The best demos, betas, and free-play games you can try this weekend
Gaming can be a notoriously expensive hobby if you indulge the impulse to play all the latest and greatest games. It doesn’t have to be, though! These days there is a wide range of new betas, demos, and free game trials available every week. If you’re looking for something new to play, but don’t want to commit, we have a list of the best demos, betas, and free games that you can try out this weekend.
Ubisoft’s For Honor some of us when it launched earlier this year with its truly unique sword fighting mechanics. The complex control scheme and the methodical requirement to succeed in battle may not be for everyone, but it’s certainly a game we recommend trying out. This weekend, you can do just that, as Ubisoft will hold a free weekend for PS4, Xbox One, and PC.
PS4 and Xbox One owners can take advantage of the free trial from 12:01 a.m. PT August 10 to 4:59 p.m. August 14. The PC trial starts at the same time, but ends at 1 p.m. PT August 13. If you’re playing on PS4 or PC, you can pre-load the game starting at 9 p.m. PT August 7.
If you get For Honor bug, the game will be available for 50 percent off on all platforms during and after the free weekend. The discount runs until August 21 on Xbox One and PS4, and August 15 on PC. Any progress made during the free trial will transfer to the full game.
NBA Live 18 demo (PlayStation 4, Xbox One)
After taking a year off, EA Sports’ NBA Live franchise returns September 15 with NBA Live 18. In an effort to maybe sway some NBA 2K fans, an NBA Live 18 demo will be available starting August 11 for PlayStation Plus and Xbox Live subscribers.
Most notably, the demo will take players through the prologue of NBA Live 18‘s career mode dubbed The One. Users will have the chance to create a player and develop him leading up to the NBA draft.
For players who simply want to see how traditional 5-on-5 basketball plays in NBA Live 18, the demo will feature a rematch of the last three NBA Finals, pitting the Cleveland Cavaliers against the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena.
If you like what you play, all progress made in story mode will transfer to the full game. Also, those who pre-order NBA Live 18 from Amazon, GameStop, Best Buy, Target, Toys “R” Us, or Walmart will receive 33 percent off at launch ($40 instead of $60). The offer extends to digital copies pre-ordered through the PlayStation or Xbox Games Stores.
Yes, you need a copy of Overwatch to enjoy this promotion, but whether you’re an avid player or left the game behind months ago, the return of the Summer Games event is a reason to put some time in with the game this week. Overwatch‘s summer event, which is already underway, brings back “Lucioball,” Overwatch‘s take on soccer, and introduces a fun, limited-time assortment of beachy skins.
The return of the Summer Games event comes after a year of faithful players asking Blizzard for Lucioball to become a permanent fixture in the multiplayer shooter. While it doesn’t seem like Blizzard has any plans to do that, the three week event should not be missed by anyone who has dabbled in Overwatch. And if you haven’t played Blizzard’s exceedingly popular shooter, perhaps now’s the time to give it a go.
Overwatch is available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.
Path of Exile new expansion (PC)
Grinding Gear Games’ free-to-play online action-RPG Path of Exile has received consistent content updates and expansions since its launch in 2013. We’re bringing it up this week because its latest expansion, The Fall of Oriath, launched August 4 on Steam. The Fall of Oriath represents the biggest expansion for Path of Exile to date, as it adds six new story acts, new support gems and skills, along with a slew of new items.
Along with gaining access to the new expansion, now’s a great time to dip your toes into Path of Exile, as it currently falls behind only Dota 2 in terms of concurrent players in free-to-play titles.
An Xbox One version of Path of Exile is slated for later this year, with a closed beta beginning soon. You can sign up for a chance to take part in the beta here.
Guild Wars 2: Path of Fire preview (PC)
Guild Wars 2 went free-to-play in 2015, but developer ArenaNet still sells premium expansions, which require a separate purchase. The developer is giving fans a chance to try the game’s upcoming premium expansion for Guild Wars 2, called Path of Fire, for free from August 11 through August 13.
If you haven’t played Guild Wars 2 before, you can register here to jump into the basic version of the MMORPG now. The first part of Path of Fire‘s story will be open, and players will also have the opportunity to explore the new Crystal Oasis map.
Guild Wars 2: Path of Fire launches September 22.
Dreadnought open beta (PlayStation 4)
Dreadnought, from the studio that made Spec Ops: The Line, has been in development for a number of years. We previewed it way back at E3 2014. The class-based competitive multiplayer game puts you in control of a large spaceship to battle it out against other spaceships across space battlefields. While a firm release date has not been set, a PS4 open beta launched on August 2 and runs until further notice.
In the beta, players can compete across eight maps. Beta players will also get to try out the PS4-exclusive game mode Havoc, along with receiving an advanced ship, Hactar Hero, for free to carry over into the release version of Dreadnought.
Dreadnought will be available on both PS4 and PC when it comes out. There is no official release date for the game at this time.
Four new games are available through Games with Gold throughout August.
Xbox One owners can check out Slime Rancher, a first person, sandbox experience in which players take the role of Beatrix LeBeau, a young wrangler tasked to collect as many slimes as possible. Previously, Slime Rancher was only available via Early Access on Steam. With the full game now complete, Xbox Live subscribers have the chance to pick it up for free throughout its launch month.
From August 1 through August 15, both Xbox One and Xbox 360 owners can pick up Bayonetta, the stylish action title from the mind of Hideki Kamiya.
Starting August 16, Xbox One owners can download Trials Fusion, an addictive physics platformer, and both Xbox One and Xbox 360 owners will be able to download 2011 third person shooter Red Faction: Armageddon.
If you missed out on July’s free games, the racing platformer Runbow remains free to download till August 16.
August’s PS Plus lineup follows up the strong July offerings with both AAA and indie titles. The 2015 open-world destruction game Just Cause 3 is available for PS4 owners. Although Just Cause 3 has some performances issues, there’s still plenty of fun to be had.
Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag‘s standalone expansion, Freedom Cry, is also up for grabs on PS4. Freedom Cry stars Black Flag protagonist Edward Kenway’s pal Adewale. It takes place after Black Flag, but can still be enjoyed without preexisting knowledge.
PlayStation Vita and PS4 owners can download the devastatingly challenging platformer Downwell. Vita owners can also nab Level 22, a retro adventure game that chronicles one brave man’s drunken journey back to his office desk.
PS3 players can pick up Super Motherload and Snakeball, a science fiction adventure with Terraria-esque mechanics and a sports game, respectively.