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With so many people still stuck at home during these crazy Covid times, gaming is bigger than ever. Whatever your favorite genre is, we've got a bunch of this year's releases to peak your interest and satisfy your gaming hunger.

To maximize your gaming, you will need headphones, keyboards, mic and more. Check out our gift guide for the best gaming hardware.

ACTIVISION:

Call of Duty: Vanguard: (PS4/PS5/Xbox One & X/S)

Call of Duty is back with another World War II revision called Vanguard and it is an action packed, faster paced, all out bloody war that is a must for any Call of Duty fan. With another epic Campaign mode that takes you deep into the heart of battle, Vanguard is easily a cinematic masterpiece to play or even spectate.

Multiplayer also returns with 20 maps available, four of which are exclusive to the Champion Hill mode and two that are remakes taken from COD: World at War, released 13 years ago and still one of my all time favorites.

Zombies also returns with a refreshed change in game set up. Vanguard Zombies drops you in a city center where you must clear areas of the map with short mini-maps that, once completed, bring you back to the city center, allowing you to continue clearing as the game gets increasingly harder and more challenging. Earning cash is the most important thing as it allows you the ability to buy better weapons to pack-a-punch since you definitely want to be packing the heat before level 5.  It is a blood rushing intense game filled with zombie carnage.  

Tony Hawk Pro Skater 1 & 2: (all platforms)

I remember playing the original skateboard game, “720°” at the arcade in the 80s and it was so amazing! Years later Activision and Neversoft released Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater for PlayStation 1, Nintendo 64, Game Boy Color, Dreamcast and N-Gage and gamers across the world were hooked! Fast forward to now with the newly released Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 & 2 developed by Vicarious Visions, which are both remastered versions of the originals from 1999 and 2000 but with considerably huge advancements in graphics, up to high def 4K playback and a banging soundtrack. One change is the new release no longer has any bloody graphics when you eat shit. All the original pro skaters are available plus the addition of some new modern day skaters like Aori Nishimura and even a cameo by Jack Black.

If you are reminiscing about the days when you used to be a skateboard punk shredding down in Venice beach or in the emptied pool of someone’s unoccupied house, then this game is for you!

Crash Bandicoot 4: (all platforms)

Crash Bandicoot returns with another installation and "It's About Time." The game was finally released on the Nintendo Switch. Technically a sequel of Crash Bandicoot 3 Warped, this new release is slightly different with the same gameplay and new worlds of levels and challenges. Each world in the game has different variations of levels and so many different themes packed into the game make this extremely entertaining. 

A new addition to the game are the four "Quantum Masks" that give Crash various abilities to alter gravity, slow down time, hover and create or remove objects from existence. This addition alone brings in so many new and exciting ways to play this long running fan favorite. Crash's little sister Coco returns along with three additional playable characters, Dr. Cortex, Dingodile, and Tawna, who all have different abilities and moves to further keep the excitement of this game going. 

BANDAI NAMCO

Disney Magical World 2: Enchanted Edition: (Switch)

Disney fans of the Magical World (released in 2015 on the Nintendo 3DS) will be happy to find a just released sequel with Disney Magical World 2 Enchanted Edition for the Nintendo Switch. Take a journey into a magical filled world with your favorite Disney characters as you set up your new home, next to Mickey Mouse's and explore many Disney themed worlds. During your adventure you can complete various tasks and mini-games to earn stickers and other gifts to customize and decorate your home and more. You can even dance with Princesses and ride in one of the Magical Dream parades with your new besties Mickey and Minnie.

If you're a fan of everything Disney and Nintendo greats like Animal Crossing, grab your Mickey ears and get ready for hours of enchanted fun in the Magical World of Disney.

Mobile Suit Gundam Battle Operation Code Fairy: (PS4/PS5)

If you are a fan of anime then Mobile Suit Gundam is canon. Bandai has recently released Mobile Suit Gundam Battle Operation Code Fairy, a three volume release consisting of 15 episodes that are part graphic novel, part mecha battle and is a fun ride for fans of the legendary Gundam anime. To aid struggling North American comrades in their battle against the White Devil and Earth Federation Forces, you take the reins as rookie Alma to lead the "Noisy Fairy" unit against their dominance. There is strength in team bonds and together you can defeat the enemy forces that keep coming and coming.

Gameplay progression unlock various upgrades that can be made to your Mobile Suit and the mech battles are filled with fun and exciting battles with high powered sniper cannon rifles, mini guns and missile launchers. Love love love this game!

