tangled

Pixelkin’s Most Anticipated Games of 2019

Posted by | Feature, PC, PlayStation 4, Switch, Xbox One | No Comments

A large number of games on our 2018 list of most anticipated games were delayed into 2019 – which is all the more reason to get excited for the new year! Next year will kick off with the very long awaited sequel, Kingdom Hearts 3, easily one of the single most anticipated games of the year. From there things get a bit less friendly-family, though still exciting, with the likes of Anthem, Mortal Kombat 11, and the Division 2.

The Switch is still going strong but as always Nintendo keeps its games close to its chest. For the purposes of this list, only games with 2019 release dates will be included.

Here are our most anticipated games of 2019!

For Younger Kids:

 

Kingdom Hearts III

Platforms: PC, PS4, XBO
Date: January 29, 2019

The Kingdom Hearts series has become a bit of a convoluted mess of a story since its original inception back in the PS3 era. But it’s also a beloved series that uniquely combines JRPG storytelling and world building with official Disney characters and settings. A lot of Disney and Pixar films have released since Kingdom Hearts II in 2005 and we’re excited to see the worlds of Toy Story, Monster Inc, Frozen, and Tangled come to life.

Yoshi’s Crafted World

Platforms: Switch
Date: Spring 2019

Yoshi’s Woolly World was an incredibly delightful 2D platformer on the Wii U. Yoshi’s Crafted World looks like the perfect sequel, this time featuring a world of cardboard and paper. Levels feature a unique 2-in-1 design as you can flip them to traverse the backside to uncover more paths and secrets.

New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe

Platforms: Switch
Date: January 11, 2019

Nintendo knows not nearly enough gamers bought a Wii U and experienced many of the excellent games on that system. Many big Switch games are ports of Wii U games, and four-player side-scrolling New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe was is an obvious addition to that roster. The Switch version will feature two new playable heroes – Nabbit and Toadette and combines all the levels from New Super Mario Bros. U and New Super Luigi U.

DreamWorks Dragons Dawn of New Riders

Platforms: PC, PS4, XBO, Switch
Date: February, 2019

Although it’s releasing near the same time as the highly anticipated third film in the How to Train Your Dragon series, the game stars all new characters: newbie dragon rider Scribbler and his unique dragon hybrid Patch. The gameplay looks a lot like Skylanders, and we mean that as a big compliment.

Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled

Platforms: PS4, XBO, Switch
Date: June 21, 2019

Mario and company aren’t the only kart racers around. If you don’t have a Switch (or even if you do) and pine for some alternative family-friendly multiplayer racing, Crash Bandicoot’s Crash Team Racing is being remastered with new tracks, karts, and online multiplayer. Better yet, the formerly PS-exclusive series is coming also to Xbox One and Switch.

 

For Older Kids and Teens:

 

Anthem

Platforms: PC, PS4, XBO
Date: February 22, 2019

Sure it may be “BioWare Does Destiny with Mech Suits” but none of that sounds unappealing. Anthem pits players as Freelancers who customize their own Javelin mech suits to combat the many exotic and powerful threats around the alien planet. The shared world features up to four players joining missions together. BioWare’s trademark romanceable companions won’t be a feature, but judging from the trailers the world will be full of interesting characters and events.

Civilization VI: Gathering Storm

Platforms: PC
Date: February 14, 2019

Global warming and climate change are hot button topics, and Civ is diving in head first with its second expasnsion. Gathering Storm will add natural disasters like hurricanes, floods, and active volcanoes. A new climate system will increase these disasters as Civs grow bigger and burn climate-destroying resources like coal and oil. Gathering Storm will also add eight new Civs and two new scenarios.

Shenmue III

Platforms: PC, PS4
Date: August 27, 2019

One of the biggest cult classics in gaming, the original Shenmue series on the Dreamcast failed commercially with its huge budget and production, but nostalgic fans helped crowdfund this third game. Shenmue 3 became the highest-funded video game in Kickstater (over $6 million), and we’re all desperate to see if that translates into a long-awaited winning formula for this unique adventure series.

