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The Walking Dead Season 2 finale hits next week

The fifth and final episode of The Walking Dead Season Two launches for PC, Mac, PS3 and Vita on August 26 in North America, and then on Xbox 360 on August 27. Episode five hits iOS on August 28 as an in-app purchase.

Episode five is titled "No Going Back" and it wraps up all of the bone-chilling insanity within Season Two so far. The trailer released today contains spoilers for seasons one and two of The Walking Dead, though Telltale promises no spoilers for episode five itself. It does, however, contain a heartbreaking home video of Clementine before the outbreak. Grab some tissues and see the trailer below.

If you've been playing along this season, read our reviews of each episode under the Walking Dead home page. Episode four's review can be found here.

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Report: Free Play Days appear in Xbox One preview program

Microsoft has a new promotion in store for Xbox Live Gold subscribers dubbed "Free Play Days," assuming a screenshot captured by Reddit users under the Xbox One preview program can be taken at face value.

Redditor JBurton90 posted the above image to the online discussion hub last night. It appears to depict Xbox One game Max: The Curse of Brotherhood, only the cutesy platformer bears the words "Free Play Day With Gold" in place of a price tag. Nearby, Crimson Dragon and Strike Suit Zero: Director's Cut are also listed as "free" for Xbox Live Gold subscribers owing to the ongoing and well-known Games With Gold promotion - the same promotion that offered Max: The Curse of Brotherhood to Gold subscribers at no charge just last month.

Though it's unclear exactly what the Free Play Day promotion entails or when it will officially launch for members of the general public, it seems pretty self-explanatory. Presumably, Xbox Live Gold members will be granted one day to play games available as digital downloads through the Xbox Live Marketplace at no charge. Microsoft has yet to officially acknowledge the promotion, though a recent tweet from Xbox Support confirms the validity of this report and claims that the company will offer more information shortly.
[Image: Reddit]

In the garden of Eden Hazard, don't you know that I love FIFA 15?

Belgium and Chelsea superstar Eden Hazard is the new face-next-to-Messi's-face for FIFA 15, at least in the UK, Ireland, Belgium, France and the Netherlands. Voted the best young player in the English Premier League last year, Hazard is also a less hazardous proposition to have on the cover than last year's choice, Gareth Bale. If you'll remember, Bale left for Real Madrid after appearing on the FIFA 14 cover in a Tottenham shirt, leaving EA Sports in a bit of a pickle. No such fun, sadly, is on the cards for Hazard this year.

To see the full box art, dribble below the break and remember to wipe.

EA's sportsball sim will once again grace a myriad of platforms starting September 23 in North America. Three days later it'll come to Europe, where Microsoft's once again offering it as part of a Xbox One bundle, priced 400 euros or £350.

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Elder Scrolls Online introduces subscriber loyalty program

ZeniMax has just announced a subscriber loyalty program for Elder Scrolls Online that is slated to start in September. If you're eligible, you'll receive an email and subsequently a High Hrothgar Wraith vanity pet provided that you've been subscribed for three months.

"The loyalty program will keep expanding over time," ZeniMax says, and you'll be able to collect pets and other upcoming rewards once you meet the requirements, so don't worry if you've canceled your sub already but plan to return.

Amazon: Wii U game pre-orders up following Gamescom

With all the news that surfaced last week during Gamescom, it makes sense that video game pre-orders would increase at retailers like Amazon. As it turns out, the biggest winner coming away from the show is Nintendo, as Wii U games saw the biggest boost in pre-orders on Amazon (8.67 percent). By comparison, pre-orders for PS4 games rose 5.16 percent and Xbox One games increased 2.81 percent.

The largest increase for a single game was 42.3 percent for Slightly Mad Studios' Project Cars. Bandai Namco announced a limited edition version of the game last week, which likely spurred new pre-orders. Rounding out the top five are Rise of the Tomb Raider (30.25 percent), Bloodborne (16.08 percent), Hyrule Warriors (11.77 percent) and Quantum Break (10.77 percent). You'll find the full list of the top ten games whose pre-orders increased on Amazon after the break, courtesy of MCV.

