It's traditional for the holiday season to be an embarrassment of riches for the video-game industry, but 2015 is looking downright ... humiliating.
The number of anticipated titles hitting shelves in the fourth quarter is the highest the industry has seen in years. Several top franchises have new installments out and some new takes on older games are looking very promising. That's intimidating for gamers, but it's good news for gift buyers, since few gamers will be able to keep up with the deluge. Here are some surefire suggestions.
(Publisher: Bethesda Softworks/Systems: Xbox One, PS4, PC)
Gamers have been clamoring for this post-apocalyptic role playing game for the past five years — so the June confirmation that it was under development was cause for celebration. The game explores Boston as a post-nuclear wasteland, filled with hostile mutants, human survivors and one very faithful German shepherd.
CORRECTION: This version corrects the publisher of Fallout 4.
(Publisher: Electronic Arts/Systems: Xbox One, PS4, PC)
Over 9 million people tried this reboot of a 2004 game when Electronic Arts offered a public beta in October — the largest trial run of a game in the company's history (indicating tremendous demand for the game). Players choose to fight for either the Empire or the Rebels on familiar grounds like Hoth and Tattoine. The game will support up to 40 players per match in online battles. EA recently revised its sales expectations from 10 million to 13 million units by the end of fiscal 2016, but some analysts say the company is still being conservative with those estimates.
(Publisher: Activision/Systems: Xbox One, PS4, PC, Xbox 360, PS3)
Set in 2065, the latest version of this annual franchise will see in-game augmented soldiers, with virtual superpowers. There's a single-player campaign (and, in a novel twist, you can immediately hop to any chapter in it, rather than having to follow a linear path), but the game's really more about its multiplayer aspects, which should once again be like catnip to action fans. The game is a sequel to the best-selling installment of the series.
(Publisher: Microsoft/Systems: Xbox One)
This latest chapter in the Master Chief's saga finds him adrift and on the run — and it's likely to be the best-selling Xbox One game of the year. There's a strong focus on cooperative play this year, letting people play alongside of (instead of against) their friends — in both the story mode and the multiplayer campaign. The single-player campaign is less compelling than its predecessor, but the multiplayer is as good as gamers were hoping.
(Publisher: Warner Bros/Systems: Xbox One, PS4, PC)
The Batman franchise has been one of the most dependable of the past several years and this concluding chapter by developer Rocksteady is giant, letting you explore all of Gotham City at your leisure. And when you get tired of soaring from building to building, you've got the Batmobile to help you get around town.
(Publisher: Nintendo/Systems: Wii U)
Blend the popularity of user-generated content with one of the most iconic characters in the gaming world and you've got this Wii U exclusive. Players can create their own levels (and download those created by others) in a Super Mario Bros. world, which has resulted in some wildly entertaining experiences. It's an experience that's easy for children to do themselves, but just as fun for adults.
(Publisher: Microsoft/Systems: Xbox One)
2013's "Tomb Raider" reboot managed to inject new life into the aging franchise. Now it's time to see if that interest is sustained. With her origin now established, Lara Croft begins to mature into the iconic character gamers are so familiar with. The game looks and plays great, but it faces some stiff competition this year.
(Publisher: Harmonix/Systems: Xbox One, PS4)
Whether this revived music genre title will appeal to you largely depends on how you feel about the last round of guitar games. There's not a lot that's tremendously different about this version of "Rock Band," though it's still fun to wail away on the guitar and drums. If you burned out on plastic guitars four years ago, though, it might not be for you.
(Publisher: Activision/Systems: Xbox One, PS4, Wii U, Wii, PS3, Xbox 360, Nintendo 3DS)
The latest installment of this billion-dollar franchise adds land, sea and sky vehicles to the usual character figurines, opening up all sorts of new playstyles. It's not just an action game, it's now also a driving, flying and exploration game, which should keep kids interested.
(Publisher: Disney/Systems: Xbox One, PS4, PC, Wii U, PS3, Xbox 360)
Disney turns the focus of its most successful franchise to the most successful film franchise of all time. The result, not surprisingly, is a magnet for children — young and old. Play as virtually any of your favorite "Star Wars" characters — from any of the films — in this game, letting you explore familiar scenes from the movies and create your own worlds in the series much-vaunted Toybox mode.