Xbox Game Pass Ultimate Played Microsoft Excluded Without Lag
Strong points A range of services at an attractive price (€ 12.99 / month), xCloud is fluid, Xbox Studios games available as soon as they are released, multi-platform subscription
The less xCloud is restricted to 720p, this service is not supported on Android TV / iOS / PC, high data consumption on mobile in cloud gaming
Summary Whether you’re on the train, on the back of your bed, or even at the office at lunchtime, how about playing your favorite video games with the snap of your fingers? This is the promise that Microsoft promises to fulfill with xCloud, its cloud gaming service that recently integrated Xbox Game Pass Ultimate and that we were able to try for several weeks. Verdict?
Since September 15, Xbox Game Pass Ultimate has welcomed xCloud, a new cloud gaming service with a tantalizing promise: make it easy to play your favorite games instantly, from any location. And to enjoy it, all you need to do is use your own smartphone, a simple Bluetooth controller, have a decent internet connection and take out a subscription for € 12.99 / month. A cocktail that is easy to make on paper, but whose flavor depends on the ingredients available at the time.
For a month, we were able to try the xCloud in many situations such as in the office, in the countryside, on public transport and even at home (of course). If the experience was generally satisfactory, we realized that certain elements had to be taken into account in order to fully benefit from the experience of everything dematerialized, and that some elements were missing in order to completely replace our home console. .
With a good 4G connection, there is no problem to enjoy Forza Horizon 4.
How did we try xCloud?
To use xCloud, you must download the Xbox Game Pass application from the Google Play Store. If an iOS version does exist too, it unfortunately does not provide access to the cloud gaming service because of a dispute between Microsoft and Apple. At the time of writing this review, it was possible to play from an Android smartphone or tablet. It is also possible to run the application on Android TV by tweaking a bit, because it is not natively supported at the moment (we will get back to you soon).
On our side, we mainly used a Google Pixel 4 XL to play. A choice that was perhaps not the wisest choice since games only display in 16: 9, forcing us to suffer black bands on the 6.3-inch OLED screen. The smartphone’s contained battery life didn’t work in its favor either, but to be fair this would have been a problem with any other device: xCloud is power hungry. An external battery for travel or long trips will be of great use.
Google Pixel 4 XL
An excellent screen, an impressive photo part, solid performance, there is no denying it, the Google Pixel 4 XL has many qualities. Unfortunately, it displays almost the same faults as its little brother the Pixel 4. We therefore end up with an inconstant refresh rate, a restricted Motion Sense and an ultra-limited storage capacity. And if this XL version offers better autonomy, it is not exceptional. Pity.
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We absolutely needed a controller to be able to play. We started with an 8BitDo controller before definitely adopting the Xbox One controller. Although its price is high, it is one, if not the most ergonomic solution on the market.
Here are the official accessories for xCloud
Minecraft Dungeons is one of the few games that can be played with the touchscreen.
Finally, we had to buy a smartphone controller holder in order to be able to play properly. We opted for a cheap model on Amazon which is equipped with a metal rod. This feature has turned out to be a gadget, because, if it does indeed keep the whole in balance on a table, it is then impossible to slide your paws under the controller to play.
The joystick holder is quite convenient for taking pictures.
You will find many references on the market, but here is ours for those interested on Amazon. It costs only € 10.99 compared to € 19.99 for the official PowerA MOGA support.
An application designed for the multiplatform
The Xbox Game Pass app is a hub for users of Microsoft gaming services. There is a list of games compatible with xCloud of course, but also the Game Pass titles available on Xbox or on PC.
We switched to the Xbox One controller to see if there were any differences. The controler has the advantage of being already mapped correctly (the keys are recognized immediately) by xCloud. Even the “Menu” and “View” buttons work. It is also a controller with an excellent grip and which will cost you nothing if you have an Xbox One, S or X at home. Clearly, this is the choice we recommend you to experience xCloud.
With fairly low Wi-Fi speeds, 41.77 Mbps downstream and 59.61 Mbps upstream, we were blown away by the fluidity of the service. We do not feel, if not very little, in-put lag during solo games. We were able to finish the Gears of War 4 campaign without a problem and we did not detect any discomfort while progressing in Super Lucky’s Tales, a 3D platform game where the camera moves a lot, demonstration:
Game Pass Ultimate also includes Xbox Live Gold, which means you can play online against other players or with your friends at no extra charge.
Beware of data consumption
The situation changes when we switch to 4G. The stability and quality of the connection will greatly depend on your location (not to mention the network operator). We had the opportunity, even in the office, to perceive at times visual degradation and sometimes cuts. You should know that for now, xCloud only allows you to play in 720p at 30 FPS (in the best case). A definition that we consider sufficient on smartphones with a screen diagonal sometimes as large as that of a Nintendo Switch.
However, the service is extremely data intensive. By playing Forza Horizon 4 for 30 minutes, we found that the app devours… almost 1 GB every 20 minutes, or 3 GB per hour. For comparison, an episode of Cobra Kai on Netflix will only have consumed 133MB of Data in 30 minutes. Out of curiosity, we repeated the test by letting xCloud run in the wind, without touching the controller, and the results were similar.
In this example, we see that xCloud consumed 860 MB in just 19 minutes.
It should be understood that cloud gaming services do more than just streaming. In addition to transmitting a video stream, they must take into consideration all the interactions emitted remotely by the player, and this results in a large consumption of bandwidth. At this speed, and if you rely on xCloud for remote gaming, we can only advise you to take a look at our guide to the best 4G (and soon 5G) plans.
xCloud vs. the competition
The xCloud is one of the services included with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. For € 12.99 / month, or € 155.88 / year, it also gives access to Xbox Live Gold (billed € 6.99 / month) and the Game Pass catalog (€ 9.99 / month) usable with a PC or an Xbox. In our opinion, this is a great package of services offered at a moderate price and which does not have too many equivalents.
Stadia allows you to play “for free” in cloud gaming if you buy the games individually, but the display is then restricted to 1080p. Against € 9.99 / month, it is however possible to play (theoretically) in 4K at 60 FPS. However, not all titles are compatible and above all, the most recent ones are chargeable.
On the side of its great rival, Sony offers PlayStation Now. A service billed at 9.99 € / month and which allows you to play PS2, PS3 and PS4 games on PlayStation 4 or on PC in “streaming” in 720p. There are exclusives like God of War, Uncharted 4 or even Infamous: Second Son. This is arguably the closest service to xCloud, but unfortunately there is no app for Android or iOS.
Let us not forget either to mention the case of GeForce Now, a kind of interface allowing you to remotely play certain video games that you have already purchased (on Steam for example). Nvidia offers two options to access its cloud gaming service: one free, where you can use GeForce for one hour (only), and one paid for € 5.49 / month (limited offer). GeForce Now runs on PC, Mac, Shield TV and Android devices.
Should we adopt xCloud or not?
Playing on a 6.3 inch screen for a few hours is tiring. The information on the screen is difficult to read and the cramps happen quickly in the hands because of the weight of the smartphone… but it is clear that it works. Whether in Wi-Fi (fiber) or 4G, the controls are activated when desired, and there is no lag or too much visual degradation (when the connection is good). The Game Pass catalog also includes fairly recent games and should continue to grow. If the video stream were to switch to Full HD, this service could perhaps even replace the home console of some casual gamers.
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Xbox Game Pass Ultimate Played Microsoft Excluded Without Lag - /10