The short answer is – no, High on Life is not a free game on Xbox consoles. However, it is included with Xbox Game Pass on day one, allowing subscribers to download and play High on Life at no additional cost. Keep reading this 2300+ word guide to learn all the details on how to access this crazy new shooter "for free" with an Xbox Game Pass membership.
What Exactly is High on Life?
Before we dive into the pricing and availability, let‘s quickly cover what this highly anticipated game actually is. High on Life is the newest title from Squanch Games, founded by Justin Roiland, co-creator of the popular Adult Swim series Rick and Morty. It‘s a single-player first-person shooter set in a futuristic world where an alien cartel has come to colonize Earth.
In High on Life, you take on the role of a young bounty hunter teaming up with a crew of talking guns to take down these extraterrestrial drug lords and save humanity. Each of your gun pals has a distinct personality not unlike the outrageous weapons from Ratchet & Clank or Borderlands. Expect plenty of irreverent comedy and social satire as you battle enemies ranging from humanoid frogs to deadly plants.
I got to try out a short demo at this year‘s PAX West, and the shooting action felt solid. The game gives you freedom to approach combat scenarios in different ways based on your equipped weapon and playstyle preferences. Stealth, run-and-gunning, explosives – lots of options for mixing up the action.
Visually, High on Life utilizes a stylized cartoony aesthetic reminiscent of Roiland‘s animation work. The vibrant alien worlds you explore really pop with color. Additionally, the soundtrack includes an original song from alternative hip hop duo Run the Jewels, fitting the funky sci-fi vibe.
If you enjoy first-person shooters wrapped in absurdist comedy and adventures to bizarre alien locales, High on Life aims to deliver a fun rollercoaster ride. And as a loyal Game Pass subscriber myself, I‘ve been highly anticipating this day one launch on Xbox and PC.
How to Play High on Life "For Free"
High on Life retails for $59.99 as a standard new release. However, Xbox console or PC gamers can access the game on day one as part of their Xbox Game Pass membership. This makes High on Life essentially feel "free" to play for Game Pass subscribers.
Microsoft has confirmed that High on Life will be included in Xbox Game Pass and PC Game Pass starting on its December 13, 2022 worldwide launch date.
So if you‘re already paying for either of those subscriptions, you can simply download and start playing High on Life at no extra cost. Pretty sweet deal!
Here‘s a quick refresher on signing up for Xbox Game Pass:
Xbox Game Pass for Console – Grants access to the Game Pass digital library of over 100 games to download and play on your Xbox One or Xbox Series X/S. This is the $9.99 per month console plan.
PC Game Pass – Downloads and plays games from the PC Game Pass library of 100+ titles on Windows machines. Also $9.99 monthly.
Xbox Game Pass Ultimate – Bundles together all the benefits of Console Game Pass, PC Game Pass, and Xbox Cloud Gaming for one price of $14.99 per month. Ideal for those who game across console, PC, and mobile devices. Also includes additional perks like free in-game content and partner offers.
As you can see, accessing High on Life via Game Pass starts at just under $10 per month depending on the plan. That‘s quite a bargain compared to paying $60 outright just for this one game.
And remember, Game Pass grants unlimited access to play over 100 other games too. So it‘s an amazing value even without major new releases like High on Life included day one.
Estimated Hours of Gameplay
Now you might be wondering – how long can I expect High on Life to keep me entertained if I play via Game Pass?
According to developers Squanch Games, you can expect around 15 to 20 hours to complete the main story campaign on a first playthrough. And they estimate 30+ hours for those who want to fully complete all side content.
Here is how that estimated gameplay duration compares to other notable Xbox Game Pass titles:
- Forza Horizon 5: 15-20 hours (main story), 50+ hours (full completionist)
- Halo Infinite: 10-15 hours (main story), 20-30+ hours (full completionist)
- Tetris Effect: Connected: 15-20+ hours (main/side content)
- Nobody Saves the World: 15-20 hours (main/side content)
So High on Life should give you a healthy amount of sci-fi shooting action for your Game Pass subscription dollar. The game also promises high replay value if you want to re-experience it using different weapon loadouts on higher difficulties.
Xbox Console Exclusive
As mentioned earlier, it‘s important to note High on Life is only coming to Xbox consoles and Windows PC. The game is not planned for release on PlayStation or Nintendo Switch at this time.
This console exclusivity deal with Microsoft is why Xbox Game Pass is the only way console gamers can access High on Life on day one "for free." Owners of PlayStation and Switch systems have no choice but to pay full retail price for copies on those platforms.
And there is no announced timeframe for when, or even if, High on Life might come to other consoles down the road. Historically some console exclusives have remained permanently locked to a single platform. So Xbox/PC could realistically remain the only places you can play this zany FPS going forward.
In summary, Game Pass subscribers gain exclusive early console access to High on Life as a nice perk of their membership. PlayStation and Switch fans either have to wait and hope or shell out $60+ to join the fun on release day.
Xbox Console Performance and Requirements
Thanks to Xbox Game Pass spanning generations, High on Life will be playable across Xbox One, Xbox Series X, and Xbox Series S. However, you can expect varying degrees of performance between those consoles.
Here is a breakdown of resolutions and frame rates for High on Life on each Xbox system:
- Xbox Series X – Up to 4K resolution at smooth 60 frames per second
- Xbox Series S – Capped at 1440p resolution but still hits 60 fps
- Xbox One – Lower 1080p resolution and 30 fps cap
So Xbox One offers the least optimal experience, but the game is still very much playable at solid HD visuals and a stable 30 fps performance profile.
