Christmas is upon us, and ‘tis the season for gaming. As any gamer knows, Christmas coincides with some of the hottest and most highly anticipated releases of the year. When we’re not sitting back with the family in the dining room and laying on calories that we’ll have to work off the week after, we’re lounging on the couch, hitting a few brewskis and gaming online and offline.
So, what’s good this time of year? Let’s find out.
Pokemon Sun & Moon
The phenomenon of Pokemon GO has come and gone, but our love for Pokemon remains. If anything, GO’s simplicity made us realize how much we craved a proper Pokemon experience.
Sun & Moon is the answer to that craving, offering all the features we’ve come to expect from the series, like an actual story, events, and a variety of fantastic locations to visit and hunt for rare pokemon in. Beyond giving us what we want, the new entry offers new, tropical takes on existing pokemon.
Skyrim Special Edition
Everything old is new again, and Skyrim Special Edition brings the memorable RPG experience to current generation platforms as well as updates for the PC version. You can shout your enemies to death, slay dragons, and run around a Viking-inspired fantasy world for as long as you like.
Gears of War 4
Gears of War 4 joins the lineup of the many popular franchises to get sequels this year. The fourth main title in the series (we’re trying desperately to forget about Gears of War: Judgment) happens years after the events of the third game, and a new alien menace has arisen to threaten all human life.
Instead of having Marcus Fenix in the lead, the story follows the adventures of his estranged son, J.D. But fans of Marcus will be happy to know that the grizzled war veteran returns to fight alongside his son about a quarter of the way through the game. Gears wouldn’t be Gears without him.
Civilization is one of the defining franchises on the PC, and the latest iteration of the classic series is no slouch. The game’s easier than ever to understand and manage thanks to its intuitive user interface and revamped core mechanics. It’s also prettier than ever—looking like a highly stylized tabletop board game.
Cities are now made up of districts, and you can specialize entire settlements into centers of religion, commerce, industry, technology, and agriculture. And thanks to the new government and religion systems, civilizations have more character than ever before. Civilization VI guarantees that you’ll be telling yourself that you’re only going to play for “one more turn” as the night turns to morning.
Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare
Infinite Warfare is the 14th entry in the long-running series that started all the way back in 2003. And this year’s edition delivers the action that fans have come to expect from Call of Duty. Having run out of historical battlefields and near-future locales, Infinite Warfare takes the war to space and even delivers a relatively decent space combat experience that’s reminiscent of Starfox 64.
Watch Dogs 2
In Watch Dogs 2, players take on the role of a hacker-turned-vigilante who joins forces with a hacking group called DedSec to take down the surveillance network in San Francisco and red pill the city.
Arguably the year’s best open world action experience, Watch Dogs 2 delivers what Mafia III failed to: fun. With skills in parkour, close combat and a host of hacking tools at your disposal, running around a city has never been more enjoyable.
The first Dishonored offered a familiar experience for anyone who played the Thief series of games, while providing a strikingly original new setting for gamers to delve into. The sequel, released this year, is a continuation of the first game. Set 15 years later, players must once again resume the role of Corvo, or play as his daughter, Emily—each with their own distinct set of powers.
Offering both stealth and action, Dishonored 2’s open environments encourage its players to experiment with the gadgets and abilities the game provides. The game has options for both non-lethal and full-on violent gameplay.
If you told gamers years ago that a World War 1 shooter could be exciting, we’d have probably scoffed. Battlefield 1 aims to deliver a compelling, gritty war experience—and it absolutely succeeds in doing so. Life for soldiers during the Great War was nasty, brutish, and short.
Bridging the chasm between medieval warfare and modern combat, World War I introduced many of the technologies that are now commonplace on the battlefield, including tanks, automatic firearms, and jet fighters. Add a bit of chlorine gas and some trenches and you’ve got yourself a proper multiplayer war experience.
Every kid wishes they could ride around in their own Gundam, BattleMech or Patlabor—but few modern games provide that experience. Enter Titanfall 2, which is pretty much the only robot-based FPS out on the market right now. Fortunately, it doesn’t suck—it’s very, very good.
Offering more than just a comprehensive suite of multiplayer modes, Titanfall 2’s single-player campaign is by far one of the best to date. It’s brought to life by your memorable building-sized robot buddy and level and mission designs that might be some of the shooter genre’s most innovative. You don’t want to miss this.
Final Fantasy XV
After ten long years in development, Final Fantasy XV has finally been released—and it’s just as awesome as we hoped it would be. The latest entry in the classic series of Japanese RPGs delivers a new story, replete with awesome combat that’s sure to please both fans new and old. It’s a blast even if you’ve never played any previous Final Fantasy game.
If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to go on a road trip with three of your best friends, Final Fantasy XV nails that feeling, and then some. With an expansive world to explore, monsters to fight, and the best bromance you’ll ever experience in a video game, Final Fantasy XV was worth the wait.