December is typically a barren void for new games, as publishers push most of their big releases out in October and November to make the most of the holiday shopping season. But with delays likely due in part to the impact of the pandemic, December 2020 still has at least a couple of big aces up its sleeve thanks to Cyberpunk 2077 and Immortals Fenyx Rising, just two of the noteworthy games launching in the next couple of weeks.
Here’s a look at the games you need to know this month, along with links to drop in pre-orders for release date delivery.
Immortals Fenyx Rising (PS5, Xbox, PS4, Switch, PC)
Release Date: December 3
Last month’s Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity revisited the characters and setting from the brilliant The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, but did so with a straightforward, button-mashing, hack-and-slash approach. If you’re looking for something closer to the actual source material, Ubisoft’s Immortals Fenyx Rising might do the trick. This original open-world adventure is clearly inspired by Breath of the Wild, from the look to the world design and puzzles, but it funnels that kind of quest through a Greek mythological tale. As the titular Fenyx, a customizable hero or heroine, you’ll assist the gods that have been transformed and sidelined by the evil Typhon.
Immortals hails from the development team behind Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, but takes a more cartoonish look and a humorous tone in its journey. It’s also tighter in focus, which those overwhelmed by many modern open-world games may appreciate. As Kotaku Weekend Editor Zack Zwiezen wrote in his review:
“Immortals impressed me. It’s an unexpected success, blending comedy and condensed open-world gameplay into one of the most entertaining games I’ve played this year. Even if the combat lacks some variety and the main quests are a bit stale, the rest of Immortals is fantastic. It takes the modern open-world game and compresses it into something easier to enjoy, covering the whole thing in colorful art, great humor, and a ton of puzzles. If, over the years, you’ve found yourself getting bored of big open-world games that strive to look hyper-realistic and feature 200 hours of quests, Immortals might just be the perfect alternative.”
FIFA 21/Madden NFL 21 (PS5, Xbox Series X/S)
Release Date: December 4
No doubt, the development of both Madden NFL 21 and FIFA 21 was impacted by the pandemic, with both of EA Sports’ annualized sports simulations seeing noticeably lower average review scores than their respective predecessors. That was on last-gen consoles, at least. With a few more months in the oven and next-gen hardware in their hands, hopefully EA Sports’ PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/Series S editions pack more of a punch.
Both upgrades will release on December 4, and rather than release the game at retail again or sell a separate edition, EA Sports is thankfully just making an update available for the existing (and already oft-discounted) PS4 and Xbox One editions. Both games promise visual upgrades, animation enhancements, and more responsive feedback on PS5 thanks to the DualSense’s haptic smarts. A lot of console launch sports sims in the past have come up short when it comes to delivering a comprehensive package, but fingers crossed EA has it right this time.
Puyo Puyo Tetris 2 (PS5, Xbox, PS4, Switch, PC)
Release Date: December 8
We’ve seen some pretty inventive takes on Tetris in recent years, including the trance-like, VR-enabled Tetris Effect as well as the competitive, battle royale-inspired Tetris 99 for Switch. Puyo Puyo Tetris was another unique spin on the classic formula, mashing up Sega’s own Puyo Puyo puzzle game mechanics into an alluring hybrid with a similarly addictive pull.
Puyo Puyo Tetris 2 arrives next week to lightly evolve that formula with some new modes, providing a chill alternative to some of this season’s big-budget action games. From the looks of things, Puyo Puyo Tetris 2 doesn’t really make huge changes, but it does introduce a Skill Battle mode with role-playing elements and even some Sonic the Hedgehog crossover items you can use in matches.
Cyberpunk 2077 (PS4, XB1, PC)
Release Date: December 10
Here it is, finally: not only one of the most-hyped games of this year, but one that has been on the horizon since it was first announced in … 2012, believe it or not. Cyberpunk 2077 is the latest open-world epic from CD Projekt Red, the Polish studio behind the brilliant fantasy role-player, The Witcher III: Wild Hunt.
As you’ll see above, this new game strikes a much different tone, presenting a futuristic vision of a high-tech California metropolis still besieged by economic gulfs and unrest. You’ll play as a mercenary working various gigs to get ahead after arriving in Night City, and you can use your hard-earned funds to augment your body with all sorts of cybernetic enhancements. The world looks like a blend of influences, sort of like Grand Theft Auto V meets Blade Runner, Ghost in the Shell, and Deus Ex, albeit with more of an RPG slant than GTA’s pure action focus. Also, it has a digitally-revived dead rockstar played by Keanu Reeves.
Cyberpunk 2077 releases on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on December 10, and while it’ll play on PS5 and Xbox Series X/S with the previous-gen versions, a full slate of next-gen improvements won’t roll out until 2021. Still, it looks pretty spectacular already, assuming the game actually lives up to what’s been shown. Kotaku’s Ian Walker went hands-on a few months back and found the game to be overwhelming in ways, but undoubtedly compelling:
“There’s a lot going on in Cyberpunk 2077. Night City hums with a dizzying mixture of organic life and unrestrained corporatism, a macrocosm of each resident that slices into their body to install better eyes, stronger legs, more resilient muscles. The game is full of random events—wild car chases, hostage situations, and explosive gang wars appear constantly while you drive through the massive metropolis— and intricate systems like the various perk trees and hacking minigames, both of which ask you to fully immerse yourself in a way few games do these days.
During my four hours with the demo, it became more than a little overwhelming to try to keep track of everything. But nothing feels superfluous or artificial. Every event and gameplay feature felt like it had a purpose in the larger picture, even if I couldn’t get my head around it. Overall, Cyberpunk 2077 is a role-playing game in almost every sense of the word, giving you just enough room to craft your own experience without going overboard.”