It's not every year that the gaming world changes completely, but 2013 was that year. We got a new Xbox and a new Playstation, with more power and more features than anything we've ever seen before — but that means every game you've played for the last decade is now woefully out of date. If you got a new console this year, or unwrapped a slightly smaller package with a Nintendo 3DS or a PlayStation Vita, what you need next is to find something to play. Here's where to start.
This year we've picked out some of the very best apps, games, books, and downloads for your new devices. Dig into our top selections for Android apps, Android games, iPhone apps, iPad apps, iOS games, Windows Phone apps, Kindle books, console games, and for your Mac and PC.
Killer Instinct is a reboot of an arcade classic, and it manages to capture the same feeling as the original, despite being released nearly two decades later. It's fast, brutal, and approachable even if you aren't a fighting-game expert. And best of all, the core game is free, so you can try before you buy.
Forza Motorsport 5 is the game you buy to show off your shiny new Xbox One. The in-game cars and racetracks are absolutely gorgeous — you can waste far too much time simply ogling that new BMW you just bought. Luckily, it’s also a deep and satisfying racer and not just next-gen eye candy.
Dead Rising 3
Sometimes you just want to strap a chainsaw to a sledgehammer and kill some zombies. And Dead Rising 3 lets you do just that. It’s a game where your murderous creativity can be set free as you come up with increasingly manic ways to dispose of the undead.
Video games aren't just about killing things — sometimes they even let you indulge your nurturing side. And there are few better ways to do that than by running your own zoo in Zoo Tycoon, a game that utilizes the Kinect so you can hand-feed baby elephants and pet giraffes.
It can be hard to explain the appeal of Peggle 2. It's a deceptively simple puzzle game where you fire balls at pegs to clear them off of the screen. But developer PopCap has refined the experience into something that's not only addictive, but joyous, thanks to the ridiculous high scores and an abundance of rainbows and unicorns.
There are few greater joys in life than a good arcade shooter. Resogun, from the creators of Super Stardust HD, is the latest to tackle the long-running genre, and it does so with wonderfully tuned gameplay and some of the most spectacular next-gen visual effects so far.
Every console needs a platformer, and the PS4 has Knack. It may not be as wildly creative as the adventures of a certain plumber, but it’s enjoyable action nonetheless, with a DreamWorks-style level of polish that makes it instantly charming.
Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag
Previous Assassin's Creed games confined you to ancient cities, but Black Flag finally sets you free. You're able to explore the vast oceans of the Caribbean, where there's much more to do than just assassinate people. You can even harpoon a whale if you're that kind of person.
Need for Speed: Rivals
Gran Turismo-style racing sims are great, but sometimes you just need to let loose with an unrealistic burst of speed. Need for Speed: Rivals lets you reenact the Fast and Furious moments of your dreams, with insanely fast, ridiculously fun cars. Better yet, you can race with friends, though you won't be able to bet pink slips.
The FIFA games only change slightly from one year to the next, but the move to next-gen consoles represents a satisfying visual leap for the series. The players not only look better, but move and react in convincingly realistic ways as well. It's harder than ever to keep Messi away from the goal.
We could all use a little more whimsy in our lives, and Tearaway is the most whimsical experience you're bound to find. From the creators of LittleBigPlanet, the platform game thrusts you into a world made of paper, where something as simple as a stream of running water is a thing of wonder.
Persona 4 Golden
High school is tough, and so is investigating a series of mysterious and grisly murders. Persona 4 Golden manages to combine these two seemingly disparate activities into a seamless game, one that forces you to choose between doing homework and fighting demons.
Top-down space shooters have been with us forever, but Velocity Ultra manages to make the genre feel fresh again with one simple addition: the ability to teleport. Instead of simply blasting waves of aliens, you'll also be frantically zapping your way around the screen to survive, and you don't even have to pump in any quarters.
Guacamelee is a side-scrolling action game that combines the exploration of Metroid with the action of a good fighting game. Even better, it manages to do so with an incredible sense of humor. It’s a game that's absolutely filled with enough jokes and memes to make you look past its occasionally punishing difficulty.
Sound Shapes lets you play with music in a new way. On the surface it's a simple platform game, but the way the gameplay and music work together makes for an unforgettable experience. And the amazing soundtrack doesn't hurt either, with music from the likes of Beck, Jim Guthrie, and Deadmau5.
The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds
The Zelda series has lost some of its lustre over the years, but A Link Between Worlds will remind you why you fell in love with Link’s adventures in the first place. Few games instill such a sense of adventure, making this a fitting sequel to the SNES classic A Link to the Past.
Pokemon X & Y
The Pokemon games have finally made the leap to 3D, and the facelift has done a world of good for Pikachu and company. The latest entries in the franchise are as deep and lengthy as ever, but the new look, streamlined progression, and robust online features make Pokemon X and Y the best in the series to date.
Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney: Dual Destinies
It's hard to imagine that a game about a defense attorney could be so enjoyable, and it's even harder to believe that such a series could last five installments. Dual Destinies features the great writing and humor the Phoenix Wright games are known for, but with an added level of craziness that makes it all the more loveable. You'll even get the chance to represent a killer whale in court.
Animal Crossing: New Leaf
Whereas most games are about action and competition, Animal Crossing simply lets you live your life in a village of animals, where you’ll spend time going fishing, growing fruit, and collecting fossils. And with New Leaf's added online functionality, living the simple life with some friends has never been easier.
Mario & Luigi: Dream Team
Mario isn't just great at kart racing and goomba stomping — he's also starred in some of the best, funniest portable RPGs around. Mario & Luigi Dream Team keeps up this tradition, with some inventive new gameplay twists and a truly fantastic soundtrack.