Everyone loves free games. For this reason, the beginning of each month is an exceptionally exciting time for gamers who subscribe to PlayStation and/or Xbox services. It is at this time that Sony and Microsoft's subscription services roll over and give way to a new batch of downloadable goodies both discounted and free. The free titles on both of these services are often headlined by heavy-hitters of the past year or two and with the announcement of January's offerings, it's looking to be no different.
Beginning with Sony's PlayStation Plus service, the headlining game on PS4 for the first month of 2015 will be the standalone expansion for Sucker Punch's open world superpowered romp, Infamous: Second Son. The expansion - First Light - places players in control of the game's neon-fuelled Fetch as they get insight into her backstory. Considering the immense success of Second Son (check out our review), this is likely to be one of the most exciting free offerings of the month.
In addition to First Light, PS4 users will also be able to pick up the The Swapper. Combining a compelling story with mind-bending puzzles, it's well-deserving of its place as one of 2013's top indie titles. Not to be left out, gamers with a PS3 and PlayStation Plus will have access to Prototype 2 and DuckTales Remastered. On the handheld front, Vita owners can chew bubble gum and download Duke Nukem 3D: Megaton Edition to their heart's content in addition to picking up Woah Dave! from the people behind the BIT.TRIP series.
In contrast to the PlayStation Plus offerings, Microsoft's Games With Gold promotion for Xbox Live Gold subscribers will highlight one of the year's most underrated titles: D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die. Coming from Deadly Premonition director Hidetako Suehiro, Xbox One owners will have a chance to pick up this off-the-wall time-travelling murder mystery for free beginning January 1st.
Xbox 360 users can expect to pick up MX vs. ATV Alive in the first half of January with The Witcher 2 becoming available from January 16th until the end of the month. Having both received favorable reviews, it's safe to say that even Xbox 360 owners should be excited to add this month's offerings to their digital collections. Plus, with The Witcher 3 well on its way to release, there's no better time than now to jump feet-first into CD Projekt RED's incredible RPG series.
Looking at the roster of free releases that will be kicking off the new year, it's clear that gamers are going to have ample opportunity to fill their free time. While it's impossible to compare the two services, its hard to deny the value of these loyalty programs. With nearly eight million subscribers on PlayStation Plus alone, it will be interesting to see how these services continue to grow and evolve in the coming year.
While Nintendo has yet to throw their hat into the ring in a similar capacity, there's no telling what 2015 will hold for the house that Mario built. Their Club Nintendo program has seen success among its users but as time goes on, it would be interesting to see how it could continue to develop to embraces the digital age. With a new year comes new possibilities, so it's anyone's guess as to where Nintendo will take their existing services. If the release of Mewtwo in Super Smash Bros. is any indication, this could be the start of something big for the Big N.
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