Tell Us Dammit: Free Console Games

If you play consoles on a regular basis, then you'll be accustomed to getting a selection of free games every month. And if you've been paying for Xbox Live or PlayStation Plus for a few years, then you'll probably have accrued quite a few.

Thing is: how are you finding them?

There used to be a really good selection of games on both platforms. Everyone remembers Rocket League, but the Tomb Raider reboot has gone for a song on both platforms. Metal Gear Solid 5: Ground Zeroes popped up on Games with Gold last year, and the PS4 has gotten a string of enjoyable indies including Dust: An Elysian Tale, Sportsfriends, Hotline Miami, Helldivers and Rebel Galaxy.

But over the last few months, those enjoyable surprises have started to dry up. The Xbox One has gotten Sunset Overdrive, The Wolf Among Us and the locally made Hand of Fate. It feels like PS+ users have been shortchanged slightly — Galak-Z is interesting, and Tricky Towers can be fun for a quick co-op blast, but there hasn't been any real standouts.

But maybe I'm wrong. How are you finding the free titles you've received from Microsoft and Sony over the last year? And would you support Nintendo bringing in a similar model with the NX, if they decided to go that route? (God knows their back catalogue would be amazing.)


    *damn it.

    on topic: With these free games, do you get to keep them on your account forever? Even if you stop subscribing to the service?

    Last edited 22/09/16 11:28 am

      Games with Gold: yes for Xbox 360 titles, no for Xbox One titles.
      PS+: No.

        Do the games stay while unsubscribed to gold?

          Xbox 360 yes - the way it worked when they introduced it was you effectively "own" the game, as long as you downloaded it while the offer was active. When they transitioned to Xbox One they adopted the PS+ model. I'm not sure if, as with PS+, you can "claim" games, let your sub lapse, then resub later and still play them, or if you need to perpetually maintain an active sub or lose them forever.
          You also need to initiate the download (even if you cancel it) to "claim" the game for your account. If it's available for say 1-30 September and you don't log in even though you had an active gold sub during that time? Too bad.

            You can let your Live sub lapse, then resub and get the games back same as ps+.

      @kermitron @cleverclogs just a slight correction to below. if you let your ps+ subscription lapse, you can no longer play the free ps+ games, but they DO remain on your account. so if you subscribe again at a later point, you will once again have access to all your previous games. even if you deleted them during that time, you can still redownload them.

    I kinda wish we had a real headliner. Back in the PS3 days, there were some triple-A titles that weren't that old. The PS4 ones have been largely old or smaller titles- biggest one I can recall is Injustice, and that was an HD ver of the PS3 title. it was welcome, but it was a while ago

    I've got PS+ and, while it's not the insanely good value it was during its PS3 glory days, I still find the games are generally pretty good, there just aren't as many retail games showing up on it. Although this month there's Lords of the Fallen which is a retail game, and Journey which is a masterpiece (albeit one that I already own), so it's pretty hard to complain about that. There was also Yakuza 5 a month or two back which I'm playing and loving.

    There have also been some good indie games that I enjoyed like Gone Home, Broforce, Ultratron, Grim Fandango, etc

      I agree. I think it's even better now because in the past I would buy a small but significant percentage of the PS+ offerings, but now they tend (mostly) to be games I'm mildly interested in but wouldn't buy.

    This month I got AC Chronicles: China, and I am surprised by how much I am enjoying it. I also got Mirror's Edge, which is also pretty good. Couldn't really get into Earthlock and Forza Horizon.

    I enjoyed the crap outta Sunset Overdrive and Dead Space. Some other games that I cannot remember.

    I look forward to each month's free games. Even if am not going to play them at that time, I like having them in my pile of shame for a rainy day.

    I am talking about Xbox Live btw.

    Last edited 22/09/16 11:38 am

    If you play consoles on a regular basis, then you’ll be accustomed to getting a selection of free games every month. Correction, if you are subscribed to the free games service you will be accustomed to it. Playing a console regularly has nothing to do with it.

    On topic, at $69.95 annually if I download at least a couple of games for "free" then it's a good deal. Personally I usually have at least one or two items each month I'll grab. They don't have to be blockbuster AAA games, just games I want to play but don't really feel like paying full price for.

      I'm actually surprised they've managed to keep up the two Vita games per month now that the Vita releases have slowed to a trickle. Granted, some of them are cross-play, but hey.

