Xbox Game Pass Is The Best Thing That Ever Happened To Gaming
I’m writing this on my day off because I’m currently waiting for exactly 30 games to install on my Xbox Series X, and I’m astonished. I know that I won’t have space for all of these games, which means I’m going to have to cancel a few downloads. But how am I supposed to choose which ones? I’ve wanted to replay Fable 2 for ten years but had no console to do it on. I just finished Yakuza 0 last month and have been excited to dive into Kiwami. I’m always hearing about how Titanfall 2 is the best shooter ever made, and now I can finally verify that for myself.
I mean, The Witcher 3, one of the best and most expansive open-world RPGs ever made, is on Game Pass. The entire Mass Effect trilogy is here, as well as Andromeda. We’ve got Dragon Age, Halo, Gears of War, Fallout: New Vegas, Dead Space, Destiny 2, Sea of Thieves – how on earth are all of these games included in one affordable bundle? It’s $14.99 a month for Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, which includes access to over 100 games and comes with full online support. That’s less than a quarter of the price of a single triple-A game now – also, all first-party Microsoft games are launching on Game Pass day one from here on out.
The best part about all of this is that Game Pass isn’t just stacked with triple-A blockbusters. The first game I installed was Monster Train, purely because I love Slay the Spire (which is also on Game Pass – ridiculous, right?). Now I can finally dive into Outer Wilds, a game I’ve heard nothing but praise about from my friends. I’m excited to try Hollow Knight, too – as an Ori superfan, I’m pretty stoked at the idea of being able to sit down with its main competitor.
Oh, both Ori games are here too, by the way. I’ve got them installing alongside Kingdom Hearts and Final Fantasy 7, both of which I’ve never played before.
For what it’s worth, I already have Game Pass on PC, and have been using it for quite a while now. I don’t think it’s capable of capturing the sheer depth of this service in that version. When you’re interacting with Game Pass via an actual console interface, where you can see all of the games landing on your home screen, fully installed and ready to go, with 20 more in the queue and an entire library left to browse, the full effect really hits home. To be honest, it reminds me of tentatively heading up to the counter at GameStop to check how much store credit I could get for all of my old games. 30 quid? Nice one, let’s browse the secondhand section – maybe we’ll spend 20 on a well-known game, and ration the remaining tenner out on some smaller titles that look interesting. In a couple of weeks’ time, we can return the ones that didn’t click with us and use that store credit to try something new, and so the cycle repeats itself (or at least it used to…).
I found some of my favourite games of all time this way. I remember buying The Witcher 2, a game I had never heard of, for exactly 32 euro back in 2011. Fast forward ten years and The Witcher is now my favourite series across both games and books. It’s funny to think about how that probably wouldn’t be the case if I hadn’t rooted a bunch of obscure old games out of the back of a drawer and dropped them in front of a GameStop clerk to get a totally arbitrary figure shouted back at me.
Game Pass captures the same magic of secondhand browsing, the conscious act of scrolling through everything on offer and having to choose something. It’s almost a game in and of itself – I’m certainly the kind of person who would gladly spend two hours optimizing my installations by taking time-to-complete, file size, and intertextuality between downloads into account. You could make a version of this argument for any digital storefront, mind, but it’s not the same. Browsing the PS Store is like looking at GameStop’s top ten – cool games, lots of money. Because Game Pass is paid for monthly, you’ve got the same background as being armed with store credit and perusing used games – this is further accentuated by the fact that Game Pass doesn’t discriminate against older titles, offering you a chance to catch up on things you might have missed. I’ve got Yakuza 3 downloading at the minute, and that came out in 2009. I’ve literally got Brutal Legend installing. I can’t believe that, 12 years later, I’m somehow able to clobber demonic overlords on a current-gen console as Jack Black wielding a Flying V battleaxe.
I know you’ve probably heard about Game Pass left and right since it launched, but I can’t overstate how incredible it is. From the nostalgia of flitting between secondhand games to the fact that repeatedly scrolling through the options is enjoyable in and of itself, to the sheer value for money you’re getting, I think Game Pass is hands down the best games service ever created. To put that into perspective, I took a break while writing this to make some coffee. While I was doing that, I told my brother what I was writing about, scrolled through my downloads to demonstrate how fantastic Game Pass is, and dropped the tin of instant coffee all over the floor, which I then furiously hoovered while shouting, “Yakuza! Yakuza!”
Anyway, I’m off to enjoy the rest of my weekend. Maybe I’ll find something that clicks with me the way The Witcher 2 did all those years ago and find a whole new series to fall in love with. I mean, it’s inevitable really – with this much on offer, Game Pass truly has something for everyone.
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Cian Maher is the Lead Features Editor at TheGamer. He’s also had work published in The Guardian, The Washington Post, The Verge, Vice, Wired, and more. You can find him on Twitter @cianmaher0.
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