Ori and the Will of the Wisps

Platforms: PC, XBO
Date: 2019

Ori and the Blind Forest was a stunningly gorgeous 2D action-platformer that combined tight controls, intriguingly intertwined level designs, and a gripping tale of loss, fear, and protection. The sequel wouldn’t need to change much to make it one of our most anticipated indie games of the year.

Psychonauts 2

Platforms: PC, PS4, XBO
Date: 2019

Like Shenmue 3, Psychonauts 2 is another infamous cult classic that is being revived thanks to a large crowd funding campaign.  Game designer luminary Tim Schafer is known of many quality games over the years, but none as much as Pyschonauts, a 3D action game with Double Fine’s trademark humor and goofy characters about government agents who enter the minds of others. The surreal level designs and honest themes of mental illness should translate well into a modern sequel.

 

For Mature Teens and Parents:

 

Metro: Exodus

Platforms: PC, PS4, XBO
Date: February 15, 2019

Post-apocalyptic Russia has never looked so good. Metro Exodus looks far bigger and more ambitious than the previous Metro games, while still incorporating an intriguing blend of survival horror, stealth, and first-person action.

Devil May Cry 5

Platforms: PC, PS4, XBO
Date: March 8, 2019

Capcom made waves this year with Monster Hunter: World, and are looking to continue that success with the fifth installment in the over-the-top action series Devil May Cry. Devil May Cry 5 unites previous protagonists Dante and Nero along with a new third character. Expect lots of hacking, slashing, and musical mayhem.

The Division 2

Platforms: PC, PS4, XBO
Date: March 15, 2019

The Division was a rough yet compelling multiplayer third person shooter set in a post-apocalyptic New York devastated by a pandemic. Over the months and years Ubisoft and Massive have supported the game with excellent updates, patches, and DLC. The sequel moves from New York City to the nation’s capital in Washington D.C. Look for a beta to start up before launch.

Mortal Kombat 11

Platforms: PC, PS4, XBO, Switch
Date: April 23, 2019

One of the biggest names in games, let alone fighting games, was just recently announced at The Game Awards. The trailer was horrendously bloody and violent, which is exactly what we’d expect from a new Mortal Kombat. NetherRealm Studios is one of the best fighting game developers in the world and Mortal Kombat is definitely the favorite child.

Days Gone

Platforms: PlayStation 4
Date: April 26, 2019

Days Gone has been in development for several years as we’ve seen E3 stage demos since 2016. It stars rebellious biker Deacon in a zombie apocalypse that’s far less urban than most zombie fiction. A smart Deacon can use the dynamic weather, day/night cycle and wildlife to avoid and distract hordes of zombies – or lead them right into other people.

It’s shaping up to be a great year, and there’s so much more we don’t know about. Look for some exciting Nintendo news in the months to come. Happy New Year!

pokemon let's go

Pixelkin’s 2018 Game of the Year

Posted by | Feature, Switch | No Comments

This year had some truly remarkable games. Games like God of War, Red Dead Redemption 2, Celeste, and Dragon Quest 11 reflected a rich diversity of gameplay experiences. For Pixelkin’s 2018 Game of the Year, we focused on the best games that were particularly well-suited for families.

Nintendo once again houses some of the best family-friendly gaming we can find. One game lovingly remade a childhood classic from two decades ago, updating it for modern audiences while adding in several noteworthy new features to introduce a whole new audience to one of the best family-friendly franchises in gaming.

Pokémon: Let’s Go, Eevee! and Let’s Go, Pikachu! is Pixelkin’s 2018 Game of the Year.

The brilliance of the original Pokémon Red and Blue, released in the US in 1998, is on full display. The Kanto region is recreated in the more modern 3D style of Pokémon X/Y and Sun and Moon. The light-hearted hero’s journey is fast and easy to jump into, beginning with choosing a new starter Pokémon. The partner Pokémon is a powerful combatant and a cute tagalong friend who, like Pikachu in the series, rides with me rather than in a Pokéball.

Pikachu (or Eevee) can also learn Secret Techniques, which replace the previous Hidden Machines. These moves help explore previously unreachable places, like Sea Skim to traverse water. No longer do I have to worry about including a water Pokémon or a flying Pokémon to get around the latter half of the game.

