Fall is upon us. The leaves are changing, temperatures are dropping, and soon everyone’s favorite non-holiday holiday, Halloween, will be felt in everything from TV shows to people on the streets looking a little weird. Or perhaps just weirder than normal depending on where you live. But beyond the change in hues and the suicidal tendencies of leaves to throw themselves at the ground, Fall holds a special significance for the gaming industry and its fans.
Those that survived the avalanche of quality, major releases last Fall can attest to the incredible end of year blitz. It was a tough time for loved ones who mourned the loss of their significant others to the lure of games like Skyrim, Batman: Arkham City, Uncharted 3, and Zelda: Skyward Sword, but for gamers it was an amazing time of year.
There are several reasons for the end of the year becoming so heavy with game releases (the most obvious being the looming Holiday season), and several franchises have staked their claim to this time of year with annual releases. If anything, there seem to be more series than ever before that are pushing for annual Fall releases, and that trend is likely to continue as long as there are fans to support them. But while that may make it tough on the pocketbooks of gamers, it also means that there will be no shortage of options as we run screaming towards the end of the year. Hopefully the Mayans were wrong about that whole apocalypse thing, because it will take a long, long time for gamers to get around to even half of the big releases due out this Fall (pro tip: the Mayans were wrong).
With that in mind, here’s our guide to the biggest releases due this Fall.
(October 2 || PC, PS3, PSP, Xbox 360, Wii || Visual Concepts, 2K Sports)
While EA’s Madden and FIFA franchises may have become pop culture phenomena, arguably the best sports series on the market doesn’t bear the EA logo at all. 2K Sports has resurrected its basketball franchise, but more than that, it proved that basketball games could be great, something that people were beginning to doubt. If you are a basketball fan, or just like sports video games, NBA 2K13 is worth a look. Check out our full review here.
Resident Evil 6
(October 2 || PC, PS3, Xbox 360 || Capcom, Capcom)
The world’s most popular survival horror franchise continues its march towards total survival horror domination. Along with this title, the series has also seen a movie released, a 3DS game, and several transmedia adaptions through comics and other mediums. Although the newest member to the family has been met with mixed reactions, fans of the series will no doubt want to continue on the narrative path that began all those moons ago, when the original Resident Evil appeared and changed everything. Check out our full review here.
(October 9 || PC, PS3, Xbox 360 || Arkane Studios, Bethesda)
Bethesda and Arkane studios managed to sneak this game up behind people, and club them until they saw how awesome it was. Rarely has a game gone from the unknown to the most anticipated lists faster than this one following its triumphant E3 showing. With a multitude of options on how to play, powers that put you on par with a vengeful god, and the tools to be extremely creative, Dishonored is a great way to step into the Fall gaming season. Check out our full review here.
Fable: The Journey
(October 9 || Xbox 360 || Lionhead Studios, Microsoft)
Following the underwhelming Star Wars Kinect, if any game in 2012 has the chance to reach the Kinect’s full potential and drag the motion controller kicking and screaming towards the mainstream gaming crowd, it’s this one. Despite undeniable interest from hardcore and casual gamers, the Kinect is still something of a novelty item. But of all the dedicated titles out for Kinect, and those still on the horizon, Fable: The Journey may be the most promising as it adds another chapter to a well-known franchise. Plus it lets you be a magic casting wizard that can smite enemies with the wave of your glorious hand. So there’s that. Check out our full review here.
XCOM: Enemy Unknown
(October 9 || PC, PS3, Xbox 360 || Firaxis Games, 2K Games)
After years of rumors, XCOM finally returns with a modern take on the real time strategy genre. You take control of a dedicated group of humans and fight off waves of alien incursions, all while giddily reminiscing about the original. The RTS genre as a whole has always been something of a niche within gaming, but the last few years have seen it decline even more. Perhaps this re-imagining of an old classic can breathe life back into a genre that still has a loyal and passionate fanbase. Check out our full review here.
(October 16 || PC, PS3, Xbox 360 || Eurocom, Activision)
With all the Bond games that have come out over the years, it’s about time that developers looked back at what it is that gives Bond such lasting appeal. In Legends, Eurocom recreates some of Bond’s best adventures, including: Goldfinger, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Moonraker, License to Kill, Die Another Day, and the upcoming Skyfall, which will be released as DLC. The episodic nature should highlight the interesting evolution of the character as he grew out of the spy mold on his way to being a space walking superhero, and then back to an action hero.
