Can We Talk About February 22nd?

As if our wallets weren’t already quivering with fear in the aftermath of E3 this year, there’s one day that stands out as the day our wallets might very well go on strike, leap from our back pocket and run straight into traffic rather than face the stress we’re set to put them under.

February 22, 2019 is the slated release date for four big-name titles, all of which could reasonably mount a case for its purchase.

Having moved on from Mass Effect for the moment, Bioware’s new sci-fi franchise, Anthem, is looking to bring gamers together with a huge shared world and unarguably badass Iron Man-like exo-suit traversal. There’s Sony Bend’s return to the scene with Days Gone, a post-apocalyptic, 28 Days Later-esque open-world title with a bikie lead so handsome he’d make all of the Sons of Anarchy blush. The troublesome Crackdown 3 even managed to rear its head during Microsoft’s conference and announce that it, too, was finally seeing release on this day, though if any of the four are going to mysteriously ‘slip’ from this date, Crackdown already has a long history of delays. Rounding out the list is Metro: Exodus, the third entry to one of gaming’s most underrated franchises which feature ghastly mutant creatures, a bleak Russian dystopia and a lot of neat weapons to play with.

So as you can see, it’s going to be a tough choice for many gamers out there. Do you buy just one, or do you go all-in on the lot? It depends on your dedication to the craft.

Here’s the lowdown on what game/s we think you should look at buying first:

ANTHEM

Anthem contains a big shared world where the fear of missing out becomes a real and everpresent danger, as your mates all abandon your nightly Fortnite ritual to move onto the next in-thing. I know a lot of people who missed the boat early with a lot of big persistent online worlds, like Destiny for example, and they just found it too overwhelming to hop in as the game expanded more and more.

The game’s demonstrations so far have ranged from bonkers cool to a little lukewarm, so it’s hard to say whether this game is going to be the best of these four, but it’s the one game that you can miss out on if you sleep on it at launch. You wouldn’t want to be the lone Javelin in the game’s harsh world and everybody knows games like these are best played with friends. So suit up and venture into the great unknown together, and don’t miss out on the fun.

Verdict: The fear of missing out might be too great here. Buy.

 

METRO EXODUS

Despite being the most-anticipated for me personally, it’s hard to say Metro should take precedence over something like Anthem. Metro, as a series, has always excelled in storytelling, world-building and atmosphere, though it is also single-player in nature. Its usefulness isn’t reliant on a community, nor is it tied to the activeness of developer-hosted servers. So it’s easy to suggest you perhaps wait on Metro and wait for it to drop in price a little bit before taking the plunge.

But even that advice goes against everything I believe. Sure, Anthem might be a flash in the pan that could be missed, but does that mean Exodus, the third in a carefully crafted and masterful series, should take the backseat and wait its turn? Perhaps not. If you’re asking me as a gamer, I’m buying Metro Exodus before any of these games. But if you, as a consumer, want to have your cake and eat it, too, then perhaps opt for Anthem in the short term and return to 4A’s phenomenal series at your leisure.

Verdict: If you’re not scared of missing out on Anthem, this is the pick of the lot.

DAYS GONE

Much like the shambling, zombified remains hoarding around Days Gone’s handsome protagonist, it sort of feels like Sony has almost sent this game out to die. Of course, there was a bit of time dedicated to it recently in a low-key stream but for Sony Bend’s return to the scene to be relegated to a mere eight-second slot during E3, the biggest marketing event for gaming in the world, it’s a bit of a surprise.

Do they think the work has done in terms of selling this game, or do they lack faith in it to capitalise on that Q1 release slot that has been dominated by the likes of Horizon and God of War in past years?

If they were to tell me it’s as good as sold, I’d perhaps question that. But there’ll be a lot of the Sony faithful and fans of Bend, in general, that are hoping Days Gone might recapture their former glory while keeping Sony’s first-party hot streak alive. I’m certainly not convinced, and I’m becoming less convinced with each demonstration I see. Shuffle this one to the bottom of the stack sadly, as even Crackdown looks to be a better first-party offering than this and I say that with utter surprise and confusion.

Verdict: Take it out the back and shoot it.

CRACKDOWN 3

Given it’s torrid history of delays and setbacks, it’s hard to mount a case supporting choosing Crackdown over almost any of these other games. Obviously, if you’re a passionate Xbox owner, you’ve probably been waiting for this game for a lot of years and to hear it’s right around the corner has got you hallucinating and seeing agility orbs throughout your neighbourhood. Plus, with Terry Crews attached, one would hope the tongue-in-cheek humour and over the top action from the first game is back.

Even more tantalising is that Crackdown, being first-party, is going to be available free to Game Pass adopters, making this a potential “freebie” game to pick-up alongside something else. So if you’ve been waiting too long for this superpowered sequel, it’s finally coming and it can be had on the cheap thanks in large to Microsoft’s outstanding subscription service.

Verdict: Thanks to Game Pass, picking this up becomes a cheap prospect indeed.

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