The Best Video Games of 2024 So Far (2024)

Prince of Persia The Lost Crown

The Best Video Games of 2024 So Far (1)

Our pick

Prince of Persia The Lost Crown

A stunning return to 2D acrobatic exploration

A classic series returns to side-scrolling acrobatics in the best action-adventure game of 2024 so far.

Buying Options

$40 from Ubisoft

$30 from PlayStation

Buy from Xbox

$40 from Nintendo

Prince of Persia The Lost Crown is a reboot of a legendary gaming franchise, but it pulls from some of the best side-scrolling video games of the past 15 years. Putting you in the role of Sargon, an Immortal tasked with rescuing a prince lost in a bizarre, time-distorted castle, The Lost Crown mixes sword and bow combat with dashes, jumps, teleports, and more. The result will feel familiar to anyone who has played games such as Super Metroid, Super Meat Boy, and Celeste, but the whole is more than just the sum of its influences.

All the great gameplay inspiration in the world wouldn’t mean much if The Lost Crown were not an absolute joy to control. But developer Ubisoft Montpellier has created a game that responds instantly and intuitively to what you’re doing on the controller, and soon you’re bouncing off walls and weaving in and out of enemies and various environmental hazards as you explore a kingdom frozen and shattered in time. Prince of Persia The Lost Crown released in January of this year on every currently available console.

—Arthur Gies

Helldivers 2

The Best Video Games of 2024 So Far (3)

Our pick

Helldivers 2

The best cooperative shooter

This cooperative shooter throws you and three other friends into planetside battles in one of 2024’s biggest hits.

Helldivers 2 has set the gaming world on fire this year as more than 12 million players on PC and PlayStation 5 have joined together to beat back hordes of alien bugs and terrifying robotic soldiers across the galaxy. But there’s more going on here than you might think at a glance. Developer Arrowhead’s strictly cooperative shooter—yes, Helldivers 2 is teamwork-only, though you can “accidentally” shoot at or blow up your teammates—borrows liberally from the 1997 film adaptation of Starship Troopers, which mixed sci-fi imagery with some heavy social satire and commentary on war and the threat of fascism.

Helldivers 2 takes place in a galaxy where Super Earth has conquered everything around it and uses its military might to bring Super Democracy to the masses. The game has received new weapons and enemies over time, but players keep coming back for the evolving narrative of planets being newly overrun, in-game rumors of enemies yet to be seen, and the age-old question of “Are we the baddies?” But mostly, it’s a lot of wildly unpredictable fun with friends.

—Arthur Gies

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Dragon’s Dogma 2

The Best Video Games of 2024 So Far (5)

Our pick

Dragon’s Dogma 2

Climb a minotaur today

An open-world action RPG, Dragon’s Dogma 2 is full of hilarious combat possibilities and unusual player-made companions.

Buying Options

$70 $56 from Steam

You save $14 (20%)

$70 $56 from PlayStation

You save $14 (20%)

$70 from Xbox

On the surface, Dragon’s Dogma 2 looks like just another fantasy action game, but there’s more—and also less—going on here than appearances suggest. Your character starts the game by, well, having their heart plucked out on the pinky talon of a dragon. That makes you the Arisen, a mortal whose fate is tied to that of the dragon in question, granted the power to control an extra-dimensional race of Pawns as companions.

All of that still sounds like a fantasy action game, and Dragon’s Dogma 2 has plenty of character classes and magic for you to find and wield, but it sets itself apart in two main ways. Its Pawn system is a unique pseudo-multiplayer system where you create a companion character for yourself, and the rest of your four-person party consists of other Pawns created by other players. In turn, your Pawn will hire itself out to other players and learn about the world around you to better lead you to secrets and quest destinations. Then there’s climbing—for some reason, everyone in Dragon’s Dogma 2 can climb the larger monsters that infest the landscape, from minotaurs to ogres, griffons, and even dragons. Once you climb an ogre and smack it in the head with a sword as you avoid its grabby hands, you’ll wonder (if you’re anything like us) why every game isn’t exactly like this. And, of course, there are sidequests, kingdom-spanning conspiracies, and strange mysteries to discover.

—Arthur Gies

The Best Video Games of 2024 So Far (7)

Our pick

Animal Well

A mysterious retro adventure

Animal Well takes 8-bit visual cues and music and throws them down into a weird, subterranean world full of mysteries to unravel.

Buying Options

$25 from Nintendo

$25 from PlayStation

$22 from Steam

Animal Well is a game that never tells you exactly what it is with words, but it somehow communicates everything you need to become hypnotized by its weirdness. The game starts as your blobby in-game character emerges from a strange, blooming flower in a series of caverns holding mysterious structures and statues. A variety of wildlife and apparitions fill them, and you need to use your wits and a series of tools to overcome those that mean to find out whether you’re edible. Animal Well is the rare game that seems to do everything just right: It plays well, it’s gorgeous, and it’s both accessible and challenging enough to keep players of almost any skill level engaged.

Every year seems to have its own independently developed sleeper hit, and Animal Well certainly fits the bill this time. Although its visuals and music often seem simple, they have their own kind of beauty and sophistication, and the game never quite seems to run out of new things to show you—even after you beat it the first time. Animal Well’s solo developer Billy Basso has promised that it contains some secrets that players will likely take years to find, and while only time will tell, there’s already an army of fans trying to prove him wrong.

—Arthur Gies

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Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door

The Best Video Games of 2024 So Far (9)

Our pick

Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door

A papercraft Mario adventure

The Thousand-Year Door is Mario’s most clever, most character-filled adventure ever.

Buying Options

$60 from Nintendo

I know that Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, which puts Mario and the rest of the cast of characters into a papercraft fantasy adventure, sounds strange, but if you own a Nintendo Switch, I’m begging you not to write off what might be the best game on the system this year. The Thousand-Year Door drops Mario and his friends (and enemies) into a turn-based role-playing game full of wild new worlds, clever writing, and gameplay that mixes RPG stuff with Mario-appropriate jumping and special attacks. This is a remake of a decades-old GameCube game, but you’d never know it—the game is energetic, vital, and charming from top to bottom. Younger kids might have trouble with all the reading, but otherwise, this is one of the best titles for all ages that 2024 will likely see.

—Arthur Gies

Balatro

The Best Video Games of 2024 So Far (11)

Our pick

Balatro

A strange spin on poker

This unpredictable game of cards is simple to grasp but devilishly difficult to put down.

Buying Options

$15 from Xbox

Buy from Steam

$15 from PlayStation

$15 from Nintendo

Balatro is ruining my life. This roguelike card game about scoring points with various poker hands is difficult to master—and nearly impossible to put down. In Balatro, you try to beat a series of increasing scores in a limited amount of turns by playing powerful hands to earn chips. At first, the scoring system follows standard poker rules—a royal flush ranks higher than a straight flush, which beats a four of a kind, and so on. But as you progress, you drastically change the scoring system by modifying your deck with different perks, bonus cards, and jokers that you can purchase in between rounds. For example, you can tune your deck to upgrade a pair or straight high enough to outrank a full house, or you can add enough cards to play illegal hands, such as a five of a kind.

It’s fiercely addicting to try out new strategies each time you start a new run, and the game has so many cards, decks, and challenges to unlock that every attempt is fresh and unpredictable. I’ve spent over 200 hours playing this game, and I’m nowhere close to unlocking everything or calling it quits—though the list of responsibilities I’ve shirked since Balatro came out would be a lot shorter if I did.

—Haley Perry

This article was edited by Arthur Gies and Signe Brewster.

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The Best Video Games of 2024 So Far (2024)
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