Kotaku’s Weekend Guide: 5 Games To Rejuvenate The Soul

Kotaku’s Weekend Guide: 5 Games To Rejuvenate The Soul

We’re a good week into September, though if you’re based on the east coast of the United States, the temperature sure doesn’t feel like it. No matter: There’s air conditioning and video games to keep us distracted from irrational weather.

This weekend we’ve grabbed a couple of free-to-play games, offered a perspective on that enormous space thing that launched this week, and a couple more treats. Enough preamble, let’s get to what we here at Kotaku plan to play this weekend. Maybe it’ll give you a few ideas.


Screenshot: Batterystaple Games

Play it on: Switch (September 12), Windows (Steam Deck YMMV)
Current goal: Terminate the Capital Punishment boss

30XX is an action platformer roguelike where you blow up beautiful pixel art robots with crunchy energy blasts and laser beams. It’s Mega Man X by way of Dead Cells, and it’s super well-tuned. The Capcom series is beloved for its tight controls and satisfying animations that make navigating futuristic gauntlets of lava pits and killer machines challenging but fun. 30XX, like its predecessor, nails the look and feel of those 16-bit classics, while providing meaty, procedurally generated levels to prolong the experience and divy out power-ups. After spending a lot of time in Early Access, 30XX finally came out last month, which you might have missed amid the ongoing tsunami of blockbuster releases.

One of the biggest improvements is a Mega Mode that lets you dispense with the roguelike repetition entirely and play the whole game from start to finish without permadeath. You’ll still have to repeat levels if you die, but you won’t lose all of the progress you’ve gained up to that point, which is great considering that the retro game’s difficulty is no joke. I still don’t think the procedurally generated levels always come together that neatly, but the moment-to-moment platforming action remains top-tier. There’s even online and couch co-op. — Ethan Gach


Screenshot: Bethesda

Play it on: Xbox Series X/S, Windows (Steam Deck: YMMV)
Current goal: Finish the major faction quests

I assume everyone’s playing Starfield now that it’s officially launched on PC and Xbox consoles, and it makes sense. Bethesda Game Studios’ open-space RPG is a massive triumph, though not without its faults. (Um, where’s the map? Where are the planetary vehicles?) I am having a great time living life as a cyber ronin, bouncing from faction to faction in an effort to make as much money as possible.

Starfield features quite a few groups for you to join: the Crimson Fleet galaxy pirates, the Freestar Collective space cowpokes, the UC Vanguard police force, and many more both major and minor. And for my first playthrough—that’s already stolen some 30-something hours from me—I plan to complete all of the major faction quests before continuing through the game’s main campaign, and embarking on New Game Plus (which I heard fundamentally changes Starfield). Aside from the nice credit payout for completing these missions, each faction questline (of the three I’ve completed so far) has had some fascinating storytelling about allegiances and existentialism and treasure.

I’ve been enamored with the characters I’ve met and the rewards I’ve received, even if some of the mission structure was far too banal for my cyber ronin. (I’m essentially a bounty hunter, not some delivery errand enby. Stop asking me to drop shit off!) With the Crimson Fleet, Freestar Collective, and UC Vanguard out of the way, though, it’s time to gravjump to the Volii star system to infiltrate the ranks of the megacorp Ryujin Industries. But keep it on the DL, no one needs to know I’m there for just the cash. — Levi Winslow

Overwatch 2

Image: Blizzard

Play it on: PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X/S, Switch, Windows (Steam Deck: Nope)
Current goal: Git gud at Ramattra 

Recently, I messed around in Overwatch 2 and did something wild: Instead of insta-locking my main D.Va, I decided to try out one of the game’s newest tank heroes, Ramattra. Although the following matches had me on the backfoot of an anime-esque 1v1 battle against laser-focused Doomfist players (he’s pretty nutty right now), I was enamored with how versatile Ramattra is to play. Sure, my first go around with Rammy resulted in overshot Void Barriers and whiffed Ravenous Vortexes, but dude’s ability to shift from long range offense to close-range attacks on a dime (cooldowns pending) is a pretty freaking sweet deal, made all the sweeter when my teammates group up with me on the objective.

