The Most-Anticipated Video Game Releases In Summer 2024

Summer has long been considered a dead zone for video game releases. It’s a reprieve, the space between the year’s initial marathon of releases and the big blockbuster sprint to the holidays. It’s not a hard rule, however, as shown last year with the trifecta of Street Fighter 6, Diablo IV, and Final Fantasy XVI launching in June, and the year’s biggest success story, Baldur’s Gate 3, dropping in August.

And the general slowdown in releases isn’t inherently a bad thing. Today’s games are long, and even the most active players likely have a deep backlog just waiting for their attention, especially as live-service games and major expansions create a never-ending drip of new content week to week. Gaming never stops, and with recent overhauls like Diablo IV’s “Loot Reborn” expansion and waves of updates coming to seasonal games like Fortnite, there will always be something to play.

But the summer of 2024 is no slouch. If anything, it’s got a major theme of “reinvention” at its core, with numerous massive expansions to ongoing live-service and massively multiplayer online games, long-awaited sequels, and some fresh takes on old IPs that are sure to vampirically suck away all your spare time.

Here are some of the biggest video game releases and updates coming to play.

The first major release to hit this summer is Destiny 2: The Final Shape, an expansion of the free-to-play multiplayer looter-shooter Destiny 2, originally launched in 2017. The online game from the developers at Bungie (creators of Halo) is a cooperative sci-fi epic whose ongoing story has evolved a lot over the last eight years to create a pretty dense mythology. For the uninitiated, it can be a little daunting to fully grasp the lore, but with the base game and, now, all previous expansions made available for free, there’s plenty of opportunity to learn the story so far.

The game has seen its ups and downs with its previous expansion, last year’s Lightfall, arriving to a tepid response and widely accepted as a step backward from 2022’s acclaimed reinvention, The Witch Queen. Now, just under two years into their acquisition by Sony, the studio is looking to bring players back to the world of Destiny 2 in a big way. As a paid expansion to the free-to-play base game, it offers new locations, enemy types, and subclasses to once again reinvigorate its gameplay for older players while remaining accessible to newbies.

Online multiplayer shooter games like Destiny 2 live and die on these kinds of updates, and the team at Bungie has recalibrated its model to move away from seasonal releases (every three months) that most live service games follow. Instead, The Final Shape will see episodic updates more akin to the major PC game expansions of old, providing major shakeups to the game every few months rather than the slow trickle of continuous updates. The first of the three episodes, Echoes, will drop just a week after the initial launch of The Final Shape, giving players an opportunity to familiarize themselves with the world and new mechanics to catch up before the next big three-act story kicks off.

For fans of online PvE (player-vs-enemy) and PvP (player-vs-player) shooters, this expansion may prove to be the magic bullet that brings players new and old into the fray. As the supposed final expansion of the “Light and Darkness Saga,” it’s the culmination of the entire 10-year Destiny journey thus far and will determine what’s next for the series’ future.

The latest multiplayer adaptation of a horror movie classic following Friday the 13th: The Game (2017) and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2023), Killer Klowns from Outer Space aims to bring sweaty thrills to the summer months. Based on the ludicrously named 1998 shlock fest, it brings the film’s low-budget B-movie charm back to instill coulrophobia in an entirely new generation.

Like other horror-flick-to-game adaptations, Killer Klowns plays as an asymmetrical PvP multiplayer experience, with three players taking on the roles of the titular alien hunters to capture and kill seven human survivors. On either side, players must band together to outwit their opponents in a deadly game of cat and mouse — one that just happens to feature sentient balloon animals and human harvesting in cotton candy cocoons.

In the game, each team will have different objectives in between spurts of cartoonishly gory violence, as Klowns must use human flesh to power up and trigger the game ending Klownpocalypse, while humans while elude a gruesome death to find one of numerous escape routes from the map before time runs out.

