by Matthew Thompson
The holiday season approaches and with it comes a glut of new games to play. After scoping out the upcoming releases over the next four months, I have picked out the ones I am most excited to play. Without further ado, here they are (in order of release)!
ReCore (September 13th | Xbox One and PC)
What is it?: A hodgepodge of developers – Keiji Inafune (Mega Man), Mark Pacini (director on the Metroid Prime trilogy) and Joseph Staten (writer on the Halo series) among them – have joined forces to create this new IP for Microsoft. The influences of these developers’ past work can be seen in ReCore which combines shooting, platforming and exploration for a promising new action/adventure title. You play as Joule Adams who has woken up from hundreds of years of cryo-sleep to an unexpected situation. With the help of her robot companions, you’ll see what has gone awry on the colony planet of Far Eden.
Why I’m excited: Above all else, it just looks like my kind of game. A balanced action/adventure game that features platforming, animal-inspired robotic pals and stylized graphics set in an intriguing new sci-fi world is right up my alley. I also appreciate Microsoft trying their hand at a slightly different kind of game with ReCore which helps to diversify their exclusive portfolio. And while not nearly as important, the lower price point to reflect the game’s mid-tier budget is certainly welcome.
Gears of War 4 (October 11th | Xbox One and PC)
What is it?: The influential third-person cover shooter returns with its first original title on the Xbox One. This fourth proper entry in the series is the beginning of a new saga that takes place 25 years after the events of the third game. You play as JD Fenix – Marcus’s son – and his friends in what looks to be a smaller-scale, more intimate story mode. This new start for the series sees the development duties switch hands from creator Epic Games to Microsoft’s internal studio The Coalition, who looks to put their own imprint on the series with additions like new robotic enemies and extreme weather conditions that affect the way enemy encounters play out.
Why I’m excited: I’ve never totally loved a Gears of War game, but I did enjoy the entire trilogy (I never really got very far into Judgment). Despite the new developer and the way Gears 4 is heralding a fresh start for the series, it seems like a very safe entry. While part of me would have liked to see some more chances taken, this less risky approach means it will probably be a reliably entertaining affair like its forebears. A large part of the appeal of the series for me comes in the form of its cooperative campaign and thankfully Gears of War hasn’t abandoned us split screen players which is another big plus in its favor.
The Last Guardian (October 25th | PS4)
What is it?: It’s the oft-delayed third game from Fumito Ueda and his team at Sony Japan and it’s finally releasing in October – though I don’t think I’ll truly believe I’m going to play it until I have the game in my hands. The Last Guardian looks to fit alongside its predecessors nicely. It features that signature Team Ico visual aesthetic. There seems to be a little Ico in its gameplay in the way you navigate structures and solve environmental puzzles as well as a dash of Shadow of the Colossus in the way you climb on your rather large friend. And it seems poised to tell another emotional tale about companionship, this time between a young boy and the giant creature he befriends.
Why I’m excited: It’s a game I have been waiting over ten years for. Ever since I was blown away by Shadow of the Colossus over a decade ago, I have been looking forward to playing Team Ico’s next creation. That alone is enough to have me excited. And troubled development notwithstanding, it looks like they will be delivering another wonderful, unique experience with The Last Guardian, exactly the kind of thing I’d expect from the developer.
Watch Dogs 2 (November 15th | PS4, Xbox One and PC)
What is it?: This sequel to Ubisoft’s 2014 open-world action title moves the hacking out west from the original’s windy city setting to San Francisco. Gone is the much-maligned, trench-coating wearing Aiden Pearce replaced by a younger, hipper protagonist named Marcus Holloway. With him comes an expanded array of options to tackle objectives like the ability to hack cars remotely, do recon with a drone or beat people up with a billiard ball on a bungee cord.
Why I’m excited: I really enjoyed the first Watch Dogs. Rarely does an open-world series come out of the gate so well put together in its first outing. The hacking aspects were super fun and it really nailed the third-person shooter controls in a way that few of its genre contemporaries have even a couple of years after its release. Ubisoft has a tendency of making major improvements from their first stab at an open-world franchise to its sequel (Assassin’s Creed 1 to 2 and Far Cry 2 to 3), so I’m hoping we see a similar jump in quality for Watch Dogs 2. It seems to be shaping up nicely.
Gravity Rush 2 (December 2nd | PS4)
What is it?: The gravity-defying series that debuted on the Vita four years ago returns with its second entry this time on the PlayStation 4. Gravity Rush 2 picks up soon after the events of the original with bubbly protagonist Kat still looking to solve the mystery of her origins while taking on a new dangerous threat to the world around her. This sequel looks to build on the foundations of the original with a bigger and brighter new open-world to explore, two new styles to utilize in traversal and combat, and refined controls that will make for a smoother play experience.
Why I’m excited: I have a real soft spot for the original Gravity Rush and replaying the remastered version this year reminded me why I fell for it in the first place. Two things really stood out to me about the game. One is its lovable heroine Kat who always remains optimistic regardless of how dire the circumstances around her become. The other is the wonderful gravity-shifting mechanic that allows you to send Kat “falling” any which way in the world to get around. It remains one of the most fun ways to move about an open-world. Gravity Rush 2 isn’t looking to reinvent the wheel, but just give us more of what the first game delivered with a host of smart improvements which is exactly what I was hoping for. If I had to pick the game I’m most excited for this Fall, it would be this one with The Last Guardian as a close second.
What Else I’ll Be Playing This Fall
- As far as DLC releasing this Fall goes, I’m super excited for the Rise of the Tomb Raider: Blood Ties expansion. I’ve been asking to see Croft Manor in Rise of the Tomb Raider for several years now, so I can’t wait to head back home with Lara in October. I will probably just play the DLC on Xbox One for now, but I’d also like to pick up the PS4 of Rise when the price drops a little. It remains one of my favorite games this generation so far.
- Outside of the above games, there are a few other titles that have caught my eye. I’ve never played a Shantae game before, but I hope to change that with Half-Genie Hero later this month. I’m intrigued to try out Battlefield 1 and Titanfall 2 as well. These games definitely fall into the “rent them if I get the chance” category though. Dishonored 2 looks fantastic, but I still need to play through the original.
- Besides new releases, I would like to catch up on some games I missed from earlier in the year. I keep a little list going and it seems the ones I skipped out on at launch are mostly digital. Unravel, Inside, Song of the Deep, Firewatch and The Witness are a handful I’d like to give a go before I make up my year-end lists. I still need to finish up The Witcher 3’s Blood and Wine expansion too.
- I’m hoping I’ll be playing the co-op mode that is supposedly coming this Fall to Uncharted 4. The game’s multiplayer is starved for content and some changes to matchmaking have me playing the competitive modes less and less. A new mode on that side would help too. They seem to be running a bit behind on their roadmap for multiplayer updates, so I hope all this is still coming before the year is out.
That will do it for this look at what I’ll be playing in the Fall. What games are you most excited to get your hands on before the year is over? Let me know in the comments below. Thanks for reading!