Halo 5: Guardians by Benjamin Sawyer

It has been two years since Halo 4, arguably the best looking game on the last gen Xbox 360. Despite complaints that its story drew to heavily from the extended fiction and worries that the multiplayer felt too similar to Call of Duty, Halo 4 was a resounding success for 343’s first installment of their new trilogy.

Halo 5 emerged, promising the darkest campaign yet for the franchise, and with the marketing campaign #HunttheTruth that included the star-studded podcast by the same name, darkness was all but guaranteed to be coming. Halo 5’s campaign is brooding and emotional, and while there is still quite a few references to the books, the story is far more palatable to players familiar with the console universe.

Where 343 really crushed it is in their new, fast-paced, visceral take on the franchise’s renowned multiplayer. With revamped gun mechanics, the new Warzone game mode, and an Arena playlist that puts the War back in Wargames, Halo’s competitive online gameplay is in peak condition.

Like many games on this list, Halo 5 is still brand new and therefore still demands a $59.99 price. However, if you take into account the persistent multiplayer, the lack of a season pass, and 343’s promise of 15 maps over the next 8 months free of charge, $60 is really a good deal for an 8-10 month investment.

@LubWub 
~Caleb 

Gears of War: Ultimate Edition by Benjamin Sawyer

If there was one franchise that was responsible for the success of Xbox, aside from the Halo franchise, it is Gears of War. This year’s release, while only a remaster, is still an essential Xbox experience. 1080p visuals, a high framerate, and remastered cutscenes lend to the already stellar gameplay. Couple that with Xbox’s upcoming backwards-compatibility update, owners of this title who play online before the new year will receive the entire series for free (that’s Gears of War 1-3 and Judgment).

The original price in August was $39.99 and while it is still easily worth that much, it is more than possible to snatch a used copy for around $35. Not a ton of savings, but that $5 can contribute to another game on your list.

@LubWub 
~Caleb