Part of guiding your child to healthy video game habits is understanding the new games coming out and helping them make informed decisions. It can seem like there are simply too many new games to stay on top of. Happily, though, you only need to know about the big popular ones to be a positive force.
I’ve spent some time searching through upcoming games in the Family Video Game Database I run, to find the up and coming games you should know about this summer.
Note: PEGI ratings is a European video game content rating system.
Knockout City is a futuristic sports game where rival crews take on dodgeball style battles. It combines arena battles with projectile combat. With the focus on the ball as much as the other players, this brings more strategy and a great emphasis on sports gameplay than games like Overwatch or Fortnite.
Tip: This is a PEGI 7 rated game but it is played online. This means that children will be interacting with other players whose behaviour and language may stay out of that PEGI 7 rating.
Legend of Skyfish is a puzzle exploration game where you head into a dangerous land, hopping from island to island, solving puzzles and battling enemies. Each arcade-style level is a chance to put your unusual weapon to use — for fighting but also for swinging around and moving things. It’s a highly polished experience and a rare equivalent of Zelda or Skylanders games on mobile platforms that have also now come to console as well.
Tip: This is a great alternative to games like Zelda, on smartphones and tablets. It also combines some excellent puzzle-solving for younger players along with a compelling story and unusual ways to interact and battle creatures in the world.
Plants vs Zombies Garden Warfare is a series of third-person shooting games about the battle for supremacy between weaponised plants and attacking zombies. It’s good for families because the comedic zombies and funny plant powers keep things away from pure violence.
Tip: Plants vs. Zombies: Battle for Neighborville is the newest version of the game available on PC, PlayStation 4 Xbox One. Taking a cue from games like Overwatch, this adds more refined classes of characters: attackers, defenders, or supporters. It also adds objective-based Turf Takeover mode and the team deathmatch variant Team Vanquish.
Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart is a running, jumping and shooting game. The latest in the series, Rift Apart focuses on jumping between parallel worlds. Play is similar to other Ratchet & Clank games, retaining the dodging, gunplay, bold collection and upgrading weapons. You mostly play as Ratchet and his sidekick robotic friend Clank. This time you also play as another Lombax, Rivet and her robot Kit.
Tip: Along with the extra protagonists, the game expands into new emotional territory. Kit is an anxious character who finds it difficult to connect with new people. They live largely in self-imposed isolation. Through the game, we see Kit not only soften to the idea of not destroying everything but also letting people in. It’s not a big part of the game but one that strikes a helpful note for young players. It seems that even galactic, inter-dimensional heroes need encouragement and validation.
Biomutant is an open-world role-playing adventure game where you play a Raccoon warrior in a large world filled with mutated animals. Exploring this living breathing ecosystem has the feel of Zelda Breath of the Wild, but in a broken down steampunk aesthetic and with political implications to your actions. It’s a game about protecting the creation before it’s too late.
Tip: Although this is a PEGI 12 rated game, the majority of the violence is mild and involves fantasy animal creatures fighting with a mixture of weapons and their mutant abilities. There is no sight of injuries and defeated enemies simply fall to the floor. However, there are also a few scenes of more moderate violence involving fantasy creatures, including a character being picked up and repeatedly slammed into the ground and a character being picked up by the throat and strangled.
Evil Genius 2 is a tongue-in-cheek strategy game where you play the evil villain. You must build a detailed, functional lair from where you can take control of the world. Similar to Sim City and 2 Point Hospital, you use your resources wisely as you mark out rooms, train your minion workforce and create new specialists. Although this focuses on violence and corruption it’s all done in a comical style. For example, you can send enemy do-gooders spinning away with a Pinball Bumper, or put the chomp on them with the Venus Spy-Trap. Then there are your evil schemes: selling the British Royal Family, Kidnapping the Governor of Maine, or literally making Baked Alaska.
Tip: Additional in-game purchases are offered for items that enhance the experience. This includes a regular subscription fee (known as a ‘battle/season pass’) to unlock access to reward items and other aspects of the game. The Evil Genius 2 Season Pass offers a whole new Genius, Campaign, Henchmen, Island Lair Location.
Monster Hunter is a series of action role-playing games where you hunt, kill and trap large monsters through wide-ranging landscapes. Each successful hunt rewards you with materials that accrue to slowly upgrade equipment that in turn enables you to face more powerful monsters. The vast landscape, huge range of weapons and tactics make this a unique experience.
Tip: The PEGI 12 is because it features depictions of non-realistic violence towards human-like and animal-like characters. This game contains frequent depictions of realistic looking violence towards fantasy characters. When creatures are struck, blood appears and they let out grunts of pain. It’s also important to know that players collaborate online so these interactions are outside the PEGI rating.
The Sims puts you in charge of a world of characters living normal lives. By providing a home, a job, leisure, friendships and even love interests, you work to make them happy. It’s an open-ended game as well, although altruism is focused on virtual characters.
Tip: This game continues to be really popular. New expansion packs are provided that add new content. Each of these packs has its own PEGI rating that can be checked on the VSC Rating site.
See articles and resources to help children stay safe online.