I tried my hardest to get my girlfriend to like Destiny 2. I really did. I showed her the ropes, explained every icon and submenu, and replayed missions I’ve done a thousand times before. I did this on a new character so we’d be at the same power level while leveling her up. From the Tower down to Trostland, and from strikes through story arcs, she soldiered on, until the game servers booted her in the middle of a firefight between us and some Fallen.
“Oh, that happens sometimes,” I explained, frantically taking the controller from her and trying to get her back online. “Here, just let me…”
….but that was it. As she stared blankly back at me, I saw in her eyes that we had come to a breaking point. A fork in the galactic road. While my Guardian could go on to free the galaxy from the grip of the Darkness, my lady’s armor-clad huntress was doomed to remain mid-battle with those Fallen forever. She (my girlfriend, that is; I’m certain her Guardian loves it) just doesn’t dig Destiny 2.
Now, this might have caused more than a little consternation in the past, given the price of gaming these days. If I had bought my Destiny-averse life partner a copy of the game without her knowledge and set it up for her in the hopes that she might join me in my magic alien-busting shenanigans, I might be stung a bit more by her declarations that it’s “just got too much to do” and “isn’t my type of good time.”
I can see it now: “It has too much to do,” I’d cry, “That’s just added value!”
But I dropped it, she deleted it off her system, and we both went onward, happily playing different titles. No sweat. And minutes later, my girlfriend was on to another title that, while I had personally hated, she immediately took to.
This moment of domestic bliss has been brought to my household and millions of others by Xbox GamePass – potentially the biggest game-changer (if you’ll excuse the pun) of my gaming life. Much has been said about the benefits – as well as a potential prognosticated downfall – of Microsoft’s foray into a Netflix-style subscription service for gaming titles both old and new. I’ll let the industry giants fight over the raw data and potential earn/loss numbers for publishers and development teams. As far as I’m concerned, GamePass has changed my gaming life for the better by encouraging diversity in my game library, reintroducing games from my past, and giving me a chance to share some of the best games with those I care about.
More than Call of Duty
Like just about every gamer I know, I have for the longest time had a few genres of the art form that I come back to title after title, year after year. For me, starting my serious gaming life out with pen and paper Dungeons and Dragons and buying Medal of Honor after seeing Saving Private Ryan as a kid, two of those genres have always been RPGs and First Person Shooters.
Much to developers like DICE, Infinity Ward, Crytek, and Respawn’s delight (I swear, I must have put some of their kids through college based on my combined GameStop receipts), if a new shooter in their respective catalogs is announced, I more than likely will buy it. Likewise with the big western RPGs of BioWare and Bethesda’s ilk – as much as the last Mass Effect and Fallout burned me (and most people), should they announce a return to form I will line up to provide my credit card information.
It isn’t that I’m uninformed or unintelligent about what I choose to spend my hard-earned money on – I read previews, watch gaming news conferences and subscribe to my fair share of independent gaming YouTubers and podcasts – it’s just that for me, as for many others, the genres I know and love are like digital comfort food. Sure, you probably shouldn’t eat another pizza this month, but damn if it doesn’t hit the spot, right?
There’s nothing wrong with that, except that with limited dollars, comes a limited number of titles that I could purchase and therefore be exposed to – until GamePass came along. Now, instead of my hard drive being full of every flavor of Battlefield, Call of Duty, and whichever version of Skyrim was re-released that month, I’ve been able to branch out into sports games, racing games, non-Western games (I see you, Yakuza series) and more – all of which have broadened my horizons as a player and appreciator of our favorite time-wasting hobby. And with the money saved by being able to try dozens of new games a month for the price of one major DLC, I can go back into the titles I love the most and bling out my guns with needless microtransactions. (Forgive me.)
Even Better Than I Remember Them
The gaming industry, perhaps more than any other creative arts field, is constantly looking forward. While it’s true that visual art, music, and film creators are likewise always looking for the next boundary-pushing opportunity, the game industry has somewhat lagged behind the others when it comes to paying proper respect to the titles and systems that paved the way for the multi-million dollar interactive experiences that we get to enjoy as gamers today.
Part of that, of course, is due to the financial realities of game development: big games cost big money, and someone’s got to foot the bill. Along with that is the fact that with every generation of games, especially on consoles tied to hardware generations, comes a massive shift in processing power, meaning that it’s difficult to sell (or re-sell) an older looking, sounding, and playing title to an audience that expects the newest and ‘best’ for their dollars.
No blame there from me – I bought the newest systems and the best TV I could afford just like everyone else. But thanks to GamePass’ inclusion of so many older titles, I’ve also been able to re-download and enjoy older gems like Fallout 3, Wasteland 2, and many more – often boosted with better frame rates as well thanks to Microsoft’s proprietary software. They look better, play better, and are free with the GamePass subscription – so why not look back a bit and enjoy where we’ve come from while seeing where we’re going? Thanks to GamePass, I can have my cake and eat it, too.
Someday She’ll Play Halo… or Not
Despite my failure at trying to get my girlfriend hooked on Destiny 2, I’m not done yet. In an effort to convince my real-life partner to also join my virtual adventures, we’ve ended zombies, wasted Wastelanders, and dipped our toes into scurvy-laden pirate waters side by side. My dastardly plan hasn’t always worked – despite my daily pleas, she thinks Halo, my all-time love, looks ‘lame’ – but you know what? That’s fine by me. People are different, and my girlfriend, just like many others I’ve shown my favorite games to, won’t always click with all of them. But with GamePass, I can keep trying because there are tons to choose from. And if I can’t convince the love of my life to take on the Covenant or sink galleons with me, there’s always flying planes above Scotland. Or racing down the English coastline. Or, maybe I’ll just try Halo again.
The point is, in my household GamePass is here to stay, and if you haven’t given it a try yet, I’d recommend it to anyone who might be looking for a few – or a boatload – of great games to play.
Ain’t choice grand?