2K Games was among the big publishers punting their wares at GamesCom in Cologne, and while the publisher didn’t have any major new IPs to announce – once it let the Mafia III cat out of the bag – it certainly had some impressive games to show off. While we didn’t get to see NBA 2K16, so we can’t report on what 2K’s premier basketball title will look likethis year, we managed time with the rest of its catalogue. Here’s what you need to know:

XCOM 2

We’d already seen glimpses of Firaxis latest instalment in its turn-based strategy game since it was announced back in May. We already knew, for example, that the game is set on earth after the events of the first two XCOM titles and that humankind is now a conquered species. The XCOM force charged with defending the planet from the alien invaders has taken a couple of huge hits and now has been reduced to a guerrilla outfit.

From the footage revealed at E3, XCOM 2 looks like a much faster-paced and tension-filled game than its predecessor – if that were at all possible. We also know that the game features new aliens, melee attacks and that players will have access to new equipments – such as remote drones capable of hacking enemy turrets.

The reveal at GamesCom was focussed more on what players can expect from the game’s management resource mechanics. Instead of the all the action taking place in a subterranean bunker beneath a mountain, XCOM’s new headquarters are in a converted alien ship, called The Avenger. The Commander (or the player) has a new crew including a new Chief Scientist, a new Chief Engineer and a Military Head.

XCOM 2 preview

As was the case in the last game, the different departments are useful for creating new weapons, armour, equipment and more as long as the XCOM troops bring in the requisite raw materials for them. Furthermore, the soldiers in XCOM 2 are far more customisable this time round; gone are the uniform appearances – now players can skin everything from their troops’ weapons to armour and even give them the odd facial scar or two. They can also mod them, creating a wide variety of ordinance – such as an automatic shotgun.

Finally, since the player is on the back foot, XCOM isn’t responding to alien attacks. Rather, they’re tasked with initiating conflict, landing in regions different countries and making contact with resistance movements on the ground. Since they’re outnumbered and outgunned, it’s worth picking each conflict carefully. After all, you wouldn’t want humankind’s last hope to be defeated before you get started, right?

WWE 2K16

This year will see the 17th instalment in WWE’s videogame franchise and if you’re still reading this, we have to assume you plan on picking up a copy. After all, WWE games are like Marmite – you either love them or hate them and unless it’s the former you’re not going to invest in WWE2K16. So, with that in mind, here’s what you need to know:

The game’s roster has been expanded to include 120 unique characters and if you pre-order the game you’ll get The Terminator (yes, Ahnuhld) as a bonus. You’ll be able to create your own wrestlers, events, specials and arenas. WWE Universe is back, although it’s been slightly tweaked, allowing players to be booked across multiple shows and we’ve been told Career Mode has been vastly expanded.

In the ring, players now only have a limited number of reversals – so the action won’t get repetitive or annoying – and the game’s AI has been improved. The animations look smoother and the crowd don’t look as indentikit in this instalment. So while it looks like it’ll satisfy wrestling fans, there’s not too much in this year’s instalment to attract new converts. Not unless 2K are holding back on us…

Mafia III

When it was announced the week of GamesCom, Mafia III came somewhat out of left field. No one was really expecting a sequel on the new gen to 2K Czech’s ode to the Godfather movies – and during its GameCom reveal, new developer Hangar 13 showed that Mafia III”s existence wasn’t the only unexpected feature.

In the past, Mafia games have centred around Italian American protagonists who become part of the Cosa Nostra – with varying degrees of tragedy and success. In Mafia III, players take on the role of one Lincoln Clay, a Vietnam veteran returned to his native New Orleans in the late 60s, who has his life turned upside down when the mob wipes out his family and friends. Clay then teams up with the local criminal fraternity – the Cajun, Voodoo, Redneck and Black crime outfits – with the aim in mind of bringing the Italian Mafia in the Big Easy to its knees.

There’s a lot about Mafia III that will strike players as familiar; like its predecessors it’s set in a sprawling urban metropolis that they navigate on foot or behind the wheel of a car and from what we can gather from the GameCom reveal, Clay will be involved in a lot of Third-Person-Cover-Based shooter action.

What sets it apart is its vibrant setting in New Orleans circa 1967. As the reveal unfolded we were greeted with sights and sounds that made the game’s Big Easy feel like a living, breathing city. An altercation outside a bar was enhanced by the racially charged barbs slung at Clay by the cops as The Kinks blared through the windows. A gunfight in a drug-den was a mix of psychedelic colours punctuated by gunfire and screams. As the dawn hit the game’s French Quarter a car chase ensued, soundtracked by Jimi Hendrix’s cover of All Along The Watchtower.

Mafia III may not look groundbreaking, but its sense of place and its tantalising story have us excited nonetheless. Now, if we could just get hold of some gumbo…