Xbox announced this morning the new list of games coming to Game Pass for Console, PC, and Cloud. Indie developers? So many! New story for the game franchise most synonymous with Xbox? You bet! Roguelike shooters? Domestic life simulators? JRPGs? Party games? Check, check, check, check!
New Game Pass Games
ANVIL is a Day One with Game Pass release through the independent studio ID@Xbox program. ANVIL stands for Ancient Vault Investigation Lab, and players control heavily armored space marine-types with guns, swords, shields, jetpacks, and the like, fighting the hostile local wildlife on the worlds they explore. The player rebuild mechanic is introduced in the launch trailer as the reloading of a memory backed-up on a memory chip.
Archvale is another ID@Xbox game premiering on Xbox. Developed by IdoZ, this is a charming-looking, pixel-2D action game published by Humble Games with a gameplay trailer that showcases a fun aesthetic, frenetic gameplay, and co-op. The ten minutes of gameplay should give you an idea of whether this quaint fantasy world is something you’ll be into.
Final Fantasy XIII-2 is coming to Console and PC. The Final Fantasy games are something of an anthology series, but some of the games have gotten sequels within the series (Final Fantasy X got X-2 and XIII got XIII-2 and XIII-3). Square Enix’s most iconic JRPG property (no offense to the eminent Dragon Quest) used to be a Sony-exclusive franchise (and were before that a Nintendo-only franchise), but for a while now Xbox owners have been able to take a shot, increasingly on Game Pass.
Lawn Mowing Simulator is coming to Cloud, Console, and PC. It provides the experience of serenely manicuring the British countryside, expressing how labor can be fun when it is an end unto itself, rather than a tool to make other people rich. It is another ID@Xbox release, developed by Skyhook Games and published by Curve Games. The trailer is so calm and fun it could nearly be a parody. Sometimes the mundane can be profound.
Rubber Bandits is coming to Cloud, Console, and PC on Dec. 2, another day one release through ID@Xbox; this one from developer-publisher Flashbulb. Rubber Bandits is a party game for up to four players, engaging in hand-to-hand combat as well as using flamethrowers, pistols, and laser swords while trying to capture loot, fighting on moving vehicles and within vaults. See the trailer here.
Stardew Valley was originally released in Feb. 2015 for Windows and Dec. 2016 for Xbox One. The farming simulator role-playing game was developed independently over five years by Eric “ConcernedApe” Barone, who also published the game. Inspired by his childhood love of the Harvest Moon series and known for its cozy world and interesting NPCs—some of whom your player can marry—if you’re an Animal Crossing fan looking for something vaguely similar on Xbox, this might be your ticket
Warhammer 40,000: Battlesector, another in a long line of games inspired by the massively famous and influential miniatures tabletop game, is coming to Cloud, Console, and PC through ID@Xbox. Developed by Black Lab Games and published by Slitherine games, the turn-based strategy game comes to Game Pass through ID@Xbox, and allows players to take on the role of space marines in The Imperium fighting alien monsters.
Space Warlord Organ Trading Simulator is another ID@Xbox release, coming to Cloud, Console, and PC. Like WH40K, this game takes place in a dystopian future. Developed by Xalavier Nelson Jr. (AKA Strange Scaffold), who you may know from current Game Pass games Hypnospace Outlaw and SkateBIRD, you play as a space warlord trading organs, dealing with stocks, flesh and trying to resurrect a dead god, according to the Gameplay Overview that calls it a “sci-fi body-horror market tycoon.”
Halo Infinite – the one we’ve all been waiting for has arrived. While the free-to-play multiplayer is currently ongoing [and all progress will rollover into this launch], Dec. 8 will bring the story of the sixth Halo game starring Master Chief John-117 fighting the Covenant-offshoot Banished on Zeta Halo to Cloud, Console, and PC. The iconic jump-around-with-your-shield shooter from 343 Industries is landing next Wednesday. Hope you’re ready, Spartans.
