The year of 2016 is well and truly underway and it is already time to look towards the biggest gaming releases of February. January saw some great gaming releases from the independent scene with Gone Home, Oxenfree and The Witness showing us what a great job smaller developers can do. February sees the return of the Juggernaut publishers but there are still a few, under the radar gems to be found.
1. Cobalt – Feb 2nd – PC/Xbox 360/Xbox One
Cobalt is the first of the gaming releases brought to you by the same team who develop Minecraft which will instantly attract the attention of millions of children around the world. Mojang has corroborated with Oxeye game studio to deviate from the creative open world of Minecraft to a 2D action platformer. The game has been available to play since 2013 in an alpha stage, however, just as the case with Minecraft, a fully polished edition is nearly here.
In Cobalt you will run, jump, roll, shoot, dance, fly and loot! Throw in multiplayer modes and bullet time and you are left with a rather unorthodox yet alluring game. Check out the trailer below and let us know what you think.
2. Not A Hero – Feb 2nd – PS4
Pixel art never looked so… Gory? Another platformer released on the same day but two extremely contrasting themes. Not A Hero was released on PC in 2015 but it is finally coming to consoles and it brings a very adult themed 2D shooter. Published by the team that brought you the slaughter fest that is Hotline Miami; the developers, Roll7, have blended this aesthetic appeal with their platforming prowess they perfected in OlliOlli.
You play as BunnyLord and you travel back from the future to save the world. As you campaign to become mayor, you take down the criminal system to stake your claim as the nation’s noble leader. Aside from the intriguingly bizarre plot, the gameplay can be quite complex as you can exploit cover mechanics and play with a varied arsenal of firearms.
3. XCOM 2 – Feb 15th – PC/Mac
Originally intended to be released in 2015, we are finally getting the anticipated, turn Based strategy sequel to XCOM: Enemy Unknown. Set 20 years after the events of the previous entry, XCOM 2 continues one of the possible narratives from the previous game where the aliens won in their invasion of Earth.
Returning players will be immediately familiar with the mechanics here with turn-based combat on the field, permadeath and base construction between missions. XCOM 2 will improve upon this well-proven formula by adding procedurally constructed levels, environmental destruction, and entirely new classes. Hopefully, we’ll get a console adaptation soon but in the meantime, pick this up if you can.
4. Dying Light: The Following – Feb 9th – PC/PS4/Xbox One
This ‘gigantic’ expansion arrives for Dying Light a full year after the original title debuted. The DLC, which will arrive on the same day as Dying Light: Enhanced Edition will add an entirely new area to explore which is larger than the previous two maps in the standalone game combined.
Dying Light: The Following will add a number of new gameplay mechanics with the most notable being the inclusion of vehicles. You can traverse the countryside in fully customization buggy’s which you can joyfully mow down zombie hordes with and gain experience in a new driving skill tree. The new locale, which liberates you from the confines of Harran, will welcome you with new missions, new characters, and new weapons.
5. Firewatch – Feb 9th – PC/Mac/PS4
Firewatch sees you becoming a volunteer ‘fire lookout’ set after the real world events of the 1988 Yellowstone Fires. Described as a first-person adventure game; with the assistance of his supervisor Delilah via walkie-talkie, you patrol the surrounding area of the Shoshone National Forest.
As you are out on patrol, you return to your tower to find it has been completely ransacked and you see a mysterious shadowy figure stalking you from afar. The adventure progresses as you search for clues as to who and why this mystical stranger is haunting you. Developed by Campo Santo and featuring art from the accomplished Olly Moss, Firewatch could become one of the surprise hit gaming releases of 2016.
6. Unravel – Feb 9th – PC/PS4/Xbox One
Possibly containing the cutest gaming mascot of 2016, Unravel is a physics based, puzzle platformer developed by Coldwood Interactive and published By EA. Yarny is made of yarn (wool for the UK) and the puzzles surrounding him can be overcome by unraveling his own body.
Visually the environments look stunning and are inspired by the Swedish landscape. The story explores the idea of leaving home for the first time and losing parts of yourself as you do so I expect a very emotional and moving tale here. If however, you are excited for Unravel because of how adorable Yarny is… You can make your own one here.
7. Street Fighter V – Feb 16th – PC/PS4
Street Fighter to many is the definitive fighting game. The series introduced us to the combo mechanics now seen across the genre and was the first voyage for many into the fighting game scene. Street Fighter IV was a huge success in reviving the series and the Super and Ultra editions soon followed. Capcom has confirmed that Street Fighter V will be the only edition you need. The additional character will be added to the roster but you can purchase all of them by using real world money or ‘fight money’ which is earned within the game.
Street Fighter V was developed in partnership with Sony so the game will not appear on other consoles. The campaign sounds intriguing too as each character will have their own narrative which explores their past and how their relationships developed with the other combatants. Expect a busy and competitive online community when this game releases.
8. Fire Emblem Fates – Feb 19th (US) – 3DS
Fire Emblems Fates has been available in Japan since 2015 and been one of the most request gaming releases for a while and the game has finally left Asia… Yet it has only made it as far as the US (Sorry Europe and Australia, no release date for you yet). Fire Emblem Fates is the 14th entry in the main game series and follows on the heels of the well received Fire Emblem Awakening.
Fire Emblem Fates retains the same tactical gameplay and gorgeous art design as seen in the previous title however a heavier emphasis has been put on creating a more gripping tale. The result of this is that there are essentially three versions of the game. You can purchase either Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright, Fire Emblem Fates: Conquest or Fire Emblem Fates: Revelation (DLC). Each version has a unique story line and playing through them all will allow you to witness an entirely new experience.
9. Plants Vs Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 – Feb 23rd – PC/PS4/Xbox One
It is amazing to think how far this series has evolved over the last few years. What began as a simple side scrolling tower defense game has ‘flowered‘ into a fully fledged and competent third person, competitive shooter!
Plants Vs Zombies: Garden Warfare took the lore and tongue-in-cheek humor from the original series and added classes, weapons and outfits. The sequel will be very familiar to its predecessor but will include improve graphics and new game modes. Herbal assault will feature up to 24 players and unlike the former entree, Plants Vs Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 will not require an internet connection and include single player missions. 40 different characters will be accessible at launch and free DLC is planned after release.
10. Far Cry Primal – Feb 23rd – PS4/Xbox One
The Far Cry series returns as the one of the biggest gaming releases and this time we have seen the most drastic change to date. Far Cry Primal is set 12,000 years in the past, players will assume the role of Takkar and will fight against rival tribes to take control of the wilderness.
Hunting and crafting have always been an important part of the Far Cry games but never have they been this integral. All of your weapons will need to be crafted from your surroundings and you will have the ability to tame wild beast and have them aid you in the midst of battle. You can use an owl to scout the area spotting enemies or if you are feeling less stealthy, call in a grizzly bear to tear apart your foes.
Expect an engrossing tale containing breathtaking moments and stunning environments only capable on the new generation systems. Wooly mammoths and sabre-toothed tigers… Oh, my.
January kicked off the year in great fashion but February looks set to be even better!
Which game are you most excited for? Let us know in the comments below!
An Englishman living in Australia. I edit and provide video/written reviews for all of the latest games.