“Tom Clancy’s The Division 2” – March 15 for PS4, Xbox One and PC

Image courtesy of Ubisoft

Ubisoft’s sequel to their take on the looter shooter genre, “The Division 2,” moves the series from New York City to the nation’s capital, Washington D.C. It is set at a point in U.S. history where the country is in chaos over a widespread disease, though thankfully the government has sleeper agents across the nation to counteract the terror. Similar to games like “Destiny,” the game sees players through cooperative missions in which they continuously level up and acquire new loot, like weapons and armor, that further fuel their progression. It is just about the closest manifestation in games to the phrase “carrot on a stick,” and I, having played a lot of the original “Destiny” and the beginning of the first “The Division,” can certainly understand the appeal. There is a satisfaction to getting new loot and simply seeing some arbitrary armor number increase and the reward that is felt to go along with that. Ubisoft has made it apparent that content for the game will continuously come after its launch and be free for the first year, starting with a leg-up on Bungie’s “Destiny 2.” While I don’t think it is something I would be interested in heavily investing time into, it is apparent that fans of the genre should at least give the game a look.

“Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice” – March 22 for PS4, Xbox One and PC

Image courtesy of FromSoftware

One of the games I have been looking forward to the most since its unveiling at Microsoft’s E3 conference last year is “Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice.” It is the latest game to come from the cruel minds at FromSoftware. Being the studio behind the “Dark Souls” series and “Bloodborne” (my personal favorite of the two), it can immediately be expected that this game will be no walk in the park. Known for the unchangeable difficulty in most of their major releases, FromSoftware is expert at creating games that kick your butt over and over again, only to further that satisfaction and triumph gained from getting past a certain area or boss. They are why you see the phrase uttered so often online, “the Dark Souls of platformers/shooters/racing/etc.” for when any game has any sort of high difficulty. With “Dark Souls” in a sort of medieval era and “Bloodborne” in a weird, Victorian England crossed with Lovecraftian and celestial horror setting, “Sekiro” takes the series on to a sort of Sengoku Japan-inspired land and architecture.

One immediate difference with “Sekiro” is that the game places you as a set protagonist rather than your own custom character. While it seems to take inspiration in “Bloodborne’s” faster-paced gameplay, “Sekiro” focuses in on sword-play and a blocking mechanic, which affects the balance of both you and your enemies. There is also a new grappling hook to traverse around the game, which looks like a lot of fun and is big in opening up the typical gameplay expected in a FromSoftware title, especially in the stealth department. While I am still in the process of beating “Bloodborne” myself after owning it for over three years — simply because of my lack of skill — “Sekiro” is next on my list to torture myself with, as I am sure many other fans of FromSoftware are as well. Knowing the fanbase, I also cannot wait to see some maniac beat the game a week after it comes out, probably blindfolded while only using the bongos from “Donkey Konga,” thus making me feel like an inanimate sack of potatoes in comparison.

“MLB The Show 19” – March 26 for PS4

Image courtesy of SIE San Diego Studio

The first major sports game of 2019, “MLB The Show 19” brings some interesting additions to this year’s title. The first of these being the new moments mode, which places you in key historical moments from throughout baseball, to see if you can replicate or even change history in these scenarios. I really enjoyed a mode similar to this in one of the past “NBA Live” games, so it is a shame that other sports games aren’t doing something similar, at least in the style of these two. The studio is also boasting the addition of new legends to the game, of which is their largest amount yet with over 30 coming to the game this year. As more of an NBA fan, I don’t watch a lick of baseball but much like “Fifa,” I have had a lot of fun playing “MLB The Show” in the past, particularly in the game’s career mode. It is still a crazy reminder each year the game comes out that it is a Sony exclusive, and the only real baseball simulation game you can play is locked on one console, unlike basketball, football and soccer.

“The Walking Dead: The Final Season” Episode Four – March 26 for PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and PC

The end arrives at last, and it is the episode that I have been most looking forward to and dreading all at once since “The Final Season” was announced. The season has been handled fantastically so far, so whatever the ending may be for Clementine, I am sure it will be a great one. If you have been skeptical about trying the season after the whole Telltale fiasco, I urge you to catch up while you still can. This season has been the closest one yet to season one’s level of excellence, and quite frankly, it even exceeds it in a few places. “The Walking Dead” is one of the best representations of what games can offer in terms of storytelling influenced by users’ choices, and I can’t wait to see how it all wraps up.

“Star Wars Battlefront 2” Game Update – March 26 for PS4, Xbox One, and PC

Image courtesy of EA DICE

“Star Wars Battlefront 2” has come a long way since its rough launch in 2017, bringing along consistent updates to the game that have added and improved upon existing modes. The team at DICE has done a solid job at adding in things requested heavily by the community such as clone customization, a map based in Geonosis and some noticeably absent figures from the saga with General Grievous, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Count Dooku and finally, Anakin Skywalker. There have also been some surprise additions like the Ewok Hunt mode, where players make a stand in a pitch-dark forest on the moon of Endor as stormtroopers against Ewoks, which is a load of fun (and terrifying as a stormtrooper) and a mode I hope gets expanded upon with more species and locations in the future. This next update adds a large-scale and open game mode, which is a first compared to the game’s linear-focused objectives in its current suite of modes. Best of all, they are also bringing in Count Dooku’s pajamas as a skin to wear in game, which should be recognizable to fans of “The Clone Wars.” Simply put, if you are a fan of any aspect of “Star Wars” and were turned off by the game’s rocky launch, then the numerous improvements and additions fully merit a purchase, especially when you can find the game for less than eight dollars when on-sale.

“Yoshi’s Crafted World” – March 29 for Nintendo Switch

Image courtesy of Nintendo

The next semi-big exclusive on the Switch is the adorable “Yoshi’s Crafted World.” As the name suggests, the game puts its art style into an oddly-realistic world with carboard-like crafts adorning the backgrounds. Among the traditional Yoshi platforming gameplay, the levels you complete will then be played again with the camera flipped – essentially showing a whole other side of the level. The game’s unique direction is certainly appreciated, and it looks to be shaping up as a title that will be fun for any age. There is a demo of the game available on the e-shop currently, and it does a good job at getting you used to the game’s mechanics. I have never really given the “Yoshi” games a fair shake, and the single level in the demo was enough to convince me of the game’s fun-but-simple platforming and egg-throwing gameplay, as well as how great its charming art style and music blend together. While I am still scarred from my encounters with sadistic Yoshi players in “Smash Ultimate” online play, this is definitely a title to keep an eye on for Switch owners this month.

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Noah Howell is the Arts & Entertainment Assistant Editor for Niner Times. He is currently majoring in Computer Science with a minor in Journalism. He is a fan of all things "Star Wars" and "The Muppets," and spends his free-time playing too many video games and watching the Oklahoma City Thunder.

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