Xbox Game Pass loses one of 2023's best games, gains great indies | Digital Trends (2023)

Microsoft has announced the games that will join the Xbox Game Pass catalog during the back half of August and earliest days of September. That list includes four solid indie titles, two of which are day-one Xbox Game Pass releases. Unfortunately, the number of games leaving at the end of the month is greater than the number of games coming, and one of the games exiting the service is Immortality, one of Digital Trends’ favorite games of 2023.

To start with the positive, all four games coming to the service during the rest of August are pretty solid. Campo Santo’s Firewatch and Nomada Studios’ Gris are both excellent, emotional indie adventures that garnered critical acclaim in the year since their release. Firewatch hits the service on August 17, while Gris won’t be added until September 5. Then there’s the day one Xbox Game Pass launches. First up is The Texas Chain Saw Massacre game on August 18, which adapts the classic horror series into an asymmetrical multiplayer game, just like what happened to Evil Dead last year. Finally, there’s Sea of Stars, a retro-inspired RPG coming out on August 29 that’s also launching into the PlayStation Plus Game Catalog on the day it launches.

Xbox Game Pass loses one of 2023's best games, gains great indies | Digital Trends (1)

Sadly, six games will leave Xbox Game Pass on August 31, many of which are very good. The most notable for us is Immortality, a subversive and innovative game from Sam Barlow that has players scrubbing through the footage of three unreleased films to solve a mystery. The less you know about the game going into it, the better, but just know this was one of the best games to come out in 2022 and a must-play if you adore both film and video games.

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Tinykin, Surgeon Simulator 2, and Nuclear Throne are all also great indie games that you won’t have a bad time playing. Here’s the full list of games leaving Xbox Game Pass on August 31:

  • Black Desert
  • Commandos 3 – HD Remaster
  • Immortality
  • Nuclear Throne
  • Surgeon Simulator 2
  • Tinykin

Overall, this is a pretty mixed update for Xbox Game Pass. Great games are coming, but just as many good titles are leaving. Thankfully, September is more than bound to make up for it, as Starfield will launch as a day one Xbox Game Pass game on September 6.

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Xbox Game Pass loses one of 2023's best games, gains great indies | Digital Trends (2)

If you've been looking for an excuse to finally take advantage of gaming PC deals, then this is what you've been waiting for -- the Asus ROG Strix G16CH gaming desktop for just $1,200, following a $200 discount from Best Buy on its original price of $1,400. It's still not what you'd call affordable, but you should take any savings that you can get when buying a powerful machine. Bargains like this don't happen often, and once they do, they don't usually last long, so if you're interested in this gaming PC, you're going to have to proceed with the purchase right now.

Why you should buy the Asus ROG Strix G16CH gaming desktop
The Asus ROG Strix G16CH gaming desktop challenges the performance of the best gaming PCs with its 13th-generation Intel Core i7 processor, Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 graphics card, and 16GB of RAM, which are enough to run the best PC games without any issues. You'll also be prepared for the best upcoming PC games, though it's highly recommended that you make upgrades down the line as titles become increasingly demanding in the next few years.

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  • Gaming

How to respec in Wayfinder

Xbox Game Pass loses one of 2023's best games, gains great indies | Digital Trends (3)

Wayfinder features a plethora of systems that you should keep up with to make the most out of building your own unique version of one of its multiple characters. But few things are as important as the four main abilities your character will be using throughout the game. By the time you're at level 9, you'll be able to own all four abilities, leaving you to focus entirely on upgrades. But if you reach a point where you feel as though you need to change up those upgrades for a new build you're trying, you're in luck – you can respec any time you're not in a dungeon. Here's how.
How to respec your abilities
To respec your abilities in Wayfinder, you'll first need to head over to the Abilities tab of whichever character you currently have equipped. Once you're on that screen, go to the bottom left of the menu and you'll see Respec Ability Pointsand a button you can press, which will be different depending on your platform, of course. Press that button and then approve the respec to begin reallocating your points.

