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    The best games to pass the time in the holiday season

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    Elia Tabuenca GarcĂ­a

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    A XNUMXth century Viking adventure, a game about robots that is literally good to play and an escape from hell: Here's what's new in every gaming system to satisfy players of all tastes.

    November is the season for successful video games, and not even the pandemic has changed that. In fact, the video game industry has recorded record spending and profits in 2020. At the same time, the decision to set aside some money to play may be more difficult this year as the economic downturn affects purchasing decisions. However, the perennial question persists: with a new range of great games, as well as new video game consoles, what is it worth?

    Here are some recommendations on what to play and what to play at. Because it's about games, where little is simple – with certain games requiring certain devices – this list is more of a flowchart. May you get useful advice.

    Considering a new console?

    If you're thinking of jumping to the next generation of gaming consoles, great for you if you can find one. They continue to sell online, even with a slightly hefty price tag for a Microsoft Xbox Series X or a Sony PlayStation 5. Both are powerful, meaning they're capable of running visually stunning games, but as with any new console, they lack a lot of great exclusive games – at least for now. Most games on these consoles still work on Xbox One and PlayStation.

    But for those who are determined to get one soon, it's worth looking into slightly cheaper options. The new Xbox Series S is book-sized and weaker than the Series X, but it can still run all the same games and its value is considerably cheaper. Sony is selling a variation of the mighty PS5 that does not have a disc drive, which is slightly cheaper than the option with a player.

    So what games are best games on PlayStation 5?

    The PS5 contains one of the most pleasant surprises of the season, Astro's Playroom, which is pre-installed on every new console. The game allows players to guide cute robots through colorful tech-themed obstacle courses. The draw, however, isn't what you do or even how good the game looks. It's how it feels. For decades, video game controllers have been able to vibrate like a cell phone without sound to transmit the impact of an explosion or car accident. Astro's Playroom is designed to show how the PS5's new controller, called DualSense, can do more. It slides when an Astro bot passes through the sand and pulses heavily when the bot staggers through the water. More impressively, the controller's trigger buttons can resist the grip of players' index fingers in different ways: providing the sensation of the slow compressive resistance of a spring, for example, or the sudden snap of a robot hand crushing a ball of plastic.

    Demon's Souls Remastered is also technically PS5-only, though it's a remake of a PlayStation 3 game that's been among the most influential in the medium over the past 12 years. Apparently, it's just another single-player video game that lets players control a knight, magician, or other protagonist and fight men and monsters while looking for deadly traps. More subtly, it's a low-key multiplayer assistance and betrayal game from a main creator who was inspired when strangers help him wordlessly during a snowstorm. As a result, Demon's Souls was designed to be a brutally difficult game, whose adversities are brewed by the ability to leave helpful messages and warnings of danger for other players. On the other hand, players can also invade each other's games and wreak havoc.

    What about the Xbox Series X?

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    On Xbox Series S and X, the best exclusive isn't a game, but a subscription service. Xbox Game Pass grants gamers access to more than 250 games, including games from all previous Xbox, offers published by Microsoft. Game Pass is regularly peppered with new releases that would otherwise need to be purchased separately (on Xbox consoles or other devices), including this month's newest chapter of the captivating sci-fi action adventure Destiny 2: Beyond Light. Headliners aside, Game Pass includes a number of smaller, weirder games that many people might be hesitant to try. If that's part of the deal, why not try 2017's Mudrunner, which is a serious simulation game about driving huge trucks through deep mud? Or Carto, a delicious new map-making adventure game?

    How about new games that don't require new consoles?

    Assassin's Creed Valhalla and Watch Dogs Legion, two of the most interesting games of the season, are on the new consoles, but also on PC, Google Stadia, Xbox One and PlayStation 4. Both games come from Ubisoft, the powerful publisher that made headlines in through widespread reports of sexual misconduct at the company, which led to the firing or departure of top developers and executives. As this unfolded, confused ordinary developers were still working to create these games.

    Valhalla largely positions the player as a XNUMXth-century Viking named Eivor, who leaves Norway for England, where he builds a settlement, defies monarchies, and strikes down many Anglo-Saxon enemies. It's a visually spectacular game packed with character-based vignettes, though it requires an audience with a strong stomach to play as an invading colonist.

    Watch Dogs lets you play as a member of the resistance in a fascist future in London, where the surveillance state and a privatized police force dominate the population. The game showcases a detailed and densely populated London, and then allows players to recruit and control any of the thousands of people rendered in that city. That means you can play as a sneaky old lady, a brute member of the Queen's Guard, or whoever shows up. It's a nifty gimmick that makes up for the game's seemingly well-meaning but superficial politics.

    For something smaller, there's The Pathless, a colorful game set in dreamlike forests and temples. It's now available for PS4, PS5, PC and Apple Arcade, the subscription gaming service for iOS. In The Pathless, you play as an archer who explores beautiful terrain with the help of a bird that can carry you across chasms. The best feature of the game is the archer's ability to run faster and faster if you can hit targets with arrows as he moves. Its greasy momentum is exciting and easier to achieve than it looks, thanks to an auto-aim system.

    But what if I have a Nintendo Switch?

    Aside from Carto, the Nintendo Switch doesn't run any of the games mentioned here so far. Its biggest November release is Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity, a spinoff of the acclaimed action adventure The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Where Breath of the Wild was a quietly epic adventure in a war-torn world of knights, castles and monsters, the new game is a cacophonous prequel that replaces the previous games' unparalleled opportunities for hiking and virtual nature exploration with combat, more combat and even more combat. It's a bit like accompanying a great novel with a trip to a theme park. You have to really want to see these characters again.

    A better Switch game to get this season is Hades (also for PC). Released in September, Hades could prove to be the best game on any platform all year, so it still deserves attention. You play as Zagreus, son of Hades, and must fight and speak your way out of the underworld, gaining patronage – and powers – from the Greek gods along the way. Hades is classified as "rogue-lite", a video game genre that challenges players to progress as much as possible, pushes them back to the beginning when their character dies, but allows them to try again with whatever powers they gained in previous attempts. In Hades, this framework supports the quickly told story of Zagreus' failed efforts to reach his mother in the land of the living. As one reviewer noted, a game about having to try multiple times to escape hell might be the best fit for 2020.

    There's something good to play on any of these devices. And, take note, the big release season isn't over yet. The hottest game of 2020, Cyberpunk 2077, has been delayed several times and is expected to release on December 10th. It turns out that the blockbuster season is longer this year. Developers need more time.

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