Every gamer knows how busy it gets around Christmas time. Publishers and developers launch their biggest titles just before the holidays to boost sales and be fresh in everyone’s minds when nominations for game of the year awards start to crop up. November was especially busy this year, with at least 10 AAA games launching for the Xbox One alone. That’s a large amount of titles to play in such a short amount of time.
If you don’t have the schedule (or cash) to play every game that’s launched, we’ve rounded up the top five best games you should give your immediate attention to. And if you’re shopping for that gamer in your life for Christmas, it’s likely you’ll find these titles on sale on (or even leading up to) Black Friday.
1. 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 went all out in an effort to create one of the greatest fantasy RPGs ever. The developer’s track record proves they were 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
- Story is a bit cliche
- Combat could be more strategic
2. 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
- Not much has changed since Far Cry 3
- Server issues at launch
3. Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare
Call of Duty is one series that has withstood the test of time, with releases spanning more than a decade and three console generations. The franchise has tackled everything from World War II-era battles to modern-day combat. The newest entry in the series, Advanced Warfare, takes place in the future, where jetpacks and hovering grenades are staples in military technology. Sure, it might look like Titanfall at a glance, but Advanced Warfare is a title all its own, and it’s bound to be a best seller just like its annually released brethren. I mean, even IGN gave it a 9.1.
Price: $59.12 (1 percent off MSRP)
- Futuristic weapons and gadgets
- Incredible graphics
- Zombie mode is back
- Kevin Spacey
- $50 season pass
- Average campaign
- Set pieces everywhere
- Same ol’ Call of Duty formula
4. Halo: The Master Chief Collection
In 2011, Microsoft published Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, a high-definition remake of the original Halo from Bungie. Porting the infamous first-person sci-fi shooter to the Xbox 360 proved to be a wise decision, and fans clamored for a re-release of Halo 2 in the same vein. Microsoft did them one better: Halo: The Master Chief Collection takes the four numerical Halo games and puts them in glorious HD for the Xbox One. Players are now able to seamlessly jump from one game to the next while reliving Halo‘s unforgettable campaign and unique multiplayer matches — when the matchmaking works, that is.
Price: $50.98 (15 percent off MSRP)
- More Master Chief than you can handle
- Remade multiplayer maps with HD graphics
- Access to the Halo 5: Guardians beta
- Four thousand Gamerscore
- Twenty gigabyte day-one patch
- No Halo: Reach
- No Halo 3: ODST
- Multiplayer matchmaking issues
5. Grand Theft Auto V
Rockstar Games knows how to make a living, breathing world. The Grand Theft Auto series is known for giving players absolute freedom in violent, crime-ridden cities parodying America’s most famous locales. In Grand Theft Auto V, Rockstar Games allows for players to switch seamlessly between three protagonists: a rich family man struggling with maintaining relationships, a bonafide gangster and a psychotic hillbilly. Heists are a new addition that mimic the famous bank robbery mission everybody loves from Grand Theft Auto IV. All the other stuff people adore about GTA is there: guns, strip clubs, sweet rides and a solid story tying it all together. There’s a reason Grand Theft Auto V is sitting pretty at a 97 on Metacritic.
- Breathing world
- Three playable characters
- Excellent voice acting and story
- Multiplayer doesn’t live up to the hype
- Needs more heists
- Online play is somewhat broken