The Microsoft Surface Duo is now a handheld Xbox. Kind of...

The Microsoft Surface Duo is now a handheld Xbox. Kind of...
(Image credit: Microsoft)

A new update for the Microsoft Surface Duo has been released and it's turned the device into a handheld gaming console. Kind of. The new update means the second screen of the Surface Duo can be used as a controller for games played over Xbox Cloud Gaming. It sounds immensely promising because it is, but don't expect to be playing all your favorite Xbox games on the move just yet.

That's because not all games are supported by the Microsoft Surface Duo and, crucially, its control method. Instead, there's a selection of 66 games that can be played through this method, providing you have an Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription to do so. The list is quite impressive including titles such as Gears 5, Minecraft Dungeons, Sea of Thieves, Nier: Automata and more. You play them by using the top screen of the Surface Duo for what unfolds while the bottom screen switches into a form of Nintendo 3DS. It's not ideal because the top screen isn't as good as a TV and the bottom screen is a little cluttered with a plethora of touch buttons. And, of course, touching those buttons simply doesn't feel as good as using a physical controller, but it's certainly a start. If you’re desperate to get an Xbox gaming session in while on the move, at least that option is now available to you. It's certainly a better experience than you get on most tablets.

Of course, you can always use a regular Bluetooth or Xbox controller instead which seems like something most of us would much prefer, but at least if you forget to bring one, you can still play along anyhow.

A better standard of mobile gaming?

Is it the future of mobile gaming? We're not quite convinced. Nothing can beat the tactile nature of vibration responses via controllers or simply knowing that you've pressed down on a button rather than tapped a screen. For more sedate games, touch screen controls seem like they'd work reasonably well but when it comes to more action-packed fodder such as Gears 5, it seems like it'd be an awkward experience. Still, it is an impressive accomplishment and demonstrates just how far Xbox Cloud Gaming is progressing in a short space of time.

Alongside this pivotal update, Xbox Cloud Gaming has also been tweaked with the Microsoft Surface Duo in mind. That means it's easier to view content, move through menus, and there are now columned layouts for added convenience. It's all an update away via the Google Play Store. This is never going to compete with your trusty Xbox Series X (if you've managed to acquire one) but it's a nice bonus for those that have an Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription and a Microsoft Surface Duo to hand. 

For more gaming options, check out our list of the best home computers and the best laptops, and get more powerful machines.

Jennifer Allen

Jennifer has been freelancing for over 10 years. In the past, she's written about all things tech and gaming wise for outlets as varied as The Independent, Playboy, Eurogamer, and TechRadar. In her spare time, she spends far too much time watching films, attempting to train her pet guinea pigs, and mastering making the perfect burrito.  She's a full time freelancer, but a regular tech news contributor to Top Ten Reviews.