With the whiff of negativity that surrounds gaming sometimes, it’s often easy to forget just how stupendous this hobby can be sometimes. Teams of developers can band together and create entire worlds for us to habit, playing God to our every whim, while the hardware manufacturers and artists combine to ensure these experiences have never looked better, offering damn near photorealistic playpens for us to save the world in. So let’s push aside our gripes about micro-transactions, always-online, or DRM, for a moment, and celebrate some of the best things that have happened to us lately in gaming.

This can be absolutely anything. For example, you bought a new graphics card and it exceeded your expectations. Or you were on the receiving end of some fantastic customer support. Perhaps you saw somebody do something genuinely nice in a competitive online game. 

From a gaming point of view, there have been a couple of games that have just blown me away like no others this year. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was, unsurprisingly, great, yet it was Yakuza Zero that has won me over this year. 

Yakuza Zero kicked things off for me in January, and I can already tell it’s going to be my gaming highlight of the year. I used to be a massive Shenmue fan but I’d never really given the Yakuza series a chance. Boy, I wished I had, because that game is just sublime. There’s really nothing else quite like it these days, combining overly melodramatic storytelling (with epic MGS-style cut-scenes) with twisted humour and one of the best worlds I’ve ever enjoyed inhabiting. The size of Yakuza Zero’s open-world is actually tiny. You can probably cross both main locations combined in two or three minutes, but they’re absolutely rammed with detail. You can pick up some ramen from the noodle bar, head to an arcade to play some Daytona, go bowling, join an underground wrestling syndicate, get into slot car racing, or run your own hostess club. And then there was the time I employed a turkey to run my real estate business. It easily ranks as one of the most memorable games I’ve ever played, and I think it deserves to come to PC at some point.

Secondly, for all the stick Ubisoft gets, I’m loving the post-launch support for their games. I know now that when I pick up a Ubisoft game, I am guaranteed months, sometimes years, of play. I like it when I get new maps or operators in Siege. I got an entire new Alaskan mountain to explore in Steep. And The Division really came into its own after a shaky launch. The games-as-a-service thing may not be for everyone, but it’s already saved me a bunch of money by keeping me occupied far longer than a 'once and done' game ever could. 

As for hardware, I’ve sadly not bought anything major for a while aside from my Switch, and nobody wants to hear me harp on about that (hint: It’s incredible). 

So in the interests of spreading a bit of positivity, what are some of the best gaming or hardware related experiences you’ve had lately? Is there anything that just had you grinning and thinking just how awesome gaming is these days? Let us know!