Horror, dystopias and dinosaurs await in the coming weeks.
We’re still a solid month and some weeks away from the launch of the Xbox Series X/S and PS5. But there are plenty of big-name current-gen releases to look forward to in October. Horror games, role-playing games, sports titles and at least one big open world game are coming up so let’s take a look at the month’s 15 biggest releases.
Super Mario Bros. 35
This isn’t Super Mario Battle Royale or Nintendo’s answer to Fall Guys but it might just be the closest thing to competitive free for all Mario. For Nintendo Switch Online subscribers, that is. Super Mario Bros. 35 sees players platforming through your typical Super Mario Bros. stage, defeating enemies, gathering coins and whatnot.
The twist is that there 34 other players, visible on-screen, that are competing against you. Players can send obstacles into others’ games, specifically targeting those with the most coins, the least time or completely at random. Coins can be used to purchase items and increase one’s survival rate. The last player standing is the winner.
It’s out on October 1st 2020 for Switch and looks cool. However, Super Mario Bros. 35 is only available to play until March 31st 2021. So if it ends up being amazing, savor each and every moment until it’s inevitably gone.
Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time
We’re finally at the stage where googling “Crash Bandicoot 4” doesn’t automatically bring up Crash Bandicoot: The Wrath of Cortex. If that’s not progress, we don’t know what is. As a direct sequel to the original trilogy, Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time is developed by Toys for Bob, the same team behind the excellent Spyro Reignited Trilogy.
Essentially, the space-time fabric has been torn asunder and it’s up to Crash and Coco to find the Quantum Masks to set everything right. Along with playing through each level as either Bandicoot in the main story, players can also experience “alternate timeline” versions. These have Doctor Neo Cortex, Dingodile and an alternate version of Tawna being playable along with own unique enemy placements and traps in levels.
On top of this, there are Flashback levels that provide tougher challenges, N. Verted versions of the same with varying conditions, local competitive and co-op modes, and the option to play in Retro or Modern Mode, the latter providing infinite lives. Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time is out on October 2nd for PS4 and Xbox One.
Star Wars: Squadrons
Ever since the days of Star Wars: X-Wing and TIE Fighter, we’ve yet to really see a space combat game capture that magic (at least in the same setting). With how well-received Starfighter Assault was in Star Wars Battlefront 2, a standalone title like Star Wars: Squadrons makes sense. Still, for $40, it’s surprising to see a proper campaign – which takes place after Return of the Jedi and alternates between pilots in the New Republic and Empire – and no microtransactions.
Each side has four ship types to choose from with different components and weapons to customize them with. Multiplayer consists of 5v5 Dogfights and Fleet Battles to eliminate the opposing flagship. Operations, daily challenges and so on will keep things fresh post-launch.
Last year, EA somewhat redeemed its shoddy handling of the license with Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order. We’ll see if it can continue that with Star Wars: Squadrons out on October 2nd for Xbox One, PS4 and PC.
Though it doesn’t have the biggest budget of most racing sim franchises, the RIDE series is one of the few that’s focused primarily on bikes. RIDE 4 aims to go even further with “hundreds” of different bikes to choose from, dozens of tracks, dynamic weather and full day/night cycles, and even a neural AI system that offers more realistic competition (at least in theory). The single-player experience offers a number of events to participate in, and there’s a new Endurance mode to truly test one’s mettle for longer races. RIDE 4 is out on October 8th for Xbox One, PS4 and PC.
A new FIFA game is coming up – please be excited. For a yearly sports franchise, that too one notorious for its RNG card packs, EA Sports is going out of its way to implement long-requested features in FIFA 21. Match simulation in Career Mode will allow for jumping in and out of matches more intuitively; loan to buy deals are now possible when making transfers; players can now be trained for other positions; and annoying FUT items like fitness and training consumables are gone.
Ultimate Team also supports co-op now, which carries its own modes and rewards; FUT Stadiums have way more customization; and there are also FUT Events for players to compete and collaborate in together. Even if the overall gameplay changes end up falling short, at least the major changes sound worthwhile. FIFA 21 releases on October 9th for PC, Nintendo Switch, PS4 and Xbox One.
EA Sports has another title out in October with NHL 21. However, it seems to offer a lot of what fans expect, from Hockey Ultimate Team mode to familiar multiplayer modes like Threes Eliminator, Clubs and so on. World of Chel offers the ability to progress through seasonal ranks for each mode with Club Finals Championships available near the end.
There’s also “Be a Pro”, a more cinematic take on Career Mode where your custom-created player competes professionally en route to the NHL. Dialogue options abound, though given how the story-telling has been in recent EA Sports titles like Madden NFL 21, it’s best to be skeptical. NHL 21 is out on October 16th and unlike its contemporaries, it’s only planned for Xbox One and PS4.
Pikmin 3 Deluxe
Continuing the trend of bringing every major Wii U title over to the Switch, Nintendo is releasing Pikmin 3 Deluxe for the console on October 30th with improved visuals and new content. The original is a real-time strategy title with three new Captains to control and up to 100 Pikmin to command, offering co-op and competitive multiplayer modes in addition to the story. Pikmin 3 Deluxe features all of that along with options for lock-on targeting and hints, and increasing the difficulty for some added challenge.
