Holiday games season is in full swing. Over the past few years, it seems as if big game releases are gradually shifting back from the typical packed November to an overstuffed October. This October brought Mafia III, Paper Mario: Color Splash, Gears of War 4, Dragon Quest Builders, WWE 2K17, Rise of the Tomb Raider (PS4), Battlefield 1, Civilization VI, World of Final Fantasy, and Titanfall 2, along with PSVR, and a slew of remasters and definitive editions.
We are more than midway through a less chaotic November: Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, Dishonored 2, Watch Dogs 2, Pokemon Sun and Moon, as well as the PS4 Pro, and the much sought after NES Mini.
This past month and a half has been one of best holiday seasons we’ve seen in a long time on the software front. There’s quite obviously enough to occupy your time already, but there are still several big games on the horizon before we close out the year.
Final Fantasy XV
This long-awaited entry into the titular Square Enix franchise has suffered from multiple delays across its roughly 10-year development cycle. Way back in 2006, what would become XV was a PS3 spinoff entitled, Final Fantasy Versus XIII. After all this time, it finally arrives on November 29th for Xbox One and PlayStation 4. For some, this will is Square’s last chance to show that they can still produce worthwhile Japanese RPGs–especially when considering that Atlus’s Persona 5 is knocking on the door in Spring 2017. When XV hit yet another snag before its planned September 30th release date, many worried that the game wasn’t nearly up to snuff. A rather bland E3 showing, coupled with two somewhat bizarre consumer demos thus far creates a certain trepidation. Luckily, multiple early reports from preview events have quelled some of those fears. By most accounts, the opening 10-15 hours are solid. With a late-November release, FFXV is the biggest title yet to be released this year. Here’s one of latest, and endlessly gorgeous cinematic trailers:
On December 2nd, Ubisoft is trying to unearth the love for snowboarding simulators with Steep (PS4, Xbox One, PC). One of the more interesting phenomenons in the industry is the steady decay of extreme sports games. From the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater series to the SSX franchise to the Skate trilogy, the market used to be saturated with the sort, but now, the upcoming release of Steep is actually a rare, change of pace to the traditional lineup of games we’ve been accustomed to seeing on holiday shelves. Perhaps skiers and snowboarders will pick this one up gleefully. Here’s the E3 World Premiere again as a refresher:
Super Mario Maker
Yes, the 3DS version of our favorite Wii U game of all-time is missing a few features: No online level sharing, and no Mystery Mushroom thanks to the lack of amiibo support. Some may say these two features, the level sharing in particular, makes the 3DS version a no-go. But that’s a bit of an overreaction. See, the 3DS is striving to do something better than its big brother: make level creation more intuitive. With the help of Yamamura and Mashiko, newcomers and veterans alike will be offered tips and tricks to designing better levels. There’s also the Super Mario Challenge, which has been modified from 10 levels to 100, to look forward to come December 2nd. I always thought Super Mario Maker would be best served on the 3DS platform, and with a much larger install base, this one will likely be a late-holiday hit. Here’s a brand-new overview trailer from Nintendo:
The Last Guardian
Fumito Ueda developed the premise for The Last Guardian shortly after finishing work on Shadow of the Colossus way back in 2005. Originally slated for the PS3, the game has gone through a rather tortuous development cycle dating back to 2007. The PlayStation 4 exclusive will finally drop on December 6th. For fans of Ico and the aforementioned Shadow of the Colossus, The Last Guardian seeks to be a spiritual successor of sorts. Admittedly, this type of game appeals to a niche group of gamers, but from the limited amount of footage that has been released, The Last Guardian is certainly promising. Hopefully it won’t become the latest overhyped, long development cycle game that doesn’t deliver (I’m looking at you No Man’s Sky). Sony just released a beautiful new story trailer to hold you over:
Dead Rising 4
December 6th also brings a Microsoft timed-exclusive: Dead Rising 4 (Xbox One, Windows). The open-world zombie title is set, rather fittingly, in a Christmas-themed Colorado town. Unlike some of the other games on this list, Dead Rising 4 will see shelves quickly after its initial announcement. Showcased at E3 this year, Capcom’s super-successful series probably has the most wide-ranging appeal of any December release. Most notably, Frank West, the main protagonist of the XB360 original, returns as the lead. Watch Frank West arrive back at the derelict mall: