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Editorial

10 Single Player Games to Look Out For In October

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Run for the hills, there are officially too many games.

Rather than short change the smaller titles or disqualify the triple-As, we’ve expanded the list to ten single player games to keep an eye on this month.

Autobots, roll out.

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ARAGAMI

Here at OnlySP we’ve been excited to play Aragami since before it was called Aragami. This Japanese-inspired adventure combines beautiful cel-shaded art with strict stealth — you’ll find no combat system here; you have to run and hide.

Fans of Dishonored or Tenchu games should certainly give it a look, but if you grew up with the PS2 or even the original Thief games, this is one to keep an eye on. We’ll have our full review of the game up very soon.

Aragami launches for PS4 and PC on October 4th.

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PAPER MARIO: COLOR SPLASH

The last big Wii U exclusive of 2016, maybe even forever, Paper Mario: Color Splash promises to be a lot more interesting than the series’ 3DS low point, Sticker Star.

Borrowing the concept of returning color to the world from Epic Mickey, Kirby and the Rainbow Curse and De Blob, Color Splash also continues the trend of Paper Mario becoming more of an action-adventure series than an RPG. Combat is simple and less stat-based, and the cast is made up of the Mushroom Kingdom standards, rather than new characters like in the N64 and GameCube games.

Still, despite the genre change and overly familiar faces, the visuals and typical Nintendo charm are likely to make this a decent send-off for the Wii U, at least until next year’s cross-generation The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

Paper Mario: Color Splash comes to Wii U on October 7th.

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MAFIA III

It may not be the most anticipated open world game of the season, or the longest awaited, but Mafia III has a lot on its side if it can stick the landing.

First, the licensed soundtrack is outstanding, very appropriate to the game’s time period and mood. Second, Mafia III is the crest of the wave when it comes to open world games borrowing from Shadow of Mordor‘s Nemesis System.

The relationship between player character Lincoln Clay and the various factions of the mob that he tries to take down in Fake-Orleans is governed by a power structure not unlike that of Mordor‘s orcs. For instance, interrogating an underling can yield useful intel, like where to find and eliminate his boss.

Finally, being set in the 1960s, Mafia III has an opportunity to tell a historically informed story that goes where many games have been too blunt or unwilling to go in the past: the uncomfortable but all-too-real politics of a bygone era. If Mafia III can just begin to explore such territory, it opens up the possibility of even more mainstream games tackling difficult subject matter.

Mafia III releases for PS4, Xbox One and PC on October 7th.

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DRAGON QUEST BUILDERS

How do you get younger people interested in your long-running series?

You make it like Minecraft.

How do you get older gamers interested in Minecraft?

You throw in one of the oldest, most beloved JRPG properties.

Beginning after the end of the original Dragon Quest – more precisely, the alternate ending where the player joins the Dragonlord, who then destroys the world – Dragon Quest Builders tasks you with rebuilding it block by block.

The game adopts the micro-formula of Minecraft almost to the letter, with a wide open sandbox, a blocky aesthetic, wandering monsters and lots of crafting. But Builders distinguishes itself by being a more guided adventure, including a traditional narrative, side-quests, and tons of DQ lore. Perfect for older fans who might find Minecraft a little too aimless.

Can this unlikely combination attract both new and old audiences, and renew interest in the Dragon Quest brand over all? Early indications are that Builders‘ combination of a classic JRPG with Minecraft is the chocolate and peanut-butter that we were all hoping for, so maybe it can. It’s definitely earned a prominent spot on our collective radars.

Dragon Quest Builders releases on PS4 and PSVita October 11th.

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GEARS OF WAR 4

Gears of War might not be as venerable as Dragon Quest but it’s up there in importance, particularly to the Xbox brand. Although the original 360 trilogy wrapped up the Locust conflict, this fourth official (fifth overall) game in the series brings in a new generation of characters to combat a new threat, the Swarm.

The original Gears revolutionised third-person action games by combining the over-the-shoulder view of Resident Evil 4 with a slick cover system that has since been endlessly imitated. The chances of Gears 4 being quite so revolutionary are slim, but just having another Gears game is a great excuse for another trip through the series’ interesting universe.

Look forward to great action, silly but enjoyable characters, and a return to its grungier, scarier roots — no Lambent required.

Gears of War 4 releases on Xbox One and Windows 10 come October 11th.

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EXIST ARCHIVE: THE OTHER SIDE OF THE SKY

Co-developed by tri-Ace and Spike Chunsoft, this side-scrolling JRPG could be a real treat for PS4 and Vita owners who want in on the hardcore dungeon crawling trend that’s been hitting the 3DS lately.

