4 Games Free for Xbox Live Gold Members in December 2016

Xbox One S and controller

December could be a big month for Xbox Live Gold members | Microsoft

Being an Xbox Live Gold subscriber means you get free games each month. The service costs around $60 per year, but the games are worth far more than that, even if you’re only interested in playing a fraction of them. (If you’re a PlayStation owner, you can check out Sony’s similar service, PlayStation Plus.)

Each month, Microsoft gives away two games apiece for Xbox One and Xbox 360. Thanks to backwards compatibility, you can play all of the Xbox 360 games on your Xbox One, which means Xbox One owners effectively get four free games each month instead of two.

It’s also worth noting that even if you don’t have an Xbox One, you can still redeem your free games either on Xbox.com or your Xbox 360. Then, if you buy an Xbox One in the future, you’ll be able to find those games in your account and download them for free.

Without further ado, here are the free Games with Gold for December 2016. It’s a particularly strong lineup this month, filled with excellent games. It’s a nice way for Microsoft to end the year for its loyal customers.

1. Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition

Platform: Xbox One
Metacritic score: 75
Original price: $30
Available: December 1 – 31

The original Sleeping Dogs came out in 2012 for last-gen systems and offered an open-world version of Hong Kong to explore. The game stars Wei Shen, a detective who’s gone undercover in the city’s extensive world of organized crime. The story has enough twists, turns, and tension to keep you on the edge of your seat, plus solid melee and shooting mechanics. Think of it like an Asian-infused take on Grand Theft Auto.

This version amps up the graphical textures and increases the draw distance, thanks to the Xbox One’s increased horsepower. Also, as is typical for remasters, it includes every piece of downloadable content that was released for the original game. There’s a good chance you didn’t play this game when it came out, so now is a great time to give it a try.

2. Outlast

Platform: Xbox One
Metacritic score: 80
Original price: $20
Available: December 16 – January 15

Listen up, survival horror fans: Outlast has all the scares you need. It drops you in an asylum inhabited by all manner of terrifying creatures and lets you figure out what to do next. Danger and death lurk around every corner in this game. It’s not the longest game, ringing in at about five hours, but it constantly finds new ways to get under your skin during its short run time. And thanks to your lack of any real way to fight back, you’ll spend most of the game running, hiding, and trying to stay alive.

3. Outland

Platform: Xbox 360 and Xbox One
Metacritic score: 84
Original price: $10
Available: December 1 – 15

Not to be confused with Outlast, Outland is a “Metroidvania”-style game that has you explore a vast side-scrolling world, unlocking new abilities that let you reach new areas as you go. Unlike most platformers, Outland lets you change colors from red to blue with the press of a button. The game’s enemies also come in red and blue varieties, and as long as you’re the same color as your foes, you’re immune to their strikes. This mechanic is a lot of fun to play around with, especially when the speed of your encounters ramps up and you have to do some serious quick thinking during tense situations. This is a game that will test your reflexes.

4. Burnout Paradise

Platform: Xbox 360 and Xbox One
Metacritic score: 88
Original price: $15
Available: December 16 – 31

One of the absolute best racing games of the Xbox 360 era was Burnout Paradise, an open-world racer that lets you cruise around a tropical island in awesome machines, dropping into races at your leisure. This 2008 game holds up marvelously well today, even if its core gameplay concepts have been absorbed into (and improved upon by) the Forza Horizon series. But if you’re in the mood for top-notch racing, playing Burnout Paradise for free is a no-brainer.