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The Best Games On Xbox Game Pass (March 2022)

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  • Posted on 01st Apr, 2022 06:40 AM
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Xbox Game Pass is unquestionably worth the subscription fee, but which of the available games are the best use of your hard drive space?

p>Microsoft’s Game Pass service is easily worth the price of admission. Many might balk at the concept of having their video game library locked behind a subscription service, but the fact is subscribers get access to an incredible selection of titles spanning from indie darlings to triple-A blockbusters for a surprisingly affordable monthly fee.

Related: Everything You Need To Know About Xbox Game Pass

With such a dizzying array of fantastic titles on display, it can be a daunting task deciding which ones are worth a player’s time. Given that the cost of entry is taken care of with the subscription fee, the most pressing matter is determining the best use of your hard drive space. Thankfully, the diamonds of this collection are readily apparent. Here’s a look at the greatest games that Xbox Game Pass has to offer.

The selections listed here will include games available on EA Play, which is included with a subscription to Game Pass Ultimate.

Halo: The Master Chief Collection

Approximate Game Length N/A
Genre First-Person Shooter
Developer 343 Industries
X|S Enhanced Yes
File Size 113 GB (February 2022)

The adventures of the Master Chief have never been as accessible as they are in the Master Chief Collection. This gathering of Halo games is the definitive collection of 343 Industries’ endeavors to immortalize the series. Not only is every mainline Halo game (not counting Halo 5: Guardians) included, but the fantastic Halo 3: ODST and Halo: Reach were added as well. From beloved campaign co-op to thrilling Firefight matches to iconic multiplayer modes, the Master Chief Collection has it all. Anyone who thinks of themselves as a Halo fan should consider it a must-play from Xbox Game Pass. And for those who have never completed the Master Chief’s saga, there is no better way to finish the fight.

Tunic

Approximate Game Length 15 Hours
Genre Action RPG
Developer Tunic Team
X|S Enhanced Yes
File Size 3 GB (March 2022)

Tunic’s cutesy polygonal aesthetic lends it enough charm from the outset, but despite appearances, this action-packed RPG is much more than a Zelda clone. Admittedly, it leans into that particular influence pretty hard. But reducing it to that comparison is pretty unfair considering the hodgepodge of gaming goodness it borrows from for its final product — Metroidvania and even Dark Souls-flavored combat figure into the mix in just the right proportions. And its vulpine protagonist tackles these challenges with adorable aplomb. So while Tunic might come across as an indie Legend of Zelda experience, it more than measures up to the expectations you’d have for its triple-A inspiration.

Shredders

Approximate Game Length N/A
Genre Sports Simulation
Developer I-Illusions, Let It Roll
X|S Enhanced Yes
File Size 15 GB (March 2022)

From frigid mountaintops to snow-covered city rooftops to actual, legitimate snowboarding courses, Shredders’ environments take you across a snowboarder’s wintry dreamscape. That’s what this game is, in essence: a snowboarder’s dream. There are no complicated frills or over-tuned controls. Shredders is a straightforward snowboarding game, plain and simple. There is snow, there are boards, and also the music goes “womp womp woop woop,” so that much is totally on-point. Of particular note are the absolutely engrossing visuals of the snow itself. That may seem like a cheap commentary cop-out, but in earnest, something about seeing the spray of powder and the way your board carves discernible furrows into the packed drifts is absurdly satisfying.

Paradise Killer

Approximate Game Length 12 Hours
Genre Narrative Mystery Platformer
Developer Kaizen Game Works
X|S Enhanced Yes
File Size 4 GB (March 2022)

There is no game out there quite like Paradise Killer. In a raw gameplay-sense, it's a first-person platformer isolated to stunning neo vista. But the real meat of the game is its whodunit mystery that players solve by meeting the divine (yes, literally divine) cast of characters and tracking down their whereabouts on the island at the time of the murder.

Part of the game's joy just comes from 'vibing' with the game's 80s-inspired retro-futuristic aesthetic and music, while jumping around looking for clues to solve the overarching murder. Lots of conversations open up new angles of exploration or posit new theories for who’s to blame for the game's central murder mystery. Anyone looking for something wholly unique absolutely needs to give Paradise Killer a try.

The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind

Approximate Game Length 70 Hours
Genre Open-World RPG
Developer Bethesda
X|S Optimized No
File Size 1 GB (March 2022)

Leading with the obvious, it can’t really be said that Morrowind has aged gracefully — the graphics are more than a bit rough, and the UI can seem unapproachable to the uninitiated. However, it’s a distinct bit of old-school RPG charm that nicely emphasizes why The Elder Scrolls become an industry powerhouse, and it’s sure to settle your retro urges. Morrowind can certainly be a bit harsh, but it’s difficult to find a more immersive title in the Elder Scrolls series. With precious little in the way of fast travel and quest markers, players must really plot their journey from point A to point B when puzzling out a quest. The nearly-alien landscape and architecture of Vvardenfell feels atypical of average fantasy trappings, and the relatively unforgiving nature of its open-world and combat encounters can create a real sense of danger. It’s absolutely worth a trip, especially if you’re a fan of Skyrim that’s never ventured into the older titles.

Marvel’s Guardians Of The Galaxy

Approximate Game Length 20 Hours
Genre Action-Adventure
Developer Eidos-Montreal
X|S Enhanced Yes
File Size 47 GB (March 2022)

The Guardians of the Galaxy MCU film was a delightful addition to the now-gigantic roster of Marvel movies, and the game based on these beloved characters is an equal delight to experience. While you play as the heroes we know and love from the film, there are marked differences that help these characters stand on their own, giving us an engaging story wrapped in a marvelous world. Seriously, even if the narrative does absolutely nothing for you, the sheer stunning nature of the environments you are dropped in is enough to keep you engrossed. Various planets feature mind-bending topography and luminous colors at every turn. And just as your eyes are in for a treat, so are your ears. The soundtrack for Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy is top-notch, featuring fantastic licensed songs to play in the background as you and your team take down the galaxy’s biggest foes.

Kentucky Route Zero

Approximate Game Length 8 Hours
Genre Narrative Adventure
Developer Cardboard Computers
X|S Enhanced No
File Size 1 Gb (March 2022)

Kentucky Route Zero probably has more in common with "The Great American Novel" than the Dungeons & Dragons text adventures it pays regular homage to. The game follows a group of misfits on a loose mission to find "The Zero," a lost highway that doesn't necessarily show up on a map. It's a game made up largely of walking around and reading text descriptions and dialogue, and some point-and-click fans will gawk at the lack of puzzles.

Still, while it's certainly a game that won't be for everyone, fans of Disco Elysium, Pathlogic, or any films in David Lynch's filmography should make sure to give it try. It's a game that lives and dies by its writing and aesthetic — and on those fronts, it's a modern masterpiece.

Doom (1993)

Approximate Game Length 5 Hours
Genre First-Person Shooter
Developer id Software, GT Interactive, Nerve Software
X|S Enhanced No
File Size 504 MB (March 2022)

Does there really need to be an introduction here? It’s Doom. It’s the 1993 classic that revolutionized a genre, if not video gaming as a whole, with its pixelated depictions of high-octane ultraviolence and spherical meatball demons from the bad place below. The touched-up version Bethesda’s slapped onto Game Pass features some neat additions, such as a limited mod roster and split-screen cooperative/competitive play. If you’re looking for a nostalgic romp to further contextualize what makes Doom 2016 and Eternal such a big deal or a fun, easy-to-slip-into split screen FPS experience to entertain yourself and up to three friends for an evening, here’s your pick.

