Fall is almost here—meaning 'tis the season to bypass the beach and instead curl up with a warm gaming console in the comforts of your living room. The next three months traditionally are the most important in the gaming world, but with the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 on the way, the end of 2013 is shaping up to be the biggest period yet. Take a peek at what you can expect.
Beyond: Two Souls
Oct. 8, PS3
Proof that the thin line between Hollywood and Silicon Valley has blurred beyond recognition, "Beyond: Two Souls" feels like a movie/video game hybrid. Ellen Page stars in this supernatural thriller about a woman with a psychic link to a ghostlike companion. When first teased last year, "Beyond" appeared to be a meditative character drama, but recent trailers make it look more like "Mortal Kombat: Ellen Page Edition."
Nov. 19, PC, PlayStation 3 & 4, Xbox 360 & One, Wii U
You control a secretive hacker named Aidin Pierce in "Watch Dogs," but the biggest star of this open-world action game is the city of Chicago. Developer Ubisoft Montreal made painstaking efforts to capture the tiny details of the Second City. As Pierce, you get a special smartphone that lets you hack into the "L," break into a Chicago Theater replica, or eavesdrop on the conversations of ordinary Chicagoans. Shhh! Don't give Mayor Emanuel any ideas.
Octodad: Dadliest Catch
Release date TBA, PC, PlayStation 4
Created by a scrappy group of local DePaul graduates who call themselves Young Horses, the second Octodad title is emerging as one of the hottest indie games of the fall. "Dadliest Catch" is the comic story of an octopus secretly posed as a regular person with a human wife and family. The crux of the game is navigating a flopping, gelatinous eight-legged creature around an urban environment without somehow breaking his dad camouflage.
Call of Duty: Ghosts
PC, PlayStation 3 & 4, Xbox 360 & One, Wii U
Forget Coke vs. Pepsi or Cubs vs. Sox. For gamers who love first-person shooters, the defining choice of this generation is "Battlefield" vs. "Call of Duty." The pitched battle between these two military titles rages on with yet another set of sequels—this time with more in-depth customization and flashier graphics. Both of them are your answer to the question: War, what is it good for?
Super Mario 3D World
Nov. 22, Wii U
How are gamers going to be persuaded to suit up in Mario's overalls yet again to make another strange trip through the colorful Mushroom Kingdom? How about the fact that our favorite plumber gets a brand-new adorable cat suit that can be used to claw and pounce on pesky Koopas. We're sold.
Batman: Arkham Origins
Oct. 25, PC, PlayStation 3, Wii U
As a rule, prequels rarely work—see "Star Wars," "The Hobbit," "Caprica," etc.—but Rocksteady Games gets the benefit of the doubt after its first two excellent Batman games. The third in the series, "Origins," follows a younger, slightly less batty Caped Crusader as he meets key friends and villains for the first time and goes on a series of awkward OKCupid dates ... OK, just kidding about the last part.
Oct. 1, PC, PlayStation 3 & 4, Xbox 360 & One
With apologies to Mr. Madden and his football game, the "NBA 2K" series has been the best sports video game in the world for the past few years. 2K Games' annual pro basketball series could make it a four-peat with "NBA 2K14" this fall. We could do without LeBron's mug on the cover, but a chance to play as a full-healthy D-Rose on the virtual hardwood is too good to pass up.
After nearly seven years, Sony finally learned to count to four. The next in the long line of black, rectangle-shaped game consoles hits a week before Microsoft launches its own Xbox successor and also has an early leg up on Xbox One in terms of pricing ($400 to $500) and hardware, but the biggest threat to the PlayStation 4 might be other kinds of competition: games on tablets and smartphones, Facebook and PC.
Microsoft has taken a beating from games enthusiasts put off by its campaign marketing Xbox One (derisively nicknamed "Xbone") as a do-it-all living room entertainment center instead of a games-first device. There's also concern that the Kinect camera accessory may be a secret Orwellian spy tool used in the NSA's PRISM program. Still, Xbox Live is an excellent service, and the Xbox One might be the game system to beat this fall.
Ryan Smith is a RedEye special contributor.
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