We may have had to wait a little longer than other parts of the world, but Xbox Cloud Gaming (also known as Project xCloud when in preview) has just landed in Australia!
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Those of us involved in the testing phase of Xbox Cloud gaming have enjoyed having access to a handful of awesome games over the past few months. This was an amazing experience even in testing, with AAA games like Halo and Forza Horizon 4 accessible from even basic mobile devices! Now that the full version has landed, anyone with an Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription can access a library of over 100 awesome games on mobile devices. In fact, Xbox Cloud Streaming can also be accessed from PCs, including low spec laptops!
The brilliance of this evolution in gaming is huge! And it couldn’t have arrived at a better time, with a global computer chip shortage wreaking havoc on anyone attempting to purchase next-gen consoles or build a gaming rig.
How Does Xbox Cloud Gaming Work?
This is the brilliant part. As long as your device meets the minimum requirements for downloading the Game Pass App, you have a stable capable internet connection, you have a compatible Bluetooth controller and an Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription, you can enjoy the Xbox Cloud Gaming experience!
This is because all the hard work is done by an impressive array of blade servers dotted around the globe and running on Xbox Series X hardware. This actually blows my mind, and is further evidence that we are well-and-truly living in the future!
It is also a really clever use of resources. Instead of spending a significant amount of money on my own console that sits idle for the vast majority of its life, I instead dip into the shared pool of centrally located devices whenever I want! The hardware is also stored and operated in optimised conditions, meaning less hardware sitting around cluttering up my home, and fewer hardware failures due to overheating, dust-ridden devices shoved into inappropriate entertainment units (yes, I’m still mourning the untimely death of my Dreamcast, if you must ask…).
It is worth noting that, while widely available now in Australia, the cloud gaming function is still in beta. There might still be a few quirks to the experience. For example, I find that the app sometimes freezes when I exit games. Despite these occasional issues the overall experience is otherwise fantastic!
Do I have to use a controller with Xbox Cloud Gaming?
A handful of the games have been optimised for touch, but for the best gaming experience with Xbox Cloud Gaming, you will need a controller. This applies whether cloud gaming on a mobile or a computer. I have had the good fortune of testing two excellent controllers over the past few months – the GameSir X2 Bluetooth Controller and the GameSir G4 Pro.
Each of these options offers a fantastic gaming experience with Xbox Cloud Gaming in slightly different ways. The X2 Bluetooth is a mobile-only gaming controller that hugs your phone and essentially turns it into the best handheld gaming console that I could imagine! The idea of playing huge, graphically intensive games like Forza Horizon 4 and Halo on my phone would have seemed absurd just a few years ago, yet here we are! You can read my full review of the GameSir X2 Bluetooth here to find out more about whether it is right for you.
The GameSir G4 Pro adopts a more traditional Xbox-style design. This is great for those seeking the Xbox experience on their phone, and the handy integrated phone clip makes getting up and running simple.
What Games Are Available on Xbox Cloud Gaming?
The Xbox Game Pass app states that you can “Play 100+ console games with Xbox Cloud Gaming.” In fact, searching “all console games” in the Cloud Gaming section of the app returns just over 300 results!
These include some massive titles – Forza Horizon 4, Sea of Thieves, the Gears of War series, the Halo series, State of Decay 2, Marvel Avengers, Battlefield V, several Fallout games, NFS Heat… the list goes on… and on.
There are also quirky indie games to explore and enjoy, like The Artful Escape (a wonderful game!), Superliminal, art of rally and Psychonauts (1 and 2). There are even classics from as far back as the original Xbox, with such gems as Morrowind, Crimson Skies and Fuzion Frenzy bringing a smile to my face!
The games available on all versions of Xbox Game Pass (PC, Xbox and Cloud) change regularly, so there is always something new to check out. I have been using Xbox Game Pass for PC for just over a year and I can’t keep up with all the brilliant titles that are regularly added.
Are There Downsides or Limitations to Xbox Cloud Gaming?
The first point to consider with Xbox Cloud Gaming is data use. Thankfully, most decent NBN connections should be able to cope, although it may pay to position yourself close to the Wi-Fi router, or invest in a robust mesh Wi-Fi setup. Those on limited monthly data plans will also have to pay attention to how much data they consume.
Mobile gaming over a 4G or 5G connection is also possible, which is truly incredible! Of course, the same data considerations apply. If you plan on gaming while out and about, make sure your plan accounts for the extra usage.
Another possible downside is that you don’t actually end up owning a console or the games you play. In my mind this isn’t much of an issue – I haven’t purchased a CD in years thanks to music streaming services such as Deezer, nor have I purchased DVDs or Blu-ray. Streaming services are a convenient and affordable part of life in 2021, so it makes sense that gaming goes down the same path.
Finally, while the Xbox Cloud Gaming library is extensive, it doesn’t cover every game from within the Xbox range. On top of that, games come and go over time.
How Do I Get Xbox Cloud Gaming?
Xbox Cloud Gaming is available with an Xbox Game Pass Ultimate Subscription. This comprehensive Xbox gaming subscription provides access to Xbox Game Pass for Xbox, Game Pass for PC and Xbox Cloud Gaming! It also includes an EA Play membership and all the benefits of Xbox Live Gold. At just $15.95 AUD per month, I believe that represents excellent value. Even better, new subscribers can try a month of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate for just $1!