If you’re a regular VG247 visitor, you’ll know how much we loved Deathloop when it launched in 2021. In his review, Alex called it Arkane's best game yet – a confident successor to Dishonored, and a bold demonstration of what developer Arkane can do when it’s unshackled from legacy IP (whether or not it has a choice in the matter).
But I, like many others I know, did not play this exemplary realisation of the immersive sim genre when it launched. The game dropped to $40 on the PS5 just weeks after launch. The conversation around it dried up quickly. And that’s not fair on the game, not really, because it’s a little slice of video gaming perfection, dressed up with stylish 70s-esque cool, loaded with more quips than a Bond flick, and brimming with enough genius gameplay ideas to make even the folks at Irrational Games blush.
It’s not the first time the prohibitively expensive nature of new-gen, platform-specific games has caused issues for developers trying to find an audience (here’s looking at you, Returnal). These experimental, impressive, and – in my eyes – essential games are simply overlooked by many, purely because that initial point of entry asks for so much cash.
What a joy it is, then, to play Deathloop on Xbox Game Pass. The game – updated with a raft of new content and updates since its initial launch back in September 2021 – includes a full suite of accessibility options, a powerful photomode editor, and numerous quality of life improvements. As part of this fancy ‘GOLDENLOOP’ re-issue of the title, there are new enemies to kick about, new powers to enjoy, new weapons to take advantage of (including the ludicrous laser-spewing HALP gun that can even turn enemy sensors and turrets into tools of annihilation on a whim), and more secrets to discover, to boot.
All of this – on top of what is already one of the best games of 2021 – for no extra cost on top of your Xbox Game Pass subscription. For a wealth of players, this will be the first time they get to experience Deathloop, and it’s such a welcoming, celebratory way in. Yes, the game is coming to PS Plus Extra this month (today, in fact – same day as it comes to Game Pass…) and it’s great that at least 20 million PlayStation 5 owners can now also play the game at no extra cost on top of their subscriptions, but it’s been available on this platform for almost exactly a year, now. It feels a bit late. At least it’s getting the GOLDENLOOP additions, too – you’re all going to want to use that Golden Gun, trust me.
Being available on Game Pass, at the very same moment it launches on Xbox platforms, shows how committed Microsoft is to its promise of bringing first-party titles to the service day and date. Post-Bethesda and Microsoft merger, Xbox honoured the PS5 exclusivity period for Deathloop – but this seems to demonstrate that as soon as that period is up, the platform holder will do everything it can to get a game on its service. With bells on.
Deathloop deserves a second bite of the apple: after playing the Xbox version of the game all weekend ahead of its arrival on the service, I can safely say this game still slaps. It’s still one of the most inventive, electrifying, considered takes on the first-person shooter we’ve seen in a generation. It still hums with good design, it’s still packed to the rafters with knowing ideas, and it’s still an absolute blast to play.
Better yet, it’s got crossplay multiplayer – so if you fancy cocking your pistols as Julianna, invading another player’s campaign, and keeping their Colt imprisoned in the timeloop, there will now be even more players for you to aggravate. Likewise, if you’re up to the challenge of fending off a vengeful Julianna as a wary Colt, just keep the multiplayer option turned on and maybe you’ll have to defend yourself against a Visionary who’s just got the game on PS Plus – and, as such, is a little wet around the ears. Sounds like an easy way to get some good gear, to me.
Deathloop on Game Pass may seem obvious, but the reality of it is customer-forward and consumer-friendly. Times are tough, luxury money is drying up, and the prospect of spending a full $70 per unproven game seems, frankly, outrageous. For me – as someone that spends two thirds of my income on rent and bills – Game Pass is becoming an essential part of my life: it’s letting me play games I would otherwise have to pass up as the purse strings tighten.
It may be a year later, but I have fallen in love with Deathloop. Bethesda and Microsoft get another bite of the apple in putting it on a new platform, PlayStation 5 owners get the benefit of playing it free on PS Plus, and I get to spend 20-odd hours playing with Colt and Julianna in their eternal game of cat-and-mouse. Everyone’s a winner.
I can’t wait to finally play Ghostwire: Tokyo in exactly the same way in 2023.
Deathloop is available now on Xbox Game Pass and PlayStation Plus.