When the average person hears the word "summer," they want to go to the beach. Gamers, however, think it's an opportunity to improve a leaderboard score. That's because summers are the perfect opportunity to kick back and enjoy an extra-long weekend in the air conditioning and keep our kill skills sharp.
In that spirit, we found 10 games that should keep fans of our favorite genres engaged until the fall 2015 television season. Although many of these games are new, some of them are re-releases (for example, one is a "game of the year edition"), but all contain new content or is being debuted for a new audience (for example, a PC release when the game had previously been console-only), which, we felt, makes them noteworthy.
We know you will enjoy them as much as any movie, novel or board game this summer.
Grand Theft Auto V: Because mods are awesome
Grand Theft Auto V was released backed in 2013, with a PC release only appearing this April. So, what does a game about gangsters in fake Los Angeles have to do with science fiction? Mods, that's what. The modding community has already grabbed a hold of GTA V and turned it into geekertainment (yes, consoles may have mods, but the PC has a dizzying array of them, with more coming every week). This means you can play GTA V as The Flash, Iron Man, the Hulk or Batman (complete with grapnel gun), or give a character Force powers. The results are fascinating and, often, hilarious.
Release date: April 14, 2015. Platform: PC
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, Game of the Year is the best Tolkien game, ever
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor burst out in 2014, cutting through its competition to win more than 50 "best of 2014" awards. Now, with the new Game of the Year edition, you have new stories/missions, new skins, new runes (which give you or your weapons buffs) and a fabulous photo mode. Follow Talion as he takes revenge for the death of his family with the help of wraith Celebrimbor, and immerse yourself in the lore of Middle-earth. Shadow of Mordor is kind of like Assassin's Creed meets The Lord of the Rings, but with an interesting system (dubbed "Nemesis") that can turn even the lowliest grunt you fight into an enemy who'll plague you throughout the game.
Release date: GOTY edition: May 5, 2015. Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Galactic Civilizations 3 lets you build a space-spanning empire, one planet at a time
GalCiv3 is a space-set, turn-based "4x" game; that is, a game where you "eXplore, eXpand, eXploit and eXterminate." It's a follow-up to the widely hailed Galactic Civilizations 2, which set some new standards in terms of depth and customizability for games of its ilk. It's only recently been released and has some bugs and other kinks to iron out, but so did its predecessor, and continued support and polishing from developer Stardock is almost a given. Spend enough time in this one trying to conquer the galaxy, achieve a research-based victory, or win over everyone in the universe with your (obviously awesome) cultural influence, and you'll begin to understand why Emperor Palpatine ended up looking like that.
Release date: May 14, 2015. Platform: PC
Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt: A top-of-the-line fantasy RPG
Five years in development, the last segment in the Witcher series (based on Polish writer Andrzej Sapkowski's novels) is a smash hit of a game, a detailed, living world that makes most others look static by comparison. It seems simple enough -- it's about a monster hunter doing what he does best -- but this open world is one of the most adult games you'll play, rife with sex, nudity and morally ambiguous choices that are a lot less clear-cut than those to which RPG veterans might be accustomed. Bioware has long been the reigning champion of the western RPG genre; with a showing this strong, it's not out of the question to say that CD Projekt Red has stolen that title.
Release date: May 19, 2015. Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Life Is Strange is a time-traveling indie delight
Life Is Strange is a short, five-part (and at the time of this writing, currently incomplete) game in which our protagonist, a high school senior, finds that she has the ability to rewind time. Now her decisions affect the people around her -- like the time we spilled paint on a mean girl's expensive sweater -- and your choices affect how the rest of the game plays out. In Part 3, you also have to use stealth and the time-travel mechanic to avoid getting caught. If you dig on complex time-travel tales like Primer or Looper, you'll find this good stuff.
Release date: Ongoing. Most recently, May 23, 2015. Platforms: PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Xbox 360
Game of Thrones: Plan for the survival of your House, expect the worst
Telltale Games has always been wonderful at storytelling and giving players choices with consequences (even as far back as the humorous Sam and Max). Add this to the epic TV show Game of Thrones, and you have as much dramatic tension as you can handle, and something sure to tide fans of the series over once Season 5 wraps. "Sons of Winter" is the fourth installment in this series, one of the best so far. In the "real" game of thrones, you win or you die; in this Game of Thrones, you can eavesdrop or you can lie. We like these options better.
Release date: Ongoing, most recently May 26, 2015. Platforms: PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Android, iOS, OS X
Elder Scrolls Online lets you live a sword-and-sorcery epic
Yes, this also dropped in 2014, but now Elder Scrolls Online will be available for the first time for the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One. This MMO explores the history of the fantasy world Tamriel the world of the Elder Scrolls games, including the fabulous Skyrim. Better yet, its new "Champion System" rewards not only the character who attains the uppermost level of 50, but also their alts. If you're into epic fantasy in a sprawling, gorgeous world, this one's right up your alley.
Release date: Console version: June 9, 2015. Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One
LEGO Jurassic World is the best LEGO game based on a 2015 movie
We haven't even seen the upcoming movie Jurassic World yet, but we already know we want to play the LEGO version of it -- as well as the three other Jurassic movies that comprise this game. LEGO games are always delightful, with innocently destructive fun and puzzles that add to its replayability, but with a devotion to the source material that will surely please long-standing fans. But this LEGO game is obviously superior to its predecessors. Why? Because everything is awesome with dinosaurs.
Release date: June 12, 2015. Platforms: PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Nintendo 3DS, PlayStation Vita, Wii U
Batman: Arkham Knight: If you can't stand the heat, stay out of Gotham
As we know from the previous Arkham games, it's great to swoop across the city, fling yourself upward with a grapnel gun and dive-kick into the nearest baddie. In other words, it's great to be Batman. The upcoming Batman: Arkham Knight will let you do all of that, plus one other feature on its to-do list: driving the freakin' Batmobile. Sweet. With an expansive lineup of rogues and the usual open-world awesomeness we've come to expect from the folks at Rocksteady, this is one for any comic-book fan who's ever longed to don the cape and cowl.
Release date: June 23, 2015. Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, OS X, Linux
Mad Max: Savage Road: Drive under the influence of adrenaline
Batmobile aside, we fully expect the best car experience to come from Mad Max: Savage Road -- because it's freakin' Mad Max, and as we know, a customizable, upgradable car that lets you outpace your enemies is Max's holy grail. But more than that, it's an open world game in which you can choose your missions, your allies and your enemies to further your cause. And that cause will always be survival. If you can't get enough of the most talked-about movie of this summer season, now's your chance to dive back in.
Release date: Sept. 1, 2015. Platforms: Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Linux
What games are you most looking forward to playing this summer? Let us know in the comments!