It’s been a while since I last covered the games that I’ve been playing on Game Pass; it’s a service that has become absolutely essential for me. I’m often unable to justify spending the full RRP on games, given my limited budget, but Game Pass removes that barrier for many big games; crucially, they’re also available on the same day as the retail release too. So what’s been grabbing my attention recently, aside from the decidedly non-Game Pass Jurassic World: Evolution?

Untitled Goose Game

Arriving on a wave of hype – unusually high for such a small indie title – on Switch earlier in 2019, Untitled Goose Game made its debut on Xbox One in December. By now I’m sure you must be aware of what it entails – you’re a goose on a mission; that is, to annoy the heck out of the inhabitants of a quaint little village. Even though the eponymous goose is a total arsehole, it somehow makes for an endearingly anarchic protagonist and his adventures of gentle annoyance raise smiles throughout. Excellent, charming and very funny.

Totally Accurate Battle Simulator (TABS)

Well this was a pleasant surprise. Arriving via Game Pass in a sort of Early Access form (after launching on PC last year), TABS is a physics-based battle ‘simulator’, which is hugely addictive and very funny indeed.

Whether you’re sitting back and watching the action unfold from above after you deploy your cartoony, almost Play-Doh-esque troops on the battlefield or taking control of a troop and indulging in the hilariously wonky physics-based combat directly, it’s a really fun game with a few technical issues – mostly relating to performance if there are too many troops on the battlefield – that do unfortunately make themselves apparent far too often.

That said, it’s an early version and, with these performance problems ironed out, will be an absolutely unmissable experience. I’ll keep an eye on this one for sure; it shows an awful lot of promise for both mission-based campaign and open sandbox play, with loads of historical and mythical units to pit against one another.

Subnautica

Having sunk (pun intended) a bit of time into Subnautica over the Christmas break, I’m not quite as compelled to keep going as I was at first. Though I love the visuals, creature design and setting – which is brilliantly realised – the item gathering and crafting does feel a little laborious to me and is becoming far less fun the more I play. I’m not the world’s biggest fan of crafting in games (I’ve never been able to get into Minecraft and the crafting/base building of Fallout 4 was a complete turn-off for me, to name just a few examples) so perhaps this one is, unfortunately, just not for me.

Ticket to Ride

I’m still baffled by the fact that multiplayer doesn’t seem to have been included in the base game (am I missing something obvious here?), but Ticket to Ride’s classic, timeless and addictive design shines through even the interface issues that are present here. The fact that only one map is available in the base game via Game Pass is a bit cheeky, but the game is strong enough that the single available map still provides a ridiculously compelling experience, even against bots. It’s also a shame that no Playlink-style options are available for multiplayer games, as with the PS4 version. Given that games such as the Jackbox Party Packs and Use Your Words utilise mobile phone control options, this does seem like an oversight – yet clearly not a deal-breaker, as I’m still playing the game even now.

And that’s it for now – given that I’ve spent a long time getting acquainted with Jurassic World: Evolution over the Christmas period, I’ve not really spent much time with anything else.

I’m really intrigued as to where Xbox is going in the future; I certainly hope that Game Pass continues to offer incredible value for money and a wide variety of games as we head into the next generation this year. It’s clear that the service is a winner; though seemingly put in place (along with backwards compatibility) to claw back an awful lot of lost ground from the disastrous launch of the Xbox One, if Microsoft’s fortunes do turn around it’d be a shame to see Game Pass neutered or even gone completely. Time will tell, I suppose.

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