Like some kind of rebuke to the hubris of man, the end of August reached a critical mass of games and could no longer sustain itself, bursting forth into the springtime months (fall, for you northerners) and not stopping until December.
The avalanche of holiday games has begun, bringing with it too many single-player AAAs, indies, and inevitable Nintendo Switch ports to do justice in a single editorial. We will do our best, though, so here are five games to keep an eye on this month, plus a bunch of honourable mentions throughout.
Release Date: September 10, 2019
Platforms: Windows PC and Xbox One
This game is a tricky one: as usual for a flagship Xbox title, the focus is primarily on multiplayer. Despite the popularity of co-op and multiplayer modes, though, the single-player story is core to the identity of the Gears series—and Gears 5 offers up some serious changes to the standard campaign.
First, the Gears series is well worth a look—if only in the way that millions of people appreciate and enjoy the Michael Bay Transformers films. Like the Bayformers, Gears boasts unparalleled production values, some excellent monster designs, and a postmodern approach to storytelling. If these are not your thing, feel free to skip for now.
On the other hand, if you are still here, Gears 5 offers all manner of small improvements that fans will appreciate. The switch to focusing on Kait’s family story adds a layer of mystery and drama to this insane fantasy universe (while still keeping fan favourite Marcus Fenix and son J.D. on stage), and although the cover/corridor shooter mechanics remain, current developer The Coalition has promised several semi-open environments to add a level of exploration, not unlike last year’s God of War.
More campaign details will come shortly before launch, but, as Microsoft exclusives go, Gears 5 is an exciting, blockbuster hopeful to round out an otherwise flat year.
Also hitting around Gears 5 are Final Fantasy VIII Remastered and the console port of Torchlight II on September 3. Also that day, Catherine: Full Body sees an English-language release on PlayStation 4, and on September 6 Monster Hunter: World receives its first big expansion, ‘Iceborne’.
Release Date: September 10, 2019
Platform: PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One
This decade has been tough for fans of BioWare and Bethesda. Oh, there have been plenty of big, nerdy RPGs, thank goodness—but if you wanted more from the makers of Knights of the Old Republic and The Elder Scrolls—the sorts of AAA RPGs that sold entire consoles back in the early days of Xbox—fans have been divided.
French developer Spiders understands the gap left by the disappointment of BioWare’s and Bethesda’s recent output, and over the last ten years has developed its own Euro-RPG sensibilities into the closest thing to a little-BioWare-that-could. Its RPGs lack the polish of the big American studios, but are much more approachable than, say, Gothic and Risen from German developer Piranha Bytes.
Greedfall is Spiders’s latest attempt to fill that gap, more expressly than ever, and much of the marketing has centred around the depth of worldbuilding and variety of choices the game offers. Greedfall takes place in a world inspired by the more recent Age of Exploration than the traditional medieval setting, casting the player as part of a covetous Empire invading a “new” land, and the conflicts that arise between the Empire and the native peoples.
Despite its hard-edged premise, depicting a fantasy version of the invasion of America and/or any other “new” world, the game balances its difficult and choice-based story with creative monsters and a free-form, classless character progression. Eschewing the “here are three skill trees” standard of practically every recent AAA, Greedfall offers one skill tree for the player to make their way through as they see fit.
Given the small (around 40 developers) team and its track record of ambitious, middlingly-received RPGs, do not expect a Mass Effect-level presentation—but if Spiders has squashed the worst of the bugs and concocted a satisfying enough central narrative, count me excited for another hidden gem.
Dropping the same day as Greedfall is the epic 2D hack-and-slash platformer Blasphemous, followed on September 13 by the long-awaited Borderlands 3 (pretty cool but about as single-player focused as Monster Hunter) and the long drawn-out “what?” of Switch exclusive Daemon X Machina (an interesting-looking, very niche mech combat game). SpikeChunsoft of Danganronpa fame will also release its sci-fi adventure game AI: The Somnium Files on September 17.
Release Date: September 17, 2019
I must admit, this one sneaked up on me. Originally scheduled for a PC and console release, the console version of this dark, stylish-action game has been pushed back into next year, making this month’s release PC-only.
Although the setup is nothing special—a Devil May Cry kind of action game about fighting through hell—the narrative promises to be a bit more than just an eighth-grader’s take on Heavy Metal seen through the broken stained-glass window of an ornate church. According to PC Gamer, Devil’s Hunt is based on a Polish novel called Equilibrium and developed by a team that Paweł Leśniak, the author of the book himself, established.
Like Devil May Cry or God of War, the game promises more than just hacky-slashy demon-bashy, with a “heavy storyline,” puzzles, and other obstacles, plus plenty of lore that Layopi Games hopes to spin into a series. I just hope the game can pick a lane and weave either some seriously engaging drama or a wild adolescent power fantasy, without falling into the Purgatory in between.
Just announced to launch two days after Devil’s Hunt on September 19, the turn-based, post-apocalyptic, survival game Overland comes to PC, PlayStation 4, Switch, and Xbox One.
THE LEGEND OF ZELDA: LINK’S AWAKENING
Release Date: September 20, 2019
The Legend of Zelda was. The Legend of Zelda is.
The Legend of Zelda will be again.
On the same day as Link’s Awakening, the original Ni no Kuni gets a re-release for Switch, along with a remastered edition for PC and PlayStation 4. Just four days later, RPG fans will be inundated with more classic content as the enhanced versions of Baldur’s Gate, Icewind Dale, Planescape: Torment, and Neverwinter Nights arrive on consoles.
As if those were not too much already, September 24 also sees the cyber-tinged soulsy sequel The Surge 2 release on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One, and the complex pixel-simulating hardcore platformer Noita comes to PC. Finally, Darksiders II: Deathinitive Edition gets a Switch port on September 26.
Release Date: September 27, 2019
Platform: PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One
From the director and dev team behind God Eater, Code Vein is the latest in the soulsborne trend and a good looking one to boot. In contrast with the serious, clunky The Surge games, Bandai Namco’s in-house take on a soulslike is perhaps closer to Ashen; combining a more mobile character with an anime-styled aesthetic and various AI partners who assist in combat.
Despite the more overt storyline and anime vampires of it all, Bandai Namco is probably hoping that the dark, dungeon-RPG vibes of Code Vein will make it stand out more to western audiences. Even more so than sister series God Eater, the game is filled with interesting, if typically lascivious visual design, focused (as many souls-competitors are) on enormous, intimidating bosses.
Early previews reported great world design but so-so action; with any luck the developers have taken the extra year of delays to properly nail the combat mechanics and provide lovers of action-RPGs and Dark Souls fans another epic experience.
Also on September 27, Dragon Quest XI S comes to Switch as the Definitive Edition of last year’s wonderful, old-school JRPG. On the same day, the Switch port of Ori and the Blind Forest arrives, as well as the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One port of Tropico 6.
Have we missed anything that you’re looking forward to? Let us know in the comments below and be sure bookmark OnlySP and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. You can also join the discussion in our community Discord server.