The fine people at Microsoft have once again delved deeply into their vault of gaming delights and plucked 4 diverse gems to offer over the weeks of September. As always, one title will be available all month long, one will start part-way through the month (remaining available into the middle of next month) and the final two can be downloaded for free for two weeks apiece throughout September.
Before we detail what’s on offer it’s worth noting that the free isn’t strictly speaking free. All of the games on offer require a paid Xbox Network subscription (formerly Xbox Live Gold) at minimum, although this included as part of a Game Pass Ultimate subscription as well. Don’t worry if you don’t have the drive space or time to play GWG titles immediately either as they can be added to your library to be accessed at a later date, but this will also require an active subscription.
Set in the hugely popular Warhammer tabletop fantasy universe, Chaosbane is a bloodthirsty co-op action RPG that features Series X and S optimisation if you happen to be playing on the newer consoles. Choose your hero class and venture out with your friends (either online or in couch co-op) into a vast, storied world to protect the Empire from the agents of Chaos.
As a human soldier shield rush foul demons before finishing them with your sword, summon and control a vast array of magicks as a high elf mage to devastate the battlefield, split foes asunder as an unstoppable twin-axe-wielding berserker dwarf or nimbly pick off foes at range with your trusty long bow as a wood elf scout. Whatever your choice, vanquish your foes in the name of the Emperor, fight an exhaustive bestiary of over 70 enemy types through diverse and detailed biomes hailing from Warhammer lore and claim valuable loot from the fallen to confront a motley assortment of memorably huge bosses. Also includes Boss Rush and Adventure modes as well as a traditional campaign.
Available from September 1 to 30.
ZONE OF THE ENDERS HD COLLECTION
Metal Gear Solid creator Hideo Kojima produces while Yoji Shinkawa provides character and technology design for the classic Japanese third-person mech shooters Zone of the Enders and its sequel, The Second Runner. Despite taking place in deep space where the futuristic human colonies of Earth, Mars and Jupiter are locked in ferocious civil war, Kojima’s influence can clearly be felt in an epic wartime action story told from a personal perspective, featuring complex and memorable characters alongside breathtaking orbital frame mech suits engaged in white-knuckle combat.
The ZOE re-release features upscaled visuals and a new interface for fans to replay the classic series and new gamers to experience it for the first time.
Available from September 1 to 15.
Drawing from the unique mythology of Tarahumara culture in northern Mexico, Mulaka is a lush third-person action adventure that casts players as a mystical shaman or Sukurúame on a quest to drive back the forces of corruption invading your land. Take in gorgeous flat poly vistas inspired by real-world Sierra Tarahumara locations that will test you with environmental challenges. Channel the powers of demigods to best corrupted foes in heated hand-to-hand combat featuring creature design pulled from the region’s lore and rely on renowned Tarahumara athletic abilities that have earned these people a reputation for being truly superhuman.
Available from September 16 to October 15.
SAMURAI SHOWDOWN II
The impressive backwards compatibility of the Xbox consoles is often a good opportunity to draw latter-day gamer’s interests to classic titles from the past, as is the case with SNK’s sword-fighting master class from the mid-90’s, Samurai Showdown II. SSII formed part of a salvo of popular 2D side-scrolling fighting game series that the Japanese developers became famous for, including Fatal Fury, Art of Fighting and King of Fighters, although it distinguishes itself as being one of the few fighting game series that focuses on weapon combat.
After the success of the first game SNK went back to the drawing board for Samurai Showdown II – completely rebuilding the mechanics, remodelling the characters and paying close attention to fan feedback – to create a truly definitive sequel that subsequent fighting games would draw inspiration from. SSII was the first game to implement a combat-blocking and parry system to deflect attacks that leave your opponent open to counter-attack, it was also the first title to introduce super meters that would charge up over the course of a round to unleash devastating attacks: features that are now standard in most fighting games. While Samurai Showdown II is remembered for setting genre standards in the 90’s, more than anything else it is a robust, thrilling weapon combat game that is easy to pick up but rewards those who invest their time with deep mechanics and tactics.
Available from September 16 to 30.