Doom 3: BFG Edition
(October 16 || PC, PS3, Xbox 360 || id Software/Splash Damage, Activision/Bethesda)
Re-releasing older games with new HD graphics and bundling them with plenty of other features is kind of a thing these days, and this game is one of the most intriguing yet. Although Doom 3 didn’t have quite the cultural impact that the first two did (there wasn’t even a single mention in Congress about this iteration!), it was still a fine game that is a welcome addition to the club. This release may be buried amongst the flood of other new titles, but fans of the series should consider checking it out.
Silent Hill: Book of Memories
(October 16 || PSVita || WayForward Technologies, Konami)
The PSVita is a system with mounds of unrealized potential. But despite a decent number of launch window games (not counting PSN and older PlayStation games available via download), the system has seen only 16 releases from April through September. The hardware has languished a bit thanks to an increasingly anemic library, but this month alone will see 14 North American releases, including a few marquis franchises. Among those will be Silent Hill: Book of Memories, which is well-timed for the Halloween season and could be one of the biggest Vita releases of the Fall.
(October 23 || Xbox 360 || Playground Games/Turn 10 Studios, Microsoft)
If you, like so many others (including us), loved the gameplay of Forza Motorsport 4, then there is no reason to think that this spin off of the franchise shouldn’t deserve your attention. It won’t have quite the pure racing feel, but it takes the razor sharp gameplay and builds a new world around it. For those that loved the Forza series but wanted something a bit more immersive, this game is for you.
Medal of Honor: Warfighter
(October 23 || PC, PS3, Xbox 360, Wii U || Danger Close, EA)
EA’s answer to the annual Call of Duty offerings switches tracks from the Battlefield series to the revitalized and rebooted Medal of Honor franchise this year. Warfighter is in an enviable spot too. The last MoH was saddled with a massive amount of pressure, which was compounded by the fact that it was still an essentially new IP, despite its heavy reliance on the Battlefield style and engine. This time around, the pressure — while still there — is more balanced, which gave Danger Close the chance to try out a few new things. If any game can rival Call of Duty and possibly steal away gamers, it is this one.
Assassin’s Creed III
(October 30 || PS3, Xbox 360 || Ubisoft Montreal, Ubisoft)
Easily one of the biggest and most anticipated games of the year, Assassin’s Creed III takes the franchise in a new direction, with a new storyline, a new protagonist, and a new world — namely the country that would become the good old United States of ‘Murica. It will also answer several burning questions for the other protagonist of the series, Desmond. Even with the consistent stream of AC games over the last few years, this one should stand out thanks to several years of development, as well as a new engine to tie it all together. This game should do well. Very, very well.
Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation
(October 30 || PSVita || Ubisoft Sofia, Ubisoft)
As mentioned above, the PSVita is entering an important phase of its life as the second wave of titles begin to drop, and many of those are tied to blockbuster franchises. With the exception of the Call of Duty: Black Ops Vita game on the way, Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation is by far the highest profile release for the Vita this year. So much so that Sony is selling it as part of a bundle this holiday season. The game itself will be a companion to the console version, taking place during roughly the same time frame, but featuring the original character of Aveline de Granpre, and the unique setting of the French-controlled New Orleans. This story and that of AC3 will intertwine, but how and why remains a mystery that only those with a PSVita will be able to unravel.
Need for Speed: Most Wanted
(October 30 || PC, PS3, Xbox 360 || Criterion Games, EA)
After years of uneven releases, EA has handed the keys of the Need For Speed franchise over to Criterion, the makers of the popular Burnout franchise – at least this year. Following what EA called a “death march” development cycle that it imposed on developer Black Box, the franchise will retain the annual offerings but be handled by a different studio each year. It should offer a much needed shot of life into a franchise that has been diminishing over the last few years.
(November 6 || Xbox 360 || 343 Industries, Microsoft)
When people first heard that Halo was returning without its creator Bungie at the wheel, the reaction was mixed to say the least. The franchise and the character of Master Chief are both beloved, so seeing him return makes sense — but having him do so without the character’s creators seemed risky. That was before people got to know 343 Industries. Rather than just cobbling a studio together to churn out a generic game with the name “Halo” on it, they took from Bungie the most dedicated and determined Halo developers, developers that wanted nothing more than to work on more Halo, and let them go nuts. The results look like the biggest and best Halo game yet.
(November 6 || PS3 || United Front Games, SCEA)
For those not into reaching genocidal levels of slaughter in their games, LittleBigPlanet Karting is there to fill the void left by PS3 owners who don’t own a Nintendo console and yet miss the classic Mario Kart series. Using the principles of customization that made the LBP series what it is, then combining it with racing in the vein of ModNation, United Front Games has created a title that should appeal to fans of all ages and levels — and just in time to whip out for Thanksgiving and crush your family over the holidays.
