The Xbox Countdown sale is a big one, so we tasked the TA news team with picking out two recommendations each... here's what we all settled on!
Heidi — Jurassic World Evolution 2
By the time Frontier was done with updates and DLC, Jurassic World Evolution was a great game, and the sequel had a lot to live up to. While its actual campaign seems a little short, Jurassic World Evolution 2 more than makes up for it with the Challenge mode and the additional Chaos Theory mode, which lets you play out “what if” scenarios from the movies. The dinos themselves look fantastic, plus Frontier listened to the community and added marine and flying reptiles for a real variety of creatures. The new scientist mechanic takes some getting used to, but once you’ve got that bit sorted, you’re off; researching and creating new dinosaurs, building and modifying guest amenities, and cheerfully ignoring the chaos of an escaped dino or two. The Challenge and Chaos Theory modes were a little tougher than expected at first — but Frontier has since released an update which lowers the frequency of storms and injuries from fights, meaning your poor weather-battered dinos no longer go stumbling straight from a storm into a fight and to the vets, only to restart the cycle when they’re released. The extra options when creating and releasing dinosaurs, such as the “release via airlift” option, and the option to release multiple dinosaurs in one batch — plus the ability to randomise their pattern and appearance — are great quality-of-life additions that improve the experience still more. If you were holding off on Jurassic World Evolution 2, or planning to pick it up once its price had dropped a little, now would be a great time to grab it, while it’s sitting at 20% off.
Jurassic World Evolution 2
Jurassic World Evolution 2 is the much-anticipated sequel to Frontier’s highly successful Jurassic World Evolution. This bold new era in the Jurassic World Evolution game franchise builds upon the ground-breaking and immersive 2018 management simulation.
Heidi — Immortals Fenyx Rising
Immortals Fenyx Rising for just over £20 is a bargain. We play as Fenyx, who’s washed up on the Golden Isle to find the gods in trouble — the Titan Typhon and his army of beasties from Greek mythology are wreaking havoc across the island, with Fenyx the only one who can stop them. Combat is ridiculously over-the-top, and exploration rewards you with no end of shiny new gear. The whole thing is narrated by the squabbling Prometheus and Zeus, and wraps itself up into a brightly-coloured whirlwind of just plain stupid fun, with no attempt at taking itself or its subject matter too seriously. There’s enough there to keep you engaged for however long you want to play, but it’s light enough that you can put it down and come back to it without forgetting too much of what you need to know. It’s also a nice break from the regular open-world exploration, in that everything that might be a reward is bright and shiny and easy to spot, meaning you don’t need to turn over every stone and break every pot just to make sure you’re not missing anything. It looks gorgeous, too, especially as you travel between the regions, each of which revolves around and represents a different god or goddess. It’s bright, light-hearted fun — and it’s 67% off.
Immortals Fenyx Rising™
Immortals Fenyx Rising brings grand mythological adventure to life. Play as Fenyx, on a quest to save the Greek gods from a dark curse.
Wield the powers of the gods to battle powerful mythological beasts in the air or on the ground, and solve ancient puzzles.
The fate of the world is at stake – you are the gods’ last hope.
Kes — Tomb Raider Definitive Edition
Tomb Raider is a great action-adventure game. This first entry into Crystal Dynamics’ revisit and reimagining of the legendary franchise... of the three titles in the series — this, Rise, and Shadow — the developer's first effort shines the most brightly to me. I think it is the very simple set-up that does it: your ship crashes on a Japanese island of Yamatai, situated in the stormy Dragon's Triangle. Now it is about survival for Lara, whether that be from hostile locals, wildlife, mercenaries, or the island itself. Croft herself finally has a bit of time to grow as a character as she collects survivors and tries to get to the bottom of the mystery at the heart of what is happening on the island. Combat is really crisp, with a nice bow-and-arrow set-up helping you feel like a predator by the end of the game. The island, though, is the masterful bit of restrained world design that helps everything flow. I really love all the optional tombs that add a bit of classic Croftian puzzling to proceedings, as well as the feeling that a brutal death might be around any corner. The final moments of mythical mystery unravelling still don’t sit quite right with me given the tone, but then that kind of conclusion didn’t mesh well in the Uncharted series either and that is still my favourite of all time. As for Tomb Raider, though I cannot recommend it enough at the price!
Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition
The Definitive Edition of the critically acclaimed action-adventure has been rebuilt for next-gen consoles, featuring an obsessively detailed Lara and a stunningly lifelike world. Endure high-octane combat, customize weapons and gear, and overcome grueling environments to survive Lara’s first adventure.
