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Patrick O’Rourke’s 5 favourite things of 2021

Halo Infinite is life

2020 sucked, and so did 2021.

Now that we have that out of the way, I enjoyed quite a few things this year — contrary to what the MobileSyrup team and my partner often assume.

From the return of my green space boyfriend with Halo Infinite and discovering a new genre of TV I never thought I’d be interested in, to finally having the time and space to build a garden, 2021 wasn’t all bad.

Below are a few things I enjoyed during this hellscape of a year:

Halo Infinite

Halo Infinite Master Chief

Image credit: 343 Industries

I didn’t expect Halo Infinite to be good.

No really, my expectations for the game were beyond low following the rumours surrounding the title’s troubled development cycle. Thankfully, the somewhat open-world campaign and its accompanying multiplayer mode are excellent and the best-case scenario for how a modern Halo game should look and play.

I’ve sunk roughly 85 hours into the title so far between Halo Infinite’s campaign and multiplayer. In fact, this number is likely even higher given I spent a dozen hours with a press preview build of the game prior to its public release. If you know me and my gaming habits, you’ll be aware it’s extremely rare for me to stick with a game this long let alone play it for 3.5 days.

Also, I’d like to mention that I’m a ‘Diamond 2’ in ranked, which while not quite ‘Onyx,’ is still pretty damn good for a 33-year-old with slowing reflexes.

NHL 22/21

Image credit: EA

When I was in my mid-20s, I spent a lot of time playing the NHL video game series with my older brother. Whether it was organized leagues where we each controlled an individual player and tracked states or just playing a quick game of “CHEL” on my own, the series was at one point, a significant part of how I spent my time.

Over the years I’ve lost touch with the series, but the extra time I found on my hands amid the pandemic allowed me to jump back into the series and start playing it again. A lot has changed about the franchise over the years and I find the ‘Threes Eliminator’ arcade mode more akin to how I remember the series playing in the late 2000s, but generally, it’s still the same game I enjoyed all those years ago.

It’s also given me an opportunity to spend time with my brother during the pandemic, albeit virtually.

Yellowstone

Yellowstone

Image credit: Paramount Network, Peacock

If you told me a few years ago that I’d be eagerly awaiting the release of a neo-western TV show every Sunday, I wouldn’t believe you. Yet here I am, watching Yellowstone’s latest season every week.

Though season 4 has gone a little off the rails, bingeing the first three seasons of the show has been a treat because they offer a window into a world I’ll never experience and know very little about: ranching. Yellowstone stars Kevin Costner as John Dutton and his several adult children — including Luke Grimes as Kayce Dutton — as they try to protect their home from land developers. People get shot, cows get wrangled and the Montana scenery is absolutely breathtaking.

It’s a simple premise that takes several unexpected twists and turns throughout its seasons, and if you’re looking for a compelling, lesser-known show to watch in the new year, Yellowstone could be what you’re after. Yellowstone streams on Amazon Prime Video in Canada.

Gardening

Patrick's Garden

I’ve always enjoyed gardening.

When I lived in a condo, I had several large planters on my balcony, but now that I live in a small townhouse with an equally small backyard, I have the space to create the garden of my dreams (sort of). Though I’ve lived in this house for over two years now, my first attempt at gardening was rather unsuccessful. The soil around my home is mostly clay and there just isn’t enough soil for most flowers and vegetables to grow.

Fast forward to this summer and my partner and I built several above-ground gardens and filled them with what felt like countless bags of soil. Finally, for the first time in my life, I was able to grow tomatoes, peppers, strawberries and more. Amid the stress of the ongoing pandemic and my day-to-day job managing MobileSyrup, tending to my first truly successful garden offered a much-needed respite.

I’m already working on my garden plan for 2022.

iPhone 13 Pro

iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max

This wouldn’t be a list of Patrick’s favourite things without some sort of an Apple product on it, and like last year, that device is an iPhone. Though I usually opt for the iPhone 13 Pro Max because I once preferred its 6.5-inch size, this year I made the switch to the 6.1-inch iPhone 13 Pro.

I don’t think I can go back to the big boi of a phone.

The iPhone 13 Pro is just so much lighter and feels more comfortable in my hands — especially when I’m lying in bed and scrolling through TikTok well after I should be asleep. Overall, the upgrade over the iPhone 12 Pro is best described as a refinement. The camera is slightly better, especially under low-light, and the display now supports a 120Hz refresh rate, offering butter smooth performance. Beyond this though, the iPhone 13 Pro is largely identical to the iPhone 12 Pro.

Still, just like in 2020, Apple’s latest flagship smartphone remains my most used tech device of the year and offers one of the best all-around smartphone packages out there.

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