As the holiday season approaches, many new titles are releasing just in time to be included as gifts for all video game fans. As is typically the case with this time of the year, buyers have been presented with an abundance of potential gift purchases since more new games are launched in the fall than any other time of the year.
This leaves those in search of the perfect gaming gift for the loved ones to feel overwhelmed with the large number of new video game launches. Hoping to take a little of the edge away from picking the right game, the Console Game Examiner has compiled a guide for some of the season’s biggest new releases and detailed each title based on their strengths so that buyers can make informed decisions on what products to pick up for video game fans this holiday.
Dragon Age: Inquisition
In an age where the length of video game story campaigns are growing increasingly shorter, or being removed altogether, there is something comforting about BioWare’s latest installment of their popular fantasy series. If people can agree on one thing about Dragon Age: Inquisition, it’s the fact that the game is absolutely massive.
This can be said of the title’s length, scope, and map size. Dragon Age: Inquisition’s campaign can take players anywhere from 60-80 hours to complete and that’s not even counting the numerous side missions and map exploration that isn’t required to beat the game. BioWare has tested that it has taken in-house testers somewhere between 100-150 hours to do a full completion run of the game, in fact.
To help allow fans to experience all of the content that Dragon Age: Inquisition has to offer, gamers can continue to explore the world in search of optional objectives even after beating the primary story campaign. While the world is broken down into a series of distinct regional maps, each location is so big that they feel like a giant open-world expanse all on their own. For example, the first open map that players are able to explore is said to be larger than the entire map sizes of the first two Dragon Age titles combined.
Each of these large areas are also filled with content from wildlife and bandits to an impressive number of side quests to tackle. Completing their various objectives will also make a noticeable impact on the game world itself. Helping to build watch towers, for example will allow friendly troops to gain control over an area and decrease enemy activity in the region.
Like all BioWare titles, fans are given a roster of NPC companions in Dragon Age: Inquisition who will fight by their side throughout the game. Every follower has a distinct personality and each one might have different thoughts to share as players explore the game world. Hearing what their companions have to say about their surroundings gives fans yet another reason to explore the map with different configurations of followers in order to learn more about the character and each area.
Dragon Age: Inquisition is out now on PS4, PS3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, and PC. If gamers are looking for the biggest return in time investment for their dollar, then BioWare’s latest RPG release is the best deal that they are going to find.
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor
Rather than making a game based upon any of the existing books and films set within Tolkien’s fantasy world, Warner Bros. instead decided to make an entirely new video game property out of the Lord of the Rings franchise. Developed by Monolith Games, Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor manages to successfully create a new tale set inside the same popular universe as Lord of the Rings by introducing a new hero battling the forces of Sauron within the borders of Mordor.
Despite the fact that Shadow of Mordor follows a chain of events that have never before been told, the game’s story is deeply rooted to the lore of Middle-earth and the one ring itself. Fans will even run into familiar faces from the series, such as Gollum, throughout the course of the game.
Players take on the role of Talion, a ranger who becomes possessed by a wraith after being slain alongside his wife and child. Being bound to a spirit who died century’s earlier ends up making Talion a very important figure within the Tolkien lore as the elven wraith turns out to be the architect who originally forged the ring of power.
Set within the deadly lands of Mordor, players are thrust inside of the game’s open-world map that will act as their playground as they challenge the orcs and uruks that dominate the region. The forces of Mordor have a hierarchy and the various enemy captains will constantly fight Talion for dominance.
Introducing the nemesis system, each of these captains has a generated set of strengths and weaknesses that can be exploited in combat. As captains are killed new enemies will take their place. Foes previously defeated can also reappear with new visible wounds from earlier encounters. The captains can also kill the ranger which often results in a promotion for the victorious uruk who will likely brag about the accomplishment the next time they are met in battle.
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor is out now on Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS4, PS3, and PC. While the game does appear on last-gen consoles, the nemesis system has been greatly watered-down on older platforms.
LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham
The video game franchise inspired by the popular LEGO building blocks is now a well-established entity within the industry and amongst fans. Continuing to expand the series, Traveller’s Tales has released yet another installment this holiday season with LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham.
The newest entry to the brick-based LEGO video game series includes everything fans have now come to expect from the franchise. Developer Traveler’s Tales hasn’t decided to break the mold with LEGO Batman 3. Players are still presented with the ultimate goal of collecting studs while building various set pieces around the map in order to progress through the campaign. Gamers shouldn’t expect any kind of revolutionary changes to the LEGO video game formula.
Despite the fact that the title carries the Batman label, LEGO Batman 3 is more focused on the entire DC Comics universe rather than just the brooding caped crusader. Fans will be given the opportunity to play as a large roster of DC characters throughout the title’s campaign. There are a total of over 150 DC characters to unlock in the game, including both heroes and villains. These playable figures are comprised of fan favorites such as Superman, Wonder Woman, Lex Luthor, and the Jocker.
