Mario is on the verge of starring in his biggest game in years.
Forget about that smartphone game – “Super Mario Odyssey” is a massive, insanely-good, open-world Mario game. And it’s only available on Nintendo’s Switch.
Though there are plenty of games on all three major game consoles this holiday, a few blockbusters are exclusive to each. Starting with “Super Mario Odyssey,” we’ve put together the three heavy-hitter “exclusive” games for Sony’s PlayStation 4, Microsoft’s Xbox One, and Nintendo’s Switch console this holiday season.
1. “Super Mario Odyssey” on the Nintendo Switch
Just as “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild” was a massive evolution of the long-running, celebrated “Legend of Zelda” franchise, “Super Mario Odyssey” challenges and evolve the “Super Mario” formula.
“Super Mario Odyssey” is an open-world, nonlinear game starring Mario. That means you’re not running from a beginning point to, say, a flagpole. We’re talking big open worlds that are packed with details: secret areas to find, puzzles to solve, and – bizarrely – even some old-school 2D Mario thrown in for good measure. Seriously!
This is an area you enter, and play, in “Super Mario Odyssey”:
Instead of reaching an endpoint, your goal in “Super Mario Odyssey” is to collect moons, of which there are many in each world. The closest comparison is to “Super Mario 64.” It may be too early to call it, and there are a dozen other incredible games this year, but “Super Mario Odyssey” – to me – is the game to get this holiday season.
Check out “Super Mario Odyssey” in action right here:
2. “PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds” on the Xbox One/Xbox One X
- Bluehole Studios via SideArms4Reason/YouTube
“PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds” boasts a bizarre name and a brilliant concept: 100 people on a massive island, armed with their wits and a scattered arsenal, fighting to the death. Whoever survives at the end of the match wins – and there can only be one.
Each match of “Battlegrounds” starts the same way: You’re in a derelict airplane with 100 other actual people; as you fly over a deserted island you’re able to choose where you’ll parachute down. Since you’re unarmed, if you land near anyone it’s up to you to choose whether to run (an attempt to arm yourself and/or escape) or to fight (with your fists!) to death. As the match progresses, the area of the island you’re able to occupy shrinks – thus forcing you closer and closer to your opponents.
It sounds intense because it is intense. There is no single-player, no “campaign” mode. Just the terrifying island and 100 actual people.
OF NOTE: This game is an “exclusive” insofar as it’s only coming to the Xbox One this holiday season. The game is already available, albeit unfinished, on the PC; it will also head to the PlayStation 4 further down the line, though it’s not clear when.
Release date: December 12
Check out “Battlegrounds” in action right here:
3. “Gran Turismo Sport” on the PlayStation 4/PlayStation 4 Pro
- Polyphony Digital/Sony
If you like racing, you’re probably already thinking pretty seriously about this year’s entry in the long-running “Gran Turismo” series. The franchise is known for its microbial level of detail lavished on the world of cars, racing, and gear differentials – “Sport” is no different in this respect, but it’s planned as the first in a “new generation” of “Gran Turismo” games.
Notably, there’s an “arcade” mode that allows players to have a bit more video-game-esque fun instead of focusing solely on the simulation side of the game – a nod, no doubt, to the competition from Microsoft’s “Forza Motorsport” and “Forza Horizon” franchises.
As usual, the newest “Gran Turismo” is a graphics powerhouse: “Gran Turismo Sport” may be the best-looking game released this year, and it’ll look even better if you have a PlayStation 4 Pro and a 4K TV. It’s available now.
Check out “Gran Turismo Sport” in action right here:
BONUS: Huge new downloadable content for “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild” — “The Champions’ Ballad” — only on the Nintendo Switch.
After the outrageously successful launch of “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild” earlier this year, Nintendo’s looking to strike gold once again with its $20 “Season Pass.” If you purchased the pass, you’ve already got access to the first content – the “Master Trials” DLC – and you’ll get access to the second, more story-focused content later this year.
In it, you’ll play as Link once again, following up the conclusion to “Breath of the Wild.” Little is known about “The Champions’ Ballad” expansion, but it looks as if a variety of characters from the original game’s story will return. Nintendo says it will add “a new dungeon, an original story, and even more new challenges” when it arrives.
Release date: “Holiday 2017”
BONUS: Huge new downloadable content for “Horizon Zero Dawn” — “The Frozen Wilds” — only available on the PlayStation 4.
- Guerrilla Games/Sony
If you haven’t already played the incredible “Horizon Zero Dawn,” you’re in luck: It’s one of the best games of 2017 (some might even call it the best game of 2017 so far). In “Horizon Zero Dawn,” you play as Aloy – a brilliant and tough lady out to discover as much as she can about her own origins, amid a bizarro future Earth that is ruled by mechanical animals (including massive dinosaur-like machines).
In the game’s first expansion, available now, a new area was added to the already very large map. In this new area, there are new mysteries to uncover, new tribes to interact with, and plenty of angry machines to contend with. Here’s the synopsis: Like with the expansion to “Breath of the Wild,” the expansion to “Horizon Zero Dawn” is a direct continuation of the game’s conclusion. Rather than exploring the world from the main game, a whole new area is being added that’s set (at least partially) in Yellowstone National Park.