Pokémon Let’s Go is full of these little improvements and changes that modernize the two-decade old Pokémon gameplay. Other very welcome improvements include the ability to finally swap Pokémon in and out of my active party without having to go through the endless boxes of the Pokémon Center, actually seeing Pokémon out in the world so I can pick and choose my wild encounters, and renaming my Pokémon anytime I wish. I also loved taking out an additional Pokémon to walk around with me, or in the case of larger Pokémon like Rapidash, riding on them! Few moments are as charmingly nostalgic as charging across grassy fields while riding on Arcanine.

pokemon let's go

Catching wild Pokémon is the biggest change in gameplay, but it’s one I found satisfying and rewarding – not to mention kid-friendly. It works almost exactly like mobile AR game Pokémon GO. The Joy-Con motion controls work so well that I often used the kickstand when playing in handheld mode. Flicking the ball at a squirming Pokémon offers just enough interest to never get stale, while ‘battles’ never last more than 30 seconds.

For the first time in the series I actually want to run through dozens of wild Pokémon encounters, increasing my Catch Combo in the hopes for better stats and rare shiny Pokémon. And with Pokémon spawning directly on the world map, catching them has never been more fun or engaging. It makes the world come to life like never before and I hope all Pokémon games in the future utilize it.

The Pokémon series has always been kid-focused series (now enjoyed by countless 30-somethings) but what truly makes Pokémon: Let’s Go an excellent family game is the new co-op mode. Co-op is seamlessly integrated, allowing another local player to simply shake the other Joy-Con half and drop right in. The players have to stay within the same screen and the partner can’t interact with anything, but they do get to participate in combat and in catching wild Pokémon.

let's go

Few gameplay moments have been as rich as playing alongside my young daughter as we synchronized our Pokéball throwing and tag-teamed against the villainous Team Rocket. The intuitive co-op is definitely a feature I want to see in all future Pokémon games for the Nintendo Switch.

As a longtime fan of the series, Pokémon: Let’s Go lacks some of the more deep and complex gameplay features that Pokémon has cultivated in the last two decades, such as breeding and abilities. But it is an excellent modern remake of the original games, and the Pokémon GO-style catching is surprisingly engaging. The many modern improvements make journeying through Kanto more enjoyable than ever. With the new co-op mode, it’s easily the most kid-friendly game of the entire series, and a wonderful way to introduce the magic of Pokémon to a younger generation.

super smash bros. ultimate

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Character Unlock Guide

Posted by | Feature, Switch | No Comments

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is a massive crossover fighting game, featuring an enormous roster of over 70 fighters. However, when you first start the game you’re limited to the eight fighters who appeared on the original Super Smash Bros. on the Nintendo 64.

You’ll unlock more fighters just through playing, but it’s not as random as you think. There are multiple ways to unlock characters, and by adventuring through the World of Light single player mode or completing Classic Mode with certain fighters, you can be a bit more proactive and hunt for certain characters.

Read our guide below for the different methods to unlocking characters in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.

The Smash Unlock Order

Every 10 minutes spent playing the game will result in a challenger approaching, in order of the list below. You can spend 10 minutes playing random Smash matches or spending time in the World of Light Adventure Mode or Spirit Battles.

NOTE: You can circumvent the 10 minute timer by closing the game completely and restarting it. At that point the timer no longer matters – as soon as you finish a match, win or lose, a new challenger will approach. The quickest method is to set a Stock battle to 1 and walk off the edge. This is the single fastest way to unlock every character, if a bit cheesy.

You’ll have to beat the challenger to unlock them, and some of them can be quite difficult. In the case of multiple players in a Smash match, the player who won the match will face off against the challenger.

If you’ve already unlocked a character by other means, it will simply skip that character and go to the next one.

