2018 Holiday Games Preview: 10 Games to Play This Season
From annual releases to long-awaited sequel, in our 2018 holiday games preview, we highlight the 10 games to play this holiday season that will keep us busy deep into the new year.
The holidays are almost here! Sure, we’re not even in October yet, but that won’t stop the coming holiday season – for game publishers, at least.
Each year, October marks the start of a glut of high profile game releases. That includes annual releases, eagerly anticipated titles that have been years in development, and sequels that are guaranteed to bring established audiences with them – frequently all three. That isn’t to say there’s aren’t major titles released throughout the year, but the competition over the next 12 weeks that make-up Q4 is on another level.
And 2018 might end up being one of the biggest holiday seasons in years.
From a new Assassin’s Creed to the long, long-awaited next game from Rockstar, there is something for everyone this quarter. We chose our 10 favorites, but we could easily have doubled that, and that’s just focusing on the major releases. Factor in some of the indie games on the way and that list would explode.
So prepare your bank accounts for a beating, and get ready to spend a lot of time in front of a monitor.
Forza Horizon 4 (PC, XBO)
PlayGround Games / Microsoft Studios
October 2, 2018
The season gets off to a strong start this year with an Xbox One (and PC) exclusive, and if you’re a racing fan and Xbox One or PC gamer this game should be a must-play. Featuring an open world, several types of races, changing seasons, and more than 450 licensed cars, you can race solo or with up to 72 players at once. Along with being the latest in a proven series and a title that PS4 users won’t get, it’s also the premier racing game this season. So if that checks your boxes, that makes this an easy choice.
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey (NS, PC, PS4, XBO)
Ubisoft Quebec / Ubisoft
October 5, 2018
The Assassin’s Creed games are a proven commodity with 10 previous major releases (not counting the mobile, portable, and digital-only releases), and Odyssey is the most ambitious title yet. After taking a year off from annual releases, the series returned with the next stage in the evolution of the franchise in Origins. Odyssey builds on that foundation with an exploration of the Hellenistic period, the option of playing one of two playable characters, and even plenty of ways to play. It all takes place before the founding of the Assassin’s order, so if you’ve been interested in the series but didn’t know where to start, you can’t go wrong with this game.
Super Mario Party (NS)
Nd Cube / Nintendo
October 5, 2018
While many of the games on this list offer some form of multiplayer, Super Mario Party is a game that is best served by playing with others. In fact, it’s really the only way to play. It’s also one of the few major Switch games coming out this holiday season. Nintendo has always been about family, so there’s no better time to release a game created to be played by friends and family than a time of year that typically brings those families together. With multiple mini games and online play, fans will be putting a lot of time into this one.
Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 (PC, PS4, XBO)
Treyarch / Activision
October 12, 2018
The latest Call of Duty title does away with the campaign but doubles down on the multiplayer. Along with the competitive modes that you’re familiar with and the zombies mode that has become an annual staple, the series introduces a Battle Royale mode that could help keep the series in prominence for a while still. It’s the familiar COD formula polished for 2018. If you’re a fan of the series or looking for a competitive multiplayer, Black Ops 4 should be on your radar.
Soul Calibur VI (PC, PS4, XBO)
Project Soul / Bandai Namco Entertainment
October 19, 2018
This holiday season has a little something for everyone, including fans of fighting games. The latest entry in the long-running Soul Calibur series will feature a huge roster of playable characters, including a few special guests. There will be an emphasis on story elements, but at its core, the game will offer the fighting mechanics that have made the series so popular. If you’re looking for a fighting game, or just something to throw in and compete with your friends on the couch next to you (or online), Soul Calibur VI might be the game for you.
Red Dead Redemption 2 (PS4, XBO)
Rockstar Studios / Rockstar Games
October 26, 2018
It’s almost a given that Red Dead Redemption 2 will be the best-selling game of the year. Not only is it the sequel to one of the most heavily praised games of the last generation of consoles, it’s also the first major release from Rockstar since the record-atomizing GTAV. While the two series are inherently different, in some ways you could be forgiven for thinking of RDR2 as a sequel to that game – it has the same open world style, similar mechanics, an online component that will evolve over time – so there’s no reason to think it won’t be huge. And on top of that, it just looks kind of amazing on top of that with a deep story depicting the Wild West, matched with Rockstar’s knack for creating a huge variety of missions brimming with humor and depth.
Fallout 76 (PC, PS4, XBO)
Bethesda Game Studios / Bethesda Softworks
November 14, 2018
While Red Dead Redemption 2 might walk off with the title of best-selling game of 2018 (and possibly 2019 too), Fallout 76 is probably going to be a contender. Combining the immensely popular Fallout series with an online multiplayer component that constantly changes the nature of the game, and building it on the pedigree of Bethesda, Fallout 76 is as close to a guaranteed hit as you can get. And when you throw in that the game was just announced in June and will be ready to go in a few more weeks, the hype has been intense. Plus, it looks very, very cool (and we can’t wait to nuke a town).
Battlefield V (PC, PS4, XBO)
EA DICE / Electronic Arts
November 20, 2018
If you’re looking for a competitive shooter this holiday season has plenty of options, but none bigger than COD and its biggest rival, the Battlefield franchise. Of course, if you ask Activision and EA, they will say there is no rivalry. Gamers tend to see things a little differently though, even as the two franchises continue to move in different directions. For this year’s EA shooter, the game is returning to the age of WWII. Expect massive maps and plenty of players, with the finely polished Battlefield sheen.
Just Cause 4 (PC, PS4, XBO)
Avalanche Studios / Square Enix
December 4, 2018
Although the Just Cause franchise doesn’t quite have the weight that many of the others on this list have, it has a fiercely loyal and dedicated fanbase. Plus, with each new iteration, it continues to pick up gamers looking for something that offers open-world freedom mixed with a touch of insanity. It will have a tough time this holiday season, but the possibility to fly through the air and then blow up a small army definitely has its appeals.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (NS)
Bandai Namco Studios Sora Ltd. / Nintendo
December 7, 2018
The timing of this game’s release is probably no accident, as it’s a franchise that is famous for getting people together in one place to play. And what better time to do that than the holidays? With dozens of characters taken from the world of Nintendo and more, the frantic combat is both cartoony and serious. It allows people that are gaming masters to go head-to-head with people that just like mashing buttons, and still everyone walks away with a smile. There’s something remarkable in that, and it helps to explain the longevity of the franchise. And with the series making its debut on the Switch, it will probably help to sell plenty of consoles all on its own.
Katamari Damacy Reroll (NS)
Namco / Namco
December 7, 2018
Ok, so we said we’d just pick 10 games, and technically this is a re-release of a re-release anyway, but if you are a Switch owner and you’ve played the Katamari series before, you’ll probably want to pick this up. There’s just something oddly relaxing about rolling a ball around and collecting random stuff. It’s weird, it’s addictive, and it’s a must-own for Switch users.