As we bid a very fond farewell to 2013, it’s time to go back and reflect on not only the games, but also the tips that helped us beat these challenging titles. On that note, here are some of the best hints for the year’s finest games.

Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag (Prima eGuide)

Take a Time-Out 

If you're fighting against multiple ships in a naval battle, stay focused on one ship at a time. If you can cripple a ship enough to board it, you can take a time-out in the middle of the battle. If you initiate the boarding process, other ships attacking you will pause their attack until you've completed the boarding process. This means you can board one of the enemy ships and repair the Jackdaw while in the middle of a naval battle.  

Check out Prima's Jackdaw upgrade guide 

Mortars, Mortars, Mortars   

Not only are mortars one of the most damaging weapons you can equip on the Jackdaw, these also have the most range. It's extremely beneficial to launch an attack with a round of mortar shots before closing in on an opposing ship. If you have good aim and enough ammunition, you can even incapacitate an enemy ship without using other weaponry.  

Hull Strength is Key   

The key to a winning any battle is good defense. The first upgrade you should make to the Jackdaw is hull strength. It doesn't matter how good your firepower and naval tactics are. If you can't take a hit, you won't last long in a naval battle. Upgrade the hull early and often to make sure you're ready for anything. 

Aim is Everything  

During naval combat, aim your cannons low on the opposing ship's hull. This causes far more damage and depletes the ship's health bar much faster. If you don't want a ship to run from you, aim for the sails to reduce its speed and make it less maneuverable. Once you're ready to board, use the swivel canon to take down as many members of the ship's crew as you can before you board. 

Grand Theft Auto 5 (top 10 cheats)

Buy a Hangar – and Save Yourself Airport Trouble  

Entering an airport or military installation can easily spell trouble for your Wanted ranking – especially if you have a firearm drawn or try to steal a jumbo jet with security on your tail. If you want to ease up the tension a bit, invest in a nearby hangar. This will let you enter most air facilities, though some are still locked. It may be expensive, but it could save you trouble down the road – especially if you really want to boost that 747.   

Here's the best way to Steal a Jumbo Jet in GTA 5 

Kill Your Opponents Quickly with a Head Shot  

When killing adversaries, the best kind of shot to take is a head shot. Sure, you can hit them in the arm and/or leg, but that doesn't necessarily mean they're down for the count. Heavily armored enemies – we're talking high-level police officers and mercenaries – will take a lot more damage than your average gunman. Try to line up your shot and take it. This will guarantee their quick demise, and save you a headache when you want to end the gunfight.  

Take Cover 

While in gun fights, someone like Trevor may be too cocky to find cover, shooting enemies while staying in plain sight. Honestly, though, cover is your best bet. By pressing the proper button next to an object, you'll find sufficient cover most of the time – unless enemies blow it apart quickly – where you can duck and take out targets with ease. Don't stay too much in the open, because you'll be looking at a hefty hospital bill as a result. It pays to be patient.  

Max Out Your Weapons   

When it comes to getting the most from your firearms, you'll want to level them up as quickly as possible. This will improve their accuracy, bullet capability and firing capabilities, which can make all the difference when it comes to gun battles. Stop by Ammu-Nation when you have some extra cash on hand, and go ahead and level up your favorite weapons. You'll see big improvements the next time you get into a skirmish. 

The Last of Us (multiplayer tips)

Never Fist Fight A Clicker  

While Runners can be killed with Joel’s blood soaked hands, Clickers are strong and fast. They can take a direct shot to the head, but it takes stealth and timing to defeat one.   

If you attempt to fit fight a Clicker you will lose every time. They have a very high level of pain tolerance and will destroy you before you can take a single breath. Clickers should always be approached with stealth, and if that doesn't work, take out a gun and fire multiple shots. 

Upgrade Melee Weapons 

Melee weapons like two-by-fours and pipes are your main sources of protection. While both items are fine on their own, upgrading is key to survival. 

By finding duct tape, scissors and other materials around the environment, these normal weapons can be upgraded to dangerous utensils of death. These upgrades also extend the life of the item and increase the weapon’s range and effectiveness. 

Know Your Exits 

When entering a building, danger exists the moment you cross the threshold. Even with Listening Mode, there could be infected in the building you may not detect. You can also get caught in a narrow area or cornered.  

When entering a structure, take cover and explore. Do so quietly and you will not alert the infected within the building. Keep moving behind cover and always have your eye on an exit in case you need to make a quick escape to an open area. 

