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Gaming: Mars and Lovecraft mingle in Moons of Madness; Morrowind for free; more

By Benjamin Bullard
Moons of Madness cosmic horror game

If everything sci-fi has taught us about Mars is right, getting stranded there is pretty much one big, inadvisable ticket to hard times. But Moons of Madness, a just-announced game set in Funcom’s Secret World Legends universe, isn’t content to saddle you with the task of merely surviving on the Red Planet: It also wants to drag you into a space-tinged version of H.P. Lovecraft’s darkest horrors.

Funcom and Rock Pocket Games revealed Moons of Madness this week with a new trailer that starts out as a straight maintenance mission before veering into insanely creepy territory. Sent to Mars to fix an out-of-whack life support system while waiting for a signal from your science lab’s missing research team, your technician begins seeing reality-defying visions that make home feel far more distant than 34 million miles of cold, dead space ever could:

Speaking of cold, dead space, Moons of Madness looks like it shares more than a passing thematic kinship with creepy space games like Alien: Isolation, Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, and well, Dead Space. Funcom calls it a “cosmic horror game where the scientific exploration of Mars meets the supernatural dread of Lovecraft,” and teases a deeper discovery, as you progress, of what really lies beneath all those isolated supernatural scares.

Well-timed to release this Halloween, Moons of Madness is coming to PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.

Something old and something new: The Elder Scrolls is offering up some killer freebies on two fronts this week, in commemoration of the franchise’s 25th anniversary. 

First off, from now through March 31, Bethesda is giving away completely free PC versions of Morrowind, the iconic third installment in the Elder Scrolls series that set a new standard for western-made RPGs when it released to near-universal acclaim back in 2002. Head to Bethesda’s announcement page, while there’s still time, for complete instructions on how to book your expenses-paid return visit to Vvardenfell. 

If it’s something more recent you’re after, then there’s never been a better time to dive into The Elder Scrolls Online’s massive Tamriel time sink. Also in conjunction with the franchise’s anniversary promotion, Bethesda is welcoming new players to pick up the base game for free from March 28 until April 3. 

Bethesda also teased the arrival of The Elder Scrolls Online: Elsweyr, the huge new DLC story that expands the game into the Khajiiti province of Elsweyr while introducing — for the first time — the dragons that rained fire (and shouts) onto Skyrim. Set to arrive on June 4, Elsweyr marks the third major story expansion since The Elder Scrolls Online debuted in 2014. Check out the all-new preview clip below:

Finally, Final Fantasy — and in the case of Final Fantasy XV, we mean that literally. Following two years of revisions, story updates and timed events that have vastly expanded on what Square Enix originally offered with the 2016 base game, the very last piece of FFXV story DLC has landed to put a final bow on the whole package. 

At least the game is going out on a high note. Episode Ardyn, the fourth and final character-focused DLC pack, dives into the dire backstory behind Ardyn Izunia, the game’s main antagonist and fan-favorite stealth anti-hero. Although he technically ended up “winning” the main game by putting hero Noctis exactly where he wanted, fans have long clamored for the chance to step into Ardyn’s role and explore his tragic past from his point of view — and that’s exactly what Episode Ardyn does.

Square Enix released a trailer alongside Episode Ardyn’s debut, which you can check out below:

In an unrelated but equally cool bit of Final Fantasy news, you can finally take down the Shinra Electric Power Company on both the Xbox One and Nintendo Switch. Yep, Final Fantasy VII has at last arrived to the two remaining current-gen console holdouts where it was previously unavailable, and it comes with a small handful of enhancements — including a 3X speed mode, the ability to avoid random encounters, and a feature that lets you skip all the level grinding by playing with maxed-out stats.

To get the lowdown on how to download the game for your console, visit Square Enix’s Final Fantasy VII page…and then get ready to shed those tears all over again, when Aeris comes face to face with her unavoidable destiny.