It's important to remember that you can only respec your actual abilities – you will not be able to respec any affinity points you've spent on your characters at this time. The game is still in Early Access, though, and Airship Syndicate has hinted that affinity respecs may come at a later date. If and when that becomes a reality, we'll be sure to let you know. In the meantime, you'll obviously be stuck with any affinity points you've invested, so choose those wisely.

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  • Gaming

Pacific Drive puts you behind the wheel of a supernatural station wagon

Xbox Game Pass loses one of 2023's best games, gains great indies | Digital Trends (4)

Vehicles are often little more than a tool to get players from point A to point B in games, so any title that makes their cars more intrinsic to the experience than that is inherently intriguing. There are games like Days Gone that treat its heroes motorcycle as a main character, as well as titles Death Strandingand Mudrunner that make traversing rugged terrain in vehicles a critical part of the experience. Pacific Drive takes elements from all those games to create something unique: an immersive sim roguelike where taking care of your car is vital to success.
Ahead of Pacific Drive’s appearance at Gamescom 2023’s Future Game Show, Digital Trends attended a hands-off presentation held by publisher Kepler Interactive. We saw a Pacific Drivein action and spoke with the developers to learn more about its racing game influences and the vital role that the station wagon players drive around plays in crafting memorable, emergent experiences. Pacific Drive is undoubtedly one of the more eclectic indies on the horizon and that should put it on your radar if you love immersive sims, roguelikes, and even racing games.
A not-so-joyful ride
In Pacific Drive, the player’s primary goal is to drive a station wagon (based on one of the developers’ cars) through the bizarre “Olympic Exclusion Zone” in the U.S. Pacific Northwest. This plays out in run-based roguelite fashion as players kit their car out in a garage, set out on a drive, and aim to make it as far as possible while dealing with supernatural anomalies that can stop your run if you aren’t careful.
To start the demo, Game Director Seth Rosen repaired parts of a car in the garage before charting out a path to take. Like Slay the Spire, Pacific Drive runs are made up of encounters on interconnected and branching paths, although the individual levels that make up these routes are pretty big places players can drive around and explore in. Rosen was heading toward a giant wall in the game’s world for this specific run, and the game looked and played normally as Rosen drove away from the garage and entered a new level where the large wall could be seen in the distance.

Until this point, the driving mechanics all looked simulation-like, with the car driving differently on and off-road and with tires impacting its handling too. For a time, the driving wouldn’t seem out of place in something like Gran Turismo 7, but that quickly changed when Rosen encountered a spark tower. This tower disabled gravity in a certain area, launching the car up and off course. Because of elements like this, Ironwood Studios says it’s hard to palace Pacific Drive on the arcade-like to simulation spectrum that most driving-focused games fall into.
“We’re big fans of how accessible Pacific Drive is and want players to feel the fantasy of driving an old station wagon around,” Creative Director Alexander Dracott tells Digital Trends. “But we also like the inherent storytelling that comes from things like mud and rain that affect the handling of the car a little bit. So we definitely picked and chose the parts of different driving elements that were important to us.”
That’s why when players drive around, they’ll encounter various obstacles of both the realistic and unrealistic variety and have to find a way to solve them. To solve the spark tower situation, Rosen had to get out of the car, find the core powering the spark tower, and destroy it with the impact hammer, one of the many tools at his disposal. Whether in or out of the car, it looks like there are going to be a lot of emergent situations that players will need to adapt to.
A compelling immersive sim
Ironwood Studios is adamant that Pacific Drive is an immersive sim, a style of game that’s very reactive to the player’s actions and typically home to many engaging emergent moments. Players have many tools, car upgrades, and customization options to help them gather resources and deal with various literal and figurative roadblocks. The most impressive aspect of this hands-off demo was how interactable the world was. The game is played entirely from the first person, and you’ll sometimes need to look around in your station wagon to interact with particular objects or check the general health of the car. Even within the garage, the vehicles players are repairing and map used to chart the path players want to take all exist within the game’s world.

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