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Hands-on review - Xbox Cloud Gaming

Back in the days of the console wars, I used to place myself firmly on the side of PlayStation. After all, Xbox did go through a bit of a phase where they were trying to be a 'meh' global entertainment system, *cough* Xbox One *cough*, rather than a good gaming system.

However, to me, the console wars are firmly in the past. Having upgraded to a gaming PC, I really don't see the need to spend a small fortune on a single system.

With that being said, if I were to weigh in on the current winners of the said imaginary war, I'd say it's Xbox. They've been making strides when it comes to consumer-friendly choices, from backwards compatibility all the way to the amazing value proposition of the Xbox Game Pass.

On that note, I've had the opportunity not just to access the game pass but also its new shiny feature, Xbox Cloud Gaming. In this review, we'll be deep-diving into just what Xbox Cloud Gaming is, how it works and, well, if it works.

To get started, I'll explain how the service was described to me; we'll then move on to explore its game library and how well those games run. With the Xbox Cloud Gaming (Beta), players can access titles directly from the cloud with a Game Pass Ultimate subscription.

These games can then be streamed on iOS devices, Android phones and tablets, Windows PCs, Xbox Series X and Xbox One consoles, as well as select smart TVs.

Yes, but how many games can I play?

There are currently 300+ titles available to play with the Cloud Gaming Beta, and oh boy, some of these are real bangers! You've got everything from classic gems like Fable 2 to sparkly new titles like Forza Horizon 5.

The list of titles is really quite astounding and, to a degree, overwhelming, though they have gone to some lengths to make the UI navigable and digestible.

Here's a list of some of my personal recommendations that you can pick up and play all without needing to install a single file.

Must playback catalogue:

  • Batman Arkham Series
  • Fable 2
  • Besiege
  • Solasta
  • Ark
  • Mass Effect series

These are just my personal picks; you can browse the whole catalogue on the Xbox Cloud Gaming website.

Yes, but does it work?

The answer here is simple, how much bandwidth do you have? Because the reality here is that you're going to need a download speed of 6 MBs (not mibs) minimum, but to play at high fidelity, you'll want at least 15 MBS down.

So If you're connected directly to the ultra-fast fibre, you'll be golden as can be, but if you're running off VDSL, 4G or anything slower than fibre or 5G, then this service probably isn't for you.

Now, in my experience, even when hooked up to the ultra-fast fibre with download speeds of over 28 MBs, I still ran into some screen tearing and lag with higher fidelity titles like Forza 5.

The service is still in beta, so my hope is that either those titles will get removed if they can't perform well or that Xbox will smooth out the kinks in the streaming process.

I also tested how well the games ran at 4 MBs download speeds, and the short answer is they ran, but it would be doing the game devs a disservice to play their games like that.

Final comments

Overall I think that the Xbox game pass is a great value proposition. When you slap on cloud gaming, that proposition just gets better.

If you have the bandwidth to handle streaming these games, there is a massive catalogue of adventures waiting to be had. However, if your internet is not up to the task, steer clear or be prepared for a world of pixely blobs from 1991.

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