The best Xbox Game Pass Games

If you’re getting or giving an Xbox for the first time this holiday season, it’s worth considering signing up for / gifting a Game Pass subscription alongside it. If you’re unfamiliar with Game Pass, it’s a subscription service where for $9.99 a month you get instant access to a library of 100+ Xbox games. You’ll be able to download as many games from the service as you like, and play them as often as you like (while subscribed to the service). One huge plus, is that all first party Microsoft games will release on Game Pass going forward (meaning that on launch day you can download and play the game without paying more as long as you’re subscribed to the service). Recently, AAA games such as Forza Horizon 4 and Sea of Thieves have launched on Game Pass.

With that said, here are some of my personal favorite games currently available on Game Pass:

Forza Horizon 4

Forza Horizon 4 is an incredibly beautiful game, especially on the Xbox One X. It’s an open world racing game that is a little more arcade feeling than the traditional Forza series, but the driving feels more “real” or grounded than games like Burnout Paradise or The Crew 2. The changing of seasons is a pretty neat idea, and the roads feel different depending on which season you’re currently in. The racing feels great as is always does in the Forza series, and the relatively seamless multiplayer experience is a plus as well.

Halo: The Master Chief Collection

Whether you grew up playing the Halo games, or you’ve never touched one before, The Master Chief Collection is an incredible package. It had a rocky launch, but my experiences with it lately have been overwhelmingly positive, and it looks great since becoming X Enhanced as well. You’ll be able to play through the campaigns of Halo 1-4 solo or with friends, and of course you’ll have access to all of the multiplayer action as well. Halo 5 is also available in Game Pass, but I greatly prefer the MCC multiplayer.

HITMAN

HITMAN is an absolute masterpiece of a game. If you’re unfamiliar, you’ll be thrown into a variety of environments with the goal of assassinating several targets in each. There’s such a wide variety of ways to accomplish the missions, however you’ll be able to find some ‘guided’ story elements to pull off particularly entertaining assassinations. There’s so much opportunity for hilarity, chaos and pulse pounding action in the game. For some idea of what the game can bring, check out some of the Giant Bomb features on it.

These are just a few of my favorites featured in Game Pass, but there are so many more. Other hits include:

DOOM
Gears of War 4
Gears of War: Ultimate Edition
PUBG
Rise of the Tomb Raider
Rocket League
State of Decay 2
Sunset Overdrive

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Rocket League Championship Series: Not a great eSport

Rocket League Championship Series

I was browsing Twitter yesterday morning when I came across a tweet about the Rocket League Championship Series, of which the first day of the finals was to air on Twitch. Between checking out EVO on ESPN and watching the documentary “Free to Play” I’d been interested in checking out eSports lately, so I decided I would watch.

Rocket League is easily one of my favorite games of all time, and this would be the first time I’d be watching an eSport competition in a game that I actually play. I figured it’d be interesting to see what high level play looked like, and I eagerly tuned in as the event began.

Rocket League Championship Series

Right off the bat I was a little put off by the commentating crew. They seemed to be struggling to provide interesting commentary, and one commentator used the phrase “like” so much that I could barely endure listening to it. This is one area that eSports events really need to work on if they want to attract a more mainstream audience.

Once the first match began, I started to realize that Rocket League isn’t very entertaining to watch. Despite the competition being between some of the best players in the world the play seemed as chaotic and random as just about any Rocket League match I’ve ever participated in. That’s not to say the players weren’t skilled, I could never pull off any of the aerial plays that they made look easy, but it all seemed random, and there didn’t seem to be much strategy involved. Maybe it was just the way they switched between cameras, but it all just seemed chaotic and none of the play looked smooth.

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I probably could have kept watching the event out of curiosity, however the quality of the stream was a deal breaker. The video outside of the gameplay was fine, but during matches the video was stuttering like crazy, it was like watching sub 30fps gameplay and my eyes couldn’t take it. Whatever they were doing to capture the gameplay just wasn’t allowing for a quality production. It certainly had nothing to do with my internet connection (which is 200mbps for the record) because when they were showing video inside the arena it was clear and perfectly smooth. I saw many other people complaining about a video lag in the chat, and once I realized it wasn’t going to get any better I had to stop watching.

The second leg of the Rocket League Championship Series final airs today at 10AM PDT, however I don’t think I’ll be giving it another chance. Even if the gameplay stream quality were to be fixed I don’t think I’d be able to find watching other people play Rocket League interesting.

