TA Team Picks for the recent Xbox sales

Tom West - September 16th 2021

We've had a little scratch around this week's sales and inadvertently come up with a list of chaotic and violent games. But, if you enjoy adventuring, executing, and assassinating enemy characters, this might be perfect for you. Pick up your shield and don your crash helmet because it's about to get crazy in here — we'd say sit back and relax but this is all about high adrenaline activities...

Immortals Fenyx Rising is just pure fun to play. Everything from the combat to the dialogue is ridiculously over the top, and is coupled together with a storybook art style that leaves you with the impression of a vibrant, colorful world. There’s no overly complicated story that you worry about forgetting if you put the controller down for too long, and everything you’re meant to collect is suitably shiny and noticeable — meaning you don’t need to spend hours checking every nook and cranny of Immortals’ beautiful world.

We play as Fenyx, the last hope of the gods after their home has been overrun by the Titan Typhon and his army of mythological beasts. Exploration, combat, and puzzle-solving make up the main gameplay loop, and there’s enough variety in the puzzles and enemy types to keep you interested. The varying regions also keep exploration from becoming stale — the Golden Isle is split up into different domains, each belonging to a certain god. Aphrodite’s plains are verdant and full of life, for example, and a complete contrast to the arid land belonging to Ares. The game is narrated by an impatient Zeus and a long-suffering Prometheus. Sure, the dialogue can be a bit cheesy, but Immortals isn’t really fussed about taking itself seriously, and that relaxed approach really works for the game. Immortals is a blast, and at 60% off, it’s also a real steal.

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 — Wreckfest

Wreckfest is in the top tier of modern racers for me. Bugbear made a game that was part destruction derby, part detailed arcade racer, and part hot wheels, but it is all fan-crash-tic (I feel regret). So, what places this gem on the front of the grid? Well, I think it has to be the destruction. As you race, contact with other players, walls, trees, and barriers and results in your car mercilessly deforming into what can only be described as a defunct pinball. The car deformation is so cool! Panels come flying off all over the gaff, your engine will slowly start to fail and your steering gives up, resulting in desperate attempts to negotiate the other drivers and the track just to get to the end. It is a gorgeous implementation of a feature that totally and unobtrusively alters your racing experience in every event. It’s a remarkable feat, it really is. On top of that, the track selection is wild. Serious tracks in farms and circuits are matched by skate park-like death traps with loop-the-loops and massive ramps. To get around it, there are tiers of cars that range from serious business sleek missiles, to little hatchbacks, to combine harvesters and sofas… no, I’m not joking. The car customisation is really solid, if not as super extensive as I would like, with enough variety to keep you tinkering.

The campaign is packed with a variety of experiences like races, time trials, and derbys. The last of those puts you in the arena with insane creations and asks you to battle until the last car. It is good fun for the first few times, and actually helps long-term players understand how much heat cars, buses, and sofas can take before becoming decimated into the centre of a mechanical black hole. However, singleplayer is really just a prelude to multiplayer. The community is unreal. I would see the same names popping up when I logged on, with players popping up in my messages to compliment me on car designs or others giving back unjustly taken positions in-kind lobbies. You do get trolls aiming to smash everyone up rather than race, but they are normally kicked before you could say Nate Diaz. It was a great time, given weight by the chassis of unbelievably good driving, which is arguably the ideal balance of arcade-sim given that this game is a meld of so many different sub-genres. There are issues with braking consistency between cars, not in the sense that they react badly, but that they are sometimes are a little too similar. But that is only in specific cases. I don’t know what more I can tell you. This is my favourite racer of the last few years. What more do you want on discount?

Wreckfest

Break the rules and take full-contact racing to the limit with Wreckfest!

Expect epic crashes, neck-to-neck fights over the finish line and brand-new ways for metal to bend – These are the once-in-a-lifetime moments that can only be achieved in Wreckfest, with its true-to-life physics simulation crafted by legendary developer Bugbear, who also brought you FlatOut 1 & 2!

Burn rubber and shred metal in the ultimate driving playground!