Read More: Overwatch 2’s Ramattra Embarrassed My Mains And Reignited My Competitive Spirit

Personally, part of why I’m dipping my toe into playing Ramattra is because I’ve been on the receiving end of his bullshit one too many times. I’ve had my baby D.Va foiled by the hulking lummox and his spiritual pressure-like gravity field as she desperately tries to crawl back into her mech. And I’ve had my tactfully retreating Mercy’s health bar melted down by his weird nanomachine staff thingy. While I don’t plan on using Ramattra in every game mode (I’m thinking he’s best on payload maps with tight chokepoints) I do plan on developing a muscle memory of how he plays so I don’t misclick his abilities in a panic during an overtime firefight. We’ll see if my practice pays off, or if I’ll cave and pick up Orisa instead, seeing as how she’s meta at the moment. — Isaiah Colbert

Halo Infinite

Gif: 343 Industries / Kotaku

Play it on: Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, PC (Steam Deck YMMV)
Current goal: Stop dying, get my chops back

Though Starfield has been my digital comfort food of choice lately, this weekend I’ll be revisiting another go-to game of mine: Halo. And upon firing up the game again recently, it’s clear that I probably need to lock in some time with the bots because, jeez, did I get my ass kicked.

Halo has been in a rocky state since…well, for a while. Infinite has had its ups and downs, probably more downs if we’re being honest. But unlike previous Halo games, there’s still something wonderfully faithful to the original formula in Infinite. The additions to the game this past year have only made that chemistry of digital violence better. New equipment makes the game now feel like a kind of fusion between Halo 3 and Reach to me. And the newer maps work exceptionally well for a reliable Halo experience. Add to that the custom game browser (which will hopefully be a bit more dense over the weekend), and there’s a nice offering of experimental game types, absurd shenanigans, and nostalgic throwbacks, such as a round of Slayer I ran through in a remake of Last Resort/Zanzibar.

As I said before, my trip back was rough, with repeat deaths. It was a reminder that in a game with a lower population count, the ones sticking around are usually really good. It can be a little intimidating, but at least that’ll make an eventual victory that much sweeter. — Claire Jackson

Choro Q Wonderful!

Screenshot: Takara / Kotaku

Play it on: PlayStation

Current goal: Meet lots of friendly cars and win the World Grand Prix

Ever been decades late to the party in discovering that your favorite movie got a sequel you’d never heard of? I had a similar experience this week, albeit sort of in reverse, and with a game.

Choro Q is a long-running Japanese toyline featuring appealing, super-deformed renditions of real-world cars, which zoom forward if you wind ‘em up. In the late ‘90s the franchise started getting tons of Takara-produced video games for Sega Saturn, Nintendo 64, and most of all Sony’s PlayStation. Most are simplistic racers that let you upgrade your chibi car over time. Choro Q games tend to have just barely tolerable driving physics—and framerates to match—so for all their cute charm, they’re a bit of an acquired taste.

Enter a little PlayStation 2 game called Choro Q HG2. Conspiracy Entertainment, rest its soul, published it in the States as Road Trip, and it’s one of the single best offbeat game discoveries I’ve ever made. Neither the driving model nor graphics were great, but this particular Choro game shook up the series formula by becoming a full-on CarPG, complete with a vast open world to explore, sentient vehicles spouting charismatic, barely localized dialogue, and a steady stream of quests, minigames, and generally odd surprises.

My running belief has been that Road Trip was the best of the PS2’s four-game HG subseries, and also the first of the RPG-like Choro Q games. Turns out that no, the latter distinction goes to 1999’s Choro Q Wonderful! for PlayStation, which I just learned got an English fan translation last Christmas. Road Trip, but on OG PlayStation? That’s my kinda giftmas present.

Several hours in, it’s pretty much what I hoped: smaller in scale and as janky as you’d expect from a 32-bit Choro Q, but also rife with irresistibly guileless dialogue like, “So beautiful. You got 38 fireworks and 2 Qcoins,” and “Ice cream~ Ice cream~ ♥” (that character’s an ice cream truck, you see). Are the races fun? They’re…tolerable! But mostly I’m having a ball exploring each self-contained city, chatting up the oddball natives, and finally seeing where this “CarPG” madness actually began. Wonderful! — Alexandra Hall

And that wraps up Kotaku’s weekend selections for September 8, 2023. What games are you playing this weekend?

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