Since picking up an Xbox One X – and signing up for Game Pass Ultimate on the same day – I’ve written a few articles covering what I’ve been playing via Game Pass. Here’s the latest update on what’s been keeping me busy for free*.

Forza Horizon 4


I’m still showing no signs of fatigue with Forza Horizon 4, even though I’m limiting myself to the beautifully realised Lego Valley. Perhaps it’s the slightly less intimidating scale that’s kept me in the DLC area (which, it must be noted, isn’t included in Game Pass – so me including Forza Horizon 4 in this roundup is perhaps cheating a little), but regardless there’s always a ton of stuff to do and I’m still unlocking extra activities after all this time (alien plants to discover when it’s raining, for example). It’ll be amazing when I do finally go back into the ‘real’ Forza world and discover just how much there is left to do there…

Downwell


A PC Game Pass offering, Downwell is a ridiculously compelling little game that I’d first discovered on mobile. Dropping down a procedurally generated well, with the aim of reaching the exit at the bottom, your character has limited ammo to shoot downwards at enemies (many of which can also be stomped, in the usual video game logic fashion) – but this recharges when you land on solid ground. With a massive variety of enemy types – some of which are pretty deadly and can’t be touched, let alone stomped – and numerous power ups to either find or buy at shops that you discover on your rapid descent, there’s a surprising amount to keep you coming back to Downwell, despite its very basic look. As there are lots of abilities to be unlocked, you’ll keep coming back – but be warned, it does put up quite a stiff challenge!

Human Fall Flat

I’m not new to the charms of Human Fall Flat, having played it on PC quite a bit a few years back, but I played it via Game Pass for the first time this week. I’d forgotten how hilarious it was. It’s brilliant fun, with some wonderfully stylish visual design, but the deliberately clumsy, physics-based control of your chubby little character can frustrate as well as amuse. It’s fun, but some of the puzzles require some serious commitment to overcome. Absolutely brilliant in co-op mode too.

The Outer Worlds

I’m still pretty blown away that this came to Game Pass on day one – and, given the cost of buying it new, is clear justification for many people to get Game Pass on its own (especially as the first two months of Game Pass are £1/$1 each for new subscribers). What a wonderful game! Taking plenty from the Fallout retro-futurism formula, in terms of both visuals and general game design, The Outer Worlds distinguishes itself with an appealing layer of bubblegum colour – far from the drab desaturation of the Fallout games – and a great space opera aesthetic. The Outer Worlds presents plenty to explore, see and do – with morally difficult choices to make right from the opening mission. I haven’t got far yet, but I’m very much looking forward to uncovering far more content and meeting further quirky characters. A witty script and great voice acting are the icing on a very colourful cake.

So there you go, a brief look at what I’ve been playing via Game Pass this week. It’s been a busy one for me, with work for other sites needing to take precedence, but I should be back to publishing more substantial reviews here very soon.

*Yes, like Netflix, Amazon Prime etc I know that Game Pass isn’t technically free. I know it’s some kind of insidious, psychological trick to keep gamers like me subscribed indefinitely or – in the case of Forza Horizon 4, for example – to buy DLC because ‘what the hell, the game was free’. Does it really matter that people use this term, however? It’s really not a big deal, in the grand scheme of things. I couldn’t have afforded to purchase The Outer Worlds at full price, so it being added to a service I was already making use of with multiple games is a win – and kind of does make it feel like a ‘free’ game, even though it technically isn’t at all.

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