As the long, barren months of summer continue to deposit their desert-like video game release schedule upon us, it can be hard to close in on a game to scratch a particular itch. Sure, there are the ample titles on offer through Game Pass but we’ve all been crippled by choice and indecision Netflix-style on more than one occasion. There’s always a tendency to pick up a bargain in the frequent sales but that might be an opportunity purchase rather than something you want to play immediately. Sometimes, you just need someone to suggest a title or titles out of left wing that will point you in the right direction and luckily August’s Games with Gold are here to do just that.
Of course, to get the free games you have to cross Microsoft’s palm with silver and fork out for an Xbox Network subscription (which you will need to game online with friends anyway) or spring for the Game Pass Ultimate offer that includes the Network subscription along with the game rental service. Like Playstaion Plus, you can add GwG titles to your library to play later but you must have an active Ultimate or Network subscription to play them.
Following on from the violent exploits of War and Death, the third Horseman (horsewoman?) of the Apocalypse, Fury, is unleashed upon an Earth devastated by a bloody war between the forces of heaven and hell. Unlike her brothers, Fury is a mage, skilled in the dark arts of magic and able to harness that power to change her form and unleash lethal attacks on top of her stock twin blades and whip.
Travel through an open-ended, war-torn living world, infested by the forces from above and below, and defeat the Seven Deadly Sins to unlock new skills to open up new areas metroidvania-style that will uncover new secrets and restore the balance between good and evil. Like the first two games, Darksiders III fuses frenetic third-person combat with outstanding art design and an epic supernatural story.
Available from August 1 to 31.
LOST PLANET 3
Returning to the inclement, snow-buffeted vistas of E.D.N. III, this time under new management from (original) God of War’s Matt Sophos, Lost Planet 3 is a prequel to the previous outings, following Jim Peyton as he and his colleagues attempt to establish the first colony on the unforgiving planet. Besieged by the hostile and often enormous Akrid creatures prevalent throughout the series, the game intersperses third-person exploration and combat with a rich story filled with mystery after it transpires that Jim and the other settlers are not the only humans to call E.D.N. III home.
Ditching the thermal mechanics of the first two games to allow players more freedom to explore, Lost Planet 3 leans more into role-playing territory, offering up side-quests that enable the player to upgrade their gear, weapons and construct their own powerful bipedal mechs from scavenged resources. As with the other games in the series, the bitter environment is both beautiful and deadly, host to bizarre aliens with ingenious designs.
Available from August 1 to 15.
Yooka-Laylee is a spiritual successor to Banjo-Kazooie and unashamed love letter to the third-person 3D platformers that flourished in the early 2000’s. Join a colourful reptile (Yooka) and a wisecracking bat (Laylee) as they team up to take down the corporate greed of the nefarious Capital B, who wants to absorb all of the world’s books and turn them into profit!
Pit your wits against B’s army of colourful henchmen – alone or with a friend to help you in co-op play – and engage in a huge variety of platforming and puzzle challenges spread across multiple vast, gorgeous worlds. Unlock new special moves from the serpent salesman, Trowzer, at your own pace and equip unique tonic mechanics to personalise your playthrough. Filled with memorable boss fights, retro-tastic arcade games and ridiculous challenges, Yooka-Laylee is a modern take on a genre blast from the past.
Available from August 16 to September 15.
GAROU: MARK OF THE WOLVES
While the title may invoke visions of werewolf or viking shenanigans, Garou: Mark of the Wolves is in fact the ninth and final Fatal Fury 2D side-scrolling fighting games (with the ‘wolves’ of the title being the fighters themselves). Starring an all new roster of fighters for players to choose from – with the exception of series star and stalwart, Terry Bogard – Mark of the Wolves famously dropped the dual-plane fighting approach that had been a staple of the previous games, where fighters had been able to battle between the foreground and background planes. To add a new challenge for those familiar with Fatal Fury and open up the gameplay for newcomers, the developers devised the ‘Just Defend’ system that rewards last minute blocks with a small amount of health recovery and a counterattack, as well as the Tactical Offense Position (TOP) system that unlocks powerful special attacks and health recovery.
Available from August 16 to 31.