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Don’t Miss October 2020’s Biggest, Must-Play Games You Can Pre-Order Now

Illustration for article titled Don’t Miss October 2020’s Biggest, Must-Play Games You Can Pre-Order Now
Image: Ubisoft

The new PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X and S consoles arrive in November, but you don’t have to twiddle your thumbs for the next month-plus before big games arrive. October will bring us a pretty packed slate of games for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, and Switch, including new entries in the Star Wars and Mario Kart franchises and quite a bit more.

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Ready for your next gaming obsession? Here’s a look at five of the biggest new games releasing in October 2020, complete with pre-order links so you can secure your launch day copy.

Star Wars Squadrons (PS4, Xbox One, PC)

Release Date: October 2

Electronic Arts finally seems to know what it’s doing with the Star Wars license. Star Wars Battlefront II might have botched its launch with over-aggressive microtransactions, but eventually won over fans with loads of free content updates, and last year’s single-player Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order was arguably better than The Rise of the Skywalker.

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While EA may be setting content and scope expectations with Star Wars Squadrons’ lower-than-normal $40 price point, there’s little reason to believe it points toward quality concerns. Squadrons shifts gears entirely to space combat, delivering the kind of galactic dogfights that defined some of the most beloved, old-school Star Wars games. But this time, Squadrons benefits from modern PC and console tech to deliver 5v5 showdowns in both single-player and multiplayer modes.

Add in support for die-hard HOTAS flight controller peripherals, the optional ability to play the entire game in VR (on PC and PS4), and what looks like a pretty compelling story mode and I’m expecting great things from Star Wars Squadrons.

Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time (PS4, Xbox One)

Release Date: October 2

Activision is in on the joke here. Sure, Crash Bandicoot 4’s quest has a time-travel component to it, but also it really is about time for a proper sequel to Naughty Dog’s last core entry from 1998. In the years since, we saw the series sputter out as it strayed from the original formula, only to find new life a couple years back with a remastered version of the classic original PlayStation trilogy that proved the Crash formula still works today.

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That’s how we got to Crash Bandicoot 4, which seems to honor the foundation of those classics while doing some really fun, inventive things around it. It’s not ground-breaking stuff, but adding wall-running, rail-grinding, and other genre elements looks to bring a fresher spark to the levels, while additional playable characters and lots of unlockable options provide an incentive to revisit the missions time and again. There’s no Switch version this time around, curiously, but maybe we’ll get that one further down the line.

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FIFA 21 (PS4, Xbox One, PC, Switch)

Release Date: October 9

It’s already hard enough for an annualized sports franchise to push out meaningful, significant features in a normal year, but as middling reviews for the recent Madden NFL 21 showed, it must be damn near impossible with a pandemic mucking things up. Given that, serious soccer fans might want to temper their expectations slightly for EA Sports’ next big sim, FIFA 21, although they’ve built upon a template that’s been super stellar for years now.

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At a glance, FIFA 21 looks rather similar to last year’s title as a complete package, maintaining the core simulation with 30+ licensed leagues and more than 700 real-world clubs. It has the collectible card-based FIFA Ultimate Team mode intact, of course, as well as Volta Football street soccer mode introduced last year. Mostly, the additions seem to come in the form of small tweaks across the experience, such as “agile dribbling,” more creative attacking abilities, and more customization in the Volta mode.

FIFA’s track record is better than Madden’s in recent years, so it’s quite likely that—while probably not a revolutionary, mind-blowing overhaul to the series—FIFA 21 still ought to be quite good. Besides, Konami’s rival Pro Evolution Soccer series isn’t even hiding the fact that its new game is purely a roster update to last year’s iteration, so at least the competition is sparse. And if you’re lucky enough to bag a new console in the next year, you’ll get a free FIFA 21 upgrade.

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Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit (Switch)

Release Date: October 16

This might be the perfect pandemic game for families with sizable homes and incredibly bored, stuck-at-home kids this fall. As the trailer rapidly makes clear, Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit for Switch is augmented reality Mario Kart using real RC cars, letting you easily build a custom course by positioning gates around your space and then playing a digitally-enhanced version right on your Switch screen.

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It sounds amazing, certainly, and looks pretty darn cool. However, as someone who has experienced smartphone-driven RC racing and gaming experiences like Anki Overdrive and Rocket League Hot Wheels RC Rivals, any hitches in the physical design can quickly kill the experience. Let’s hope Nintendo’s oft-strong quality control results in an experience that’s not only fun to play, but also robust enough to warrant a $100 purchase per car/game set.

Watch Dogs: Legion (PS4, Xbox One, PC)

Release Date: October 29

The original Watch Dogs had a lot of potential with its “hack anything” concept and seemingly complex open world, but landed awkwardly with its grimdark tone and underwheming execution. Still, Watch Dogs 2 was a considerable upgrade with a lighter tone that poked fun at San Francisco’s tech bros.

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Will the third game be the best open-world urban playground yet? Watch Dogs: Legion has a compelling new hook with its post-Brexit London setting: the ability to recruit quite literally anyone from the city to join your cause. Yes, even badass grandmothers. You’ll need all the help you can get to take down the brutal surveillance state that has emerged following widespread unrest.

While the setting might seem ripe for a serious statement, particularly given the state of the world right now, Ubisoft has shown time and again that it’s not interested in saying anything meaningful with its modern-day games. Still, that doesn’t mean that Watch Dogs: Legion can’t be a lot of fun. And like FIFA, you’ll get free next-gen upgrades to the new consoles if you buy the current-gen editions.

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