The Sims 4

Approximate Game Length N/A
Genre Life Simulation
Developer Maxis, The Sims Studios
X|S Enhanced No
File Size 19 GB (March 2022)

Through the addition of EA Play, Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscribers can play the latest Sims entry in the series (at least until the long-awaited and highly anticipated Sims 5 gets announced). Though notable features were missing at launch, over time and with the power of meaningful expansions, The Sims 4 has become the game fans both deserved and needed. For the uninitiated, The Sims games are essentially “life simulators.” You guide your Sims through what would, otherwise, be the mundane shenanigans of every life — note the key term there, “otherwise.” Because life in The Sims universe is anything but mundane. Whether you’re cozying up with your vampire neighbors or literally trying to cheat the Grim Reaper out of his due when your Sim’s time is up, The Sims 4 makes the doldrums of daily living fantastic, hilarious, and downright fun.

Batman: Arkham Knight

Approximate Game Length 20 Hours
Genre Open-World Action-Adventure
Developer Rocksteady Studios
X|S Enhanced No
File Size 47 GB (February 2022)

The original Batman game in the Arkham Trilogy, Arkham Asylum, set the bar for what fans should expect out of a superhero game. While Arkham Knight wasn't as critically received as the first game — even for casual Batman fans, it still serves as a fantastic conclusion to the series.

Related: Best Third-Person Adventure Games Of All Time

Everything from the plot to the combat and visuals, holds up years after release, which is a testament to Rocksteady's impeccable design. The game's propulsive combo system is still second-to-none, and the story does a great job getting players up-to-speed (even if they haven't played the first two games in the trilogy). Batman: Arkham Knight represents nearly a decade of innovation (and iteration) in the open-world superhero genre, and shouldn't be missed.

Burnout Paradise Remastered

Approximate Game Length 12 Hours
Genre Open-World Arcade Racer
Developer Criterion Software
X|S Enhanced No
File Size 7 GB (February 2022)

Burnout Paradise popularized the open-world racing genre, paving the way for award-winning games like Forza Horizon. The original version of the game was released back in 2009 —so, yes, it's showing its age— but the remaster goes a long way to modernize it for the 21st century.

Despite its age, no game since has quite captured the sense of place and raw speed of Burnout Paradise. Crashes have an impact. And the lack of licensed cars means that vehicles can crumple-up on collision, and show wear-and-tear as the race drags on. Burnout still occupies a special place in the hearts of racing fans — and for good reason.

Lake

Approximate Game Length 6 Hours
Genre Indie Adventure
Developer Gamious
X|S Enhanced Yes
File Size 2 GB (February 2022)

The quiet simplicity and relaxing atmosphere of Lake makes it one of the hidden gems within the Xbox Game Pass Library. The story follows city-dweller Meredith Weiss as she takes a temporary job in a small lake town delivering mail. That, in essence, is what the game is all about. You control Meredith as she meets with the unique and endearing townsfolk, handing them their mail and discussing the inconsequential going-ons of their community. And just as Meredith views this as a much-needed break from the pressures of her city career, you as the player can relax in Lake’s undemanding gameplay. It feels like a break from the hectic multilayer offerings of many a triple-A title.

Craftopia

Approximate Game Length N/A
Genre Sandbox Adventure
Developer Pocket Pair, Inc.
X|S Enhanced Yes
File Size 4 GB (February 2022)

Though it is just a game preview as of this writing, Craftopia manages to delight and amuse with the sandbox foundations it has laid out for players. After causing a nuclear disaster and obliterating life as we know it (heavy stuff), you are thrust into a fresh, new world ripe for exploration — and perhaps more importantly, rebuilding. Craftopia features an impressively robust crafting system that’s sure to please fans of Minecraft and the like, which in spite of its density, still manages to remain approachable and accessible. However, it also features fairly rich progression mechanics a la equipment and skill trees, so it winds up playing like some sort of strangely satisfying hybrid of a survival-crafting sandbox and a rudimentary action RPG. There are dungeons to raid, bosses to slay, and awkward ramps leading to cloud-dwelling sky deities to build, so what are you waiting for?

Broken Age

Approximate Game Length 10 Hours
Genre Point-and-Click Adventure
Developer Double Fine
X|S Enhanced No
File Size 2 GB (February 2022)

Broken Age is a ‘Coming of Age’ story in the vein of a Roald Dahl children’s novel; it’s whimsical, funny, and a bit dark in tone where appropriate. It puts players in control of two young characters at major turning points in their lives, and the player will need to swap between them to solve puzzles and progress both their narratives.

Mechanically, it’s a traditional point-and-click adventure game like The Secret of Monkey Island or Day of the Tentacle with plenty of modern touches that make the game far more approachable for a modern audience. Fans of the genre can still expect to combine items, and/or give them to other characters in the world, but the game’s presentation and dramatically improved user-interface, make the whole thing feel more cinematic than early games in the genre.

As an added perk, like so many games from Double Fine’s repertoire: Broken Age is an excellent game to play with the family (including kids) that will be fun for everyone to work through and solve (without the experience being too shallow for seasoned players).

Death’s Door

Approximate Game Length 8 Hours
Genre Indie Action-Adventure
Developer Acid Nerve
X|S Enhanced Yes
File Size 3 GB (February 2022)

Reaping the souls of the dead has never been more charming or delightful. Death’s Door takes you on a journey alongside an employee of the Reaping Commission Headquarters, and while this might sound woefully boring, the engaging gameplay and intriguing narrative makes this a true adventure despite its bureaucratic trappings. There’s a mystery here for you to uncover, but there is more to Death’s Door than its story. A fantastic art style coupled with straightforward combat controls ensures that anyone can immerse themselves in the wondrous environments. Death’s Door is an incredibly approachable game that goes over heavy subject matters with a great sense of humor. You might not have thought a little crow wielding magic and a sword would feel so memorable, but Death’s Door proves otherwise.

Maneater

Approximate Game Length 9 Hours
Genre Sharky Action RPG
Developer Tripwire Interactive, Blindside Interactive
X|S Enhanced Yes
File Size 13 GB (February 2022)

They say there’s always a bigger fish. Sometimes that fish is a shark! Maneater is the premier shark simulation game of the decade. That may not be a rabidly competitive niche to take on, but nonetheless, it’s a pretty gripping concept. The game puts you in the shoes (or fins, rather) of a shark that’s out for revenge after the producers of a shark-hunting television program injure her and kill her mother. But in order to get big enough to exact your razor-toothed vengeance, you’ll need to evolve and unlock new abilities by… well, eating fish (and the occasional person), of course. However, you’ll encounter numerous obstacles in your violent aquatic endeavors — other predators and even shark-hunting bounty hunters will seek to obstruct your blood-soaked objective, but perseverance is key to a shark’s life in all things. Altogether, Maneater’s a rare simulation concept that’s absolutely worth checking into. If only to say you’ve been a shark.

Nobody Saves The World

Approximate Game Length 12-20 Hours
Genre 2D Action RPG
Developer Drinkbox Studios
X|S Enhanced Yes
File Size 993 MB (February 2022)

Nobody Saves the World is one of the most addictive classic action-RPGs on Xbox outside Diablo III: Reaper of Souls. While it may not last quite as long as other games in the genre, the gorgeous animation, colorful world, and propulsive quest system make it a must-play for fans of hacking-and-slashing.

Related: Diablo: Amazing Pieces Of Cut Content From The ARPG Classic

The biggest change to the formula is Nobody Saves the World's clever progression mechanic. Instead of chasing a random number generator looking for gear, Nobody Saves the World has players completing a near-endless string of self-populating quests that encourage new gameplay styles and alternating abilities. It's a loop that makes the game incredibly hard to put down.

