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In a world of instant entertainment, we have a lot of choices in how we access movies, TV shows and music. Pay a small monthly fee and access hundreds of options. With many of us stuck at home, these avenues of entertainment have become increasingly important.
And video games are entering the scene with their own monthly subscription options. Xbox now gives customers a great way to have hundreds of on-demand titles in your library of games through a simple subscription service.
Xbox Game Pass is Microsoft’s on-demand gaming service that gives customers access to hundreds of titles. For a monthly price of $9.99, players can play to their heart’s content. Of course, with multiple streaming services vying for your attention, you may be asking yourself, is it worth my money? Luckily, we are here to give you an honest review of the Xbox Game Pass to help you decide.
Although there is a $9.99/ month baseline, your actual cost will depend on your membership.
The Xbox Game Pass has several membership levels so everyone can find the right plan for their level of gaming. For instance, someone who plays regularly will be okay spending more for their subscription than someone who may only have a couple of hours a week to play their favorite titles.
The basic Game Pass price is currently $9.99/month. This gives you access to hundreds of Xbox games. You can revisit older classics like Minecraft or discover new releases with the ease of their app. New game titles are always being added, making this a solid option for any gamer.
The next level of membership is directed towards PC gamers. For an additional $9.99/month, you have a chance to get in on the action via your computer. But you can take advantage of a discounted price of $4.99/month while the PC version is in beta.
This can be a great way to test out the cross-platform capabilities before committing to the full price. And, much like the basic game pass, new titles are being added with same-day release dates.
Another add-on option is Xbox Live Gold, which offers free games every month.
However, if you want to become immersed in everything Game Pass truly has to offer, you will want to check out Game Pass Ultimate.
The Xbox Game Pass Ultimate offers a lot of integration options, and at $15/month you are only paying a little more for a lot more content.
Along with the cross-platform capabilities with PC, you can also stream to Android devices. (Sorry, iOS users, this option isn’t available for you yet.) Game Pass Ultimate also allows for cloud gaming and access to the Xbox Gold and EA Play game libraries at no extra cost.
All about the Games
Game Pass offers a little bit of everything for gamers of all levels.
As of September, there are over 200 titles available on the Xbox, and the upcoming Xbox Series X promises many great new releases for gamers.
There are also plenty of great newer titles and AAA games that will make you happy you bought a subscription.
Instant Access to New Releases
One of the best Xbox Game Pass features is instant access to new releases the day they come out. Gone are the days of pre-ordering a game and then standing in line at your local game store or waiting for the USP guy to show up.
Instead, you can go to your Game Pass and download the game from the comfort of your own home the day it is released. (Anyone else excited for Yakuza: Like a Dragon on November 10th.) This is a great and convenient way to have the newest games in your hand instantly. Players can also try out a new game during their Game Pass subscription to decide if they want to purchase the game.
Best Games Available
Here is a showcase of our 10 favorite Xbox games. Although, keep in mind that titles rotate, and these may not be included right when you log in.
- The Outer Worlds
- Ori and the Will of the Wisps
- Forza Horizon 4
- Gears of War 5
- Resident Evil 7: Biohazard
- Halo: The Master Chief Collection
- Slay the Spire
- Wasteland 3
- The Witcher 3
- Sea of Thieves
While a rotating catalog may worry some players, fearing that their favorite title may disappear from the list, Xbox has you covered. The dashboard will alert you well in advance that a title is being rotated out, and you can buy the games to keep at a discount price.
And, not every title rotates; Xbox maintains a steady library amid rotations. Game Pass has a fairly stable catalog with new games being added, and a few older games rotated out.
These rotations allow players to subscribe for a month to try out a new game and then come back to try an older game they missed.
If a player discontinues their subscription, they can still sign back up later but will miss out on previous offers and discounts
If you have the Game Pass for PC and Xbox, you can take advantage of game libraries that are exclusive to the consoles and Windows 10.
The Windows access is pretty easy to navigate. You simply need to download the Xbox app and then click on the Game Pass icon.
The compatibility of both systems allows for a great gaming experience, no matter your preference. While still in the beta stage, the PC version offers over 150 titles for players to explore.
Microsoft has also made some strides in its gaming options. The company recently made a partnership with EA Games to allow users access to their gaming library. Depending on the success of this partnership, Xbox customers may see more third-party vendors following suit. Such partnerships will mean even more gaming choices for players in the future.
Microsoft also offers plenty of crossover titles, so you won’t have to worry about having multiple copies of the same game.