        There are still plenty of indie games on Vita, and a fair bit of stuff coming out of Japan. It just doesn't get much coverage (outside of Japan at least) because the indies tend not to be Vita exclusive and the Japanese stuff tends to be pretty niche. When I was in Japan a couple of months ago there tended to be as many or more Vita games on the shelves as there were PS4 games.

          Yeah, I think that Amnesia Memories was the first VN on PS+ Instant Game Collection IIRC. Hopefully there'll be more Japan-produced Vita stuff on there in the future!

    Played inFamous and inFamous 2 through PS+. Great value. Not as good as it used to be for sure, but every couple of months I see something worthy of a look. The recent Okami article reminds me I have that sitting there and should play it.

      Please play Okami. It's very PS2-era game play-wise, but the charming art style, music and characters more than make up for that.

        Played the first hour or so I think and then got distracted by life or something else. It's very pretty.

        In other "very pretty and awesome games I haven't played more than an hour of and I'm evil and must be punished" - Ni No Kuni. It's SO pretty. So so pretty.

    If you have a ps3 going and a ps4 it's probably pretty good value, and then the Vita adds a surprise every now and then, but it's mostly just paying for online services. Which is ok, PS4 onkine (besides a few quirks) is light years ahead of what the PS3 had, of that costs me a subscription, I'll pay while I'm using it.

    It was awesome when it was just a games service, now it's just and online subscription with some benefits

      I reckon the PS+ discounts I get on the store would more than justify the cost of the subscription even without the other stuff like games and online play.

    I download everything knowing that I’ll never play 80% of them, just in case one day there’s a massive game shortage and I can’t get more games.

    Then I think that the kind of cataclysmic event that would result in a mass shortage would likely also take down the internet, thus rendering my games useless. Also if something really bad happened, I’d probably have other priorities.

    Aside from that craziness, #IDARB is my favourite free game of this generation.

    Nobody would bother with Nintendo's "Netflix equivalent" because for Nintendo, emulating its past releases isn't a one size fits all approach, it's the same as Netflix choosing a VHS or DVD transfer of an old show, over the HD quality afforded to newer content because of the fact it is newer.

    Plus their entire output is pirated to hell and back anyway, the audience has practically been trained to expect anything with Mario in it to be free.

    As roughshod as it is, the weekly drip-feed of Virtual Console stuff for the prices as they currently are is probably the only viable way to do it.

    As for seeing the latest indie darling/year old blockbuster being 'offered up for free' akin to GOG or PS+, it was to begin with, but now it's as stress-inducing a phone plan or cable subscription. Each month/year you can't help be soul-searching or introspective about it "do I really need this" "yeah stuff it I need to play that game anyway".

    Blast Ball was kinda cool, but I don't think I played it after that first day or two. Downloaded but never played Steel Diver Sub Wars, or Ironfall Invasion, Fullblox, Pokemon Rumble World, Pokemon Shuffle, Hana Samurai, Pokemon Picross, Badge Arcade, the amiibo challenge thing, or even Flipnote Studio. I played a bit of the earlier promo stuff like Four Swords Anniversary Edition, or 3D Excitebike and Kid Icarus. But none of them to completion I don't think. All the ambassador games got a brief go, just to check them out. But yeah, I pretty much just grab them and don't touch them.

    Though to be fair, half the (few) digital games I.bought don't get touched either. I have a hard time remembering non-physical games exist, or mentally assigning value to them.

    PS+ is great so long as you have a ps3. The ps4 games are a little lacking for quality though. I still play rocket league sometimes, that was by far the standout for me. With Trine 2, Abe's Odyssey, Dead Nation, Resogun, Pixeljunk Shooter and Fez, there have been a few nice little distractions along the way on ps4 though. Would be even better if we could keep them like Microsoft does...

      Pretty much echoes my thoughts. Occasionally there's a solid indie title. PS3 got and may still get better free games. I expect that to change towards the end of the PS4 life cycle. Honestly though, the free titles are usually games I'd pick up on sale and then forget I own when the next big rpg game comes along anyway.

      PS plus also includes the odd discount too, though rarely for stuff I really want, sometimes there's a nice surprise.

        I get more out of the discounts too. Been thoroughly enjoying the gta collection at the moment. Almost finished vice city off. I'll get a chance to play a little San Andreas before mafia 3 comes along.

    Yakuza 4 & 5 are still the best free games I've gotten from PS+. I enjoyed them so much that I went out and bought Yakuza 3 & imported Yakuza 1 & 2 HD for my PS3 and both Yakuza Kiwami & Ryu Ga Gotoku Ishin for my PS4. Bring on the localisation of Yakuza 0 & Yakuza 6!

