The early months of any year are usually filled with smaller indie games trying to avoid the fourth quarter crush, or big console business that got delayed out of the holiday season. We normally try to highlight the former in these lists, largely because that’s how our tastes tend to run, but this month is looking good for the major publishers. Nintendo’s putting out a new handheld and a big console game that we’re excited for (as well as another 3D Zelda remake that would’ve been number six on this list), Sony’s unveiling the next major Playstation 4 exclusive, and 2K Games is finally letting us get our hands on Evolve, the new shooter from the Left 4 Dead studio that’s both co-op and competitive at once (and that also has seemingly been at every industry trade show for like three years now.) This February is shaping up as a good month for games. Let’s hope the games keep up their end of the bargain.
Release Date: 2/10
Platforms: PC, Playstation 4, Xbox One
Left 4 Dead is still my favorite co-op game. Evolve comes from the same team, and it does Left 4 Dead one better: not only can you and three friends team up to shoot your way through set-piece missions, but a fifth friend can control the massive behemoth that you’re all trying to hunt. The monster tries to survive or kill you, you all gang up to kill the monster, and the circle of life continues to spin. I’ve been able to play Evolve at a few press events, and here’s what I wrote about it last March: “When you play in the squad the tension can resemble the end-game scrum of each Left 4 Dead level. It’s tense because it’s a game and you want to win it which means not dying or at least only dying as part of a heroic sacrifice. That kind of tension.”
2. Kirby and the Rainbow Curse
Release Date: 2/20
Platform: Wii U
This upcoming Wii U Kirby title will incorporate the stylus and gamepad to create a play-style similar to 2005’s Kirby: Canvas Curse. Basically, you draw stuff on the screen to make Kirby move. Although movement in-game behaves differently, Kirby will still be able to pick up a few different transformative power-ups. It’s Kirby, so I don’t expect any innovative design boundaries to be blown open here, but I am excited to draw swirly rainbow arcs to move a little pink puffball to and fro while whimsical calliope-inspired music plays in the background. If I know Kirby, this game will be a slow, stress-relieving walk through a danger-free playground. Aahhhh.—Maddy Myers
3. The New Nintendo 3DS XL
Release Date: 2/13
Platform: Uh, it is a platform.
Okay, the New Nintendo 3DS XL isn’t a videogame, but you do play videogames on it. It’s another handheld from Nintendo, the next half-step on the evolutionary spectrum of the 3DS. It’s awkwardly named because it’s kind of an awkward device: it’s a little bit more powerful than the regular 3DS, has a few extra buttons built into it, and will play some games that aren’t playable on the standard 3DS. It will still play every game that works on the old 3DS, though. With this revision Nintendo gets to add in what many players have been waiting for, including a second analog stick and two extra shoulder buttons, while also improving the 3D effect. We don’t know yet how much it’ll improve on the old 3DS, but hopefully we’ll have that information for you before release.
4. The Order: 1886
Release Date: 2/20
Platform: Playstation 4
The Order goes all in on the alternate history falderal. This isn’t just your typical steampunk London circa 1886—it’s one with animal man-monsters, almost eternal Knights of the Round Table and, uh, well, zeppelins and Tesla-esque weapons. So it’s partially just your typical steampunk London. Its story hints at a deeper recognition of class issues than most big budget action games, though, and even though we’ve had a Playstation 4 in our entertainment center for over a year we’re still waiting on the exclusive that’s so impressive that it completely leaves the Playstation 3 in the dust. Maybe it’s The Order: 1886.
5. Resident Evil: Revelations 2 Episode 1
Release Date: 2/17
Platforms: Xbox 360, Xbox One, Playstation 3, Playstation 4, Playstation Vita, PC
has hit the point where its secondary games and weird tangents are usually better than the official installments. (Final Fantasy fans know the feeling.) The first Resident Evil: Revelations confirmed it. The second one starts up this month, and in a weird decision will be released episodically. Set between Resident Evil 5 and 6 (aka the unpopular ones), Revelations 2 puts you in control of Claire Redfield. The first Revelations wasn’t as big or ambitious as 5 or 6, and that more modest scale worked greatly to its benefit. Splitting the sequel up into separate chunks will reduce that scale even more, and perhaps that will work in the game’s favor again.