Almost 3 months ago I wrote an article entitled Game Pass: Make me a believer. Within the article, I paint a rhetorical argument seeking to convince readers and myself of Microsoft’s Game Pass’s value. After publishing the article my wife turns to me and with an exasperated sigh. She says “Well I didn’t THINK we needed it but damn babe, now I’ think we might HAVE to.”
This is a direct follow-up to my previous piece. My wife and I took my own article’s advice: we purchased a Game Pass subscription. Over the last three months, I’ve had the chance to test out several games present on Game Pass. Its strongest feature is giving users the opportunity to try genres and titles they may normally have avoided or passed over at the game store. I have historically kept my attention focused on first-person-shooters, highly-stylized indie titles, and local co-op games. Due to the fact that my wife and I both enjoy gaming, our purchases are typically a balance of games things we both will enjoy and the rare game for one of us. But with the addition of Game Pass the need to merely select games which meet those specific criteria no longer apply.
With the shackles of my budget-bound spending habits cast aside, I dove headlong into a variety of games and genres.
Throughout my years of gaming, I’ve had a long love-affair with massively-multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPG’s). It is wholly logical then that as I fired up the Game Pass storefront that I gravitated towards two multiplayer games that I’d been dying to try: Sea of Thieves and ARK: Survival Evolved. I learned several quick things when I began playing Sea of Thieves:
1) This is a game I would grow to enjoy through MANY hours of play.
2) To own Sea of Thieves, I would need friends regularly play to make purchasing this title a worthwhile investment.
3) Sea of Thieves is absolutely dreadful if you are playing with a selfish crew.
While the game is quite fun, it is completely dependent on the crew you are running with. For me to consistently find enjoyment with this game, I’d have to have a solid gaming community to play this with.
On the contrary where I thought I would LOVE ARK: Survival Evolved a few brief hours of play revealed how vastly disappointed I would have been had I purchased this game. While it shares many characteristics with other games I love resource gathering, crafting, base-building, survival tactics I found the game a bit abrasive. The combination of being perpetually ganked, and hunted by other players, while the purpose of the concept left quite the foul taste in my mouth.
Action Adventure Games
After successfully scratching the MMORPG itch, my exploration of the Game Pass offerings began to drift to more familiar territory: Fighting/Action. Within these genres, I have put significant time into Mortal Kombat XL and Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice.
To be absolutely honest I’ve never been the most ardent fan of old-school fighter games. Don’t get me wrong, they are fun but they have never been my cup of tea. Left to normal budgetary restraints Mortal Kombat XL is a title I never would have purchased. But as it costs me virtually nothing, it has remained on my console. Quite surprisingly to me, I’ve spent nearly 6 hours in the game. Thanks to Mortal Kombat’s classic couch co-op mode, my wife and I can also battle against each other. Through battling from opposite ends of the couch Mortal Kombat has become a regular part of our shared weekly routine. My honor at this point forces me to disclose the fact that my wife has also trounced me on many the occasion.
A new favorite
Upon viewing the trailer for Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice I was convinced I’d found another Dark Souls style of adventure. Little did I know that I had stumbled upon what has come to be one of my favorite games for the last 2 years. I was not ready for the journey I had set out on. Nor was I prepared for how deeply the story and the virtual representation of psychosis would affect me. I was moved by the lengths Senua was willing to go. The torment she was willing to endure physically and psychologically to preserve Dillion’s soul. The virtual embodiment of psychological distress was overwhelming, frightening, and simultaneously gut-wrenching.
After completing the games final battle, I openly cried on my couch in a complex mix of sorrow and relief that this present torment for Senua was over. Based on the cover and description Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice is a game that would have landed in the “maybe” category of games. Had I not subscribed to Game Pass I’m not sure I would have ever played it, and this single game is worth the three-months subscription.
Finally, after completing an exceptionally intense game I opted for a “lighter” title. After quickly searching the store I eventually landed upon Ori and the Blind Forest, saying “This looks light-hearted and fun.” Never has a game brought me to tears more quickly. After Naru began caring for Ori, my cuteness meter was in overdrive, eyes brimming with tears of joy. Only to have that initial joy dashed upon the rocks of the selfless sacrifice of Naru bringing me again to open tears. Ori and the Blind Forest is a lovely game. While I am still playing Ori, every moment spent within its vibrant world is a delightful experience.
90 days ago I would have laughed at the notion of buying into a gaming service like Game Pass. I honestly didn’t see the point. Oh, how I was mistaken. In this brief period of time, I’ve changed my tune completely. Sure minor downsides do exist such as not owning your own copy of the game or having an additional cost. But when weighing the minimal cost against the value, you receive, for me, it’s a pretty easy choice. Even if you are simply curious, try it! If you discover it is not worth your money can always cancel! At $9.99, gaining access to the library of over 250 titles is a value worth investing in.
Allen works professionally in photography, cinematography, and marketing. As a lifelong camera junkie, he channels his creative and technical energy into the craft of photography, both in digital and analog processes.
He also loves playing games of all sorts, shapes, and play styles. Most days when he’s not doing photo related things he can be found playing D&D, Diablo III, Battlefield 1, or something retro. He also is a co-host and producer on both the Min/Max Podcast and the Deep Pixel Podcast.