    I played alooooot of Helldivers. That game was brilliant.

    Ironic this article comes right after the announcement of Octobers free Xbox games and they have to be the worst I've seen since it started :( Not just mediocre titles but one of them has had its online servers shutdown. Such poor form.

      I have no interest in Mega Baseball or The Escapists, but hey, I'll try them because free and might like them. MX vs. ATV Reflex? No interest, probably won't even bother downloading it. Looking forward to trying I Am Alive though. I thought it looked really interesting but never got around to buying it.

        I was really disappointed with I am alive. It had potential but concepts didn't really work properly
        Things like being able to bluff enemies with an empty gun is kinda there but is so mechanically wrong. Point gun and they put hands up and walk away. Lower gun they walk towards you to attack. Raise gun they back up until you put the gun away again.
        All kinda step by step modules brought together. Kinda like hydrophobia if you ever played that.
        Give it a go by all means, but keep expectations in check

        MX vs ATV is the one where the servers have been taken down.

        Escapists has been pretty heavily discounted a number of times this year too. I'm sure its not just be but this month seems really uninspired. They could certainly have come up with something better, even Halloween themed or something. Evil Within, State of Decay would have been cool. Some surprise BC with Dead Rising or Bioshock would have also been cool (having the first game compatible for free might even encourage people to buy the sequels remastered). Hell, I already own all 4 of those titles already and I'd still be more impressed they made GwG than the current choice. :(

    Download the free gold games each month and I am sick of the crap indie shit they palm off. The mainstream games on offer are also very mediocre. Cannot remember playing any of them, just download them because they are free.
    Sunset Overdrive would be the best free title in my eyes, but I already owned it, but at least it is digital and not physical.
    Phantom Pain sucked so much arse. First time I've played metal gear since the first outing on the NES. Sucked then (too easy), and sucks now.
    Forza 5 should have been free when 6 came out.
    Some of the backward compat titles are interesting, but will they get played? Probably not.

      Admittedly I was disappointed Sunset Overdrive only went free once they shut down all online support for it, but I had a blast playing it.

      Last edited 22/09/16 12:47 pm

    Bearing in mind I'd already bought some of the better ones on PS+, I've set out below what I've played apart from the ones I've bought.

    * Amnesia: Memories (Vita) - an otome visual novel about a girl who must regain her memories.
    * Galak-Z: The Dimensional (PS4) - only played a bit but it is pretty cool, 80s throw-back 2D Vectrex Mine Storm-like.
    * Magicka 2 (PS4) - such a hoot playing with local co-op. Isometric Friendly-fire magic explosion-fest.
    * Broken Age (PS4) - a pretty excellent point-click adventure game from Tim Schaeffer.
    * Limbo (PS4) - awesomely creepy 2D platformer.
    * Rocket League (PS4) - 'nuff said.
    * Sports Friends (PS4) - Johann. Sebastian. JOUST.
    * Sly Cooper Thieves In Time (PS3) - 3D action / platformer. Really great art direction and decently fun game play if a little repetitive.
    * Dragon's Dogma Dark Arisen (PS3) - Top quality fantasy adventuring where you and your sidekick can climb up monsters and stab them in the head.
    * Spec Ops: The Line (PS3) - The Apocalypse Now of CoD-shooters.
    * When Vikings Attack (Vita) - a funny isometric game where you have to gather together villagers and throw objects at attacking hordes of vikings.
    * Saint's Row The Third (PS3) - weird / kooky version of GTA.
    * Thomas Was Alone (Vita) - charming 2D platform / puzzler.
    * Okami HD (PS3) - traditional Japanese painting style, cool game play ideas, charming characters.
    * Metal Gear Solid HD Collection (Vita) - my introduction to the world of Metal Gear.
    * Tales from Space Mutant Blobs Attack (Vita) - charming sound track, 2D platformer involving absorbing various items to grow your blob.
    * Machinarium (PS3) - cute point & click adventure featuring a plucky robot looking for friendship.
    * Retro/Grade (PS3) - can't remember if I bought this or not, but it's awesome. The amount of design and work that went into this side-scrolling spaceship rhythm game is mind-boggling.
    * Hamsterball (PS3) - a perennial favourite for local multiplayer. Hamsters rolling down hazardous tracks in balls. Classic.

