March comes barreling into view on the backs of a bunch of old favorites. From Nintendo’s favorite bunch of animals, to the latest chapters of two of the most storied first-person shooters ever, to the return of one of 2015’s surprise hits, this March has a thrilling line-up of games that should have something for everybody. Here are Paste’s picks for the most exciting games of the month, starting with the return of one of Nintendo’s best.
1. Animal Crossing: New Horizons
Release Date: March 20
The latest Animal Crossing might introduce a number of new features that could change the game forever, but it still has what matters most: a bunch of animals. I mean, it’s the first word in the name. Okay, it’s not just the animals that matter, but their personalities, and the civilization they’ve built for themselves, and the ways you, as the resident human, fit into this world. Animal Crossing might be full of chores and errands and tasks you have to repeat, but it’s still such a relaxing, charming, un-game-like videogame. I would rather write letters and gift sweaters to persnickety penguins than shotgun demon guts all over Mars any day of the week. Speaking of which…
2. Doom Eternal
Release Date: March 20
Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, Stadia
Okay, I might have to take a step or two back. Doom is the ne plus ultra of Martian demon massacring, and the follow-up to 2016’s no-fat revival is looking like another blood-streaked winner. Even a man such as I, a thoroughly grown adult with the refined and genteel tastes of a perfect gentleman, feels the need to engage in some lightning-fast, brain-melting destruction every now and again. These modern Doom games deliver that as slickly as anything on the market, making Doom Eternal a death opus to look out for.
3. Ori and the Will of the Wisps
Release Date: March 11
Platform: Xbox One, PC
The sequel to the game that reminded me that I can, in fact, still cry (which, if you knew me, you’d know that statement is a massive joke, because I cry at pretty much anything, especially commercials, cartoons, and the smiles of old people) has been five years in the making, and lemme tell ya, these ducts are ready. I am long on record as thinking the standard structure of a Metroid-style game is pretty much the pinnacle of game design, and the original Ori took the body of that Metroid truck and filled it up with intoxicating action and the mystical slyvan beauty of a Studio Ghibli film. Will the sequel be more of the same, or will it establish its own tone, hopefully with the same degree of artfulness as before? Well, we’ll have to play it first to find out.
4. Half-Life Alyx
Release Date: March 23
Platform: PC VR
If the response to the first new Half-Life content in over a decade feels a little muted, well, consider the context: it’s a prequel to an unfinished series that has been dangling on a cliffhanger for 13 years, and it’s exclusively for virtual reality devices. If you’re worried that it sounds more like a highfalutin tech demo than an actual full-fledged Half-Life game, you’d be in a pretty massive boat full of countless others. Still, this is Valve, working with its flagship game, so it’d be pretty shocking if they didn’t come up with something fantastic here. Half-Life made a lasting impact upon the first-person shooter, and Half-Life Alyx could be poised to do the same with the virtual reality first-person shooter.
5. Nioh 2
Release Date: March 13
Platform: PlayStation 4
The best Dark Souls game not made by From gets a sequel, exclusively for the PlayStatoin 4. Koei Tecmo’s hard-as-nails action game dove deep into Japanese folklore, with a stronger emphasis on loot than From’s influential series. Another prequel, Nioh 2 takes place before the first game’s story, and promises another slice of compelling historical fiction. It might be easy to make comparisons to From’s Sekiro—both transplant Dark Souls-style structure and mechanics from a European strand of medievalism to one rooted in a fictional Japan—but if this is anything like the first Nioh it’ll be at least a little bit less dour and impressed by its own opaqueness than From’s games.
Senior editor Garrett Martin writes about videogames, comedy, travel, theme parks, wrestling, and anything else that gets in his way. He’s also on Twitter @grmartin.