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What to play this December

Our recurring series curating the month ahead.

An illustrated image of a young woman running right to left in the hills, with musical notes trailing behind her.
Image credit: Inkle / A Highland Song

Oh, the weather outside is frightful, but the Release Calendar for December is so delightful. Catchy isn't it? OK no it's not, but it is partially truthful in that there are still games to come this year. And when better to submerge yourself in them?

What to Play This Month brings you both a list of games you might have missed from the previous month as well as a list of what's coming in the month ahead. Our aim is to cut through the noise for you to give you a clearer picture of what's out there. So, without further ado, here's What To Play This December.

The best games from last month

Thirsty Suitors

Availability: Out now on PC, PS5, Switch and Xbox Series X/S.

A a thirsty trailer for Thirsty Suitors.Watch on YouTube

Here's what we said in our Thirsty Suitors review:

Awkwardly placed skateboarding aside, Thirsty Suitors is a confident swing that takes commonplace romantic mishaps and turns them into epic, queer spectacles. It'll have you thinking about all the great people you hurt because you were young and dumb. It'll make you type out a heartfelt text to someone who's basically a stranger now, shortly before deleting it and coming to your senses. But most of all, it'll remind you of how easy it is to catch feelings... for these characters... in a totally chill, non-committal way.

RoboCop: Rogue City

Availability: Out now on PC, PS5 and Xbox Series X/S.

RoboCop: Rogue City promo screenshot showing RoboCop in a medium close-up looking stern in front of a graffitied wall.
His armour'll be all mucky by the end of the day. Then who's going to clean it, eh? | Image credit: Nacon.

Here's what we said in our RoboCop: Rogue City review:

Yet while Rogue City might not do much that's new, it is for the most part a convincing facsimile of the old. And not just as a slice of RoboCop fiction. Alongside being Teyon's best game, Rogue City is a welcome example of a style of game that doesn't get made much anymore. At some point during the 2010s, the upstart AA contender was brutally shot to death by a cackling gang of megabudget prestige titles and worthy indie games. In Rogue City, Teyon has brought it back to life, armed, armoured, and ready for duty.

Talos Principle 2

Availability: Out now on PC, PS5 and Xbox Series X/S.

The Talos Principle 2 official screenshot showing a large statue's torso with a chain around his neck forming an environmental puzzle.
Well, he's certainly in a bind. | Image credit: Devolver Digital.

Here's what we said in our Talos Principle 2 review:

It took me a while to decide how I felt about The Talos Principle 2. None of its parts are beautifully integrated - the story, the philosophy and the puzzling all playing tug-of-war at various times, and sometimes disruptively so - but my feeling in the end is that I just keep thinking about it. If it's a thought experiment, I'm still puzzling over it, while I'm pondering its puzzles too. Maybe I'm not sold on robots as the sequel to people - I'd rather we stuck around - but The Talos Principle 2 is a worthy sequel to its own predecessor.

EA Sports WRC

Availability: Out now on PC, PS5 and Xbox Series X/S.

EA Sports WRC review 2: Showing a mini waiting at the starting line in a snowy forest.
Remember when Minis were really mini? | Image credit: EA/Codemasters

Here's what we said in our EA Sports WRC review:

Working in Unreal Engine 4, Codemasters has conjured not just a worthy rally racer but a real place to be. You can feel it by the pricking of your thumbs, as the vibration conveys shifts in surface, and you can hear it in the little details - the rats-in-the-tank rasp of turbo flutter, as you ease off the pedal, and the unwavering calm of your co-driver, foretelling the coils ahead. It's enough to make anyone fall for this weird sport, for its deep love of control and its flirtation with artfully losing it. You get so used to giving yourself up to drifts that asphalt becomes a grounding shock, like playing with Scalextric.

The Invincible

Availability: Out now on PC, PS5 and Xbox Series X/S.

