Microsoft announced the slate of free November games for Xbox One and Xbox 360 owners with Xbox LIVE subscriptions. The Games with Gold program is giving two smaller indie games for the Xbox One, while the Xbox 360 gets two AAA releases. The catch is November is the month backwards compatibility goes live for the Xbox One.
Pneuma: Breath of Life from Deco Digital is the first Xbox One title that will be free for the month of November. It will be available from the start of the month and is part of the ID@Xbox program to bring indie games to the console. It’s best described as a first-person puzzle game, full of philosophical and existential questions.
The reviews for Pneuma received are mixed, with a 63 Metacritic score. The rating is understandable due to the difficulty of asking esoteric questions about the meaning of life with a game. Beyond that, it was criticized for its relative short length of 2-3 hours, but praised for trying something different and for its beautiful environments created in Unreal Engine 4.
Knight Squad will be brand new to the Xbox One when it hits the Games with Gold program on November 15. It will be available as a free download through December 15, and can best be described as a multiplayer Bomberman meets Gauntlet. It was originally released to Steam in 2014, and is now making the hop to the Xbox.
Reviews for Knight Squad on Steam user review hit the “very positive” category, with more 93 percent currently approving of the game. Chainawesome Games also did itself a favor by including local co-operative play, which makes it a potential couch classic, even if it isn’t a big AAA title.
Speaking of AAA titles, the Xbox 360 is receiving DiRT 3 as a free Games with Gold title from November 1 through November 15, and Dungeon Siege III from November 16 through the end of the month. Meanwhile, the Xbox One is set to receive the New Xbox One Experience update on November 12. This includes backwards compatibility with Xbox 360 titles, and all Games with Gold titles going forward will be backwards compatible. This essentially gives Xbox One owners with Xbox LIVE Gold four free games a month.
DiRT 3 received favorable reviews on Metacritic, with an 87 average review score. The rally racer was originally released in 2011 and received near universal praise for its gameplay and the addition of new features, such as the X-Games-like Gymkhana mode. It received a few negative marks for its overall presentation and lacking social features that were promised.
Finally, Dungeon Siege III is a top-down action role-playing title from Obsidian Entertainment. The 2011 title gives players the option to choose between four heroes with different backstories and comes with a four-player online co-op option. The game received a mixed 72 score on Metacritic where reviewers gave high marks for the gameplay, graphics, and sound design, but knocked the story and lack of variety in environments and loot.
As a reminder, the backwards compatibility that will launch with the New Xbox One Experience on November 12 emulates the Xbox 360 operating system. Players will have access to Xbox LIVE, friends list, multiplayer, and all the other social features available on the last-gen console. Additionally, Xbox One features, such as broadcasting via Twitch, taking screenshots, and recording gameplay, will all be available.
The ability to make Xbox 360 games playable on the Xbox One and make them available for free via Xbox LIVE Gold may turn out to be a strength for the new console. That will be especially critical going into the holiday months, as it continues to compete for console market ownership with Sony’s PlayStation 4.
[Image via Xbox Wire]