Luke — Blasphemous

After wanting to try it out for the longest time, I finally got around to smashing through Blasphemous over the weekend while it was on Free Play Days, and it proved to be way better than I was expecting. If you missed out or didn’t quite manage to get it done, I heartily recommend grabbing the pixel-powered Souls-like while it’s at its lowest ever price. While perhaps not quite as challenging as the FromSoftware games that are a clear influence on the game’s design and structure, it still has a few encounters that will likely take a few attempts to get to grips with, and much of the optional stuff is so oblique that you can easily miss stuff (including achievements) if you do things out of sequence. I found this out the hard way on my first blind run, making a choice that would lock me out of two mutually exclusive achievements (meaning two more playthroughs would be needed), so I bit the bullet and started a fresh file with the help of Skeptical Mario’s great walkthrough to get back to where I was quickly and without screwing anything up.

As helpful as a guide can be, there are a few things that can’t easily be taught that way. Mastering bosses to the point that you can beat them all without using any healing items is heavily reliant on experience and skill, and the speedrun achievement — while extremely lenient — still requires you to have a good route locked down where you’re grabbing key collectables and skipping non-essential ones, and with the clock always ticking, personal planning and knowledge work better than stopping all the time to follow along with what worked for somebody else. As with all games like this, I recommend going in blind for your first playthrough as working out systems and finding things on your own is such a huge part of the appeal. Yes, it’ll take you slightly longer than having someone hold your hand the whole way through, but it’s worth it, and that extra experience will prove invaluable when it comes to tricky skill-based achievements like these.

Blasphemous

Blasphemous is a punishing action-platformer that combines the fast-paced, skilled combat of a hack-n-slash game with a deep and evocative narrative core, delivered through exploration of a huge universe comprised of non-linear levels.

Sean — Hitman 3

Even at full price, you can’t go wrong with Hitman 3, so for $29.99/£26.24/€34.99, the stealth game is a steal. You play as everyone’s favourite slaphead assassin, Agent 47, who sets out on a globetrotting tour of death. In each of the five sprawling sandbox levels (the sixth level is a bit of a duffer, so we won’t talk about that one), you are tasked with eliminating a target (or targets in some cases), and how you do that is up to you. Armed with usually not much other than a garrot and a few other items, you have to figure out the best way to kill your target, be it through a series of (carefully planned) unfortunate events that make the assassination look like an accident, or by getting up close and personal and drowning them in the bowl of their porcelain throne. There is such a variety of different ways to pick off your enemy that you could easily spend tens of hours on just one level — as with previous Hitman games in the rebooted trilogy, the replayability is off the charts. Not much has changed from Hitman 2 and Hitman 3, other than some significant visual improvements. The game looks gorgeous running on Xbox Series X|S, and what makes Hitman 3 even more of a steal is that you can import levels from Hitman and Hitman 2 into Hitman 3 and play them with all of the latest visual upgrades, which is something you’ll definitely want to do as there are achievements to unlock.
HITMAN 3 - Standard Edition

Death Awaits. Agent 47 returns in HITMAN 3, the dramatic conclusion to the World of Assassination trilogy.

This week’s pick has to go to the game that kicked off the Xbox One generation of consoles with the fury of the gods. Ryse: Son of Rome's appearance was decidedly marred due to releasing alongside the Xbox One — which was as smooth as a Toblerone, while Microsoft established the console's future focus. Ryse, however, was the first game I played on that generation and holy cow did it look amazing, I even dropped in on it recently using my Xbox Series X and I can say for sure that the game still looks like it could have been released with this generation of consoles.

Playing as Roman Centurian, Marcus Titus, we set out to avenge the deaths of his murdered family. Ryse: Son of Rome features some of the most satisfying combat that I’ve experienced to date, offering brutal quick-time executions in the heat of battle. Everything about the game is a great experience and worthy of your game collection. Although available as part of an Xbox Game Pass subscription, the Ryse: Legendary Edition is currently 75% off and includes all of the game’s DLC, opening up a heap of multiplayer maps and modes to enjoy with a friend or solo.

Ryse: Legendary Edition

Amidst the chaos of the late Roman Empire, become soldier Marius Titus and embark on a perilous campaign to avenge the death of your family and defend the honor of Rome. In Gladiator Mode, step into the Colosseum and fight for the glory, spectacle, and entertainment of the crowds. Legendary Edition includes full Season Pass contents, three bonus maps optimized for maximum challenge in Solo mode and a new Legionary Skin.