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Xbox Game Pass Is Closing Out 2021 With A Bang

Stardew Valley, Aliens: Fireteam Elite, and other games join Halo Infinite in this month's new offerings

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A soldier shoots an alien on a spaceship in Aliens Fireteam Elite.
Aliens: Fireteam Elite might get a shot in the arm this month.
Screenshot: Cold Iron Studios

Next week, Halo Infinite, which has had its free-to-play multiplayer mode playable for some time now, comes to Xbox Game Pass in full. But Microsoft’s games-on-demand service is getting a whole lot more than one deliriously anticipated first-person shooter, as evidenced by a stacked December 2021 lineup. Here’s everything coming to Xbox Game Pass over the next few weeks:

December 2

  • Anvil (Console, PC)
  • Archvale (Cloud, Console, PC)
  • Final Fantasy XIII-2 (Console, PC)
  • Lawn Mowing Simulator (Cloud, Console, PC)
  • Rubber Bandits (Cloud, Console, PC)
  • Stardew Valley (Cloud, Console, PC)
  • Warhammer 40K: Battlesector (Cloud, Console, PC)

December 7

  • Space Warlord Organ Trading Simulator (Cloud, Console, PC)

December 8

  • Halo Infinite (Cloud, Console, PC)

December 9

  • One Piece Pirate Warriors 4 (Cloud, Console, PC)

December 14

  • Aliens: Fireteam Elite (Cloud, Console, PC)
  • Among Us (Cloud, Console, PC)

But the Xbox Game Pass library is, as ever, more of a revolving door than the digital media industry. The following will leave the service on December 15:

  • Beholder (Cloud, Console)
  • The Dark Pictures: Man of Medan (Console, PC)
  • Guacamelee! 2 (Cloud, Console, PC)
  • Wilmot’s Warehouse (Cloud, Console, PC)
  • Unto The End (Cloud, Console, PC)
  • Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair (Cloud, Console, PC)

Yup, a whole lotta games are vying for the slim sliver of sunlight not covered by Halo Infinite’s shadow. Some, like Among Us and Stardew Valley (first announced for a fall release on the service back in August), are totemic in modern gaming, and should get a not-exactly-needed-but-nonetheless-nice shot in the arm from hopping on Game Pass. There’s also Final Fantasy XIII-2, which joins on the heels of its immediate predecessor, two years after Microsoft announced a sweeping slate of Final Fantasy games would hit the Game Pass library. And, of course, don’t hedge away from the surprisingly riveting Lawn Mowing Simulator. (I’ll give you one guess as to what people are going to draw in the grass.)

Most curious, though not exactly surprising, is Aliens: Fireteam Elite. First released in August, the Left 4 Dead-alike set in the Aliens canon was tepidly received, but moderately played, at launch. Then, following the October release of that other Left 4 Dead-alike, Aliens: Fireteam Elite’s player base fell off a cliff. By the middle of the month, it had a total concurrent player count of less than 800 on Steam.


Launching on Game Pass has famously given a boost of players to some multiplayer shooters, like Outriders, in the past. Of course, those games benefit enormously from day-one excitement and the compounded hype of a Microsoft-affiliated ad campaign. I’m curious to see if hitting the service months after release can have a similar effect on a multiplayer shooter’s playerbase. Personally, I’m keen to check Aliens: Fireteam Elite out—well, maybe once I’ve had my fill of Halo.