The nature of any subscription service is that not all months are created equal. That said, I think we can all agree that the September offering on PC Game Pass is a banger. There's always value to be found in the huge catalog, but it's not every month that it treats us with such a varied line-up of brand new releases (including not one but two highly-anticipated RPGs available immediately at launch). Unsurprisingly, those are the focus of our latest overview, but I've also sought out some gems for the more intrepid gamer.
Leading this month's line-up is the big one, the space opera, the galactic RPG that marks Bethesda's first new IP in over 25 years. Starfield is an open-world (or, well, open-galaxy) RPG in the classic Bethesda mold, and it's truly vast.
After finding a mysterious artefact that makes you trip out Space Odyssey-style, you're tasked with tracking down more of them all over the galaxy. But this being a Bethesda RPG, you can basically ditch that and do whatever you like. Become a smuggler in a cyberpunk city, ferrying illicit goods to save up for that sweet penthouse, get involved in corporate spying and espionage, or shoot off to one of 1000 planets and build an outpost light years away from space pirates, corporations, and other nuisances.
The galaxy is at your fingertips (as is a growing cosmos of mods), and the choice is yours.
People don't seem to go on about it as much as the CoDs and the Sieges, but in the decade since its release Payday 2 has consistently been one of the most popular online shooters out there. Now it's time for the next chapter, as the Payday Gang get back together to perform audacious heists around the US of A.
As before, Payday 3 is a co-op game where up to four players plan and then execute heists in art galleries, banks, and other high-security institutions. More tools at your gang's disposal means more opportunities to plan a stealthy approach. Hey, maybe not all of your heists will end in a massive shootout with the cops this time (as if that wasn't exactly what you wanted to happen).
Lies of P
'Pinocchio by way of Bloodborne' is the description doing the rounds for this dark action-RPG, which casts you as an eerily humanoid Pinocchio in a stricken steampunk city. The devs openly call it a 'Soulslike,' so brace yourself for high difficulty, combat based around precise timing and stamina management, and deaths aplenty. Dying in Lies of P sees you beamed back to the last
Bonfire Stargazer, then trekking back to your corpse to retrieve your dropped Souls Ergo.
But while some ideas here are Souls-interchangeable, Lies of P also does its own thing. It has an interesting system of combining weapons with different handles, allowing for huge build variety, and true to the source material the story will be shaped by your lies (or truths) at key junctures.
Quake II Enhanced Edition
Master of remasters Nightdive Studios has delivered another surprise here, with an impressive overhaul for one of the greatest PC shooters of all time.
Porting Quake 2 to their KEX Engine, Nightdive has not only lifted the visuals of the original with improved lighting, shadows, and resolutions, but improved little things like enemy AI to combat that bit more dynamic. You can play the entire thing in co-op splitscreen or online, or tussle in the old-school competitive modes. They've even thrown in the N64 version for good measure, and Wolfenstein dev MachineGames has chipped in with its own 28-level campaign.
It's a real treat for old-timer FPS fans, and the best way for curious gaming historians to enjoy an all-time classic.
Sea of Stars
From a Field of Stars to Sea of Stars (yes, terrible, I know), we arrive at this beautiful throwback JRPG inspired by the legendary Chrono Trigger. You take control of two Children of the Moon, Valere and Zale, whose celestial powers are the only thing capable of foiling the world-shattering schemes of a mad alchemist known as Fleshmancer.
In classic JRPG fashion, you traverse the world via a gorgeous overworld map, get joined by quirky companions along the way, and engage in deceptively deep turn-based combat. With a lovely 16-bit aesthetic and poignant writing, Sea of Stars takes inspo from greats of the past while modernising them in all the right places.
So yes, September. A lot of gaming to get done. Better get to it.
PC Game Pass is available via xbox.com.