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The State of Gaming March 2021: Monster Hunter Rise, Outriders, Balan, DOTA Netflix, NPD, and Bethesda Game Pass
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The State of Gaming March 2021: Monster Hunter Rise, Outriders, Balan, DOTA Netflix, NPD, and Bethesda Game Pass

The guys talk Monster Hunter, Outriders, Kingdom Hearts, next-gen ports, and Game Pass goodness.

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It’s The State of Gaming Podcast for March 2021, Popzara’s in-depth look at what’s shaking up the gaming landscape delivered on a monthly basis. Our hosts Cory Galliher and Nate Evans guide you through the best, worst, and everything else making headlines and headway in the fine world of interactive entertainment.

The Games of March 2021

Perhaps March’s biggest heavy-hitter is none other than Capcom’s Monster Hunter Rise, the latest in the wildly popular franchise that lets you and friends, well, hunt monsters. A Switch exclusive, Rise follows 2018’s massively successful Monster Hunter World while returning the ability to take the hunt wherever you go.

Square-Enix’s Balan Wonderworld, a new cooperative platformer from Yuji Naka (Sonic the Hedgehog), and Evil Genius 2, Rebellion Developments’ long-awaited sequel to the 2004 original featuring the boistorious baritone of Brian Blessed. Digital farming fans can another taste of the good life with XSEED’s Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town – farm animals not included.

Other notables include the arrival of the Square-Enix’s Kingdom Hearts franchise on PC (finally) and Sega’s excellent turn-based Japanese simulator/RPG Yakuza: Like a Dragon on PlayStation 5. Speaking of multiplatform mascots, Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time extends its reach on the PS5/Xbox Series X/S, Switch, and the PC.

While technically an early April release, Square-Enix’s Outriders generated enough excitement to get an honorable mention, and if you’ve got a current Game Pass subscription you won’t have to wait long to try it out yourselves – at least on the Xbox.

NPD: February 2021

NPD is still our best and most reliable snapshot of videogame sales in the US, though even their tallies should be taken with a grain of salt. That said, there’s hope for the future as numbers for the year continue to show immense growth – and interest – as total sales of new gaming hardware and software topped 4.6 billion, a whopping 35 percent increase over last year.

On the software side the top spot goes to Nintendo’s Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury, an expanded port of the 2013 Wii U original that gives Mushroom Kingdom fans another chance at Mario magic they might’ve missed. Two of Activison’s Call of Duty entries made the Top Ten – Cold War in second and World War in 10 – while Atlus’ Warriors-like spinoff Persona 5: Strikers comes in strong in third. Bandai Namco’s Little Nightmares II debuted high in sixth, while much of the latter Top Twenty list is dominated by Nintendo-exclusive hits for the Switch.

It’s also interesting to see Ubisoft’s Immortals: Fenyx Rising hanging in there at 20, a testament to how proper pricing can help some games thrive in a crowded market.

Everything Else

Other notable bits for the month include the (official) arrival of Bethesda’s impressive lineup on Microsoft’s ever-growing Game Pass service. After acquiring parent company ZeniMax Media, the Xbox maker unleashes an impressive cross-section of some of the very best games in the publisher’s arsenal, including Dishonored 1+2, The Evil Within, The Elder Scrolls (3+4+5 plus Online), the Wolfenstein Trilogy and a whole lotta DOOM action (DOOM 1+2, DOOM 3, the 2016 reboot and 2020’s Eternal).

Even better, most are playable across both the console and the PC. Speaking of Game Pass, EA Play has now been fully integrated into the service, which means more games for your previous dollar. Even better – existing EA Play subscriptions (and codes) can be redeemed for even more Game Pass!

In other news DOTNOD revealed one of gaming’s most empathetic adventures continues this September with Life Is Strange: True Colors, the first non-episodic entry in the franchise where you won’t have to wait for months to see what happens next. Did you know Netflix has an animated series based on Valve’s popular online arena battles based on a WarCraft mod called Dota: Dragon’s Blood ready to stream? Could it be better (or worse) than Castlevania? Guess we’ll find out!

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