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Editorial

Xbox Games for the Single Players in October

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The month of October brings with it many things—fall foliage, Halloween, childish pranks, pumpkin spice, and video games. The upcoming season is chock-full of exciting titles, many of which are greatly anticipated by the gaming community as a whole. From motorsports to superhero parodies, here are three games Xbox One players should keep an eye out for this October.

Forza 7

The Forza series of racing games first arrived on the scene in 2005 with the release of Forza Motorsport on the original Xbox console. Since then, the franchise has sold over 10,000,000 copies. With over a billion dollars in profit made at retail, Forza has earned the distinction of maturing into one of the highest-grossing video game IPs of all time.

Enter Forza Motorsport 7, the tenth installment in the franchise, in development at Turn 10 Studios. First unveiled at 2017’s E3 conference, Forza 7 will feature over 700 cars and more than 200 different track configurations. 32 locations will be available at launch, including all those from Forza 6.  In addition to these locations, Forza 7 introduces two features new to the mainline Motorsport titles: dynamic weather and customizable drivers.

Due to licensing issues, Forza 7 is not slated to include any production Toyota cars, and instead will only have a small number of the brand’s racing vehicles. Despite this noticeable absence, players may find some consolation in the plethora of highly-coveted supercars available, among them vehicles from Ferrari, Lamborghini, Aston Martin, Porsche, Lotus, McLaren, and Maserati. Of particular note, the 2018 Porsche 911 GT2 RS saw its reveal alongside the game at E3, signaling the beginning of a six-year licensing deal between the manufacturer and Microsoft.

Forza 7 was created alongside the upcoming Xbox One X, with Microsoft providing a prototype console to Turn 10 during development. Within two days of receiving the prototype, the studio had its ForzaTech demo running on the system, and has optimized Forza 7 to play at 4K resolution and 60 frames per second on the Xbox One X when the console releases in November. Users who play the title on the Xbox One or Xbox One S consoles will experience 60 frames per second as well, but at a resolution of 1080p.

Gamers can find Forza Motorsport 7 racing onto the scene for the Xbox One as well as PC on October 3.

South Park: The Fractured But Whole

From the ever-so-irreverent minds of Matt Stone and Trey Parker comes South Park: The Fractured But Whole, the sequel to 2014’s South Park: The Stick of Truth.

Developed and published by Ubisoft in collaboration with South Park Digital Studios, The Fractured But Whole takes place after the events of The Stick of Truth. In a foul-mouthed parody of the popular superhero movie genre, the children of South Park, Colorado engage in a new adventure complete with ridiculous powers and conflict dividing two sides into a frenzied civil war.

Players once again step into the shoes of The New Kid. However, unlike the previous title, The Fractured But Whole allows gamers to choose the gender of their character, including the ability to select between cisgender and transgender identity. This choice will affect the way NPCs interact with The New Kid, as will the selected race. The game’s skin tone slider has been referred to in jest as a ‘difficulty slider’, for the darker The New Kid’s skin, the less money he or she will earn from quests. As usual, South Park finds a way to integrate real-world social matters into its narrative—the very definition of an equal-opportunity offender.

Expanding on The Stick of Truth’s turn-based gameplay, The Fractured But Whole employs grid-based combat wherein players can place party members in tactical positions, allowing them to line up attacks, take cover behind environmental artifacts, push and pull enemies, and create chain reactions. A host of superhero character classes are available to choose from, including Brutalist, Blaster, Speedster, Elementalist, Gadgeteer, Mystic, Psychic, Karate Kid, and more. As the game progresses, players will have the ability to tweak their characters, mixing and matching abilities from multiple classes, effectively hybridizing their fighting style.

In an interesting and amusing bit of trivia, writers Stone and Parker originally wanted to name the title South Park: The Butthole of Time—a reference to The New Kid’s power to warp space and time using mystical flatulence. After being informed that retailers would not place a product on the shelves if the title contained the word “butthole,” Stone and Parker settled on The Fractured But Whole, a clever bit of wordplay that allowed them to keep the phrase in the title.

South Park: The Fractured But Whole arrives on October 17 for the Xbox One, PC, and PlayStation 4.

Assassin’s Creed: Origins

The Assassin’s Creed franchise has captured the minds and hearts of gamers since its inception in 2007. Featuring a fictional narrative mixed with real-world events and figures, the series is one of the best-selling video game franchises of all time, with consumers already purchasing over 100 million copies of its various titles.

Set during Ancient Egypt’s Ptolemaic period, Assassin’s Creed: Origins is the newest title in the series, developed by Ubisoft Montreal. Players walk in the shoes of Bayek, a Medjai who seeks to protect his people from the dangers that threaten them. As the game’s title implies, the narrative recounts the beginning of the struggle between the Assassins and the Templars that has always been the center of the franchise.

Players progress through the action-adventure stealth game via quests that allow them to earn experience points and acquire new skills. When not questing, gamers are free to traverse the open environment on foot, horse- or camel-back, or boat to explore locations, discover and complete side-quests, and unlock additional weapons and equipment. In a deviation from previous titles, Origins will not contain a large amount of tall structures for players to climb and discover hidden areas of the map. Instead, users can deploy Bayek’s eagle companion, Senu, for a bird’s-eye view of surrounding terrain.

As reported earlier this year, several parts of Origins’s campaign will be played through the eyes of characters other than Bayek, including his wife Aya. In addition to this change, Origins features revised combat mechanics, shifting from a paired animation system to hit-box based combat, allowing players to hit enemies directly, injure individual body parts, and occasionally miss their target entirely. Weapons will fall into different categories rated on damage dealt, speed, and range, while enemies will have several basic archetypes that use a variety of tactics, thus requiring players to tailor their combat style if they wish to succeed.

Assassin’s Creed: Origins is set for worldwide release on October 27, 2017 for the Xbox One, PC, and PlayStation 4.

Honorable Mentions

Of course, the titles outlined above are not the only releases arriving to tempt gamers this October. From Monolith Studios comes Middle-Earth: Shadow of War, the highly-anticipated sequel to 2014’s Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor, set for release October 10. Three days later on October 13, Bethesda Softworks will release The Evil Within 2, and fans of the classic shooter series Wolfenstein can look forward to Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus on October 27.

Readers can check out the PlayStation 4 version of this preview for more games arriving in the next few weeks, and watch out for the Nintendo Switch and PC editions in the coming days.

Want more news, reviews, and other great content about single-player games? Be sure to bookmark and follow OnlySP on Twitter and Facebook!

Also known as Twist, Jennifer is a gamer, author, and digital artist who spent the early days of her childhood beating her stepfather's friends at Space Invaders and Pole Position on a beat-up Atari console, after which they would promptly complain to her mother. Now a competitive Diablo 3 player, she splits her time between writing, loving her dog Emmie, and putting her monk through nephalem rifts in a quest for the top spot on the seasonal leaderboards.

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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