With the sustained popularity of asymmetrical survival horror games like Dead by Daylight on livestream platforms like Twitch, Killer Klowns from Outer Space has the potential to be the most stupidly entertaining game to play (or watch) all summer.

The one and only expansion planned for FromSoftware’s juggernaut open world RPG, Elden Ring, Shadow of the Erdtree is potentially the year’s most anticipated release. Released in 2022, the main game brought players into the depths of the Lands Between for a sprawling dark fantasy epic from the minds of famed game director Hidetaka Miyazaki and Game of Thrones author George R. R. Martin.

The original game was a massive hit, winning tons of game-of-the-year awards, and set a new standard for open-world games with mechanics that merged the exploration of Breath of the Wild with the brutally punishing combat of the Dark Souls series. Shadow of the Erdtree offers more of what fans love, with an entirely new and separate map to unearth and a story that parallels the events of the main quest.

With 10 new bosses and countless untold eldritch horrors to discover, the expansion looks to be one of the most substantial additions to a single-player game in recent memory, but that doesn’t mean it’s for everyone. While many players have scoured the world of Elden Ring down to its tiniest details and lore, new players won’t be able to access the downloadable content out the gate. Instead, players must complete the bulk of the main story and defeat the late game boss Mohg, Lord of Blood, as well as Starscourge Radahn, before gaining access to the additional content.

It’s a tall order for newcomers, but as anyone who’s played Elden Ring can attest, it’s an obsession worth giving into. For seasoned veterans working through a fresh campaign or just looking to return to one of the best games of the last decade, Shadow of Erdtree offers a new mountain to climb.

Like Destiny 2, Final Fantasy XIV is a massive multiplayer online game whose story has been continuously running through various updates throughout the last decade. But unlike Destiny 2, whose latest expansion marks the endgame for its current saga, Final Fantasy XIV is now entering its next phase with a bold new beginning for its world.

Fans of MMORPGs like World of Warcraft know that the beauty of long-term investment in a yearslong narrative can be rewarding, but also difficult when returning to the game after prolonged time off when so many changes occur. Final Fantasy XIV’s new expansion, Dawntrail, aims to alleviate the burden for both lapsed players and newcomers alike by streamlining the leveling process to ensure that all anyone jumping in will be at the appropriate point to access the new additions.

With multiple new locations centered in the new world of Yok Tural, players will find major cities and mountainous regions to explore, as well as two new classes to attune to: the dual-blade master Viper and the paintbrush-equipped Pictomancer. The female version of the feline-esque Hrothgar is also making its debut as a new playable race.

Since its rocky launch and subsequent revamp back in 2013, Final Fantasy XIV has gone on to become one of the definitive MMORPG experiences of the modern era. As a perpetually evolving world with an ongoing continuity, Final Fantasy XIV marks the next big “you had to be there” moment that the community will be talking about years from now.

Stepping away from the slew of expansions to full games, 11 Bit Studios’ Frostpunk 2 offers a straightforward sequel to the 2018 original, picking up 30 years later in an alternate history, focusing on humanity’s survival through a globally cataclysmic volcanic winter. Perfect for summer!

Set in New London, Frostpunk 2 is a city-building survival game that takes all the intricate busywork and planning of games like SimCity or Civilization and tasks players with constructing and maintaining a functional city under the worst atmospheric conditions possible. As the city grows and its society evolves, there are eras of conflict that can be addressed utilizing the in-game “Idea Tree” mechanic, allowing for complex problem solving between various factions on how best to govern its citizens and ensure their ongoing survival.

Fans of slower paced, more methodical gameplay with a heavy emphasis on resource management and politicking will find layers of strategy beneath the surface of Frostpunk 2, as well as a visually astounding take on one of gaming’s longest running, yet still somewhat niche genres. If you’re less interested in simply playing God and instead want to explore the delicate balance of societal turmoil and progress in a resource-hungry metropolis, Frostpunk 2 may be the bleak political simulator that’s perfectly suited as a distraction from our bleak political reality.

