Once upon a time, the best and biggest video games were generally released around the holiday season. Not anymore. The wallets of gamers no longer get a reprieve during the spring time, with past blockbusters Grand Theft Auto IV, Dark Souls 3, and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt all showing up on store shelves at the same time that flowers start to bloom. So here are three solid games releasing this March, with all apologies to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, which every WiiU and Switch owner should already own.
Nier released in 2010 for PS3 and Xbox 360, its gameplay inspired by the God of War series. Players roamed open levels, attacking enemies and earning money with which to upgrade weapons and abilities. While critics collectively found Nier mediocre, the game struck a chord with a certain group of gamers, leading to it becoming a cult hit. Several unique elements – such as the gameplay changing in certain areas from 3D to either a 2D side scrolling view or a top-down view, as well as fishing and farming side quests – illustrate the ambition and experimentation that the developers put into their work.
Seven years later, a sequel, Nier: Automata, has been released in Japan and arrives in North America on March 7th. The gameplay is similar to Nier in that it is primarily a 3D action game with certain sections in 2D sidescrolling as well as others from a top down view. Players can change between four different weapons during fights and use a “flying robot assistant” to launch a number of ranged attacks. The story looks like it will be similar to the first Nier’s in its atypical plot that combines science fiction, fantasy, and a large does of Japanese weirdness.
Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands
If you didn’t get a chance to play the beta for Wildlands, the game can be summed up in a simple way: a tactical shooter with four player co-op in a big, open world. While that summary doesn’t give due to the vast list of weapons, equipment, and vehicles available to the player, it does encapsulate the reason why you should be interested in the game. The beta shined brightest when four friends made up a team, and despite the ability to play the game single player, it’s hardly as fun.
The reason is that most of the fun the game delivers is from planning your attack with friends, executing it, and improvising when needed along the way. Giving orders to computer controlled allies doesn’t really have the same excitement. The map is an open world with missions spotted around the map within enemy camps. How you infiltrate those camps is completely up to your team: you can decide to mark enemies with a drone and then go in guns blazing while the sun shines, or you can wait until nighttime, ride as close as possible on dirt bikes, then sneak the rest of the way in. The range of ways to complete missions should keep co-op game lovers playing Wildlands for some time after its release on March 7th.
Mass Effect: Andromeda
Regardless of what taste was left in your mouth after the controversial ending to Mass Effect 3, Andromeda looks like it will build off the other 95 per cent of what made the trilogy so good. The third-person perspective gameplay returns, as does adept powers, engineer skills, a drivable vehicle for planetary exploration, and all the fantastic quests and character interactions that players should expect. The game’s story won’t continue directly from the original trilogy, instead beginning some 600 years after its conclusion, when the human race beings colonizing the Andromeda galaxy.
Things will be different too, though. Instead of choosing a class, players get to choose what skills to upgrade and from those choices, bonuses will unlock. Planet exploration will be a bit dicier, as each planet has its own boss who may be too difficult to defeat on first encounter. Weapon crafting will also have its place in the game, although its depth is unclear. A fancy new jetpack will allow Ryder, the player’s character, to move around levels vertically while Andromeda removes the ability to pause the game while choosing a skill to use. March 21st can’t come soon enough for fans of the series.