June marks E3 month, and Xbox did not disappoint in their 2021 showcase. But since Game Pass is now such a big part of Xbox’s strategy, it would be impossible for them to not mention the service at the biggest gaming event of the year. If you’re looking for some Game Pass glories though, here are June 2021’s Xbox Game Pass highlights and the games you should be playing right now on Xbox:
Yakuza: Like a Dragon
Xbox Game Pass’ collection of mainline Yakuza titles is now complete with the addition of Like a Dragon.
If you were already a fan of Yakuza, this title recreates the streets of urban Japan in beautiful fashion, presents another tense and wacky story of crime and puts a classic gameplay twist on the franchise. If Yakuza has never grabbed you, Yakuza: Like a Dragon may be the perfect place to start. This is because Like a Dragon marks a shift in the series’ gameplay.
Mainline Yakuza’s have always had button-mashing action but Like a Dragon turns the series into an over-the-top, turn-based JRPG. There’s levelling up, stats, equipment, special abilities and multiple party members. Like a Dragon is a true JRPG, but more than that, it’s a game that loves JRPGs. The main protagonist, Ichiban, is a die-hard Dragon Quest fan and he states it multiple times through the journey.
These allusions to Dragon Quest don’t hinder how violent and dramatic Yakuza’s crime tale can get. In true JRPG fashion, the game takes a long time to get going, but once it gets the ball rolling it can’t stop; the stakes are escalated, the abilities become nonsensical and it is joyous to behold.
The Wild at Heart
Game Pass always has good offerings on the indie front and The Wild at Heart is probably the year’s best indie game to launch onto Game Pass, day one.
The game follows two kids, running away from their troublesome homes, only to stumble upon a fantastical world full of cute critters, weird people and aggressive monsters. The set up might be a bit generic fantasy, but The Wild at Heart is way weirder than the premise lets on. The characters at your hub, The Grove, all have amnesia so they call themselves things like Litterbox – because she’s obsessed with cats – or Grey Coat – because… he wears a grey coat. Anyway, this irreverent humour is applied across the entire game and it works.
It doesn’t hurt that this world’s hand drawn art is just as good. It’s saturated, natural and really sells the idea that this is an untouched, hidden fairy tale land.
It would all be for nothing if the gameplay wasn’t as good as it is, however. The Wild at Heart is very much like Pikmin – as in you’ll be followed by cute, colourful creatures that help you solve puzzles, defeat monsters and navigate the world. Their different colours mean they have different functions, abilities, strengths and weaknesses. Managing and utilizing them in combat and exploration is immensely satisfying.
If you’re in the mood for a quirky indie game, look no further.
For Honor is the latest Ubisoft offering to hit Xbox Game Pass. If you’re unfamiliar with For Honor, it’s a competitive, online, melee-based fighting game that centres on a variety of ancient civilisations and their unique fighting styles. Vikings, Knights, Samurai and the Wu Lin are all present here as unique playable factions.
While For Honor is not a game that’s slap bang in the limelight, it still has a healthy player base that won’t be dying anytime soon, and that’s mostly thanks to the game’s addition to Game Pass. It is still updated semi-regularly so if you’re looking to get lost in a melting pot of historical wars, it’s never a bad time to start.
Bethesda finally dropped the rest of their portfolio onto Game Pass, from almost their entire history.
From Arkane, their standalone expansion, Dishonored: Death of the Outsider joins the service. If you’re a fan of stealth games or Arkane’s classic immersive sims, give this one a try. It’s more Dishonored so it’s great.
Another Arkane game, Arx Fatalis, also dropped onto Game Pass for PC. Since this spell-flinging adventure was an early 2000s release it was released for the PC and original Xbox. Unfortunately, Arx Fatalis is not backwards compatible like other OG Xbox titles, so it’s missing from Game Pass on console, as of now.
Speaking of games that are only on Game Pass for PC, Fallout, Fallout 2 and Fallout Tactics all join the service, due to a console port never having existed. But for all you console players, Fallout 3 is available on console and PC. Bethesda’s reboot of the franchise lets players off the leash in a post-apocalyptic open-world. Fallout 3 is definitely not the prettiest game nor a competent shooter in 2021’s standards, but the writing is so consistently surprising and interesting. It’s worth a try for nostalgia or for RPG fans.
DOOM 2016 was a glaring omission when Bethesda first dropped a slate of their games. But now this fast and violent shooter is available alongside its sequel, DOOM Eternal. DOOM 2016 isn’t as complicated or frantic as Eternal but it is as successful a revitalisation of a classic formula.
Then we have The Evil Within 2, which puts the original’s nightmarish designs and resource management in semi open-world levels, letting players face their fears from any angle. Finally, Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus continues BJ’s fight for freedom against the Nazis in an alternate history. Wolfenstein II’s story goes to unexpected places and several moments have been imprinted in my mind since its initial release.
Darkest Dungeon has been out for a while and its renown has only grown with time. This is an unforgiving, tense and punishing Lovecraftian adventure that is not for the faint of heart.
As a turn-based strategy game, you’d expect a certain level of predictability, or at least certainty, when it comes to combat encounters. Darkest Dungeon offers no such thing. The runs you take your party on are randomly generated but this randomness is exasperated by how much there is to keep track of. Party members, equipment, positioning, status, enemy variety and more are all factors that can drastically affect playthroughs. While Darkest Dungeon is intimidating at first, it doesn’t take long before it ties up its different mechanics nicely. Though, planning a run never stops taking too long.
It’s not just your party’s health and traditional stats that needs to be maintained, though. Party members can suffer from anxiety, die from a heart attack and be crippled by the darkness of their adventure. It’s a game that’s truly unlike any other because it forces you to ask too much from your characters. It’s a game where winning isn’t always an option and that makes it just as interesting as anything else.
June 2021 has been a great month for new Xbox Game Pass additions and we’re expecting the forthcoming months to continue building on that trend. As always though we’d love to hear what you’re playing from the service – let us know in the comments below.