Kes — Batman: The Telltale Series - The Complete Season (Episodes 1-5)
I feel a bit rusty talking about Batman: The Telltale Series because I am struggling to remember what happened. I blasted through it in a few days and have a feeling that there was emotional turmoil and some bad decisions on my part. But frankly, I don’t want to remember all the trauma I put the familiar comic cast through. Honestly, though, that is not a bad place to be if you are trying to make space for yourself in a clustered room of Batmen across comic, film, video games, and TV. Having played quite a bit of the interactive TV catalogue developer Telltale put together, this does have to be on the underrated side of the abundance of Telltale experiences. The side characters were fun, the villains nefarious, and Bruce Wayne written as an interesting character (for once). Some of the episodes have a really compelling cliffhanger that will keep you wanting more, and I just don’t want to spoil any of the story for you. This is a bargain bin price now, so give it a go over the holidays and you will come out having had a great Batman experience.
Batman: The Telltale Series - The Complete Season (Episodes 1-5)
Enter the fractured psyche of Bruce Wayne and discover the powerful and far-reaching consequences of your choices as the Dark Knight. In this gritty and violent new story from the award-winning creators of The Walking Dead – A Telltale Games Series, you'll make discoveries that will shatter Bruce Wayne's world, and the already fragile stability of a corrupt Gotham City.
Your actions and your choices will determine the fate of the Batman.
Luke — Scribblenauts Mega Pack
As a huge fan of creative problem-solving, I've loved Scribblenauts ever since I first got involved on DS back in the day, so seeing this double-pack at its lowest-ever price made me dive back into the series for the first time in years. The basic premise of Scribblenauts is simple, yet it never fails to feel like magic — you're presented with a relatively simple puzzle, and all you have to do is write words to bring those items, characters, or effects to life to help resolve the situation. There are often a few obvious answers, and one of the main issues with the series is that some things are way too powerful (turns out God is pretty strong), but the main thrill of the games comes from thinking outside the box — often way outside the box — to come up with the most creative solutions possible. It's incredibly difficult to trip Scribblenauts up and whatever you write, you're almost guaranteed to see it come to life. Guy needs a shave? Sure, you could just conjure up a razor, but where's the fun in that? Instead, why not see how he gets on with a tiny chainsaw, a swarm of hair-hungry locusts, or a tub of hair-removing cream? Scribblenauts only gets more enjoyable the more creative you are, and I can't wait to get stuck into this pair of games over the holidays.
Scribblenauts Mega Pack
Get the best of Scribblenauts with Scribblenauts Mega Pack - Two classic games with ALL-NEW content! Use the power of your imagination to solve exciting puzzles in endless ways. With Scribblenauts Unlimited & Scribblenauts Unmasked: A DC Comics Adventure combined, the fun is limitless!
Luke — World of Final Fantasy Maxima
In looking through all the games in the Countdown sale, I was reminded of not only how much I ended up enjoying World of Final Fantasy when I played it on PS4 ages ago, but also how little I remember about it, so I'm keen to get cracking with this 'ultimate' version of the FF love-in. Tama's verbal diarrhoea and insistence on adding a superfluous 'the' to every instance of dialogue is super-the-annoying and can get in the-the sea, but given that we don't have FFXIV — the ultimate celebration of all thing Final Fantasy, with countless bosses and raids that pay homage to older games in the series — or 3DS music gems Theatrhythm on Xbox, you're not going to find a broader celebration of the JRPG franchise than this. The battle system is actually kinda genius, with a stacking mechanic that lets you combine units by placing smaller ones on top of their larger buddies to power them up (albeit with a risk of your towers of friends being toppled by strong enemy attacks), and the Pokémon-esque capture mechanic means you can recruit and ally with pretty much every classic FF monster you could name, and then some. The chibi art style won't be for everyone, but if you can look past that — and a million squeaky instance of the word 'the' where they don't belong — this will be a great time for any JRPG fan.
WORLD OF FINAL FANTASY MAXIMA
WORLD OF FINAL FANTASY is now available on Xbox One, and it is bigger and better than ever! Beloved characters from FF lore (Champions) and a multitude of capturable monsters (Mirages) appear in this fun and exciting adventure. This new and and enhanced version also features the Avatar Change system, which allows the protagonists to fight as Champions.
Sean — Yakuza 0
With Yakuza 0 set to leave Xbox Game Pass on December 31st, now is the time to pick it up. For just $4.99/£3.74/€4.99, you are getting a hell of a lot of game for your money. Yakuza 0 takes you back to 1980s Japan, where you play as Kazuma Kiryu and Goro Majima. Kiryu finds himself framed for murder and has to delve deep into Japan’s criminal underworld to unwrap a conspiracy, while Majima has his own story to tell, involving cabaret clubs and a tough choice that could clear his monumental debt. The story of both of these characters is fantastic, and you will find yourself constantly asking yourself: “What happens next?” However, where Yakuza 0 really stands out is its Substories. These side missions dotted around the map are so well written and make for some of the best side content around. You can go from helping Yakuza’s versions of Steven Spielberg and Michael Jackson (Stephen Spining and Miracle Johnson) film a music video on the neon-lit streets to helping a father who cannot be with his son share a heartfelt moment together. Couple the amazing plot and Substories with some badass combat and a wicked soundtrack, and you’ve got yourself a winner here.
