Yep, I know it’s a console war headline, but let’s be honest, if I had just written “Xbox is a great buy this vacation” you wouldn’t have clicked.
Xbox as a platform has a bit of time. While the start of the year has been rather barren in terms of big releases, which was amplified by the fact that everyone wanted shiny new games for their fancy next-gen consoles, the summer has been a goodness. nonstop.
At the end of July, Flight Simulator arrived on Xbox, giving the X and S series their first “Wow” exclusivity. Of course, he also landed on day one on Game Pass.
Psychonauts 2, true contender for the game of the year, made a strong impression at the end of August. Xbox gamers couldn’t claim exclusivity on this one, which would also be coming to PlayStation platforms, but it was another awesome Game Pass Day 1 title to enjoy.
October saw Back 4 Blood arrive on day one on Game Pass, which was a big plus for the service which typically doesn’t offer such great third-party AAA games on the day you can buy them.
Then the big dogs came to town. Forza Horizon 5, GTA San Andreas New Improved GTA Trilogy, and Halo Infinite released on Xbox and Game Pass in November and December.
I’m not exaggerating when I say Forza Horizon 5 will be one of the top three games of the year. It’s an amazing game that feels like it’s reaching a new audience that’s bigger than ever.
GTA San Andreas is a great Game Pass, and Halo Infinite just might beat Horizon 5 as the biggest launch in Xbox Game Studios history. Have you played the Halo Infinite beta? Halo is back, and potentially in a very big way.
Add to those Art of Rally, 12 Minutes, Artful Escape, Sable, Football Manager 2022 and Skyrim (with a free next-gen update) since the summer and it’s half the year for Xbox and Game Pass.
That’s not to say the PS5 hasn’t had some great games this year. Returnal, Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, Death Loop, and Kena: Bridge of Souls are all great, but Death Loop is invited to do a lot of big vacation chores, which he just can’t do on his own.
In an industry where everyone is always on the hunt for the next new and exciting thing, Xbox has undoubtedly beaten PlayStation this holiday, and Game Pass is making the platform a lot more budget-friendly (although I won’t go so far as to make the platform. ‘ie cheap, whereas even the S-Series costs £ 250 and Game Pass Ultimate costs £ 11 per month before looking for deals).
Xbox has yet to fully deliver on its promise of hit AAA exclusives as we take for granted on PlayStation, but it is getting there – although perhaps a little fearful for Horizon Forbidden West, Gran Turismo 7, and God of War. Ragnarok triple whammy come next year. Then there’s Forspoken and Ghostwire: Tokyo in terms of known third-party exclusives.
Xbox needs to make the most of its advantage this Christmas. If Halo and Forza, along with a host of great Game Pass games, can’t beat Sony’s non-existent vacation lineup, the Xbox will likely remain in Sony’s shadow for the entirety of this generation of consoles.
Are you going to go for it as the marketing said? Let us know on the comments. Or tell me how wrong I am and how amazing the PS5 is (I didn’t say no).