Design and Interface
The Xbox Game Pass is easy to use and navigate from your homepage or device. Positioned as a tab under your recently played content, you will find a list of the most popular games as well as recent add-ons and releases. Entering the Game Pass menu will give you access to curated games organized by genre and suggestions for you based on your previous gameplay.
Game Pass also gives you the ability to earn gift cards for Microsoft and other vendors through quests. These quests are linked to achievements and can be earned by completing challenges across Game Pass titles.
If you want a full list of games, simply go to the “My Games and Apps” tab and click on “Game Pass” in the sidebar. You can then flick between installed and available titles using the shoulder buttons as well as recently released titles at the top of the screen.
Hover over any title to get a description and access the “Gamer Club” to follow other players’ experiences playing the game. You can then go straight to the game store page and download it in as little as 10 minutes, depending on your internet speed.
Overall the Game Pass page is easy to navigate and has a lot to offer. However, those with slower internet connections may want to have Game Pass as their homepage on your mobile device to allow easy access to their games from anywhere.
Also, because the PC version is still in beta, there are still some kinks to work out, and users may experience the occasional crash.
Much like any time you purchase a game online, you will need to download your Game Pass selections before you can play them. This can be a drawback, especially if your internet speed struggles and the game comes in a large file. In which case, downloads can take an hour or more for some games.
Downloads probably won’t be an issue if you want to dedicate your time to one game at a time, but you will not have the luxury of skipping between games if you lose interest like with video streaming services.
There are a few upsides to downloading your games as opposed to merely streaming them. First of all, you will not have to worry about lag when playing your game. You can also download your games instantly from anywhere; just make sure you have enough hard drive space.
Another upside to having to download the games is that they will stay in your library permanently. Unless you delete the game completely, you will never lose it, even if you cancel your subscription. However, you will not be able to access the game until your subscription resumes or you buy the game.
Microsoft first launched their cloud gaming service as Project xCloud and was offered as a separate app. Renamed Xbox cloud gaming, this service is still in the beta stage but is available as part of Game Pass Ultimate.
This app is available for Android users and allows them to play any games in the Game Pass library on their phones. The app runs through Xbox’s servers, allowing players to enjoy all the great sound and graphics available.
To play the games on your phone, you will need a compatible controller. You can either connect an Xbox controller through Bluetooth or use a variety of gamepads designed for Xbox cloud gaming. These controllers either allow you to place your phone in a holder above the controller or go around the phone like a traditional handheld gaming system.
To get the most of the cloud gaming option, you need a strong internet connection. Microsoft recommends at least a 5GHz Wi-fi or an LTE/5G mobile connection. You will want the best connection possible to reduce lag and lost connections so that you can enjoy your games from anywhere.
Sadly, if you are an iOS user, you will not be able to take advantage of this feature. Depending on its success, iOS may not be far off from their own Cloud options.
Until then, you will have to be satisfied with the PC and Xbox cross-capability.
Saving Games Across Platforms
There are few things as frustrating as starting a game and then having to leave to go to work or school. Or you have a family member watching the TV with your Xbox connected, so you have to play the game on your PC. Either way, your work is lost, and you have to start over since you are switching devices.
That is not an issue with Game Pass Ultimate.
You can save your games in the cloud and across platforms so you can pick up right where you left off, no matter where you are.
It will also save any progress you have from previous games that are available in Game Pass games. If you play on multiple platforms, or if one of your devices is out of commission, you will love this feature.
Another cool feature that Game Pass subscribers will be able to take advantage of is Xbox Gold Live. With a stable internet connection and Xbox Gold Live account, you can play online with friends in multiplayer games.
Recently many online games have allowed for cross-platform capabilities, meaning you can play the same game with your friend with a PS5 or PC instead of an Xbox.
Game Pass works with these capabilities, making it easy for you to play the same PC or Xbox game with your friends.
The Bottom Line
Xbox is working hard to be the premier place to go when it comes to console gaming. The Game Pass has a lot to offer with an extensive game library, the ability to download games from anywhere to your console, earn achievements and online multiplayer capabilities. Cloud gaming and cross-platform playability also allow for a lot of options for gamers.
When compared to Playstation Plus, there is room for improvement. Playstation offers streaming options that allow players to swap between games easily. Playstation also has a larger library. However, Xbox is working hard to catch up and surpass their competition. And they are on the right track.
Ultimately, you have to decide if the Xbox game pass is a good choice for you. But if you are an Xbox or PC user, this may be one of your best options.
Gamers everywhere have the opportunity to get in at the ground level and watch Xbox quickly become the "Netflix of Gaming."
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