Why are we playing games in May? It’s nice outside. Here in Atlanta the pollen dunes of April have blown away and the 100 straight days of 100 degree temperatures haven’t quite started yet. It’s a good time for going outdoors, and not with a 3DS or mobile game in your hands. That doesn’t mean there aren’t good games this month, though. One of the biggest games of the year is coming out in just under a week, and fans of online shooters have a few top prospects to look forward to. And if you’ve ever wanted to play a game where you and a friend control a human worm with a face on either end, well, now’s your chance.
Release Date: 5/10
Platform: Playstation 4
I don’t know if any developer is better than Naughty Dog at making massively budgeted mainstream games that try to look and feel like movies but with an extra 20 or so hours of murder in them. There are valid complaints about the amount of violence in these games, and the jarring way in which that violence contrasts with how the characters are portrayed, but if you can separate the two while you’re in the midst of playing you’ll find perhaps the finest blockbuster action games the industry has to offer. If Uncharted 4 comes close to the highs of Uncharted 2, it’ll be a game to remember.
Release Date: 5/3
Platforms: Playstation 4, PC, Mac, Linux
This one’s a long time coming: I first wrote about it over two years ago after playing it at GDC. Here’s the last line from that blurb: “It’s sumo fought by worms with grandparent faces, and just weird and cute enough to stand out amid the recent glut of local multiplayer games.” That’s still true! Although that “recent glut” is a few years gone now, so the game’s local multiplayer focus seems almost fresh again. Push Me Pull You strips away all the clutter that often pops up in games today, focusing on a single strong idea with clean, clear visuals. It’s a recipe that could lead to a modern classic. I’ll find out once I actually have time to download the thing.
Release Date: 5/3
Platforms: Xbox One, Playstation 4, PC
This is the new thing: first-person shooters that lift some basic ideas from multiplayer online battle arenas. That means you’re competing directly against other real-life players, but unlike the multiplayer of a Call of Duty you pick from a roster of specific, defined characters that all have unique abilities that change and grow as you level up. It’s League of Legends crossed with Unreal Tournament. (Smite, a MOBA made by Hi-Rez Studios, already has a first-person view, but it’s more of a traditional, objective-based MOBA than Battleborn.) There are three games like this coming out this year, but Battleborn is the first fully out of the gate, and it’ll be interesting to see how the war shakes out between these three, which also includes…
Release Date: 5/24
Platforms: Playstation 4, Xbox One, PC
Blizzard’s own take on the so-called “hero shooter” arrives three weeks after Battleborn, forming nice little bookends for the month. A lot of people (including me) joke about how similar these two (and Epic’s upcoming Paragon) look, but there are actually some crucial design differences. Overwatch borrows less from the MOBA, lacking minions (not the obnoxious yellow guys from your mom’s Facebook posts, but the swarms of low-powered, computer-controlled enemies that are easy pickings in most MOBAs) and other things you’d expect from a League of Legends clone. But it’s got well-defined heroes with unique abilities, a focus on competitive multiplayer, has a relatively generic three-syllable name and is even coming out the same month as Battleborn, so people will always compare the two.
Release Date: 5/17
Platforms: Playstation 4
If this was a brand new Valkyria Chronicles game it’d top the list. This remake of the cult classic will still eat up a lot of my free time, just like the original did back in 2008. It’s not necessarily a game screaming for an HD remaster, though; the original’s water color influenced aesthetic is as striking and beautiful today as it was when it first came out. It’s much more than an art style, though: it’s one of the sharpest strategy games ever made, combining a memorable cast of characters and a surprisingly touching story with challenging battles that require a strong tactical mind. Hopefully it’ll be greeted by a larger audience now that it’s on the Playstation 4. This is how I ushered in the Obama presidency, and it’s how I’ll bid farewell to it.
Garrett Martin edits Paste’s games and comedy sections. He’s on Twitter @grmartin.