Free and free-to-play games have been popular on the PC for years now, but it wasn’t until recently that the console makers had any interest at all in that business model. But now that the PS4 and Xbox One are little more than specialized gaming PCs, we’re starting to see an influx of ports. And as such, I wanted to see exactly how these games stand up.
To get started, I logged into PSN, and downloaded all ten of the free games currently on offer. After a few dozen gigs trickled slowly into my PS4, I was ready to go. I explored each of the games to get a feel for the value proposition, and quickly found that some titles are much better than others. However, there’s a decent amount of variety here, so you’ll most certainly find something to enjoy.
Dead or Alive 5 Last Round: Core Fighters
For the most part, Last Round is just an updated version of the Team Ninja’s well-liked 2012 fighting game. And while you can simply lay down 40 bucks for the vast majority of the game’s meaningful content, Tecmo KOEI is more than happy to sell it to you piecemeal. Dead or Alive 5 Last Round: Core Fighters is the free-to-play version of the game, and it’s actually a nice little package. That is, as long as you buy carefully.
For free, you get four characters: Kasumi, Ryu Hayabusa, Ayane, and Hayate. As it stands, two additional characters are available as well, but those slots float around the roster. You can play arcade mode, local multiplayer, and even online matches, but story mode is locked behind a $ 14 paywall on Core Fighters. Each additional character? That’ll run you $ 4. And when you start looking at the DLC costumes, you could easily drop a hundred bucks. Truth be told, I’m not particularly comfortable with their pay-per-cheesecake business model.
Even so, DoA5 is a fantastic fighting game, and you can get hours of entertainment out of it without paying one red cent. If you end up really enjoying yourself, and looking for more, just remember that you’re better off investing in the $ 40 version. After that purchased, you can safely ignore everything else.
Most multiplayer shooters are gritty and self-serious, but Loadout is very different in tone. It’s over-the-top and cartoony, and that alone sets it apart from the majority of its competitors. If Borderlands and Gears of War had a baby, it would be Loadout.
As the name implies, this game is very focused on customizing your gear, tweaking your look, and developing different load-outs that fit your taste. Most items and upgrades can be acquired by simply playing the game, but avatars, bombs, and boosts require “Spacebux” — the real-money currency. Five bucks will buy you a week of XP boosts or 10 bombs, but you can drop $ 100 bucks a pop for a 100,000 Spacebux pack. I don’t think that’s a particularly wise way to spend a c-note, but that’s up to you. Value is subjective after all.
Broadly, the game is split into PVP and PVE modes — each with unique aspects. In PVP, you can join up with seven other people, and compete against each other in five different game types. Alternately, you can progress through different missions against AI enemies in the proving grounds. Either way, there’s a fair bit of depth to explore in Loadout.
Set during the early 1940s, this World War II-based strategy game lets you build-up your military using the resources you’ve either earned or purchased. Want to speed up that bunker upgrade? Well, you could always buy some gold from PSN. Prices range from $ 2 to $ 100, but you can slowly earn gold by playing the game.
The gameplay itself is much simpler than Command & Conquer or StarCraft, so don’t expect a workout for your brain or reflexes. But if a cutesy free-to-play WW2 game sounds up your alley, Battle Islands has enough going for it to keep you invested for a while. Just don’t be surprised when you’re spending your spare time waiting for progress bars to fill.
Last year at Gamescom in Cologne, Sony briefly mentioned that a developer by the name of 7780s Studio was releasing a horror game for the PS4 dubbed “P.T.” Immediately, eyebrows started raising. Who is this unknown developer? What is this game? Later that day, P.T. hit PSN, and the internet went to work deciphering all of the details. As it turns out, “P.T.” stands for “playable teaser,” and this free release is actually an elaborate build-up for a reboot of the Silent Hill franchise.
Despite its nature as an advergame of sorts, it’s legitimately a fascinating release in and of itself. It’s scary and shocking in a number of ways, and it absolutely caught fire among the enthusiast community. And since this is the brain child of Hideo Kojima (Metal Gear, Zone of the Enders) and Guillermo del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth, Pacific Rim), it’s easy to see why.
It’s nigh-on impossible to finish P.T. without using a guide, but it’s worth checking out nonetheless. The dev team accomplished a lot with very little here, and it’s absolutely the most atmospheric and creepy game I’ve ever played.
Next page: Give us war, or give us pinball!
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