  1. Ness
  2. Zelda
  3. Bowser
  4. Pit
  5. Inkling
  6. Villager
  7. Marth
  8. Young Link
  9. Wii Fit Trainer
  10. Ice Climbers
  11. Captain Falcon
  12. Peach
  13. Ryu
  14. Ike
  15. Jigglypuff
  16. King K. Rool
  17. Sonic
  18. Simon
  19. Zero Suit Samus
  20. Little Mac
  21. Isabelle
  22. Shulk
  23. Lucina
  24. Wario
  25. Ridley
  26. Pokémon Trainer
  27. Lucario
  28. Daisy
  29. Roy
  30. King Dedede
  31. R.O.B.
  32. Falco
  33. Luigi
  34. Pichu
  35. Richter
  36. Lucas
  37. Diddy Kong
  38. Meta Knight
  39. Snake
  40. Ganondorf
  41. Corrin
  42. Mega Man
  43. Bayonetta
  44. Toon Link
  45. Rosalina & Luma
  46. Incineroar
  47. Sheik
  48. Olimar
  49. Pac-man
  50. Dark Samus
  51. Wolf
  52. Mr. Game & Watch
  53. Robin
  54. Dark Pit
  55. Cloud
  56. Duck Hunt
  57. Ken
  58. Greninja
  59. Chrom
  60. Mewtwo
  61. Bowser Jr.
  62. Dr. Mario
  63. Palutena

super smash bros. ultimate

Rematch

Note that if you ever fail to beat a new challenger, you can challenge them again by going to Games & More on the main screen, then clicking on the gate icon in the lower right corner (it may take a few challengers before it appears). This also has the advantage of allowing you to choose your fighter, instead of using the last one you used when they appear.

If you fail to beat them again, you’ll have to wait 10 minutes to be able to face them again (or restart the game and play a match). Multiple failed challenges will queue up at the challenger gate in order.

Mii Fighters

The Mii Fighters are actually unlocked from the start, you just have to create one in the Games & More section. There are three different kinds of Mii Fighters you can make: Brawler, Swordfighter, and Gunner. For the purposes of the official roster (74 fighters at launch, including Echo Fighters), all three count as three separate fighters. You can also customize their movesets and their outfits.

Classic Mode

Classic Mode was the original single player campaign mode. In Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, one fighter goes through six unique battles, plus an end boss fight. Each Classic Mode is unique and different, and completing a run will always result in a new challenger approaching.

Which challenger appears can be found with this handy chart. For example, beating Classic Mode with Mario will make Sonic appear. If you previously unlocked Sonic, you’ll get Bayonetta instead.

Classic Mode can be found in the Games & More section.

super smash bros. ultimate

Using this chart you can find the most efficient way to unlocking your favorite characters.

Adventure Mode

The World of Light is the massive single player adventure in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. You’ll start with even less characters here – only Kirby survived Galeem’s initial onslaught. Within the giant map filled with Spirit Battles you can find other fighters waiting to be challenged and unlocked. Unlocking them in Adventure mode will unlock them in your regular roster as well.

It can be very spoilery to see who and where you unlock various characters, but IGN has a map up if you want all the information.

It’s advisable to back out of Adventure Mode every 10 minutes or so, that way you can take full advantage of the Smash Unlock Order above.

No matter which method you choose, or any combination therein, you’ll constantly unlock fighters as you play. Try them all to find your old standbys and discover new favorites.

Pixelkin 2018 Holiday Gift Guide for Gaming Families

Posted by | Feature, PC, PlayStation 4, Switch, Xbox One | No Comments

When the most popular game on the planet is free to play on every available platform, including phones, what’s a parent or relative shopping for games to do?

Despite its popularity, Fortnite isn’t the end all of video games. This year saw huge new franchise releases in a variety of genres, such as Assassin Creed Odyssey, God of War, Dragon Quest 11, Red Dead Redemption 2, and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.

Digital gift cards such as the Nintendo eShop gift card make easy and effective gifts (and fine stocking stuffers) as indie games continue to fill the in-between gaps, including Dead Cells, Celeste, Two Point Hospital, Moonlighter, and Octopath Traveler.

And 2018 marked our first full year with the Switch, adding dozens of high quality indie games as well as first party releases such as Super Mario Party and Pokémon Let’s Go. Nintendo is also the only major game company truly thinking outside the box with the release of the Nintendo Labo kits.

