First off, a confession. I’ve been a subscriber to Xbox Game Pass since day one, and have never once regretted it. With Microsoft’s introduction of Game Pass Ultimate, combining Gold with Game Pass, I was also straight on board with that. To me, it has always absolutely delivered stupendous value; even if you only played a couple of games from the service, the savings in having to buy a physical made sense. In fact, my love of the service is so great that for my fathers 75th birthday, I bought him a year’s Game Pass subscription to go at, and he’s joined me in loving it ever since as well.
In recent months, I’ve played and enjoyed games of the calibre of Forza Horizon 4, Gears 5, and even Sea of Thieves, even if I can’t really get into it. Now though, thanks to the X019 event, there are even more reasons for gamers to sign up for this service, and with that in mind I’m going to list my top five reasons why everyone should have an Xbox Game Pass subscription.
5. Finally Fantasy!
With a carefully worded and very polite interview, the head honchos at Square Enix for both the Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts franchises revealed that their games are coming to Game Pass.
It’s hard to overestimate the significance of this announcement; if you think about how long a Final Fantasy game, for instance, takes to complete, then you can see that there is a lot of gaming pleasure here.
It was announced that Final Fantasy VII, VIII, IX, X, X-2, XII, XIII, XIII-2, Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII and finally XV are all coming. That’s nine of the best JRPG style games ever, with VII being widely acknowledged as one of the best games ever made. I personally think VIII is better, and have no time for IX where Dagger makes me want to smash the screen whenever she appears, but that’s beside the point.
And to have all the Kingdom Hearts games as the icing on the cake, well, these games alone are more than worth the price of admission on Game Pass. I haven’t played a Kingdom Hearts game since the first one on PS2, and found that as confusing as a confusing thing, but I cannot wait to dive back in to see if it makes more sense this time around.
I can see where all my time is going to be going next year, that’s for sure!
4. Reach for Halo
One of the most popular games on the Xbox Game Pass service is Halo: The Master Chief Collection. Now, the only game missing from the collection so far has been Halo: Reach. This omission has now been righted, with the announcement that Reach has been remastered and will be released on December 3rd 2019. Or, as I read it at first, maybe the 12th of March.
Anyway, Halo: Reach is being added to the Master Chief Collection, and is available for download right now. As I type this, all 87Gb of the MCC is being downloaded, as I never played Reach the first time around, and I’m eager to see what the fuss is about.
In a first for PC, the MCC will also be playable on the Master Races platform. In an interesting move, Microsoft are going to release the Halo games in chronological order in the Halo universe. So the first game to be released will be Reach, followed by the rest of the games in order of the storyline. This interests me, as I’m hugely intrigued with the storyline of a game.
3. New games
One of the best bits of any Xbox chat/conference is the list of new games that are going to be released. The X019 presentation was no difference, with the likes of Rage 2, The LEGO Ninjago Movie, Remnants from the Ashes and Age of Wonders: Planetfall to name but a few, all mentioned.
Now, I missed all these games somehow on retail release, so you can imagine my joy at finally being able to play Rage 2 and it not costing an extra penny. This is in addition to new games only for the PC, like Age Of Empires 2: Definitive Edition.
Seeing these games released, usually as the person on stage finishes talking, adds a certain frisson to the proceedings. Last night, however, the presenters outdid themselves with new games being announced. These aren’t going to released just yet, but include some massive games coming. In addition to Reach and all the Final Fantasy goodies, the big announcement was the Yakuza Trilogy coming to Xbox for the first time. The predictable wails from the Playstation crowd weren’t far behind on social media, which strikes me as faintly ridiculous. “Oh no, a game that we’ve played will be available to other people!” Surely the developers getting extra money from a new audience can only be a good thing?
In addition, The Witcher 3 will be on the Game Pass, alongside Darksiders 3, Tekken 7 and many more in the holiday season and on into 2020.
2. First Party Games
One of the intriguing things about the Xbox Game Pass program, to me, is that all of Microsoft’s first party games will be released onto the service the same day as they go on sale in the shops. This pattern is set to continue with some stunning looking games coming next year, including Microsoft Flight Simulator and a game that I am looking forward to a huge amount, Ori and the Will of the Wisps.
I loved the first Ori game, so much so that I bought both versions that came out, and I am gagging to dive back into his world. The way that Ori tells a story with body, the way that worfs aren’t necessary, the personality that he has… all are amazing, and the trailers for the new game look amazing.
Also shown off was a modern day Gauntlet, set in the Minecraft universe. Minecraft Dungeons, as the game is known, features up to four player co-op, in a Minecraft dungeon, with classic Gauntlet style gameplay. The demo of the gameplay delivers lots of fun, and with drop in/drop out play, looks to be ideal for those with lots of friends and controllers.
Last but not least though, and from the games that made an impact on my mind, we have Wasteland 3. These dystopian, post apocalyptic games have long been a favourite, and Wasteland 2 was a great deal of, well, fun isn’t the right word, but it was interesting and absorbing. The third game in the series looks even better, with a lot of mechanical enemies to overcome, and the turn based gameplay appearing to be intact. With these games and more appearing on Xbox Game Pass on the same day they release at retail, what’s not to love?
Anyone who has read these pages will know that we’re big fans of the [email protected] program, and have had lots of fun playing various games from the catalogue. While the games that are due to be released were shown only in the form of a sizzle reel, there seems to be plenty to get excited about.
One that leapt out at me was a game called Carrion, which is billed as a reverse horror game. Instead of being out to kill the monster, you are the monster, looking to get revenge on the people in the facility that held you prisoner. It looks fantastically gory and inventive, so this is now firmly on my radar.
Streets of Rage 4 also featured, and looks like classic Streets of Rage gameplay, with a dash almost of Street Fighter in the move sets of the protagonists. Skatebird seems suitably bonkers, featuring, as you’d expect, a bird on a skateboard doing tricks, and also being shown faceplanting after getting them wrong.
There were many many more, like ScourgeBringer, Cyber Shadow and Double Kick Heroes, and I’ve got to say that [email protected] does seem to go from strength to strength. When you can play the games for free, it really is a marriage made in heaven.
So these are five of the best reasons to subscribe to Xbox Game Pass. Do you agree with what I’ve identified, and has Microsoft done enough to convince you sign up? Are you an existing subscriber and looking forward to the future? Are you still holding out? Let us know in the comments!