9 New Video Games Launching Next Week: ‘UFC 2’ and More

The first quarter of the year is typically a slow period for video games, but that hasn’t been the case in 2016. A number of top-notch titles have already hit the shelf, including the twitchy brawler Street Fighter V, the prehistoric adventure Far Cry Primal, and the online shooter The Division, to name a few. As if that’s not enough, next week brings another stack of noteworthy titles you’ll want to know about.

Mixed martial arts fans will be pleased with the release of EA Sports UFC 2, and fighting game fans can duke it out in Pokken Tournament. But even if you’re not down with beating the snot out of opponents, you’ll find something to play next week. Read on to see all the biggest games releasing the week of March 14, 2016.

1. EA Sports UFC 2

Platforms: PlayStation 4 and Xbox One
Release date: March 15

Amazingly, the EA Sports curse has already struck both fighters on the cover of this game, and it hasn’t even come out yet. Still, if you’re not Ronda Rousey or Conor McGregor, there’s a good chance you’ll enjoy this fighting game. New to the series this time around is the Knockout Physics System, which makes the fighters’ bodies react realistically to every punch, kick, and submission move. They’ve also improved the grappling mechanics and allowed for submission chains.

The first installment was moderately well received, so it will be interesting to see if the developers have taken the criticism to heart in the sequel.

2. Need for Speed

Platform: PC
Release date: March 15

This series of racing games has covered a lot of ground in its 20-odd years on the market. This time around the game centers on a handful of real-life underground racers, seamlessly mixing live-action video with the game’s almost photorealistic graphics.

For the most part, you’ll be driving around the city at night, evading the cops, collecting new cars, and upgrading them however you see fit. It’s a fun game, even if reviewers didn’t completely fawn over it during its initial launch on consoles. Still, it could be worth checking out for PC racing fans.

3. Samurai Warriors 4 Empires

Platforms: PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, and PS Vita
Release date: March 15

The Samurai Warriors series is all about fast-paced battles, in which you play as a single sword-wielding soldier in ancient Japan as you take on an entire army by yourself. You do that by mashing buttons, leaping around the battlefield, and executing wicked combos that wipe out dozens of enemies with the swing of your sword.

This installment is more focused on strategy than the core series, and it has you play as a warrior who rises through the ranks of the army to become a supreme ruler. It might not appeal to everyone, but fans can’t seem to get enough.

4. Salt and Sanctuary

Platform: PlayStation 4
Release date: March 15

This side-scrolling hack-and-slash game has you play as a shipwrecked sailor who washes up on a mysterious and dangerous island. To survive, you have to take down all kinds of baddies both big and small. The game was made by Ska Studios, the team responsible for titles like The Dishwasher: Vampire Smile and Charlie Murder. Watch the trailer above if you like your action games dark and bloody.

5. Senran Kagura: Estival Versus

Platforms: PlayStation 4 and PS Vita
Release date: March 15

The Senran Kagura series is unique in several ways, but most noticeably in its focus on sexy female fighters. It’s a pretty standard beat-‘em-up game at heart, with lots of enemies to pummel into the ground. But the developers put a big (and I mean big) emphasis on bouncing breasts and jiggling butts, which the camera zooms in to highlight. And if that’s not enough to sell teenage boys on the game, their clothes rip off as they take damage. Maybe don’t play this one in public.

6. Dungeon of the Endless

Platform: Xbox One
Release date: March 16

Your ship has crashed on a hostile planet in this procedurally-generated game, so you must explore a never-ending dungeon as you take on increasingly powerful enemies. Thankfully, you have a few tricks up your sleeve, including gun turrets, character upgrades, and a squad of fighters to help you out. The game received mostly positive reviews when it launched on PC in 2014, so check it out if you’re up for a challenge.

7. Pokken Tournament

Platform: Wii U
Release date: March 18

Here’s something I didn’t think I’d ever see: a skill-based fighting game starring … Pokémon? That’s right, in this mashup between Pokémon and Tekken, you’ll get to duke it out with the likes of Pikachu, Charizard, Mewtwo, and many other cartoon creatures. The game features all kinds of crazy action, like bringing in additional Pokémon for support during matches and using mega evolutions to crush your opponents. If you like either of the two franchises blended together here, this game might be worth a look.

8. Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse

Platform: Xbox One
Release date: March 18

The Shantae games are intricately designed and lots of fun to play. They’re action platformers (like Castlevania) that star a genie who uses her hair as a whip. In each game, you explore a vast, colorful world, seeking out nooks and crannies where you can find new abilities that let you unlock new areas.

Just like in the best Metroid games, the feedback loop of character building and game progression is as rewarding as it is addictive. The game first came out a while ago on Nintendo platforms, where it received excellent reviews, so expect much the same from this Xbox One port.

9. Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games

Platform: Nintendo 3DS
Release date: March 18

You may not know it from looking at them, but the two big gaming mascots from the ‘90s are quite talented athletes. So is just about everyone from their respective franchises, because they all compete in the Olympic games every couple of years. The latest installment features all of the characters from previous games, plus an additional 20 from the Sonic and Mario game worlds.

Rio comes with 14 events, including football, archery, boxing, and long jump. You can play each event in two different flavors: “normal,” which plays how you would expect, and “dream,” where elements from Mario and Sonic games are brought in. This franchise doesn’t tend to review very well, but who knows, 2016 might be a good year.

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