Top 5 games for April 2016

ByDuncan Heaney

April is a great month for games. It features the next iteration of a beloved series, something brand new that blurs the boundaries between game and TV show, a welcome return to rallying and more.

April's known for its showers, and this year it's basically raining big games. If you're looking to put that fancy fibre optic broadband connection to work, here are our picks for the best games to download this month.

1. Dark Souls III

Dark Souls III

The Dark Souls series has a reputation for being hard. That's fair, but it's not the whole story.

Yes, you will lose in Dark Souls III - and lose often. But unlike other games, it's not particularly frustrating because failure is built into the design of the game. In fact, you're expected to fail so you can learn to succeed, and no part of the game is insurmountable.

Much like its predecessors, the game sees you traversing intricate fantasy-tinged environments, battling enemies to make your character stronger. Combat is as tense and demanding as ever - even the lowliest enemy is capable of ending you - but there are a few new tools and mechanics on offer to help you scrape through, including new super-powerful attacks called 'battle arts.'

Dark Souls III won't suit everyone. It demands time and concentration, but those who have both will find a rewarding and a deeply absorbing adventure here.

From Software, Xbox One, PS4, PC

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2. Quantum Break

Quantum Break

What do you fancy doing tonight - playing a game, or watching a TV show? Well, how about both?

The latest Xbox One exclusive is an interesting experiment. It's a flashy and enjoyable adventure, with stunning sound and graphics, and action that's as fluid and imaginative as you'd expect from the studio behind Max Payne.

It's also a surprisingly well-made TV show. Between each of the game's acts, you'll get a new episode to watch - and these aren't short YouTube-style web video, they're full 30-minute episodes with Hollywood talent and production values. Plus the choices you make in the game are reflected in the episode you watch, so there's reason to see them through more than once.

It all adds up to a game with a unique flavour, and in an industry where publishers are becoming increasingly risk-averse, it's reassuring to see a company taking a punt on something new.

Remedy, Xbox One, PC

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3. Dirt Rally

Dirt Rally

If you're after a fun, casual arcade racer that's easy to pick up and play… then do a U-turn and speed away, because Dirt Rally is about as far from that as you can get (check out Trackmania instead - just a few paragraphs down).

What you get with Codemasters' latest racing game is a serious rallying simulation, with realistic handling and an unwavering commitment to the ins and outs of the sport. To that end, for the most part it's just you, your co-driver and your car, speeding down tracks across the world in a bid to shave tenths of seconds off your rivals' times.

It's not easy though - restarts are limited, and severely punished if you do take them. You'll have to learn to live with your mistakes, taking opportunities to fix mechanical problems when you can. And there will be plenty of them to worry about, because Dirt Rally ishard.  

That doesn't mean the game is po-faced or joyless though. It can be tremendously exciting, the throaty sound effects perfectly getting across the terrifying feeling of not quite being in control.

If you go into Dirt Rally with the right attitude - expecting to clutch and grasp for any success - you'll have a blast.

Codemasters, PC, Xbox One, PS4

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4. Tom Clancy's The Division

The Division

In The Division's impressively lifelike recreation of New York, you play as part of team of secret government agents, who are activated to restore order in the city following a viral outbreak on Black Friday. Primarily by shooting people. A lot.

Okay, it's a particularly dumb premise, but The Division's already a big hit with players thanks to a tried and tested, but utterly compelling, gameplay loop. You kill enemies to collect new weapons, which make you more powerful, so you can off stronger enemies and get better weapons… and the cycle continues.

You can play the whole game single player, but it's much better when played with others. Every part of the game supports co-operative gameplay, either with friends or random players online.

But the very best part of the Division is the Dark Zone. In this section of Manhattan, players are free to mingle - either teaming up to nab the best loot, or waiting for an opportune moment to turn on another player and take theirs. Of course, doing that makes you a target yourself. It's that constant threat or temptation for betrayal that makes it a tense place to visit.

April sees its first major update, which is focused on providing loads more things to do when you've finished the main game. That means better loot, more endgame missions and lots of tweaks to better balance the gameplay.

Ubisoft, Xbox One, PS4, PC

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5. Trackmania Turbo

Trackmania Turbo

Trackmania is pure arcade racing - something of a rarity on consoles these days.

It's about as easy to pick up as it gets - you can accelerate, and you can brake, and that's pretty much it - but that doesn't mean it's simple. The tracks are crazy, with loop the loops, wall-riding, off-road sections and more, each changing the handling and forcing you stay focused.

But as the name implies it's really all about the tracks, and with a comprehensive track editor included, you should be able to find new user-created stages to play, or create and share your own.

Add tons of well-implemented multiplayer modes and you get one of the most purely fun racing games out there. 

Nadeo, Xbox One, PS4, PC

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