Xbox Games with Gold – June 2016

Sunset Overdrive Xbox BundleLike they do every month, Microsoft announced the upcoming “free” games available to Xbox Live Gold subscribers. I say “free” because you do need to be paying for the Gold subscription, but the games themselves don’t cost anything extra. The Games with Gold program has been really hit and miss over the last few years that it’s been around. Some months, it’s got a couple really incredible games – in the past Dark Souls, Sunset Overdrive, and Halo 3 have all appeared as “free” titles. Sometimes though the games are maybe a little lower on the totem pole. What I have always really enjoyed about the program is that it has always put a lot of Arcade/Indie titles in the spotlight. I picked up Guacamelee along with a few other titles in the same kinda vein. And that’s certainly the style game I’m looking for with the June games.

The two Xbox One titles are on total opposite sides of the tone spectrum. On one hand, we’ve got Goat Simulator, a game that just has humor and character for days. It’s got no direct plot, just go be a goat and do all kinds of crazy stuff. I’m honestly really looking forward to playing it next month – as interesting a game as I think it is, I was more interested in spending my money on other games. The other side of the spectrum though we have The Crew, a much more serious racing game. This is one of those games that I was pretty excited about pre-launch, but after launch, the impressions I kept seeing seemed that it fell a bit short. I like the concept of being able to race all the way across the U.S. I like the idea of building up a car club – that’s something that we haven’t really seen in a racing game in a few years. Since it’s going to be free, there’s really no downside to picking it up and trying it out.

On the Xbox 360 front we have the usual set-up; a full game and an Arcade title. The full game, X-Com is one that has received tons critical acclaim since it, and recently the sequel, launched. It’s a pretty intense RPG/RTS, featuring permadeath for characters, meaning each mission has some pretty high stakes. I totally see the value in a game like that, but the RTS genre has never been a style game that I’ve liked, and X-Com, for all it’s strengths was never really a game that I was interested in. The Arcade title on the other hand is one that I’m kinda disappointed in myself for never actually picking up. It was a game that I wanted to get, ever since launch, and just never pulled the trigger. Now that Super Meat Boy is going to be free though, I can finally play one of the best pure platformers in recent memory. It’s as old-school as they come – demanding extreme precision and control to navigate the levels. At this point, you probably have at least heard of the game, and now it’s free to pick up.

The Games with Gold program is a really cool thing that Microsoft does – and I know Sony does the same thing. It ensures that no matter what, as long as you have a Gold subscription, you have access to at least four new games, every month. With games being as expensive as they are, having free games each month is a really nice thing. I do wish that maybe they could pick some newer titles sometimes, but that feels a little entitled to me.

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E3 2014 – Ubisoft Press Conference Impressions

E3 LogoThe final press press conference from this years show that I’m going to run through actually took place Monday evening. Ubisoft was coming into this year’s show on a high note with the success of Watch Dogs, and a strong line-up for the rest of this year into next year. Now I did miss about 10 or so minutes towards the beginning of the show, so I’ll toss that disclaimer out there, but aside from that, let’s run through the show.

Far Cry 4
Opening the show was a trailer showing off what appeared to be the beginning of the game, detailing the game’s main villain. I’m assuming that this was a cutscene from the actual game, but we’ll just have to wait to see.

The Division

Tom Clancy’s The Division
After my quick break, I came back in time to catch the end of what looked like a pretty downer of a Division trailer. It looked more like a CG trailer than gameplay to me, but with the new-gen consoles it’s sometimes tough to tell. Looking back at all the conferences now, I think the better showing of this game was during the Xbox conference, which showed off some actual gameplay, but we still have plenty of time to see all kinds of new footage until the game launches next year.

The Crew
Ubisoft’s answer to the upcoming Forza Horizon 2, The Crew is another large scale racing game, featuring two different coast-to-coast races in the U.S.A. The other cool thing I thought was that the game doesn’t have any loading while you’re driving those races. The other nice thing is that Ubisoft is launching a beta on July 23, in advance of the game’s November 11 release.

Assassins Creed Unity

Assassin’s Creed: Unity
Showing off what has probably become Ubisoft’s most popular franchise, we got a new trailer for the latest Assassin’s Creed title. The trailer was set on Bastille Day, further illustrating the French Revolution setting. Following that trailer we got another gameplay demo, set after the actual Revolution, during the Reign of Terror. The gameplay looks very much like the Assassin’s Creed we have come to expect, set in what Ubisoft is calling a “Systemic Open World.” We’ll be able to explore the French Revolution on October 28.

Shape Up
Next up, we got a stage demo of the upcoming Kinect fitness game, Shape Up. Overall it looked like a standard fitness game, just with a lighter tone and more “gamification” of the actual workouts applied. It’ll be out on the Xbox One this November.

Valiant Hearts: The Great War
We got a really change in tone after that though, in the form of a trailer for Valiant Hearts: The Great War. The actual game looks like a puzzle-platformer set during the First World War, but damn was the trailer a major downer, which I guess with a game set during such a heavy time in history isn’t necessarily a bad thing. We can judge for ourselves later this month, since the game is out on the 25th.

Rainbow Six: Siege
The show ended with a look at the return of the venerable Rainbow Six franchise, a series close to a lot of gamers’ hearts. Showing off what looked to be 5V5 gameplay of a SWAT team breaking into a home to rescue a hostage being held by terrorists, the game looked super smooth and beautiful. Walls and doors were essentially paper, allowing players to shoot through them with no issues. We learned after the show that Rainbow Six: Siege is the result of what used to be Rainbow Six: Patriots, which was cancelled and rebranded. I have a feeling that this will end up being a big player next year, with a strong showing at next year’s E3, but that’s a long ways off right now.

All in all, what I was able to see of the Ubisoft show looked promising – I think Far Cry 4, Assassin’s Creed: Unity and The Crew all look very good in their own ways, while 2015 should also be a solid year for Ubi with the two Tom Clancy games.

With that, we have gone through each press conference from this year’s E3, talked about a whole slew of games coming out this year and next, and I think we can go into the second half of this year fully hyped and ready for some really awesome games. Next week I’ll try to pick out a few “Best of Show” winners, and also talk a little bit more about some of the games I’m really hyped for now.