Reviews - Updated on May 24, 2022

Last week, several representatives of the foreign gaming press announced at once that they were canceling their subscription to the Xbox Game Pass service. The author of the Washington Post wrote that he almost does not use its benefits and sees no reason to pay further; the Tom’s Guide employee plans to return when there are new big-budget exclusives. It is not known how much of the Xbox audience will follow suit, but the service really does not have much to offer this year.

Not according to plan

In 2018, Microsoft announced a major change to Xbox Game Pass, claiming that console exclusives would now appear on the service from day one. And three years later, the head of Xbox Game Studios Matt Booty (Matt Booty) talked about the company’s desire to release an exclusive every three to four months. It was for this that studios were acquired one after another – so that there would always be a stable stream of entertainment for subscribers.

Last year, the service accelerated only in the second half of it, when Forza Horizon 5 and Halo Infinite came out one after the other. And before that, Psychonauts 2 was released – not an exclusive, of course, but Double Fine was even then an internal Microsoft studio. You can also recall the console version of Microsoft Flight Simulator, although this is not entirely fair – the game was released on computers back in 2020. Well, let’s put The Medium and The Ascent on the list to the heap – “pros”, and the exclusives turned out to be temporary, but still.

Halo Infinite multiplayer doesn't require a subscription at all - it's free for everyone.

Halo Infinite multiplayer doesn’t require a subscription at all – it’s free for everyone.

This year, everything is, to put it mildly, bad. First, the release of STALKER 2: Heart of Chornobyl was postponed from April to December (it is possible that the deadline will change again), and then Bethesda presented an unpleasant surprise by immediately postponing both Starfield and Redfall. You can guess on the coffee grounds and fantasize about the imminent release of Hellblade II, the new Perfect Dark, some State of Decay 3 and other announced games, but none of them even have approximate release dates.

With the exception of the CrossfireX story campaign (or better yet, forget about it altogether), to date, Game Pass subscribers have not received any major exclusives this year. And there are catastrophically few new products from third-party publishers in the first half of the year – only Rainbow Six Extraction and Sniper Elite 5. But these, of course, are not the kind of games for which you want to spend money on the service.

Sniper Elite 5 is the perfect game for a subscription: not everyone will risk buying at full price, but trying it in Game Pass is the most.

Sniper Elite 5 is the perfect subscription game: not everyone will risk buying at full price, but trying it on Game Pass is just the thing.

For indie fans, the situation is much better – in recent months, a lot of interesting projects have become available by subscription. I had great pleasure exploring the world of Tunic, reading the stories of Citizen Sleeper heroes, changing skins in Nobody Saves the World, suffering from the high complexity of Infernax, being sad in FAR: Changing Tides and A Memoir Blue, experimenting in Weird West and looking for at least some pluses in Trek to Yomi gameplay. However, not everyone is interested in such games – unfortunately.

Faith and Hope

What to expect in Game Pass in the second half of the year? It is known that Warhammer 40,000: Darktide will be released on September 13 – the expected novelty for Vermintide fans and just fans of cooperative action games. In October, Scorn will appear – a stylish horror game that has been postponed so many times that you don’t believe in the latest statements from the developers. Even this year they promised A Plague Tale: Requiem and Atomic Heart, and the release of the new Forza Motorsport is also likely.

Someday Scorn will come out.  Probably.

Someday Scorn will come out. Probably.

Not a bad list of games (if they don’t get rescheduled, of course), but it’s desperately missing something to replace Starfield. And if you look at the release calendar, it’s not immediately clear what big ones can suddenly be added to a subscription on the first day, as happened with Outriders and Back 4 Blood. Wait there Hogwarts Legacy or Gotham Knights? This is something from the realm of fantasy. The Callisto Protocol is also unlikely to want to distribute. So it turns out that for a part of the audience, Game Pass throughout the year was and may not be the best investment.

At the same time, Sony is launching a new subscription service this summer. Rather, it improves PlayStation Plus by offering a bundle of bonuses for an additional fee. There will be no novelties there, and God of War: Ragnarök will not be added there, but it is full of other entertainment. Big titles from third-party publishers like Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla and Red Dead Redemption 2, relatively recent exclusives like Demon’s Souls and Returnal, classic games from the first PlayStation, streaming of great titles from PS3 (not in all countries), trial versions of new products …

The games are not new, but such a collage looks solid, especially against the backdrop of what is offered this year in Game Pass.

The games are not new, but such a collage looks solid, especially against the backdrop of what is offered this year in Game Pass.

It is difficult to say how interesting such an offer will be to the audience and whether they will want to pay as much as $119/€119 per year for it. But Sony has plenty of time to throw in as many interesting bonuses as possible into the service and really compete with Microsoft. Add more classic games (and the list is still rather meager), it is more willing to pour in recently released exclusives or releases from third-party publishers. Nintendo allows owners of expensive subscriptions to download add-ons for Animal Crossing: New Horizons and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe for free – you can follow suit. Whatever Sony does, Microsoft doesn’t seem to be able to respond in the coming months.

E3 will not take place this year, but the publishers plan to hold their own presentations next month. One of them is a joint show between Xbox and Bethesda, where traditionally they promise to show a lot of interesting things, including new items for Game Pass owners. I hope that the subscribers of the service will be encouraged – for now, there is a feeling that they have been promised much more than they can actually offer.

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