The holiday season is always a special time for lovers of video games.
You know how the summer movie season is rife with blockbusters that cost nine figures to make and often feature dazzling heroics and explosive set pieces? That’s what the fall season is for video games.
The year’s biggest releases often surface during the holiday months, for obvious reasons (games make great gifts). It’s not unusual to see more than one arrive in a single week, even. To help you sift through it all and make good choices, the Mashable Gaming team all put our heads together to single out the 10 titles we’re most excited for.
This is a big moment for Call of Duty. For the first time, the series is skipping the time-honored story-driven campaign mode in favor of a more dedicated focus on online play. Competitive modes are back. Cooperative zombie survival modes are back. New solo missions teach you how each multiplayer “specialist works.”
But that’s not all of it. Potentially serving as the centerpiece for this new Call of Duty is “Blackout,” a new way to play inspired by the success of games like Fortnite and PUBG. It’s Call of Duty’s take on a battle royale mode, and one that promises to blend environments and ideas from across the series history. If it’s the bold reinvention it appears to be, even the almighty Fortnite could start facing stiff competition as we enter 2019.
Stepping into the shoes of one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse is always a blast, and taking control of Fury in Darksiders 3 looks like it’s going to be one hell of a good time.
The third Darksiders game takes place right alongside the first two games, this time from the perspective of Fury, the sister of riders War and Death (the protagonists of the first two games). She’s come to Earth to defeat the seven deadly sins.
Fury uses magic and a handful of fun weapons like whips and swords to vanquish anything in her path. While the first two games were classic hack-and-slash adventures, Darksiders 3 looks like it’ll have a bit more personal approach to combat alongside all the exploring and puzzles we’ve come to expect from the apocalyptic series.
Perhaps you’re familiar with Reigns, the wonderful Tinder-inspired mobile game in which you rule over a kingdom by swiping left or right on a series of cards that pop up to present you with scenes, key decisions, and a variety of characters. Well, now Reigns has gone and stepped in Game of Thrones.
This nifty HBO partnership gives you control of the Iron Throne as it was at the end of Season 7, with one important twist: You choose which familiar face rules Westeros? Can Danaerys actually bring peace and prosperity back to the land? Maybe you think Tyrion would do a better job. Or Sansa. Well, prove it. We’ve already spent some time with this game, and it’s lots of fun.
A new space-faring IP from Ubisoft, Starlink: Battle for Atlas has perhaps one of the most misleadingly generic sci-fi titles for what could be one of the most blissfully fun games of the year. Don’t let the toys-to-life aspect of the game deter you (unless that’s your thing), because it’s not required to play. This is no Skylanders.
Starlink combines the joy of space exploration with a fun take on spaceship-based combat that feels incredibly fluid and free. Plus, the addition of Star Fox and the iconic Arwing ship on the Nintendo Switch version are very enticing, considering we haven’t had a truly solid Star Fox game in a very long time.
If Just Cause 4 is just as over-the-top as past games, with its gigantic explosions, grappling hook craziness, high-flying action, and general mayhem, then it’ll be perfect.
Rico Rodriguez is back in the name of revolution, this time bringing his mastery of acrobatics and explosions to the fictional South American country Solis to fight back against an evil paramilitary group known as the Black Hand. And while that’s a nice backdrop, the real focus and greatest strength of Just Cause games is the action and freedom players get to dive into the action in the most spectacular ways.
There’s nothing quite like jumping out of a plane to hijack another plane in mid-air, and then ride on top of it like a superhero as it descends into an oil-covered military base.
Not many games can get away with it, but Hitman 2‘s promise of “more of a good thing” is absolutely welcome. Coverage of IO Interactive’s 2016 return to the series was largely defined by the game’s episodic release format, but the game’s collection of murder playgrounds rank easily among the series best.
Now we have Hitman 2 coming with remastered versions of every map from the 2016 game plus a whole mess of new stuff. Specifically, six new missions, each one in their own new location. There are also some new tools to play with, including Agent 47’s briefcase (to conceal larger weapons), as well as a brand new cooperative mode where players need to snipe targets in a set amount of time.