All of the DLC stages from the original are here while new side-story missions focused on Olimar and Louie have been added. Pikmin 3 was pretty well-regarded back in the day so whether you’re a new or experienced player, the Deluxe version might make it worth hopping back into.
Frictional’s critically acclaimed psychological horror series finally returns with Amnesia: Rebirth. Touted as a brand new game, it focuses on Tasi Trianon who’s trapped in the desert with a horrifying creature (or two) stalking her. There’s a fair bit of exploration and puzzle-solving along with managing one’s physical and mental well-being.
But Tasi will also have to contend with her “own hopes, fears, and bitter regrets” in order to survive. If previous games were any indication, then Amnesia: Rebirth should offer another terrifyingly compelling journey. It’s out on October 20th for PS4 and PC.
Age of Empires 3: Definitive Edition
Fresh off its stellar run with Age of Empires 2: Definitive Edition, Tantalus Media and Forgotten Empires have turned their attention to remastering and enhancing Age of Empires 3. Along with a remastered soundtrack, the visuals have been upgraded to 4K Ultra HD. Judging by the previous game, you can also expect lots of nuanced improvements in terms of character models, textures, animations and environments (while still maintaining the overall look and feel of the original).
Age of Empires 3: Definitive Edition will also feature all of the previously released expansions, two new modes with Historical Battles and The Art of War Challenge Missions, and the Swedes and Inca as new civilizations. This is in addition to improved online multiplayer and mod support. It releases on October 15th for PC.
Combining first person platforming with combat and a one-hit mechanic that applies to both enemies and the player, Ghostrunner is a sleek looking title with some unique hooks. Set in the future, your goal is to reach the top of a tower and defeat the Keymaster. A variety of foes will attempt to stop you but there are also plenty of environmental hurdles to overcome.
To that end, players will run, jump, grapple, wall-run, dash and slash through foes to progress, and perhaps replay levels for better times. Ghostrunner arrives on October 27th for Xbox One, PS4, Nintendo Switch and PC.
World of Warcraft: Shadowlands
The Covenant system and Blizzard’s unwillingness to change it based on alpha feedback is concerning but Shadowlands is still a big deal for many WoW players. It’s the first time they’ll be heading to Azeroth’s realm of the dead; introduces the game’s first level squish, making 60 the default level cap; and provides new ways to customize the core races. One can also look forward to exploring five huge zones, eight new dungeons, a new raid and Torghast, the Tower of the Damned, which provides a roguelike dungeon-crawling experience. And of course, there are four Covenants to join, each with its own campaign, gear and abilities that will add more depth to one’s character.
Again, it’s all very interesting but it remains to be seen if the system provides meaningful choices or hamstrings players who choose the “wrong” Covenant. WoW: Shadowlands is out on October 27th for PC so we’ll find out soon enough.
Watch Dogs: Legion
A mysterious group called Zero Day has framed hacker collective DedSec for some bombings. As a result, the PMC Albion takes control of London and uses ctOS to trample on human rights. It’s up to the player to recruit new operatives from the populace and effectively liberate the city.
From a gameplay perspective, pretty much any NPC is fair game for recruitment. Complete their respective missions and you can utilize their skills, whether it’s a getaway driver with a unique vehicle, a hacker who’s skilled in drones or a professional assassin. Throw in some co-op support, perma-death for characters (if you refuse to surrender, that is) and multiple approaches to missions, and you have quite the replay value.
Watch Dogs: Legion is out first for PC, PS4, Xbox One and Google Stadia on October 29th. Those on console and keen on features like ray-tracing may want to hold off for the next-gen versions which release on November 10th for Xbox Series X/S and November 12th for PS5.
The Dark Pictures Anthology: Little Hope
The Curator’s presentation of unfinished horror stories continues with The Dark Pictures Anthology: Little Hope. The story sees a group of college students, along with their professor, trapped in Little Hope. Witch hunting was quite popular back in the late 1600s and it seems the group has some connection to the town.
Much like Man of Medan, different dialogue options can influence the fate of the cast, leading to multiple endings. One can also expect the return of co-op online play and Movie Night Mode which sees up to five players making story decisions. Despite numerous delays, The Dark Pictures Anthology: Little Hope will finally release on October 30th for PS4, Xbox One and PC.
The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel 4
It’s taken a while for English localization but Falcom’s thunderous conclusion to the Erebonia Arc is nearly here. Following the previous game’s conclusion, The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel 4 sees the new Class VII continuing forth and rallying support to save the world. Heroes from other arcs like Trails in the Sky and Trails of Zero/Azure will also be appearing to lend a hand, which makes for a fairly sizable roster, and there will likely be even more epic battles with Panzer Soldats and Knights than before. The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel 4 is out on October 27th for PS4.
It’s no Dino Crisis but Second Extinction should provide some fast-paced shooting action as players either fight solo or with up to two others against hordes of mutant dinosaurs. Launching in early access with four heroes, 10 weapons with upgrades, six missions and several regions, Second Extinction also has a mechanic called the War Effort. This sees the threat level of different regions lowering if players successfully complete missions in them.
However, other regions will see their threat levels rise and this could result in an Emergence Event (which is much tougher than usual missions). Second Extinction will arrive on PC first with Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S versions expected later this year.