The 5 best games of April so far, and what we can’t wait to play in May

April is known as a “dry season” month in which very few video games are released. This time of year, the AAA hype train is usually slowing its roll, playing its cards to its chest as E3 looms in the middle-distance. 2016 has been bucking the trend though! March was full of great games! And then April followed up with some amazing games. And now May is promising to be an even BIGGER embarrassment of gaming riches. Here are just a few of our favourites from April so far.

Ratchet & Clank
I might be showing my age in saying this, but I bought the original Ratchet & Clank on PS2 on release in 2002 after Hyper Magazine told me it was awesome. With the Ratchet & Clank movie coming out later this month (truly, what a time to be alive, you guys), Insomniac Games (creators of SpyroResistance and Sunset Overdrive) have rebuilt their 2002 masterpiece for a new generation and reworked it to tie in with the film. If you’ve never had a chance to play a Ratchet & Clank game before, do yourself the favour and pick it up at once. If you’re a returning player like me, prepare for an extremely pleasant trip in the way-back machine.

Dark Souls III
“But David,” I hear you squawking, “Ratchet & Clank is for baby-children and I am a hardcore murderhero who eats nails for breakfast and poops concentrated victory. What do you have for me?” No doubt you’ve heard that From Software have released Dark Souls III, the latest in their astoundingly popular series of brutally difficult adventure games. It’s the game seemingly everyone has been foaming at the mouth to play, but few can actually succeed at. It’s beautiful in a twisted way, unforgiving in its difficulty and intensely rewarding for those with the spirit to take it on. Be warned though — this game is not for the faint of heart and is definitely one to be kept away from younger siblings.

Quantum Break
Remedy Entertainment are probably most well-known for being the creators of the Max Payne series of shooters in the early-to-mid 2000’s. Their games always have very similar plot beats — dude with a special power must shoot his way to victory while a bizarre-but-surprisingly-affecting story plays out around him. It happened again in Alan Wake, and it rears its head once more in Quantum Break. Jack Joyce finds himself with the ability to control time itself after an accident with a time machine. This same accident creates a knock-on effect that may lead to time collapsing and taking the universe with it. Being able to slow, stop and manipulate time as you please is an appealing mechanic for a shooter, but it’s Remedy’s tying the game into a live-action TV influenced by your in-game actions that really sets Quantum Break apart.

StarCraft II: Nova Covert Ops
Even though the main campaign of StarCraft II has come an end with last year’s Legacy of the Void expansion, Blizzard have expanded the game again with a one-shot single-player campaign called Nova Covert Ops. Following Ghost unit Nova on a number of strategic sneaking missions, this DLC is probably the closest we’ll ever get to the sadly cancelled third-person shooter StarCraft: Ghost.

Pokken Tournament
Either the weirdest or coolest fighting game I’ve ever played, I can’t decide. Pokken Tournament takes the tactical turn-based combat of the Pokemon RPGs and translates them with surprising ease into one of the most unique 3D fighters I’ve ever played. Made by Bandai Namco, there are a number of superficial similarities other BN fighters like the recent Naruto and Dragon Ball Z games.

Honourable mentions:
There are couple of games that released this month that we are still playing and enjoying but have not gotten to publish reviews on just yet! They are:

Trackmania Turbo
The Trackmania series has been around for a while now, and has always been the playground for racing game track designers who delight in twisting the brains of their players. Trackmania Turbo steps that up with crazier tracks, funkier physics and faster vehicles than any other game in the series before it.

Hyper Light Drifter
If Dark Souls III wasn’t enough to slake your thirst for punishingly difficult, narratively cryptic games then you absolutely want to get your hands on Hyper Light Drifter. The indie adventure title launched this week on PC and Mac, and is on its way to consoles shortly, Some may not enjoy the game’s unwillingness to explain itself but those who like to treat their games like a puzzlebox will be in heaven.

Still to come:

Star Fox Zero
There’s one significant release left for this month and it’s another one that’s going to make me show my age. I’ve been waiting for a solid follow-up to Lylat Wars/Star Fox 64 since it was released in Australia back in 1998. Whether Star Fox Zero lives up to the hype or not remains to be seen but the footage included in the last Nintendo Direct broadcast gives me hope. We’ll know for sure in just a scant few weeks!

Next month:
Omg there’s so many games coming out next month, you guys. Seriously, this time of year is usually so dead, what is happening? How did we get so lucky? Here’s a round-up of what’s on the way.

Another game you should probably lock the younger siblings away for. Built by Fallout and Elder Scrolls developer/publisher Bethesda, DOOM promises a return to the series’ run-and-gun, high-speed, high-energy origins. For those who get to try out the multiplayer open beta which is running this very weekend, you’ll be able to have a taste of the game’s feel and tone ahead of release.

Uncharted 4
I don’t know very many people who aren’t pumped beyond reason for Uncharted 4. Supposedly the last adventure for hero Nathan Drake, most are excited to see what Naughty Dog will be able to accomplish when allowed to take full advantage of the PlayStation 4’s considerable power. Little is known about the game beyond what we’ve seen in the trailers so far, my favourite of which is embedded above, but one thing is certain: it’s going to be a wild ride.

When Gearboxcreators of the Borderlands franchise, tell you they have a new shooter in the pipeline, you sit up and pay attention dang it. Based very much on the principles of MOBA games like Dota 2 or League of Legends — heaps of characters, different “lanes” to manage, team builds an essential part of strategy — but played as a team-based first-person shooter, Battleborn is one of two high-profile games of this type entering the fray this month. We’re keen to see what Gearbox can produce. They’ve got their work cut out for them though, because here comes:

Blizzard have a team-based shooter following MOBA principles of their own. We’ve been in the closed beta for Overwatch for some time and report that it is pretty amazing. A sprawling and diverse roster of characters that would give Pixar a run for their money in terms of animation, some of the most beautiful world design we’ve seen in ages and some of the most enjoyable team-focused FPS this side of Team Fortress 2. We can’t wait for the complete game to launch.

Total War: Warhammer
I live with a house full of people that live in the cross-section on the Venn diagram of Warhammer fans and Total War enthusiasts. The marriage of these two franchises is kind of a match made in in heaven for PC strategy buffs and it looks like developer Creative Assembly are putting together a game that is meticulously faithful to the tabletop game. Prepare for war.

Mirror’s Edge Catalyst
Considered a flawed game with some intensely interesting ideas at its core, the original Mirror’s Edge seemed like one of those games that would be one-and-done. Thankfully, EA have allowed DICE to resurrect the series with a greater focus on the parkour mechanic and less on the clunky combat that plagued the original. We’re very keen to see how this one goes.

The next month is looking very bright indeed for gamers, and we’re ready to get started. What are you most looking forward to? Let us know in the comments!


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David Smith

David Smith is the former games and technology editor at The AU Review. He has previously written for PC World Australia. You can find him on Twitter at @RhunWords.