Mr. Driller Drill Land: (all platforms not including mac os)

Mr. Driller Drill Land is a fun filled revived and remastered game from the Game Cube days and is a challenging combination that give off Bejeweled, Tetris and Dig Dug vibes all in one! You're invited to "DrillLand," a secret amusement park 500 meters underground, where you must explore and conquer five attractions that can be challenging but are tons of fun while you quest to defeat the final boss. Gameplay is fairly simple and requires destruction of like colored blocks as you descend lower and lower. Sometimes your exit is midway and you have to strategically work your way to the next map, otherwise you must restart the map. All of this is timed by your oxygen levels that deplete with each move you make. 

I love this game especially on my Switch but I do find myself drifting into the wee hours of the night whenever I play. If you're looking for a non-committal yet involving play-as-you-like game then Mr. Driller Drill Land is an addicting one to get. 

The Dark Pictures Anthology: House of Ashes: (PS4/PS5/Xbox One & X/S)

Supermassive Games and Bandai Namco have released another book to The Dark Pictures Anthology entitled House of Ashes and it is a lot of horror filled fun.

One of the first things you'll notice as you meet the Curator of these "books" is how excellent graphic renderings are, so much so that this game almost feels like a movie. Without revealing too much, House of Ashes has an excellent story line with many startling and scary moments that kept me very involved and very entertained. 

This is a choose your adventure type of game with controller participation that can require a button push at any given time. So keeping your controller in hand is important. Headsets are a must (check our holiday gear guide), especially if they are surround sound! Engulfing yourself with all of the sounds that House of Ashes delivers, coupled with a dark room, really adds enormously to your gameplay experience. I’m sure my neighbors were wondering why they could hear me scream, shriek and yell out in horror.

If you like horror adventure storylines and beautiful visuals then this is the game for you! Bandai also has two other books, "Man of Medan" and "Little Hope," previously released that are definitely worth playing.

BETHESDA

Deathloop: (PC/PS5)

IT’S APOCALYPTIC GROUND HOG DAY with one catch...you can't remember "shit" when you come back. The Deathloop fun or mindf*ck begins with waking up as Colt, an assassin trapped in a time loop, tasked with the job of killing eight hard to get to "Visionaries" across the vast Black Reef island prison before midnight. Achieve this lethal task and freedom is yours. Failure to do so results in waking back up where you started and having to do it all over again. To make things more challenging, Julianna, a rival assassin, is trying to save the loop and does everything she can to kill you. 

Deathloop introduces so many cool and interesting player mechanics and delivers on many hours of exploratory, shoot-em up adventure with amazing graphics, and a brilliantly rich and captivating storyline. You can even play as Julianna and protect the loop.

This is DEFINITELY a must have if you're in the mood to jump down the rabbit hole for hours of mind-mashing and brain-flipping fun.

DOOM Eternal: (all platforms)

DOOM Eternal is a first person shooter that is filled with mind numbing landscapes and a plethora of formidable demon creatures, monsters, zombies and elite enemies. Gameplay is excellent with signature finishing moves like ripping the eye out of a Cacodemon cyclops or cutting an attacking demon zombie in half with your chainsaw. Replenishment of supplies is crucial throughout this game as you can only hold a limited number of bullets and rockets as your enemies come charging at you once you've been spotted. Hidden walls and floors also hold valuable health and extra lives and are sprinkled throughout the game. 

If you ever played the original DOOM games you'll love this exponentially updated, upgraded and cranked up version that really takes the series out of this world.

The Elder Scrolls Online: (PC/macOS/PS4/PS5/Xbox One & X/S)

Longtime players of The Elder Scrolls can now continue their quests and battles on next gen consoles with recently released versions for PS5/Xbox X/S. The Elder Scrolls Online offer an amazing amount of gameplay in vast open world settings where humans, elves, wizards and more, interact and sometimes team up to battle various threats at hand. With available chapters, DLC and storylines stemming from the original 2014 release, The Elder Scrolls not only is a game but it is easily a secondary life in your gaming world. 

If you ever wanted to immerse yourself in a world drenched in fantasy battle against the forces of evil then dig in with The Elder Scrolls Online

BLIZZARD

Diablo II Resurrected: (all platforms)

Diablo II: Resurrected (D2R) is a remastered version of Diablo II, an action-packed RPG that captured the world in 2000. If you loved the original Diablo II release, now's your chance to relive the excitement but this time in high definition via consoles and 4K via PCs. Begin the pursuit of the Dark Wanderer and destroy demon onslaughts during your quest to defeat the Prime Evils once again and if this is your first time playing...Welcome to hell.

D2R is injected with remastered monsters, demons, heroes and all of the spells and weapons from the original. D2R also includes the Diablo II: Lord of Destruction expansion and takes your battle through icy caverns and deadly tombs filled with hoards of the undead. Also resurrected and remixed is a playlist of tracks taken from the original Diablo II soundtrack remixed by Josh Carter of Phantogram and TikTok famous, Atlantic Records artist Sueco, for your listening pleasure.

