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Don’t Miss February 2021’s Biggest, Must-Play Games You Can Pre-Order Now

Illustration for article titled Don’t Miss February 2021’s Biggest, Must-Play Games You Can Pre-Order Now
Image: Nintendo

Most Anticipated: Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury | $60 | Amazon

Hitman 3 was January’s hard carry in a slow post-holiday start to the year, and thankfully, it lived up to the hype. But February starts to see the release schedule pick up again, with several compelling offerings across platforms and genres. Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury and Persona 5 Strikers are among February’s standout releases, and if you have a PS5, you’ll want to make sure your PlayStation Plus subscription is active for the exclusive debut of Destruction Allstars. We’ve got a stellar bargain on a year of PS Plus below, along with details and pre-order links for the rest of February’s biggest games.

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Destruction Allstars (PS5)

Release Date: February 2

Right up until nearly two weeks before the launch of the console, we thought we’d be playing Destruction Allstars on the new PlayStation 5 in November. Instead, Sony issued a very late delay into February—and also decided to offer it as a free download for PlayStation Plus subscribers. Now we know it’s coming right on February 2 and will be free until April 5. As far as we can tell, you can’t actually buy the game on its own at launch. That’s surprising, but it’s a pretty sick deal for PS Plus subscribers given that it was planned to be a $70 game! Hopefully it’s also a fun one.

Destruction Allstars serves up classic vehicular combat a la Twisted Metal, but delivers a twist in the form of on-foot survival and abilities once your ride is trashed. The trailers are entertaining, and given the veteran team at Lucid Games, we might end up with a pretty stellar freebie here.

If you don’t already have a PlayStation Plus subscription, now’s the time to sign up. We have an exclusive offer via Eneba that’ll net you a full year of service for $30, or half the usual price. Just use promo code FEBRUARYPLUS30 at checkout. You’ll also get free downloads of Control (PS5/PS4) and Concrete Genie (PS4) in February alone, making it one of the best months yet to be a subscriber.

Little Nightmares II (PS4, XB1, Switch, PC)

Release Date: February 11

If you’re looking for a bit of V-Day counter-programming this year, Little Nightmares II will arrive just in time to take your mind off of the holiday. Like its predecessor, Little Nightmares II is a horror game that instills a sense of dread and unease as you play as a small child navigating a very large and eerie world. While the first game took place inside of a creepy ship, the sequel shifts things to a city yet looks to keep the same vibe intact.

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While the whole thing can’t help but seem a bit too similar to Playdead’s brilliant indie duo of Limbo and Inside, this atmospheric game strikes a different tone from most other horror games today, with an almost darling tinge to the theatrics. There’s a free demo right now on all the platforms if you want to give it a try, and there will be a free PS5 and Xbox Series X|S upgrade launching later this year.

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Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury (Switch)

Release Date: February 12

You didn’t miss much if you skipped the Wii U—but you did miss the excellent Super Mario 3D World, which delivered a multiplayer platforming romp with an isometric view. Oh, and it has Cat Mario, indisputably the best of the Marios. In any case, most of the essential Wii U games have made their way to Switch, and now Super Mario 3D World is here to more or less finish off the list.

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It’s not just a straight port, either. True, Super Mario 3D World is essentially like it was before, which is delightful, but now it features a totally new, self-contained Bowser’s Fury side story. As Kotaku’s Mike Fahey reports, the open-world side quest pits you against a giant Bowser and feels more like a chunk of the Switch’s own brilliant Super Mario Odyssey. In any case: new Mario meets old Mario in this Switch smorgasbord.

Although bound by an embargo that covers some details, Fahey had this to say:

“I can say that Bowser’s Fury is a neat little 3D Mario adventure. It’s a series of entertaining platforming and puzzle challenges presented in an exciting way with a compelling dramatic twist. If smaller, self-contained adventures like Bowser’s Fury is where Nintendo wants to take Mario, I’m all for it.”

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Persona 5 Strikers (PS4, Switch, PC)

Release Date: February 23

After dozens of near-identical hack-and-slash Dynasty Warriors/Musou games, counting all spinoffs, Omega Force set its sights on mash-ups with everything from Gundam to The Legend of Zelda and quite a bit more in between. November’s Zelda-themed Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity looked to pick up where The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild left off, at least in terms of story and style… but couldn’t quite stick the landing, says Kotaku’s Ash Parrish.

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Now it’s time for another beloved role-playing series to get the mash-up treatment in Persona 5 Strikers, which pairs the world and characters of the stylish PS4 quest with the large-scale battles of the Musou series. Fans are right to be wary here, but Kotaku’s Mike Fahey already spent a few hours with it and was happily surprised by what he played:

“So far Persona 5 Strikers feels much more like a proper sequel to Persona 5 than the simple Dynasty Warriors gameplay crossover I expected. It’s got all the charm of the original game, with an all-new way to play. I thought the musou-style battles would take away from the experience, but they’re quick, entertaining, and seem to fit right into this twisted RPG world.”

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Bravely Default II (Switch)

Release Date: February 26

On the other hand, if you want a proper Japanese role-playing quest, Bravely Default II is finally launching in late February after being delayed out of 2020. There’s a couple things you need to know about Bravely Default II: it’s not the second game in the series, given the two previous Nintendo 3DS entries. It also takes place in a new land with new characters, so we have a hunch that it’ll be pretty friendly for newcomers.

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Square Enix’s earlier entries were closely compared to its own Final Fantasy franchise, with world-saving heroes, crystals, and turn-based battles. Bravely Default does add its own twists to combat, however, with the ability to essentially skip your offensive move during one turn to save up maneuvers, releasing a multi-attack barrage when you really need it. Bravely Default II looks utterly gorgeous on Switch, and should be a suitable epic for JRPG aficionados.

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