On paper, Xbox’s Gamescom show was nothing special. But in person it showed the power of Game Pass

This year Gamescom was strange. The first year after the pandemic many of the biggest games publishers decided to skip the show – which had the welcome effect of shining the spotlight on many games and publishers who might usually have to jostle with the biggest companies. multinationals to attract attention. french editor Focus Interactive Welcome, previously best known for games like A Plague Tale and Vampyr, had the best line-up in the series. But another beneficiary of no-shows has undoubtedly been Xbox.

The only one of the “big three” to show up, Xbox had “won” the Gamescom hardware manufacturers competition before the show even started. But even then, I watched her lineup for the show with my brow furrowed. Is this? It’s a ridiculous offer. Not even a crumb of Starfield? But now I have to raise my hands. Mea culpa – I was wrong. It was a great line-up – for what it was.

Sure enough, there weren’t the big name announcements you might most want. The biggest first party games on the Xbox booth were simply updates to existing rolling service games like sea ​​of ​​thieves and Based. The stand was dominated by captivating and entertaining photo ops. And, frankly, there were a paltry number of stations to play – if you managed to get on anything in that grandstand during public viewing hours, you were really, really lucky.

But the line-up itself was…good? It was good in a new and different way than what we are used to. Traditionally, we measure these events in megatons; ads and demos so big they leave craters in your brain and in the marketing plans of opposition platforms. But here it was something different – and more appropriate for the subscription age. Rather than delivering a big gourmet marbled steak, Xbox put on a show with a tasting platter. And it was a damn good set.

Don’t let the trailer fool you; High on Life deserves your attention.

So, on the first-party front, Xbox had two games on opposite ends of the Game Pass spectrum playable for the first time. Raised on life is a brash, goofy new shooter from the creator of Rick and Morty; the kind of game frat boys can set up and have a laugh while they smoke a big doobie. Repentance is the opposite – a thoughtful, slow-paced adventure RPG that’s all about reading, thinking, and making careful story choices. Although, honestly, that would probably be pretty high too.

Non-playable, but shown with live gameplay, was the excellent Minecraft Legends, the kind of game that seems like it could perfectly bridge a family IP with a generally pretty hardcore genre, real-time strategy. Pair all that with updates to existing releases and the fact that it’s all coming to Game Pass as part of the subscription (but not, as some outlets write, “for free” – you’re paying for the sub, dummy ) and it looks like pretty decent game programming.

You’re not going to want to sleep on Lies of P.

Elsewhere, Game Pass has also expanded with more third-party support. Games already released like crazy streets, GRID Legendsand Hardspace: Shipbreaker all join the service. And one of Gamescom’s darlings, the all-new Lies of P, is also heading to day one subscription.

To some extent, Lies of P is the perfect Game Pass game for me: I didn’t get a chance to play it at Gamescom, but several people described it to me as “We have Bloodborne at home – and I don’t think that’s pejorative. I like a good B or simple A level game that is inspired by a popular game of the moment. If 50 Cent Blood on the Sand came out today, it would be a Game Pass game – and it was quietly one of the best Tier B gems of its generation.

So here is. Going into Gamescom, I wasn’t too thrilled with what Xbox had to offer. But being there, and seeing and playing their stuff, I got it. I understood. He focused sharply. This is Game Pass. And as a Game Pass showcase, Gamescom was perfect.

That doesn’t mean you’re forgiven though, Xbox: we still want to see Perfect Dark, and Fable, and Starfield, and new stuff. But, for now, this subscription tasting menu will do just fine.

About Debra D. Johnson

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