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Xbox Alpha Skip Ahead intros free-to-play multiplayer, Party Chat without Live Gold, more

Back in January, Microsoft announced that they would be raising the price of Xbox Live Gold. This received quite a bit of backlash, and Microsoft quickly reversed the change, as well as announced that they would no longer require Xbox Live Gold to enjoy free-to-play multiplayer titles. Well, it’s finally time for that to start being integrated, and Microsoft is beginning with its Alpha Skip Ahead release cycle. While this is a private release (invite-only), it’s at least progress toward it being integrated into the public release.

Xbox Alpha Skip-Ahead 2108.210322-1900 finally introduces free-to-play multiplayer

The biggest “new feature and experience” added to this Xbox Alpha Skip-Ahead release is the ability to enjoy multiplayer free-to-play games for free. Until now, you’d have to be a subscriber to Xbox Live to play titles like Fortnite, Apex Legends, and the like. This update changes that requirement, and should hopefully be available in the public builds here soon.

While this is a great feature, it’s not entirely implemented yet. You’ll be able to enjoy several free-to-play titles with this, but specifically Destiny 2 and Call of Duty: Warzone don’t work with it quite yet.

Party Chat no longer requires Xbox Live Gold

Another function of your console that has always required Live Gold is Party Chat and Looking 4 Groups. Both of these functions are also being updated to no longer require a subscription, which is great considering they’re key components of the aforementioned free-to-play update.

Other changes to the latest Xbox Alpha Skip-Ahead Service

Of course, these aren’t the only things being changed. A few other updates include new firmware for the Xbox Wireless Headset that fixes the volume of status tones and increases the mic monitoring levels. Plus, Microsoft has stated that they’re still working to fix apps that have problems displaying parts of their UI, Dolby Atmos issues, and things like mice not working properly in Minecraft.

How to join Alpha Skip-Ahead on Xbox?

So, here’s the thing: both the Alpha and Alpha Skip-Ahead rings are invite-only, and you can’t just “join” them whenever you want. You’ll generally have to have some clout in the Xbox Insider Ring community to get invited.

Microsoft has been known to open up these testing rings to end users in the past, however, so just keep your eye out, submit reports on the Insider Hub, and wait for your invite to come.

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