Below you’ll find links to our 2018 gaming gift recommendations, organized by system and age rating: Young Kids (under 10), Kids and Teens (10-16), and Mature Teens (17+).

For the first time this year we’re also adding a board game category, recognizing the rising popularity of tabletop games for kids and adults of all ages. In an age of increasing reliance on digital distribution, opening a physical board game for the holidays would make for a very satisfying gift.

playstation4-logo xbox-one-logo
pc-logo

disney villainous

Pixelkin 2018 Holiday Gift Guide: Board Games

Posted by | Feature | No Comments

Board games aren’t exactly new, but they are a new addition to our Holiday Gift Guide. In an age of increasing reliance on digital screens, we recognize the value of getting friends and family together around a table for quality game time. From deckbuilders to miniature wargames, Disney card games, and RPG dungeon crawls, there’s a game for every kind of family.

Board games also make fantastic gifts. Since this is our first year doing board games, we’ve listed some of the hottest new games of 2017 and 2018 by age, Kids (~8-13) and Teens (14+). Note that “Kids” doesn’t mean Teens and Adults won’t love them too!

 

Kids

Dice Throne

Combining Yahtzee with a dueling RPG is just crazy enough to work. Each player chooses a hero with their own unique deck of cards and player board. The board lists all the abilities you can unleash, provided you roll the right facings. Dice Throne (Age: 8+) is incredibly easy to jump into, and features gorgeous art work and a quick but exciting play time.

Hardback

Hardback (Age: 10+) is the follow-up to 2014’s Paperback, a deckbuilding word game. Players work on finishing their novels by stringing together a word every turn from the letters they’ve purchased. It’s much more forgiving than Scrabble since you can turn any letter into a wild, and there’s fun synergy for staying within your genre.

Magic Maze

Magic Maze (Age: 8+) transforms a traditional dungeon crawler into a kid-friendly cooperative heist mission. Instead of everyone controlling a different hero, each player has a very specific ability and movement action they can perform. It’ll take everyone working together and coordinating their actions to successfully escape.

Megaland

In Megaland (Age: 8+) players run through video game levels represented by cards. The longer they stay in the more treasures they can accumulate, but they risk losing it all if they draw the wrong card. It plays fast and quick and is a great introduction into bigger board game concepts like managing resources and navigating risk versus reward (read our review).

Queendomino

Kingdomino (2015) is the original, easier game, but Queendomino (Age: 8+) expands the brilliant dominoes + builder combination by adding the ability to construct buildings on certain spaces. It’s just enough complexity to add more long-term gameplay without losing sight of the easy-to-learn concept of  carving out your own little empire out of matching dominoes.

Shadows in the Forest

shadows in the forest

Based on a classic 1980s game from from Germany, Shadows in the Forest (Age: 8+) can only be played in a dark room, or at night, as it relies entirely on light and shadow. The unique game is sure to delight a group of giggling kids as the cute Shadowlings try to avoid the light caused by the Seeker’s lantern (read our review).

 

Older Kids & Teens

Clank! In! Space! Apocalypse!

Clank in Space (Age: 13+) smartly expands on 2016’s deckbuilding dungeon crawler Clank by adding a modular board and greater card depth without making it unwieldy. This year’s Apocalypse expansion adds more modules and cards as well as Schemes, creating new deliciously debilitating effects if the players linger in Lord Eradikus’ spaceship too long.

Disney Villainous

Disney games are typically aimed at kids, but Villainous (Age: 10+) includes six asymmetrical Disney villains vying to complete their own objectives in a surprisingly tactical and advanced card game. Each player gets their own unique villain – and hero decks, as well as villain boards that reflect their setting, goals, and adversaries. You’ll have to juggle your own needs while hindering your opponents. Bonus points for cackling gleefully. Read our review.

Sagrada

Stained glass window design isn’t a super common theme in board games, but it does provide Sagrada (Age: 14+) with a lovely rainbow display of dice. Sagrada is sort of like Sudoku with dice as players take turns drafting the colors and numbers they need to fill out their display window while maximizing combo points.