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New Nintendo eShop releases: Mega Man 6, Blazblue Clone Phantasma

Mega Mega Mega Man, he's up on the eff- okay, yes, that's the Mega Man 2 theme a la Brentalfloss, but he's not done one for Mega Man 6, the NES platformer out on Wii U Virtual Console this week. Of course, in the musical maestro's opinion Mega Man 6 is "okay." How's that for a recommendation? At least it's better than 7, we almost hear him sing. Oh, also on Wii U Virtual Console this week is Gradius spin-off Life Force, if you're looking for something retro in a more co-op flavor.

Meanwhile, with Disney Infinity 2.0 still out of reach, Nintendo's getting things simmering by bringing OG Disney Infinity to the eShop for the first time, for free. You'll still need a physical figure and base to play it, though. As for the 3DS, we reckon top dog this week is Blazblue Clone Phantasma. Nope, not Blazblue Chrono Phantasma, but a 3D action game spinoff of the fighter series. The cast of characters are still there but hyper-deformed and cute, even if they're still beating the bejeezus out of each other.

As always, you'll find the full list of new releases past the break. Sales-wise there are nine new discounts starting this week, which we'd say qualifies as plenty. We refer you to The Big N's press release for the full list, but we like the look of a third off Aeternoblade at $10 and Chasing Aurora half-price at $4.

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UK game devs start to claim 'culturally British' tax breaks

Developers across the UK are donning their Union Jack dresses and piling up on their tea stocks, now that they claim the long-campaigned for "culturally British" tax breaks. We jest of course, but as of this week, qualifying studios are able to claim up to 25 percent on 80 percent of their production costs, a huge change that trade association TIGA believes will lead to £188 million (around $312 million) in additional investment into the national games industry over the next five years.

The still bizarre fulcrum in all this is the Cultural Test itself, which was a sticking point for the European Commission who sees it as vital to the aid. As the EU Commission put it in March, "the proposed cultural test ensures that the aid supports only games with cultural content without leading to undue distortions of competition."

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Final Fantasy Explorers plants its flag in Japan this December

If you live in Japan you can grab your backpacks and lead the way in upcoming 3DS co-op RPG Final Fantasy Explorers. Vámonos indeed because as Jump revealed (via Gematsu), it's only a few months before the game hits retail shelves there on December 18.

Continuing the Crystal Chronicles vibe, Final Fantasy Explorers lets up to four adventurers combine forces in quest-driven action. Players take on classic series jobs like Knight, Monk; Black and White Mage; and as this week's Famitsu reveals, Paladin and Hunter. Just as familiar are the summons players do battle against, including the likes of Ifrit and Shiva.

Final Fantasy Explorers remains unconfirmed for Western release, though US and Euro trademarks suggest a voyage across the oceans is on the cards. For now, make you own trek below the break to see three new vids showcasing the Monk, Knight and Black Mage.

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Minecraft PS4 fails certification as August creeps to a close

It's looking unlikely Minecraft will meets its August release window on PS4 after it failed Sony's certification tests. So it's back to the fixing board for 4J Studios, and the team will have to re-submit the game for certification before it can be released.

4J's been busy fixing issues and squishing bugs throughout the month, and not just in the PS4 version but in the upcoming Xbox One and Vita releases too. We've reached out to the studio to confirm a delay, and whether that'll affect just the PS4 version or other platforms too. All three ports are currently due for release this month.

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Microsoft abruptly removes Ascend: Hand of Kul from Xbox 360

Free-to-play action-RPG Ascend: Hand of Kul is no longer available on the Xbox 360 after Microsoft discontinued it this week, apparently without informing developer Signal Studios beforehand. In what's seemingly less a case of "So long, farewell" and more Jazzy Jeff leaving the Fresh Prince's house, Signal Studios said the news only surfaced when the team was investigating player troubles from the weekend.

