1. Assassin’s Creed III
Creed III wowed audiences with its vision of Revolutionary War-era America, a setting that lets the player explore snowy forests and painstakingly accurate re-creations of colonial battlefields. It’s way better — and bloodier — than history class. (Oct. 30; PS3, Xbox 360, PC)
2. Tomb Raider
Lara Croft is one of the most famous game characters ever, but she hasn’t starred in a good (or even halfway decent) game in over a decade. That could change with this Uncharted-esque origin story, which sends young Lara on a bruising journey on a mysterious island. (March 5, 2013; PS3, Xbox 360, PC)
3. Beyond: Two Souls
French videogame designer David Cage brings his cinematic vision to this tale of Jodie Holmes, a girl who is haunted by a supernatural creature. In an intriguing twist, Jodie is played by an Academy Award nominee: Juno star Ellen Page. (Spring 2013; PS3)
4. The Last of Us
An eye-popping postapocalyptic adventure, The Last of Us follows a man and a teenage girl through an America decimated by an epidemic. The game’s somber mood is offset by the lush visuals of ruined cities reclaimed by nature. The end of the world has never looked this beautiful. (Date TBD; PS3)
5. The Unfinished Swan
In this year’s most original game, you play as a small boy cast adrift in an empty white space filled with invisible objects. As you throw tiny black balls of paint, the world of Swan slowly comes into focus around you. In an industry currently saturated with infinite sequels and prequels to space-marine shooters, Swan is a sign that we may be entering the most interesting era of videogames yet. (2012; PS3)
What’s the Word on Wii U?
Maybe it was the sheer weirdness of the tablet-style ”GamePad.” Maybe it was Nintendo’s decision to focus on the eccentric Pikmin 3 and the party-style Nintendo Land instead of a game with the word Zelda in the title. Whatever it was, the Wii U left E3 on a wave of bad buzz. But games like Rayman Legends and the mysterious Project P-100 (working title) showed promise and provided hope that the console can create intriguing interactive experiences. We’ll soon see what the average citizen thinks: The Wii U is set to hit stores this holiday season.