Hitman Trilogy

Approximate Game Length 70 Hours (All Games Combined)
Genre Action-Adventure Stealth
Developer IO Interactive
X|S Enhanced Yes
File Size 73 GB (February 2022)

Nothing combines badassery with absolute hilarity quite as professionally as the Hitman series. The Hitman Trilogy comes with Agent 47’s three mainline titles and provides hours of entertainment as players figure out the many different ways to eliminate their targets. The impressive agency with which players can carry out 47’s contracts allows for not only slick, high-profile staging of highly complex assassination scenarios, but accidental, emergent circumstances that necessitate on-the-fly improvisation.

From straightforward sniper-ing to utterly convoluted traps involving costumes, chandeliers, and… bananas, the various methods at your disposal in the Hitman games show the breadth of IO Interactive’s imagination.

Telling Lies

Approximate Game Length 8 Hours
Genre Interactive Film
Developer Sam Barlow and Furious Bee
X|S Enhanced No
File Size 9 GB (February 2022)

Telling Lies is a thriller that has players sifting through live-action video clips of private conversations between characters who are unknowingly connected to each other. At its core, Telling Lies is a spy story, but its unique presentation and emphasis on the behind-the-scenes espionage make the entire story come to life in new and exciting ways. The game’s excellent cast and performances make peeping through clips and footage of every character’s most intimate moments feel voyeuristic and unsettling — and yet, the way the game’s plot unspools makes it an incredibly difficult game to stop playing. Don’t miss it!

Spelunky 2

Approximate Game Length 30 Hours
Genre Adventure Platformer
Developer Mossmouth, Blitworks
X|S Enhanced No
File Size 609 MB (February 2022)

Spelunky 2 builds upon the roguelike spelunking shenanigans of its predecessor with an array of new features, including new tools, new characters, and new traps. And even better, this sequel is also brimming with delightful cooperation — that’s right, you can now romp your way through treasure-laden caverns alongside friends. Just be wary of the numerous traps that lie in store for your intrepid explorers. Death is around every corner, be it death by lava immersion or hidden dart. However, don’t let fatal impediments stop you from enjoying Spelunky 2. This indie title begs to be replayed over and over again, packing a retro-inspired charm that’s unlikely to wane even weeks after you’ve picked it up.

Outer Wilds

Approximate Game Length 16 Hours
Genre Sci-Fi Adevnture
Developer Mobius Digital
X|S Enhanced No
File Size 7 GB (February 2022)

Outer Wilds is one of the best adventure games ever made. Full stop. It’s an open-world sci-fi game that has players exploring a miniature solar system with a handful of handcrafted planets — each with their own mysteries to uncover. It may not be as expansive as other games about space exploration, but Outer Wilds captures the awe, anxiety, and grandeur of outer space better than just about any other game out there. It takes a little while to ramp-up, but once the clockwork nature of the world starts to piece itself together, it is a rewarding and altogether breathtaking experience.

Mass Effect Legendary Edition

Approximate Game Length 100 Hours
Genre Third-Person Shooter/RPG
Developer BioWare
X|S Enhanced Yes
File Size 21 GB (February 2022)

The original Mass Effect trilogy is one of the most iconic RPGs ever made. However, you can see how poorly some aspects of the series have aged, especially when examining the first game. Never fear, these outdated elements have been rectified and polished in the Mass Effect Legendary Edition, which is now available to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscribers, courtesy of its inclusion in the EA Play library. Fans of the epic sci-fi trilogy can revisit Commander Shepard’s dire quest to stop the galaxy-consuming Reapers.This Legendary Edition comes with the whole package, including some majorly awesome DLC from each of the three games. If you want to experience the definitive Mass Effect experience, there is only one true way to do that, and it’s now available on Xbox Game Pass.

Among Us

Approximate Game Length N/A
Genre Social Deduction
Developer InnerSloth LLC
X|S Enhanced No
File Size 763 MB (February 2022)

Among Us is the indie hidden-role game that could. Having swept into immense popularity due to its accessibility across platforms and omnipresence in streaming and YouTube communities, it was only a matter of time before it made the leap to living room consoles. It just took that extra step to plant itself on the Game Pass roster. The premise is simple — several players find themselves on board a spaceship (or remote research facility) and are provided with tasks to complete, ranging from cleaning out dirty vents to blasting asteroids out of the ship’s way. The catch? One (or more) of your crewmates is an imposter with the sole purpose or murdering you and everyone else. The game ends in one of three ways: the crewmates complete all tasks, the murderer is identified and ejected, or the imposters manage to wipe out the crew. The game’s best played with colleagues and friends, as there’s nothing more entertaining than knowing someone’s tells and desperately trying to suss out the truth when they claim they were on the other end of the level when a body’s discovered.

Mortal Kombat 11

Approximate Game Length 23 Hours
Genre Fighting Game
Developer NetherRealm Studios
X|S Enhanced Yes
File Size 46 GB (February 2022)

The latest chapter in NetherRealm studios' time-tested arcade fighter, MK11 keeps the standard of deceptively deep mechanics and purely over-the-top violence in fine fashion. The single-player story mode picks up shortly after the defeat of Shinnok in Mortal Kombat X, and introduces a new antagonist in Kronika, a time-manipulating trickster of god-like power that's looking to undo history itself — in other words, your typical baddie that's about to break the world unless you beat up a slew of friends and foes to get at her. The cast consists of the usual roster of old favorites — from Scorpion to Raiden, the gang's well intact. And there are a few newcomers as well: Cetrion pops up as a playable character this time around, and DLC packs introduce vibrant guest characters like Robocop, and even Rambo himself. The gameplay is as smooth as ever, and of particular note is MK 11's almost absurdly robust tutorial. It's a must-play for newcomers to the fighting game scene, as the tutorials break down mechanics common across the genre in painstaking and illuminating detail.

Firewatch

Approximate Game Length 5 Hours
Genre Narrative Walking Simulator
Developer Campo Santo
X|S Enhanced No
File Size 3 GB (February 2022)

Part thriller, part mystery, and part romance — Firewatch is an unforgettable walking sim/radioplay that puts players in the shoes of a newly appointed lookout. The goal? Watch for fires.

Related: Best Walking Simulators That Everyone Should Play

Needless to say, the game's actual plot is far more interesting than its logline. The creative team behind the game includes industry veterans, including some of the minds behind the first season of Telltale’s The Walking Dead. And with such a short time to complete, Firewatch is a must for anyone who enjoys a story-first experience. In terms of gameplay, Firewatch has players exploring the great outdoors, but like any great thriller, there's a lot more happening than meets the eye.

Aliens: Fireteam Elite

Approximate Game Length 10 Hours
Genre Third-Person Shooter
Developer Cold Iron Studios
X|S Enhanced Yes
File Size 17 GB (February 2022)

Though nowhere near as terrifying as its distant cousin, Alien: Isolation, Aliens: Fireteam Elite offers a thrilling romp through the same universe. In Fireteam Elite, players are tasked with selecting one of four playable classes and mowing down hordes of the titular Xenomorph, complete with particularly problematic variations of the alien peppered throughout. It’s clear that this title in the Alien series takes its inspiration from James Cameron’s space-marine-laden film, and while shooting them down by the hundreds can certainly detract from the Xenomorphs’ “scare factor” significantly, they do certainly make for satisfying cannon fodder for you and your friends to chew through. The game features some basic-yet-solid progression mechanics in unlockable guns, attachments, and consumable items to continuously tempt you back into the fray. Altogether, it makes for a fun and engrossing cooperative experience.

