It’s official: Gaming is totally not just for the tech nerds and gamer geeks of the world anymore.
With the gaming industry reaching more demographics than ever before, everyone from button-mashing grandparents to kids taking Mario out for a spin for the first time, the hottest new video games (and their parent systems) are more anticipated than ever.
With a slew of new releases across multiple platforms every month, it can be hard to break down what games are worth your time (and money). But trust me, these eight are some of the best games ever, and they’re so fun and addictive you’ll want to jump right in and claim a controller for yourself!
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Editor’s note: Videos and game reviews may contain spoilers.
Featured image source: IGN
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Nintendo Switch is the latest operating system in a long line of hits for Nintendo — and their new Zelda game, “Breath of the Wild,” is one of the starring titles available at launch.
Pairing breathtaking scenery with an epic adventure, this “open air” game allows you to explore the abandoned kingdom of Hyrule in any way or order that suits you, deftly balancing survival with fun brainteasers. With 100 Shrines to discover and a moving storyline that unfolds as you reach new areas, you’ll solve puzzles to unlock rewards and treasures, while picking up items to help you survive.
Fans of the classic Zelda titles will enjoy this fresh take on a familiar world. Jose Otero, one of IGN’s editors, had this to say about the game’s unique, open-world concept:
“At E3, we marveled at how Zelda’s wide open world felt remarkable in a time where there’s a lot of open world games out there. So far the final product absolutely holds up, and it creates a loop of mystery and discovery that feels like a reinvention of a 30 year-old franchise.”
Source: Mass Effect on YouTube
Electronic Arts’ Mass Effect games have been consistent hits, and this fourth entry into the series is highly anticipated for both the more open gameplay and the stunning visuals after being built on EA’s Frostbite engine.
In the game, you play as a new military recruit that’s helping to colonize planets in the Andromeda galaxy. Your mission? To visit different planets and claim them for the Andromeda Project — whether it means taking out hostile forces, checking for resources, or teaming up with your fellow recruits to complete missions. The game offers plenty of freewheeling exploration, plus a new system to build up your recruit’s special skills based on whatever you find most appealing within the gameplay.
As with other Mass Effect games, don’t be surprised if you find yourself connecting with your avatar as they interact with other people on board the ship. Gamespot’s Tamoor Hussain actually picked this out as a highlight of the games, noting: “For me, the series’ strength lies in textured, layered characters offering unique perspectives that I can learn to understand — and perhaps even relate to. Based on the few hours I spent with Andromeda, it looks like there will be an abundance of them.”
3. “Life Is Strange“
Source: GameSpot on YouTube
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Storytelling-based games have become a neat micro-trend in the video game world, where the decisions you make impact the overall storyline of a game.
“Life Is Strange” takes things to the next level over the course of its five episodes by not only allowing you to follow wildly different paths, but to also reverse time and “redo” decisions to see what the other possible outcome is. The story follows Max, a shy photography student who returns to her hometown to find her childhood best friend’s life has taken a turn for the worse, and that a sinister secret might be lurking amongst the people she encounters.
With a cult following for its moody atmosphere, lovable characters, and amazing soundtrack, this angsty, artsy game is full of compelling choices.
While you may hear some buzz about its polarizing final chapter, rest assured the journey is worth it, as Alexa Ray Corriea from Gamespot points out in her review, “Developer Dontnod’s first episodic series tackles themes and explores emotional spaces few games have: the difficulties of being a teenager struggling for acceptance, the complicated push-and-pull of friendship between young women, the delicate balance between fear and bravery when dealing with other volatile young people. It’s a story about kids — or kids on the brink of becoming adults — becoming people they never thought they’d be and learning things about one another that change their perspectives on each other, and life itself.”
Source: IGN on YouTube
Today’s video games can be epic in scope, storytelling, and emotions — but sometimes you just want to kick back and have a whole lot of fun.
Enter “Deformers,” a quirky, colorful game where you go head-to-head with opponents to push them off the edge of your (tilting!) battlefield while earning new abilities. Your adorable “Form” — which can basically roll or flop around in combat — can even be accessorized so it stands out from the pack of up to eight players.
