'Assassin's Creed 3'

"Assassin's Creed 3," which takes players back to the days of the Revolutionary War, is on many gamers' "must have" lists for what remains of 2012. (UbiSoft)

This year has already been a watershed event for games in many respects, but for the most part we have now settled into the post-E3 dog days.

For many gamers, this is a great time to reboot and actually get outside for a change, because as far as the release calendar goes, we are in the eye before the storm. Even with titles like "BioShock: Infinite" and "Grand Theft Auto V" shelved until 2013, there are still quite a few gems yet to be released in 2012.

"Borderlands 2"
Sept. 18
Xbox 360/PlayStation 3/PC

This stylized, arty shooter is unlike anything else on the market. The first "Borderlands" took a relatively stale genre and tricked it out with RPG-like customization and one-of-a-kind visuals. It is no small wonder it was the surprise hit of 2009. With so many shooters to choose from, "Borderlands 2" will stand out this fall due to a look and feel that is simply more innovative than almost all trigger-pullers out there.

"World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria"
September 25
MMORPG expansion

If you have been waiting eight years to give "World of Warcraft" a spin, but have been on the fence for some reason, maybe warrior Panda monks will entice you into joining the legion of "WoW" players. The new expansion pack will revamp the game's pet battle system, as well as introduce new territory and of course a new race in the Pandarens. Fair warning for new players: by the time you join up, all the "Kung Fu Panda" jokes will have gotten old already.

Oct. 9
Stealth action
Xbox 360/PlayStation 3/PC

News of Arkane Studios' release through Bethesda came later in the year, but it must be good to go up against "Assassins Creed 3" in the genre. The setting looks unique and detailed in a gloomy turn-of-the-century way, and the gameplay appears to be sneaky and satisfying. Appropriately, this game wasn't on our radar to begin the year, and may skulk through the shadows onto our "best of 2012" lists.

"Assassin's Creed 3"
Oct. 30