7 of the biggest video game releases for Christmas
- Murray Robertson
- 16 November 2017
A round-up of titles vying for space under the Christmas tree
In case you hadn't noticed it's now November which means there's a new Call of Duty game out and a new entry from Assassins Creed. Interestingly, both series have attempted something different for 2017, with mixed success. We take a look at some of the biggest titles competing for your list to Santa.
Destiny 2 (PC, PS4, Xbox One)
When the original Destiny launched three years ago it represented the first step in publisher Activision Blizzard's 10-year agreement with Halo developer, Bungie. This sequel builds on the intervening years of iteration, with Destiny 2 launching in a much fitter state that its predecessor. Destinations across the Solar System have been brought to life with stunning graphics, the combat is as satisfying as before and, crucially, a coherent story helps to bind the experience. It's still a slightly clunk mix of FPS and MMO but quality-of-life improvements have helped smooth out the experience.
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Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus (PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch)
Wolfenstein 3D helped create the FPS genre back in 1992 but its legacy was quickly usurped by upstart Doom (also by id Software). After several attempts to reboot the series, this sequel to 2014's Wolfenstein: The New Order sets you against an occupying Nazi regime in an alternate US in 1961 (although it all sounds pretty contemporary to us). Steampunk designs gloriously meld with period detail Americana to paint a brightly-lit dystopia, full of nightmarish technology. A stealthy approach is initially encouraged but events always go very loud, very fast, and the combat is wonderfully chunky, not least when dual-weilding ludicrously oversized weaponry. A vocal backlash has risen against its depiction of Nazi-slaying, something that would have been unthinkable two years ago. Welcome to 2017.
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Assassins Creed Origins (PC, PS4, Xbox One)
It sent shockwaves around the industry when publisher Ubisoft announced that it wouldn't launch an Assassins Creed title in 2016. Giving this cash-cow a year off made sense to everyone except the bean-counters: titles in the series have been churned out relentlessly for a decade and, while it's always a big seller come November, feature-creep and the short iteration span meant that successive editions became bloated and repetitious. A year's breather seems to have worked wonders, with Origins addressing many long-standing complaints, and the action itself is set in a stunningly-rendered Ancient Egypt.
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Call of Duty: WWII (PC, PS4, Xbox One)
Speaking of long-running series that could use a year off, here's another CoD. While Battlefield 1 took a real risk by exploring WWI, CoD has been slightly less ambitious with a return to its WWII roots. By stripping away the rocket jumping, tech-heavy nonsense of recent years the campaign is a much more focused affair, but it's still full of bombastic, jingoistic nonsense and the graphics look like a step back. Multiplayer has benefited from the return to old-school weapons, but it's not the reinvention many had hoped for. Also, its abandonment of regenerating health (a series staple since CoD 2 and used by practically every other shoot since) smacks of tokenism and turns every gunfight into a grinding slog.
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Cuphead (PC, Xbox One)
This rock-hard side-scroller is blessed with a fantastic aesthetic inspired by the works of 1930s cartoons (most notably the work of Max Fleischer). With its delightful cartoon graphics and jolly jazz soundtrack, the presentation is utterly beguiling but deceptive – Cuphead joins the prestigious pantheon of painfully tough but rewarding games (see also Dark Souls and practically everything made before 1990).
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LA Noire (PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, HTC Vive)
It seems disingenuous to call LA Noire a cult game but not even sales of five million copies was enough to prevent developer Team Bondi from closure just a few months after its release. Six years later, the game is back in remastered form with better graphics (and an intriguing, cut-down version for VR to follow in December). For anyone who missed out on this masterpiece on its initial release, this is a must-play game. While its recreation of Los Angeles isn't nearly as detailed as GTA V, it brilliantly succeeds in evoking the sights and sounds of the 1940s. And its innovative MotionScan technology brings its denizens to life with startling effect.
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Star Wars: Battlefront II
This sequel to 2015's controversial reboot attempts to address all the complaints made against its forebear. There's now a singleplayer campaign, focusing on an Imperial commando and her activities following the events of Return of the Jedi. The multiplayer, too, has been expanded to include far more maps than in the previous Battlefront. It seems like lessons have been learnt, with Battlefront II shaping up to be a well-rounded package.
Order Star Wars: Battlefront II on Amazon