Release date: Oct. 7
Consoles: PS4, PS3, Xbox One, Xbox 360
The latest in the NBA 2K series played almost incessantly by the actual NBA players themselves, NBA 2K15 is the annual update fans look most forward to. Gameplay details are scant, but we know from 2K’s recent announcement that Kevin Durant will be the game’s cover and Pharrell Williams will be picking the soundtrack. Last year’s iteration, 2K14, updated the series’ dated graphics with photorealistic visuals complete with realistic animations—wry post-posterizer grins and finger-wags aplenty. New features included improved dribbling controls, an Assist Pass feature and a new MyGM mode. It sold more than five million copies.
NBA Live 15
Release date: Oct. 7
Consoles: Xbox One, PS4
Madden NFL 15
Release date: Aug. 26
Consoles: Xbox One, PS4, Xbox 360, PS3
Among new details revealed about Madden NFL 15 is the game’s new Gauntlet Mode, an arcadey distraction included as part of the Skills Trainer—insane challenges, “boss” battles and all. Players will be able to compete against friends’ high scores on a leaderboard. Gameplay was also revealed at E3 this year, showing off crisp graphics, improved pass mechanics and helpful overlays for plays. Most improved, however, is the all-new, broadcast-style presentation that pulls up player spotlight montages, better commentary, halftime shows and scripted moments that make the game look and sound more like the real thing.
Release date: Sept. 9
Consoles: PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One
Teased back in May of this year well ahead of its release window, NHL 15 will notably feature the new Ignite engine. It includes proper puck physics that aim to make the game behave more realistically, leading to moments where pucks can accidentally get stuck in players’ equipment or flash through loose uniforms. The ice will also be physically modeled, and arenas will come stocked with an estimated 9,000 individual models—the most ever attempted by a video game.
Forza Horizon 2
Release date: Sept. 30
Consoles: Separate versions for Xbox One and Xbox 360
A spin-off of the grand-daddy of realistic racing games is getting an open-world sequel in Forza Horizon 2. Included in the package will be hundreds of cars, as per usual, with the addition of a dynamic weather system missing from its predecessor and an updated Drivatar character creation system adapted from Forza 5. It will reportedly take place in southern Europe to take advantage of its geographic diversity, where a music festival will act as the game’s central hub.
Release date: Sept. 23
Consoles: PS4, PS3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PC
The NBA also has an awful lot of FIFA fan among its ranks. This one shares 2K’s obsession with hyper-realistically designed and animated player characters and a stunning visual engine—you can see clothes get dirty, the playing surface gets destroyed and players breathe. Emotional Intelligence is an impressive new addition that will spice up the game. The system allows for players to react to big in-game moments like missed chances and tackles, and will even reflect their attitudes to individual teammates and opponents. An Ultimate Team Legends add-on will be exclusive to Xbox One and 360 owners. In FIFA 14, this was a feature included randomly with certain Ultimate Team Gold Packs and allowed gamers to play with a number of legendary footballers.