With a fast pace and comical artwork, this is a fun pick for the whole family next time you’ve got a game night planned. Just don’t be surprised at how quickly you get hooked, as IGN’s Michael McWhertor notes: “Although the core gameplay of Deformers is relatively simple, its depth — and its addictive, just-one-more-game nature — is quickly apparent.”
Source: PlayStation on YouTube
Platform: PlayStation 4
Release Date: May 10, 2016
Game Rating: Teen
Buy It: PlayStation 4 ($59.99)
As the name suggests, “Uncharted 4” is the final chapter in the story of fortune hunter Nathan Drake. Called out of retirement by his brother Sam, Nathan is on the hunt for Captain Henry Avery’s treasure, taking him around the globe to lush, dazzling settings like the jungles of Madagascar.
The game blends Uncharted’s trademark mix of exploration, taking out enemies, and solving puzzles as you get closer to the big payoff. The question is, what would be a fitting ending for the series?
The good news? Fans of the Uncharted series to date will have a lot to love here, if Gamespot’s 10/10 rating says anything. The game effortlessly allows you to explore open areas while diving into intense action sequences, and Gamespot’s glowing review hails this (purported) final entry as the best of the series for its perfect matchup of gameplay and graphics. In fact, they go so far as to declare it the benchmark for similar games.
Source: PlayOverwatch on YouTube
You’ve probably heard of “Overwatch” already — it made almost every major gaming site’s top 10 list for 2016, and it won a prestigious DICE Game of the Year award.
This first-person shooting game is all about teamwork, as you team up with five other players against an opposing team of six to defend territory or escort a payload to a safe place. Choose your character from one of four roles, then jump into your match!
Beloved by male and female gamers young and old, part of the game’s appeal comes from the virtually infinite ways you can mix and match your team’s characters (and go head-to-head with an equally diverse team).
Polygon’s Russ Frushtick identified this as one of the game’s most appealing features, stating, “There’s no question that “Overwatch” is a masterfully designed game. The wide array of amazing, unique characters, and the original ways they interact with one another, make for a peerless teamplay experience in the shooter space.”
7. “Pokémon Sun & Moon“
Source: IGN on YouTube
2016 was the year “Pokémon Go” took the world by storm via their wildly addictive app — but the classic Japanese franchise had a second blockbuster hit on their hands last year with “Pokémon Sun and Moon.”
Like past entries in the series, you play as a Pokémon trainer, tasked with catching and training your Pokémon to succeed in arena battles. The setting this time is a vaguely Hawaiian paradise called Alola. Like with previous iterations, choosing the Sun or Moon variation of the game does impact which creatures you can collect, and trading with other players is essential to “catch ‘em all.”
With a fun story, quirky cast of characters, and immersive 3D graphics, this expansive game highlights why Pikachu deserves a place in the video game hall of fame next to the likes of Sonic and Mario. As Allegra Frank sagely points out in this Polygon review, “Pokémon’s 20th anniversary year has been all about celebrating what’s great about the series, but the newest pair of games prove that the series is ready and able to make big changes without sacrificing that original spirit.”
8. “The Last Guardian“
Source: PlayStation on YouTube
Platform: PlayStation 4
Release Date: December 6, 2016
Buy It: PlayStation 4 ($39.99)
If you like your video games with a side of enchantment, this long-anticipated Japanese game will surely capture your imagination.
You play as a young boy who wakes up in a mystical land filled with temples and overgrown vines, alongside a gigantic feathered beast known as Trico. As the two of you set out on a fantastical journey, you begin to learn more about the beast’s back story as the pair help each other move forward.
“The Last Guardian” isn’t a game to spike your adrenaline. Instead, reach for it when you’re looking for a little zen. As Peter Brown notes in Gamespot’s 9/10 review, “[The] tale is a shining example of storytelling through subtle cues and shared experiences; the occasional annoyances that come from trying to force members of two different species to cooperate are part and parcel of their partnership, for better and for worse. But touching moments throughout and an unshakable final act melt these grievances away.”