BY BRENDEN SHEA: It’s time ladies and gents! Whip out those checkbooks and start spending like every day’s a payday, because THIS. IS. VIDEO GAME SEASON.
If you’ve been trying to figure out what to get yoursel—I mean your loved one, for this holiday season, I’ve got you covered with a selection of the biggest titles this fourth quarter season. There is something for everyone here so never fear. Power up your consoles and PCs, grab your headphones and mandatory gaming snack, and let’s get gaming!
For the Trigger Happy:
Call of Duty Black Ops IV (PC, Xbox One, PS4) – Out now
This year’s Call of Duty leaps full-force into the Battle Royale craze with an intense and frenetic Battle Royale experience featuring polished and gritty looking gunplay; a refined, less buggy version of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, if you will. Though there is no single-player campaign this time around, Black Ops IV skips no time in making sure instead to keep you busy coming back for more and more multiplayer insanity, including a few classics like Zombies for good measure.
Any fan of the Call of Duty franchise will probably enjoy this one, as well as even some people who may have grown tired of the franchise and some of its more recent efforts. It may even be one of their best releases in a while.
Battlefield V (PC, Xbox One, PS4) – November 20
A quick note there are multiple release dates for this game, however, November 20 is the official date when we can all get our hands on it. Another war-game juggernaut, Battlefield has had a rough year this year dealing with some public relations issues with regards to the release of their newest installment. As a diehard Battlefield fan myself, it has been hard to see the franchise go through this, but I am hopeful that it can right itself and do well. That’s why, even if the game may not be quite what some Battlefield fans had hoped for, that doesn’t mean there isn’t some classic, damn satisfying Battlefield shenanigans underneath. Translation: FUN. And if there’s one thing Battlefield games can almost always guarantee, its crazy fun, fever-pitched multiplayer battles.
Battlefield V will take us back to World War II for the first time in the Battlefield franchise since Battlefield 1943. While I’m a little more cautious of this one than normally with Battlefield games, I suspect this game still packs some seriously entertaining bite hidden behind the controversy and so far, my suspicions are accurate. Don’t skip checking this one out.
Destiny 2: Forsaken (PC, Xbox One, PS4) – Out now
There is, quite frankly, no better time than now to hop into Destiny 2. With the game now being largely finished, the world has been fully fleshed out, and is host to a wide array of activities, loot, and endless grinding, all while playing with your buds. It also features a fantastic group of AAA voice actors who bring their roles and the game to life along with yet another compelling musical score.
Forsaken has been a welcome addition to the franchise, again introducing an interesting and compelling narrative that some of the other DLCs lacked. Take on the role of a Guardian, picking up to 3 distinct classes, and fight against the evils of the universe. Suit up with your friends, grab better and better gear as you level, and explore the galaxy as you kill off the scum of the universe. Just another day in the life of a Guardian.
For the Retro Kid:
Spyro Reignited Trilogy (PS4, Xbox One) – Out now
Spyro the lovable purple dragon is back; completely remastered and looking glorious. The beloved 3D action-adventure platformer has been revitalized and brought to 2018’s world of graphical prowess. While you won’t be melting any graphics cards, this game looks simply beautiful now, and if you loved the original trilogy this game is a must-have. And for those parents out there it’s perfect for the young, budding gamer.
Relive some of your old nostalgia while sharing some awesome videogame memories with your kid and turn the whole thing into a family activity. Now, your significant other can’t get mad at you for wanting to play videogames.
Castlevania Requiem (PS4) – Out now
For the first time ever, it brings me great pleasure to put the legendary Castlevania: Symphony of the Night on this list bundled with none other than its prequel, the similarly superb Rondo of Blood. For years now, the original Rondo of Blood remained unreleased here stateside and diehard Castlevania fans had to either fork out significant money to obtain a copy from overseas or settle for the similar but slightly different US version known as Castlevania: Dracula X. As a warning to diehard fans, neither release will, sadly, feature the original voiceovers found in the standalone titles (which brings me great sadness, though reportedly it was due to an inability to obtain the rights to use them), instead utilizing the voiceovers from the Dracula X chronicles.