Unpacking

Approximate Game Length 3 Hours
Genre Zen Puzzle Narrative
Developer Witch Beam
X|S Enhanced No
File Size 667 MB (February 2022)

Unpacking follows one person's life, from their first bedroom at their parent's house, to their first apartment and beyond. In it, players unpack their entire life one box at a time, getting to know all their personal possessions and have the oddly-satisfying joy of placing each item where it’s supposed to go one at a time. It's a very simple game mechanically, but it also packs a lot of narrative into a fairly short experience with little-to-no text or voiceover.

Unpacking is a perfect wind-down game for players who are looking for something more relaxed in gameplay and narrative, and it is an absolute hidden gem on Xbox Game Pass.

Stardew Valley

Approximate Game Length 60 Hours
Genre Farming Sim
Developer ConcernedApe
X|S Enhanced No
File Size 1 GB (February 2022)

Stardew Valley is easily one of the most zen experiences to be had in its genre. That’s quite a statement when discussing farming sims, but really, it’s so much more than that. With dashes of dating sim and retro action-RPG thrown into the mix and sealed up in a charming 16-bit aesthetic, SDV tasks players with moving out to the countryside to restore their grandfather’s farm after inheriting it — as one does in a farming sim. Players grow crops, find romance, assist the locals with their various problems, dive into the mines to fight monsters and liberate riches, and more over the course of their stay in the Valley. But one of the best parts of Stardew is easily the relaxed sense of progression. At no point are players prodded to advance the storyline, they’re free to live as they please as they eke out a living selling turnips, raising goats, hatching dinosaur eggs, and bashing slimes.

Kill It With Fire

Approximate Game Length 5 Hours
Genre Spider Killing Simulator
Developer Casey Donnellan Games LLC
X|S Enhanced No
File Size 895 MB (February 2022)

Hate spiders? Kill them with fire. Or clipboards. Or high-powered magnum revolvers. You can kill spiders with a lot of different things, really, and Kill It With Fire showcases a whole gamut of spider extermination methods. Cast as a humble homeowner, the game tasks you with one fairly straightforward goal — kill the spiders infesting your abode by any means necessary. Players are confronted with increasingly complex extermination scenarios involving zany physics — spiders can hide beneath every nook and cranny, and keeping track of the various bits of furniture and decor you’ll overturn in pursuit of your arachnid adversaries is likely more pressing than the spiders themselves. Progressing through the levels will unlock a bevy of interesting implements of spider destruction. It’s a delightful indie jaunt that’s well worth killing a few hours for.

The Wild At Heart

Approximate Game Length 12 Hours
Genre Pikmin-Style Adventure Game
Developer Moonlight Kids
X|S Enhanced Yes
File Size 2 GB (February 2022)

The Wild at Heart occupies a space between Pikmin and a 2D adventure game from yesteryear. It’s an impressive feat that The Wild at Heart takes such complex mechanics and translates them flawlessly to a game that can be enjoyed without needing much dexterity.

The game follows two young kids exporting a mystical forest after they run away from home. The comparisons to Pikmin come from its gameplay loop, where players need to manage a sizeable team of “Spritelings” (which have different abilities depending on their type) that these two discover on their adventure. It’s a must for fans of small indie games or Xbox players starved for Nintendo-style adventure games.

Mortal Shell

Approximate Game Length 15 Hours
Genre Action RPG
Developer Cold Symmetry
X|S Enhanced Yes
File Size 9 GB (February 2022)

It’s likely safe to dub Mortal Shell as the most souls-like of the Souls-likes, as the majority of the core gameplay elements are going to be immediately and intimately familiar to those steeped in FromSoftware’s iconic catalog. However, that isn’t to say it’s without its own distinct identity and nuances.

Related: Mortal Shell: Every Weapon In The Game, Ranked

One major facet that sets it apart is in the name — Shells. Players begin life in Mortal Shell as an overly tender slab of beef jerky but inhabit several different bodies, or “shells,” that have unique play styles and capabilities over the course of their venture. In addition to several other unique mechanics, players can expect a sharp execution of the other Souls trappings: parries and ripostes, bombastic boss fights demanding sensitive timing, and a decrepit, moldering world begging for a savior. Dark Souls fans are sure to find themselves at home.

Halo Infinite

Approximate Game Length N/A
Genre First-Person Shooter
Developer 343 Industries
X|S Enhanced Yes
File Size 48 GB (February 2022)

Anyone with access to a PC or Xbox console can play the online multiplayer component of the latest entry in the Halo series. Players can jump into a Big Team Battle or a ranked Arena match and have the time of their lives. Well-crafted maps, new weapons, and entertaining game modes keep Halo Infinite feeling fresh. It just caters to Halo fans in all the right ways. In addition to that, the campaign experience is available to Xbox Game Pass subscribers. It tells a more personal story that focuses on the Master Chief's adventures on Zeta Halo, complete with an astounding open-world map that finally realizes the grandeur of a Halo ring. Halo Infinite’s campaign is something between a love-letter to the distinct charm of Combat Evolved’s more “open” segments (referring specifically to levels such as “Halo” and “The Silent Cartographer”) and the franchise’s many innovations since. The weapon sandbox has been revitalized and combat has never felt more evolved. Halo nostalgia is real, and Infinite completely satisfies it.

Forza Horizon 5

Approximate Game Length N/A
Genre Racing
Developer Playground Games
X|S Enhanced Yes
File Size 103 GB (February 2022)

The Forza Horizon franchise has always done an incredible job blending the appeal of arcade racers like Burnout with the realistic precision controls of the Motorsport games. Horizon 5 is no exception, and it just so happens to be one of the best-looking games available on next-gen consoles.

Like its predecessors, Horizon 5 has players exploring an open world and completing a wide variety of objectives and races. Mexico has no shortage of gorgeous locales to drive through while setting up for the Horizon Festival. It's a game with so much to do — it's almost too easy to pick a direction, start driving, and find something worthwhile on the Horizon.

It Takes Two

Approximate Game Length 11 Hours
Genre Action-Adventure
Developer Hazelight Studios
X|S Enhanced Yes
File Size 43 GB (February 2022)

It Takes Two is a fantastic game, but it’s a bit misleading to label it as a single game. It treads over so many genres, it feels like multiple games in one package. And not only does it offer more than you might expect, it provides subscribers with one of the best cooperative experiences of the decade. Players take control of Cody and May, a married couple on the brink of divorce. The two are magically turned into dolls, which of course leads to a variety of hijinks as they make their way through a now larger (and more dangerous) world. From sliding down pipes to escaping from vacuums to battling wasps, there are so many ripe opportunities for engaging gameplay, and It Takes Two takes advantage of them all.

Last Stop

Approximate Game Length 6 Hours
Genre Interactive Movie
Developer Variable State
X|S Enhanced Yes
File Size 6 GB (February 2022)

Fans of Telltale's brand of choose-your-own-adventure stories will feel right at home with Last Stop. The game is very light on any traditional gameplay (even by the standards of modern games in the genre), but its plot, visual style, and narrative pacing more than make up for any mechanical shortcomings.

Last Stop follows three interweaving characters and plots spread out across six chapters. Each chapter is broken up into a 20-minute section for each character. And frankly, the bite-sized nature of each mini-arc helps propel the game's supernatural plot from start to finish. The game's structure makes it the perfect fit for Game Pass and gamers looking for more story-oriented games in the genre.

