The future of gaming is almost here.
If you haven’t got yourself a subscription to the Xbox Game Pass, maybe it’s time to treat yourself this holiday season. Boasting a wide assortment of titles available to browse and try, Microsoft’s game streaming service is increasingly becoming one of the most valuable purchases in the gaming market as its catalogue expands each month. From old school classics to today’s biggest franchises, the Xbox Game Pass has plenty of variety and choice to peruse at your desire, and with an upgrade to an Ultimate Game Pass, that impressive treasure trove of games becomes available to play on both PC, Xbox, and thrillingly, on most Android phones and tablets.
While still only in beta, Cloud Gaming with the Xbox Game Pass Ultimate is looking incredibly promising. Unfortunately, its features may not be as widely accessible as they would be by simply owning an Xbox console or PC: requirements include a connection with bandwidth at a minimum 10Gbps, 5Ghz Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, and of course it isn’t available for iOS - sorry, Apple users. Though, for those who have the capabilities to use the service, Cloud Gaming becomes an excellent addition to anyone’s personal gaming setup and a bright glimpse into what can be possible for games in the future.
However, Could Gaming on a mobile device serves more as good side-content, a new way to play the games you love but one that doesn’t replace the experience of playing on a console or PC. Could Gaming’s biggest strength is quick and gratifying action or minimal progression on a game you just can’t wait to get back home to play. The lush lands of Temaria in The Witcher 3 are best enjoyed on a TV or monitor, but that doesn’t mean you can’t finish off a contract on a commute to work or clear the area of much-needed minerals in No Man’s Sky while safely running some errands.
For those looking to enjoy such a promising new service, whether it be from the comfort of home or away from it, here are the ten best games that’ll make the most of Cloud Gaming with the Xbox Game Pass Ultimate (in no particular order).
SUPERHOT: MIND CONTROL DELETE
The perfect action game for any commute. The rules are simple: time only moves when you do; finish off all the enemies to clear a level. Other than, the experience is completely what you make of it. A standalone expansion for one of the most unique gaming experiences of 2016, Superhot: Mind Control Delete provides a mobile experience like no other. Fight through enemies in slow motion, plot your movements, identify the immediate threats, dispatch the targets, and watch your performance all again in real-time to truly show off how cool you looked, even if you spent an actual 5 minutes just standing there. It’s a game that really gives you the excitement of an action star and is just as fun to play on mobile. After all, in the simply decorated environments of Superhot, the only thing you need to pay attention to is the bullets flying your way.
ENTER THE GUNGEON
Enter the Gungeon is a bullet hell roguelike from 2016, and one of the best games to come out of the absolute explosion of fantastic indie games this past decade. It’s got a crazy amount of style, high-paced gameplay, and a difficult experience that truly takes time to master. It’s certainly a time sink and a huge challenge to get into, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the genre. It’s certainly not a game that everyone might enjoy because of how hard it can be, but with the Game Pass, it’s the perfect opportunity to try out something you might have avoided before or to play a unique, blood-pumping experience that’s a great way to experience one of the most charming love letters to one of gaming’s core genres.
THE WALKING DEAD SEASON 1
Stepping away from the action, mobile gaming is also a great way to experience, purely narrative titles like The Walking Dead Season 1. Even though we’re long past the heyday of zombie games permeating every corner of the games market, and definitely past the height of popularity for the show/comic series the game is based on, TWD Season 1 still has something to offer, it still has a reason to be played. Before The Last of Us showed the world Joel and Ellie, there was Lee and Clementine, a heart-warming relationship set in the backdrop of a zombie apocalypse that tugged at the heartstrings to really reimagine narrative-intensive games. If you didn’t play this title when it came out, check it out for the promise of a gripping narrative, or revisit it to see if your initial impressions and feelings for it still hold up. If you find the first season enjoyable, the following two seasons and DLC are available to play on the service as well. It’s got the perfect blend of light gameplay elements, to make it perfect for progressing in minimal increments whenever you want to play.
