New and upcoming games worth diving into
By BRITTON PEELE | The Dallas Morning News | Published: March 26, 2021
Historically, March is not exactly the busiest time for new video game releases (though we lucked out last year when Animal Crossing and Doom Eternal arrived just in time for the pandemic to lock us all in). But as 2021 trudges on, a lot of people are still looking for things to do safely indoors. So what can you play?
If you’re looking for things to keep you busy, here are some worthwhile games that came out this year, as well as some you might have missed as 2020 wound down.
Bravely Default II
If you’re an old-school gamer that misses the roleplaying games of the Super Nintendo era, Bravely Default II is likely up your alley. It’s as if the Final Fantasy series went back to its ’90s gameplay roots but with a storybook-esque graphical overhaul that takes advantage of the more modern Nintendo Switch hardware.
Fair warning: The game does also have elements of an old-school RPG, so you’ll spend a lot of time walking back and forth in dungeons trying to get into fights with monsters just so you can level up before facing off against a boss. Still, nostalgia is a powerful drug, so there are plenty of people (myself included) for whom that game play is weirdly relaxing.
Don’t mind the “II” in the name, by the way. While it’s a sequel (technically the third in a series — Square Enix is bad at naming things), knowledge of the previous game(s) is not required.
Platform: Nintendo Switch
This is the game all the cool kids on Twitch are playing right now. Valheim is like if someone took the survival elements of games like Rust and Ark and asked, “But what if there were vikings?” You must hunt, fight and build your way through a randomly generated world, either alone or with friends.
The game is currently only on PC and is unfinished (available in early access on Steam), but it’s found its way into a lot of people’s hearts already. Also, it’s only $20 and can be played online with up to 10 people, so there’s a lot to love on your way to Ragnarok.
Control: Ultimate Edition
One of my personal favorite games of 2019, Control, is getting a new lease on life on the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S with improved graphics and frame rates thanks to the power of the new consoles. This supernatural action game is intentionally (and amazingly) weird, drawing on all the intrigue of stories like "Twin Peaks" and "The X-Files" and pairing it with stellar shooting and some really fun paranormal powers.
Platforms: PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S and via cloud streaming on the Nintendo Switch. Previously available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC.
Immortals Fenyx Rising
Do you like Greek mythology? Did you like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild? Do you want to play a colorful open world game in which you can fly and also hang out with Hermes? Then have I got the game for you.
While it has some suggestive content and earns its T for Teen rating, you could also look at Immortals Fenyx Rising as a somewhat more family friendly alternative to the most recent games in the Assassin’s Creed series. Sure, it’s got some off-color jokes, but at least it doesn’t have gory decapitations.
Platforms: PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, Nintendo Switch and PC.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2
As a teen, the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater games almost got me into skateboarding. Almost. The problem, though (aside from my complete lack of balance and fear of injuring myself), is that unlike in a video game, I can’t grind my way through an abandoned mall or through a secret lab at Roswell.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 is, in many ways, an ideal remake. It doesn’t just mimic the original gameplay with a fresh coat of paint. It recreates these classic games in the way you remember them playing. Improvements made in later games have been retrofitted (including the revert from THPS3), and pulling off tricks across iconic levels feels fantastic. All of the levels from the first two games are present here, alongside a decent level creator and some fun online multiplayer modes. Much of the memorable pop music soundtrack has made the transition, too. Given the disappointing recent history of skateboarding video games, the fact that the developers stuck the landing on this one feels somewhat miraculous.
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC. Coming soon to PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S and Nintendo Switch.
Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity
Speaking of Zelda, it sounds like we may still be waiting for a little while until we see the next great adventure in that series. The latest original game to grace the Nintendo Switch doesn’t even have the name Zelda in the title, and for good reason: It’s an action game in the vein of Dynasty Warriors in which you spend hours mowing down hundreds upon hundreds of enemies in a story that serves as a sort of prequel to Breath of the Wild.
Still, it has enough of the right Zelda elements in it to tickle the right parts of my brain, and as I celebrate the series’ 35th anniversary this year, I’m willing to spend time with just about any Hyrule-based gameplay I can get my hands on.
Platform: Nintendo Switch