Xbox Series X delivers the true full vision for High on Life with sharp 4K graphics and blistering 60 fps gameplay. But even the more affordable Xbox Series S can admirably hit that smoother framerate thanks to its 120Hz output capability, albeit at a lower 1440p resolution.
No matter which Xbox system you own, High on Life is accessible on day one with Game Pass. But I‘d especially recommend Xbox Series X/S owners jump in to really see Justin Roiland‘s eccentric world realized with buttery smooth combat.
Speaking of Xbox requirements, let‘s quickly discuss storage space needed. Here is how much drive space High on Life demands on each console:
- Xbox Series X/S: 23.98 GB
- Xbox One: 14.84 GB
The smaller Xbox One download is a result of less high-res texture packs needed for its 1080p output. But in practical terms, both console editions should fit comfortably on even base model storage drives.
However, juggling installs will get trickier if you have multiple other large games downloaded. Here are tips to maximize storage when installing High on Life or any big Xbox release:
Invest in expanded drive space via the 1 TB Seagate memory card expansion (Xbox Series X/S) or external USB hard drive (Xbox One).
Regularly clear older games you no longer play off the drive to free up space.
Disable installing 4K textures on Xbox Series X for smaller install sizes if drive space is limited.
Take advantage of Xbox Cloud Gaming on Game Pass Ultimate to stream High on Life without needing it downloaded locally.
With smart storage management, even Xbox owners still rocking launch 500 GB hard drives should be able to carve out room for the interstellar adventure High on Life offers.
Is High on Life Kid Friendly?
One important question remains – given its pedigree from Rick and Morty‘s co-creator, is High on Life appropriate entertainment for kids and teens?
The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) has assigned High on Life an M for Mature rating. This signifies it is suitable only for players ages 17 and up due to adult humor, language, and violence.
Specific factors cited in the M rating include:
- Depictions of mutilation and dismemberment
- Occasional sexual jokes or references
- Frequent use of F-word and other profanity
- References to narcotics and drug use
So parents should be advised High on Life is not intended for young audiences. Impressionable children should probably stick with family friendly Game Pass titles like Minecraft.
Teenagers closer to 17 could potentially enjoy and handle the content with proper guidance and understanding it‘s an adult parody. But personal discretion from guardians is still highly advised based on their individual child‘s maturity.
In summary, while High on Life‘s cartoony visuals might seem innocuous at first glance, the game earns its M rating. Take that into account when considering allowing kids or teens to jump into this madcap shooter world.
How High on Life Stacks Up to Other Game Pass Releases
The inclusion of a major third party published game like High on Life day one on Game Pass is an exciting development that adds even more value to the subscription. Normally you‘d have to fork over $60-70 to play a new cross-platform release.
But Game Pass members can experience the chaotic alien-blasting action out the gate just like Xbox console exclusive releases. Here are some other recent examples of big games that launched directly into Game Pass:
Pentiment (Obisidian Entertainment – November 15, 2022) – This unique narrative adventure takes heavy inspiration from medieval art and manuscripts in telling an intriguing episodic story. Xbox fans got it on day one just like PC players.
A Plague Tale: Requiem (Asobo Studio – October 18, 2022) – The sequel to the gripping plague tale set in 14th century France arrived on Game Pass for Xbox and PC simultaneously with its full retail release.
Scorn (Ebb Software – October 14, 2022) – This gruesome and surreal horror title actually launched as a permanent Xbox console exclusive. So Game Pass was the only way console gamers could check it out on release day.
Gunfire Reborn (Duoyi Games – October 6, 2022) – After a stint in Steam Early Access, this roguelite FPS graduated to a full launch with inclusion in Game Pass.
This pattern of major indie and third party games hitting Game Pass on their launch dates creates incredible value. There‘s now a steady stream of fresh content being added to the library, not just Microsoft titles or older games.
High on Life following suit shows Game Pass has become the premiere destination for players to experience exciting new IPs day one without paying full retail pricing. Its catalog just keeps expanding wildly in 2022 as more studios want their games featured in front of Game Pass‘s huge built-in audience.
The Bottom Line on High on Life
Let‘s recap the key takeaways:
While not free, High on Life is included day one as part of an Xbox Game Pass or PC Game Pass subscription. This grants millions of members access to the full game on December 13th at no additional cost.
The Standard Edition retailing for $59.99 can be played completely for the duration of your Game Pass membership. Think of it essentially as ‘free‘ access as long as you remain an active paying subscriber.
High on Life remains a permanent Xbox console exclusive for now. So Game Pass is the only way console gamers can check out this zany FPS on launch day without paying full price.
The madcap alien-blasting adventure should provide 15-30+ hours of unique gameplay from the mind of Rick and Morty‘s co-creator.
Parents be advised the M rating means High on Life is not suitable for kids under 17. Teen access should be evaluated carefully by guardians.
In closing, Xbox Game Pass continues to prove an incredible value, now offering major releases like High on Life included on day one. If you‘re an Xbox owner, Game Pass is absolutely the way to go to check out this wild FPS for the "cost" of your standard subscription fee. Just be ready for lots of raunchy laughs and frenzied alien hunting action once you jump in on December 13th. Happy gaming!