Take on the dark forces of Dracula in these two classic, timeless, Metroidvania-style platformers and enjoy the challenging gameplay (especially in Rondo), the awesome levels and boss battles, and what might just possibly be one of the most memorable video game soundtracks ever in Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. In my little old humble gamer opinion, even without the original, iconic voiceovers, this is still an absolute must-have for any platformer fan.
Megaman 11 (PS4, Switch, Xbox One, PS4) – Out now
For those of you who always wanted another Megaman, well, it’s finally here. Feeling remarkably similar (and that’s a good thing) to the past Megaman games of yesteryear, Megaman 11 is a challenging action-platformer that will have you arm-cannoning your way through several stages and plenty of epic boss fights as any proper Megaman game should.
Expect to die, a lot. But that’s okay, you’re Megaman. So, charge up that Mega-Buster and take out Dr. Wily and his gang once and for all (hopefully).
For Speed Freaks:
Forza Horizon 4 (Xbox One, PC) – Out now
Does your partner have a bit of a lead foot? Do they constantly ask you to buy them ridiculously expensive cars that really should have no place on a legal street? Congratulations, you can buy ALL of them for your partner in one fell swoop. With 450 licensed cars that would make even a wealthy car collector drool and a gorgeous open-world racing environment ripe for your asphalt shredding conquest, Forza Horizon 4 continues the franchise’s legacy of superb, addictive racing gameplay.
Any fan of racing games (and cars period) owes it to themselves to check this game out. Your wallet will also appreciate this much more affordable form of car collecting.
For the Arcade Warrior:
Soulcalibur VI (PS4, Xbox One, PC) – Out now
Part of Bandai Namco’s venerable Soulcalibur series, Soulcalibur VI is a reboot essentially of the first game, heading back to the first game’s events in order to further flesh out the story. Featuring a familiar cast of warriors, players battle it out 1v1 on a single plane battlefield using a variety of complicated combos and moves to finish their opponent.
With Soulcalibur’s usual mix of smooth gameplay and dark themes to accompany it, this game is an excellent choice both for fans of the series and for newcomers.
Super Smash Bros Ultimate (Nintendo Switch) – December 7
One of the more anticipated games on here, it’s been a minute since we’ve had a proper Smash Bros installment, but that’s about to change. Super Smash Bros Ultimate comes jumping and slamming its way down into stores on December 7 with all your lovable, favorite Nintendo characters, and many, many more that can be unlocked through a progressive system that will make the player feel as if they are really earning their characters. This is one of the must-have games for any Nintendo fan this year, so don’t miss out.
For the Storyteller:
Red Dead Redemption 2 (PS4, Xbox One) – Out now
If there’s one game on this list that has been more hotly anticipated than any other, it has to Red Dead Redemption 2. And with good reason, as it hails from legendary game-developer Rockstar. A Western themed action-adventure game, Red Dead follows the story of the outlaw Arthur Morgan and is set in a massive open-world environment featuring both first- and third-person gameplay, with a wide variety of quests, side-games and other miscellaneous content to explore.
Red Dead Redemption 2 has so far been heavily acclaimed and leans strongly on player choice for the narrative while also refining many of the mechanics found in previous games. The game features gorgeous graphics, polished gameplay, and excellent production values. Even if someone has not played Red Dead Redemption before, this is probably a game worth looking at, if not for the widespread acclaim alone.
Assassins Creed Odyssey (PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC) – Out now
Return to the fantastical and historically influenced world of Assassin’s Creed, this time in the world of Ancient Greece. Assume the mercenary role of either a man or woman this time around and take down cult leaders, evil tyrants, and corrupt politicians as usual as you bring your own complicated version of righteous justice to the innocent world as a member of the Assassins.
With a small modern-day story that follows along with the fictional historical narrative like in previous Assassin’s Creed installments, the game features a massive, beautiful open-world that is meticulously detailed and features tons of activities for the player to pursue, as well as some different game endings depending on the sides the player chooses.
Assassin’s CreedOdyssey also continues where Origins left off and tries to add a few more role-p laying elements as well, although they remain light. If you like jumping from rooftops and pretending you are in fact a career parkour athlete who also happens to moonlight as a contracted assassin, this one is for you.