Did you watch any of the Rocket League Championship Series? What did you think of it? Is Rocket League a game worthy of eSports?

Rocket League is coming to retail stores!

Rocket League

The hit game Rocket League will be making its way onto store shelves in disc form by way of “Rocket League: Collector’s Edition” packaging set to release by Q3 2016. The incredibly popular indie hit developed by Psyonix just recently released on Xbox One but was originally available on PC and PS4 in July 2015. Rocket League has already seen close to four million downloads, but a disc based version will make the game available to an even larger player base, especially those unable to download games due to limiting bandwidth caps.

The Collector’s Edition is being made available by 505 Games, already known for making other digital releases such as Payday 2 and Terraria available in physical format.

The package will include the three DLC packs that have already released. No pricing has been announced, however if you don’t want to wait for the disc based release the game is currently available for $19.99 in the Xbox store.

Rocket League

Rocket League is one of the most fun video games I’ve played in recent years, and it’s incredibly addicting. Every time I play it I end up telling myself “just one more match” for hours before I force myself to put the controller down. I’m glad that more people will be able to play Rocket League and am excited that the game will get more exposure via its presence on store shelves later this year.

Rocket League on the Xbox One is not very playable outside the U.S.

I was incredibly excited for Rocket League’s arrival on the Xbox One this week. I had played it previously on my MacBook’s Windows 10 partition, but it never ran quite well. I figured I’d wait to enjoy the game when it released on Xbox. Last night after work, however, I was met with disappointment. Every game I played was unbearably laggy. So laggy that the game was unplayable. My car would constantly stutter and reverse direction over and over again and would randomly transport around the arena. I stuck the matches out, hoping it would get better, but it never did. I rarely came into contact with the ball, and by some miracle I managed to accidentally score a goal, brushing past the ball just before the opposing player knocked it into his own goal.

At the end of each match my ping was shown as being anywhere from 50 to 300, but even at 50 the game was unplayable. I’m currently deployed which is likely the reason for the lag as the only servers are in the U.S. and Europe, but I have no issues with games such as Destiny or Battlefield on the same Internet. A quick search on Google revealed that I was not alone, as many Australian players have reported lag making the game unplayable for them as well.

Hopefully the server issues are worked out in the near future, otherwise I’ll be waiting even longer to finally enjoy Rocket League.

Rocket League is great!

Rocket League

Developer Psyonix’s Rocket League released on PC and PS4 on July 7th of this year and almost instantly became a smash hit. The game was made available for free to Playstation Plus members which helped get it into the hands of the masses rather quickly (it’s been downloaded over five million times). Many who played Rocket League became immediately hooked and raved about the game to all their friends.

rocket league

In Rocket League, teams of between one and four RC cars face off in a soccer arena with one simple goal: knock the soccer ball into the opposing team’s goal. The gameplay is rather simple, you just drive into the ball in an effort to push it into the goal. You can also pick up boost which allows you to drive faster, useful for trying to get a jump on your opponents or when you need to chase down a wild ball. You’re also able to jump and spin in the air, which can be used to knock the ball out of the air or into the goal assuming you’re able to time it right.

Rocket League

Matches in Rocket League are short and sweet, just five minutes (unless you go into a sudden death overtime) which makes it a perfect pick up and play game. The problem is, once you pick it up you’re not likely to put it down. Rocket League matches are so wildly fun you’ll even have a blast losing. Matches that seem one sided can sway in favor of the losing team at any moment, and sudden death overtime is always a looming possibility. The rush of a tying goal with just seconds left on the clock never gets old.

Rocket League

I’ve known of Rocket League’s existence for awhile, however I had been holding out for an Xbox One version. We know Rocket League is set to expand onto other consoles, we just don’t know exactly when this will happen. Today I finally broke down and picked up Rocket League on Steam ($19.99) and it’s been a blast! I’ve only played a handful of matches but I’m already hooked. The very first game I played went into overtime with an equalizer scored with just nine seconds left on the clock. My team went onto win with a spectacular goal and I immediately saw just how exciting Rocket League could be.

Rocket League

I scored my first goal during the second game and I can’t wait to jump back into another game!

Rocket League

I’m playing Rocket League on a 2012 MacBook Pro running Windows 10 via Boot Camp. It has an Intel i5 (2.50 GHz), 8GB RAM and an Intel HD 4000 graphics card. It runs well on medium settings, with a few hiccups here and there which may just be lag (I can’t quite tell, adjusting graphic settings up or down doesn’t seem to have an impact).