And What a February It Was For Game Launches! P.1

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There's been quite a lot going on for games this year, but February was certainly the month to remember in terms of launches by filling our time, libraries, and wishlists! This ample selection of new games has landed all across the charts in terms of appeal. Some landed themselves with mixed reviews, a few unexpected gems, and even some that have lived up to the hype they earned before release. Now that we've all had enough time to play and reflect of games from February, let's just off of P.1 of P.2 of the February articles and take a look at the first half and how it turned out!
 

Granblue Fantasy: Relink  - February 1

Starting off was Granblue Fantasy: Relink. Players looked forward to the unique art style but were curious how the story would play out. According to Metacritic, players and critics were aligned in their opinions with the game earning a score of 80 from critics and an 8.5 from players. Some reviews noted that the solo play experience perhaps lacked originality, noting that it was not a bad game but not groundbreaking either. It may not have been as ambitious as it seemed, but everyone seemed to agree that it was a visually pleasing game and still worth it with the heavier price tag of $60, if you’re already a fan of the genre.
 

Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League - February 2

Upon its release, Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League, landed itself in a controversial position in the community, even after the broken launch that disappointed those who had pre-purchased the game for the extra few days of playtime. It wasn’t that it was a poorly performing or bad-looking game. The character design was highly successful with faithful interpretation of the well-known characters and excellent motion capture that lent itself to the development of incredibly expressive facial animations. Unfortunately, the richness of the character’s individuality fell off when it came to actual gameplay. As each character could use different weapons, the benefit of playing each squad member was lost. As players advanced through the game, boss fights began to feel redundant, and the constant damage animations crowded the screen. Some passionate fans were quick to defend the game, arguing that the promised future updates would better it and hopefully help redeem it after release. Upon the release of the first expansion on March 28th, the optimism of those fans began to dwindle. The update brought a new boss battle The Joker into the game. It was a daring move, considering that The Joker has been represented so much in pop culture these days, and it did not seem to pay off for the game. Players had to complete roughly 70 missions to earn The Joke character, and even then they didn’t feel that it was enough to warrant the effort. Players felt that the interpretation of The Joker didn’t bring anything new to his development and that he leaned too heavily on the already-established tropes. Although there are 10+ expansions planned for the game, it looks like it would still take a large gameplay overhaul to claw its way back into the good graces of the gaming community.
 

Persona 3 Reload  - February 2

The modern reload of this classic landed very well with audiences. The visual overhaul was contemporary enough to enhance the experience of the game without trampling over the nostalgia players were looking forward to. The subtle new art and elements complimented the new combat mechanics in a way that enriched the characters. Players enjoyed that the game successfully managed the juxtaposition between relationships in daytime everyday life and the threatening forces in the Dark Hour. This is a dynamic that fans have gotten accustomed to expecting from Persona games, and Persona 3 Reload delivered.
 

Helldivers 2 - February 8

Media has done an impressive job updating the gaming community in recent years, so much so that it’s surprising when a game launch catches the community off guard. Helldivers 2 was certainly not a ghost launch by any means - there was a decent amount of coverage around it pre-launch - but it took the community by storm when it launched in early February. Social media propelled its popularity into hyperdrive as hilarious camaraderie and friendly fire clips circulated on multiple outlets. Although server limitations stunted early player numbers, the developers quickly and efficiently worked to expand servers. Partnered with honest and good-humored communication, the team handled the early hiccups well, and the community responded with patience that’s rarely seen in the industry. Helldivers 2 commands players to defend democracy against “bugs” or “bots,” adapt to multiple playstyles, and toggle builds that balance multiple effective weapons and stratagems for each enemy and co-responding difficulty type. The resulting gameplay is a series of adrenaline-filled missions that encourage both teamwork and heroism. Paired with the satirical theme of “spreading democracy” there’s a lighter reprieve of comedy to parallel the carnage. 
 

Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden - February 13

Finding itself with strong reviews on either side while nestling into a score of 78, Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden might not be a game you’ve heard of, but maybe it should be. Even through the gripes about performance and strange choices with atmospheric sound, audiences generally agree that the game is still worth it for the gripping and emotional story. It’s said to play like God of War, with some critiquing that they found the openness to deduct from the experience, but that the side missions and facial animations make the game worth it. Overall, it’s a success for this inspired AA. 


 

Tomb Raider Remastered - February 14

It’s no mystery that these games have been beloved since Lara Croft entered the gaming scene, her blocky self and all. These remastered games brought that nostalgia back for many. With a “Generally Favorable” 75 from critics, a slightly higher 7.6 from players, and a “Mostly Positive” on recent Steam Reviews, it seems Aspyr and Crystal Dynamics have once again pleased their audiences, not everything is sunshine and nostalgia rainbows. Some of the older technical issues look to have carried over and the new graphical update has been said to detract from the atmosphere of the games. Even with the capability to remap the controls plays reported that Lara’s movement was clunky and that the camera didn’t always follow the player correctly. At the price tag of $29.99 and only a few new bonus levels, players were still excited to relive the unforgettable moments from the franchise but were also quick to note that the price was steep - especially considering these were once-published games that had already done the heavy lifting. Without getting into the nitty gritty of digital ownership, it’s also worth noting that the developers have removed some content from the games after launch. It’s nothing that fundamentally changes them but it is frustrating for those that have already spent their money.  Despite these issues, the consensus is still positive, so don’t be afraid to give them a go if you’ve yet to experience these classics.
 

Skull and Bones - February 16

Skull and Bones had earned itself a warranted amount of skepticism pre-launch after a long and rocky development voyage. To the dismay of every aspiring pirate within the gamer who took a chance on the game, it regrettably fell short. The gameplay is reported to be repetitive and lacks a story deep enough to keep the player interested when the open waters get dull. A sore lack of land activities and no hand-to-hand combat makes the true pirate experience. If, however, you’re less interested in being a pirate and more interested in the pirate ships themselves, this might still be the right game for you. There’s plenty of upgrading and customization to be had, the naval fighting is enjoyable, and the graphics do make for a gorgeous experience. It may not have been the “AAAA” pirate game it promised to deliver, but Skull and Bones is playable and offers a visually appealing way to sail the seas nonetheless. 
 

Which February release was your favorite? Stay tuned for part 2!
 

Replies • 11
Bus Driver Batman

Even though I don't play any of these games I have seen a big following on the Helldivers 2 and much less of the other games that are streamed in my circle of watch/followed streamers.




Galactic

Waiting for Skull&Bones and Suicide Squad to become F2P like it should have been from the start.



Interstellar

Congratulations to Lecksea on their 100th news story! 

Also, is there a part two? A previous commenter said something about it and I can't find it (looking for it was how I saw their achievement). I haven't played any on part one.



Planetary

PC has been a huge part of the success of Helldivers II in the US. With PC, Helldivers II is already the 7th highest grossing Sony published game in history. Without PC it wouldn't currently rank among the top 20.