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If you love adventure, demon slaying and crave an epic quest then Diablo II: Resurrected is one of the best ways to quench that thirst.

Overwatch 2: (TBA)

One of the most highly anticipated follow up release to an amazing game that birthed the Overwatch League, worldwide tournaments and one of the largest cosplaying communities, will be resuming league gaming on an early build of Overwatch 2 in 2022.  We can only hope that a consumer release will follow later in the year.

When I first played Overwatch, I was captivated by the game mechanics and I loved the various characters with their unique abilities (D.Va!!!). If you are a fan of the first release, Overwatch 2 is coming...and I personally can't wait!

EA

NHL 22: (PS4/PS5/XBOX ONE & X/S)

Hockey video games have come a long way since the NES and Sega Genesis days. EA has always been the leader in sports games and NHL 22 with the Frostbite engine is another chilly hit if you're a fan of ice hockey. If you haven't played any EA hockey titles before, not to worry because picking up the necessary stick and button skills (for console players) is a snap and exhilarating gameplay can be underway fairly quickly. 

To be honest, it's pretty eerie how good the graphics are as a few times, my girlfriend thought I was actually watching a game versus playing one. On top of some of the best sports visuals in video gaming, the sports commentary is also on par, so much so that your gameplay often gets some very real world vibes as you skate across the ice working on your slapshots and hat tricks.

Gearbox Publishing

Tribes of Midgard: (PC/PS4/PS5)

Tribes of Midgard is a fun Viking action RPG survival game that can be played solo or with up to 10 players that can form a tribe to cooperatively conquer the lands together. In game, players will pick Viking heroes who must protect the seed of Yggdrasil from various dark elves, trolls and giants. In the daytime, players can safely explore and collect resources to craft weapons, armor and fortify their village defenses but by nightfall enemies and monsters will come to attack any and all settlements to get to the seed of Yggdrasil. Every day means a progression in difficulty so foraging is vital and essential to surviving each attack.

Viking adventures are to be had in this beautifully rendered RPG and definitely keep anyone involved and glued to the monitor.

GungHo America

Volta-X: (STEAM/SWITCH)

Volta-X is a new stylishly cool strategy game that allows players the chance to command their own giant customizable robot Voltas against other Voltas in multiplayer battles. Robot customization is a big part of the game but HQ base building is also vital in order to level up your crew and keep them happy. Building a lab is also crucial in creating new tech, powerful weapons and armor for your Volta. Another unique gameplay feature involves controlling your Volta's attacks but also directing your crew members to travel to different parts of the robot to make repairs and activate special weapons to fight the good fight. 

If you're craving a skill based chess like strategy game that involves giant robot battles  and is visually artistic with smoky jazz club vibes then Volta-X is a unique one-of-a-kind venture into that world.

Square Enix

Circuit Superstars: (PC/PS4/XBOX ONE/SWITCH)

Circuit Superstars

Circuit Superstars

Circuit Superstars is a racing game with adorably cute graphics and arcade style racing but injected with realistic driving. Players can customize their cars and drivers with more unique skins and upgrades released as you level up and progress through the game. What makes it so fun and interesting is it feels like you're playing with remote control Micro Machines toy cars but in a game. 

You can play up to 4 players in split-screens which makes this a super fun option for the family after you've had your holiday dinner. If you don't have anyone to join with, you can always play against AI racers that will keep you on your toes.

Life is Strange: True Colors: (all platforms)

Life Is Strange True Colors

Alex Chen has a secret power that she must use to find the truth.

True Colors is the newest chapter of Life is Strange, originally released in 2015 and is a captivating narrative adventure video game. In game, we follow our protagonist, Alex Chen who has a secret ability she keeps hidden but will need to help her solve her brother Gabe's mysterious death. True Colors is a choose your adventure type game that waivers on your every decision throughout your journey.

Haven Springs, a small mining town in the mountains of Colorado, is where your tale begins and will also be the town where you will have to interact with various people as you examine locations and items all for the sake of solving this tragic mystery. True Colors is an excellent graphic novel adventure for anyone that loves a good story to get lost in.

Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy: (all platforms)

Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy video game screenshot

a barrel of laughs with amazing graphics and comical dialog!

When I initially got this game, I wasn’t sure about it because the character likenesses and voices were not exactly like the MCU movies, but after playing, I was HOOKED. Surprisingly the storyline and characters really grew on me and I eventually found myself locked into this game for 3 hours on my first time playing. 

