‘Fallout 4’ is November gaming highlight

SOMETHING TO TALK ABOUT – Jeff Gardiner, lead producer of “Fallout 4,” has logged about 400 hours and still hasn’t seen everything in the game, which includes an in-depth crafting system with over 700 weapon modifications.

It’s been a banner year for video games, and the trend is steadily building to a halt with the end of the year approaching. In the next few weeks, some adored franchises make their return, such as the “Fallout” series and “Star Wars Battlefront.” Separation makes the heart grow fonder, as they say, though hopefully not inflating expectations to skyscraper heights. These two franchises are only footnotes in what has been an exceptional year for video games any way you slice it. Beloved franchises are coming back, and new entrants impressed unanimously.

November sees the return of two series fans have remained curiously hopeful about for quite some time, so it is eerie to see them released within a week of each other. “Fallout 4” and “Star Wars Battlefront” are set to be released Nov. 10 and 17, respectively, proving that waiting for things isn’t so hard after all. “Fallout” is a series that eventually had to come back, while the recovery of “Battlefront” was always suspiciously up in the air.

The timely arrival of “Battlefront” only continues to satiate the hunger for more “Star Wars.” The series had long been dormant, with fan appreciation building since the 2005 release of “Star Wars Battlefront 2.” The series was brought back to life by DICE, developers of the “Battlefield” series, and with each slice of careful info discharged since its reveal at Electronic Arts’ E3 2013 press conference, fans have gone wild, sending the anticipation into the stratosphere. The game had its public beta take place Oct. 8, mainly as a stress test for servers. Having played the beta, I found the gameplay to be simple, arcade-y fun. There is a certain charm to the older “Battlefront” games with perfectly realized massive battles based on “Star Wars” lore. DICE can still make these battles happen but on an even bigger scale online with 40 players, all while looking absolutely beautiful. However, I found the customization options to be sparse, and the lack of some features such as creating classes may hinder the longevity of the game. Whether it is a complete package or not, any “Star Wars” fan should look to the game to provide hours of fantasy.

“Fallout 4” is a game many knew would definitely happen. When its developer, Bethesda, finished “The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim,” many believed the next logical step for the studio was to make another “Fallout” game. Luckily, most were right, and the game was revealed at Bethesda’s very first E3 conference this past June. “Fallout 4” aims to bring back the RPG elements of the franchise while adding tons of new gun mods and a tower defense element with the inclusion of settlements. These allow you to basically run small towns and build them up to your liking, as enemies will try to invade and destroy what you’ve built. Previous installments were lacking settlements, but with the breadth of wild new weapons and the branching dialogue “Fallout” is known for, it’s sure to keep fans busy for months, even years, to come.

Both games seemingly seek to rekindle spirits and please fans. These are two games no one thought we would get so soon, let alone a week apart. The gaming industry still has its verdicts out on either one, but fans can look no further than two huge games vying to occupy any sliver of free time available. Or you could just miss a day or two of work or school if you’re into that.