Exist Archive follows a group of modern-day youngsters who are immediately killed in an explosion and find themselves on another world that is distinctly more fantasy than reality. Gameplay is heavily influenced by tri-Ace’s Valkyrie Profile series, and the development team even includes several of the staff who worked on the original, making this somewhat of a spiritual sequel.

The bright, stylised graphics are a far cry from “realism”, instead going for an early-to-mid 2000s look that also brings to mind tri-Ace’s better known series Star Ocean. If the Gears and Battlefields of October are too dark and gritty for you, you might want to give this one a try.

Exist Archive: The Other Side of the Sky comes to PS4 and PSVita on October 18th.

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BATTLEFIELD 1

The single player campaigns of the Battlefield series have been a bit hit-and-miss over the course of the series. While Bad Company was a lot of fun, Hardline‘s single player was very divisive, and Battlefield 3 is downright boring in places.

However, Battlefield 1 has a lot in its favor: the sheer novelty of a game set during the Great War comes with terror and intrigue, and the recently announced structure offering episodic War Stories rather than a single linear plot could be one of the more original ideas in shooters for the last few years.

I think we are all keeping our fingers crossed that it works out for the best, not least because DICE are also working to bring a single player campaign to next year’s Star Wars Battlefront. In the meantime, like with Mafia, it would be nice if one of the worst conflicts of the twentieth century weren’t trivialised by a poorly conceived story mode.

Battlefield 1 comes to PS4, Xbox One and PC on October 21st.

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CIVILIZATION VI

Civilization V was by all counts a fantastic reinvention of the series, but this puts the sixth Civilization in a difficult position. Neither the leap of technology over Civ III that the fourth entry was, nor the drastic change in rules that the fifth was from the fourth, Civilization VI instead appears to deepen and refine the series, building on what’s already there.

There are subtle but substantial changes to the mechanics, including the “unstacking” of cities on multiple tiles, making the types of nearby terrain more influential over the development of your civilization. This should reduce the effectiveness of using the same routine again and again, by having the procedurally-generated maps change which growth strategies are open to players.

The same attitude toward unstacking cities can be seen in the tech trees, such as limiting technologies like sailing from civilizations that start in the middle of a continent. Along with these tweaks are a slew of new AI rules and upgrades that aim to make computer players more interesting as opponents — perfect for us single players.

Civilization VI releases for PC and OSX on October 21st.

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WORLD OF FINAL FANTASY

Now that XV has been delayed, World of Final Fantasy marks the first big Final Fantasy release of 2016, and it remains to be seen if coming first will help or hinder this ambitious spin-off.

Like Dragon Quest Builders, World is aiming to introduce its series to a new audience, and the gameplay and style are potentially more interesting even than XV. The return of the turn-based battle system and a collection of chibi-fied classic characters offer a comfortable level of fan-service, while the two lead characters look like they’ve stepped right out of Kingdom Hearts.

The simple story of two kids exploring a fantastical world is easy enough for new players to grasp, as is the lack of an increasingly large numeral in the title, so hopefully the game is successful at creating new fans. Either way, it looks like a lot of fun whether you’re familiar with Final Fantasy or not.

World of Final Fantasy releases for PS4 and PSVita on October 25th.

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TITANFALL 2

Since the release of the original, multiplayer-only Titanfall in 2014, fans have been waiting to explore the game’s sci-fi universe in a proper single player story mode. We know the subject of the story — an unlikely alliance between man and machine — we also know that alongside the large-scale battles of the first game the campaign will include a lot of environmental exploration and death-defying platforming.

Quickly, the single player mode of Titanfall 2 has became the most tantalising aspect of the new game, far outshining what was already excellent multi-player (though you didn’t hear me say that). As long as the story itself doesn’t crash and burn, the campaign of Titanfall 2 could be one of the best single player adventures of the year.

Titanfall 2 comes to PS4, Xbox One and PC on October 28th.

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There are so many other great video games and experiences coming to consoles and PCs this month, not to mention the long-awaited drop of PlayStation VR on October 13, bringing with it a whole other bunch of exclusive games.

What are the games you are most excited for? Let us know in the comments below.

Mitchell is a writer from Currawang, Australia, where his metaphorical sword-pen cleaves fiction from reality daily. When he's not writing, he plays video games and watches movies. While thinking about writing.

Editorial

Three Single-Player Games to Watch Out for in July 2019

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Three Single Player Games (July 2019) - Sea of Solitude, Fire Emblem Three Houses, Wolfenstein Youngblood

July, the middle of winter down here in Australia. Even in the bizarre New South Wales climate, the biting cold makes for a great excuse to stay inside and play games. 

Weirdly for single players, quite a few prestige games this month include additional co-op modes. With acclaimed designers behind them, such games will hopefully avoid the pitfalls of accommodating multiple players, as too many games have done in the past.

