December is a good time for new games—the top half of the world is extra dark and cold, and we have time off—but no one wants to spend the holidays working on bug fixes, so it's also a risky time to release new games. It's common for late-in-the-year games to be delayed into the new year (stolen to feed February's bottomless appetite), making December a bit of a wild card month.
Good news: This December is one of the cool ones. Marvel's Midnight Suns turned out to be weird and fun, the legendary Dwarf Fortress is finally getting graphics and tutorials, and although we're not sure yet how much we'll like The Callisto Protocol, I can tell you that it'll be super gross, so if you wind up with a new GPU over the holidays you'll have something to put its icky gore rendering capabilities to work on.
Also this month: A new space colony sim, an FPS from the co-creator of Rick and Morty, and the 2022 Game Awards. Here's what to look forward to:
December PC game release dates and events
Need for Speed Unbound (opens in new tab) | December 1
The new Need for Speed game released somewhat quietly, but early reports say it's fun. We've got a review on the way, but in the meantime, Morgan gave it a try and found that he had no desire to turn off its mildly-controversial cartoon effects—they're the best part, he said.
Battlefield 2042 free weekend (opens in new tab) | December 1-5
After a year of bug fixes, changes, and free content updates, DICE thinks Battlefield 2042 is ready for a second chance, and has invited players back with a Steam free weekend.
Marvel's Midnight Suns (opens in new tab) | December 2
Firaxis' deckbuilder and super hero friendship simulator is really good. We gave it an 88% in our review. The verdict: "Who knew Sid Meier's protégés had a secret, and completely brilliant, Persona game in them?"
The Callisto Protocol (opens in new tab) | December 2
A new horror game from one of Dead Space's creators. It takes an orthodox to the cinematic survival horror genre, but adds a few minor tricks of its own. It's not super scary but it is tense, and the corridors are gorgeously menacing. The gore may be too much for some, but this is an effective dystopian sci-fi adventure that, according to our review, will likely satisfy Dead Space fans.
Dwarf Fortress (opens in new tab) | December 6
The legendary dwarven society simulation is finally releasing on Steam with, and this is a big deal, graphics. The old version, which has been in development for an astonishing 20 years, still depicts dwarven civilization with ASCII characters. Also exciting: a tutorial.
Ixion (opens in new tab) | December 7
This cool-looking space station colony builder beings when the moon is blown up. I could go for a nice fiddly management sim during these dark winter nights, so here's hoping Ixion's space problems are fun to solve.
The Game Awards (opens in new tab) | December 8 @ 7:30 pm ET
Geoff Keighley's big end-of-year show is usually host to a few big game trailers and reveals, which fill in the space between reception speeches, musical performances, and praise for Hideo Kojima. Topping this year's list of nominees is, no surprise, God of War: Ragnarok.
Choo-Choo Charles (opens in new tab) | December 9
We interviewed the creator of this horror game last year. It's kind of like one of those mods that replaces Elden Ring bosses or Skyrim's dragons or with Thomas The Tank Engine, except it's a whole game. And the tank engine has spider legs.
High on Life (opens in new tab) |December 13
Rick and Morty co-creator Justin Roiland leaves the VR space for a first-person shooter with talking guns. While looking for a trailer, I noticed that they've been posting what look like in-universe TV ads, so here's This (opens in new tab).
More games releasing in December
- December 5 — Swordship
- December 5 — Space Wreck (opens in new tab)
- December 6 — Impaler (opens in new tab)
- December 6 — Divine Knockout (opens in new tab)
- December 6 — Hello Neighbor 2 (opens in new tab)
- December 7 — Chained Echoes (opens in new tab)
- December 15 — Blacktail (opens in new tab)
- December 30 — Warhammer AoS: Soul Arena (opens in new tab)