Cowboys and superheroes: the most exciting video games of autumn 2018

Pick your battles, from ancient Greece to the second world war, swing like Spider-Man, or choose between teenage America and the postapocalypse kind

Spider-Man

This superhero action game is refreshingly colourful and humorous, fittingly for a game starring Marvel’s perennial cheeky chappie. Swinging around New York, slinging webs and beating up criminals is exactly as fun as it sounds. The plot is untethered from any Spider-Man films and comics, bringing many of the web-slingers nemeses together in one story. That also means that developer Insomniac has been able to take its time, which is obvious from how beautiful it looks.
7 September

Life is Strange 2

Life is Strange 2.
Relatable stories … Life is Strange 2. Photograph: Square Enix

A new series of this episodic game about teens in small-town America begins in September, this time starring a couple of brothers on the run rather than a high-schooler with the power to rewind time. Life is Strange is known for telling relatable human stories tinged by the supernatural; the first episode will be the beginning of a months-long tale, experienced together by everyone who plays it.
27 September

Forza Horizon 4

Forza Horizon 4 is an energetic road-trip around the British isles, complete with changing seasons and highly variable weather. In supercars or off-roaders, on motorbikes or a hovercraft, it’s a scenic driving experience that looks beautiful and isn’t short on action. Even if you’ve only a passing interest in cars, the prospect of racing around Edinburgh on a rainy night or the Cotswolds on a sunny day is alluring.
2 October

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey

A trip back in time to ancient Greece that has you fighting as a Spartan mercenary in 431 BC – though I for one am likely to spend much more time swimming in azure seas and climbing around ancient architecture than swinging a sword around. Odyssey is intimidatingly huge, the kind of game that could easily swallow you up for 50 hours, but in doing so it will at least freshen your memory of half-forgotten classical history and mythology.
5 October

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4

For years, Call of Duty has been king of college dorms and the competitive shooter circuit. But recent years have seen newcomers like Fortnite and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds reinvigorate shooting games and offering something new. Black Ops 4 is COD’s attempt to modernise: it keeps the speed of play, but shootouts now last longer than a couple of seconds, and - of course - a battle royale mode.
12 October

Battlefield V

Women enter the fray … Battlefield V.
Women enter the fray … Battlefield V. Photograph: EA

It might be one of many war games that come out every year, but Battlefield V distinguishes itself by focussing on the lesser-known soldiers of world war two in its single-player stories, including female combatants. In multiplayer, Battlefield V offers staged battles that simulate entire second world war campaigns and a Fortnite-inspired battle royale mode alongside the traditional ways to shoot each other for fun.
19 October

Red Dead Redemption 2

A highly anticipated adventure from the makers of Grand Theft Auto, Red Dead Redemption 2 has you rolling with a crew of stubborn outlaws in the dying days of the old west. It might be defined by violence – brawls and shootouts feature prominently, alongside long, lonely rides on horseback – but there are promised moments of human connection too, around a campfire with your gang or with strangers you encounter out in the frontier.
26 October

Fallout 76

Stepping out from an underground vault in the immediate aftermath of nuclear war, you try to make your way in an inhospitable new world - and discover that there are plenty of other people trying to do the same. Fallout 76 takes the postapocalyptic series online, where other players can aid or obstruct your efforts to survive; you can team up to build bases, or attack each other with abundant weaponry and still-functional missile silos.
14 November

Super Smash Bros Ultimate

Forget Avengers: Infinity War - this confluence of more than 60 well-loved characters is the stuff of fanboys and fangirls’ dreams. Featuring almost every Nintendo character you could think of (plus special guests like Sonic the Hedgehog, Pac-Man and Metal Gear Solid’s Snake), Super Smash Bros Ultimate is a chaotic fighting game with abundant nostalgic Nintendo references and a great sense of humour - and it’s as well-suited to living rooms as it is to tournament stages.
7 December

Dreams

Unlock the creative in us all … Dreams.
Unlock the creative in us all … Dreams. Photograph: Sony

Recasting the player as artist, musician, game designer and programmer, Dreams aims to unlock the frustrated creative within us all. Creating “dreams” of your own or playing other people’s, you can sculpt, paint, colour and compose with a controller and then share your ideas with the world. Imagine a painting you could step into and walk around, and you’re part of the way towards what Dreams enables.
TBC

Also look out for...

... the annual crop of sports games: Fifa, NBA and NHL games all arrive in September. Shadow of the Tomb Raider, the last in the most recent trilogy of excellent Lara Croft games, arrives on 14 September. Starlink, a space-battling game with little toy ships that you build yourself, is a great shout for kids. Soulcalibur VI reawakens a long dormant fighting-game series on 19 October. Two new Pokémon games arrive in November, and they’re integrated with Pokémon Go. And December’s Just Cause IV will be a riot of over-the-top action-movie-style destructive chaos.

Contributor

Keza MacDonald

The GuardianTramp

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