Traditionally one of the busiest times of the year for major game releases, this fall game makers seem to be focusing on an increasingly loud mantra: Quality over quantity.
There will still be plenty for gamers to do in the lengthening nights and colder days, but perhaps not as much to pick from. Here's a run down of some of the biggest games to hit from late September to late December.
Fall doesn't really start until this Friday, but gaming gets an early start on the season today with the release of Xbox 360 exclusive Gears of War 3.
The final chapter in a future shooter trilogy set on a devastated planet, Gears of War culminates in a game with plenty of new tweaks and twists including a much meatier multiplayer, the ability to shoot your way through the entire game with three friends, and perhaps the most surprising development, playable female soldiers.
October gives gamers a chance to return to Gotham City as Batman, explore the first completely new creation from the creators of Doom in more than a decade and check out a contender to the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare shooter throne.
October 4 is when gamers get their hands on Rage, the first entirely new computer game from the makers of Doom and Quake in 15 years. In Rage, players awaken in a cryo-pod after a world-killing meteorite nearly wipes the planet clean. While still relying heavily on first-person shooter gameplay, Rage also features lots of armed driving, a strong role-playing element and fascinating stories to unravel, all in a world created with brand new, breath-taking game technology.
If Rage isn't your cup of post-apocalyptic tea, you might find solace - teeth-gnashing, hair-pulling solace - in Dark Souls, the fantasy action follow-up to 2009's uniquely difficult Demon's Souls. In this sequel of sorts, players will try to survive a dark fantasy setting with spells and medieval weapons.
October 18 brings us a follow-up to one of the best superhero games ever made. Batman: Arkham City drops players in the cape and cowl of the dark knight as he explores, fights and investigates in the open world of Arkham City, the slums of Gotham City turned into a walled prison. Batman's free-form fighting, wonderful toys and menagerie of enemies can't help but come together to deliver a memorable experience.
Ratchet and Clank: All 4 One also hits Oct. 18, the PS3 exclusive has players teaming up with up to three other buddies to play though the wacky weapons world of Ratchet and his robot sidekick Clank.
The month wraps up with Electronic Arts' most recent attempt to topple Call of Duty from the top of the first-person shooter throne. Battlefield 3 hits on Oct. 25 delivering an impressively gritty look at war in the near future's Middle East. The game's over-the-top graphics and amazingly realistic audio have been wowing fans of the genre for the months leading up to this launch. The game's single player campaign is augmented by a chunky multiplayer experience meant to compete toe-to-toe with Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 due out just two weeks later.
November kicks off with the release of Playstation 3 exclusive Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception, sequel to what many considered to be the best game released in 2009. In this action adventure sequel, Nathan Drake, video games' own Indiana Jones, and mentor Victor Sullivan find themselves pulled into a global conspiracy while on the hunt for 16th century treasure. As with its predecessors, the game promises to deliver one of gaming's best stories backed by fun gameplay and evolving multiplayer.
Another early November game to look forward to is LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5 - 7. Despite the clunky name, this latest LEGO game promises to deliver one of the best LEGO video game experiences to date as it wraps up the Harry Potter storyline with impressive graphics and an always tongue-in-cheek take on the plot.
November 8 delivers Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 to gamers. Last year's Call of Duty broke all of the records in terms of game sales. While this year's launch comes up against some direct and indirect competition, it's still likely to be another record breaker. This year's Call of Duty has a globe-hopping single player campaign and a continued evolution of the already massively popular multiplayer play.
Just three days later players will get a chance to sink into the enormous, immersive world of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. The role-playing sequel from Bethesda Game Studios takes place two hundred years after the events of the last Elder Scrolls. In it, players will have to take on a god Dragon as they explore a vast world on foot or horseback, learn magic, fight, join factions, complete quests and get lost in the sheer volume of things a player can do in the game.
On Nov. 13 the relatively publisher-neglected 3DS gets a much needed major release in Super Mario 3D Land. Nintendo's Mario returns to a land of princess saving, coin collecting and head stomping, as he jumps his way though a 3D world that is this time, thanks to the 3DS, viewable in true 3D. This is shaping up to be a reason to buy the portable.
Two days later, Saints Row the Third takes its already zany world of street gangs and senseless violence a step further with a game that sees the titular gang turned into superstars bent on not just crime-sprees, but autographs and thrill seeking.
The major release of the day, though, is Assassin's Creed: Revelations. The latest in the popular free-running game that lets you play as an acrobatic assassin in various moments in history, wraps up the tale of Italian killer Ezio. The game will also have you playing as game mainstays Altair and Desmond. This time around the game takes place in 16th century Constantine. The game will also feature expanded multiplayer.
November 20 brings with it a reason for Wii gamers to get very excited. The Legend of Zelda: The Skyward Sword has been in the works since 2008 and the team behind is known to make massive hits. In this latest Zelda game, players will use the Wii remote to wield the game's Skyward Sword and shoot a slingshot and bow. The game's story revolves around a sky world and its separation from the lands below.
While no firm date has been set, indie darling Minecraft is meant to official release in November. The computer game, built by a small team in Sweden, entices players to dig and build in a pixelated world during the day and survive the nights of creepers, spiders and zombies. (You can also play in a threat-free "creative" version of the game.)
Nintendo fans get another treat on Dec. 4 with the release of the seventh Mario Kart, this one for the 3DS. This time around players can take to the skies, or go underwater, as they race around Nintendo-themed tracks and toss turtle shells. The game also includes a first-person driving mode that has players moving the 3DS to steer.
Other games I didn't touch on coming out this fall include a slew of annualized sports titles, destined to be massive hits. That includes Forza 4, FIFA 12 and NBA 2K12. There are also a number of HD remakes hitting this fall including ones for Metal Gear Solid titles, the original Halo, Shadow of the Colossus and Ico.
It's going to be, if not a busy fall, a fun one.
Well Played is an internationally syndicated weekly news and opinion column about the big stories of the week in the gaming industry and its bigger impact on things to come. Feel free to join in the discussion.
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