Seven YouTube Channels Worth Checking Out

Nowadays I spend probably as much time watching gaming content on YouTube than I actually do playing games myself, whether I am tidying up around the apartment or writing an essay, I always have something playing in the background. These are seven YouTube channels that have personally brought me joy and that I think you may be interested in. I am always looking for more unique content to dive into so if you have any suggestions on gaming-centric YouTube channels that I should check out feel free to drop links in the comment section below.

Brian Gilbert (Polygon)

Polygon’s content is not something that I have personally clicked with on the whole, but Brian Gilbert is a wonderful exception, as his Unravelled series is simply some of the best gaming content I have came across. Self-referenced as “absurdly comprehensive game lore”, if you want to have a complete breakdown of the Zelda timeline in fifteen minutes, figure out who is the best cuddler in the Mortal Kombat series, or even discover which monster in Castlevania is the hottest, Brian has you covered. If you have a spare thirty minutes, stop reading this and watch his live performance from PAX East in which he tries to create the perfect PokeRap, because it is one of the best things I have ever watched.

The Completionist

As per the name-sake, Jirard Khalil – The Completionist – takes a game and completes every possible task in it before writing a lengthy review on it from the perspective of a completionist, which leads to an incredibly comprehensive breakdown of the pros, the cons and the hidden surprises that a game has in store for you. His main episodes feature the same, concise formula discussing several different aspects of the game – the story, the presentation, the gameplay and the overall difficulty involved in reaching 100% completion – wrapping up with a rating ranging from “Complete It” to “Donate It”. Whilst he does not play every new release, often diving into retro titles, it is great delve into titles of present and past days and well worth a watch if there is a title you are interested in or want a lengthy discussion on a title you love.

BeatEmUps

BeatEmUps surprisingly features very little content about, y’know, BeatEmUps. Actually now that I think about it I cannot recall a single video that is about the genre. However, Wood does have a lot of content centred around Nintendo, bringing you all types of Switch related goodness, which makes subscribing to him a very good idea if you own one. It is hard to pinpoint his content to a singular style as he bounces effortlessly from reviews, gameplay and discussion videos on top of a number of regular series he has on the go. If you want something to check out first then my personal favourites are his series on the top ten recent indie games released or the videos of his girlfriend, Kim, and him buying one another weird Switch accessories.

People Make Games

Whilst Chris Bratt was mostly preoccupied with watching VR porn and giving awards to sandwich stands when he worked at Eurogamer, he also began working on Here’s a Thing, a semi-regular series which became a passion project of his. The content was fantastic, bringing you short mini-documentaries showcasing some of the more unique stories within the games industry, such as the Fallout sex formula, why Dwarf Fortress started randomly killing cats, or how a Kinect may have been used to stage an art heist. Creating content like this proved to be rather time-intensive, not to mention challenging whilst working full-time at Eurogamer, so he made the bold decision to start up his own channel. People Make Games is the result and if you would like to know how Neopets was sold to Scientologists… well, we have you covered.

Girlfriend Reviews

Before I met my girlfriend it is fair to say that she was not all that enthusiastic about video games, but as time has gone on she has began to really enjoy watching me play through games like Resident Evil 7 or Celeste, and we do so regularly. Whilst there is an abundance of reviews that tackle what it is like to play a game, very few look at what it is like to be a passive participant in a game, and that is precisely what Girlfriend Reviews is tapping into. Most videos from Shelby and Matt are from Shelby’s perspective on what it is like to watch her boyfriend play through a game, occasionally with her jumping in and playing co-op, and with a very comedic, tongue-in-cheek approach to describing what she liked, disliked, and thought was interesting from the viewpoint of someone who is watching. If you are looking for reviews with a twist this is a channel to check out.

JackFrags

An outlier in this list, JackFrags is one of only a few channels I watch regularly that is primarily gameplay focused, and for good reason. Whilst he is definitely a very competitive gamer – his content revolving mostly around online first-person shooters – he has a very approachable, relaxed and friendly personality that really stands out among the crowd making him great to watch. He has a dedicated fanbase that is very much Battlefield focused but Jack has done regular content on a number of different games from Fortnite to Sea of Thieves to PUBG, alongside a couple of one-off videos on titles that are a little bit off the beat for his channel. Last year I had the pleasure of playing with Jack during the Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 beta and as a big fan of his and the battle royale genre it was a pleasure to take on Blackout alongside him.

