As the post-holiday lull begins to loosen its grip on the video game industry, an unusually promising winter for video game fans looms on the horizon. An exciting lineup of winter releases looks to liven up hiding from the cold with everything from fresh entries in classic franchises to entirely new hardware.
February is typically a slow month for gamers, but this year’s offerings look to make the wintry month a memorable one. Coming up first is “For Honor” (Feb. 14), a melee action game that turns the fantasy of battles between knights, samurai and vikings into a gritty reality. Featuring a mixture of a pulpy single-player story and chaos-driven multiplayer combat, the game looks to freshen up the tired hack and slash brand of gameplay.
Releasing on the same day is “Sniper Elite 4” (Feb. 14), the first entirely next-gen entry in the popular stealth franchise. Keeping fans on their toes with bigger, more complicated environments and a single player campaign branding itself as an atypical World War II story, the sequel seems to be a solid option for those looking from something different from the standard shooter.
For science fiction fans who like their games more on the strategic side, “Halo Wars 2” (Feb. 21) brings back the popular real-time strategy spin on the blockbuster “Halo” franchise for the next generation. Trading in “Halo’s” high-octane gun battles for large-scale tactical warfare, the game aims to capitalize on those looking for a break from a slew of first-person shooters while banking on the popularity of the “Halo” franchise and lore.
Closing out the month is the highly anticipated PlayStation 4 exclusive “Horizon Zero Dawn” (Feb. 28), the first non-“Killzone” related title from popular developer Guerrilla Games in over a decade. The game has turned many heads in the industry with its eye-popping visuals and unique storyline, which follows a woman struggling to survive in a post-apocalyptic world ruled by robotic creatures. With a sprawling open world and some unique takes on the role-playing genre, “Horizon” looks to cement itself as a breathtaking new franchise for PlayStation, one that will bring some originality to the console’s sequel-heavy library.
As if February wasn’t making winter exciting enough already, Nintendo is riding in to make March a notable time in video game history. March 3 will see the release of Nintendo’s newest console, the Nintendo Switch. The Switch boasts an impressively innovative design that encourages gaming both in the living room and on-the-go, as the console itself is a tablet-like device that can either be put in a docking station for television use or taken with you as a mobile console. It also features unique, detachable controllers that can be configured for multiple play styles and also used as individual controllers for friends playing together.
Headlining the Switch’s release lineup is the long-awaited sequel “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild” (March 3), the newest entry in the classic “Legend of Zelda” franchise. An ambitious departure from its predecessors, “Breath of the Wild” takes the “Zelda” formula and places it in a massive open-world environment that players are free to explore. The single-player adventure game will attempt to give fans all they’ve come to expect from a “Zelda” story while highlighting the possibilities and power of the Switch.
While Nintendo’s newest console and the games accompanying it while surely dominate the month, fans of classic franchises on other consoles still have something to look forward to.
“Ghost Recon Wildlands” (March 7) brings back the once dominant Tom Clancy franchise to life, sending cooperative play fans into an open world that will see them struggle to take down drug cartels in Bolivia. The first “Ghost Recon” game set in an open world, the game will feature squad-based gameplay that allows players to either play with their friends or control a team of AI (artificial intelligence) soldiers.
Also returning is the endlessly popular “Mass Effect” series with the newest entry “Mass Effect: Andromeda” (March 21), which serves as an all-new story in the series’ expansive universe. Giving players more freedom than ever before, the game will feature a new focus on exploration while maintaining the involved plotlines that series fans know and love.
Regardless of what kinds of games one might be a fan of, the winter months are sure to offer something for everyone. It’s never been a better time to hide from the cold.