'Death Stranding,' 'Link's Awakening' Top Data Firm's Most Anticipated Holiday Games

Courtesy of Sony; Nintendo
'Death Stranding' (left), 'The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening'

There are many titles generating conversation that didn't quite make the list, yet are climbing in popularity, such as Obsidian's original sci-fi title 'The Outer Worlds' and the adventure game 'Concrete Genie' from PixelOpus.

Global measurement and data analytics company Nielsen on Tuesday revealed their most anticipated video games set for release between September and December — traditionally, the holiday shopping season. Over 80 games were considered, along with a survey of 6,000 active gamers of varied ages, and titles with a Game Rank higher than 70 made the list.

The games encompass a multitude of genres and types — from sequels in major franchises to remakes, remasters and reboots to original IP titles set to compete with the big leagues.

Among the AAA titles measured by Nielsen Game Rank, Activision's Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, the fourth game in the series arc, tops this year's list of most anticipated games releasing on multiple consoles (it received a Game Rank of 98). The game brings back several familiar settings and faces such as British SAS Captain John Price and Sargeant John "Soap" MacTavish, as well as introducing a female protagonist. As Modern Warfare's narrative lead Taylor Kurosaki explained to The Hollywood Reporter back in May, the character of Farah was inspired by real-world influences. "It's far overdue for a character like that, who is based in the reality of war as we know it today, to come to fruition and see the light of day," he said. The game is set to bow Oct. 25.

2K Games' Borderlands 3, which was released in mid-September and features brand-new locales and enemy classes as well as familiar characters from the series, is another first-person shooter that made the list. Microsoft's Gears 5, the latest entry in the longrunning third-person shooter franchise, followed suit. This installment focuses on the character of Kait Diaz, a gritty soldier with a chip on her shoulder.

For a completely different experience, Respawn Entertainment's Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, which takes place between the prequel trilogy and the original trilogy, is anticipated to be a favorite amongst holiday shoppers — especially because it's Nov. 15 release is followed by the Dec. 20 bow of the next film in the franchise, Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker

Perhaps the biggest game among the platform exclusives is Hideo Kojima's post-apocalyptic adventure Death Stranding (Game Rank 92). Apart from the fact that it stars Norman Reedus, Mads Mikkelsen and Lea Seydoux, little is known about this game —  which is a completely new IP — despite the trailer having dropped in May. "This is a totally new game, I can't really explain it," said Kojima at Gamescom 2019, later adding that the goal of the game is to "connect the world" after humanity has been threatened. 

The recently released game The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening, a remake of the 1993 Gameboy version, is one of the most anticipated titles to land on Nintendo Switch to date (Game Rank 99). For THR, critic Brittany Vincent pointed out that the game features an updated retro-modern art style, though it maintains the charm and character of the original. Set to drop later this month, Luigi's Mansion 3 is also hotly anticipated.

Sports games are still solid bets, with EA Sports' FIFA 20, NBA 2K20 and WWE 2K220 bound to perform well based on high levels of interest.

From Microsoft, the remastered Age of Empires II stands out in the sea of platform exclusives. The historical fantasy strategy game has been around since 1997, continuing to thrive and spawn numerous spinoffs.

Pokemon Sword and Pokemon Shield made the cut, with the two games offering a slew of new features such as cooperative raids and open world areas. They are set for release in November. 

There are many games generating conversation that didn't quite make the list, yet are climbing in popularity, such as Obsidian Entertainment's original sci-fi RPG The Outer Worlds and the adventure game Concrete Genie from PixelOpus.

In the franchise world, Ubisoft's Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Breakpoint and Just Dance 2020, as well as EA's Need for Speed, were noted by Nielsen for their solid fan base, even if they're not currently piquing mass interest. 

As for titles set for release outside of this window, Nielsen emphasizes that there is a continuing trend of new video game brands releasing from February to May. Looking ahead to 2020, the much-anticipated Cyberpunk 2077, a story-driven, open world RPG starring Keanu Reeves, is set to drop in April and make a splash.