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16 games that will blow you away in Fall 2018

Get your wallets ready. Autumn is almost here, and if you're a video game fan, you know what that means: in the rush to beat holiday shoppers to stores, publishers around the world are about to start releasing 2018's biggest hits into the wild. Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo, EA, Ubisoft, Bethesda, and many others are teaming up to make 2018 one of gaming's biggest years yet. Prepare yourselves.

This year, you'll be roaming the open West on horseback, swinging between Manhattan skyscrapers, racing along quaint British roads, exploring ancient Greece, pitting Nintendo's most iconic characters against each other in one all out brawl, and much, much more. There's enough coming out this fall to keep dedicated gamers busy for years. With so much good stuff on tap, the question isn't which games you're going to play. It's what you're going to play first. This fall, you don't want to miss anything.

Spider-Man swings into action

Spider-Man has starred in plenty of video games, but it's hard to call any of them truly great (although 2004's Spider-Man 2 comes close). On September 7, 2018, that changes. The upcoming PlayStation 4 exclusive has a mix of classic and brand new villains, Spidey's souped-up Avengers: Infinity War suit, and a guest appearance from Miles Morales himself. No matter which era of the web-slinger's adventures happens to be your favorite, Spider-Man has something you're going to like.

None of that fan service will matter if Sony can't get the basics right, of course. It sounds like they did. Hands-on reports say that, after a brief learning period, you should be swinging your way through New York City and taking down both supervillains and common crooks with ease. That's without even going into Spider-Man's take on Peter Parker, which will see you balancing the needs of Spidey's costumed identity with those of his civilian one. In other words, Spider-Man isn't just an action game. It's a full-on superhero simulator. How could you not be excited?

Shadow of the Tomb Raider comes into the light

We kinda thought we'd already seen Lara Croft's defining moment as she becomes the Tomb Raider — that was the whole point of 2013's series reboot — but you know what? That game was great. If Shadow of the Tomb Raider follows in its footsteps, we'll take it.

On September 14, 2018, Lara Croft picks up her bow and arrow and brings her origin story to a close. If you're a Tomb Raider veteran, you know what to expect. If not, get ready to explore some ancient ruins (including the largest hub world in the series' history), experience a nuanced story based on real-world myths, partake in some truly thrilling combat, and watch lots of gnarly death scenes.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider will also emphasize puzzle-solving and exploration, just like the original Tomb Raider game, but don't expect Ms. Croft to regress back into a bikini-clad sexpot. According to Crystal Dynamics, the new, complex, and vulnerable Lara is here to stay.

Tapping the Code Vein

If you played Bloodborne and wished that it looked a little more like an anime series, then Code Vein is for you. Bandai Namco isn't hiding the influence of Dark Souls on its upcoming action-RPG. It's just hoping that people can look beyond the obvious similarities and appreciate everything that Code Vein does differently.

Quite frankly, there's a lot of that. Code Vein's combat is hard, but there's more to pay attention to than just blocking, dodging, and striking. You'll need to successfully unleash your magical powers while keeping an eye on your ichor, which fuels your spells. Run out, and you'll need to get more, which can be done by stabbing your opponents and stealing their blood. Your AI companions will lend a hand, too. Just don't forget to return the favor, or you might find yourself battling Code Vein's toughest monsters alone.

Will all this be enough to liberate Code Vein from Dark Souls' shadow? Maybe, maybe not. You can find out on September 28, when Code Vein arrives on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Windows PC.

Over the Forza Horizon 4

Forza Horizon 4 will have something new every season — quite literally. The latest installment in the Xbox's premiere open-world racing franchise isn't just set in Britain, home of developer Playground Games. It mimics Britain's climate with unparalleled detail. Seasons aren't just aesthetic, either. Seasons, which art director Benjamin Penrose calls the "the holy grail of open-world," introduce new obstacles and pathways every time that the weather changes. During the winter, for example, you'll be able to drive across a frozen lake to reach a secluded island, something that's impossible during the summer.

That's the kind of detail that Forza Horizon fans have come to expect, and it's exactly what they'll get when Forza Horizon 4 launches on October 2, 2018. Naturally, Forza Horizon's cars look gorgeous (is any genre as consistently beautiful as racing games?) and go fast, but this time around, it's all about the world itself. Kotaku compares Forza Horizon 4 to "a Witcher racing game." That's not something we knew we wanted, but now absolutely do. October can't get here fast enough.

The blue bomber returns in Mega Man 11

It's been a long few years for fans of Capcom's blue bomber, but on October 2, the drought comes to an end. The next entry in the revered Mega Man series, Mega Man 11, finally arrives this fall, a full eight years since the robot-slaying android last graced video consoles.

Mega Man has grown up since then. Mega Man 11 might be a sidescroller, but the franchise's retro-friendly pixel art has been replaced by cell-shaded 3D models. Mega Man's learned some new tricks during his absence, too. He can charge shots, he can slide, he can use temporary abilities called Gears to escape tricky situations, and he can summon his pet dog Rush with a single button press.

