#2: World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King
November: PC The second expansion for World of Warcraft marks the long-awaited introduction of the first hero class: the undead Death Knight. Here are five reasons why these spectral savages will be your new best friend in the world's biggest online role-playing game.
• 5. Rarity If you're sick of running into your long-lost identical twin every time you hit a major city, you'll appreciate that Death Knights will be less common than any other class. You can only create one of these creeps per realm, and you have to have hit level 55 to unlock the privilege, so there's a certain cachet that comes with playing as one.
• 4. Deathcharger Mount Death Knights will get their own mount. There's a fair amount of controversy at the moment over what's most likely a placeholder version in a recent patch, but it seems safe to assume that Blizzard's fantastic art crew will whip up something special for these bruisers to ride around.
• 3. Runes Rather than use mana, energy, or rage, as other classes do, the Death Knight slide runes into six slots on a blade underneath the health bar. How you arrange your unholy, blood, or frost runes helps determine your role in combat, from shieldless tank to melee damage dealer.
• 2. Playing with the Dead Create your own undead minions with the Army of the Dead ability, or raise fallen enemies and allies alike from the ground to do your bidding. Risen allies even get the option to control their reanimated carcass, and its new abilities, in service to your dark will. Suddenly all those corpses are actually good for something.
• 1. Spread Disease Turn your toon into a Typhoid Mary and spread pestilence wherever you go. As your illnesses take root in the target host, he or she will grow weak, and you'll do ever greater amounts of damage to the poor sod. Think of the Death Knight as your very own anti-Priest.
#1: Valkyria Chronicles
Fall 2008: PlayStation 3 Sega's quirky strategy RPG is already out in Japan, but Western audiences will have to wait until later this year to defend the fictional 1930 European nation of Gallia from the invading Empire. The gameplay jumps between command mode, an aerial map view of forces positioned on city streets and ravaged fields, and action mode, where you take direct control of the individuals under your command. You'll take cover, provide medical support, gain experience for improved gear, and manually line up each attack with rifles, grenades, and anti-tank weapons. Valkyria Chronicles' striking cel-shaded aesthetics set it apart from the gritty realism of most current war games, and its offbeat old world spirit could reinvigorate players who have tired of unrelentingly grim modern battlefields.