A screenshot from The Invincible. It's a first-person view from a rocky canyon as the boiling orange sun above goes down. The player holds a scanning device that looks like an old, small, film recorder. A basketball-sized, metal probe hovers nearby.
The Invincible sure knows how to turn a look. | Image credit: Eurogamer / Starward Industries

Here's what we said in our The Invincible review:

The Invincible is my kind of science fiction. When I look up at the stars, I feel wonder and mystery, and romance, even. I believe anything is possible out there and that we only have to find it. And when I look at The Invincible, it makes me feel that way too. You can see it in the screenshots. In hues that are almost gaudy, there are sweeping desert landscapes where huge finger-like rock formations reach out as if to try and scratch the surface of strange moons behind them. There are turquoise skies fading to starry black, and boiling oranges beneath them. It's like looking at a postcard of what space could be - a space of emotional warmth and feeling. I find it mesmerising.

Football Manager 2024

Availability: Out now on PC. FM Console on PS5 and Xbox Series X/S. FM Mobile on Netflix. FM Touch on Apple Arcade and Switch.

Official FM24 screenshot of the in-match engine showing a team scoring a goal in front of a blue-and-white coloured crowd.
Seeeeeeeeeeagulllls! | Image credit: Sega.

Here's what we said in our Football Manager 2024 review:

The overarching effect with FM24 then is actually to shift Football Manager towards something closer to an annual subscription, only one you can still own, that never goes offline, and that you can still opt out of paying for, if you'd rather shirk the new edition to stick stubbornly to your "classic server" FM like a World of Warcraft player who wishes it were still 2009. It's a best-of-both-worlds scenario, and with granular but hugely impactful tweaks this year, FM24 is undoubtedly the best iteration of Football Manager in its current form. Plus, it gives me a couple hundred more hours before I've got to set up any more corner routines again. So really it's priceless.

Super Mario RPG

Out now on Switch.

A boss battle is underway in this screenshot from Super Mario RPG. Mario and his team fight two huge terrifying enemies while damage effects go off.
Koopa Troopa beams are going to blind me. | Image credit: Nintendo

Here's what we said in our Super Mario RPG review:

I knew I would enjoy my return to Super Mario RPG. I love the Mario and Luigi games very dearly, and it's always interesting to go back to the start of things. I wasn't prepared for how much I'd be drawn in, though. Drawn in by that no-fuss campaign with its brilliant jokes and glorious whirlwind combat. I've loved my time with this game, and it's that rare remake that really preserves the spirit of the original very precisely.

The games we're looking forward to in December

SteamWorld Build

Availability: Out 1st December on PC, PS4/5, Switch and Xbox Series S/X.

SteamWorld Build
Look at that cute little train!

Here's what we said in our SteamWorld Build preview:

SteamWorld games have often been a bit shape-shifty, so it's no surprise to see that SteamWorld Build really pushes against what the series can be. This is a combination of city builder and dungeon crawler, with the resources game tying everything together. Mine stuff to build what you need in order to escape a dying planet. We feel very seen.

A Highland Song

Availability: Out 5th December on PC and Switch.

A screenshot from A Highland Song showing the teenage protagonist crossing a stone bridge, with rocky cliffs, a cascading waterfall, and weather-battered trees - all hand-painted - visible behind her.
There's a lot Moira this comes from. That doesn't work does it? | Image credit: Inkle Studios

A Highland Song is probably as close as you can get to Nan Shepherd's book, The Living Mountain. This is a game about exploring Scotland's natural world, climbing, running, and hiding from the rain. In Inkle's hands it promises to be something between a playable poem and the kind of evocation of a place that Shepherd was known for. What a way to end the year.

Disney Dreamlight Valley

Availability: Leaves early access 5th December on Mac, PC, PS4/5, Switch and Xbox Series S/X.

The big new A Rift in Time paid expansion for Disney Dreamlight Valley.

The big 1.0 release is finally here. It'll arrive as part of a huge patch bringing fixes and improvements, as well as exciting new features like the multiplayer ValleyVerse, which enables friends to visit each other's villages. The game's first paid expansion - A Rift in Time - will arrive on the same day, bringing a whole new map and much more besides.

Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora

Availability: Out 7th December on PC, PS5 and Xbox Series S/X.

