Best Xbox Game Pass Games
Since this feature was originally published, the Game Pass library has more than doubled to include well over 400 games for the same monthly fee of $10 USD ($15 if you want access to both the console and PC libraries through Game Pass Ultimate). With so many new games available to subscribers, we’re commemorating the fifth anniversary of Xbox Game Pass with a refresh to our list of the service’s best games.
Microsoft has expanded its stable of first-party studios and subsequently bolstered its Game Pass offerings significantly over the last five years, cementing Game Pass as the gaming subscription service to beat. To help you get the most out of your subscription, we’ve revamped our list of the services best games. These are our picks for the best games you can play right now on Xbox Game Pass, listed alphabetically.
Best Xbox Game Pass Games
Assassin’s Creed Origins
Assassin’s Creed Origins marked a new beginning for Assassin’s Creed. Origins was the series’ first major step toward becoming the sprawling open-world RPG it is today. It’s set in a stunning, unforgettable recreation of Ancient Egypt and stars one of the series’ all-time best protagonists in Bayek of Siwa. It’s smaller in scope than its successors (Odyssey and Valhalla), making it an accessible entry point for those who want a taste of Ubisoft’s more expansive Assassin’s Creeds.
Back 4 Blood
A spiritual successor to Left 4 Dead, Back 4 Blood continues that legacy with fun, four-player zombie carnage. Turtle Rock Studios, which created Left 4 Dead while owned by Valve, performs an impressive balancing act between familiar and fresh: Back 4 Blood takes the gameplay structure of its spiritual predecessor and adds an inventive card-based progressive system to create one of the best cooperative experiences on Game Pass.
Crusader Kings 3
In IGN’s Crusader Kings 3 review, we called it “a superb strategy game, a great RPG, and a master class in how to take the best parts of existing systems and make them deeper and better.” Its strong grand strategy mechanics are propped up by meaningful human stories that emerge as you build and sustain a dynasty. It earned a 10 in our review, which crowned it the “new king of historical strategy.”
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Skyrim is a defining RPG of the Xbox 360-PS3 era, and one of the best fantasy RPGs of all time. Rich in creatures and characters, environments and lore, player choice and progress, Skyrim is a must-play for any Game Pass subscriber with a passing interest in RPGs. Thanks to Skyrim’s most recent upgrade, Series X|S owners can now play it with enhanced graphics and faster load times.
Fallout: New Vegas
Fallout: New Vegas takes the best of Bethesda’s beloved RPG series and layers it with Obsidian’s signature wit and charm. A branching main story and excellent side quests keep you moving through the Mojave Wasteland, where you’ll encounter memorable factions, creatures, and characters (whose dialogue is often brilliant). For those who prefer Bethesda’s flavor of Fallout, Game Pass also includes Fallout 3 and Fallout 4.
Forza Horizon 5
IGN’s reigning Game of the Year, Forza Horizon 5 is the pinnacle of open-world, arcade-style racing. Playground Games’ gorgeous recreation of Mexico houses an array of high-speed activities, from road races to PR stunts. As IGN’s racing aficionado Luke Reilly wrote in his review, Forza Horizon 5 is “a deep and nuanced car nirvana for revheads and auto geeks to endlessly collect, tinker, and experiment. It’s also an extremely accessible buffet of racing spectacle open to everyone… no matter their driving skill or mechanical knowledge.”
Gears 5 may be the second game in the series’ new saga, but it feels very much like a first: The Coalition’s latest shifts its story focus to new protagonist Kate Diaz, introduces a more open world, and adds the all-new Escape co-op mode. However, not all is new: Gears 5 retains (and sharpens) the excellent cover-based shooting and visceral up-close combat the series was built on.
If you’re new to the series, we recommend you start at the beginning with Gears of War Ultimate Edition. If you’re put off by the time investment, at least start with Gears of War 4; it includes critical context to understanding the story of 5. (Gears of War Ultimate Edition and Gears of War 4 — as well as every game in between — are also available on Game Pass.)