    * Dragon Fin Soup (Vita) - a 2D proc-gen turn-based Diablo-like - cluttered UI and tiny fonts with an uninspired story and quests.
    * Table Top Racing: World Tour (PS4) - a rubbish rendition of Micro Machines.
    * Twisted Metal (2012) (PS3) - absolute garbage unless you spend hours and hours getting used to the weird control scheme, and even then the levels and gameplay are pretty uninspired.
    * Vessel (PS3) - boring puzzle / platformer game using fluid physics to solve puzzles.
    * Chronovolt (Vita) - only just bad, due to weird level design and sketchy QA. A marble-rolling puzzle game.
    * Scott Pilgrim Vs The World (PS3) - couldn't get into the combat style and the art style was annoying (I haven't seen the film BTW).

    * A Virus Named Tom (Vita) - serviceable 2D action-puzzle game about infecting a computer.
    * Savage Moon (PS3) - tower defence game on a desolate planet where you stop marauding critters with various towers.
    * History Legends of War (Vita) - playing it now. Kind of like Valkyria Chronicles minus the story and anime style, set in WWII France.
    * Kickbeat (Vita) - a mediocre rhythm game with a rather rock-heavy music selection...
    * Woah Dave! (Vita) - Super Crate Box-like 2D single screen platformer.
    * Injustice: Gods Among Us (PS4) - Great game but I'm not really into fighting games that much.
    * Luftrausers (Vita) - 2D River Raid-like without the auto-scrolling. Not bad.
    * Rainbow Moon (Vita) - Isometric dungeon crawler. Cute and shiny graphics. Not terrible but very grindy.
    * Pix the Cat (Vita) - a psychodelic adaptation of Snake / Pac Man.
    * Spelunky (Vita) - pretty fun 2D dungeon crawler. I didn't really get hooked on it though.
    * Hoard (PS3) - a kind of isometric tower attack game where you are a dragon and you defend your nest while looting towns etc.
    * Proteus (PS3) - walk about a trippy / relaxing pastel world and see what you can see.
    * Fez (Vita) - 2D/3D platformer with pretty neat transitions between planes.
    * Doki-Doki Universe (Vita) - 2D travel through space and visit strange planets as a homeless alien, trying to make friends.
    * Pixeljunk Monsters Ultimate HD (Vita) - tower defence against various monsters.
    * Soul Sacrifice (Vita) - Monster Hunter-ish but confusing as hell.
    * Grid 2 (PS3) - Pretty cool. Has a Nissan GTR.
    * Touch My Katamari (Vita) - nice use of the Vita's touch capability. Not too into the Katamari games though.
    * Quantum Conundrum (PS3) - 3D puzzler using physics and different world switching.
    * Guardians of Middle Earth (PS3) - mediocre MOBA using Tolkien characters.

    Last edited 22/09/16 12:09 pm

      Ha ha!,I've played a fair few hours in tabletop

      No love for Helldivers? :( If you didn't try that one you really should.

      Did you try Freedom Wars? I just downloaded that recently now that I've got a huge memory card for my Vita, but haven't got around to trying it yet.

      Also, you need to give Spelunky another try. although personally I prefer it on the big screen rather than the Vita.

        Only played the tutorial for Helldivers so far so I didn't judge it :-)

        I bought Freedom Wars (it's in my pile of shame).

        I've got Spelunky installed and occasionally play it in local co-op. Not a bad little game, but I don't really get the love that some people have professed for it :-)

          You obviously haven't played it enough then. Back to it!

    I've never subscribed to PS+ despite having had a PS3 and PS4 so I can only comment on GWG, but so far I've been happy. Early in the program the Xbox 360 titles were all games I already owned that were going for a pittance, but I've appreciated access to a backwards compatible digital catalogue on my Xbox One - every 360 title available since backwards compatibility was available has been compatible. This has enabled me to, hassle-free, re-enjoy games I already owned (like The wolf Among Us, the Walking Dead, Spelunky, Dead Space and Mirror's Edge) and try out games I didn't (like Forza Horizon which I just knocked ever this week conveniently engaging my interest in time for Forza Horizon 3, and The Crew which failed to engage my interest at all). Even though many of the 360 titles are dated (owing partially to the fact the platform itself becomes more obsolete with each passing month) it's nice to have more of them made available to me for "free".