Don't worry, though: Mega Man hasn't changed too much. Hardcore fans say that Mega Man 11's platforming is just as diabolically tricky as you'd hope. That's what really matters. Mega Man might look a little different, but deep down, he's still the same little hero that you know and love. Thank goodness.

Embark on your own Assassin's Creed: Odyssey

Ubisoft's pledge to transform Assassin's Creed from an annual franchise into one that simply appears "on a regular basis" didn't last long, but after Assassin's Creed: Origins, we're not complaining. Origins' trip back to the past breathed new life into the struggling series, and the follow-up, Assassin's Creed: Odyssey, looks like more of the same. In fact, Odyssey takes place hundreds of years before Origins. You'll find lots of Greeks, but don't look for the titular Assassin. They don't actually exist yet.

Not that it should matter gameplay-wise, of course. In Odyssey, you can play as either a man or a woman (and yes, the game is LGBTQ-friendly), but you'll still be hopping over villains, sneaking up on targets, and generally causing mayhem across the ancient world. You'll also be leveling up, chatting with other characters, and wooing the Greek of your dreams: Odyssey is a fully-fledged role-playing game, with all kinds of customization options to match. Oh, and did we mention that it's got a freakin' minotaur? That's enough on its own to get us to stores on October 5, when Assassin's Creed: Odyssey is slated to make its worldwide debut.

Call of Duty is back in black

In 2018, Call of Duty is shaking things up. Oh, sure, Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 might be the fourth entry in Treyarch's espionage-tinged subseries, but the game that arrives on October 12 won't look exactly like the Call of Duty that you remember. It won't have a single-player campaign. It will have a battle royale mode (one that features maps from all of the Black Ops games, even). DLC will be parceled out piecemeal instead of in large, discrete chunks, and will only be available if you buy Black Ops 4's season pass.

Even Call of Duty's tried and true multiplayer is changing. Black Ops 4 places a stronger emphasis and doles out better rewards for teamwork, encouraging players to forgo their lone wolf-like ways. There will still be guns and bullets and loadouts and zombies, of course. It's still Call of Duty. And yet, games have to evolve to survive. Will Black Ops 4 provide the roadmap for future Call of Duty titles to follow? We'll know for sure this fall.

Starlink: Battle for Atlas takes to the skies

Here's the dirty little secret behind most toys-to-life games: while the toys are usually great, the games they come with often aren't. Thankfully, Starlink: Battle for Atlas looks like it's bucking that trend. Yes, Starlink might ask you to swap out different pieces (each sold separately, of course) of your starship in order to change your in-game loadout, but this time around, you'll actually want to do it. In Starlink, hopping between planets and seeing what's on their surface is just plain fun.

And then, of course, there's Starlink's big guest star. With Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle, Ubisoft proved that it knows Nintendo's classic franchises almost as well as Nintendo itself, and the big-N wouldn't let Star Fox appear in a game if it wasn't any good. If you want to hop into an Arwing's cockpit, make sure that you pick up the Switch edition of Starlink on October 16. For obvious reasons, Captain McCloud won't be appearing on any other console.

Lego DC Super-Villains makes it good to be bad

In Traveller's Tales' series of LEGO games, DC's heroes have gotten numerous chances to shine. On October 16, it's the bad guys' turn. In LEGO DC Super-Villains, the Justice League is missing and a new group of heroes known as the Justice Syndicate has popped up to take their place. DC's baddies aren't having it. Lex Luthor, the Joker, the Reverse Flash, Darkseid, and over a hundred more of DC's nastiest characters will team up with the player's custom-made mini-fig to help take the Syndicate down — and, in true LEGO fashion, laugh a lot along the way.

LEGO DC Super-Villains oozes Suicide Squad-inspired style, and while the core gameplay doesn't deviate much from the established formula, there's a reason why Traveller's Tales LEGO games have lasted for so long. Completing light puzzles, hunting for collectibles, and engaging in simple, stress-free combat is fun. LEGO DC Super-Villains offers more of the same, albeit with a slightly twisted spin, and you know what? That's good enough for us.

Battlefield V heads off the beaten path

If you think you know World War II, think again. After a few years dabbling in other time periods, Battlefield V returns the series to the war that made it famous. Don't expect everything to feel exactly the same when you fire Battlefield V up on October 19, though. Developer DICE wants to use the game to tell new stories in a familiar setting.

That's why the game's single-player campaign focuses on multiple distinct war stories, including one involving Norwegian soldiers instead of the typical French, British, and American forces. It's also why DICE is dedicated to making sure that the real-life women who fought in WW2 get their due. Got a problem with that? Then don't buy the game, DICE says.

All that, and Battlefield V will make some much needed tweaks to the game's mechanics, too. Random bullet deviation, which made gunplay more realistic but less predictable, is out. Now, you'll shoot where you aim. Battlefield V has a battle royale mode, too,  because this is 2018 so of course it does. The latest Battlefield may not reinvent the series, but it doesn't need to. Honestly, a few small tweaks and some new faces will be just fine.

Red Dead Redemption is back in the saddle

Are you the kind of person who watches HBO's Westworld and thinks, "Hey, that looks kind of fun?" If so, one, get your head checked, and two, absolutely do not miss Red Dead Redemption 2, the open-world Western that's all set to take the video game world by storm when it launches on October 26, 2018.