Boyfriend Dungeon

Approximate Game Length 5 Hours
Genre Dating Sim/Dungeon Crawler
Developer Kitfox Games
X|S Enhanced No
File Size 1 GB (February 2022)

Boyfriend Dungeon wears its style, theme, and heart on its sleeve — players will be able to guess from the title alone whether or not the game is for them. Surprise! Boyfriend Dungeon is about dungeon crawling and figuring out which of the game's many romance options makes the best partner for fighting through said dungeons.

Boyfriend Dungeon is a fairly stripped-down dungeon crawler, with a very light skill tree and little in the way of enemy variety. But what it lacks in loot, gear, and customization, it more than makes up for with personality and style. It also doesn't overstay its welcome or expect players to sink hours into learning any complex systems before its short runtime is up. It's a game that's more about the friends made along the way than gearing up for a big final encounter.

The Forgotten City

Approximate Game Length 6 Hours
Genre Indie RPG
Developer Modern Storyteller
X|S Enhanced No
File Size 13 GB (February 2022)

The final product of one of the most popular Skyrim mods, The Forgotten City is one of the most intriguing games you can pluck from the Xbox Game Pass library. Set in an ancient city from a long-ago time, you and its denizens are stuck in a time loop that appears nigh unbreakable. Using your knowledge of coming events and some experimentation, it is up to you to figure out what is going on. The Forgotten City is a fantastic blend of an RPG and a mystery game. Aside from just progressing your character, the elusive nature of the plot will have you continuing on your journey. Add to that ingenious writing, and you’ve got yourself a story experience you will never forget.

Back 4 Blood

Approximate Game Length 5 Hours
Genre First-Person Shooter
Developer Turtle Rock Studios
X|S Enhanced Yes
File Size 34 GB (February 2022)

Nothing makes for a great time quite like fending off a horde of zombies alongside your friends. Back 4 Blood is an FPS shooter that has been clearly styled in the same vein as Left 4 Dead, which makes a great deal of sense considering Turtle Rock did develop the original zombie-slaying shoot ‘em up. Up to four players can team up to tackle a mission-based campaign, each of which ends up with the group fleeing into the relative safety of a safe room. There are even special types of “Ridden,” as Back 4 Blood terms its zombies, to contend with on the journey. The gunplay is crisp and satisfying — it makes a clear evolution from Left 4 Dead by incorporating attachments and ADS mechanics without sacrificing the loose, fast, and frenetic run-and-gun action. In a nutshell, if a zombie-shaped hole has been left in your heart since 2009’s Left 4 Dead 2, Back 4 Blood will occupy that space snugly.

Dragon Ball FighterZ

Dragon Ball Fighterz Character Tier List
Approximate Game Length 6 Hours (Story Mode)
Genre 2D Fighting Game
Developer Arc System Works
X|S Enhanced No
File Size 7 GB (February 2022)

Dragon Ball FighterZ is a love letter to both the manga and anime of the beloved franchise. There is no shortage of iconic stances, animations, and easter eggs for Dragon Ball fans to sift through. It cannot be understated: FighterZ's visuals flawlessly capture the feeling of watching Dragon Ball. It also happens to be an incredible game in its own right.

Dragon Ball FighterZ is a 3-vs-3 tag battle fighting game. Like Marvel Vs. Capcom, players choose a team of combatants at the start of each match and can swap between them for combos. The fights are fast-paced, frenetic, and competitive. The game has an incredibly deep combo system (with some built-in auto-combos for players new to the genre) that includes all the polish fighting game fans expect from Arc System Works. A must for fans of the series and genre.

Sable

Approximate Game Length 9 Hours
Genre Indie Adventure
Developer Shedworks
X|S Enhanced Yes
File Size 2 GB (February 2022)

Sable is an absolutely gorgeous game, with an unforgettable artstyle that stands out from others found in the massive collection of games already available on Xbox Game Pass. The cartoonish aspect heightens the game’s sense of wonder as you guide Sable, the titular main character, through the desert landscapes of her world. While the game is rather sparse when it comes to side quests and activities to do, the freedom to roam through the wide, arid deserts is a large part of its appeal. The game is not all that long, and it is definitely more of a relaxing experience than an action-packed adventure.

Visage

Approximate Game Length 8 Hours
Genre Psychological Horror
Developer SadSquare Studio
X|S Enhanced No
File Size 8 GB (February 2022)

There is a short stack of horror games in the Xbox Game Pass library, but the titles that are available provide plenty of scares. Visage makes for a fine addition to this already tantalizing collection of spine-tingling, skin-crawling horror games. Visage stands alongside its peers as one of the most suspense-filled psychological horror titles to date.

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It calls to mind the infamous P.T. for Kojima’s abandoned Silent Hills project. Players must walk through hallways full of ominous visions, all while being tormented by grotesque figures that silently stalk them. Though there is no major action to be found in Visage, the superlative atmospheric tension is more than enough to keep you disquietingly engrossed in the slow-paced experience.

Pillars Of Eternity: Complete Edition

Approximate Game Length 45 Hours
Genre RPG
Developer Obsidian Entertainment
X|S Enhanced No
File Size 14 GB (February 2022)

When you hear Obsidian’s doing a classically styled CRPG, it behooves any RPG enthusiast to sit up and pay attention. As mentioned, Pillars of Eternity was made in the tradition of true genre classics, like Baldur’s Gate and Icewind Dale, but takes place in an entirely unique setting as opposed to D&D’s Forgotten Realms. Pillars of Eternity’s richly detailed fantasy realm of Eora has a lore and mystique all its own. Players take the role of a “Watcher” — a spiritual medium of sorts that can interact with souls — as they investigate the mystery behind the Hollowborn Plague, an affliction that causes newborn children to be born without souls, rendering them stillborn for most intents and purposes. Obsidian’s penchant for imaginative writing and vibrant character work shines through the host of recruitable companions players will encounter while building their party, and the RPG mechanics themselves are deeply gratifying for theorycrafters and CRPG nuts.

Scarlet Nexus

Approximate Game Length 30 Hours
Genre Action RPG
Developer Bandai Namco Studios, Tose
X|S Enhanced Yes
File Size 19 GB (February 2022)

Flashy action is what Scarlet Nexus is all about. Players take on the role of Yuito Sumeragi or Kasane Randall, new recruits to the OSF, a task force dedicated to eliminating monstrous, supernatural-type creatures known only as Others. Powerful Psionic abilities and classic anime melee weapons make combat a bombastic affair. The best thing about Scarlet Nexus is how straightforward its gameplay and narrative can be for fans of the genre. It knows its identity; it knows its fans. If anything about Scarlet Nexus calls to you after your first few minutes of playing, you can rest assured that the remainder of the game will be just as enjoyable.

The Artful Escape

Approximate Game Length 3 Hours
Genre Platform Adventure
Developer Beethoven & Dinosaur
X|S Enhanced Yes
File Size 6 GB (February 2022)

The Artful Escape is exactly as its title describes, an escape into a multidimensional, otherworldly soundscape that is as artful as it is indescribable. The indie adventure game follows Francis Vendetti, an aspiring musician who is struggling to get out from under the shadow of his famous, folk-singing uncle. In an effort to find his own identity, Francis begins a cosmic journey that is nothing short of extraordinary. Players get to tour the universe alongside Francis as he discovers himself and who he truly wants to be. The Artful Escape is less of a game and more of an experience, but this unique aspect of the title makes it a definite gem in the Xbox Game Pass library.

