Power Up: February’s Finest

It seems like everything slows down and freezes up during the frigid winter months, especially just after the holidays when sales and game releases were highest.

January was a quiet month as far as new releases, highlighted by the first-person Xbox One, PS4 and PC zombie survival sandbox Dying Light, a game that blends the open-world style and combat of the Dead Island franchise with the movement and similar environment of the breakthrough parkour game Mirror’s Edge.

Time otherwise was well-spent for me, and I’m sure many others, button mashing new games obtained during the holiday; watching the NFL playoffs, the heart of college basketball conference play, and enjoying the kick-off of two of my top TV series, The Blacklist and Workaholics.

February may not boast the most publicized games being released, or the most popular among mass audiences, but for certain fans of niche franchises like Dynasty Warriors and Dragon Ball, the frigid month is filled with anticipation.

Other games coming out during the month expect to make splashes in genres dominated by firmly established franchises like Call Of Duty and Assassin’s Creed, whether they approach competitive shooter multiplayer in a new way or reimagine the historical fiction-driven third person experience.

Evolve (Xbox One, PS4, PC) – Feb. 10

Evolve is looking to reshape and recharge multiplayer shooters with its one-versus-four matchmaking where the team is stacked up against a huge monster, all controlled by players.

At launch, there are four different monsters to choose from and different classes for the group of hunters, each with their own abilities, and an adequate variety of game modes, set up in similar fashion to Titanfall, with an online story-driven multiplayer, and a traditional quick play matchmaking option.

During the initial alpha and beta tests on Xbox One, Evolve boasted some impressive gameplay time logs, totaling over 2.2 million hours, according to developer Turtle Rock Studio’s recent news release.

All in all, during my time in the tests, the gameplay impressed me as both balanced and exhilarating, and should be an excellent cooperative experience for co-op gamers that enjoyed Turtle Rock’s original claim to fame, the original Left 4 Dead.

Dynasty Warriors 8: Empires (Xbox One, PS4, PS3, PC) – Feb. 24

            The Dynasty Warriors franchise has exhausted their hack n’ slash formula since 2000 when Koei introduced the familiar style, but the games continue to enhance and build upon their foundation with every release, creating an easy to play, yet complex game full of content.

            Anyone familiar with the franchise recognizes the cycle that a year or so after the standalone release of any Warriors game, Koei releases the Empires version that includes a strategy approach to battle and the return of character creation, which was absent in the previous installment.

            Ultimately, Empires is always the better buy, providing the entire original entry, plus the added RTS-style game mode and creatable characters, serving up a more expansive and customizable experience.

            Although gameplay is very simple, there is just so much to do, including more characters and loot than ever, new custom options and new decisions for officers to immerse players in the Three Kingdoms saga, pressing fans new and old to purchase Dynasty Warriors 8: Empires.

1886: The Order (PS4) – Feb. 20

            Coming exclusively to PS4 owners, Ready At Dawn Studios introduces gamers to an immersive tale shrouded in historical myth and mystery, taking place in a reimagined Victorian London.

            In this alternate history, there’s a centuries-long battle raging between humans and “Half-breeds” that fuels the plot, serving as the backdrop for the action and adventures around the English capital.

            Players will control Galahad through the story-driven third-person shooter in gameplay similar to others in the genre like Uncharted 2: Among Thieves. The protagonist is named from King Arthur’s Knights of the Round Table, a legend that plays an integral role in The Order’s narrative.

            With unique weapons and a cinematic-worthy storyline, the PlayStation exclusive will certainly drop jaws for its graphical brilliance, and hopefully have players enthralled by the mystery of The Order: 1886.

Dragon Ball: Xenoverse (PC on Feb. 27, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS4, PS3) – Feb. 24

Marking the first time Dragon Ball is on current-generation consoles Xbox One and PS4, Xenoverse is shaping up to be the biggest and best entry in the 3D fighting franchise based on the classic magna series and TV show.

Players will be able to charge up and destroy each other in fully destructible 3D arenas, create their own character from the choice of nearly any Dragon Ball race, play as almost 50 characters and progress through an immersive, brand new storyline.

This new plot puts the gamer’s created character right in the action, interacting with familiar faces like Goku, Vegeta, Krillin and many others on a quest to save villains from messing with history.

With much nostalgia to be shared among the die-hards, there are also a few new environments introduced into the Dragon Ball universe like a brand new city called Toki Toki, serving as the destination for cooperative play.

Xenoverse marks the first opportunity for PS4 and Xbox One owners to experience the explosive action in Dragon Ball lore, but a chance for gamers on any platform to carve their way through a brand new narrative and create their own piece of the franchise’s expansive universe.