July is, alarmingly, already upon us. Though the spectre of the Summer Games Drought is keeping most AAA releases away there’s some surprising quality on offer regardless. Downloadable smash hit Rocket League heads to brick and mortar retail while a raft of niche genres get a shot in the arm from some great digital titles. Meanwhile, PS+ gets a seriously good month underway with twitchy boss brawler Furi. Read on for the full scoop.
Free-to-Play mech-based arena shooter Hawken comes to consoles this month. It’s fast, incredibly cool looking and a throwback to old school multiplayer shooters of yesteryear which is a pretty compelling combo, but it remains to be seen if the FTP marketplace is able to support the game without resorting to pay to win shenanigans.
2. Rocket League: Collector’s Edition retail (PC, PS4, Xbox One) – July 5
Rocket league has already made huge waves on PC, PS4 and Xbox One as a digital title – and with good reason. Psyonix’s multiplayer magnum opus might be the most ridiculous elevator pitch of all time: rocket powered flying super cars playing 3 a side football with a giant ball. But it works incredibly well. With a near limitless skill ceiling for the best players and a super fun core game at heart for the rest of us, Rocket League stands out amongst sports games for being more like an actual sport than any of them. After a meteoric rise to popularity online, it’s now headed for a retail release in a fantastic value for money package that includes the full suite of charming and bonkers DLC available which includes transformative new modes for ice hockey and basketball.
3. Song of the Deep – (PC, PS4, Xbox One) – July 12
This charming Metroidvania is coming from the fine folks at Insomniac but it’s a far cry from their usual, boisterous output like Ratchet and Clank or Sunset Overdrive. A passion project inspired by the director’s own relationship with his daughter, Song of the Deep has you exploring a beautiful, undersea labyrinth as a young girl goes in search of her missing father in a submarine. As Metroidvania convention demands, you’ll be unlocking a series of increasingly elaborate weapons and abilities while you explore further in to the murky depths. Given Insomniac’s pedigree with fantastical weaponry alone, we’re excited. Gorgeous visuals, a compelling narrative and a return to one gaming’s best genres has our interest piqued.
4. The Banner Saga 2 (Xbox One, PS4) – July 1, July 5
The Banner Saga has emerged as a firm favourite for tactics rpg fans. Like the genre’s granddaddy, Fire Emblem, it combines RPG storytelling with small scale but intense combat with far reaching consequences. Here, those consequences are of the permadeath, apocalyptic and survival of a doomed people variety, all of which you have to be responsible for. Thankfully, the moral greys of the choices you make don’t extend to the environments, which are presented in an incredible, Nordic inspired art style. Headed for consoles this month, you are now running out of excuses for not checking this series out.
Monster Hunter is back, and Capcom’s insanely popular handheld action RPG shows no sign of slowing down. Once again players can explore the monster infested game world, cashing in contracts and harvesting creature parts for that sweet, sweet loot. Generations is something of a greatest hits from previous entries in the series so now would be a perfect opportunity to jump in to the excellent multiplayer and superb, deep combat system. You can also play as a cat, which seems important.
Get it here
6. I Am Setsuna (Project Setsuna) – (PC, PS4) – July 19
If you have a personal soft spot in your gaming heart for teens with spiky hair, giant swords and turn based combat then you’ll likely enjoy this nostalgic JRPG. Taking cues from the heyday of the genre, I am Setsuna is a curiously melancholy take on the classics but fans will be right at home with a mix of opulent environments, quaint towns and a tonne of questing. The news that the deep, combo driven combat is inspired by Chrono Trigger, one of the real greats, is even more fantastic news. While the downbeat story of a princess destined for a mystical human sacrifice is faintly at odds with the cartoony graphics, it’s right at home with the score by Tomoki Miyoshi, which is entirely solo piano music. I Am Setsuna is really looking like a heartfelt and engaging return to a genre that, frankly, has seen better days. One to look out for.
7. We Happy Few (PC, Xbox One) – Xbox Game Preview and Steam Early Access – July 26
The Roguelike genre of randomised levels, system driven gameplay hooks and high score chasing is usually reserved for platformers and dungeon crawlers. Not so with We Happy Few, which takes the genre to pastures new in the form of a stealth driven survival horror. Headed for Early Access this month, We Happy Few is made all the more exciting by its’ fantastic setting – a psychedelic, retro futuristic dystopia in the heart of Little England. Players must escape Wellington Wells – a surreal nightmare of a town where everyone is high as a kite on happy pills called Joy and wears grotesque, grinning masks. It looks incredibly weird and incredibly cool.
8. Furi – (PS4, PC) July 6
This ultra stylish action game is a surprise addition to the list, having just been announced as part of July’s PS+ offering. Centred around a series of intense boss battles, Furi combines hack and slash sensibilities from hardcore genre staples like Ninja Gaiden and Devil May Cry with bullet hell madness and arcade twin stick shooter controls. To say it looks a bit full on is an understatement. Then there’s the visuals – a heady blend of Japanese science fantasy with a high contrast, Tron inspired palette makes Furi look like a must have. Bosses are, as a rule, the worst bit in most games that include them, but Furi may have managed the impossible and created a focused, compelling take on them that brings a whole game together.
9. Pokémon Go (Mobile)
Has there ever been a better blend of weird new tech and great gaming franchises than Pokémon Go? The handheld juggernaut’s timeless appeal of exploration, collecting and social, mobile gaming are perfectly matched with Augmented Reality and smartphones. It all works by Pokémon go placing Pokémon in the real world around your mobile device – look through the screen and there they are, superimposed on a camera style viewfinder. Now catch em all! It’s such a goofy, wonderful application of the tech and the franchise that we really can’t wait to try it out. With a new major instalment in the series fuelling up the hype train, this looks like a moreish treat while we wait at the station.
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