Call of Duty: Ghosts (free multiplayer guide)

Master the Random I.E.D.   

The I.E.D. is not only a fantastic way to cover the entrance to a camper's secret hideout, it's also a great way to greet the camper as they arrive at said hideout. One of our favorite strategies is to drop an I.E.D. at the doorway to popular camping spots on any map. Doing this will almost guarantee at least another kill or two per game. Think about that, one simple adjustment and you just went from 10 kills per game on average to 12. Remember, only you can prevent camping!   

Get a Guard Dog  

There's simply no way to over emphasize the importance of this kill streak. The Guard Dog, part of the Assault strike package, is unlocked at five kills. It will stay with you -- even if you die -- until he is killed or the game ends. He'll stay on your six, protecting you from behind attacks. Not only that, he'll growl, warning you of any enemies nearby. Perhaps the best bang for your buck when it comes to kill streaks in Call of Duty: Ghosts. 

No Running in the Halls   

The fact that this is the fourth straight tip involving either map knowledge or tactics is not a coincidence. The more you sprint, the worse off you are. Of course, there is time to sprint, but too many people tend to do it without regard for their surroundings. Do not sprint around corners, that's just asking for it. Feel free to sprint from cover to cover, but for the most part, move slowly, keep your weapon raised and the kills will come. You have our permission to enjoy a small chuckle each time an unsuspecting enemy runs around a corner, directly into your line of fire.   

Lose Your Secondary Weapon  

We're not going to lie, this tip comes straight from our good friend and Call of Duty veteran, Kr4hu. If you don't know him, you should. If you're running and gunning, chances are you are going to be using your primary weapon almost 100 percent of the time. Losing your Secondary Weapon will allow you to use another point on perks, a far more worthwhile investment. To make sure you don't run out of ammo for that Primary Weapon, think about the Scavenger perk from the Awareness category.

Super Mario 3D World (Prima eGuide)

Save One Extra Power-Up   

It’s always a smart idea to have an extra power-up handy, just in case you accidentally take damage or fall into the pit. Thankfully, Nintendo lets you do just that. After collecting a second Power-Up, you’ll see it stored on the bottom left corner of the screen. Need it? Simply press the minus (-) button on the Wii U GamePad and it’ll appear within the game world. The best part? You can switch between two power-ups in case you need to light torches with fireballs (made possible with the Fire Flower), then climb a wall later using the Super Bell.  

Here’s the Super Mario 3D World power-ups and items guide.   

Activate the Checkpoint Flag After Grabbing Green Star #2  

The Checkpoint Flag prevents you from having to restart from the beginning of a level. In addition, you won’t lose previously collected Green Stars and Stamps, so long as you continue from that Checkpoint Flag. With this in mind, it’s always a good idea to first pick up Green Star #2 and even the Stamp before touching it. This will prevent you from having to repeat these actions should you die. Keep in mind you can’t necessarily do this with each level.   

Get Infinite Lives  

Skilled players won’t have much trouble beating the majority of levels in Super Mario 3D World, even going as far to achieve 100 percent completion. Later worlds are a whole other matter. Prepare for some of the trickiest stages in Mario history, from perilous jumps to running out of time. Suffice to say, the death toll quickly begins to rise. 

The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds (Prima eGuide)

Upgrade Link's Arsenal  

Many of Link's tools and weapons can be upgraded by collecting Mama Maimai's babies. Each time you bring back 10 Maimai babies to Mama Maimai (her cave his located just north of Lake Hylia, blow the cracked entrance with a bomb), she'll reward you by upgrading a weapon of your choice. Want your Sand Rod with unlimited duration? Upgrade it after gathering 10 Maimais. All of Ravio's items can be tuned-up for a more impactful effect. On top of that, collecting well-hidden Master Ores can increase the Master Sword's power, making your battles more forgiving with additional damage from your blade. Lastly, there are two additional tunics for Link you can find in Lorule's dungeons: the Blue and Red Tunic. The suits increase your defense significantly, allowing Link to endure more damage. 

Find the Pegasus Boots!  