Superliminal

Approximate Game Length 3 Hours
Genre First-Person Puzzle
Developer Pillow Castle
X|S Enhanced No
File Size 11 GB (February 2022)

If there was a hole in your heart after you finished Valve’s Portal games, and no other title has been able to fill it since, then perhaps you should give Superliminal a try. Rather than utilizing portals and momentum as part of its puzzles, Superliminal is all about perspective. The way you perceive something leads to the solution. This might sound obtuse and vague, but it’s quite brilliant in execution. A small item can be made to seem as large as a house when you hold it just right. For instance, grabbing a soda can and holding it right in front of your face can make it seem larger than it really is based on perspective. Superliminal takes this idea and goes wild with it, leading to a number of mind-bending puzzles involving distance and light. It perfectly showcases how a different point of view can solve almost any problem. Though it is a very short game, it is an absolute must-play if you want a title that can turn your world upside down.

Aragami 2

Approximate Game Length 30 Hours
Genre Stealth Action/Adventure
Developer Lince Works
X|S Enhanced Yes
File Size 9 GB (February 2022)

Solidly designed cooperative stealth-action games are a rarity, but Aragami 2 manages to pull it off in fine fashion. As a member of a clan of undead ninja-guardians, it falls to you and up to two stealthy comrades to utilize various shadow powers, stealth, and good, old-fashioned katana combat to harass, harry, and sabotage an invading army as it pillages your homeland and slays your people. Aragami 2’s stealth and combat mechanics straddle a fine line between simple accessibility and depth, providing just enough nuance to get players hooked but dodging a learning curve that seems impenetrable to newcomers. It’s definitely worth more than a spin, especially if you have a couple of friends to bring along for the ride.

Monster Train

Approximate Game Length 20 Hours
Genre TCG Deck Builder
Developer Shiny Shoe
X|S Enhanced Yes
File Size 1 GB (February 2022)

Like Slay the Spire, Monster Train is a run-based deck-builder where players pick a starting character/clan and do their best to assemble the ultimate deck before a climactic showdown.

Monster Train's claim to fame is a unique three-tiered floor system where players can set up their defenses and monsters to protect their core HP sitting at the top of the train. The system combines the best deck-builders with this unique mechanic, and an enormous number of different characters and abilities to give players a near-infinite number of strategies and combinations. Anyone riding the Monster Train will quickly find their route to an OP deck — and that's half the fun.

Psychonauts 2

Approximate Game Length 16 Hours
Genre Platform-Adventure
Developer Double Fine
X|S Enhanced Yes
File Size 28 GB (February 2022)

Is sixteen years too long to wait for a proper sequel? Probably, yes. But that doesn’t make the result any less satisfying to experience. Psychonauts 2 hits with all the vibrance and zany, third-person action-platforming madness that solidified the original as a cult classic. Players once again control Raz Aquato as he continues to climb the ranks of the legendary Psychonauts. But this isn’t summer camp anymore; this is the big leagues. A new villain has arisen to plague the minds of everyone’s favorite psychics, but the familiar mechanics of the original game are back with greater polish. It’s fantastic to see a Psychonauts sequel that still carries the heart and charm of the original.

12 Minutes

Approximate Game Length 5 Hours
Genre Narrative Point-and-Click Adventure
Developer Luis Antonio
X|S Enhanced Yes
File Size 2 GB (February 2022)

Twelve Minutes is a harrowing escape room-style mystery game, where players find themselves trapped in a 12-minute time loop that ends in tragedy. Every cycle, players need to use what they've learned to get one step closer to piecing together the plot. It's an exhilarating premise made even better by its setting. The cerebral thriller puts players in control of a husband and wife (played by James McAvoy and Daisy Ridley) minutes before an aggressive cop (Willem Dafoe) shows up to cuff them. True to the genre, it's a brutal endeavor ripe with twists and turns.

Quake

Approximate Game Length 7 Hours
Genre First-Person Shooter
Developer id Software
X|S Enhanced No
File Size 1 GB (December 2021)

Put simply, Quake brought a lot to the FPS genre — it popularized fully 3D-rendered environments, internet-based multiplayer deathmatches, and a ton of other features that have become part-and-parcel to the genre as a whole. Its inclusion in the Xbox Game Pass library is a blessing for those who want to explore the early foundation of first-person shooters. Though the weapon sandbox is fairly straightforward, the breakneck speed with which players can move around maps is the highlight of the game. Fast-paced action is delivered whether you are competing in matches against other players or blazing through the story levels. The visuals of Quake, even in its remastered state, are rather dated, but the sheer entertainment value inherent in its mechanics is ageless.

Katamari Damacy Reroll

Approximate Game Length 5 Hours
Genre Puzzle
Developer Bandai Namco
X|S Enhanced Yes
File Size 5 GB (December 2021)

Before Donut County or Hole.io, there was Katamari Damacy. The original game is about absorbing everything in sight. Katamari Damacy's bright and colorful world casts players as the Prince of the Cosmos, who has to help rebuild said cosmos by rolling up enough material to make a star or moon. It is the best kind of ridiculous. Players slowly push around a sticky ball that picks up everything it touches. Levels deal with progressively larger and larger objects, and the whole process is equal parts funny and satisfying. Anyone who never played the original when it debuted on PS2 and is interested in quirky or unique game design should check out the world of Katamari Damacy.

Hades

Approximate Game Length 30 Hours
Genre Roguelike RPG
Developer Supergiant Games
X|S Enhanced Yes
File Size 8 GB (December 2021)

Supergiant Games’ smash hit roguelike dungeon crawler already had an immense following, and now Game Pass subscribers finally have the chance to see what the hype is all about. Cast as Zagreus, a son of the dour death god himself, players are tasked with guiding the cocksure anti-hero in battling through Tartarus as he seeks to escape the drab realm of his father and take up residence with his Olympian cousins. Of course, he’s met with significant resistance — initial failure is a certainty, though players will have the opportunity to unlock upgrades, boons, and more between runs to improve their odds with the next attempt. The action itself is buttery smooth, playing as an isometric hack-and-slash ARPG with a host of intriguing weapons and powers for Zagreus to peruse in his quest. However, it’d be criminal to not draw particular attention to the presentation. The game’s lighthearted yet artfully detailed take on Greek mythology is the core of its charm. The cast of characters is brought to life with a strikingly vibrant art style and brilliant voice acting. Hades is definitely one for the books, and its arrival on consoles is sure to seal the deal.

The Ascent

Approximate Game Length 13 Hours
Genre Action RPG
Developer Neon Giant
X|S Enhanced Yes
File Size 18 GB (December 2021)

The Ascent mashes together several elements that get along swimmingly — the charm and action of a twin stick shooter meet the loot-heavy shenanigans and progression elements typical of isometric action-RPGs in a delightful cyberpunk setting. Players control “Indents,” so-called employees of a massive corporation as they work to pay off their contract’s debt. Up to four players can roam the gritty arcology of the planet Veles, engaging in shootouts with rival gangs or mechanized ferals. Combat in The Ascent is intuitive and never feels like a grind. If anything, despite the raucous, neon nature of the world, lighting up the streets of the metropolis with a handful of friends is simultaneously relaxing and exciting. The Ascent keeps players riveted with the entertaining gunplay without bogging them down in hard-to-learn systems. It’s everything one could want in a cyberpunk-themed game.

Limbo

Approximate Game Length 5 Hours
Genre Puzzle Platformer
Developer Playdead
X|S Enhanced No
File Size 212 MB (December 2021)

A violent black and white puzzle platformer starring a small child in a nightmarish world, Limbo is one of the most striking games ever made. An early indie game darling, Limbo has players moving through the stark environment, solving puzzles and trying to escape with their life.

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Despite its bleak aesthetic, Limbo is still an incredibly thrilling experience. It's a game that tries to keep its player's stomach in knots during cinematic moments, and even manages to surprise during its puzzle sequences. It's easy to see why so many developers are still trying to emulate Limbo's success today.

