20th April 2021 was a day to rejoice as cloud gaming – specifically Xbox’s xCloud – finally came to iOS devices.
To catch you up just in case you’re unaware of the details; cloud gaming allows you to play video games streamed directly to your phone/tablet in a manner similar to Netflix. Those with a Game Pass Ultimate subscription can access a large portion of the library to play in this manner.
Personally, the day I got the invite to the beta this was a great day! I now have the ability to play games while chilling out in bed, not waking my wife by going down and up the stairs.
For the first few days I was playing Tell Me Why using the touch screen controls. I quickly noticed that as good and easy to use as the touch screen controls are, I wanted to use a controller. The reason for this was that I couldn’t precisely get to items I needed to pick up or get into the correct position when I wanted to use my ability. Using a clip on my Xbox Series X Controller I found weight distribution (playing in bed) was not comfortable. I did some research and saw there was some buzz about the Backbone Controller. I picked one up and this has changed my xCloud experience. Gaming feels better, my control of characters is better and more precise than the touch controls and muscle memory of pressing buttons is almost like using an Xbox Controller. It’s a pricey, but worthwhile, pick up if you’re serious about using xCloud often.
The benefits to cloud gaming are that you don’t have to have games installed on your phone to play them as you’re using “the cloud” to do all the heavy work. You can also jump from game to game in a matter of seconds; handy for trying out the full Game Pass library, and as an extra lesser known bonus you can use this to your advantage for getting Microsoft Reward points, completing daily, weekly and monthly challenges.
It’s not perfect of course, and some of the cons I’ve seen are that no matter what game you play, you get some lag right at the beginning of a game. However this does disappear quickly and for the most part it plays as if you were on a console. You have to “sign in” each time you want to play, which is mildly annoying, and lastly you don’t get your Series X speeds. Currently Microsoft are using Xbox One S’s to handle the gaming work, though this should be updated to Series level hardware down the line.
Now some expectations have been set, you’ll need to know that not every game in Game Pass is available for you to cloud game. You need to check when new games are announced in Game Pass that they say Cloud for you to use them. More and more are being added all the time, so I remain hopeful that the full library will be playable in the future.
If you get invited to the beta you’d be crazy not to join in and at least try the service you’re paying for. If you’re not a fan of gaming on your phone, you could still use it to rack up those wonderful Microsoft Rewards points and get yourself Xbox Credit and Game Pass subs, as well as so much more. We have a video on our YouTube channel if you need help understanding what the Rewards program is and how to earn points.
I have tried a few games using touch controls at this point. Tell Me Why, as I mentioned above, was tricky getting those exact movements you sometimes need to pick up items and got very frustrating after a period of time. Sometimes I would make Alyson or Tyler move away from an area they would need to be in to tap into a memory. If you could dial down the sensitivity of the movement that would help.
Streets of Rage 4 was the other game I tried and for the most part this worked fine. Movement was quick and responsive, though sometimes you couldn’t turn to the correct direction quickly enough.Become a Patron!