With all the hype around holiday releases, it can be easy to miss some of the great video games that are just a few months off. For those of us who are budgeting our gaming money and time carefully, this is disastrous. I’m here to remind you just how close some real exciting releases are, and just why you should think twice before blowing all that holiday money before New Year’s. (Oh, but for the sake of all of us, don’t ever pre-order. It’s always a bad idea.)
#1: XCOM 2
Releases: February 5, 2016, for PC, OS X, and Linux
Why it’s Worth Waiting: XCOM: Enemy Unknown and its expansions made for one of the most fun, replayable, and challenging strategy games of the last 5 years. Alternating segments of base-building, raiding crashed UFOs, and rescuing cities under siege from the aliens made for one of those games. Those games that you mean to just play ’til 10:30, and then suddenly it’s 6am and you have to go to work. The high degree of polish and good customization options impressed and involved players even further.
New This Time Around: By all accounts, the story takes the player to an even more difficult and uncomfortable position where aliens have actually conquered the Earth and XCOM must serve as a rebellion to free humanity. Firaxis has implied that this new situation will not only add new challenge, but shake up the gameplay so you have more versatility in mission types. It also looks like there’s going to be even more customization, and in-game mod support will be included from release. This in addition to plenty of new aliens, techs, and weapons, of course.
#2: Fire Emblem Fates
Releases: February 19, 2016, for 3DS
Why it’s Worth Waiting: Fire Emblem Awakening reinvigorated love for the strategy RPG franchise around the globe, and Fates appears to be a massive and worthy follow-up. Like building and developing your characters into their own unique and powerful soldiers? It’s back. Managing character relationships and hoping they’ll form families? It’s back. That incredibly challenging and devastating permadeath mode? You’d better believe it’s back. And unlike the other titles listed here, Fates has been out for quite a while in Japan, so you don’t have to take the developers’ word for it; people really like this game.
New This Time Around: Also unlike the other titles: Fates is actually two different games. Fire Emblem Birthright, which is very similar to Awakening and is meant to serve as a good introduction to the series, and Fire Emblem Conquest, which is more difficult but includes more complexities and variations on mission types than Awakening did. Some have grumbled over money-grubbing, but it looks like there’s enough content to make both versions worth playing. Playing through both will also unlock a third Fates campaign supposedly due out this July via DLC. The games also introduce a base-building feature that will alter the way your missions play out.
#3: Far Cry Primal
Releases: February 23, 2016 for PS4 and XBO
Why it’s Worth Waiting: The last few Far Cry games have been pretty good at involving players who don’t normally play many FPS games. Their open-world structure, varying themes and tones, and a willingness to mess with the player’s expectations have earned them a reputation for being a little smarter and less formulaic. The newest Far Cry game takes this to an extreme by taking guns out entirely and setting the game in pre-historic times.
New This Time Around: Did you not read the above? It looks Primal will be an almost totally different game, delivered with the expected polish and detail of prior Far Cry entries. In particular, it seems like survival elements will be important to the gameplay, which will be new to the series. Players will also get a chance to tame wild animals like owls and sabertooth tigers, and use them in combat, which is absolutely ridiculous and badass. I think I’ll be blasting Fly By Night while playing this one.
#4 Star Fox Zero
Releases: April 22, 2016, for WiiU
Why it’s Worth Waiting: Star Fox 64 is probably one of the most beloved games of any given 90s kid, and yet we have yet to get one faithful and original follow-up. You can split hairs and say this one is an extremely loose re-imagining of the original Star Fox, but let’s be fair: this is the first original space-combat Star Fox game in the 64 style. That’s something to get excited about, even if the release date is a while away.
New This Time Around: Admittedly, playing it safe is probably the best move for the Star Fox franchise, and that’s largely what Nintendo is doing this time. However, there are some very cool looking new vehicle options, and you can transform some of them into giant robots. Giant robots. 2016 might just be known as the year where you can make a little fox person turn his spaceship into an Autobot so he can punch a little pig guy in the face.
Which games are you looking forward to at the beginning of the year? Let us know in the comment section down below.
Featured image credit: Ubisoft Games