Gears Of War: Ultimate Edition

Approximate Game Length 10 Hours
Genre Third-Person Shooter
Developer The Coalition
X|S Enhanced No
File Size 44 GB (December 2021)

The Gears of War franchise is emblematic of third-person cover-based shooters with a heavy emphasis on cooperative gameplay, but at this point, the original titles are starting to really show their age. This is what makes Gears of War: Ultimate Edition a fantastic get on Game Pass — it gives players a chance to experience the series’ roots with a fresh coat of paint and some great quality-of-life improvements. The graphics have been generally enhanced, enemies can be spotted, and weapons can be switched during mad dashes from cover to cover. But aside from these improvements, this Ultimate Edition lets players take a peek at the beginning of Marcus Fenix’s journey and reintroduces the chainsaw-action of the series’ staple weapon, the Lancer. What more could a Gears fan want?

Lumines Remastered

Approximate Game Length N/A
Genre Puzzle
Developer Q Entertainment
X|S Enhanced No
File Size 1 GB (December 2021)

Lumines is unquestionably one of the best Tetris-style puzzle games and helped pave the way for its developer to make Tetris Effect in 2018. The original Lumines is still a feast for the senses, combining pattern recognition with a carefully curated soundtrack and a constantly evolving aesthetic.

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The game's core loop has players matching tiles that drop from the top of the screen in non-conforming patterns. Unlike Tetris, tiles aren't removed from the screen when players complete a 'line' or 'shape.' Instead, blocks are cleared to the beat of the music by a line that sweeps across the screen from left to right.

Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice

Approximate Game Length 7 Hours
Genre Action-Adventure
Developer Ninja Theory
X|S Enhanced No
File Size 19 GB (December 2021)

Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice is a gaming experience like no other. It manages to capture the trial of living with psychosis and tell a moving story at the same time. You play as Senua, a Viking warrior seeking to set her lover’s soul at rest by traveling to Helheim. Her journey is harrowing as the voices she hears in her own head plague her (and the player) with doubts and bits of advice. Grotesque hallucinations haunt every one of Senua’s footsteps. While her quest is grueling, and it often makes you question whether or not the whole venture is worth it, it culminates in one of the most satisfying endings in gaming history. Hellblade proves that battling your own demons is a fight worthy of recognition and esteem.

Farming Simulator 19

Approximate Game Length N/A
Genre Farming Simulation
Developer GIANTS Software
X|S Enhanced No
File Size 10 GB (December 2021)

If you’re expecting a quiet time tilling soil and planting crops, Farming Simulator 19 will turn those expectations on their heads. Being busy is the name of the game as you have to manage how much money your farm is earning with upgrading tractors and other pieces of equipment in order to thus acquire more land and grow yet more crops. The detail given to this farming simulation is a delight for any fan of the genre. And what makes Farming Simulator an even better addition to the Xbox Game Pass library is the ability to play it with friends. The title supports multiplayer, which means groups of friends can spend quality time being agricultural entrepreneurs together.

For Honor

Approximate Game Length 9 Hours
Genre Action Sword-Fighting
Developer Ubisoft Montreal
X|S Enhanced Yes
File Size 41 GB (December 2021)

Mash the combat system of a hack n’ slash RPG up with a fighting game and you wind up walking right into For Honor’s neighborhood. Featuring an over-the-top roster of vikings, knights, and samurai wielding an array of deadly weaponry, the combat might seem heavy-handed and bombastic at first — but scratch the surface and you’ll find nuanced movesets tempered by intuitive blocking and parry systems. The game comes with an appropriately hamfisted campaign mode, but the real treasure is its suite of multiplayer offerings: heart-pounding one-on-one duels, chaotic team battles, and even a few PVE bits all offer unique experiences of their own.

Golf With Your Friends

Approximate Game Length 11 Hours
Genre Casual Sports
Developer Blacklight Interactive, Team17
X|S Enhanced No
File Size 3 GB (December 2021)

Golfing has never been more relaxing or stress-inducing than in Golf With Your Friends. This casual golfing title might seem like an enjoyable co-op experience for a group of friends to partake in. But beneath this seemingly tranquil surface is a turbulent and infuriating game that will break friendships instead of clubs. Easing a golf ball into a hole becomes a practice in impossibility thanks to convoluted courses. From water falls to ghosts to black holes, an array of jaw-dropping obstacles stand in the way of making par. Is it annoying to sink every swing on a single hole? Yes. Is it easy to get lost in the dazzle of new courses? Most certainly. Is it an immense amount of fun to play? Always.

Gears Tactics

Approximate Game Length 30 Hours
Genre Turn-Based Strategy
Developer Splash Damage, The Coalition
X|S Enhanced Yes
File Size 28 GB (December 2021)

Fans of turn-based strategy games like XCOM or Fire Emblem might scoff at the idea of the action-packed Gears of War franchise being turned into a tactics game, but the result is an impressive first foray into the genre. Gears has always been about player positioning, flanks, and coordinated strikes — the translation to top-down strategy game is remarkably seamless.

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Strategy game fans who have never touched a Gears title before should absolutely make the time to try out Gears Tactics. The game strikes an impressive balance in its complexity. Newcomers to the turn-based strategy genre won't feel overwhelmed, but veterans will be pleasantly surprised by some of the very specific tweaks and customizations offered.

A Plague Tale: Innocence

Approximate Game Length 11 Hours
Genre Stealth Action-Adventure
Developer Asobo Studio
X|S Enhanced Yes
File Size 41 GB (December 2021)

A Plague Tale: Innocence is a 14th-century alternate history story with fantasy elements that follows two noble siblings chased out of their home by the English. Set during the advent of the bubonic plague, the two find themselves wrapped up in a larger-than-life plot to find a cure for the Black Death while evading both political and religious forces that have their own ambitions. Despite its fascinating overarching narrative, the game is mostly centered around its heroes' relationships and their fight for survival. Fans of triple-A blockbusters will feel right at home going through Plague Tale's stealth-action gameplay. The game has a very satisfying sense of progression on account of its naturally evolving plot, solid gameplay mechanics, and the intriguing player abilities obtained throughout the game.

Doom (2016)

Approximate Game Length 15 Hours
Genre First-Person Shooter
Developer id Software
X|S Enhanced No
File Size 60 GB (December 2021)

Doom (2016) was the revitalization the series needed to prove to the world that it was still relevant. For a long time, Doom was considered a game of a bygone era, influential but no longer in its prime. Id Software changed all that with the creation of Doom (2016). The Doom Slayer came roaring back into existence, ripping and tearing a new place for himself in the gaming landscape. Not only did this reboot bring Doom back into the cultural awareness, it showed that a single-player campaign that is well-crafted and vigorous good fun can entice players just as much as, if not more than, another battle royale. Doom (2016) is not one to miss for fans of fast-paced shooters and action-packed combat.

Yakuza: Like A Dragon

Approximate Game Length 50 Hours
Genre JRPG
Developer Ryu Ga Gotoku
X|S Enhanced Yes
File Size 39 GB (December 2021)

Let's get this out of the way: Yakuza: Like a Dragon is a perfect jumping-off point for anyone new to the Yakuza series. It's a whole new cast of characters in a whole new area. Yes, there are nods to the rest of the franchise, but there's nothing to hamper newcomers' enjoyment. Unlike the rest of the Yakuza games, Like a Dragon is a JRPG in the vein of Dragon Quest or classic Final Fantasy —complete with a party of loveable characters on a noble quest. What fans of the genre won't be expecting is how well these tropes translate to a modern-day crime drama about found family. Yakuza: Like a Dragon is fun, funny, and an absolute joy to play through. Don't miss it!

