5 things I wish I knew before subscribing to Xbox Game Pass

Words of advice on Xbox's subscription gaming service: Game Pass is great if you know how to make the most of it

Xbox logo at Gamescom 2022
(Image credit: Juergen Schwarz / Stringer / Getty Images)

As a PlayStation 5 owner (don't worry, I'm an Xbox Series X fan by the virtues of my friends' consoles!), I have felt like I’m missing out when it comes to Xbox Game Pass. 

While there are several games included with PlayStation Plus (albeit fewer now), I’ve long felt jealous of friends of mine using Microsoft’s service. 

But having just got my hands on a gaming laptop, this was finally my chance to explore the vast library of games that Xbox Game Pass has to offer, as it's accessible via PC too!

1. Get the right controller 

An Xbox Elite controller

(Image credit: Getty)

As it stands you should not stream games on Game Pass without a controller. Some titles have touch controls – but if mobile games are anything to go by, this should be avoided. Most major titles will not stream without a controller. Microsoft is reportedly working on mouse and keyboard integration but it’s not possible yet. 

To make matters worse my PS5 DualSense controller wasn’t compatible, but of course. Those of us who want to be a bit rebellious and play Xbox-exclusive titles with a PlayStation controller will have to stick with the PS4’s DualShock 4 for now (or install a workaround). Luckily I was able to borrow (well, steal) an Xbox Wireless controller from my brother, which is definitely the best tool for the job as it stands. 

2.  We’re still not ready for cloud gaming

Skullcandy amplifies gaming experience with THREE new, multiplatform compatible headsets

(Image credit: Skullcandy)

The dream of game streaming is an easy sell. You could be racing wheel to wheel in Forza 5 and then 30 seconds later you could be blasting demons with a shotgun in Doom Eternal. But for now, the reality is much worse.

I’m not expecting to stream games on the highest settings with no latency – but even pushed to the bare minimum settings, the delay between controller inputs and on-screen actions rendered most games unplayable. In fairness, I’ve had the same problem with similar “Netflix for games” services like PlayStation Plus’ premium tiers. Perhaps for turn-based games it’s bearable, but any real-time game is pretty much impossible to play. 

Ultimately I don’t think we have the consistency or speed of the internet currently to stream AAA games. For now, I will stick to clogging up my hard drive with downloads, something that Game Pass does cater for.  

3. Day-one releases and cross-platform hits 


(Image credit: Arkane/Microsoft)

My absolute favourite thing about Game Pass is what will ultimately keep me using it: day one access to leading titles and exclusives. This is a big selling point for someone like me who loves to play the next big thing straight away. 

Being able to play Redfall on launch day as part of my subscription genuinely felt mind-blowing (even if the game itself wasn’t). This was a AAA release that would normally cost upwards of £60/$80 that I could play fully-featured for a fraction of the price. PS Plus conversely has only really had cat-platformer (Catformer?) Stray as a big launch day offering. 

Similarly, there are many titles that I have bought for other platforms that I could foolishly have just played on Game Pass. EA Play is included with the Ultimate tier of Game Pass and this grants access to a host of big-budget titles like F1 22 and Battlefield 2042, both games I foolishly purchased separately. Committing to Game Pass could save someone like me a lot of money. 

4. VIP Perks

League of Legends

(Image credit: Riot)

As well as the access to the likes of EA Play, Game Pass Ultimate has plenty more freebies to throw at you. These range from free trials for the likes of Apple Music and Discord Nitro to add-ons in your favourite titles like the Apex Legends Arsenal Supercharge Pack, or a free wolf pet on Elder Scrolls Online (Wolf food not included).

My biggest surprise however was for Valorant and League of Legends, two of the biggest free-to-play games in the world. Game Pass subscribers (even with the basic subscription) unlock every agent in Valorant and all 163 (and counting) League champions. Simply link your Game Pass account to your Riot account and make your friends very jealous. 

5. Bring a friend, or five

Halo Infinite

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Xbox Live is actually included with Game Pass Ultimate, which means that if you want to get stomped by some teenagers on Halo Infinite's multiplayer mode, you can. Those who prefer to play with people they know however are also in luck. 

Anyone with a paid Gampe Pass or Game Pass Ultimate membership can refer up to five friends and give each a 14-day trial of PC Game Pass. While they must previously have not had a Game Pass account, your five-person limit refreshes every calendar year, so make your friends happy "or sad if you want to crush them) and play together.

Aside from Halo, there are some excellent multiplayer choices on Game Pass, with Back 4 Blood, Forza 5 and Grounded all available.  

Andy Sansom
Staff Writer

Andy is T3's Tech Staff Writer, covering all things technology, including his biggest passions such as gaming, AI, phones, and basically anything cool and expensive he can get his hands on. If he had to save one possession from a fire it would be his PlayStation 5. He previously worked for Tom’s Guide - where he got paid to play with ChatGPT every day. When it comes to streaming, Andy will have his headphones glued in whilst watching something that will make him laugh. He studied Creative Writing at university, but also enjoys supporting his favourite football team (Liverpool), watching F1, teaching himself guitar, and spending time with his dog.