“NBA 2K20” – September 6 for PS4, Xbox One, Switch, and PC
Making its annual release, “NBA 2K20” brings the familiar basketball-sim formula back with a few enhancements to tote. The MyCareer mode returns again with its cinematic storytelling experience, this time with Idris Elba and Rosario Dawson headlining the game’s cast. Having a promising story and cast can be nice, but not if it gets in the way of getting to the actual gameplay; which can be a difficult balance to strike up.
Then you have MyTeam, the mode I personally was obsessed with during my time with the series from “2K13” to “2K18,” which eventually drove me from quitting the game altogether. They have made some good steps towards making sure players who aren’t dropping any extra money on card packs can stay competitive with the rest too, but still not quite enough. There is another balancing act too between all of the special galaxy opal cards the game puts out, which brings some players stats to 99 in attributes that shouldn’t really be 99 (like in “2K19” Shaquille O’Neal being given an 89 free throw and 88 open-shot three). I understand that’s part of the fantasy but the players lose their identity and play-styles when everyone’s given maxed out stats. There is simply no variety to play around with.
If you’re a fan of offline modes like MyLeague or MyGM, those are still there with some tweaks. There is also the addition of the WNBA to the game, which means “NBA Live” has officially lost the one leg-up it had on the “2K” series. Don’t expect to be able to make your own female MyPlayer and take her to the park or MyCareer modes though, as they seem to be relegated to simply the play-now and season modes.
“Gears 5” – September 10 for Xbox One and PC
Possibly Microsoft’s biggest exclusive behind “Halo,” “Gears” returns with the fifth mainline entry for the series. The campaign follows Kait Diaz in her fight against the Swarm alongside her allies, such as former series protagonist Marcus Fenix. There is also the series’ staple multiplayer and horde modes, as well as a map builder and a new mode called Escape. I enjoyed what I played of the series on Xbox 360 but never found myself truly pulled into the game. This new entry in the series looks rock-solid though and may be worth a shot for newcomers on PC as well. The coolest part of “Gears 5” is easily its bizarre “Terminator” crossover, which allows you to play as not just a terminator, but Sarah Connor herself. Pairing Sarah Connor with the Gears series’ iconic machine-gun-chainsaw hybrid seems like a match made in heaven.
“Borderlands 3” – September 13 for PS4, Xbox One, and PC
A long-awaited sequel for many, “Borderlands 3” finally arrives with its patented looter-shooter gameplay and comedic writing. This new entry in the series seems to be doing much of the same though (with some welcomed improvement) which I am pretty certain is what pretty much everyone wanted. If you’re new to the series, the main draw of the game is its first-person shooting gameplay with a variety of crazy enemies and a ton of guns (the loot) to continue to earn, as well as some very funny dialogue. Replaying the start of “Borderlands 2” a few months back, the humor certainly had a style dated to the time of its release, kind of that wacky-random-meme humor. That wasn’t the whole thing obviously, but I am curious to see how the humor changes with the influence of today’s culture. Whether you’re a longtime fan of the series or looking to hop in, “Borderlands 3” looks to be one of the safest pickups of 2019.
“The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening” – September 20 for Switch
The title I am most looking forward to this month, “The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening,” brings updated visuals and controls to a Game Boy classic. “Link’s Awakening” is set on the mysterious Koholint Island where Link awakens as a castaway and must wake up a giant egg on a mountain to escape. Already, it is a way different plot than your typical “Zelda.” The remake seems to be pretty faithful to the original game while adding on an adorable toy-like art style and updated controls and gameplay. Not limited by the Game Boy’s hardware, you can now travel the map freely without having to go square-by-square like the original game. Even with the new dungeon maker feature, I am surprised that Nintendo is charging $60 for a remake of a Game Boy game though. Will I still be buying it? Yes.