Spider-Man (PS4) – Out now
If you have ever wanted a kick-ass Spider-man game this is finally it after years of hit or miss titles. For every Spider-man fan out there, Spider-man for PS4 is a delightful dream come true, a near perfect video-game representation of what the webbed wonder is all about. The bar has been set marvellously here, not unlike the smashing success of Disney’s Marvel franchise, and I would expect that more superhero games will be coming down the pipeline in the future that will strive for similar production goals. Spider-man is an action-adventure game that blends a massively open world with excellent characters, narrative, fun quests, and, most of all, fantastic web-slinging to create an adventure that is one hell of a thrill-ride. Comic book fans rejoice. This is your kind of game.
For the Assassin:
Hitman 2 (PS4, Xbox One, PC) – Out now
Not to be confused with Hitman 2: Silent Assassin (I know, confusing), Hitman 2 is the long-awaited seventh installment in the Hitman series and is the sequel to 2016’s equally confusing sixth title, Hitman (I know, I know, I’m sorry). Technically, the first game was Hitman: Code 47, to confuse you even further. Are you confused yet? Good, that’s exactly how the Hitman wants you to be.
Do you like dressing up? Do you like killing unsuspecting guards and hit contracts while dressing up? Do you like dressing up, killing unsuspecting guards and said contracts, and using a ridiculous array of gadgets to do so while having lots of leeway in which to do so? Excellent. You sound like you will like this game.
Carry out a variety of international hits on targets in third-person and using a number of creative methods to get the task done. Take your target out with a sniper rifle or get a little up close and personal, or even make things look a little more “accidental”. There’s a wide variety of ways in which you can take out your targets, just remember this game rewards the stealthy.
For The Card Collectors:
Gwent: The Witcher Card Game (PC, PS4, Xbox One) – Out now (Free-to-play with in-game purchases)
Gwent has been out for some time now as a beta, but the official release is now finally out. Gwent: The Witcher Card Game is a standalone version of the charming and addictive minigame found in the original Witcher series. A collectible card game with a unique twist in terms of its mechanics, you can wield and build a variety of different decks to take on different opponents and slaughter them how you wish.
With distinctive artwork and fun, addictive gameplay, Gwent is worth picking up for anybody in your household who loves the collectible card game scene. Since the game is free-to-play, you can help them out instead by giving them some money to use to unlock more cards or powder in the store. After they steamroll their opponents later with their new fancy cards, they’ll thank you.
For Those in Love with the Grind:
Fallout 76 (PC, Xbox One, PS4) – Out now
Once again dive deep into the post-apocalyptic wastes of mother Earth, only this time with friends. Fallout 76 takes the beloved Fallout franchise in a whole new direction and is a full-fledged massively multiplayer online role-playing game. You can team up with a group of your buddies, explore awesome locales, shoot a ton of mutants and other monstrous baddies, and hopefully score some sweet sweet loot while you level up and grind your way to awesomeness.
All while chugging a Nuka-cola and watching the nuclear sunset.
PlayStation Classic – December 3
Not a game but rather a mini version of the original PlayStation 1, this little guy has the nostalgic, grownup gamer at heart (kids, pay attention here, your parents want this). Included with it are 20 classic PS1 games that will vary on the country/region they are released in.
They include some notable classics, such as Final Fantasy VII, Twisted Metal and Rayman in North America, Metal Gear Solid, Tekken 3, and Parasite Eve and Armored Core (small tear rolling down my eye) in Japan/Taiwan/Hong Kong. It even has the original PS1 controllers without analog sticks. How adorably retro.
Life Is Strange 2: Episode 1 (PC, Xbox One, PS4) – Out now
Life Is Strange was a darling little game that came out of nowhere and stole a lot of people’s hearts (mine included), with wonderful characters, a killer soundtrack, and an at times mystical and eerie environment in the vein of stories like Twin Peaks. If you haven’t checked it out yet and enjoy episodic, choice driven stories a la Telltale’s The Walking Dead, I strongly encourage you to.
While Life Is Strange 2 does not include the original beloved cast of characters and does not include all the episodes yet, it does begin a brand-new saga in a new location with new people tackling some equally adult and tough issues. Don’t Nod Entertainment hasn’t shied away from the fact that they wanted to go in a different direction and thus far they have not backed down.
I look forward to what else they have in store for the series. You can find the first episode of Life is Strange 2 available for sale now.