More of the same never sounded so appealing.
Fallout 76 is like no Fallout game you’ve known before. It takes the nuclear post-apocalypse setting that Bethesda Softworks has fleshed out in such great detail over multiple games and expansion packs, and it adds something that no previous first-person RPG from the studio has had before: Online play.
In Fallout 76, the nuclear wasteland is your playground and the biggest threat — or benefit — to your survival is other players. The game seems to borrow heavily from Bethesda’s past Fallout games, with an emphasis on exploration, scavenging, and crafting in addition to combat. But now you’ll be doing all of that while other players are out there, potentially plotting your (virtual) death.
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is dipping further back in time than any Assassin’s game has before, sending players to Greece during the Peloponnesian War in 431 BCE. Playing as either Kassandra or Alexios, descendants of warrior king Leonidas himself, you’ll be exploring the many terrains and islands of ancient Greece, meeting legendary historical figures, and, of course, kicking quite a bit of ass.
Odyssey pushes the series in some new, fresh directions with its expanded RPG elements, freer combat, and large-scale battles. But it also highlights some of the best of what the series has to offer: assassinations, deep (semi-fictional) dives into history, and even the triumphant return of naval battles. The exploration element has ramped up ten-fold in Odyssey as well, which when paired with its emphasis on player choice, makes it feel like the most naturalistic and open Assassin’s Creed game to date.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is going to be the biggest Smash game yet. With every character who’s ever been playable in the last four Smash games plus a handful of other new (and yet-to-be-revealed characters), over 100 stages, and tons of new items and trophies, Ultimate is looking like a monstrous entry in one of the most beloved fighting game series of all time.
Super Smash Bros. games are not just great fighting games. No, they are some of the best, most fun multiplayer games ever made with their approachable mechanics and colorful roster of familiar (and sometimes unfamiliar) characters.
From what we’ve seen and been able to play, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is no exception. With updated visuals and a feel that hews closer to Melee (the best in the series to date), Ultimate may stand as the strongest entry since the 2001 GameCube version of the game captured so many millions of hearts.
Red Dead Redemption 2 is a sequel that’s almost a decade in the making. How can it possibly live up to the hype?
The fact that it’s a Rockstar Games creation help. The studio that Grand Theft Auto built is delving back into its Wild West setting to deliver a prequel story about the gang that original RDR star John Marston once called home.
But the real rockstar here may have nothing to do with the story. In 2018, five years after it was first released, Grand Theft Auto V is still a presence in monthly video game sales charts. That’s thanks entirely to the game’s inventive approach to online play. The question we have now is, how will Red Dead 2 take those ideas further?
With so many upcoming holiday games injecting new, fresh ideas into the medium, it seemed wrong to highlight older titles getting a re-release in our list. But there are still some great ones incoming, so take note.
The Spyro Reignited Trilogy gathers together the first three games in the Spyro series, which follows the exploits of the titular purple dragon with Super Mario 64-style platforming gameplay. And from what we’ve seen, this ground-up remake is beautiful.
Over on Nintendo’s aging-but-still-kicking handheld 3DS, the GameCube classic Luigi’s Mansion is making its portable debut. Imagine Ghostbusters, but the one doing the busting is Nintendo’s green-clad Mario Bro armed with a vacuum cleaner that sucks up spirits. It’s like no Mario game you’ve played before, and that’s a good thing in this case.
Nintendo Switch owners also have an exciting re-release to get hype about: Civilization VI. The latest entry in the Sid Meier-created strategy series is unexpectedly coming to Nintendo’s hybrid console. It’s not quite the full version; the Rise and Fall expansion, released for PC back in February, is a no-show. But some Civ is better than no Civ at all, and even vanilla Civ VI improves on the series formula in sharp ways.
That’s not all for Nintendo. Pokémon is reviving the original Kanto region in Pokémon: Let’s Go, Evee! and Pikachu! for the Switch with a fresh coat of paint and some new mechanics, like an actual Poké Ball Plus accessory that players use to catch Pokémon.