This week in games: Epic gives away six games at once, Rockstar tosses another launcher onto the fire

Gaming news for September 16 to 20

Red Dead Redemption 2
Red Dead Redemption 2

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I hate publisher-specific game launchers. I want to play Red Dead Redemption 2. These two truths are definitely at war this week.

That news, plus Epic goes big on Batman, John Wick Hex and Disco Elysium nail down release dates, Anthem calls it (at least temporarily) quits, Total War goes to Ancient Troy, and more.

This is gaming news for September 16 to 20.

Batman begins

First Epic gave away one game per week. Then, two. Now? Six.

Okay, it’s still “two” technically, but Epic’s giving away two collections this week: Rocksteady’s Arkham Collection trilogy and the three Lego Batman games. There’s at least one stinker in the collection, and it’s Arkham Knight—but still, that’s a hell of a lot of video game for free. Maybe you’ll even be tempted to try out that new “List Mode,” eh?

Next week Epic returns to the more standard two-free-games-per-week model, with Everything and Metro 2033 Redux up for grabs. Stay tuned.

Trojan Horse

Hot off the success of Three Kingdoms, Creative Assembly announced its next Total War Saga game for release in 2020, Troy. PC Gamer’s got an extensive preview up if you want details, but the brief version: Hero units (like Achilles) remain, cavalry are omitted. The latter’s an especially big change, given cavalry’s largely been broken in every Total War since...well, ever.

There’s a gorgeous cinematic trailer below, and a few screenshots on the Steam page. Really loving the stylized terracotta sky on the campaign map.

Wild west

Add one more launcher to the ever-growing pile. This week, Rockstar launched the aptly named Rockstar Games Launcher. Why? No real reason, at the moment. You’ll get a free copy of the 15-year-old Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas if you download it—a great game, but essentially a $1 value at this point. Maybe less.

But...well, you have to assume Red Dead Redemption 2 is coming, and coming exclusively to this launcher, right? At least at first?

Saturday night fever

Disco Elysium is one of my most anticipated games. It’s sort of an adventure game, but your skills drive the action—so much so that you can die in the first room, if you make poor choices. The demo I played last year was weird and genre-pushing and as we close in on the end of the year I’d begun to fear it wouldn’t release in 2019. A Hallelujah chorus though, as Disco Elysium nailed down an October 15 release date with its latest trailer.

Give me a gun

Also releasing in short order: John Wick Hex. I didn’t expect this strategy take on John Wick to release until next year, but this week Bithell Games announced an October 8 release date—which is uh, very soon as it turns out. There’s also a new trailer, which delves further into the story than any I’ve seen to-date.

Zoo, under construction

Planet Zoo arrives in November, but those who preordered can get a glimpse of the game as early as next week. Frontier is running a limited beta from September 24 to October 8, offering hands-on with the Career Mode’s early hours, as well as the more sandbox-y Franchise Mode. Now if you’ll hold on, I need to cancel all my upcoming obligations. Those baboons won’t feed themselves. (Probably.)

Squad...Up?

Ubisoft’s also running another beta demo for Ghost Recon Breakpoint. Following on from the closed beta earlier this month, this latest will be open to all and runs from September 26 through 30—which, with Breakpoint releasing on October 4, is essentially just your chance to try before buying. You’ll find it on both Uplay and the Epic Games Store, so pick your poison I guess. Or you can watch this unsettling live action trailer.

Stare into the Void

Void Bastards is one of my favorite games of 2019, like if System Shock were crossed with FTL and also pumped full of jokes. Luckily a lot of other people seem to enjoy it too, enough so we’re getting more. The update is split into two parts. Freeloaders get some new ship layouts and a new enemy type, the Outpatient. Those who pay for the Bang Tydy expansion meanwhile will receive a new weapon, even more ships, and the oxygen-hating Tydy Bot enemies.

Anthem, annulled

Ending on Anthem feels like giving it too much credit, but this is certainly the weirdest story of the week. After six months and one poorly received expansion, BioWare finally put out a statement on Anthem’s ongoing development. The short version? Don’t expect any more content for a while.

BioWare’s “moving away from the Acts structure for updates,” a.k.a. the ambitious story-driven expansions that were supposed to flesh out Anthem’s world. Why? Because Anthem is very broken, and “[The core] systems require a more thorough review and re-working versus quick fixes. We’ve got a team working on that now, and early results are promising.”

It sounds like there will still be small (BioWare calls them “seasonal”) updates sprinkled through the rest of the 2019, but no more big story releases until Anthem is fixed—whenever that may be.

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