Oddheader

Oddheader is best described as peak late night YouTube. If I want to cuddle up under the covers, turn off all the lights, and veg out on YouTube this is definitely one of my channels to go to as list video after list video showcasing the creepiest secrets, most surprising glitches, or the best easter eggs found in video games. With a 90’s, retro skate-punk vibe coming from the visual style and voiceover, Oddheader’s videos feel somewhat unique among the backdrop of the highly curated content that we are used to watching nowadays.

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Laser League Deserved(s) More

Have you ever heard of a game called Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle Cars? Neither had I, but upon watching Danny O’Dwyer’s documentary on Psyonix (check out his channel Noclip on YouTube – it is fantastic for full length documentaries on video games), I realised it has a lot of narrative similarities to a game that I really love. Released on the PS3, SARPBS was a flop that managed to gather a small, passionate following that appreciated it for its unique concept and engaging gameplay. Its main hook was on the premise of rocket-powered cars playing football and thankfully Psyonix would hold onto their belief that the game had promise. A few years later, after a free month on PS+ the spiritual successor to SARPBS, Rocket League, would become one of the biggest names in video game history.

From the creators of the OlliOlli series, Laser League is a 2v2 or 3v3 competitive futuristic sports game, in which the objective is to work together to eliminate your opponents and be the first team to reach a score of 3. There are nodes that you can activate that will project a laser the same colour as your team. If your opponents hit them they are down, but can be revived, and vice versa. There are six team positions to choose from – each requiring a different approach to be effective – which results in team composition playing an important role in the way a match will play out. My favourite was the Thief, who had the ability to steal opponent owned nodes, which turned each game into a fight for possession. Boxing the opposing team into a position that they could not get out of was incredibly satisfying for me and others found equally rewarding classes that worked for their individual preferences. It is a deceptively sophisticated and engaging gameplay loop and I can only imagine this would have developed going forward. The game was reviewed favourably, scoring well across the board and publications such as Eurogamer praising it as “an instant modern-day multiplayer classic” and Kotaku saying it was the best game of 2018 that nobody has played, but the same success was never found in concurrent player numbers. Even during the month that it was a free game on PS+, there were very few people actually playing the game, and being matched with AI opponents was a regular occurrence. The pull of PS+ that had given new leases of life to other titles in the past had failed to give Laser League the platform that it deserved.

I had stumbled across the game a while before it hit PS+ from watching the Eurogamer team play it on their YouTube channel and was very intrigued but for whatever reason – most likely an absence of marketing before launch – the launch passed me by. After downloading it I was instantly reminded as to why I was interested in the first place and was very surprised with just how much fun it was. I encouraged a number of friends to download it and give it a go and found a striking pattern in their behaviour. Every person who downloaded it would say that their first impressions were of being disorientated and very frustrated with the experience. They found the roles to be confusing, they struggled to grasp what was going on at any one moment, and going from no experience to taking on more experienced players or the very competent AI would leave them quickly wanting to write the game off. However, encouragement and gentle persuasion led to them investing a little more time and finding a position that suited them, and there would be the moment where it would just click. This initial hurdle or steep learning curve that players were faced with may be one explanation as to why the game struggled to take off despite being free through PS+.

Perhaps the future for Laser League would have been found on the Nintendo Switch. My time on the PS4 version was very online-centric, but I feel the very design and ethos of the game fits perfectly in a couch co-op setting. However, I fear that there the support and belief in the game is lacking, and the potential for the game finding its audience or a spiritual successor reaching the heights of the likes of Rocket League appears to be more of a dream than something that might happen. Since the release of the game the communication from Roll7 and 505 Games has been lacking, at times hitting near radio silence, and very little promotion has led to the game falling straight out of the public consciousness. Little has changed over a year after it originally released on console and even those who love the game have stopped playing it. And this is perhaps the saddest part of the story. Not every competitive online multiplayer game can reach the level of Fortnite, Rocket League or League of Legends, as games fight ferociously to hold our attention for longer and longer periods of time. But for a game this full of potential and fun to have not even found a small foothold in the market is absolutely heartbreaking.

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