Xbox sales: TA Team Picks (September 24th)

Tom West - September 24th 2021

Just three of us stepped up to the challenge of finding a prime pick from this week's meagre sales. Ranging from hardy pirates to hulking ogres to fragile pensioners, we're sure there is going to be something for everyone on this list. Heidi is absent from this week's picks due to enjoying some well-earned holiday time, and Sean is doing other, Sean-type things. Not to worry, because we three are going to wrestle the sales beast into submission by ourselves — or risk being thrown overboard.

I’m hoping I don’t get skewered by Luke for picking something so obvious, but there wasn’t a lot on sale this week I hadn’t already talked about. In addition, I haven’t spoken about pirates for at least three weeks. AC4 is my favourite in Ubisoft’s action-adventure series for a multitude of reasons. Your ship, The Jackdaw, is a customisable homestead that you can level from a weaponised fishing boat to a galleon destroyer. You feel ownership over her, and it helps that each upgrade informs how you fight other ships, which becomes quite complex in the late game. Which cannons do you use? How long before you go for a broadside ram? Can I get aboard this vessel without another boat taking me out? And once you are on board, watching the hooks go out and your crew leap across to mash the enemy is seriously satisfying. At sea, she handles like a dream, used to traverse across the beautiful translucent blue seas that implore you to spend as much time out and about as possible, something later AC titles made into a chore. Hearing your crew sing shanties is such a pleasure, I occasionally reinstall the game just to do a bit of sailing and singing (sometimes I drink rum at the same time, particularly during winter). On land, the game still has good looks. Controlled spaces of small islands, sandbanks, and larger outcrops, are often riddled with jungles and outposts to explore and take down. The larger cities are all different and really put you in and amongst 17th-century life in the colonies in a fun and meaningful way that a few later titles failed to successfully do. AC Odyssey, to me at least, felt like it was on a treadmill of rinse and repeat objectives without really giving life to Greece. Here, the objectives are still there, but the world and exploration are the reason you want to go somewhere, not just the item you are collecting.

But, it isn’t just the theme of buccaneering colonies in the Caribbean that makes AC4 special. Somehow, this game is also a great tale of a man — my fellow Welshman Edward Kenway — learning, changing, and becoming something more than his former self. Using the Creed to focus this story builds lore naturally and smartly, something that games like Syndicate, Odyssey, and Valhalla have been really struggling to balance. Even Origins, as much as I like that game, feels like it didn’t find a footing narratively; jumping between the emotional saga of Bayek — the well fleshed-out main character — and ex-wife Aya, who has shallow gameplay segments, but is arguably more important (and dare I say, more interesting) than Bayek. That being said, AC4 still struggles with linear mission structures that have never worked for the AC franchise, like tailing and eavesdropping, and has got some controls and melee combat that aren’t as smooth as one would like Ultimately, though, AC4 is really the perfect combination of fiction and historical reality, matched by the gameplay and the world to boot. For that reason, if you have yet to delve into the series, this is where I would recommend starting. If you have tried before and not quite liked it, this is also where I would find rejuvenation. That is not bad for a game that costs about the same as a plastic cutlass.

Assassin's Creed IV Black Flag

It is 1715. Pirates rule the Caribbean and have established a lawless Republic. Among these outlaws is a fearsome young captain named Edward Kenway.

I recently picked up the Second Season edition of the tabletop version of Blood Bowl, partly because I have fond memories of playing the original as a kid and partly due to grabbing this on sale a while back and getting dragged back into the world of turn-based violent sports. The latter was something of an eye-opener, as I never really got to experience much beyond what came with the base box back in the day, so trying out all of those other teams proved to be a blast. The regular edition of Blood Bowl 2 is also on sale for a few bucks less, but it's worth paying the extra to get triple the amount of teams — each feels genuinely different and fits into their own distinct play style, so having more available just means you're all the more likely to find one that works for you. Want to grind your opponents down with patient defensive plays? Give the Dwarf team a go and let the salt flow. Prefer blink-and-you'll-miss-it breakaway plays? Skaven and Lizardman teams will see you right with the absurd pace of their runners. Just want to smash some skulls? Pick up an Undead team and lock your opponents into an endless scrum where your guys keep coming back while theirs stay dead. Even the more 'traditional' teams can be great fun, especially since a squad that is capable of passing, running, and murdering is much more versatile and harder to predict than many of the one-note teams.

Although Second Season has introduced a few new rules and tweaks to the tabletop game, this digital recreation is still close enough to the modern game to serve as a great way to get a feel for a new team before you pick up a box of minis or two and build them in real life... which can get pretty expensive and time-consuming, especially if it turns out you don't even enjoy the team in the end. It's also worth noting that quite a few teams feel pretty lacklustre to begin with, and it can be a bit frustrating constantly fumbling and tripping over your own legs with late-blooming teams. If you can fight through those rough first few matches and grab some Star Player Points, though, teams like Chaos can really start to come into their own thanks to how flexible they are to improve and specialise. Blood Bowl is also an inherently swingy game, so there's some inevitable frustration to be had there too when the blocking dice don't play nice — just remember that it works both ways, and your opponent is no more immune than you to a poor roll spelling the end of the best-worked play!

Blood Bowl 2 - Legendary Edition

Blood Bowl®2: Legendary Edition smashes Warhammer and American football together, in an explosive cocktail of turn-based strategy, humour and brutality, adapted from Games Workshop’s famous board game. Highly anticipated by the fans, Blood Bowl®2: Legendary Edition is the ultimate edition of Blood Bowl 2, offering all the official races from the Blood Bowl board game.

Just Die Already is a heartwarming and atmospheric journey of a pensioner and the struggles they face when confronted with the ever-present loss of time, losing touch with their family after succumbing to the strict confines of a retirement home, and mentally preparing themselves for the final journey into the jaws of death. Okay, maybe I made that sound a little more tragic than it really is — in fact, this is the wackiest game that an OAP has managed to shuffle into, and they keep old Grimmy the Reaper busy… so damn busy.

Coming from the same minds as Goat Simulator, Just Die Already is a physics-based sandbox game that I had an absolute blast with. I wouldn’t say it’s a must-play as such, but it is a great title to have sat on your hard drive for those moments when you don’t want to engage your brain and would rather just aimlessly see what escapades you can get up to. Be warned, though, because this is one game that requires a fair amount of effort to complete, but there are plenty of guides out there to help you knock out the achievements at a good pace. The game’s currently at its lowest price in the sale, which has knocked 30% off of the price, so I’d say now is the perfect time to pick it up and put some helpless old people through pain and misery for your amusement… disgraceful.

Just Die Already

Just Die Already is an old people mayhem sandbox game created by the designers of Goat Simulator. You are old and angry and you've just been kicked out of your retirement home. How will you survive in a world that wants you to Just Die Already?

Is anything here catching your eye? Let us know in the comments!