With next generation launching – and no exclusive next gen only titles launched – it’s fallen to a huge influx of Game Pass games to do some of the heavy lifting in providing a competitive advantage for Microsoft’s Series S/X consoles.
Of course, these games are all available on the Xbox One too – so it still doesn’t provide a completely compelling reason to upgrade immediately, especially if you already have the pretty capable One X console.
So what’s been added? Well, we’ve had a ton of games – not far off 100 – added courtesy of EA Play becoming part of the overall Game Pass selection. Though very FIFA, Madden and sports heavy in general, there’s also some brilliant series included, such as Dead Space, Mass Effect and Dragon age, among others. Mass Effect may be slightly less alluring given that the remaster trilogy has just been announced, but it’s all here to play immediately if you have Game Pass. There’s some smaller scale, indie-style titles of interest too – Unravel 1&2 for starters, but also PopCap’s older output, such as the Peggle and Bejeweled games. Burnout Paradise Remastered is another great title to get stuck into, but if racing games are your bag, even Need for Speed Heat – which is a relatively recent title – is included.
Aside from the EA games, we’ve also seen the Series S/X Optimised titles Gears Tactics and Tetris Effect: Connected added to the service on day one – both are well worth your time. I’m a sucker for turn based strategy – and Gears Tactics gets off to a great start in its first few levels, with some absolutely amazing visuals when you get up close and personal. It’s nicely paced and simple to play; so far, it’s much like the excellent XCom reboots, albeit without the management and research aspects from those titles. Tetris Effect has been given a synaesthetic makeover by the musically inclined Tetsuya Mizuguchi, who’s applied his audiovisual magic to the classic Russian puzzler, fusing the synaesthesia of Rez with the evolving skins of Lumines – and it’s just as compelling as that combination of techniques makes it sound. It’s a stunning title to have at launch for next gen machines; who’d have thought that, thirty years on from the Game Boy, I’d be mostly playing Tetris on the launch day of a new console?
There’ve been some nice indies joining Game Pass recently too – Knights & Bikes from Double Fine, the wonderfully inventive tile laying puzzler Carto and the Virtua Racing-esque Hotshot Racing are a few notably excellent examples.
Game Pass still represents one of the best deals there is in gaming and continues to add incredible value, whether or not you’re sticking with Xbox One or finding yourself with a shiny new Series S or X. With the Series S priced at less than a Switch, pairing the console with Game Pass really does make a lot of sense if you’re new to the Xbox ecosystem. Whatever you have and however you play, I hope you stay safe and have fun!
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