One Piece Pirate Warriors 4 is a massive battle action adventure game from Omega Force, originators of the Dynasty Warriors franchise. The story takes the unfinished Wano arc from the manga and anime, where protagonist Luffy fights Blackbeard and tries to bring freedom to the Wano people. The base game has 43 characters, while DLC adds nine more. The game originally reviewed relatively well when released last year and is sure to be fun for fans of these combined franchises.
Aliens: Fireteam Elite is coming to Cloud, Console, and PC. This third-person co-op survival shooter set in one of the most iconic sci-fi horror universes of all time joins IP-mate Alien: Isolation on Game Pass. Fireteam Elite was released in August and is set 23 years after the original films, with players assuming the role of Colonial Marines with multiple classes playable through four story campaigns of three missions each.Among Us, Innersloth’s party-game that brings “Werewolf” or “Mafia” from theater camp and youth group to online gaming, is coming to Game Pass through ID@Xbox. Four to 15 players can work on the space station looking for imposters, while one secretly sabotages the ship and murders the rest. You likely heard a lot about Among Us last year, and now you can give it a try on Game Pass.
Included under “In Case You Missed It,” Xbox noted these games from ID@Xbox that are currently available:
Before We Leave is on Cloud, Console, and PC. A “cozy city builder” from Balancing Monkey games, utilizing a tiles-based map like that encircles the globe and which allows players to move throughout the entire solar system. The object of the game is to rebuild and rediscover civilization, settling new lands and planets while avoiding hungry Space Whales. See the trailer here.Generation Zero is a first-person shooter set in the hostile open world of post-apocalyptic, alternate-reality 1989 Sweden. Players control citizens fighting back against killer robots in this game developed by Avalanche Studios.Mind Scanners, a 2D simulation game where players control citizens of the dystopian future government called The Structure, tasked with normalizing the mental health of the other citizens. The retro-futuristic management game, where you’re told to “analyze, diagnoze (sic), normalize” was developed by indie studio Brave At Night.theHunter: Call of the Wild is a hunting game recreating the real-life experience of tracking and catching animals, except you can’t actually eat them. Vibrant realistic graphics bring the experience of the hunt, the sunlight, the bristling trees, the rolling fields and realistic animals, to the players. It’s on PC now.
DLC and Game Updates coming to Game Pass:
Age of Empires III: Definitive Edition Mexican Civilization DLC is available now. This expansion for the remastered RTS includes two new Explorers, “a unique Revolution mechanic, eight new units, two new building types, and a new Home City.Minecraft has released Caves & Cliffs Update: Part II available now, promising the fortune of scaling bigger mountains, finding and exploring “elaborate caves” and the ability to mine large ore veins. New world height, updated terrain, and candles are all included in this update.Coming Dec. 2, Sea of Thieves: Season Five kicks off. There will be a new bounty of “features, tools and quality of life updates” keeping this arcadey pirate game alive.
Game Pass Ultimate Perks for this month:
Dauntless is releasing a New Year’s Bundle that includes “exclusive cosmetics like the Pison Drake’s Eye lanterns kin and Monster Breath emote” plus “14 days of Slayer’s Club and 25 Patrol Keys.” This free-to-play game operates in the same space as Monster Hunter World, so if you like an open action RPG where you fight large beasts, maybe check it out.Speaking of free-to-play games, Respawn’s first-person hero-based battle royale Apex Legends is releasing a RIG Helmet Weapon Charm.World of Warships: Legends releases a Hero’s Companion, a free holiday bundle “centered around Tier II British destroyer Medea” as well as in-game items which include boosters, credits, Commander Progression items, and new camouflage.
Halo Infinite Multiplayer is getting a new weapon bundle with the release of the campaign mode. The ‘Pass Tense’ MA40 AR Bundle includes the titularcoating for the MA40 Assault Rifle, four 2XP Boosts, and four Challenge Swaps, available on Xbox, PC, and Cloud.
Games leaving Dec. 15:
Beholder (Cloud and Console)The Dark Pictures: Man of Medan (Console and PC)Guacamelee! 2 (Cloud, Console, and PC)Wilmot’s Warehouse (Cloud, Console, and PC)Unto The End (Cloud, Console, and PC)Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair (Cloud, Console, and PC)