Successor to Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket Powered Battle Cars, Rocket League was one of the most successful new releases given to Plus members this past year. Subscribers were given access from the day it was released back in June.
It’s a very simple game. Essentially, it’s soccer with cars, with most of the sport’s rules removed. Teams of between one and four battle it out to score more goals than their opponent, boosting around the arena style maps at high speed. Easy to get into but very difficult to master, Rocket League is addictive, competitive, and great fun with a few friends online or at home. Make sure you check out some of the stunning goals scored by highly skilled players online, such as these.
Valiant Hearts: The Great War
The First World War is rarely portrayed in video games, with developers often choosing World War II as a historical setting due to the gameplay and character potential. Valiant Hearts though, is a rare look at the Great War.
Mixing beautiful hand drawn images with a truly heartfelt story of loss and love, Valiant Hearts is a fantastic puzzle platformer. The puzzles are of a perfect difficulty level and use the environment in an ingenious way. The overly dramatic pre and post level cutscenes don’t quite fit with the tone of the rest of the game, and the historical information can be quite intrusive, but overall it’s an excellent (albeit short) adventure.
Infamous: First Light
Infamous: Second Son, one of the first big first party exclusives on the PS4, was as fun as the first two games in the series and a great technical showcase for the new console, but it was criticized for its weak story and characters. A few months later First Light was released and it focused on Fetch, who was regarded by some as the most interesting character from the main game.
Whilst it doesn’t improve on Second Son in terms of level design or mission structure, it is a fantastic addition to the Infamous series. Flying and running around Seattle as a super hero rarely gets tedious, and First Light features some of the best third-person gameplay on the market. First Light also saw the debut of the arena game mode in which the player fights wave after wave of increasingly powerful enemies while completing a number of objectives, such as rescuing hostages. The additional mode was challenging, addictive and frequently frustrating but helped supplement the game’s story content.
A lot of the charm of modern Rogue-like style games comes from the combination of art style and simple gameplay with hidden depth. Rogue Legacy is a perfect example of this. For a game so repetitive, it’s surprising that it never gets boring. You enter the castle with the aim of defeating the enemies to get to the boss battles in each of the four areas, all varying in difficulty.
When you inevitably die, you return to the castle entrance, and can spend your hard earned coins on upgrades to help you last longer the next time. Return and repeat until you’re strong enough to beat every boss is the aim of the game. You’ll know every room like the back of your hand by the time you finish. Definitely one of the better games on PlayStation Plus this year and a perfect fit for the PS Vita.
Guacamelee: Super Turbo Championship Edition
Guacamelee has appeared in the PlayStation Plus free line up a number of times over the years, and it is still one of the best to do so. 2015 saw the inclusion of the ultimate version – the Super Turbo Championship Edition.
As a lucho libre given special powers the player is tasked with ridding the world of bad guys in a Metroidvania style platformer. With vibrant colors and unique enemies, Guacamelee offers a wonderful world to explore. The fun story and inventive characters means it offers something different from standard games in the genre.
The addition of new areas, new challenges, and new enemies in the Super Turbo Championship Edition means it is the best version of Guacamelee currently available. It’s also playable on all three PlayStation platforms so it isn’t to be missed.
Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes
The prequel to this year’s The Phantom Pain, Ground Zeroes, is a great introduction to the series for newcomers and helpful for long time fans looking to learn the new mechanics in Metal Gear Solid V. It received some criticism when it was first released with most of the complaints revolving around the initial price and the length of the game. It may not be much more than a demo for the masterpiece that is The Phantom Pain but for those that have not experienced the full MGS V game, Ground Zeroes is a perfect taste of what to expect. It isn’t as open or deep as the full game but it acts as a perfect introduction to the story, characters, and gameplay mechanics that differ so much from previous Metal Gear games.
By tweaking the stealth gameplay and giving players more freedom than in previous Metal Gear games, Kojima and his studio have created a far more modern action adventure that gives players the chance to create their own stories of violence or escape.
It may have been short compared to other titles on this list, but if the price is free, there’s no reason not to go ahead and give it a go. Good gameplay and tense stealth make it worth anyone’s time, not just Metal Gear fans.
Included as part of the PlayStation Plus subscription in early 2015, Transistor is the second game from Supergiant, the studio that brought us Bastion. Instead of going with a more sci-fi/fantasy approach as in Bastion, the studio went with a more direct sci-fi tone where the player dealt with viruses, robots, and chips that were used to alter their abilities and the game. As in Bastion, Transistor kept the focus on the action but added a planning mode called ‘turn’ that allowed the player to freeze time and connect a string of actions that made the isometric action far more strategic.
The protagonist, Red, is a silent heroine who used to be a singer until she lost her voice. Her silence as she moves through the world, interacting with memories, allows the world to speak for itself. Red’s sword, The Transistor, speaks and has an affinity with the world and the protagonist. Transistor is mysterious and daunting at first, but over time you learn about the world by reading notes left behind, or by using specific skills to unlock the memories of those who created them, helping the player defeat the game’s enemies, the Camerata.
The way you play, the things you hear, the words you read, and especially the game’s music all feed into the story, creating an extremely immersive narrative. The soundtrack captures every moment perfectly, from each battle to individual conversations.
It isn’t too long either. At around 7 hours it is easy to play in a few sittings but it has a lot of depth and you cannot help but feel like part of the world.
Geometry Wars 3
Focusing on simple geometry, Geometry Wars 3 is twin-stick shooter that came to PlayStation Plus over the summer. Similar in premise to the classic Super Stardust, Geometry wars 3 tasks the player with clearing levels of enemies, as is the case with most twin-stick games. The game shakes things up for the series by adding new level designs that are 3D models, rather than the standard rectangles of previous games. Each shape has its own attack and moving pattern that puts more pressure on the player as the game progresses.
There was a full adventure mode that featured different level design and boss battles that forced the player to use the world to their advantage. All in all Geometry Wars 3 maintained the same gameplay that fans had fell in love with in the first place. It is certainly more of a development than a recreation.
Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon
One of the best pieces of standalone DLC of the PlayStation 3 generation, Blood Dragon is a brilliant expansion of the Far Cry series. The neon drenched, 80’s inspired aesthetics, dinosaurs, and Far Cry’s signature gameplay come together to create a unique first person shooter.
By focusing on nostalgia and self-aware absurdity rather than a fictional African arms race, Blood Dragon showcases how fun video games can be. It is comical, explosive, and maintains Far Cry 3’s excellent gun play making it a game not to be missed. Yes, it may not be the length of a full Far Cry game and its characters may not be as memorable but as a singular gameplay and visual experience there aren’t many better shooters on the market. We can only hope for something similar to be released for a PlayStation 4 Far Cry game. Maybe Primal will be the full size equivalent.
Being part of PlayStation Plus’ December 2015 update, it is available now.
Another game that is available as part of your PlayStation Plus subscription right now, Freedom Wars is one of the Vita’s best games. It is essentially a Monster Hunter clone with an addictive fight, loot, upgrade, repeat cycle and deep gameplay and customization options. It can be challenging and frustrating but a number of mechanics outside of fighting keep pulling you back so you can whittle down your million year prison sentence.
The story, filled with memorable characters, can be overwhelming and feel unnecessary at times but if you keep up with its pace it can be thoroughly intriguing. Championed by critics and enthusiasts everywhere, Freedom Wars is a vital purchase for any Vita owner and is free right now. The Vita lives!
Were there any PS Plus offerings that you found to be particularly special? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.