Annapurna continues to show Xbox Game Pass love with new upcoming games, and I went hands-on with a few

Screenshot of Mixtape.
(Image credit: Annapurna Interactive)
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As part of my ever-expanding, ceaselessly bustling schedule for Summer Game Fest 2024, I knew I would be meeting with indie publisher Annapurna Interactive during the Play Days event. I was to go hands-on with three of the publisher's upcoming indie games, and two are confirmed to be day one additions to Xbox and PC Game Pass. I expected all of this — what I did not expect is the announcement of a third, surprise game during the Xbox Games Showcase 2024 that's also coming to Game Pass.

With a preview of Bounty Star and Flock, as well as my initial impressions of the gorgeous coming-of-age story that is Mixtape, Annapurna is clearly sharing the love with Xbox Game Pass lately. The service continues to be an excellent place to find incredible indie games across Xbox and Windows PC, and this next batch may be some of the best. Here are my thoughts.

Summer Game Fest hands-on: Bounty Star

The first Xbox Game Pass-bound game I played at the Annapurna Interactive section of Summer Game Fest Play Days was Bounty Star, a third-person mech-based action game with farming and life sim elements and a focus on narrative delivery. It's an ambitious blend of genres and mechanics for developer DINOGOD, but what I experienced during my 30-minute hands-on demo felt pretty good.

You play as Clem, a retired soldier with a dark past filled with loss. Clem is trying to make her way in life by becoming a bounty hunter, and her key to success is the highly customizable military mech she built. In Bounty Star, you'll farm, build up your base, acquire resources to upgrade and kit out your mech, and embark on action-packed missions to eliminate specific targets or complete certain objectives.

It's clear that there's still plenty of work to be done in Bounty Star when it comes to the quality of the cinematic cutscenes or the polish of the gameplay, but DINODOG has plenty of time to realize its vision. Bounty Star is slated for a release across Xbox, Windows PC, PlayStation, and Xbox and PC Game Pass sometime in 2025. I'm personally interested to see what Bounty Star becomes in its final iteration at launch, and the Game Pass launch means the game will be highly accessible to players.

Summer Game Fest hands-on: Flock

Flock captured my attention when it was first unveiled, but it didn't fully win me over until I had some time to play it. This adorable and very casual game reminds me a little bit of Bugsnax in that it's a light-hearted and comedic adventure centered around identifying and collecting various creatures. You don't eat these creatures, though — instead, you're building an in-depth catalog of all the creatures and their unique characteristics and behaviors.

You play as Richard, a young Bird Rider who — you guessed it — soars through the air on a magnificently plumed bird. Learning the specifics of flying takes a little time, but once it clicks, traversal across the varied, colorful landscape is a cinch. There are all kinds of creatures to find in Flock, and once you catalog a creature you can learn to charm it and, in turn, have that creature help you charm other creatures to join your group. Hence, the name: Flock.

Unless there are some surprises or twists I'm not aware of, it seems that Flock isn't going to be a terribly lengthy game, but that's okay. It's beautiful, peaceful, and endearing in a very unique way, and I'm frankly very excited to play the final game. I don't have long to wait on this front, too, as Flock releases across Xbox, Windows PC, PlayStation, and Xbox and PC Game Pass on July 16, 2024. Oh, did I mention it also has multiplayer co-op?

Xbox Games Showcase reveal: Mixtape

The Xbox Games Showcase 2024 was absolutely packed from end-to-end with a ton of upcoming Xbox and Windows PC games, but one that may have flown under the radar for most was Mixtape. This is a brand-new project from Annapurna Interactive, and it's a wild coming-of-age narrative-adventure that follows a band of friends reliving the nostalgia of their teenager years as they prepare to graduate high school and go off on their separate ways.

The art style in Mixtape is breathtakingly captivating, and I love the style oozing out of every moment we saw in the reveal trailer. Appropriate to its name, Mixtape also features a stacked soundtrack of artists from the time period, helping cultivate the persistent theme of nostalgia. It looks to be a touching tale of youth, mischief, and the pursuit of fleeting happiness in the face of inevitability.

More than that, Mixtape is yet another day one addition to Xbox and PC Game Pass. Sadly, we'll have to wait a while before we can play this game, but we do know that Mixtape is shooting for a 2025 release on Xbox Series X|S, Windows PC, and PlayStation 5. Despite the loaded roster of terrific games shown during the Xbox Games Showcase, Mixtape still managed to stand out to me. That's no easy feat, and it has earned the game a place on my wishlist.

Xbox Game Pass is getting a lot of love

Skate with your friends down scenic roads. (Image credit: Annapurna Interactive)

By the end of the Xbox Games Showcase 2024, I wouldn't be surprised to learn that you were tired of seeing the "Play it day one on Xbox Game Pass" message that appeared after almost every game trailer. It wasn't just core Xbox Game Studios titles — it was new announcements like Atomfall and Expedition 33, and exciting return appearances from games like Flintlock: The Siege of Dawn and S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2: The Heart of Chornobyl.

It's clear that Xbox Game Pass remains the core of Xbox's gaming strategy, and subscribers aren't going to miss games of any genre in the coming months and years. Annapurna Interactive is consistently one of my favorite indie publishers, so I love to see it support Xbox Game Pass time and time again with new, interesting and creative games you won't see from any major publisher.

It's no mistake that many of the best Xbox games are already available to play through Xbox or PC Game Pass, and Annapurna Interactive is no stranger to that list. I'm glad I got a chance to see what the publisher is cooking up next, and I really enjoyed my hands-on with Flock, and the reveal trailer for Mixtape. There's something on Xbox Game Pass for everyone.

Zachary Boddy
Staff Writer

Zachary Boddy (They / Them) is a Staff Writer for Windows Central, primarily focused on covering the latest news in tech and gaming, the best Xbox and PC games, and the most interesting Windows and Xbox hardware. They have been gaming and writing for most of their life starting with the original Xbox, and started out as a freelancer for Windows Central and its sister sites in 2019. Now a full-fledged Staff Writer, Zachary has expanded from only writing about all things Minecraft to covering practically everything on which Windows Central is an expert, especially when it comes to Microsoft. You can find Zachary on Twitter @BoddyZachary.