To celebrate its 20th anniversary, Arkane Studios is giving away its very first game, Arx Fatalis, for free on PC. There is a bit of a catch to redeeming the offer, and you only have until the end of the month to grab it, but if you're a fan of Arkane's later releases like Dishonored and Prey, it's worth checking out how the studio's ethos began.
You'll need a Bethesda.net login in order to claim your free copy of Arx Fatalis, as Arkane and its parent company have launched an Arkane Outsiders program (similar to Doom's Slayers Club) that uses the account. The free game can only be claimed until May 31, but anyone who signs up to Arkane Outsiders now or after the month ends will also receive a free digital artbook.
Released in 2002 for the PC and the original Xbox, Arx Fatalis is a first-person fantasy RPG with a dedication to layered systems—spellcasting, stealth, crafting, etcetera—that received plenty of praise in its time, and which is clearly of a similar spirit as Arkane's more recent games. Arx Fatalis isn't yet amongst the list of original Xbox games that work with Xbox One backward compatibility, and it was never officially brought to other platforms. So, you may as well claim it for free on PC now, as that's your best bet for experiencing it.
Arkane is promising some behind-the-scenes looks at its catalogue of titles and developer Q&As in the coming days as part of this anniversary celebration, but there's already a new and lengthy look at the studio's history you can watch right now. Earlier this week, Noclip released "The Untold History of Arkane," a documentary that both explores Arkane's memorable success and its quietly canceled projects, including a standalone Half-Life game set in Ravenholm.
As part of these anniversary celebrations, it'd be neat to see more of Deathloop, Arkane's upcoming first-person action game, but we may just have to keep being patient. Given that it was announced at E3 last year you might hope Deathloop will pop up again at one of the various digital events happening this summer, but Bethesda has already confirmed it is not planning a showcase for June. It's possible we could see something at an event planned by Microsoft or Sony, but hey, playing Arx Fatalis might be a good way to pass the time until Bethesda and Arkane are ready to wow us.