With only two months left in the year and Christmas fast approaching, it’s time to decide what you’re going to request from parents, friends and family. If you’re struggling to find inspiration, don’t worry. The Saint has three suggestions for your holiday wish list.
Civilisation VI (21st October, PC)
The past several years have been rocky for the Civilisation franchise. After the initial disappointment of Civilisation V, patches and downloadable content packs were required to restore fans’ faith in the game. Civilisation VI, then, represents a much needed return to familiarity and a chance to get things right from the get-go. Civ VI is using the foundations of the much-improved Civ V as a starting point. It boasts two leaders for every civilisation, meaning that you can play, for example, as Greece ruled by Pericles of Athens or Gorgo of Sparta. The game’s most obviously new feature is an overhauled artistic style that, although it takes some getting used to, is a wonderful achievement: the simplified cartoon style leads to clarity both in vision and objectives. This artistic clarity also extends to cities themselves. The “unstacking” feature means that rather than being limited to just one tile, cities can become sprawling, mutating realities. Civ VI offers many other new features, too. There is religious gameplay that starts where the Gods and Kings DLC of Civ V left off (with the addition of a “religious victory”), improved diplomacy options, reworked AI, espionage and the ability to declare war without the UN deciding no one’s allowed to trade with you for 300 years (looking at you, Sweden). Available on Steam now.
Pokémon Sun and Moon (23rd November, Nintendo 3DS)
With the recent freakish success of Pokémon Go, the franchise’s 20th anniversary celebration, Pokémon Sun and Moon, seems to have slipped under the radar. It attempts to bring some of the accessibility of Pokémon Go to its home console by using three-dimensional polygonal graphics and omnidirectional control, which is aimed at younger players and those unfamiliar with Nintendo games. The visual addition of the Pokémon trainer during battle scenes and the actual background of the arena are designed to create a more immersive world than those portrayed in grid-based predecessors. The graphics look gorgeous, especially because the new game is set in Aola, a place resembling Hawaii. There is a humanitarian emphasis on praising nature and Pokémon in general. The Aolan climate has evolved the appearance, type grouping and abilities of certain Pokémon, bringing a refreshing new twist to familiar figures. Sun and Moon also introduces several dozen new Pokémon species and excellently evolves the series by adding powerful new Z-moves that are available once per battle.
The Last Guardian (9th December, Playstation 4)
The spiritual successor to Ico and Shadow of the Colossus has been in production since 2007. The Last Guardian focuses on the player’s relationship with a vulnerable yet fierce griffin creature named Trico. In this roleplaying and puzzle game, Trico and the unnamed protagonist must escape from the sprawling castle in which they have both been held prisoner. Trico plays an essential role in the game, opening up new avenues of access by either destroying parts of the world, lifting the boy to new levels or catching him when he jumps. Players control Trico as best they can. At first, the process is similar to commanding a monstrous puppy to sit still, but Trico becomes ever more responsive to the boy’s instructions as the narrative progresses. This symbolises the growing strength of the pair’s bond and compounds the player’s suspicions that Trico is not simply a wild animal. The Last Guardian follows in its predecessors’ footsteps; the environment, musical score and narrative of the game itself are all beautifully minimalistic in an effort to focus on the true crux of the game: the characters. As you are forced to climb, leap and interact with the world, you will encounter moments of touching kindness and heart-stopping bravery