Halo: The Master Chief Collection
Xbox Game Pass is arguably the industry’s subscription service to beat, and within that service lies arguably the best value in terms of software with Halo: The Master Chief Collection. Compiling Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary and beautifully remastered versions of Halo 2, 3, ODST, Reach, and Halo 4, The Master Chief Collection includes one of gaming’s greatest sci-fi sagas spread across several of its best first-person shooters.
The latest chapter of Master Chief’s saga avoids the pitfall of its predecessor by putting the Chief back in the spotlight. Halo Infinite excellent single-player campaign sharpens the series’ existing on-foot and vehicular gameplay while introducing an open-world map and an unforgettable new traversal tool in the Grappleshot. Despite community complaints about the lack of new Halo Infinite multiplayer content, what is there is great — the free-to-play online modes feature well-designed maps and some of the tightest FPS controls to date. While there’s still room to grow — we’re still waiting on those couch co-op and Forge updates! — Halo Infinite is an encouraging return to form for Microsoft’s flagship franchise.
Another extraordinary value within Game Pass is the Hitman Trilogy, which bundles every map and mission from Hitman, Hitman 2, and Hitman 3. The 20-plus thoughtfully designed assassination sandboxes are chock-full of daring and hilarious ways for Agent 47 to deal with targets: rig an exploding golfball, sabotage a family photo, feed a man to his pet hippo. IO has created deep, highly replayable playgrounds lined with hundreds of avenues for mayhem.
It Takes Two
It Takes Two, the latest co-op-only game from Hazelight Studios (A Way Out, Brothers), is an exceptional adventure that keeps players on their toes by stitching together dozens of gameplay ideas and mechanics throughout its 10-12-hour runtime. It walks a tightrope between challenging and accessible for new gamers, ultimately serving as a great choice for those looking to introduce a friend, family member, or partner to the world of cooperative gaming.
Life Is Strange: True Colors
Life Is Strange came on the scene in 2015, mirroring the episodic format Telltale Games had popularized at the time. Like The Walking Dead and The Wolf Among Us before it, Life Is Strange was an emotionally compelling, story-driven adventure full of player choice and branching narratives. With Life Is Strange: True Colors, the series continued that narrative legacy while abandoning the episodic format. True Colors cemented Life Is Strange as one of gaming’s best story-focused series, thanks in large part to its thoughtful diversity of characters and stories.
Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy
One of 2021’s biggest surprises was Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, an exclusively single-player adventure starring Marvel’s intergalactic team of misfits. Fitting for a Guardians adventure, the story is part comedy, part cosmic adventure. It’s got a ton of heart and a killer soundtrack.
Mass Effect Legendary Edition
Mass Effect Legendary Edition gives The Master Chief Collection a run for its money in terms of value, bundling three of the best RPGs from the Xbox 360-PS3 era. BioWare’s space opera trilogy is now better than ever thanks to vast visual and performance upgrades. Between the Legendary Edition and Mass Effect: Andromeda, the entire series is available with Game Pass Ultimate for those looking to catch up ahead of the next Mass Effect.
Microsoft Flight Simulator
Microsoft Flight Simulator uses real-life mapping data to turn the entirety of Earth into an aerial playground. It’s a technical marvel that provides endless opportunities for exploration and discovery, with flexible settings that cater to novices and aviation aficionados alike. IGN’s reviewer Seth Macy awarded it a 10 and called Flight Simulator “the most incredible experience I’ve ever had on a computer.”
A true digital playground, Minecraft has remained in the gaming zeitgeist for over a decade now, and for good reason: It’s an endless sandbox for creation and community. Its staying power is unprecedented — it was the most-played game of Q1 2022 — and with over 200 million units sold, it’s the best-selling video game of all time.
Mortal Kombat 11 Ultimate
Mortal Kombat 11 Ultimate is our choice for the best fighting game on Game Pass. NetherRealm’s latest features deep, fine-tuned combat; an expectedly absurd story mode; and a solid netcode that allows for smooth online play. The Ultimate version includes all 13 DLC characters and the MK 11: Aftermath story expansion.
