I Have Game Pass

Here's something you've never heard before. A take so hot you'll need protective eye wear just to look at it.

This is the Mt Vesuvius of opinions and you are Pliny the Elder, succumbing to heat and noxious gasses. My words are a pyroclastic flow and you are about to become a volcano mummy.

Game Pass is quite good value, I reckon.

Like everyone else with an Xbox One, I made full use of the recent spate of discounts for Game Pass, Microsoft's game subscription service. I bought three months for a Pound and then upgraded part of that period to the Ultimate service, to include Xbox Gold. A ludicrously good deal that encouraged me to get through nine games in the space of two months - well above my usual average - and sample several others. It convinced me to completely abandon my PS4 in favour of a console that I have only used a handful of times over the last three years.

Until last week, I hadn't played a game on my PS4 since Sekiro, which I finally abandoned in mid-May.

Forgive me for the tangent, but I was really disappointed by Sekiro. The bosses thoroughly ruined it for me. They were an unwelcome slog - a constant interruption to the free-moving entertainment to be found elsewhere. They were punitive, unsatisfying, unremarkable and distressingly repetitive. I actually made it to the last boss, who I fought once before deciding that I was sick of it all and had no appetite for learning the tells and patterns of yet another over-sized pest.

Anyway, back to Game Pass being good value, which it is (HOT!). I came for Crackdown 3 but I stayed for other games. I played exclusives and multi-platform titles; I tried some I rather fancied, and others that I probably wouldn't have played had I needed to buy them separately.

Crackdown 3 was so much fun, in a 2008 kinda way. Yes it's very rough around the edges, but it charmed my socks off. It brought back fond memories of Red Faction Guerrilla, Infamous, Prince of Persia and other experiences very much of that time. I didn't care that I was just roaming the map looking for trouble and shiny orbs - I was content. It might be the best 6/10 game I've ever played, and I've played some good ones.

What Remains of Edith Finch elicited very different emotions. Big feelings - emotional feelings. I won't spoil it, but it did a masterful job of bringing together countless short stories, making them interesting and convincing me to care. I can't recall a game ever making me cry, but the scene in the bath destroyed me. I finished the whole thing in one sitting - it took a little under three hours - and I was emotionally exhausted after. A one-time experience for sure, but a hugely memorable one.

The Walking Dead Season 3 was outstanding. I've always enjoyed the series, but I left after S2 for no particular reason. I'm very happy that I came back for more, a generation and several years removed from my last adventure with Clem. I got through Rise of the Tomb Raider and Shadow of the Tomb Raider. They were solidly unspectacular - I was entertained but never enraptured. In that sense, they were perfect Game Pass offerings: games that I liked the idea of playing but would never buy outright.

I put a lot of time into two of 2019's biggest indie darlings: Outer Wilds and Void Bastards. On the surface, they are two very different games, but I had very similar experiences with them. They both took a while to click, but I was eventually won over before abandoning them just short of the finish, as their repetitive nature started to wear a little thin. Just Cause 4 wasn't charming enough for me to forgive its rough exterior, but there was still fun to be had blowing up over-sized petrol stations. Superhot was short but very sweet. It was a very different experience to the VR version but every bit as worthwhile. I also spent a brief moment revisiting Forza Horizon 4 (still a beauty), and trying Batman Arkham Knight (too many controls to memorise) and Metro Exodus  (didn't feel pleasing) for the first time.

I've got another two weeks left on my subscription. However, I've just picked up Devil May Cry 5 and Fire Emblem Three Houses on other platforms, so I'm probably done for now. While Microsoft got only a few paltry quid out of me over the last few months, it succeeded in convincing me of the value of its ecosystem. I can easily envision myself paying full price for this kind of service in the near future, and doing away with outright purchases. I'd have never said that just a few months ago.


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