Through a bit of luck, I managed to acquire an Xbox Series S for the holidays. I’ve only had it for about a week now, but the slim, be-speakered machine—and, more specifically, the Game Pass subscription I purchased for it—has utterly changed my gaming life in ways I’m still trying to process.
For those of you who remember my blog about Xbox holes (an innocuous take that caused me an inordinate amount of grief), I got the Series S and not the X because the holes are smaller and therefore less troublesome to me. I’ve never owned an Xbox before this, though I’ve had access to them through ex-partners and roommates. The last time I could pick up a controller and play a Halo game was 2015; by then, it had long ceased to be a console for gaming and existed only as a dedicated Netflix machine/DVD player that required butter knife surgery whenever I wanted to open the disc drive.
My new Xbox is disc drive-less (which upsets my partner because he is a fanatical adherent of the Church of Physical Media), but the existence of Game Pass more than makes up for my inability to play anything from his library of original Xbox games. Before arriving at Kotaku, the realities of my bill-having, debt-paying life made deciding what games I would purchase and play a matter of weighing the time and money investment. Why spend $60 or even $30 on a video game if I’m not going to play it enough?
Game Pass obliterates all of my previous hangups and hesitation. Interested in a game but not enough to justify a $60 price tag? Nier: Automata is free with my $14.99 subscription. Have only 30 minutes before you pass out? That’s just enough time to get through the Long Night of Solace campaign in The Master Chief Collection. Even with this job, I try to be selective about what games I spend my time on in hopes of getting a few words out of them. But with all the games available to me now, I’m going hog-ass wild, content be damned.
Because of Game Pass, I’m even enjoying the games I’m not playing. My partner has racked up more hours on the Xbox than I have, and it’s been a total delight watching him. The first night we had Game Pass we had a ludicrous amount of fun trying to figure out what is the most OP unit in Totally Accurate Battle Simulator. We giggled our asses off watching the tiny combatants ragdoll all over the arena, and I even kept written notes chronicling the showdowns between Da Vinci tanks, mammoths, valkyries, and scarecrows. (TABS is actually really well balanced so we never determined the god unit, but in our hearts, it’s the snake archers.)
Game Pass makes me feel like being a kid unsupervised in a candy store, knowing I’ll never be caught or punished but encouraged to shove my face directly in the chocolate fountain. I started playing Anthem for god’s sake (and it’s not bad!).