    On the flip side because Games with Gold has applied to the Xbox One since launch, many of the early titles were a bit rubbish, though that's subjective. I had little use for games like IDARB or Chariot or Tumblestone, and cutesy puzzle games like So Many Me are fun for awhile but get old quickly. I enjoyed the opportunity to check out Magic 2013 and Magic Duels, the latter I will reinstall soon because it apparently gets content updates occasionally, and it scratches an itch that prevents me actually spending disposable income on cards when I have no real people to play with. Later on we got more games available, again some I already owned, some I didn't bother to check out. Admittedly I might have only given some of these games a passing glance because they were free instead of trying to invest time in them (apparently writing off Lords of the Fallen as a crap Dark Souls clone was unfair and I should reconsider) but others have been genuinely very good (like Valiant Hearts).

    All in all, there's a good sampling. Not every game is for me, but even so I'm getting to try games I might otherwise not feel like buying, and that's worth the $80 a year even if I don't play online anymore (pending my eventual return to Destiny). It's also worth noting that Gold Subscribers get extra discounts whenever games go on sale, which is an incentive to buy digitally from time to time.

    Last edited 22/09/16 12:52 pm

      Lords of the Fallen is a Dark Souls clone through and through. It lacks the imagination or world building of Dark Souls. However, it's still worth playing. The combat is fun and satisfying. It is also rather easy compared to DS, which actually makes for a sort of pleasant change. The game is much less stressful (which is a great part of DS, don't get me wrong), which means it plays a bit differently. For free, it was definitely worth it.

      For me, I struggle to justify buying games on Xbox, because you can almost always get the same game cheaper on PC. However, I really enjoy kicking back on the couch and playing it, so getting free games with Live is totally worth the sub for me as well.

      I've been surprised at how much I've enjoyed WWE2K16. I'd heard it was terrible, and it sort of is, but if you enjoy wrestling games at all, there's a lot here that's fun.. It's just so fucking bad in strange ways at the same time lol.

        I enjoyed making a character and entrance movie but when I actually started playing I felt extremely underwhelmed. I felt frustrated and hampered by the controls, and while to escape a pin with nearly full health I have to play a near impossible minigame, the AI opponent seems to be able to kick out of any pin any number of times despite beating his head and torso into a pulp.

        I mainly grabbed it to have silly mayhem with friends but I don't think it's worthwhile at all. I'll give it another try when I'm bored.

    I've nabbed Borderlands, Sunset Overdrive, Thief and the Wolf Among Us via XBone Games with Gold. The first three I was probably going to buy at some point anyway, so I was pretty happy to get them for free. The Wolf Among Us I downloaded just to see what the deal was with Telltale Games and concluded they're not a style of game I like.

    There are a few standouts on PS+, just looking at the list for 2016 and it is a bit light on for titles if you only own a PS4. But if you own a PS3 as well, it's definitely worth it. The PS4 standouts for me in the last twelve months have been...

    Grow home - fairly obscure title, but it was damn fun!

    I played Journey last night thanks to PS+, they also have Lords of the Fallen. Not a terrible game.

      I tried LotF for an hour or so. Didn't hate it, but it just doesn't have that Demon's/Dark Souls magic that it's trying to channel. Might go back to it, but with the amount of other stuff vying for my attention, it's unlikely.

    I've grabbed all games since the GwG promotion started on XBox. To be honest I barely touch any of them. But once in a while an absolute gem pops up and makes it all worth while. AC:Black Flag was one for me. I'd put the series to bed a while ago through boredom. Sea Shanties changed it all.

    The very reason I did not renew my PS+ membership. Between the lackluster monthly offerings and not being a big online player was a no brainer.
    Agree that during the PS3 era it was good value, but unless something great comes down the pipeline, then wont be renewing anytime soon.

    I only wish that the "free" games were added to your account automatically rather than requiring you to go through the purchase process manually,

    Resogun was one of the PS4's early outstanding titles, but although I had PS+ at the time I didn't get it for free because I didn't have a PS4 at the time and didn't know you could purchase the PS+ titles via the web backend.

      If you haven't bought it, do so. Worth every cent. First game I got on PS4, and still one that I go back to regularly. It is brilliant.

      I think they force the manual purchase so that they only have to pay the publishers for the actual amount of games "sold" instead of the amount for every live and ps+ subscriber. I turn my ps4 on once a month to get the games and it only takes 5 mins.

    I honestly barely play them. However on the odd occasion I'm bored and want to play something new, I can look at the 100+ digital titles installed on my Xbox One, or check if any of my old 360 games have suddenly become backwards compatible.

    Also literally the one game with gold I missed on Xbox was Dust and Elysian Tale :(

    Last edited 22/09/16 5:52 pm

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