If you've been living under a rock for the past eight years, rest assured that Red Dead Redemption 2 is more than just Grand Theft Auto V with horses, although there are some similarities between the two games (after all, they're both made by the same people). As in Grand Theft Auto, Red Dead Redemption 2 casts you as an outlaw and drops you in a sprawling, living world where you can hunt down crooks and collect high-paying bounties, stop by the local saloon for a couple of hands of poker, and pretty much everything else in-between. It's been a long wait, but Red Dead is finally back. Now, let's hope it never stays away so long ever again.

Take another hit with Hitman 2

More than any other game in recent memory, IO Interactive's Hitman reboot proved that an episodic release schedule could be a boon and not a detriment. So, naturally, IO is going in an entirely new direction for Hitman 2. While the episodic format might be gone, IO Interactive is giving us multiplayer co-op — a series first — in its place, so, y'know. You win some, you lose some.

Otherwise, expect November 13's Hitman follow-up to deliver the same violent, sandbox-y goodness that you loved in the first game. You've got new disguises to don, a whole new set of comically absurd deathtraps to assemble, and more ways than ever to track down your target and shoot (or stab, or poison, or bludgeon, or blow up) 'em dead.

Reportedly, Hitman 2 isn't making any major adjustments to the formula — it's closer to a second season than a radical reinvention — but we're not going to say no to more Agent 47. Heck, we almost ended up without any more Hitman at all. After that, we'll take every bit more that we can get.

Get your kicks with Fallout 76

Fallout 76 isn't really a sequel. It's more of a spin-off. Not only does the upcoming Fallout adventure trade the series' barren metropolitan wasteland for a leafier, rural setting, but Fallout 76 will host fewer human characters than previous games — and those who appear will be played by real-life people.

In fact, Fallout 76 isn't a traditional RPG at all. It's a survival game. Instead of following a pre-scripted plot, players will be in charge of making their own stories. Will you team up with your fellow survivors to build bases and take on mutated beasts, or will you fight them and take their stuff? The choice is up to you.

Bethesda knows that Fallout 76 won't be for everyone, but the studio urges fans to give Fallout 76 a shot. It's a different type of experience, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. The Fallout universe is big enough for all kinds of games, and we're excited to see what this online-focused take has to offer when it comes out on November 14.

Pokemon lets you go back to the very beginning

Interested in playing Pokémon Go, but not keen on things like fresh air or leaving the house? Nintendo has you covered. On November 16, Pokémon: Let's Go arrives on the Nintendo Switch, fusing Niantic's mobile hit with a more traditional Pokémon adventure.

As in Pokémon Red and Pokémon Blue, you'll spend your time in Pokémon: Let's Go exploring the Kanto region with your starter (either Pikachu or Eevee) on a quest to catch 'em all. When it comes time to capture Pokémon, however, you'll engage in a Pokeball-tossing minigame that's taken wholesale from Pokémon Go. In addition, Pokémon: Let's Go lets you bring creatures from Pokémon Go to your Switch. Finally, all of that aimless walking pays off!

If Pokémon Go isn't your cup of tea, don't worry: a fully-fledged Pokémon game is coming to the Switch in 2019. Conversely, if you only know Pokémon from Go and want to dive into the main games, Pokémon: Let's Go should help ease the transition. Besides, that Poke Ball controller? Pretty dang cool.

Don't cause trouble without a Just Cause

You want crazy? Just Cause 4 will give you crazy. That's the series' big draw: a big open world just waiting for mayhem to strike, and all of the tools that you need to make your wildest, most destructive fantasies a reality. Rocket boosters that'll turn everyday objects into deadly projectiles? Powerful balloons that transform whatever's around you into makeshift aircraft? Yup, Just Cause 4 has all of that, plus much, much more.

Heck, in Just Cause 4, you can even use the weather as an instrument of destruction. Not only does Just Cause 4 host a wildly destructive tornado, but play your cards right, and you can sic the windstorm on your enemies. Not enough for you? Pump the tornado full of rockets and watch as the natural disaster sends them careening into houses, automobiles, and gun-toting foes. It's chaos on a level never before seen in a Just Cause game, which makes Just Cause 4 a series-best more or less by default. On December 4, check it out.

The ultimate Super Smash Bros. game

The newest Super Smash Bros. game is called Ultimate for a reason. It's got the speed of Super Smash Bros. Melee. It's got Super Smash Bros. Brawl's online capabilities, Smash Bros. 4's HD graphics, and, oh yeah, every character that's ever appeared on a Smash Bros. roster (well, maybe).

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate isn't just a greatest hits compilation, though. It's a brand new game, built from the ground up specifically for the Nintendo Switch, with changes based on the past 20 years' worth of Smashing. If Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is the last Smash game — and it really could be — then it looks like Nintendo's popular mascot fighter is going to go out on a high note on December 7, although don't worry too much. Thanks to the Smash community's dedication (not to mention Nintendo's sudden embrace of eSports), the game will never truly go away.