In years gone, that would have referred to one specific console.
Now, thanks to a multitude of consumer-friendly innovations, the Xbox platform covers several generations of console, PCs and, with the official launch of xCloud in September, even mobile devices.
xCloud Included With Game Pass Ultimate
The biggest news from the Xbox camp is that in September, xCloud fully launches and will be included with a subscription to Game Pass Ultimate. That means you don’t even need a console or PC, just a compatible phone or tablet (Android 6.0 or higher, and Bluetooth 4.0).
Purchase Game Pass Ultimate, log-in to your account (or create one if you need to) and you instantly have access to stream over 100 games in the Game Pass for Console library. All you need is a Bluetooth Xbox controller and a stable internet connection. Wi-Fi or 4G/5G both work, however, the lower the ping and latency and higher the upload and download speeds, the better your experience will be.
The other side to xCloud, Console Streaming, is still in preview, so it’s unclear if it will be included. I’ve been using Console Streaming to play games from my console via a (very) modest Lenovo A10 2 tablet, and it works surprisingly well.
The Toxicity Of Our City
(If you recognise the SOAD lyrics, nice one, you’re our kind of people!)
Microsoft is taking even more steps to cut down on the toxic behaviour that was becoming rampant. They want the Xbox community to be a safe, accessible and welcoming place, and I fully support that. Through the introduction of new technology to auto-detect hate speech and harassment, and the community-led support available with the Ambassadors program, it’s a significant step in reducing the amount of negative behaviour often associated with online gaming.
Games Will Look And Play Best On Xbox Series X
This sounds obvious. Of course new games will be best on the new console, but this also refers to the way they have engineered the hardware to deal with games from previous generations. With no work required by developers, or patches to install, games will load faster, have the potential to run at higher frame rates or resolutions and, through the implementation of some seriously clever tech, be able to utilise HDR even if the original game never supported it. Thanks to the excellent backwards compatibility of Xbox, you can take your entire library with you if or when you make the move to the next generation.
For new releases from Microsoft’s development partners or its 15 Xbox Game Studios, Series X allows creators to utilise Direct X Ray Tracing (DXR), Variable Rate Shading, faster loading with Xbox Velocity Architecture, and add support for up to 120 FPS gameplay. Developers can create dynamic, living, breathing worlds on a scale never seen before.
Game Pass Is Going From Strength To Strength
All Xbox Game Studios titles launch into Xbox Game Pass the same day as their global release: With 15 studios producing games, that’s a lot of day-one releases and it makes the purchase of Game Pass an outstanding investment. If you choose the Ultimate Game Pass, you get a huge library for both PC and console and, thanks to xCloud, for your mobile device too. It’s an unprecedented package and surely represents one of the best services in gaming, ever.
For the price of an upper tier Netflix subscription, you get access to a curated list of exclusives, indie titles, AAA blockbusters and unexpected gems that are frequently updated. I’ve lost track of the great games that I have played. Games I otherwise would have never considered if it weren’t for Game Pass. Even huge titles like Shadow of the Tomb Raider, Just Cause 4, Metro Exodus and so many more.
If anything, Game Pass proves Microsoft has learned from its mistakes at the dawn of the last generation and is now truly focussed on providing the best gameplay experiences possible.
No One (Peripheral) Left Behind
The Xbox Elite Controller and Xbox Adaptive Controller all work on Xbox Series X, so you don’t have to purchase new controllers. This extends to almost every peripheral for Xbox One, with the exception of Kinect. In the past, a new generation meant shelling out £100’s to pick up new compatible headsets, controllers and more. Now, your hardware can come with you. For anyone with a sizeable collection of controllers, or who has spent a considerable amount on the amazing Elite controllers or on a premium headset, you can rest assured it will work perfectly on Series X.
There’s even more consumer friendly features, like Smart Delivery, that make Xbox a better place to play than ever before.
A lack of great exclusives has often been the main criticism levelled at Xbox. With the sizeable investment in new studios, though, the combined efforts of these teams will bring new and exciting IP’s to the system, all available day one on Game Pass.