5. X Rebirth
Serving as something of a reboot for the Egosoft’s long-running space trading series, X Rebirth wipes the slate clean with various gameplay changes including an updated interface that’s easier for new players to learn while remaining complex enough to satisfy veterans. Likewise, Rebirth brings sandbox gameplay that retains familiar elements such as fighting, trading and plain old exploration, though it also touts a new universe and storytelling that details a handful of characters in a more personalized way than previous entries. It’s also one of this season’s few major Linux-friendly.
4. Baldur’s Gate II: Enhanced Edition
Finishing what began with last year’s Baldur’s Gate remake, Baldur’s Gate II: Enhanced Edition revamps Shadows of Amn and its expansion Throne of Bhaal with streamlined multiplayer, polished graphics including native widescreen, as well as four new party members with individual quest lines (of note, these characters bundled on PC and Mac but they’ll be separate DLC on iPad and Android). Overhaul Games seems to have pleased many with the changes in Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition and we hope its experience translates to an even smoother update this time around.
3. Call of Duty : Ghosts
Activision catches at least as much flak as EA for annualizing major franchises, but we wouldn’t blame you for wanting to take another bombastic ride with Infinity Ward and crew. This year’s CoD follows the happenings of “Ghosts,” an elite paramilitary group resisting the “Federation,” a hostile foreign power who invades a crippled United States. Multiplayer seems like it has received more than a marginal update too, with the ability to lean and slide, dynamic environments (earthquakes, floods etc.) and player-driven events, as well as new game modes, maps, weapons and other gear.
2. Assassin’s Creed IV
Following the happenings of eighteenth-century pirates including Black Beard, Black Flag puts you in control of assassin Edward Kenway (father and grandfather of the two playable characters of Assassin’s Creed III) as he explores Cuba, Haiti, Jamaica and other areas in the Caribbean with a 60/40 ratio of land and sea navigation. Along with a plot that’s familiarly split between modern and historical stories, ACIV’s multiplayer includes seven game modes as well as the ability to build your own with a new feature that offers more than 200 different options for abilities, weapons, time limits and so on.
1. NFS: Rivals
With similar gameplay to 2010’s Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit, Rivals brings cops versus racers action to a world with 100 miles (160km) of open road, complete with unmapped shortcuts, speed traps and jumps. The racing franchise’s 20th release offers two single player careers (again, cops and racers), while said factions face off in high-speed chases with 11 upgradable gadgets including EMPs, shockwaves and an ability to summon roadblocks. Some form of co-op gameplay is also present, while a new social system called “AllDrive” will let players seamlessly transition between single and multiplayer.