While there are many new games, both free and paid, being released every week, this month in particular I’m looking forward to two specific titles, and for very different reasons. Before you read the previews below know that I have not done a lot of research into these releases, wanting to experience them fresh when they come out, both on February 22nd, so some of my information may be a bit wrong. Whether the facts are correct or not I hope the spirit of entertainment and exploration is true to form, as I look to play both of these games for a long while.
Though I haven’t really ever been big into the “4X” genre of games (eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, eXterminate), I’ve had a lot of fun with Stellaris, so much so that I have an entire fiction arc dedicated to a long-running campaign I had. The base game is concerned with a civilization’s first steps into interstellar space, and the management of politics, industry, economy, colonization, war, and scientific progress required to survive in a hostile environment, against all kinds of unknown entities. There are a lot of elements to juggle, and it can be pretty overwhelming at first, but I genuinely appreciate the variety in random events, the uniqueness of the situations, and the fact that every single game is 100% different than any played before.
With the Apocalypse update, as they have done with other significant patches before, Paradox Interactive is overhauling the way the game works, stripping out elements that were either under-utilized or needlessly complicated. Some elements are getting “simpler” while the mechanics behind other aspects are getting more complex, such as how empire border control functions, or the design of defensive starbases. In addition new research options will become available, such as “planet-killer”-sized weapons and whole new fleet makeups, which should really throw interesting twists into an already great game. Going through the patch notes, it seems like they have overhauled darn near everything about the game, including out-of-game elements like the user interface.
What’s really fantastic is the 2.0 patch (releasing for free the same day as the Apocalypse expansion) will move some elements that had previously been locked behind DLC into the base game, such as particular ascendancy perks and maybe even a Leviathan or two. It really seems like Paradox wants to provide a good, solid experience, that continues to update and change as they receive feedback, even for players who don’t always purchase the latest update. I can really commend them on that; I think too many games these days focus solely on forcing people to buy new content, leaving other players in the dust.
I’ll be very excited to explore the changes both in a single-player scenario as well as with friends online, as we’ve made something of a habit to sit down and play for a few hours every week or so.
I’m a huge Legend of Zelda fan, and still fondly remember hours and hours (and hours) of trying to save Princess Zelda while growing up, well into college and beyond. Heck, Breath of the Wild is one of the best games I’ve played, period, Zelda-related or not. Originally released for the Wii-U and then the 3Ds (two consoles I do not have), Hyrule Warriors takes an interesting twist on the series, and one I’m very interested to see come to life on the Switch.
For many years there has been a popular game series called Dynasty Warriors. An offshoot of the Romance of the Three Kingdoms saga, it takes a pseudo-historical account of the formation of ancient China and presents it through the actions of your chosen general, fighting waves and waves of enemies, eventually leading to the opposing leaders. It’s a non-stop combat game, with easy-to-kill enemies relying on sheer numbers to defeat you. The series has included games that didn’t take place in China, such as one that was set in the Gundam Wing universe, where you piloted a fighting robot in space, and now they’ve taken the “hack everything that moves” formula and brought it to the rolling fields of Hyrule.
From what I understand the Switch version will include much of the DLC from the Wii-U game, meaning from Day 1 players can choose from a whole host of “generals” that each have a wide variety of skills and abilities. The goal is to defeat Gannon’s approaching armies, and one would presume, ultimately defeat him after wading through untold thousands of his monsters.
One of the best parts though – other than seeing Link, Zelda, Midna, and others slash through hordes of bad guys – is that the game is two-player co-op right out of the box. Games like Super Mario Odyssey (a fantastic game, don’t get me wrong) have what I would call “tacit 2-player” in that the second player technically has agency to alter the game, they don’t ultimately contribute much to the overall experience. With Hyrule Warriors, we’re back to old-school split-screen action, meaning both players are fully a part of the gaming experience. Even though I doubt it’s my wife’s type of game, I think it will quickly become a fun event for friends to play, and ideally with easy enough controls that there isn’t a steep learning curve for casual gamers.
I really like having options when I play video games – I don’t always feel like playing a first-person shooter, an MMO, or a real-time strategy game (at which I am terrible, but still enjoy playing). Having a good mix of games at my disposal is important because sometimes I just want to plop down in my computer chair or couch and enjoy some pixels. That both of these games come out on the same day doesn’t bother me, because I know I’ll have plenty of time to enjoy both – I still go back and play a lot of my older games on occasion, and I think it helps me appreciate both how far technology and storytelling through video games has come, but also what amazing work was able to be done in years past, without those same advances.
If I’m not answering my phone on the 22nd, my apologies but I’m likely to be up to my eyeballs in video games, soaking in the amazing labors of modern programmers, artists, and developers.