If you’re looking for an arbitrary beginning to this year’s holiday gaming season, you might as well label today’s release of Borderlands 2 as the starting gate. And wow, we’ve got a lot of gaming ahead

So break out your smart phone/email calendar/pocket planner/napkin, and let’s figure out how you’re going to fit all this in. 

We’re going to make a lot of assumptions in the following, including about how much gaming you do, and how long it will take to play games that we haven’t played ourselves yet. We’ve based our time estimates on a highly scientific structure called guessing, and we’re assuming you’ve got about three hours a day (averaging weekdays and weekends together) to devote to play. If you know you spend a lot more or less than that, adjust your schedule accordingly.

Already Available

The holiday pre-season got going early this year, and several big games are already out. If you’ve been on summer holiday on Majorca, then make sure you didn’t miss anything you love before you dive into later releases. 

Darksiders II

This one’s a biggie, and it’s Zelda-style dungeons are likely to take you a long while to conquer. If you haven’t started yet, set aside a good two weeks on your calendar for this one to allow for a complete playthrough. If you’re planning on doing New Game Plus, the Crucible, and all the other bonus features of the game, add a few extra days. 

Sleeping Dogs

This open world crime game raised more than a few eyebrows when it released in August, offering up a lot of fun for your money. You’ll need at least a week (20+ hours) of devoted playing if you still want to squeeze the title in before things get even more busy, and even that’s going to be pushing it.

Transformers: Fall of Cybertron

Fall of Cybertron has a robust single-player campaign, but it’s nothing you can’t handle in a few days. You’re probably going to mess around with secrets, upgrades, and additional difficulty settings a little bit, so let’s say four or five full days for single-player. If you’ve got friends also playing, talk with them about a few nights where you can play cooperative Escalation and competitive modes together; if you love the game’s multiplayer features, you can always budget in some extra time. 

Guild Wars 2

If you’re an MMO enthusiast, it’d be a shame to miss out on this landmark release in the genre. On the bright side, there’s no subscription fee, so you can install the game and come back to it intermittently in the coming months. If you’re doing it that way, consider blocking off a couple nights each week that you’re going to devote to Tyria. That said, if you’re really committed, you may as well throw out your calendar and forget everything else on this list. This one could easily keep you busy until New Years. 

[Next up: The holiday heavy hitters]