Five video games to watch this holiday season
October is more or less here – the time of year when the game industry ramps up for the holiday season. In Borderlands 3, we've already seen one of the first major releases of the season. With many more to come, here are our picks of the forthcoming titles to look out for. Of course we won't know how good they are till they're released, but there are reasons to be excited by each title on this-here list.
Call of Duty: Modern WarfarePlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
Another October another Call of Duty. For a series that's become near-synonymous with retreading old ground, this year's game is perhaps the retreadiest to date, bearing basically the same name as 2007's Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare.
But, for many, the original Modern Warfare remains the best Call of Duty so far, and there are hopes this year's MW reboot will continue what 2017's started in returning the franchise to more grounded, realistic combat compared to the increasingly outlandish, high-tech spectacle of more recent games.
There's promise of a more tactical experience, with the ability to shoot out lights and equipping night-vision goggles when breaching enemy strongholds, a multiplayer "Realism" mode that does away with the head-up display, plus the need to identify non-combatant computer-controlled characters in the campaign.
There's also a welcome return of the excellent cooperative Spec Ops mode of the original MW sequels, and rumors are emerging of the return of some of the MW series' most popular multiplayer maps. If it all comes together, this could be the best Call of Duty game in years.
Luigi’s Mansion 3Switch
A major Nintendo release is always noteworthy, and though here development duties have been outsourced to Canada's Next Level Games, as much was true of 2013's Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon for 3DS with perfectly acceptable results.
The second sequel in the series promises more ghost-busting antics, as Luigi explores the spooky Last Resort hotel in an attempt to rescue Mario and chums. An upgraded vacuum cleaner affords new gameplay mechanics which will help players both tackle enemies and overcome environmental puzzles. A new "ScareScraper" mode sees up to 8-players cooperate to clear objectives, a hotel floor at a time.
Luigi's Mansion 3 may prove the perfect Halloween treat for younger gamers – or those of us put off by full-bore horror scares. It's also one of the few big-ticket releases for Switch in 2019 and, on that score alone, one to watch.
Death StrandingPlayStation 4
Death Stranding is the latest project from video game auteur Hideo Kojima, creator of the Metal Gear series. Though broadly described as an action game, Kojima points out that the same was said of the original Metal Gear, which invented the stealth genre before anyone realized it was a thing.
What Death Stranding really is, beyond strange, is anyone's guess. We know that it's an open-world game, explores themes of life and death, looks extremely bleak, and that it features The Walking Dead's Norman Reedus and babies in gooey pods. Oh, and apparently the title is a reference to beached whales.
In Metal Gear Solid V, Kojima has proven form in knocking PlayStation 4 exclusives out of the park. And having parted ways with Konami, this is the first project to come out of Kojima Productions. Not the most cheery game on the list, then, but who'd bet against Kojima-san when he has a point to prove?
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen OrderPlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
As far as Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is concerned, the question is not what there is to be excited about, but what there isn't? Yes it's a big-budget Star Wars game, but perhaps more significant is that it's developed by Respawn Entertainment, the studio founded by Call of Duty creators Jason West and Vince Zampella.
Intriguingly, the third-person action adventure game draws inspiration from The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, and unforgiving action RPG Dark Souls. But refreshingly it seems not to be an open-world game, instead bearing structural similarities to the so-called Metroidvania genre, which sees players retread old ground as new parts of the map open up. Add lightsabers and force powers into the mix and Luke's your uncle.
Respawn is riding high on the success of Battle Royale shooter Apex Legends, and its previous release, the acutely-underrated Titanfall 2. It'd be a genuine surprise if the studio drops the ball here.
Shenmue IIIPlayStation 4, PC
Appearing a mere 18 or so years after Shenmue II, Shenmue III picks up where the saga left off: continuing protagonist Ryo Hazuki's attempts to avenge his father in 1980s China.
The original Shenmue broke new ground when it debuted for Sega's ill-fated Dreamcast in 1999, helping to set a new standard for graphics and realism in the sphere of console gaming, despite flopping commercially.
Rather than pushing present gaming hardware to the limits, Shenmue III appears to be something of a throwback to the old games, with a style of character models and animation in keeping with the originals, and hence potentially somewhat dated – we'll see.
Shenmue III won't be for everyone. But its world-building and storytelling, if compelling enough, may just elevate the game above being a mere curio-period piece.
And that's your lot. Disagree with these picks? You can tell us all about it in the comments.