Hello, Bertie here, sitting in my armchair next to the fire. Here we are at the end of the year. I hope it holds some good memories for you. I also hope you manage to find some time to yourself, as the year closes, to rest and restore yourself to your dazzling best.
We've had a busy year on Eurogamer. Never is this more apparent than when I'm staring an enormous pile of pieces in the face, hoping to make some kind of list out of them. I like these lists because people miss things in the rush of the year. I miss things. And this season provides a chance to look back and highlight some of the great work gone by.
But to showcase everything would take forever, so instead, I'd like to showcase our writers. There's an army of them, as will soon become apparent, and we're enormously grateful for the wonderful richness they bring to our site. We couldn't do it without them.
Here then, in no particular order, are the writers of Eurogamer and some of my favourite pieces produced this year. I've broken the list in two so you don't scoff it all at once. And remember, if you really like someone's work, you can find much more of it on their author page. Go on, indulge yourself.
And thank you for visiting Eurogamer. Without you, none of this would make sense. Actually, it would all seem a bit ridiculous. So cheers!
Do you know what Halo: Infinite's multiplayer really is? It's a comedy, as Kaan Serin is at pains to explain.
Tom Phillips has been avidly playing Pokémon Go for five years now. He's made friends, accidentally gatecrashed funerals, and worn out pairs of trainers. Here, he recollects his adventures in Pokémon Go.
Sometimes, a demo was all you needed. They had limitations but you found ways to defy them or stretch what was there. You found ways to make demos more. It's a history Edwin Evans-Thirlwell is whisked back to as he recollects the joy of treating demos like a finished game.
I had a moment in the new Dark Pictures game recently where I lost my favourite character right at the end of the game. And I tell you, I almost rage-quit and began again, all to ensure that one character survived. It's a feeling all too familiar to Grace Cutis, who asked game-makers what lengths they've gone to to save their favourite NPCs in games.
Wesley Yin-Poole has had enough of grubby monetisation in FIFA Ultimate Team. But will EA remove it? No. So, exasperated, Wesley tried to imagine what FIFA Ultimate Team might look like without the pay-to-win loot boxes.
Did you ever hear the story about the game that led a man to a real corpse? Here, Sara Elsam explores video game legends, and how Creepypastas keep the ghosts of yesteryear alive.
Emma Kent grew up in leafy Gloucestershire and isn't used to seeing it recreated in games. But it's there in Assassin's Creed: Valhalla, as it would have been in 873 AD. So she strapped on her adventuring gear and embarked on a hike of discovery and history and folklore, and how Assassin's Creed: Valhalla made her home a magical wilderness.
Imagine Software and Psygnosis Software co-founder David Lawson passed away in August this year. Martyn Caroll writes a tribute to one of the founding fathers of the UK games industry.
Britain has a lot of folklore monsters, and John Bedford rightly thinks that someone should make a game about them.
It was the 3DS' 10-year anniversary this year, hurrah, and what a lot of lovely memories we have of it. But what if you'd never owned one? What if all the times people recommended 3DS games to you, you just nodded like you'd join in soon but never did? That was Malindy Hetfeld's experience until, this year, she finally caved and bought one, and fell in love with the 3DS 10 years too late.
Martin Robinson has written loads of wonderful pieces this year. But the one that really stands out for me, perhaps because it's so heartfelt, is his love letter to Rez to celebrate the game's 20th anniversary.
I, Bertie, wrote some nice pieces this year, and I promise I'm not just including one because I'm in charge of this list (as if anyone could stop me!). And the piece I've picked is the one where I tracked down the man who ran The Matrix Online on his own for years. Surely he'd know about Morpheus' death! That was a fascinating game for more reasons than one.
If you asked someone to name their favourite Zelda game, I'd bet on your receiving one of a few likely responses. But Skyward Sword? Nope, that wouldn't be one of them. Not unless you're Omar Hafeez-Bore. And before you ask: yes he has played the other ones.
Pride Week was wonderful on Eurogamer this year. As part of it, Lottie Lynn explored the acclaimed LGBTQ+ visual novel A Summer's End - Hong Kong 1986, a tale of lesbian romance and coming out.
Ed Nightingale hasn't been here long but has already produced some wonderful interviews - this one with inventive streamer Rudeism particularly. Beating Dark Souls with a modified one-button controller? No problem. And what a potentially important step for accessibility it could be.
The Queen's Gambit was a Netflix love letter to chess, and what an effect it had on the wider population. But it was also, as Jefferson Toal explains, a love letter to something deeper: The Queen's Gambit was a love letter to play.
Few games manage to capture the immigrant experience like The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles. Alan Wen matches his own experiences of immigration with The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles in this eye-opening piece.
If there was one music album you could pick to evoke the PlayStation 1, it would have to be Frank Ocean's Channel Orange, as Stacey Henley explains.
Every month, we ask sister site Dicebreaker to recommend a board game to you. November's recommendation, Oath: Chronicles of Empire & Exile, written by Matt Jarvis, was a belter. And it sounds like Oath has a real shot at being board game of the year.
What's your favourite planet in a video game? We all had a bash at thinking about this earlier in the year. Oli Welsh came up with the original halo in Halo - AKA Installation 04. And what with Halo: Infinite just coming out, it's a topical read to go back to.
Blaseball, Overwatch, Red Dead Redemption 2 - queer play is everywhere, as Jay Castello finds out.
Richard Leadbetter is the forge master at Digital Foundry, and he doesn't do a lot of, ahem, creative writing. But the work the team does is peerless, and this teardown of the delicious Xbox Series S is one such piece.
Live action role-play events (LARPs) have changed a lot in the past few decades. They allow us to experiment with who we are and what our place in the world is, and they have the capacity to transport us to important bygone events such as when the AIDS outbreak ravaged the New York gay scene in the 1980s. Evan Torner explores queerness in LARPs and their growing popularity.
This Christmas reading list will continue tomorrow. Have a satsuma while you wait.