Graphics are excellent, adventure sequences are also exhilarating and the dialog is filled with wisecracking smart ass comments throughout, especially from Rocket. And let's not forget the amazing 80's soundtrack! The beginning sequence is a touch slow but once you get past that, it’s chapter after chapter of excitement with so many new scenarios, challenges and creatures that need to be exterminated. I never thought navigating through a destroyed ship wreck engulfed in gooey puffy pink resin could be so fun and entertaining. 

Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy video game screenshot

pink goop, ridiculously ugly monsters and everything is falling apart...sign me up!

If you like the Guardians of the Galaxy (hard YES), adventure games with tons of exploration and first person shooting, you will love this game!

Outriders: (PC/PS4/PS5/XBOX ONE & X/S)

Outriders is an epic cinematic sci-fi shooter that takes place in a dark and grim other world setting where survival of the fittest is the law of the land. You are tasked with destroying hoards of monsters and other enemies as you traverse across the increasingly hostile planet of Enoch. As you explore the planet you can find items to build better gear, armor and weapons to take your battles to another level. Gunplay is extremely satisfying and entertaining as you blast through and incinerate the bodies of attacking enemies. This co-op game allows you to play solo or in teams with up to three players. 

Outriders is a fun filled gory action shooter that gave me a ton of Gears of War vibes but delivers on amazing graphics, epic weapon and armor upgrades and hours upon hours of fun annihilation-style gameplay.

UBISOFT

Far Cry 6: (PC/PS4/PS5/XBOX ONE & X/S)

Far Cry 6 is an epic action packed open world first person shooter that takes place on the fictional island of Yara, one of the largest Far Cry playgrounds to date. You enter this island as Dani Rojas a local Yaran rebel, with the near impossible task of over throwing and killing dictator "El Presidente" Antón Castillo (voiced by and modeled after Giancarlo Esposito). This character alone really drives the intensity and believable storyline home. With cinematic visuals and almost true-to-life renderings of the characters, Far Cry 6 really feels like a real life Netflix series that you actually play through and control. 

Definitely on my top 10 list of games to really dig into and get lost in.

Riders Republic: (all platforms)

Riders Republic busts out with a ginormous multiplayer extreme sports game where up to 64 players compete against each other in Mass Race competitions that include mountain biking, skiing, snowboarding and wingsuit flying!  Various maps include Bryce Canyon, Yosemite Valley, Sequoia Park, Zion, Canyonlands, Mammoth Mountain and Grand Teton. The game features a career mode that allows players to unlock new gears, outfits and other customizable items as they progress further into the game. Players can also be invited to join the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup, Red Bull Rampage, Red Bull Joyride and the X Games with the final goal of participating in the Riders Ridge Invitational, a never seen before multi-sport competition featuring all sports in one single event.

X Games fans and adrenaline junkies will love this hell of an exhilarating ride that is both challenging and fun to watch with its unique competitive gameplay.

Just Dance 2022: (PS4/PS5/XBOX ONE & X/S/SWITCH)

TikTok may be dominating the world with mimicked dance routines to popular songs but Just Dance has been doing this since 2009 and has just released their newest version Just Dance 2022. With the new release comes 40 of the hottest new songs that challenge players to copy on screen choreography with many different wild and crazy backdrops and the goal to advance through levels of the game. There is a Sweat Mode that doesn't give you a score but instead calculates approximate calories you may have burned while trudging through the challenging dance routines. There is also a Kids Mode that offers bright and colorful backdrops with fun children songs and easier dances that are designed for smaller children. 

All in all Just Dance 2022 delivers a ton of fun for all ages and can be enjoyed solo, away from critical eyes or in a party where everyone can make fun of each other's lack of rhythm.

WARNER BROS

Back 4 Blood:

Back 4 Blood is a ridiculously good zombie adventure that is filled with heart-racing moments of random full blown zombie blitzkreig attacks. Unlike other zombie games, Back 4 Blood brings a card play element which brings different gameplay mechanics, player abilities and weapon choices. Players are tasked with objectives and locations to reach with the never-ending need to replenish dwindling supplies like health aids and bullets. Gunplay is solid and effective but it's easy to run out of bullets when you're in the heat of fending off an onslaught of the gory undead. 

To add insult to zombie injury, there are boss creatures that bring unique worlds of hurt when they come charging and they do come charging hard. Character customization is great with so many different skins to make your player unique and yours alone. One really cool feature is Swarm mode where you can switch roles and be a boss zombie attacking the humans!

If you're a zombie fan or an undead aficionado Back 4 Blood is truly a fun way to quench your bloody thirsts.

After exploring distant planets, solar systems and evil plagued lands, we have survived zombie assaults and braved through world wars to bring you our first games-only guide with the hottest releases of the past year! And as we say farewell to another year plagued with Covid, we wish you all a very safe, healthy and video game filled holiday! Now give me my controller! I've got zombie demons to eradicate!

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