Sea of Solitude

Release Date: July 5, 2019
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One

At first blush, Sea of Solitude looks like yet another story of a young adult struggling with questions of identity and mental health while exploring a beautiful but harsh fantasy world.

Actually, that’s what it is. ‘Quirky, life affirming indie adventure’ is a whole cottage industry these days, but the fact that such games are now more prevalent should never dismay.

Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice was a masterpiece of refined design and storytelling, and Sea of Solitude appears be something similar—this time dealing with a fantastical vision of depression that turns ordinary people into literal monsters.

Players take charge of Kay, who has sought out the eponymous Sea—or rather, a flooded city based on Berlin—in the hope that there is a cure for monstrosity. However, despite its name, she is not the only person in the Sea. Avoiding the other monsters of the Sea seems to be a major part of the gameplay. These tense encounters are likely to provide rhythm and variety to the adventure and keep it from being a just walking simulator. (Not that being a walking simulator is inherently a problem.)

Although published by EA Originals, one would do well to remember that EA the company does not actually profit off the Originals that they publish. With a focused story and themes that still are not often explored in bigger games, Sea of Solitude should be of great interest to single player fans in a month otherwise dominated by multiplayer titles.

 

Fire Emblem: Three Houses

Release Date: July 26, 2019
Platform: Nintendo Switch

Almost certainly the biggest single player release of the month, and tied with Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 as another massive Switch exclusive, Fire Emblem: Three Houses might be exactly what single players need right now.

Lately the Fire Emblem franchise has exploded in both its popular profile and sales success, buoyed by a hunger for both deep anime RPGs and polished tactics games. Three Houses seems to have doubled down on exciting trends and features in both genres: particularly a Persona/Harry Potter inspired magic school setting and an even deeper tactical battle system that ditches the rock-paper-scissors for more nuanced character progression options. As with many Japanese RPGs, the story is also a major focus and hinges upon a time-jump.

The early part casts the player as a teacher at the Officer’s Academy, situated in the center of the game world and attended by students from the three most powerful nations. Five years later, the second and likely larger part concerns the drama between the player’s teacher and their former students, whose nations are now locked in a massive three-way conflict.

As is to be expected for a series finally coming back to consoles after a long time on the 3DS, Three Houses is a massive technical leap over its predecessors. The game boasts better realised battlefields, more detailed armies, and a slick animated style that appears much more consistent compared with the three or four different art styles on the 3DS.

With such improvements, as well as the overall pedigree of the Fire Emblem brand, Three Houses should have no trouble satisfying single player fans looking for a meaty middle-of-the-year RPG.

Wolfenstein: Youngblood

Release Date: July 26, 2019
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One

The recent Wolfenstein revival series is such a remarkable achievement in traditional shooter design and great, if goofy, sci-fi worldbuilding that the co-op focus of this latest instalment is somewhat disappointing.

Yes, as with F.E.A.R. 3 and Dead Space 3, following a well-received second chapter the Wolfenstein series now pivots to a co-operative focused chapter. Though the game is not a mandatory multiplayer experience, combat encounters and puzzles have been redesigned to accommodate the two player mode, giving single players an AI-controlled partner and bullet sponge enemies.

However, all hope is not lost for Wolfenstein: why else would it be the third game on the list? The narrative has been pushed forward in time, as B.J.’s twin daughters are now in their adolescence, now giving players a glimpse at the 1980s of Wolfenstein‘s skewed universe. Additionally, the level design itself is more freeform thanks to development assistance from Arkane, the developers of the Dishonored series.

Will Wolfenstein: Youngblood successfully deliver more of the series’s goofy charm and crazy alternate reality? Almost certainly. On the other hand, will the game be as fun to play alone as in multiplayer? That remains to be seen. Last month’s E3 demo that raised such concerns was naturally only a snapshot of a game in development, so MachineGames and Arkane have had plenty of time to resolve these potential downsides to a co-op focused game.

Those are our three big single player games to look out for this month. Other interesting titles coming soon include Stranger Things 3 on July 4 and Attack on Titan 2 on July 5, both games hitting Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.

On July 12 we will see the sequel to an almost-fantastic Minecraft-like RPG spinoff, Dragon Quest Builders 2 on Switch and PlayStation 4, as well as the Switch port of “anime Monster Hunter”, God Eater 3

The week after, July 19 brings us Switch-exclusive Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order, and at an undetermined time during the month Klei Entertainment’s anticipated survival-sim Oxygen Not Included will finally leave early access on PC.

Have we missed anything that you’re looking forward to? Let us know in the comments below and be sure bookmark OnlySP and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. You can also join the discussion in our community Discord server.

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