Following a stellar September, October tried to set itself with a suite of releases worth remembering. But while there were some surprises and titles that were better than anticipated, the month was largely pockmarked by the launching of ports of games from other platforms.
Sword Coast Legends (PC, Mac, Linux)
A good idea, but ...
On paper, the core concept of giving someone the tools to re-create a Dungeons and Dragons experience in a video game is powerful and tempting. It's the kind of idea that done well could bring more fans into D&D who were attracted by the storytelling and the character creation, people who were left out by the physical properties of the game.
But Digital Extremes' efforts were seemingly outdone by the wave of Kickstarter cRPGS, and users complained of a game favouring quantity over quality, restrictive quest structures, and, worst of all, a system that was far too simplified for the authentic D&D experience that was being advertised.
Perhaps it's best to think of Sword Coast Legends as a Dragon Age: Origins or a Neverwinter Nights, although the opportunity for that impression has since past. Still, the faithful are currently several hundred strong, which should be more than enough for those who want to flex their DM muscles in a different form than the other tools currently available.
Guitar Hero Live (PS3, PS4, 360, XBO, Wii U)
I'm very, very slowly starting to come around on Guitar Hero Live. My initial impressions were pretty awful, soured by an atrocious convention setup and an unfamiliarity with the guitar that I didn't immediately take a liking to. But time, distance and experience are starting to repair my relationship with the new guitar (three elements that in truth can often repair one's perception on many things).
Guitar Hero TV, however, always remained pretty cool. The microtransactions are a little grating, but the ability to treat it like a version of Video Hits or rage that you play along is honest, good fun. Mike found that it was also a great solution for getting your kids to sleep in a pinch too.
Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection (PS4)
The second and third still hold up as good as ever
I thought for sure the Uncharted collection would have been one of my favourite things in 2015, thanks to the second being one of my favourite games of all time and perhaps my favourite console game from the last few generations. But not having any nostalgia for the original and experiencing most of its flaws afresh brought me back to reality.
But as a package it's still excellent. The remastered series was also a great bargaining chip for many retailers in pre-Christmas sales, something quite a few Kotaku readers took advantage of. It also granted access to the multiplayer beta for Uncharted 4, although that wasn't something likely to influence purchasing decisions on its own.
Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes (PC)
The next wave of local co-op games: communication
If you consider that more and more video games are leaning on their tabletop counterparts for inspiration, it seems logical where the indie co-op craze would go. As the near-endless wave of competitive couch co-op games begins to peter out, the natural evolution is towards games that offer a purer co-operative experience.
Games that focus on communication; games like Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes.
It was initially compared to Spaceteam for the similarities in co-operative experiences, but Keep Talking has since transcended that. My friends are bugging me relentlessly to have the manual printed out for our next gaming night, which makes an awful amount of sense. It's been received with near universal approval and is immediately accessible for non-gamers as, well, the Jackbox games.
Also, it's cheap as buggery. Great title, and if you can get the manual printed out and have a laptop you owe it to yourself to get some friends and give this a go.
Tales from the Borderlands (PC, PS3, PS4, XBO, 360, iOS, Android)
The Borderlands universe provided a richer story than many anticipated
Who knew that one of Telltale's least anticipated games would end up being one of their best? That was the end consensus once the final Tales of the Borderlands episode launched in October, despite a general decline in appetite for studio's rapid-fire episodic releases. Kirk also loved the licensed music strewn throughout Telltale's Pandora, and Nathan found himself pleasantly surprised.
Halo 5: Guardians (XBO)
It'd still be nice if this came to PC
"Halo 5: Guardians is the first time I haven't loved a Halo game," Tina wrote in November. That didn't mean Guardians wasn't well crafted or wonderful in sections, but it lacked the punch that the butt of Master Chief's rifle so often delivers.
I feel like most people who wanted something out of Halo 5 ended up getting that fix from Destiny: The Taken King. But the way Warzone was implemented and the thoroughness of the technical performance was excellent, even coming from someone who's not a long-time Halo fan.
Also, it'd still be nice if it could be released on PC one day. C'mon, Microsoft. Nobody really wants another Halo Wars.
Assassin's Creed: Syndicate (PC, PS4, XBO)
Considering the release of Unity a year prior, what does it mean to say that Syndicate is one of the better Assassin's Creed titles in recent memory? Chris discovered plenty of enjoyable sequences amidst the mixed pacing and narrative, and there was plenty of plus points to take from the two-character structure. I wouldn't be surprised if more Ubisoft games deploy that mechanic in the years to come, given how useful it was in Syndicate.
But it was still an Assassin's Creed game, at the end of the day. And I still feel burned from AC 3, despite the excellence of the naval sequences in Black Flag. Maybe Ubisoft will turn it around in the years to come with where they take the franchise -- or maybe the Watch Dogs IP will come to fill the void that AC once carved out for itself.
Rebel Galaxy (PC, PS4, XBO)
Insert guitar riff here
Take the naval combat from Assassin's Creed: Black Flag, guitar riffs that sound like they belong in Cowboy Bebop, a heavy dose of space trucking and enough narrative crumbs and you have an indie game in space that fills the void Elite Dangerous and Star Citizen haven't quite been able to fill for many (or not yet, in the latter's case).
Rebel Galaxy's great fun, and Nathan aptly described it as Firefly: The Video Game. It's not a complex simulation by any means, but it's enjoyable and has a level of charm that reminds me of Freelancer.
That's not everything that launched in October, of course. Other games that come to mind include the final episode of Life is Strange, Dragon Ball Z: Extreme Butoden on the 3DS, The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes, Rock Band 4, Prison Architect's full release, Transformers: Devestation, Read Only Memories, and The Beginner's Guide. What took your fancy in October?