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Microsoft's Xbox Game Pass Ultimate is essentially a service bundle that includes multiple services for a single monthly fee. Subscribers receive Xbox Game Pass for consoles, the PC version, Xbox Live Gold, EA Play, and access to Xbox Cloud Gaming (Beta) on Android devices all in one.
That means you can choose from a plethora of games on console or PC and play them all online, and you may never have to buy a game again on Xbox One or one of the new Xbox Series S / Xbox Series X consoles. For the first time, you don't even need an Xbox or a PC to play your favourite games because you can stream them from the cloud to your phone.
The service is so important to Xbox's strategy that you can purchase one of the new consoles with it as part of the Xbox All Access service.
With a wealth of third-party games rotated into the service almost weekly, as well as some recent big additions like Outriders and MLB: The Show 21 arriving on day one, Xbox Game Pass Ultimate can also enjoy the fact that every first-party game (including the upcoming Halo Infinite) arrives on launch day, and your monthly Xbox Live Gold fee is included. Even if you're only a console player, this is a fantastic deal.
Add in the PC version of Game Pass for even more titles to try, as well as the addition of EA Play on both platforms and Xbox Cloud Gaming, and you'll never run out of games to try or feel limited to one device again.
Streaming Xbox games to your Android phone via Xbox Cloud Gaming (previously known as Project xCloud) makes the Xbox ecosystem available to those who would never consider purchasing a console. While iOS compatibility was initially a concern, Xbox Cloud Gaming will soon be available on Apple devices as well as internet browsers.
What is Xbox Game Pass Ultimate?
While Xbox Game Pass and Xbox Game Pass on PC are separate services, Xbox Game Pass Ultimate combines both and then adds a slew of extras on top.
While Xbox Game Pass and Xbox Game Pass on PC cost $9.99 / £7.99 / AU$10.95 each, Xbox Game Pass Ultimate costs $15 / £10.99 / AU$15.95 per month and includes Xbox Live Gold (which is now only available annually in many territories and costs $60.00 / £50.00 / AU$80.00). You also get EA Play for $4.99 / £4.99 per month and Xbox Cloud Gaming (Beta) for free.
Subscribers can download massive titles like Doom Eternal, Forza Horizon 4, and Gears 5 for the Xbox One, Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, and PC. Thanks to Xbox's extensive backwards compatibility programme, you can then play whenever you want and try out backwards compatible titles from both the original Xbox and Xbox 360 console generations.
Because you also get Xbox Live Gold, you'll be able to jump right into a match of Rainbow Six: Siege or any other multiplayer title on the service, such as Sea of Thieves.
PC players will not have to pay to play online, but they will still have access to a plethora of games to download. Recent releases such as Crusader Kings 3 and first-party hits such as Halo: The Master Chief Collection can be found on the Xbox app for Windows 10.
Included in the EA Play catalogue are titles such as Mass Effect, Dragon Age, and Skate. It was previously a $4.99 / £4.99 add-on for Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscribers, but it is now free.
Oh, and did we mention that 20 Bethesda games are now available on Xbox Game Pass? You can now access games such as The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition, Prey, Fallout 76, and Wolfenstein: Young Blood as part of Microsoft's acquisition of the company.
Design and interface
Because Xbox Game Pass Ultimate is comprised of several components, it does not have a unified interface. Instead, there's the Xbox app for PC and a section on the Xbox dashboard (which has now been unified across Xbox One and Xbox Series S/X consoles).
It's hard to miss for console users – Microsoft has put Game Pass almost front and centre on the home screen. Users can begin browsing the catalogue with just a few button presses.
Each game includes a trailer, screenshots, and the file size, allowing you to fit as much as possible onto your hard drive. You can also see if it has any improvements for Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S at a glance.
You can also filter by genre, see what your friends are playing, tell the app to "surprise me," and scroll through recommendations. It is very similar to Netflix, except that it allows downloads rather than streaming and only shows games that have recently been added or will be leaving soon.
The 'My Games and Apps' menu will also display which titles are from Game Pass or EA Play, allowing you to easily distinguish them from games you've purchased.
PC users will find Game Pass within the existing Xbox app, eliminating the need to download any additional launchers.
Games do not have to be launched from the app, which means you can manage installations from the Control Panel, just like you would if you had installed the game from the Microsoft Store (which, incidentally, is where games are updated from).
Xbox Game Pass Ultimate content library
Leaving aside the perks, Quests, and Xbox Live membership, it's time to answer the question: what is there to play?
While PlayStation Now has over 800 games, some of which can be played on PC, much of it is dependent on a streaming connection. It's also limited to PS4, PS3, and PS2 titles, the latter of which can only be streamed.
On console, Xbox Game Pass offers around 200 titles, all of which can be downloaded and played locally, while PC players have around 150 to choose from. That number is growing as more than 20 Bethesda games have been added to the service, and EA Play has added over 50 new titles to the mix.
Expect indie darlings like Slay The Spire and Dead Cells to sit alongside Halo: The Master Chief Collection, Forza Motorsport 7, and Sea of Thieves on both platforms, as well as Halo: The Master Chief Collection, Forza Motorsport 7, and Sea of Thieves. However, some games will only be available on consoles or PC.
Then there are the big-budget third-party titles, such as the aforementioned Doom Eternal and Rainbow Six: Siege on console, and new releases like Wasteland 3 and popular titles like ARK: Survival Evolved on PC. Destiny 2 is also available on consoles, with the Beyond Light expansion becoming available through Game Pass.
Not only is Microsoft attempting to acquire a large amount of upcoming content, but Game Pass also provides a plethora of backward-compatible titles to sink your teeth into, especially with EA Play adding everything from Plants vs Zombies to Peggle to sports titles and Need For Speed. FPS Boost, which has the potential to quadruple a game's frame rate, has also been used to improve some backwards compatible titles.
Xbox Game Pass Ultimate is a no-brainer for anyone who intends to play games on both Xbox and PC. If you own an Xbox or have even a passing interest in Microsoft's first-party games, Xbox Game Pass is almost impossible to recommend.
It's less expensive than buying each platform's library separately, and it includes online play for consoles, which is worth the monthly fee on its own. When discounts, a reward system, EA Play, cloud gaming, and free digital goodies for gamers and non-gamers alike are factored in, it's clear that Microsoft is changing the game.
It's unclear whether it'll entice people to buy an Xbox Series X or Xbox Series S, but that's almost besides the point: make no mistake, Xbox Game Pass Ultimate is Microsoft's primary focus for next-gen, and it's currently the best deal in gaming.
XBox Game Box
At least 50% off from FlexSub
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