Inside a resistance camp in the new Avatar game, where two characters - a tall blue Na'vi, and a smaller human, who's barely chest-high to the Na'vi - greet us.
In the Na'vi, your ship can sail the seven seas! | Image credit: Ubisoft

James Cameron's sci-fi series gets the Ubi-Game treatment with this expansive open-world take on Pandora. Bertie played it in preview and found it promising if a little fiddly. Be warned if you're playing on PC, though: specs-wise it's a beast.

Against the Storm

Availability: Leaves early access 8th December on PC

Rebuild civilization in the face of apocalyptic rains. *Looks out of window*

Fantasy city-building and survival here, all in the face of torrential rain. This is probably a bit close to home if you live in the UK at the moment. Even so, this looks evocative and wonderfully strange - and with all the complexities you could ask for in this kind of thing.

Dodonpachi Blissful Death Re:Incarnation

Availability: Out in arcades in Japan, and out 7th December on PS4 and Switch in Japan.

Pew pew pew! This is DoDonPachi Blissful Death Re:Incarnation on Switch.

Does your screen look a bit empty? Well why not fill every corner of it with shmup goodness from legendary developer M2? Re:Incarnation is only available in Japan for the moment, though I doubt that will stop the most resourceful of you getting hold of it.

Pokémon Scarlet and Violet: The Indigo Disk

Availability: Out 14th December on Switch.

indigo disk key art for pokemon scarlet and violet with its release date of 14th decemeber displayed on the bottom right
Key art for Indigo Disk. | Image credit: Nintendo/The Pokemon Company

The Indigo Disk is the second part of The Hidden Treasure of Area Zero expansion, and it will take trainers to the oceanic Blueberry Academy as exchange students. Look out for legendary Pokémons Terapagos and Archaludon.

House Flipper 2

Availability: Out 14th December on PC, and coming to PS5 and Xbox Series S/X 21st March 2024.

I am DIYing with excitement to play House Flipper 2! [Blame Bertie for this horrible pun. He says you're welcome.]

It's Property Brothers: The Video Game. But without the Property Brothers themselves, alas, even the fabled Third Brother who nobody ever mentions. Renovate, knock down walls, throw a bit of paint around and hopefully make a fortune. House Flipper 2 promises to be compulsive stuff.

What else do we recommend in December?

Baldur's Gate 3 on Xbox

The Xbox release date for Baldur's Gate 3 is going to be revealed during The Game Awards this week, which is exciting - until you realise The Game Awards begins at half-past midnight (UK time) on Thursday 7th December. Will it be a stealth-drop? Will Larian announce that the Xbox version is "available right now!" while scooping up awards at the show? We shall see. Regardless, you ought to be playing on Xbox this month.

Resident Evil 4 in VR

What's scarier than Resident Evil 4? Resident Evil 4 in virtual reality. A free update will be available 8th December for all PlayStation 5 owners, making the game playable using PSVR2. There'll also be a free demo.

Outer Wilds: Archeologist Edition on Switch

Outer Wilds is finally arriving on Switch, and will be available from 7th December. The Archaeologist Edition includes the game's Echoes of the Eye expansion.

The Batman: Arkham Trilogy on Switch

The Barman: Arkham Trilogy has finally arrived on Switch as well. It touched down 1st December. No, it's not a Joker!

Fortnite's Big Bang event and update

Another mega Fortnite update landed 2nd December with a huge Big Bang event. Don't worry if you missed it, because the new Lego Fortnite, Rocket Racing and Fortnite Festival modes are still to come.

Grand Theft Auto Trilogy on iOS and Android

It's a big month for GTA with a reveal trailer dropping for GTA 6, so there'll be plenty of interest in playing GTAs 3, Vice City and San Andreas on their phones via Netflix from 14th December.

Other stuff coming out in December 2023

A surprisingly busy month to end a surprisingly busy year! And who knows? There may yet be some surprises from The Game Awards that we haven't foreseen. Meanwhile, here are a few others to look out for:

  • Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader
  • Dragon Quest monsters: The Dark Prince
  • Granblue Fantasy Versus: Rising
  • Arizona Sunshine 2
  • Skater XL
  • Predecessor
  • Trinity Fusion
  • The Day Before