NO MAN’S SKY
Most likely gaming’s best redemption story, No Man’s Sky went from widely panned disappointment to one of the most rewarding experiences in just a few short years. The game’s prospects were completely turned around and Hello Games kept on delivering new and ambitious content to give the game even more depth. So, yes, the game should still be enjoyed on PC or console, but at the same time, there’s nothing better than preparing yourself for success. With the game on mobile, if you have some free time in your day when you’re not at home, log onto No Man’s Sky to mine some resources for yourself, so you don’t have to spend that time at home. The game is already great for logging on for an hour or to wind down and just enjoy the simplicity, it’ll be even better when you have enough materials to expand your base or advance the story at home because you took the time out of your day to do so.
Charming, cute, challenging; there are so many ways to describe Hollow Knight that nothing really does it justice other than playing it yourself. If you were holding out on the title, do not wait any further, because this is most definitely one of the most unique and rewarding games to come out in the past few years, Everything about Hollow Knight draws you in, and every discovery and new area is just another adventure that’s a complete treat to play through. Charming to no end and incredibly engaging, Hollow Knight is one of the best games to play on the small screen, and still, get as much out of it as you would if you were playing anywhere else.
HALO: THE MASTER CHIEF COLLECTION
One of the few first-person shooters on this list, Halo has always been about the gameplay first, and story later. With this collection, you can revisit one of gaming’s most classic franchises, all with the simplicity that came from the game’s earlier entries. If you’re not at home and just feel like playing through straight-up gun galleries, you really can’t go wrong with the five selection of Halo games at your disposal. Obviously, the experiences will play out the best on a console or PC, but if you have an itch to scratch and feel the need to shoot your way through hordes of enemies, the proven time-tested duo of a controller and a Halo game will do you justice, even if the screen is a bit smaller than what you’re used to.
If anything, the 2010s will be remembered for its absolute onslaught of lovable indie games that completely redefined the market for the better. Tons of independent studios developed and released passion projects that emulated and refined genres and styles of old, and only some of them really capture the love for and challenge of 2D platformers like Celeste does. With nothing but the snow, stellar music, and your reflexes to guide you, Celeste is a one-of-a-kind experience many consider to be completely essential for any gamer, even if it can be unforgivingly punishing. It captures the essence of its genre perfectly, all while providing incredible art, story, and gameplay in a lovingly unique package.
ORI AND THE BLIND FOREST
Ori might be the third platformer on the list but is just as a unique and wondrous experience as the rest. It’s a mystifying game, beautiful in its design, with all the atmosphere and draw of gaming’s highest budget titles. A game that’s been widely commended for its amazing art direction, soundtrack, and gameplay, there’s just no understating Ori’s wide appeal and constant praise, and it’s a must-play for anyone that has the chance to. If the “games are/aren’t art” debate were still relevant today, Ori and the Blind Forest would be the argument ender, the trump card for people to rally behind and definitively say, "This is all we need to say on the matter. If Ori and the Blind Forest isn't considered art, then I don't know what else is". Now, the beautiful atmosphere and captivating world can take gradually lift the stress off your shoulders, whenever you need it to.
The sequel to the widely beloved DOOM (2016), id Software once again knocks it out of the part with another fast-paced, smooth-like-butter shooter instalment in the highly influential series. Gory, loud, bombastic, and absolute loads of fun, if Halo scratches an itch for shooting galleries, then DOOM Eternal is like trying to scratch that itch by swinging a baseball bat. Doom Eternal makes no promises other than being speedy, engaging, and nothing short of a complete blast from start to finish. It's another game you can take at your own pace, clear through rooms of enemies in your free time, before really committing to the demon slayer grind when you get back home.
NIGHT IN THE WOODS
While you might not be chainsawing creatures from hell in Night in the Woods, you might have to face something just as horrifying. A game set in a small town inhabited by cutely designed critters, the game follows the life of Mae, a recent college dropout, looking to find some solace in returning to her former life and reconnecting with her old friends while doing so. What follows is one of the most strongly written games of the past generation, and truly takes you on an unforgettable tale that can leave you in different states of emotional stress. Much like The Walking Dead Season 1, its gameplay isn’t highly involving or very demanding, so it’s the perfect game to take piece by piece and enjoy it almost as if you were watching a movie on your phone coming home from work. It’s straightforward, engaging, and your mileage may vary depending on how well you connect with the characters, but if you do, no other game really comes close to the level of impact you feel.
All images courtesy of Microsoft | SUPERHot Team | Telltale Games | TeamCherry | Matt Makes Games | id Software