Pass on Game Pass

UPDATE 12th December 2018

Basically I did a complete 360 (excuse the pun) on the below thoughts and took up an offer for £18.97 to extend Xbox Game Pass for 6 months. The reason being: Ashen, Ori and the Blind Forest and a couple of other games still being on the service that I want to play. Ashen is only a few days old and £33.49 just to buy, so I figured given as I may not enjoy it is worth a punt for more Game Pass time instead.

Even with this U-turn I still think my thoughts from a few weeks ago are relevant. Game Pass isn’t for everyone and ideally with my backlog I shouldn’t be looking at more games!

Original Post

Microsoft Xbox Game Pass seems like an easy sell. Over 100 games at your fingertips for only £7.99 a month. Or even less if you take up one of the current offers, particularly in the current Black Friday sales. So what’s there not to like?

To be honest; not a lot. It’s a great service and adds an another option for playing games. Since getting my Xbox One X earlier this year I’ve used Game Pass offers to catch up on a few old games and complete Halo 5 and (hopefully) Rage (Xbox 360).

Microsoft haven’t delivered my free month of Game Pass from their recent PayPal offer (and they have done nothing even after raising with their CS). This has meant I’ve had to decide whether to continue subscribing. And it has made me realise there are obvious scenarios where Game Pass just doesn’t work as well, including:

  • Already have a large backlog
  • Limited amount of spare time to play games
  • Have multiple gaming platforms, or Xbox isn’t your main console
  • Spend a lot of time in particular games

Add to this you never own the games, so if they disappear off the service then you can’t play them anymore. And the games are always minus DLC or expansions being base versions to encourage you to spend more money on extra content for those games.

Even with all of that said Game Pass is still a fantastic way to play a huge number of games for a reasonable sum of money. And if you only game on Xbox it’s almost a no-brainer. Indeed it’s a shame Microsoft can’t do away with mandatory fees for multiplayer and merge Gold and Game Pass into one unique premium service. That would be a game changer in the battle against Sony.

However I’ve come to realise Game Pass is just not for me. I have struggled to play more games despite there being a number on the service I would like to experience. Simply due to a lack of time and a large number of other games competing for my attention. As with any subscription you almost feel under pressure to use it. The risk is that you end up paying more money to Microsoft whilst still buying other games you want to play. And realistically even for the small amount I have played I could have purchased the games I ended up playing. Indeed this is what I’ve done this month. £9 (80% off) during the current sale for Rise of The Tomb Raider: 20 Year Celebration. Which includes everything that came with the game when I want to play it.

That seems a better deal to me at the moment.

Best incomplete Game of the Year is…?

So Red Dead Redemption 2 has arrived and already dominated critical opinion. On both OpenCritic and MetaCritic sites it has an average score of 97%. That puts it amongst some of the highest scoring games ever on these aggregate sites. However the reviews are all based on an incomplete videogame, or at least only part of the overall package being purchased. Because until Red Dead Online (the multiplayer mode) releases all these reviews are only of the single-player portion of the game.

This isn’t the first time this has happened, in that Grand Theft Auto 5 launched without GTA Online, which arrived a few weeks after launch. However it feels like one of the few time such an important mode has been ignored within a videogame review. Imagine reviews of Halo 5 without mentioning the multiplayer, or a review of Call of Duty which only touch upon Zombies mode etc. Indeed imagine a review of a film or a book, where the reviewer has only seen or read some of the work. It feels broken to say the least.

Unfortunately this is just part of the reality of videogame reviews. Huge cachet or financial rewards are placed on reviews and the Metacritic aggregate. And this aggregate doesn’t update upon re-reviews. So videogame developers and publishers who love to control every aspect of a products launch know that it really doesn’t matter what happens afterwards. There are examples of broken reviews everywhere, for example Halo: The Master Chief Collection got a high 85 on MetaCritic, but barely any of the reviews even mention the broken state that the package released in. Where even basic features such as online matchmaking didn’t work properly (although Microsoft and 343 Industries have recently returned to repair and update the game). Arguably making videogame reviews even more complicated is the changing nature of Live Services and online games.

It is a reason why forums, Reddit or YouTube have become more important for some in evaluating a videogame. As I noted in my recent blog post reviews have arguably improved with user generated content and the rise of more independent videogame reviewers.

Red Dead Redemption 2 might be the game of the year and worthy of praise, but it’s still curious to see barely any mention of the incoming multiplayer mode. Almost as if it’s an afterthought. Although in reality it is anything but. If Rockstar treat RDR 2 the same as GTA V then it is the single-player mode which will be static, whilst only the online component receives new content. The single-player mode will be stuck in time. Much like the reviews of Red Dead Redemption 2.

August Update

Thought I would get into the habit of monthly updates on games played since my initial update last month launching the site.

August is school holidays so I have been pretty busy with limited time for gaming. But since my first update I have managed to complete one game at least. Woot!

Completed/Shelved

  1. Titanfall 2 – completed the campaign
  2. Fortnite: Save the World – shelved this

Titanfall 2 completed the campaign on regular difficulty. Overall really enjoyed the campaign, but not likely to play multiplayer much more. Fortnite (Save the World, not Battle Royale) I’ve decided I just don’t like it. I purchased this back in March when it was cheap. The PVE mode is just not that good and I can see why it didn’t do that well. It doesn’t help that it is one of the most egregious and aggressive freemium games I’ve experienced. Which is very galling considering the premium you are paying for access.

Been playing (my current Grouvee playlist is here)

  • Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Wildlands – since getting this on Xbox One in the recent Amazon sales I have been playing this again. On third region, about 10 hours in.
  • Forza Motorsport 7 – opening Seeker cup all done.
  • Mass Effect 3 – purchased this on release. Last save from 2014! Progress made through the story.
  • Skyrim Special Edition – purchased for Xbox One (I have it on PC too). Comparing versions has made me realise just how good that original Xbox 360/PS3 versions looked.
  • Rage – started playing via GamePass.

So that is 1 game completed for August, and 1 shelved.

New game pickups

Halo 5, forgot to add this onto my Grouvee profile. Completed this in just under 10 hours via GamePass. Worst Halo campaign yet. Also purchased Alan Wake on Xbox 360 disc from a Carboot for £1. Pretty good condition with the DLC code unused.

Updates

On Grouvee created a new GamePass shelf to track games I’ve played on Microsoft’s subscription service. So far just Halo 5 and Rage. Obviously this might grow if I try out more games on the service. I won’t add these games to my Xbox shelf so they don’t get counted as part of my collection.

Up next

Try to complete Rage, Wolfenstein: The New Order and Mass Effect 3. Not sure I can get all of these done, but ideally would like to complete this handful of  games.

Also will start doing some short reviews or impressions of games and post them on this site and Grouvee where appropriate. Only really previously done a short review or two on Steam.