Call of Duty: Black Ops II
(November 13 || PC, PS3, Xbox 360 || Treyarch, Activision)
Even if this is the year when the Call of Duty wave finally peaks and the annual release figures stop breaking the previous year’s offering, this game is almost certainly destined to clear a billion dollars — and quickly, almost certainly within the first month of release. The series heads in a different direction this time out, namely to the future, but it still retains everything that makes Call of Duty what it is. If you are among the legion of fans that proudly supports the franchise, go ahead and take the 13th off work and join millions of others online for the most popular multiplayer experience around.
Call of Duty: Black Ops: Declassified
(November 13 || PSVita || Nihilistic, Activision)
While Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation may be the most heavily promoted new game on the Vita’s schedule, Call of Duty: Black Ops: Declassified, a game so bold it uses two colons in its name, certainly can’t be overlooked. Once we get a little closer to the release and begin to see more of the game, there is every chance it will go on to being the bestselling Vita game of the year, just like its console counterpart.
Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Illusion
(November 14 || PC, PS3, Xbox 360, Wii, Wii U || Junction Point Studios, Disney Interactive Studios)
For Disney fans, this game is important for a few reasons. The previous title re-introduced the world to Oswald, the rabbit that could have been a star. With a few different twists of fate, it would have been Mickey Mouse that no one remembered instead of the forlorn rabbit that spent decades in obscurity. Then Epic Mickey came along. Sure, the previous game didn’t completely thrust Oswald into the mainstream, but it did reintroduce him to a new generation of Mouse fans. The second game in the series will continue that reintroduction, and will do so as a Wii U launch title. And speaking of the Wii U, check out the section below about Wii U launch titles.
(November 20 || PC, PS3, Xbox 360 || IO Interactive, Square Enix)
Hitman Absolution may be the victim of the worst timing of the year. Square Enix set the release date months ago, unaware that just two days prior Nintendo would release a gaming bomb on the world in the form of the Wii U. Perhaps that won’t affect sales too much, but there will certainly be at least a few people who will now be spending their money on the new console instead of IO Interactive’s new Hitman game. It’s a shame too, because this Hitman looks like it may be the best of the series. Hopefully it can still overcome.
PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale
(November 20 || PS3, PSVita || SuperBot, SCEA)
Sony’s answer to Super Smash Bros. hits the PS3 and PSVita just in time for Thanksgiving. Since it’s exclusive to the Sony family, it may have less of an issue with the Wii U launch stealing its thunder (and sales), as the potential audience is smaller than that of Hitman. Coming right before the holidays begin is also a smart move, as this game is best played sitting next to gathered family and friends. It’s less fun to taunt them online as you pummel them repeatedly.
Far Cry 3
(December 4 || PC, PS3, Xbox 360 || Ubisoft Montreal, Ubisoft)
The more about this game that is revealed, the more attractive it becomes. Far Cry 3 features an open world environment littered with numerous quests, scores of enemies to dispatch, and a storyline that looks extremely disturbing — but in a fun way. It’s certainly an ambitious title, and should provide a good bout of digital mayhem before you plunge into the waiting embrace of Christmas.
Wii U launch titles
There are several very attractive titles that will release on the first day of the Wii U, 23 in total and more during the launch window that extends into Spring. We could populate this entire Fall guide with Wii U games, but instead here are a few of the games that we are most looking forward to.
New Super Mario Bros. U
(November 18 || Wii U || Nintendo EAD, Nintendo)
It’s a new Mario game on a brand new system. What more do you need to know?
(November 18 || Wii U || Nintendo, Nintendo)
Whenever there is a new piece of technology introduced for gaming, it helps to have a single game built specifically to highlight the capabilities of that new hardware. In the case of the Wii U and its new GamePad, that game is Nintendo Land. The game is actually a series of mini-games, each designed around the use of the GamePad along with multiple players. It’s a party game, and one that could do for the GamePad what Wii Sports did for the Wii’s nunchuck controllers. It should act as an introduction, not to mention just be flat out fun.
(November 18 || Wii U || Ubisoft Montpellier, Ubisoft)
Of all the Wii U launch titles, ZombiU is one of the most interesting. While playing the zombie survival game, you use the GamePad as an augmented reality device in a way. You use it to find items by scanning the area, target enemies, and follow the map on it. All of this comes at a cost though, as zombies will be on while you are busy checking your tools. It encompasses the GamePad organically and shows you what the system can do, all while giving you a unique survival horror game to boot.