The Best Games of November 2017

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The Best Games of November 2017

The holiday season is always the busiest for the games industry, but it’s usually slowed down by the time November rolls around. Case in point: October was huge this year, with three of the biggest games of 2017 landing on the same day; in the wake of Super Mario Odyssey, Wolfenstein II and Assassin’s Creed Origins, November’s calendar was bound to feel a little slight. It was a notable month for remakes and reissues, with L.A. Noire hitting modern consoles, and Doom and Skyrim landing on the Switch. (Skyrim also received an awe-inducing virtual reality update that we hope to have more on soon.) The big news, though, was the launch of the Xbox One X and the disastrous publicity over Star Wars Battlefront II’s loot boxes. Games themselves were almost an afterthought. Still, there were a number of good releases in November, from new DLC for one of the year’s best games, to a fun mobile offshoot of one of Nintendo’s most beloved properties. And best of all is an irreverent genre mash-up that feels perfect on the Switch. If you’re finally wrapping up all those huge October games and looking for something new to sink into, here are the best new options from November.

5. Call of Duty: WWII

Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

Narrative gaps undermine a mechanically proficient shooter that might be the most purely enjoyable Call of Duty in years. That’s usually how it goes with these games: sharply designed action scenes are built up by shallow stories full of questionable decisions and uncomfortable themes. Unlike the utterly unrealistic and fanciful action blurts of late, WWII initially at least tries to resemble a more grounded and believable military endeavor. You’re still a he-man supersoldier who personally slaughters entire divisions of Nazis and can almost fully heal from multiple bullet wounds with a first aid kit (yes, WWII does away with the last decade or so of self-regenerating health and returns to the health packs of yore), but the technology used is real and period appropriate. The guns are recognizable as real guns, and have a weight to them that isn’t often found in modern shooters. There’s a tangible diversity to these weapons, as well—every gun and every type feels different and unique.—Garrett Martin

4. Horizon Zero Dawn: The Frozen Wilds

Platform: PlayStation 4

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All the elements that I enjoy about Horizon Zero Dawn remain intact. Aloy is delightfully both unimpressed and unconcerned with impressing, and her aloof but principled commitment to helping others makes her my personal superhero. The DLC itself is written into a bizarre position where it heightens the combat challenge but narratively still has to fit into the story whether or not the player has completed the game, and it makes for some awkward moments, particularly the interactions with Sylens as you dig into his backstory with the Banuk. It’s refreshing that the new missions don’t seem to be a flash in the pan pack of fetch quests. I was genuinely interested in the unique personalities and storylines showcased within the DLC.—Holly Green

3. Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp

Platforms: iOS, Android

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Nintendo’s cautious dip into mobile gaming continues with this Animal Crossing spinoff. It streamlines some of the basic Crossing activities into easy-to-perform mobile actions; you’ll catch fish and bugs and shake trees for fruit with a simple tap of the screen. The interactions with the animals might be too simplified—it basically boils down to just being their gofer, grabbing whatever items they ask for—but their personalities are as irrepressible as they always are. Pocket Camp lacks a good bit of that Animal Crossing magic, but it’s still absolutely adorable, and it doesn’t push its microtransactions too hard upon the player. It’s another mobile must-play from Nintendo.—Garrett Martin

2. Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon

Platform: 3DS

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Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon sometimes feel like stop gaps to distract fans until the inevitable Nintendo Switch mainline Pokémon game. Still, as a “director’s cut” or a “take two” of the original games, these Ultra revisions really do hit the mark, and directly address some narrative and mechanical flaws that Sun and Moon had. For those that missed out on the original games, these definitive versions are essential. And for Pokémon fans who may have been disappointed by some of the original games’ shortcomings, they will certainly not mind playing through this memorable adventure once again, even just for a handful of new goodies.—Chris Compendio

1. Battle Chef Brigade

Platforms: Switch, PC

As a “match-three” game, Battle Chef Brigade goes above and beyond the call. Anime characters are superimposed on soft backgrounds featuring wet washes of paint pooled over textured paper, set to a lilting orchestral soundtrack not unlike a Miyazaki score. The combat segments, which from a distance may seem tacked-on, are not only well-incorporated mechanically, but also provide immense satisfaction with the fluidity and power of Mina’s attacks. Despite the time limit on each battle, the back and forth between two sources of panic—quickly cooking a dish to the judge’s specifications versus killing monsters for key ingredients—is actually pretty fun. The complexity of solving puzzles contrasts the no-brain hacking and slashing for a very welcome change of pace.—Holly Green