As an Xbox owner, 2018 was a rough year.
I don’t buy games often, and when I do I tend to sink a wad of cash into big AAA blockbusters which I know I’ll spend 40 hours or more in. Often I’ll see a fun-looking indie game, but pure apathy will mean I forget about it soon enough.
Last year, PlayStation released two huge exclusives which left me kicking myself for ever buying an Xbox: “God of War” and “Spider-Man.” The saltiness continued into 2019 with “Death Stranding,” the hotly anticipated return of gaming luminary Hideo Kojima. Even before its announcement in 2016, fans knew “Death Stranding” was going to be a PlayStation game, paid for by Sony. As the hype train barreled toward its November 2019 release date, I resigned myself to a life without the post-apocalyptic postman simulator.
But then, right toward end of this year, things turned around.
To explain, Xbox has two subscription services — Xbox Gold and Xbox Game Pass. Gold is a service that allows you to play online multiplayer games with other people, whereas Game Pass is a game subscription library — like Netflix but with a library full of video games.
I’d had Gold for well over a year before I even thought to get Game Pass. It wasn’t until October this year that it even struck me as an option.
On October 25, Obsidian’s “The Outer Worlds” came out on Xbox One and PS4. I’d been eagerly awaiting Obsidian’s spiritual successor to “Fallout,” and I was amazed when I loaded it up in the Microsoft store to see that the freshly minted big name game was already included on Game Pass.
Xbox has a special offer called the Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, which allows players to combine Xbox Gold and Game Pass for $15 per month — $10 less than if you paid for the services separately. I signed up and have not looked back since.
December brought fresh vindication when 2019 indie hit “Untitled Goose Game” came to the game pass, closely followed by “The Witcher 3.” Another day-one arrival to the Game Pass which I’d skipped over was the gorgeous and critically acclaimed puzzle space-exploration game “The Outer Wilds.”
As an end-of-decade purchase, Game Pass has a lot to offer in terms of back catalogue. As a gamer reticent to splash out cash on games unless I am well and truly hyped for them, I noticed a lot of titles which had slipped through my net over the past five years or so. “Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice” is one example, and with Microsoft’s incredibly metal trailer for the second installment (on its next generation console, the Series X) it’s a title I’m eager to brush up on.
To put all that in context, just the games I’ve named so far would stack up to $175 if purchased individually at full price — translating to just over 11 months of Game Pass Ultimate subscription.
My late discovery of Game Pass has all but made up for the PlayStation titles I missed out on, and with just a year left before the new generation of consoles is crowned it’s the perfect time to milk it for all it’s worth.