Which July 2023 PS Plus Essential games are worth playing?

PlayStation Plus Essential July 2023 games have dropped, and they’re all in very different genres. One of those games is a third-person thriller, another is a small 2.5D survival game, and the last is part of one of the most recognizable franchises in the business. Here’s a roundup of what players can expect for Alan Wake Remastered, Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War, and Endling – Extinction is Forever.

Is Alan Wake Remastered worth repurchasing?

Alan Wake Remastered is technically the oldest game on this list since the original was released in 2010, but it’s also the most beloved of the three. Its successes, however, will not be immediately apparent. While this remaster looks good and has some notable improvements, it’s still a 2010 game at its core. Nor are Alan Wake’s firing mechanics as solid as the Capcom juggernaut it clearly draws inspiration from. Shading an enemy with a flashlight before unloading a shotgun into their chest is new at first, but doesn’t get much more complex over time. At best, combat is often just serviceable.

But its gameplay isn’t the reason it’s always worth experimenting with. Alan Wake’s storytelling has aged well and demonstrates why Remedy Entertainment titles are still coveted today. Wake’s clever monologues demonstrate just how strong the Remedy writers are while reinforcing that Alan Wake himself is a talented writer. Reading scripts that foreshadow future events seems to spoil the best moments, but it manages to build suspense and add even more tension. Like Twin Peaks and the Stephen King novels it’s based on, the plot thrives on mystery and throws the player on a loop, so it all fits together incredibly well.

It’s a well-told story with memorable characters that somehow came together despite a rocky, lengthy development cycle (it was meant to be open-world and took about six years to complete). There’s a reason sequel requests have persisted for over a decade and it all starts here in this remaster.

Alan Wake Remastered is also coming to PlayStation Plus at the perfect time. The highly anticipated sequel drops on October 17, giving players plenty of time to get through this remaster and Control. Control may not seem tied, but its second expansion dives into Alan Wake and ties everything together. Control: Ultimate Edition was included in all three PlayStation Plus games in February 2021 and is also currently part of PlayStation Plus Extra, meaning Sony has given gamers plenty of ways to prepare for Alan Wake 2.

How does Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War hold up in 2023?

Call of Duty’s annual releases have made it difficult to pull off a single entry, and Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War is no different. He was neither panned nor considered one of the best in the series, as evidenced by his average score of 75.

Either way, it’s a decent shooter with a brief campaign well enough produced to go all the way. The gunplay remains tight, if familiar, and is the glue that holds the expensive thrill ride together. The thrill ride repeats many of the same notes, like stealth sniper level and Vietnam War level, but they’re pretty well done here. There’s also even a mostly non-combat section that allows the player to infiltrate the KGB headquarters and another frenetic map that takes place on a Soviet training center inspired by a stereotypical American city, showing that the game has more new ideas. While its more trippy sections reminiscent of the original Black Ops are spotty, it’s a generally well-made shooter that sits squarely in the middle of the Call of Duty games tier list.

The zombies and multiplayer modes are also fairly typical and both dive into the series’ past. Zombies allow players to unlock pieces of a map and survive as long as possible – something Vanguard has moved away from – and is more akin to previous Treyarch games. It was also widely criticized for only having one card at launch, but that complaint has evaporated over time as it now has four.

Competitive multiplayer, which also got its share of free post-launch maps, removes ultimate abilities and operators and brings back a longer kill time. With these reversals and the zombies mode following a more traditional structure, both are safe yet still engaging takes on the Call of Duty formula that stand out just enough from last-gen’s futuristic entries and Infinity Ward’s Modern Warfare titles. Familiarity can only carry a game so far, which makes Cold War a worthy PlayStation Plus title worth exploring casually.

What is Endling – Extinction is Forever?

Endling – Extinction is Forever is the spiritual opposite of Call of Duty as it is a 2.5D survival game starring a fox and has no sequel. It was relatively well received when it launched in 2022, earning an average rating of 79.

And while it sounds like an emotionally charged platformer in the vein of Limbo, it’s more of a survival game as players are tasked with protecting their young and finding enough food for them. It also doesn’t end when one of them dies, so players are forced to explore different paths and keep them alive, which adds a fair amount of tension.

His narrative also has an overt message for players to digest, something rather refreshing after Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War and its muddy morals. Endling isn’t the most conventional title of the three, but its unique qualities (along with a relatively quick and easy Platinum Trophy) are exactly why it’s worth a try.

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