"We are deeply saddened by this decision and the impact it has on our community," Signal Studios said on its site while urging players towards the Steam version released in May. The studio didn't note what Microsoft's reasoning was behind the decision, and when we approached the publisher a spokesperson told us Microsoft had "no further comment."

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Puyo Puyo Tetris to drop onto PS4, Xbox One in Japan

Puyo Puyo Tetris, a combination of two venerable rival puzzle games that just makes sense to us, is coming to Xbox One and PS4. After bringing the blocky-blobby hybrid to Wii U, PS3, Vita and 3DS earlier this year, Sega announced it's dropping the two new ports onto Japan's retail shelves on December 4.

While Ubisoft's busy pumping Tetris Ultimate onto any system in sight, it seems unlikely we'll see Sega transition Puyo Puyo Tetris onto Western systems given Puyo Puyo's limited penetration outside of Japan. Then again, we live in a time where Sega's releasing Hatsune Miku games across the globe, so who knows?

To see how the game works, check out our lowdown from last year's Tokyo Game Show.
[Image: Sega]

Yoshida: 'I hope' Tomb Raider will come to PS4

During its Gamescom press conference, Microsoft announced that Rise of the Tomb Raider would launch exclusively on Xbox platforms in holiday 2015. This came as a surprise to President of Sony Worldwide Studios Shuhei Yoshida, he said in an interview with Eurogamer.

"It's very interesting the way Phil Spencer said, what we are saying is, in holiday 2015 Tomb Raider is exclusive to Xbox," he said. "So it's open to interpretation. But still, we didn't anticipate something like this would happen."

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PES 2015's pre-order bonuses build your team of the year

Those that pre-order Pro Evolution Soccer 2015 in the UK will receive some bonus goodies, Konami revealed. The pre-order exclusives are for the game's new My Club mode, which stands as an overhauled version of the series' Master League management mode. My Club brings microtransactions to the soccer sim as well, which is where the pre-order bonuses come in.

The exclusive pre-order content was "built around the UEFA Team Of The Year," Konami told Joystiq in an email. The bonuses include "10,000 Game Points, 10 Recovery Items to assist the fitness of the squad, and one player picked at random from the team voted by over 5 million people on UEFA.com." Pro Evolution Soccer 2015 is the first in the series for PS4 and Xbox One, and will launch on November 13. A demo of the game will be available on September 17 for each of its platforms: Xbox One, PS4, PC, Xbox 360 and PS3.

The Elder Scrolls Online plans 4v4 arenas, veteran rewards

ESO
In a fresh entry on The Elder Scrolls Online's official site, Game Director Matt Firor has penned the latest Road Ahead update, in which he discusses the game's recent patch as well as what's in store for players next month. Of note, Firor says ZeniMax aims to make combat "more responsive," push out new Craglorn content, complete the last trial in the constellation storyline, and introduce a new 4v4 PvE arena. Work on the champion system, which revamps the MMO's character development and customization mechanics, continues; in fact, ZeniMax implores players to help test the inbound content on the public test server.

The team plans to formally announce a loyalty program later this week; it's expected to dole out traditional MMO veteran rewards like minipets.

Borderlands 2 free Steam weekend, Pre-Sequel up for pre-purchase

Want a fresh world to explore? If you haven't already entered the insanity that is Borderlands 2, this weekend represents your best bet. Beginning today and until Sunday at 1pm PT, the game is available to play for free on Steam.

As part of the promotion, Borderlands 2 and its content are currently on sale for up to 75% off. You can grab the single game, sans DLC, for $4.99 or double down for $9.99 and nab the Game of the Year Edition, featuring bonus content.

If you're a forward thinking player, this week Steam has opened pre-orders up for the next installment in the series, Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel. Launching October 14, The Pre-Sequel is coming to PC, Xbox 360 and PS3.

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The Joystiq Podcast

The Joystiq Podcast

Super Joystiq Podcast Special: Gamescom 2014 Day 5

Latest episode: Friday, August 15th, 2014

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