No Man’s Sky
Like Minecraft, No Man’s Sky possesses an endless amount of playability in its massive, procedurally generated universe. Largely considered a disappointment at launch, a steady stream of updates over the last six years have turned No Man’s Sky into a must-play for exploration and survival fans. Hello Games has released 19 major updates for No Man’s Sky so far, and according to studio head Sean Murray, it’s “not done yet by a long shot.”
Square Enix’s gorgeous HD-2D JRPG Octopath Traveler is worth downloading for the visuals alone. However, beyond its beauty lies a deep JRPG with a classically inspired battle system, multi-character narrative, challenging boss battles, and a wealth of side areas and activities.
Ori and the Will of the Wisps
Ori and the Will of the Wisps demands your attention from start to finish: It’s necessary as you slash and dash your way through its challenging platforming sections, and it’s constantly captured by the gorgeous environments, whimsical characters, heartfelt story, and excellent score. Will of the Wisps oscillates between tension and serenity, and the result is an expertly choreographed dance through the vibrant land of Niwen.
Outer Wilds is a true adventure game, one that requires patience and thoughtful problem-solving. To say much would risk spoiling its unique cyclical structure, but suffice it to say that as your understanding of its world and history grows, so does the satisfaction of discovery and exploration.
Psychonauts 2 Screenshots
Double Fine’s latest adventure also happens to be one of its best. Released 16 years after the original, Psychonauts 2 continues the story of Raz and the Psychonauts as they venture into minds and uncover surprisingly affecting stories buried within the psyches of the game’s memorable characters. It’s got all the charm and personality of the original, with much-improved combat and platforming.
Sea of Thieves
Sea of Thieves is forever tied to the history of Game Pass, as it was the first Microsoft first-party game to launch day and date on the service. It suffered a rough launch, but its inclusion in Game Pass presumably kept its player count up enough for Rare to continue iterating. Those investments have paid off over the last four years, as Sea of Thieves has surpassed 25 million players. It’s become one of the best multiplayer experiences on Game Pass, and there’s even more new content to come in the months ahead.
Slay the Spire
“Slay the Spire takes some of the best parts of deckbuilding games, roguelikes, and dungeon crawlers and mixes them into a wholly new and extremely satisfying package,” reads IGN’s review. Like the best strategy games, Slay the Spire is easy to pick up but difficult to master, making its hundredth hour as engaging as its first.
Spelunky 2 builds on the brilliance of its predecessor by expanding on its challenging 2D platforming with new areas, enemies, hazards, items, animal mounts, a less-linear progression system, and rewarding hidden levels. Visually, it retains the cartoonish charm of the original while improving the graphical quality and the fluidity of animations. Spelunky 2 earned a 10 from IGN, with reviewer Mitchell Saltzman saying it “takes everything that made the original great and expands upon each of those individual aspects without ever overcomplicating the elegant, retro simplicity of its 2D platforming.”
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order
Star Wars Jedi: Survivor Reveal Trailer Screenshots
One of the all-time best Star Wars games is Respawn’s Jedi: Fallen Order. The third-person action-adventure blends soulslike gameplay with cinematic storytelling, resulting in a galactic journey worthy of the Star Wars name. Game Pass Ultimate subscribers can play Fallen order ahead of its recently announced sequel, Star Wars Jedi: Survivor, due out in 2023.
Sunset Overdrive has gone down as Xbox One’s most under-appreciated console exclusive. Developer Insomniac’s singular vision of the apocalypse is full of color, charm, and comedy. The stylistic shooter also features some of the best traversal mechanics from that generation — outdone only by Insomniac’s followup, Marvel’s Spider-Man.
Under Tunic’s whimsical charm lies a deep, challenging adventure deserving of its spot on our list of the best-reviewed games of 2022. Largely created by a single developer, Tunic’s enigmatic world design and challenging combat are balanced by intuitive instructions and responsive controls. As IGN reviewer Ryan McCaffrey wrote, Tunic is a “fantastic Zelda-style game for the Elden Ring generation.”
Those are our picks for the best games you can find on Xbox Game Pass. Let us know in the comments what made your list that might have been left off ours!
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