The glitz, glamor, and unbridled decadence of the 80s are back in Yakuza 0. Fight your way through Tokyo and Osaka with protagonist Kazuma Kiryu and series regular Goro Majima.
Sean — Hitman 3
For just $23.99/£20.99/€27.99, you are getting one of 2021's best games, Hitman 3. The final game in the World of Assassination trilogy offers a fitting conclusion to the series and more of that superb, stealthy sandbox gameplay. Hitman 3 doesn’t really do much if anything at all, different from previous entries into the series — you know exactly what you’re getting into if you’ve played Hitman and Hitman 2. However, thanks to an updated engine and the power of next-gen consoles, the game looks fantastic, boasting 4K/60fps on Series X, improved lighting, and more NPCs in levels than ever before. What truly is a bonus, though, is that if you own Hitman and Hitman 2, you can replay those first two games in the new engine through Hitman 3, with all of those glorious new visual upgrades (plus some achievements will retroactively unlock!). Hitman 3 serves up several delightful sandboxes filled with assassination opportunities. It looks gorgeous, feels slick as ever, and has stacks of replayability. For the price it’s currently on sale at, you’re getting a bargain.
Tom — Far Cry 6
Far Cry 6 is my favourite entry into the mainline Far Cry series to date, so seeing it with a large chunk lopped off of its price seems like a damn good time to talk about it some more — it wouldn’t be right to have it as my Game of the Year, and not recommend it when it’s on sale. Be warned, though, that it feels and plays much the same as the previous entries, so if you’re not a fan of them, then this outing won’t be for you. For everyone else, it should certainly be a must-buy due to its absolutely gorgeous visuals, varied and entertaining characters, chaotic gameplay, and awesome animal friends. There is plenty of that core Far Cry DNA mixed into the latest instalment, but there is also plenty to make it stand out from the crowd.
This is the first time we’ve had a chance to play around with builds and gear perks, ride into battle on horseback — although, I don’t recommend that as a safe mode of transport when opposing a tank — play with new backpack weaponry called Supremos, and experience the hardships of being a modern-day guerrilla fighter. It’s a great game, and there is already plenty of new content to discover, from missions with Danny Trejo to roguelike experiences in the minds of the series' previous antagonists. Far Cry 6 currently has a solid 40% chopped off its price, which makes it a bargain — only paying 60% of the game’s price is pretty fitting, due to the game’s posterpooch, Chorizo, only having the use of 60% of his body!
Far Cry® 6
Welcome to Yara, a tropical paradise frozen in time. Far Cry® 6 thrusts players into the adrenaline-filled world of a modern-day guerrilla revolution. As the dictator of Yara, Antón Castillo is intent on restoring his nation back to its former glory by any means, with his son, Diego, following in his bloody footsteps. Become a guerrilla fighter and burn their regime to the ground.
Tom — The Elder Scrolls Online Collection: Blackwood
I’m not sure if it’s been said before, but I love The Elder Scrolls Online — it’s a passion I attempt to keep hidden. I’d recommend this game to you in a heartbeat, and for good reason, which is why I couldn’t, in good conscience, end the year without singing its praises… again. While its not quite Skyrim with multiplayer, it’s absolutely filled with the rich lore that many players fell in love with in the single-player entries. You can customise your character any way you wish, visit a multitude of Tamriel’s locations, fight challenging monsters, and hang with your pals.
The Elder Scrolls Online Collection: Blackwood is currently rocking a 67% discount, and packs in the base game and every paid expansion to date, which will allow you to visit almost every part of Tamriel: Blackwood, Greymoor, Elsweyer, Summerset, and Morrowind. If you’re even slightly interested in the game then you should certainly consider making it your 2022 game of choice — just be prepared for thousands of hours of awesome fun to get that completion!
The Elder Scrolls Online Collection: Blackwood
The Elder Scrolls Online Collection: Blackwood is the ultimate Elder Scrolls experience and includes the base game, new Blackwood Chapter, and all previous Chapters.
Optimized for the Xbox Series X|S with Console Enhanced, bringing a new level of fidelity and performance—free for all ESO players.
Planning on picking up any of these before the sale ends on January 2nd? Or maybe you have some suggestions of your own to share? Either way, hit the comments and let us know...