Star Wars: Legion

Fantasy Flight Games released the Star Wars minatures game of your dreams with Star Wars: Legion (Age: 14+). With Legion you can simulate iconic battles from the movies while mobilizing AT-ATs or cutting down Storm Troopers with Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader. As is the case with any minis game, there are expansion packs you can buy to bolster your forces.

pillars of eternity 2

Pixelkin 2018 Holiday Gift Guide: PC

Posted by | Feature, PC | No Comments

A gaming PC can be a fantastic gift for an older gamer who likes to tinker under the hood. While the initial cost is greater than that of a console, the PC can obviously do much more. Even then, you can grab a solid budget gaming PC for a decent price.

PC is the easiest platform to develop on, and sees the most amount of game releases each year. The cost of games is also far cheaper thanks to a steady stream of constant sales on digital stores like Steam. Steam gift cards make great gifts for PC gamers.

 

Younger Kids

LEGO DC Super-Villains

The LEGO games are often the best cooperative family games around, though the quality can vary from game to game. The superhero genre fits together with the LEGO style beautifully, especially when TT Games can craft an original story around it. LEGO DC Super-Villains is unique in starring your own super-powered, customizable figure as they join forces alongside a cast of comic favorites.

Also available on: PlayStation 4, Switch, Xbox One

Overcooked 2

Even if you’re not a fan of Iron Chef or Great British Bake Off, you can find a lot to love in this delightfully charming cooperative cooking game. Each level in Overcooked 2 features a kitchen filled with zany hazards and traps as you and up to three others race to chop veggies, bake ingredients, and toss each other dishes across rivers and through portals. Easily one of the best co-op games of the year.

Also available on: PlayStation 4, Switch, Xbox One

 

Older Kids & Teens

Burnout Paradise Remastered

One of the best racing games of the previous generation of consoles finally got an HD remaster earlier this year. Burnout Paradise features an open-world city filled with cars, races, jumps, takedowns, and secrets. Starting up a race is as simple as revving your engine at an intersection. The remaster also includes the excellent Big Surf Island DLC which adds an entirely new area.

Also available on: PlayStation 4, Xbox One

Civilization VI: Rise and Fall

Rise and Fall adds new Golden Ages and Dark Ages that reflect your successes and struggles through your Civ’s history. These ages can have huge affects on your gameplay, creating an era of prosperity or revolt and repression. It also adds nine new leaders and eight new civilizations, making Rise and Fall a must-have for Civ fans.

Dead Cells

For years indie games have filled the niche of 2D action-platformers in a variety of formats and styles. With a cool neon art style, tight controls, and clever level design, Dead Cells may be the peak of the genre (read our review).

Also available on: PlayStation 4, Switch, Xbox One

Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age

The Dragon Quest series has never been quite as popular outside of Japan, but that should hopefully change with this excellent entry. Dragon Quest 11 features a cast of likable characters alongside an epic 60+ hour story and the always enjoyable character and monster art of Akira Toriyama (Read our review).

Also available on: PlayStation 4

Forza Horizon 4

The racing genre hasn’t been terribly prolific in recent years. Thankfully with the release of Forza Horizon 4, we’re pretty sure you won’t need much else. The Forza series didn’t need much fixing when it came to racing, card handling, and real-world licenses. Instead we get welcoming new features like a well-integrated online racing world and a dynamic weather system that affects road conditions.

Also available on: Xbox One

Into the Breach

Into the Breach is basically Chess, if Chess involved time-traveling mechs versus giant insects. From the makers of FTL come this brilliantly balanced tactical strategy game where every turn demands pain-staking attention to detail and perfect planning. It’s incredibly tense for a turn-based strategy game, and equally rewarding.

Also available on: Switch

Jurassic World Evolution

Even if you’re not a big fan of the recent Jurassic World films, Evolution is a fantastic theme park sim from the makers of the also excellent Planet Coaster (and a wonderful successor to 2003’s Operation Genesis). Splice genomes to breed dinosaurs, build proper enclosures, and keep them happy for your guests. The dinosaur AI is deep enough to be consistently entertaining and when things go wrong it’s running and screaming in all the right ways (read our review).

