October was the month that, for Australian gamers, changed the game forever. Xbox Cloud gaming landed in Beta form and with it, a whole world of gaming options. With Game Pass Ultimate subscribers now able to access a vast catalogue of games across PC, Xbox and mobile (cloud) platforms, in my option Game Pass represents the best value that gamers have ever seen!
Game Pass is truly remarkable, so much so that every time I fire it up and download yet another new game (or launch directly into a new game via Cloud Gaming), I still feel a sense of disbelief! Over the course of a year I have played a ridiculous number of games from a wide range of genres. During this time I have tried games I never would have contemplated buying and been blown away by the experience. I have also tried games that I thought I might love, only to find that, ultimately, they weren’t for me.
While I have been covering the best of Xbox Game Pass for PC for over a year, the arrival of Cloud gaming calls for change and so the scope of this monthly roundup has now shifted to look at Xbox Game Pass Ultimate in all its glory!
Disclosure: This article contains products provided to Blog of Dad free of charge. Any thoughts expressed about the products in this article are based on my own experiences. For more information, read the Disclosure Statement.
Forza Horizon 4 (PC, Cloud, Console)
Regular readers of my Game Pass coverage will know how often I have raved about Forza Horizon 4. It has consumed more hours of my time than just about any other game and given me more joy than should be possible from some pixels on a screen. Sure, the game has its quirks (underwhelming engine noises, problematic connectivity for online play, the occasional strange glitch), but as far as I am concerned, when paired with the Logitech G920 Driving Force Wheel and delivered through a 34″ UWQHD monitor, it is near open-world driving perfection!
Consider this a farewell letter to this brilliant game. It is the final time that Forza Horizon 4 will feature in my Xbox Game Pass Ultimate roundups because, in a matter of days, the much anticipated Forza Horizon 5 will launch. And Game Pass subscribers will have access from Day 1! Did I mention that Xbox Game Pass blows my mind?
So, farewell to the rolling hills and terrorised sheep of northern Great Brittan and buenos dias Mexico! I can’t wait for the endless, all-season party to start up all over again! I’ll meet you there with a jug of margaritas, a plate of enchiladas and a 1973 Holden HQ Monaro GTS 350!
The Artful Escape (PC, Cloud, Console)
As a time-poor dad I have developed a terrible habit of never finishing games. Ever. The most recent game that I can remember finishing was Halo Reach, and even then I had grand plans of playing through the entire Halo series (…that never happened).
The Artful Escape ruined my perfect streak of incomplete games, because I couldn’t put it down until I had reached the end! The funny thing is that I would never have even considered picking it up if it wasn’t for Game Pass! The Artful Escape is unlike anything else I have played. Despite essentially being a 2D platformer, there is no pressure of failure or apparent way to lose. There are no lives being lost or timers ticking down, just a ridiculously enjoyable storyline with easy user inputs to progress the storyline.
The arrival of Cloud Gaming was also a major player in my successful completion of this game. Being able to seamlessly switch between PC and my mobile phone with GameSir G4 Pro controller was a revelation! A quick sync is all it takes.
Part of the attraction is how beautiful the game is. At times it is like playing an artwork! Then there is the endless shredding, which happened to coincide with arrival of the brilliant EPOS GTW 270 Hybrid Wireless Earbuds for review. It is fair to say that my ears went to a happy place! And to top it all off, there is some of the best in-game voice acting that I have encountered. What a blast!
State of Decay 2: Juggernaut Edition (PC, Cloud, Console)
It wouldn’t be Halloween without some gory, zombie-based survival action and it doesn’t come much better than State of Decay 2. Rebuilding civilisation in the midst of a zombie apocalypse is a pretty heavy ask, but with enough semi-sharp weaponry and some skills in motor mechanics, a community can be rebuilt quickly enough! State of Decay 2 is fun alone, but add a couple of friends and it is an absolute blast!
Back 4 Blood (PC, Cloud, Console)
Sometimes one gory, zombie apocalypse-based game just isn’t enough! To celebrate Halloween, Back 4 Blood makes the list in all its gory glory! And it truly is gory. The 1st person perspective definitely adds to the feeling of being up close and splattered with zombie blood, of which there is plenty! There may not be the greatest amount of depth to this game, but for some solid zombie-blasting action it is thoroughly enjoyable!
Lemnis Gate (PC, Cloud)
Lemins Gate is a unique and thoroughly enjoyable game… even though I am terrible at it. It is a turn-based FPS – a concept that made so little sense to me that I just couldn’t imagine how it worked until I actually played it! In Lemnis Gate, strategy is king and human opponents are brutal. I have been thoroughly flogged each and every time I have tried to wrap my head around the game play. But, I’m willing to keep trying! The satisfaction of actually winning a game must be quite something! Maybe one day…
Age of Empires IV (PC)
Okay, so I haven’t actually played Age of Empires IV yet. After all, it only landed two days ago (Day 1 Release on Game Pass) and fatherhood sometimes gets in the way of binge-playing new releases the second I get my hands on them. BUT, Age of Empires IV makes the list because I just know it’s going to be amazing! Rave reviews have me pumped, as does a huge sense of nostalgia for my gaming glory days in the late 90’s.
The value of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate really shines when we are able to get our hands on huge titles such as Age of Empires IV on the day it releases! Better yet, if (unimaginably) it doesn’t live up to the hype, I won’t have just blown a significant chunk of disposable income on a game I’ll never play. Brilliant!
I’ll let you know what it’s actually like to play next month… if I can stop playing Forza Horizon 5 for long enough to write it up…
Blog of Dad Test Setup
- CPU: AMD Ryzen 5600X
- Cooling: be quiet! Dark Rock Pro 4
- Motherboard: MSI B550 TOMAHAWK
- Memory: 32GB (2x16GB) XLR8 DDR4 3200MHz
- Graphics: PNY GeForce RTX 2070 Super 8GB XLR8 Gaming Overclocked Edition
- System Drive: 250GB Samsung 980 PRO PCle 4.0 NVMe M.2 SSD
- Game Drive: Samsung 980 1TB M.2 NVMe SSD
- Case: be quiet! Silent Base 801
- Steering Wheel: Logitech G920 Driving Force Racing Wheel
- Keyboard: Logitech G915 LIGHTSPEED Mechanical
- Mouse: CORSAIR SABRE RGB PRO WIRELESS
- Optical Switch Gaming Keypad: Razer Tartarus Pro
- Gamepad: GameSir G4 Pro
- Monitor: PRISM+ XQ340 PRO 34″ UWQHD Monitor
- Touchscreen Monitor: espresso Display 15″
- Sound: EPOS SENNHEISER GSP 601 Gaming Series headset and EPOS GSX 300 External Soundcard