Microsoft's Xbox sale this week is themed around Gamescom 2021. What an enjoyable time the event was! Game reveals, general good vibes, and sales? What a life we live. Unfortunately, that same event totally decimated our tired news team this week. That leaves our prime picks from the sale fairly limited, but no less awesome! Heidi was up late freaking out about the dinosaurs of Jurassic World Evolution 2, then revved up her Brachiosaurus-Rex-Megalodon and rode it into a more mythological history with the myths of Greece. Kes... well, we worry about Kes. He got far too excited seeing one game on sale and he is still looking a bit worse for wear. Sean, on the other hand, has had the week of his life with all of the sci-fi stuff. We are still trying to stop him from DM'ing Jeff Bezos every hour for a flight to the outer atmosphere. We need him in the newsroom, thank you very much, Jeff. Tom was off feeding pigs with his kids. It was so adorable we can't think of a low-key fun jibe, so big up cute pigs. Editor Luke is recovering from ruling over the team. It is a tricky business with all of us shouting about dinosaurs, choking on carrots, or trying to strap ourselves to rockets, so he needs some rest now. We hope he doesn't read this introduction or there will be trouble when he gets back. Anyway, onto the picks!
Heidi — Immortals Fenyx Rising Gold Edition
I had such a blast with Immortals Fenyx Rising. Everything from the combat to the dialogue was over the top, and it just works for Immortals. You play as Fenyx, a mortal hero, and the gods’ last hope. The Golden Isle has been invaded by Typhon and his hordes, and you’ll be going up against cyclopes, gorgons, and every other sort of mythological beastie in an attempt to best them. Aside from all the combat, Immortals is just gorgeous to look at. There are seven different regions in the game, each of which is inspired by a different god, ranging from the lush green plains of Aphrodite’s realm to the arid, dusty hills in Ares’ domain. You’re looking at around 40 to 50 hours to complete the game, but you’ll likely sink a lot more time in than that just exploring; it’s just that pretty. The game is packed full of items to find, with Fenyx solving puzzles or heading into battle to earn new cosmetics. The story is narrated by an impatient Zeus and a sarcastic Prometheus, and while that story might be a little predictable, Immortals is still just pure silly fun to play.
Even better, the Gold Edition includes the Season Pass, which gives you access to three extra expansions: A New God, Myths of the Eastern Realm, and The Lost Gods. Immortals Fenyx Rising’s Gold Edition is on sale for 40% off and, even better than that, that’s the lowest the Gold Edition has been priced at yet.
Immortals Fenyx Rising™ Gold Edition
Receive the game, Season Pass and bonus in-game content with the Gold Edition.
Immortals Fenyx Rising brings grand mythological adventure to life. Play as Fenyx on a quest to save the Greek gods.
Wield the powers of the gods to battle powerful mythological beasts in the air or on the ground and solve ancient puzzles.
Kes — Thronebreaker
I nearly shouted with excitement when I saw this pop up. The reason I didn’t was because I was munching on a carrot at the time, so as soon as I opened my mouth my ‘survival instincts’ made me nearly vomit instead. Such is my glee for the appearance of Thronebreaker, I immediately started smiling again after a long recovery from an absurd amount of escaped dribble. You see, this 40-hour-or-so single-player RPG was my GOTY for 2018 and no one ever talks about it… well, it’s tied with God of War, but that isn’t an Xbox thing so I’m in the clear with that statement. This is a card-based adventure game based around The Witcher 3’s Gwent and is set in the same fictional universe. Don’t let the ‘card game’ moniker fool you into thinking that this is anything less than a beast of a story every measure as good as a Witcher 3 arc, or that it doesn’t play with mechanics as sound as giving a Floren to a Dwarf for future rewards. You follow Queen Meve, the matriarch of the lands of Rivia and Lyria, as they come under siege from the ever-encroaching Nilfgaard armies. Chronologically, this is set before the Witcher video games, but during the course of the books… though that ‘authentic chronology’ debate gets a bit messy. Don’t worry about it. The point is, this is a fantastic adventure through staggering pretty environments: snowy crags, deep forests, burning fields, and towering castles. Each and every one looks perfect in the 2.5D “living canvas” art style and the card art is worth framing in some instances. This is a game where the art doesn’t ever stop impressing and you always want just one more environment to walk through, even if it required more trauma for poor Queen Meve.
After being ousted from her lands, Meve must reform her army over the course of the game. This is a good narrative context for the core deck-building mechanics. Every battle you fight is done through your ever-growing deck of cards. There are two plains of action, attack and long-range. Cards can be arranged in the playing area so you can play different combos, draw on different unique abilities, and eventually outscore your opponent with the total attributed value of the cards in play. It is easy to understand, hard to master. Along the way, you will engage in battles, monster fights, and challenges using either your deck or — in the latter— one provided for you. Allies you meet as part of the story become a part of your collection and the enemies you face off against have always got a thoughtfully constructed deck that plays into a theme. Every fight is fun and some are fiendishly tricky, especially the challenges. Every gameplay moment plays into the narrative woven by CD Projekt: it really is an outstanding feat. Your emotional connection to your party, and thus your cards, makes you suffer some agonisingly tough choices if you want to put Queen Meve back on the throne. The achievement list is lovely and the price is way less than I would be happy to pay for it. Bargain. If you enjoyed The Witcher, then this is the pick you want. I beg you, for the sake of my gullet in future, don’t sleep on this one.
Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales
Thronebreaker is a single player role-playing game set in the world of The Witcher that combines narrative-driven exploration with unique puzzles and card battle mechanics.
Sean — Star Wars: Squadrons
If you don’t have Xbox Game Pass Ultimate or EA Play, then Star Wars: Squadrons at the price of £17.49/€19.99 (which is the lowest price it’s ever been in the UK and Europe), is definitely worth picking up.
In the game’s campaign, you play as pilots from both the New Republic and Imperial fleets in a storyline that alternates between the two. You’ll pilot numerous ships from both sides, from the iconic T-65 X-Wing and TIE Fighter to the Y-Wing Bomber and TIE Bomber, with each ship providing enough variety to stop things from getting stale. Although the campaign is only 14 missions long and lasts for roughly eight hours, there’s just enough there to scratch that Star Wars itch with its exhilarating, action-packed space battles. The multiplayer is also pretty good, even if it lacks in modes and content. Fleet battles are the real highlight here — two teams dogfight it out with the goal of destroying the other’s Capital Ship. It can get pretty intense when you’re flinging your X-Wing around, draining power from your weapons to the engines for that speed boost, and trying to dodge enemy fire coming in from two Interceptors — you really have to be on the ball.
I’d say Squadrons is a must-purchase at this price point in the Gamescom sale. It’s not long, and it certainly doesn’t have a lot of depth, but there is a good amount of fun to be had here — just be wary of the Ulimate Weapon achievement, which is a bit of a grind.
STAR WARS™: Squadrons
Master the art of starfighter combat in the authentic piloting experience STAR WARS™: Squadrons. Buckle up, feel the adrenaline of first-person multiplayer space dogfights alongside your squadron, and learn what it means to be a pilot in a thrilling STAR WARS™ single-player story.
For everything that's on offer in the sale, check out our Xbox Gamescom 2021 sale round-up.
How do these picks suit you? What would you be choosing? Let us know in the comments and I'm sure we will see you in there!