end. I'm not promising I'll finish it this summer, this is a beefy list. I'll be using it more as a once-in-a-while snack. It's more about a feeling here than a mission to experience the whole thing.

3. Risk of Rain 2 (PC + Switch)

The only game I'll be playing on multiple platforms! My friend Zac and I have a standing appointment to play this game together whenever we can, and it's great. We both loved the first RoR, so to us, this game is a miracle. It's just so much goddamn fun, and the fact that the folks at Hopoo Games so perfectly nailed the transition from 2D to 3D is awe-inspiring.

I'll be playing on PC with Zac, and playing on Switch in bed with a little stuffed elephant named Peanut when I just can't stop thinking about my next run.

4. Control (PC)

Okay. Here we go. This is our first big, beefy boy. This is one I started last summer, played about an hour of, and then fell off of because...I really don't know. Pandemic? This time around, I'm ready to go all the way. I'm going to start a new file, and play from start to finish on the couch with my girlfriend like it's a season of prestige TV. I can't wait.

5. Deus Ex: Mankind Divided (PC)

This is another potential start-a-clean-file situation. I fell off of this guy a long time ago, as you might imagine, and I keep trying to fit in a restart here and there, but it just never makes the cut. I recently read a piece in Kotaku that talked about giving it a second chance, which, after the weird PR shit that happened around this game's release, and some of the questionable material in the game itself, it would be understandable to not want to do that. But I think I'm down. After loving Human Revolution and the original Deus Ex, I think it at least deserves another look from me.

6. Prey (PC)

Oh hey, it's another immersive sim I never have time for! Listen, immersive sims used to be 100% my shit. Then a lot of things changed. People stopped making them so much, I got a job, got very busy being a grown-up, and got more into small, run-based stuff. Well, things are different now, and I want to try digging back in.

Prey is one that should be totally up my alley - it's made by Arkane, it's weird sci-fi, it takes place in space - all things I love. Hopefully, this time it sticks, and I get to experience this game that, by all accounts, more people should have played.

7. NieR: Automata (PC)

Yet another big game, and I know I'm being ambitious here, but it's summer! It's Mike's Big Juicy Summer Backlog! I gotta go big! And so I'm going the biggest of all with this weird game that you have to play five times or something. Look, I really missed the train on Automata. I didn't have the money for it at release, I didn't have the time to devote to it when I eventually bought it, the combat is kinda weird, and the PC port is just meh.

After all the NieR: Replicant discourse this year, I'm feeling the hype once more, and hoping it propels me to finally playing through this game.

8. No Man's Sky Expeditions (PC)

If I'm ever not playing No Man's Sky, or planning to play No Man's Sky, you should just assume I'm dead at this point. Hello Games just added a bunch of new seasonal (weekly? monthly?) content in the form of Expeditions, and I need to check that out. The reward for the latest one is the actual Normandy from Mass Effect. So.

9. Halo 3 & ODST (PC)

I loved Halo 1&2 in high school. And then sadly that love stopped, because those were the only two games they decided to release on PC. So I just had to wonder about the ending to this story I'd become connected to, and lust after the jazzy moodiness of ODST, a game I've longed to play for over a decade now. Well, with the Master Chief Collection on Steam, NOW IS THE TIME.

10. Pyre (PC)

I am in this game's final stages. After finishing Hades (and watching my girlfriend finish more), I found myself really wanting to return to this other incredible world that Supergiant made, and find out what happens to everyone.

11. Teardown (PC)

We are firmly in the less ambitious wing of my list now. See? I've tempered all those big blockbusters with more little snacks!

Teardown is a game I picked up last year in early access and fell in love with. It's just delightful. In fact, it made my GOTY list. It's still in early access, but it's received a number of updates, including controller support, that I really want to check out. It's also just a good summer feel. Run around and blow stuff up. Sounds great.

12. Star Wars Battlefront II (PC)

More delicious candy here. Nice weather always makes me want to play some Star Wars, so it's always nice to have one in my summer rotation. This is just the latest incarnation of that beast. The great thing here is, I could be talking about either version of BF2. The new guy is always ultra-cheap and actually pretty fun now, besides being modern and gorgeous. And the old guy still holds up after all this time. I'll most likely be hopping into the new one as my between-meal snacking this summer, but you never know!

That's everything I'm planning on digging into this summer! Hopefully, I'm able to stick to my plan, and if so, I'll try to check back in here periodically to give updates on my summer game progress. Summer is here! Let's stay inside!