Chances are, if fans can think of a character from the DC line of comics then they are likely present in LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham. Furthermore, each different hero has their own unique abilities and skills. Players must learn how to use each character in order to unlock the hundreds of secret collectibles hidden throughout the entire game.
However, despite the gamers are presented with such a wide selection of characters to play as, not all of them are as equally useful. It is clear that specific characters were given priority treatment and thus have a greater number of abilities than most.
Out of all of the titles on this holiday gift guide, LEGO Batman 3 is the only one really suitable for the entire family and gamers of all ages will be able to enjoy the game together. There are also enough hidden secrets and collectibles in the game to keep completionists playing for a long time.
The Evil Within
While the Halloween season may have already passed, Bethesda’s The Evil Within will still make a great gift for fans of the macabre. From the creator of Resident Evil 4, this new horror franchise borrows heavily from other titles within the genre to craft a new dark world for players to experience.
One thing that is important to understand about The Evil Within is that this isn’t a classic survival horror title. While players will have to check their ammo count, gamers will still have access to a robust arsenal of weaponry throughout the entire campaign.
Having their hands on plenty of firepower doesn’t make the game a scary as a lot of other horror games around, but that’s ok because The Evil Within never really pretends to be the kind of title that tries to scare players or make them jump out of their seats.
Instead, The Evil Within is closer to an action title that is set within a twisted world. The game is definitely horror themed and contains many classic elements from the genre, but it shouldn’t necessarily be considered a “scary” game.
In order to create a more action-filled horror title, The Evil Within gives players access to a large variety of weapons and even includes a stealth mechanic for the portions of the title where ammunition does become scarce. Keeping true to the horror theme, however, the title does a good job of building a dark atmosphere of despair, gore, and insanity.
Many who have played The Evil Within will undoubtedly realize just how similar the title is to Resident Evil 4. The game is controlled with a similar third person over-the-shoulder camera that was popularized in the fourth entry of Capcom’s horror franchise. However, The Evil Within also takes some important cues from several other games as well that might not be as easily noticed.
The Evil Within features a heavy focus on internal trauma that leaves players wondering fir the character they are playing is actually experiencing these events or has simply gone insane. The way the protagonist is constantly forced to reflect inwards make the story feel much more like a Silent Hill game even if it plays like a Resident Evil title.
Additionally, while the game’s stealth systems are somewhat limited, many of its features seem heavily borrowed from The Last of Us. Players can even pick up objects from the environment that can be used as audible decoys when thrown. These items show up on the screen with icons that are very familiar to those found in Naughty Dog’s epic post-apocalyptic title.
The Evil Within is a good choice for those who enjoy horror but are looking to see more action than actual scares. The game is available now on PS4, Xbox One, PS3, Xbox 360, and PC.
Lords of the Fallen
The comparisons between Lords of the Fallen and Dark Souls are inevitable. Developer CI Games clearly used From Software’s RPG series, known for its punishing difficulty, as inspiration. However, the goal for Lords of the Fallen was to take the formula made popular in Dark Souls and make it a bit more appealing and accessible to a larger audience.
It is true that players will dies much more infrequently in Lords of the Fallen than they would in the unforgiving setting of Dark Souls. Many fans of the latter might complain that making Lords of the Fallen easier cheapens the experience. However, a lot of the more relaxed mechanics actually come from better built systems.
Much of the difficulty from Dark Souls comes from the fact that game simply has stiff and unresponsive controls. It simply becomes increasing harder to live when a game features poorly designed controls. Lords of the Fallen remedies this by including a much better control scheme than the title that it is often compared to. In short, one of the reasons that The Lords of the Fallen is an easier game than Dark Souls is due to the fact that the game features much more responsive controls.
There are many elements where Lords of the Fallen does actually try to make things easier on the player such as having many more respawn points and a means to store experience so that it isn’t completely lost upon death. However, users will gain a stacking experience buff the longer they play without accessing the storage.
These differences, in addition to better map design, do cause players to have a to backtrack through areas less frequently. Gamers have to decide for themselves whether they think that it is a bad change or simply less frustrating.
It’s hard not to talk about Dark Souls while discussing Lords of the Fallen. Since the two games are so similar, it’s easy to recommend CI Games’ new RPG to Dark Souls fans. It is true that most of those who like one franchise will likely enjoy the other. However, those who prefer the Dark Souls formula to stay exactly as it is might not be so welcoming to the ways that Lords of the Fallen mixes things up. Conversely, many who have never been able to really get into Dark Souls may find that Lords of the Fallen makes just the changes that they need.