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Play one of the century's best RPGs for free before it leaves Xbox Game Pass

This winter will be light on new games, so start loading up your backlog now.

Xbox Game Pass is getting bigger. By the end of January, Microsoft’s game service will add a slew of bonafide hits from Control to Yakuza: The Remastered Collection. That’s good news for gamers because the first few months of 2021 are starting to feel slim as more and more new release delays crop up.

Of course, when Game Pass giveth, it also taketh. Eight games are leaving the service at the end of January. While most of the games are smaller indies that you could knock out in one or two sittings, one major game is leaving the platform on January 29: Final Fantasy XV.

If you want to play before it’s gone, Final Fantasy XV is available on both the console and PC versions of Game Pass right now. If you’re not confident you can beat it by the end of the month, you’ll get a 20 percent discount if you choose to buy it outright.

It’s a surprisingly perfect time to jump into the 2016 title if you missed it previously. The stylish RPG had a major impact on last year’s Final Fantasy VII Remake. FFXV departed from the franchise’s usual turn-based combat in favor of more action-oriented combat that means less menuing. Considering that the next installment of the Final Fantasy VII remake likely isn’t coming for a few years at least, FFXV is a perfect way to revisit that action while controlling some equally hunky idiots.

But the best reason to play FFXV right now is that, well, you might actually have some free time. With 2020’s holiday rush over, game releases are going to slow down for a bit. Hitman 3 and The Medium will kick the year off with a bang, but we’re already starting to see February’s schedule thin as games like Outriders and Riders Republic get pushed back. That means you have valuable time to play catch-up — or revisit an old favorite.

Video game droughts like this are built for RPGs. While FFXV can be knocked out in 30 hours, completionists will need to spend up to 100 hours to get everything out of it. When trying to keep up with every big new release, it’s easy to get halfway through a long game and drop it or mainline the story, missing all the care that goes into side-content. A clear runway can help push aside any urgency so you can stop and smell the Chocobos.

A battle against a massive monster in Final Fantasy XV.Square Enix

I’m using that same mentality to slowly dive into the Yakuza series right now on Game Pass. Rather than rushing through every game, I’m taking more time to try all of the series’ wild side quests. And the experience is better for it.

Take this as a bit of a public service announcement that slower release periods are a blessing in disguise. If you’ve just been too busy to even think about starting something as daunting as FFXV over the past few years, take a good month or two to cruise through it at a leisurely pace. You never know when you’ll have the time to do it again.

And for anyone considering playing FFXV who has a PlayStation 5 and PS Plus, you can claim a free copy of the game as part of the PS Plus Collection, so you're better off doing that rather than starting on Xbox Game Pass. Either way, you're in for a wild ride.

Final Fantasy XV is available now on Xbox Game Pass for PC and consoles.

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