Explore Both Worlds 

Zelda is well-known for its enjoyable exploration. Perhaps you want to increase Link's health capacity, so you'll need to scavenge for Heart Pieces. Maybe you need to carry some extra health – an empty bottle can store fairies and potions. Or maybe you just feel the need to wander off in Hyrule for the heck of it. This is a natural habit you should get used to rather quickly, because Between Worlds has a ton of secrets and gems that can benefit your journey. There are three important items you should scout for at the beginning so you can explore Hyrule thoroughly: the Power Glove, the Pegasus Boots and the Flippers. Once you've gained Link's merging ability (and Ravio's items), venturing around will be cake; later on, the Titan's Mitt will expand your options. More so, both Hyrule and Lorule act as a magic mirror – they intertwine with each other. For instance, let's say there's a chest resting on top of an inaccessible cliff in Hyrule. Try warping to Lorule and locate the same spot. It may be reachable in the second world. Another warp point nearby will shift you back to Hyrule -- and perhaps land you on top of that cliff. 

Where's the Power Glove? Right here!  

Become a Painting and Merge Around 

Dashing, thrusting or swimming isn't the only way to get around in A Link Between Worlds. The newest (and coolest) feature is Link's ability to merge into walls as a painting. This technique plays an important act in getting around dungeons, cliffs and other obstacles. If there happens to be a pit you cannot cross, per say, try merging into the wall and slipping around it. Merging is required to access the fissure portals and warp between the two worlds. Most dungeons require you to slip around the walls as a drawing, because many times you'll find switches unreachable without this method. Link's painting form can also be beneficial in combat, allowing you to dodge attacks from all directions. This includes boss battles, and – not to spoil anything – becomes crucial in the final fight of the game.

Battlefield 4 (Prima eGuide)

Squad Up  

Although we don't all have the benefit of playing online with friends, we can join a squad and do our part. Larger squads mean more opportunities to spawn close to objectives. It also means you're more likely to unlock those third and fourth specializations, giving you that slight edge that can make all the difference in the world. If your squad doesn't seem to have it together, use the team setup option to hop into another.  

Mic Up   

If you have a headset, you should definitely use it. Wait, let's clarify. You should use it to call out targets and communicate with your squad mates. Communication, like being part of a squad, is a huge part of success in Battlefield 4. Maybe the chopper you're flying is on fire. Well, tell someone in your squad so they can spawn with a Repair Tool. It's also an amazing way to meet new people and gain new squadmates going forward.  

PTFO, Bro!  

Although we aren't going to write out the full definition of the PTFO acronym, the general idea is to play the objective. Veteran players take pride in finishing at the top of the scoreboard, while the player who went 25-1 finishes in the middle of the pack. Battlefield is not about kills, it's about tickets. By playing the objective, you are raising your Score Per Minute and helping your team win. That is the definition of the Battlefield spirit, helping your team win with no regard for your personal achievements. 

Madden NFL 25 (Prima eGuide)

Running? Try a Stiff Arm  

One of the best moves you have for holding off a defender is the stiff arm. It may not be the cleanest tactic, but it'll keep them off your back while you continue to dash forward for those extra yards. Press the X or A button (depending on your version) to utilize it, but just keep in mind it's not a miracle worker. If you've got a defensive man charging at you at full speed, you may want to turn to a juke or a spin instead. Read players carefully.  

Don't Go Crazy With Your Time-Outs  

In each half of the game, you have three time-outs available, but you'll want to use them as sparingly as possible. If you feel in your gut that a challenge could go your way, risk using one to see if the refs decide in your favor. Otherwise, try to save them for as late in the game as possible – it could make all the difference as you push down field for the game-winning touchdown. Also, don't forget that you can press the X (or A) button while huddling to speed things along. In some situations, every second counts!  

Know Your Team 

When it comes to adapting to a style of play with your team, it helps to know where its strengths lie. If you've got a team with a strong defensive line, try to work up the interceptions and fumble opportunities before they kick it back to you. If you've got a go-to quarterback like the Denver Broncos' Peyton Manning, take advantage of his great arm and go for some ideal pass plays. If your runners know what they're doing, don't be afraid to hand the ball off to them and let them do their work. It helps to know what kind of team you're playing with before you begin a game. That way, you can figure out their plays and make them work in your favor. 

Check Your Passing Routes   

When passing to the open man to get the ball further downfield, you'll want to watch out for particular warning signs, such as when defensive coverage "doubles up" on a player for the possibility of an interception. In the precious few seconds you have to read runner routes, look for whoever's the most wide open – even if they're not the most preferred receiver – and make the play. Don't hesitate too long, though, or you'll get sacked!