What is it?
A generous cross-buy scheme from Microsoft that lets you play select games on both Xbox One and a Windows 10 PC at no extra cost once you purchase a digital copy of the title. Brilliantly, you can carry your progress between both formats seamlessly, as all Xbox Play Anywhere titles support cross-play saves that are automatically uploaded to the cloud. It means you can easily move to a bedroom PC to finish that dastard boss on Gears Of War 4 without fear of replaying huge chunks when your other half demands you get off the living room TV.
How does it work?
Simply buy a game from the Xbox Play Anywhere range on either the Xbox Store on your console, or the Windows Store on PC, and you can then play that title across both devices at no extra cost. The prices for Play Anywhere games are identical across both stores, so feel free to purchase your digital copy from either of these two sources. Keep in mind it does have to be a digital version – boxed copies of games don’t support the programme.
You’ll also need to use the same Microsoft account across both your console and PC to download the second version of the game. If you buy one of the supported titles on Xbox One first, the easiest way to get it downloaded onto your PC is to install the official Xbox App from the Windows Store. Once you’ve done this, simply login with the same Microsoft account you use on your Xbox, and you’ll see a download link for the title pop up in your app’s available games tab.
Again, it does have to be a Windows 10 PC – sorry, Vista fans. You’ll also have to ensure you have the Windows 10 Anniversary Edition update installed on your machine, and the latest update downloaded and ready to go on your Xbox One.
Bear in mind, you’ll need a fairly decent PC if you want to run Play Anywhere games at a reasonable, Xbox-matching standard. Handily, the Windows Store has recommended specs for every title in the range. Just click on on the game’s Store page to find what specs Microsoft suggest your rig meet. Demanding titles like Gears Of War 4 and Forza Horizon 3 ideally require either an Intel i5 or AMD FX-8350 CPU, paired with a GeForce 970 or Radeon RX 480 graphics card. If your PC struggles to run spreadsheets, don’t go into Gears expecting 1080p/60fps gameplay.
What games are available ?
The library is growing all the time – Sea Of Thieves and State Of Decay 2 will both be part of the programme when they launch later this year – so keep checking back here and on the official Microsoft landing page to keep up to date. As of late February, the list of compatible Xbox Live Anywhere games is as follows…
Halo Wars 2
Legendary RTS studio The Creative Assembly take the reins for this strategic Halo follow-up. Like its predecessor, Halo Wars 2 proves strategy games can work really well on a pad. Actually, the game’s control scheme has been so clearly designed with controller support in mind, even the PC version plays better with a pad (though you can still use a mouse and keyboard).
Gears Of War 4
In Gears of War 4, Xbox’s premiere cover shooter returns, with the same brand of polished production values and alien ***-whooping that made the original trilogy such a Roadie-running hoot. A luxuriantly bearded Marcus Pheonix also pops up for a super curmudgeonly cameo, as his son takes centre stage. While the Xbox One version already looks great, the PC edition takes things to a whole other level in supreme port that boasts a wealth of tweakable graphics settings.
Forza Horizon 3
Forza Horizon 3 the best sandbox racer on the planet. Playground Games puts pedal to the metal as it whisks its beloved series to Australia. All manner of open-world Down Under delights await, and Forza’s exhaustive array of checkpoints races, time trials and special events are hard to beat – the studio has even managed to squeeze Halo’s Warthog in there! The PC port is terrific, too. If you’ve got the hardware to support it, Horizon 3 looks incredible in 4K.
The game that kick started the Xbox Play Anywhere programme is a real mish-mash of genres. Created by both Mega Man legend Keiji Inafune and the original makers of GameCube classic Metroid Prime, ReCore is an action-adventure that combines shooting, platforming, sandbox exploration and dungeon-crawling. Phew. Also, robots. Lots of robots.
Inspired by the likes of EVE Online, this ambitious space shooter combines roguelike looting with daring dogfights. Everspace is actually part of the Xbox Preview Programme – essentially Microsoft’s take on Early Access – so keep in mind this intergalactic adventure will most likely go through a lot of changes before the final game blasts off.
Resident Evil 7 Biohazard
Resident Evil 7 is of the first third-party titles to support Xbox Play Anywhere. Capcom reboots its survival horror icon in winning fashion, replacing Resi 6’s undead excess with a stripped-down spook ’em up. Riffing on the likes of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Hills Have Eyes, the series resets itself in a chilling American Deep South setting, as the manic Baker family introduce you to a whole new breed of bayou biohazard.
Fallout Shelter’s 2D base-building may not push the technical boundaries of either your Xbox One or PC, but hey, at least it’s free. Putting you in control of an underground Vault-Tec vault, it’s your responsibility to expand your subterranean dwellings, and protect its survivors from the irradiated perils of the Wasteland.