Ah, November. The time of year when the trees turn bare, the days get darker, men refuse to shave and games release by the dozens. As a gamer, I simultaneously anticipate and dread this month. As awesome as it is that stellar games are being released as quickly as they are, the mountain of titles is too steep for me to climb in any reasonable amount of time. Though I’d love staggered releases throughout the year, publishers love launching around the holiday season, and who could blame them?
With so many games dropping, it takes finesse to wade through the sea and find titles truly worthy of your immediate attention, and that’s what we’re here for. Here are the games that launch between now and Christmas that you should set your sights on.
1. Assassin’s Creed Unity
We all know what the Assassin’s Creed series offers by now: a single-player story, third person action, an open world to explore and more Templars to kill than you could ever hope to count. Unity marks the seventh (or eighth, depending on how you look at it) edition to the franchise, launching alongside last-gen counterpart Assassin’s Creed Rogue. Launching two distinct games from the same series on the same day for separate hardware may seem like a risky move, but Ubisoft is confident it will pay off. Unity features an attractive bonus never before seen in Assassin’s Creed: four player co-op. With that and the new protagonist, setting and time period, there’s enough here to get even those fatigued by the series excited.
- Brand new co-op mode
- A new, customizable hero
- Revolutionary Paris
- Refreshed combat, parkour and stealth
- Franchise fatigue
- Two similar games releasing on the same day
- More beaked hoods
2. Halo: The Master Chief Collection
Arguably, Halo is the Xbox’s most successful franchise. It’s got everything you could ever want: shooting, aliens, Cortana and some of the best multiplayer ever made. Now with Halo: The Master Chief Collection, players get to experience the entirety of Master Chief’s saga (so far) on a single disc, which includes four full campaigns and more than 100 multiplayer maps. That’s a ton of content for a mere $60. Best of all, players will be able to seamlessly mix and match levels and story missions across the board, leading to fun and unique playlists.
- More Master Chief than you can handle
- Remade multiplayer maps with HD graphics
- Access to the Halo 5: Guardians beta
- Four thousand Gamerscore and 450 achievements
- Twenty gigabyte day-one patch
- No Halo: Reach or Halo 3: ODST
- Multiplayer achievements
- Xbox One exclusive
3. Dragon Age: Inquisition
BioWare is known for its ability to craft deep, intricate, personal stories. Just look at the best-selling Mass Effect series which, in this humble editor’s opinion, is the best sci-fi universe to be created in any medium ever. The original Dragon Age was a critical and commercial success, with its long and detailed campaign where choices mattered. Dragon Age II didn’t hold up as well, though it’s still a great game. With Dragon Age: Inquisition, BioWare is going all out in an effort to create one of the greatest fantasy RPGs ever. The developer’s track record proves they’re capable of handling the task, giving players a sprawling world to explore, a brilliant story where player choice matters and a fun combat system players can tailor to their play style.
- In-game choices matter
- Style combat your way
- Customize your party and hero
- It’s not Dragon Age II
- Say goodbye to hundreds of hours of freetime
4. Far Cry 4
Do you like first-person shooters set in a giant open world? How about ziplining, hang gliding, big game hunting and killing bad guys? If so, Far Cry 4 is up your alley. The newest addition to the series steps away from the lush environment of the tropics from Far Cry 3 and drops you in the middle of a civil war in the Himalayas. Besides moving your way through the story, there will be distractions to keep your entertained. The most attractive feature is a new one that allows players to invite friends who don’t even own the full game into their world to conquer cooperative missions together. If allowing your buddies to game with you free of charge to them isn’t a great idea, I don’t know what is.
- New wildlife
- Massive open world
- Drop-in co-op
- Free limited edition with pre-order
- Unwarranted cover art controversy
- No bonuses for killing war elephants
5. Super Smash Bros.
Nintendo is a company revered for its amazing series. Sure, The Legend of Zelda and Metroid might be bright and cartoony compared to franchises like Gears of War and Halo, but the world needs video games like that! As long as the quality of games is excellent (and with Nintendo, it almost always is), who cares that the Wii U is geared toward younger, casual players, especially when Super Smash Bros., a game that borrows characters and elements from Nintendo’s (and others’) best video game series, is a thing? Smash Bros. has been my favorite fighting game since I was a wee lad, and now what’s possibly the best version yet is coming to the Wii U in glorious high definition, which means people like me are stoked. With a huge roster, tons of unlockables, eight player battles and endless hours of fun, what more could you ask for?
- Dozens and dozens of hours of play
- Tons of unlockables
- Eight player battles
- Can’t take it on the go like you can with the 3DS version
- Lackluster Smash Tour mode