Also available on: PlayStation 4, Xbox One

Mega Man 11

One of the most prolific platformers in gaming, Mega Man enjoyed a triumphant return to prominence this year with the well-received Mega Man 11. The action is colorful and fast as the Blue Bomber once again battles a series of themed robot masters, acquiring their powers along the way. Different difficulty modes ensure a wider range of players can enjoy the classically-inspired gameplay.

And if you’re nostalgic about the old Mega Man games, the Mega Man Legacy 1 + 2 Collection serves all your needs.

Also available on: PlayStation 4, Switch, Xbox One

Monster Hunter World

The Monster Hunter series finally gets the love it deserves thanks to Monster Hunter World. The portable gaming series has been rebuilt for home consoles and the behemoths have never looked better. Add in more streamlined concepts and abilities for a new crowd and full online co-op and you have the recipe for Capcom’s best Monster Hunter game yet. A must-buy for action game fans.

Also available on: PlayStation 4, Xbox One

Ni No Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom

While lacking the official involvement of beloved children’s anime film company Studio Ghibli, Ni No Kuni 2 still captures that bright animation and whimsical style while infusing RTS and town building elements into a fine JRPG.

Also available on: PlayStation 4

SoulCalibur VI

Move over superheroes and ninjas, it’s time for the true weapons-based warriors to shine. SoulCalibur 6 is another stellar fighting game to add to the championship belt. As a reboot it also makes for an excellent jumping on point for series newcomers. It includes bonus character Geralt from the Witcher series, as well as the ability to design your own fighter.

Also available on: PlayStation 4, Xbox One

Two Point Hospital

The last several years have seen an explosion of nostalgic games and genres thanks to crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter. Two Point Hospital is a more-than worthy spiritual successor to 1997’s Theme Hospital, designed by the original creators. The hospital simulation is perfected, but even more impressive is the delightfully charming humor that feels both classic and fresh.

Valkyria Chronicles 4

Valkyria Chronicles presents an intriguing combination of RPG, tactical-combat, and third-person action set in an alternate Earth during World War 2. Take turns directing troops on the battlefield, line up shots in your crosshairs, then enjoy their banter in between battles. Although it’s the fourth game in the series, Valkyria Chronicles 4 is a stand-alone story featuring its own cast of young soldiers.

Also available on: PlayStation 4, Switch, Xbox One

 

Mature Teens

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey builds upon last year’s Assassin Creed Origins and leans even further into the RPG genre, including dialogue choices, romance-able NPCs, and multiple endings. For a series first you can also choose to play as either a male or female sibling, both fully voiced, fully realized characters within the hand-crafted world of Ancient Greece.

Also available on: PlayStation 4, Xbox One

Banner Saga Trilogy

The Banner Saga trilogy reached its conclusion this year with the release of Banner Saga 3. The series is known for both its intricate turn-based tactical combat and its bleak, emotional story-telling that forces you to make tough decisions while facing the end of the world in this Norse-inspired strategy game. All three games are excellent, and included in the bundle.

Also available on: PlayStation 4, Switch, Xbox One

Dark Souls Remastered

The original Dark Souls practically invented a new subgenre of action game with obtuse, challenging, but very rewarding gameplay. Develop your preferred weaponry and playstyle as your journey through a darkly gothic world. The original has been given a graphical face-lift and includes the Artorias of the Abyss DLC.

Also available on: PlayStation, Switch, Xbox One

Frostpunk

If you’d like your city builders with a bit more emotional gravitas and story-telling, 11 bit Studios has the perfect game for you with Frostpunk. In an apocalyptic world ravaged by a never-ending winter, you’re tasked with keeping humanity’s last city alive. You must build out from your geothermic reactor while dealing with the harsh truths of keeping people alive at any cost.

Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire

Pillars of Eternity 2 takes the same great computer RPG action and drops you into the Deadfire archipelago. From the beginning of the sequel you’re given your own pirate ship and the freedom to explore a massive world as you hunt down the returned god who destroyed your castle. Just another day in the life of an adventuring party.