Very few things can be said to be certain in life. We have the certainty of taxes; we have the certainty of death; and, more importantly, we have the certainty of Game Pass delivering some great day one releases.
Ever since it was made available back in June 2017, Game Pass has became an expert on turning doubters into believers, slowly shifting the industry into a different kind of business and becoming a highlight of one of the best Xbox E3 showcases ever.
We still have a few days to go for the end of this year’s first half. Game Pass subscribers are yet to play Dungeon & Dragons: Dark Alliance and Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit Remastered, which will become available on late-June (the latter being part of EA Play), but they are already wondering how in the world they will be able to play everything the service will have to offer in July and August.
Yes, July and August. Microsoft usually announces new games joining Game Pass every two weeks, but we already know some of the additions for the next couple of months. And be prepared: starting on July 20th, there will be at least a new release joining the catalogue on day one.
July 20th: Cris Tales
Announced during E3 2019, this is the first game by the indie Colombian studio Dream Uncorporated and was originally slated for a late-2020 release on Xbox One, only to be delayed to 2021 later on while also adding a next-gen version.
Cris Tales is described as an indie love letter to classic JRPGs with a new perspective: you can peer into the past, act in the present, and watch as your choices dynamically change the future — all in one screen as you play! Beautifully hand-drawn 2D animations bring to life a world where your choices will change both the present and the future across the more than 20 hours of gameplay promised by the developers.
And let’s be honest: how can we not get hyped with a game that claims to be a tribute to classics like Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy and Persona?
July 27th: Microsoft Flight Simulator
I am technically cheating with this one since it was released for Windows 10 PCs last August, but I am sure you do not mind! After all, it is impressive how a game like Microsoft Flight Simulator will be able to run on a $500 machine (or $300, if you have a Series S!).
Besides being able to experience the same level of depth and complexity currently available on PC on their home consoles, players can also look forward to a one-of-a-kind, free expansion based on the upcoming Top Gun: Maverick movie releasing on November 19.
The sky is calling, indeed!
July 29th: The Ascent
This one has been on pretty much everyone’s radars since it was revealed during May 2020’s Inside Xbox showcase.
The Ascent is a solo and co-op action RPG set in a cyberpunk world where the mega corporation that owned you and everyone else has collapsed. Originally announced as an Xbox Series X|S launch title, the game was another victim of delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic — but it is now close to release and we can really feel it!
August 3rd: Lemnis Gate
Most of the games in this list have been announced a long time ago, but Lemnis Gate is an exception to this rule. It was only last week that this game was announced to be coming to Xbox, and it is already joining the Game Pass catalogue on August 3rd.
Lemnis Gate is a turn-based combat strategy FPS taking place in a time loop, and at the start of each 25 second round you’ll pick one of seven operatives with a unique set of skills. Whatever actions you take within that round are then locked in and repeat each round until the end of the match.
August 13th: Hades
Originally released last year for PC and Nintendo Switch, Hades was one of the nominees for 2020’s Game of the Year. And now, if you are a Game Pass subscriber, you can play it for no extra cost when it releases on Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S on August 13th!
This is the first game from developer Supergiant Games to be released on an Xbox console since 2011’s Bastion — which, curiously, was an Xbox console exclusive for a long time during a period in which indies were not as big as they are now.
Taking the risk of asking for too much, can I please have Transistor on Xbox now, Supergiant?
August 19th: Twelve Minutes
Twelve Minutes is an ambitious narrative-driven game developed by Luis Antonio, former artist from Rockstar Games and Ubisoft that left these companies to pursue independent game development.
The game was announced six years ago, and as the years went by, the hype surrounding the game only got bigger. Inspired by movies like The Shining and Groundhog Day, and with voice acting provided by James McAvoy, Daisy Ridley and Willem Dafoe, Twelve Minutes is one of the most expected games of the year.
August 25th: Psychonauts 2
Psychonauts 2 is the sequel to the 2005’s cult-classic. Directed once again by the industry legend Tim Schafer, the game has been in development since before Double Fine Productions joined the Xbox family. This is, in fact, yet another game from the Xbox Game Studios to be released in 2021, joining Age of Empires IV, Halo Infinite and Forza Horizon 5.
Explore unique environments using Raz’s ability to dive into people’s brains to battle their inner demons, unlock hidden memories, and resolve their emotional baggage when the game releases on August 25th.
Oof… that was a lot. And that is only what we already know that is coming — after all, we are still in June, so more things are bound to be announced. Not to mention everything scheduled to join the service from September onwards: The Gunk, Aragami 2, Scorn, Back 4 Blood, Forza Horizon 5, Halo Infinite…
And, if this year’s Xbox E3 showcase is anything to go by, this will become even more common very, very soon.