As we leave February in the dust and start to edge ever closer to Spring, colleagues, taxi drivers and your mum – definitely your mum – are all going to start chewing your ear off about the prospect of longer, warmer days.
Ignore them, because all you’re actually interested in doing this month is diving head-first into the latest and greatest video game releases. And what a selection you have to choose from.
Horizon: Zero Dawn – PS4 (Out now)
Not the first PlayStation exclusive of the year, but arguably the most-anticipated so far, Horizon Zero Dawn is an absolutely enormous post-apocalyptic RPG from the makers of the long-running Killzone series.
You play Aloy, a hunter-archer dealing with the near-constant threat of being trampled on by an actual robot dinosaur. Yep, Horizon Zero Dawn’s futuristic Earth is a dangerous place indeed, where humans are no longer top of the food chain and it’s very much a case of adapt to survive. Our fiercely independent protagonist was banished by her tribe as a young girl, and the game tasks you (and her) with discovering the truth behind this lost world.
There are countless side quests to sink your teeth into, characters to meet, skill trees to climb and absolutely loads of the aforementioned giant robot dinosaurs to hunt with your trusty bow. Oh, and it’s quite possibly the most eye-wateringly gorgeous game ever committed to console. Good thing there aren’t any other 100+ hour virtual adventures asking for your cash this month, right guys?
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild – Nintendo Switch, Wii U (Out now)
See what we did there? We lied to you, because in fact there is another whopping great action-adventure game releasing this month, and it doesn’t get any bigger than Zelda.
In The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Nintendo is taking its most beloved franchise (or second-most, because we have no interest in picking a fight with that mustachioed plumber) and revolutionising it for gamers used to gigantic open worlds teeming with things to do.
Zeldas of the past, with a few exceptions, have largely followed a reassuringly familiar template: go to dungeon, get cool thing, kill quirky boss with cool thing, rinse and repeat until the big showdown with the supremely evil Ganon.
But BoTW draws the most inspiration from its similarly exceptional handheld predecessor, The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, in that you’re free to pursue the game’s story and the objectives within it in whatever order you damn well like, and many of the tools needed to do so are at your disposal from pretty much the offset. Nintendo’s first crack at a truly open-world Zelda could be the most exciting entry into the iconic series since Ocarina of Time (regarded by many as the best game ever made) and a glance at its current Metacritic score (98) may just have you rushing out to grab a Nintendo Switch on payday.
1-2-Switch – Nintendo Switch (Out now)
So you bought that Nintendo Switch did you? Good choice. You deserve it, pal. You’ve obviously picked up Zelda, but you need a game to show off the unique capabilities of Nintendo’s new box (or shiny slab) of tricks.
Enter the utterly batshit-crazy 1-2-Switch, a collection of 28 multi-player mini-games that make use of the Switch’s Joy-Con controllers, their inbuilt motion controls and the new HD Rumble feature. It’s essentially the Switch’s Wii Sports, but rather than playing waggle tennis, you’ll be rocking your tablet to sleep and milking cows.
It’s Nintendo being weird, and we all know that’s when they’re at their happiest.
Ghost Recon: Wildlands – PS4, Xbox One, PC (Out 7th March)
The latest in in the Tom Clancy-inspired stealth action series drops players – four of them in fact – into Bolivia, where cocaine is rife and the merciless Santa Blanca cartel hold all the power.
The Ghosts, that’s you and your mates, are sent deep behind enemy lines break the link between drug lords and the corrupt government that allows them to retain such an influence.
Wildlands is open-world and, in keeping with a common theme of this month’s releases, colossal in size. You can sneak through the game’s many missions with AI-controlled teammates if you like, but Ubisoft have designed this one to be played tactically with real people. If you do a lot of gaming online, Wildlands could keep you going for months.
Mass Effect: Andromeda – PS4, Xbox One, PC (Out 23rd March)
As if the triumphant return of Zelda after such a long console hiatus wasn’t enough, this month we also welcome back another big-name series. Andromeda kicks off an entirely new planet-hopping chapter in Mass Effect canon, which makes it the perfect jumping-on point for those who missed out on the exploits of Commander Shepard in the first three critically-acclaimed games.
Five years in the making, the game begins with you leaving the Milky Way for a neighbouring galaxy, where you’ll choose to play as one of the Ryder twins, Scott and Sara.
BioWare’s ambitious action RPG’s are known for their branching narratives, complex dialogue trees and agonising game-shaping decisions, and this one will be no different. A new galaxy means new adventures, new landscapes and new aliens to get it on with. Oh yeah, and Game of Thrones star Natalie Dormer’s in it, which is cool. Book a week off work when this drops.
[Main image credit: Nintendo]