If you’re looking for a different (read: less oppressive) escape for the summer, look no further than Cat Quest III. The latest entry in the adorably offbeat Cat Quest franchise, from developers The Gentlebros, brings the action to the high seas with a nautical themed pirate’s romp that can be played solo or with a buddy in local co-op.

With a fully controllable pirate ship to explore the Purribean archipelago, players can make their way through numerous islands, raining cannon fire down on enemies before taking to the land for combo-heavy swashbuckling combat.

While the Cat Quest games aren’t exactly built for hardcore gamers, they do offer a fun, streamlined take on traditional action RPG gameplay that’s perfectly suited for younger players or adults looking to invest minimal effort investment that has personality to spare. When the unending bleakness of the Elden Rings and Frostpunks of the world leave your gray matter mashed, there’s always something comforting about games like Cat Quest III, whose sunny demeanor and whimsy can provide the much needed serotonin boosts to the keep good vibes alive throughout the summer.

Another fantasy epic with a Dark Souls-like twist, Black Myth: Wukong is an action RPG that offers a more regal, less dour take on mystical escapism. Developed by Chinese indie studio, Games Science, Black Myth: Wukong is based on the well-known story of Journey to the West, the 16th-century Chinese novel that inspired everything from Dragon Ball to Jet Li films and stars a warrior monkey known as the Destined One on a path to paint his own legend.

The first major game developed by Games Science after a series of smaller, free-to-play titles, Black Myth: Wukong aims to deliver a AAA action experience that stands alongside games like Lies of P and Elden Ring paired with lush visuals evoking the rich depths of Chinese mythology. With frenetic combat that allows players to utilize Wukong’s iconic staff, as well as transformation skills pulled directly from the source material, the variety of gameplay in Black Myth: Wukong looks to set it apart from its peers. And there’s dragons. Everything’s better with dragons.

And despite its roots in classical fiction, Black Myth: Wukong does benefit from being one of the few wholly original titles to be released this summer, free of yearslong continuity and a heavy lean on pop culturally saturated IP. If you’re a gamer who simply hasn’t found the time to break into the intimidatingly gargantuan world of Elden Ring to access its expansion, Black Myth: Wukong may be the perfect solution for finding an entry point into action gaming this summer without all the baggage.

Speaking of baggage — is there any franchise in history with as much to sift through as Star Wars? Under the watchful eye of Disney, the last decade has been a massive wave of interconnected cross-media releases outweighs even that of the decades-long Expanded Universe and prequel-era sweep. But despite the risk of oversaturation, it’s been an interesting time for fans of Star Wars games, with Respawn’s recent Jedi: Fallen Order and Jedi: Survivor reinvigorating a galaxy far, far away in interactive media.

And while numerous Star Wars titles have been axed amid corporate mergers and studio collapses, there’s a new hope for players looking for the franchise to get the open-world exploration game it always deserved. That hope lies with Star Wars Outlaws, a single-player third-person action-adventure game from developers Massive Entertainment.

Set between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi (mark it on your timeline), Outlaws follows the female lead Kay Vess and her super cute amphibian-like companion Nix in a story that is thankfully light on Jedi. Instead, it focuses on the scoundrels with a narrative centering around the galaxy’s greatest heist that will excite anyone who has been waiting exhaustively for their very own Han Solo simulator. As a third-person shooter with stealth mechanics, the gameplay looks closer to Uncharted than anything else, which will likely open the door to huge, scripted action sequences alongside a densely packed series of free-to-roam worlds, including everyone’s favorite sand heap, Tatooine.

If it delivers, Star Wars Outlaws has the potential to be a major shakeup for Star Wars games, exploring the many aspects of the franchise that transcend laser swords and The Force in the same way the Disney+ TV series Andor did, while pulling double duty as the perfect end of summer gaming blockbuster we need.

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