Microsoft Flight Simulator

Approximate Game Length N/A
Genre Flight Simulation
Developer Asobo Studio
X|S Enhanced Yes
File Size 141 GB (December 2021)

The gorgeous vistas of the world are reason enough to give Microsoft Flight Simulator a try, as they truly flex the capabilities of Microsoft’s latest generation of Xbox consoles. However, in addition to the beautiful rendering of the entire planet, the game also gives players an opportunity to test out piloting skills thanks to its intuitive, simulated aircraft controls. A variety of realistically rendered airplanes are at your piloting disposal, replete with interactive features and instruments that lend a deep sense of immersion to this already-stunning simulation title. Take to the sky under a variety of weather and environmental conditions and earn your wings in the way of your choosing.

Gang Beasts

Approximate Game Length N/A
Genre Beat-'Em-Up/Party
Developer Boneloaf, Coatsink
X|S Enhanced No
File Size 3 GB (December 2021)

Co-op fun of any sort is always a welcome addition to the Xbox Game Pass library, and those who own a subscription can now celebrate the inclusion of Gang Beasts on an already jam-packed roster of great games. Goofy wrestling in silly costumes makes the violent thrashings seem hilarious and adorable. The stages on which players combat each other are simplistic in design, but wacky in concept, from outdoor elevators to churning factory floors to an active subway tunnel. Dipping into a game of Gang Beasts is enjoyable to the extreme, making this lighthearted title a must-play for anyone who wants to have a bumbling brawl.

Knockout City

Approximate Game Length N/A
Genre Competitive Multiplayer
Developer Velan Studios
X|S Enhanced Yes
File Size 14 GB (December 2021)

Knockout City is a competitive dodgeball game that's easy to learn but hard to master. Fans of competitive shooters who struggle with twitch-based gameplay will feel right at home with Knockout City. It uses the very familiar rulesets of popular 3v3 multiplayer modes (i.e. Team Death Match), but doesn't award victory to the team who can score the most headshots. Instead, Knockout City is more about positioning. The game uses a lock-on targeting system, so knocking someone out has more to do with where a player is standing and how well coordinated the opposing team is. It's an impressive spin on the genre reminiscent of Splatoon — and who doesn't love a pain-free game of dodgeball.

Darkest Dungeon

Approximate Game Length 70 Hours
Genre Roguelike RPG
Developer Red Hook Studios
X|S Enhanced No
File Size 2 GB (December 2021)

Make no mistake, Darkest Dungeon sets players up for a brutal, turn-based roguelike experience. Cast as the unlucky beneficiary inheriting a cursed estate, players must recruit a party of daring-yet-vulnerable adventurers to root out the corruption that has overtaken it. Combat is as deadly for the body as it is the mind — characters have a sanity statistic that will erode as they’re subjected to the Lovecraftian horrors inhabiting the various biomes, driving them to depths of madness. “Lovecraftian horrors” is quite literal here, as the themes and creature designs are very clearly inspired by Lovecraft’s timeless tales of cosmic horror and rendered in a brilliantly vibrant, almost comic book-like art style. Add in the voice talent of Wayne June narrating the experience and you’re in for a memorable (if grueling) adventure.

Injustice 2

Approximate Game Length 10 Hours
Genre Fighting Game
Developer NetherRealm Studios
X|S Enhanced No
File Size 33 GB (December 2021)

The iconic mechanics of the more recent titles in the Mortal Kombat franchise were perfectly paired with the DC Universe in Injustice. Superpowered characters exchanging bone-shattering blows was already NetherRealm’s essential bread-and-butter, so that should come as no surprise. The sequel simply polishes an already explosive formula — from iconic mainstays like Batman and Superman to relatively deep digs like Blue Beetle and Atrocitus, the roster is bursting with heroic and villainous selections sure to delight the considerable intersections between DC and fighting-game fans to no end.

Hollow Knight

Approximate Game Length 30 Hours
Genre 2D Platform Exploration (Metroidvania)
Developer Team Cherry
X|S Enhanced No
File Size 7 GB (December 2021)

Hollow Knight's exploration and genuine sense of discovery are easily some of the best in the genre. It's a shining example of how to make a Metroidvania in the modern era. Hollow Knight never trades in its mystery or world-building for padded side quests or game-breaking boosts.

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It remains a somber, magical, and deceptively challenging game all the way through. It definitely takes a page from the Dark Souls series, so be prepared to wander into new areas with caution, and get ready to learn every boss' pattern exactly.

Halo Wars 2

Approximate Game Length 10 Hours
Genre Real-Time Strategy
Developer Creative Assembly, 343 Industries
X|S Enhanced Yes
File Size 43 GB (December 2021)

Halo’s initial foray into real-time strategy was certainly a twist for the established FPS juggernaut, especially for consoles. But it went over surprisingly smoothly — the controls were intuitively mapped for controllers, and the streamlined gameplay made for a great RTS title for fans of both the genre and the mainline Halo franchise. Halo Wars 2 didn’t fix what wasn’t broken, but added enough nuance to the formula to make it a rock-solid sequel.

At surface level, it’s a competent RTS title. But the devil’s in the details — Halo Wars 2 included a surprisingly well-crafted cooperative mode for tackling its campaign, and said campaign manages to preserve the bombast and grandeur expected of a Halo title even with the drastic shift in genre. What’s more is that the hotly anticipated Halo Infinite seems to be drawing on lore elements introduced in Halo Wars 2 (namely the antagonistic Covenant rebel faction known as the Banished), so it’s certainly worth it to get caught up on the opposing forces arrayed against the Master Chief in the upcoming game.

Spiritfarer

Spiritfarer split image screenshot
Approximate Game Length 30 Hours
Genre Management Sim
Developer Thunder Lotus
X|S Enhanced No
File Size 7 GB (December 2021)

Spiritfarer casts you as a ferry master shepherding souls to their final resting grounds. It sounds grim, but behind its premise is an incredibly hopeful game about love, loss, and growth. The game's art design allows it to walk the line between tackling a depressing subject and remaining the soothing experience players expect from a management sim. Spiritfarer wears a lot of hats. Premise aside, at its core, it's a light farming and relationship sim. It mixes and matches a lot of elements fans of the genre will be familiar with, including crop planning, gift-giving, and plenty of crafting. It has a lovely world to explore, and even some light platforming thrown in for good measure.

Elite Dangerous

Approximate Game Length N/A
Genre Multiplayer Space Simulation
Developer Frontier Developments
X|S Enhanced No
File Size 20 GB (December 2021)

To label Elite Dangerous as an ambitious space flight sim would be an understatement at best. Players are let loose into an almost terrifyingly impressive 1:1 recreation of the Milky Way galaxy as we know it, free to pursue whatever spacefaring adventures their hearts desire.

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As to what precisely that entails, the possibilities are exceedingly broad. Whether you’ve always dreamed of braving the unknown reaches of deep space to make new discoveries, piloting a starfighter on the frontlines of an interstellar war, or literally flying a glorified space taxi as you shuttle passengers from one space station to the next, Elite Dangerous has got a role for you to fill. The density of the flight controls might be a bit intimidating at first, but the thrill of participating in its continuously unfolding narrative alongside a dedicated community of fellow pilots is a feeling rarely replicated by other multiplayer titles.

Human Fall Flat

Approximate Game Length 8 Hours
Genre Puzzle Platformer
Developer No Breaks Game, Codeglue
X|S Enhanced No
File Size 2 GB (December 2021)

Equal parts puzzle game and platformer, Human Fall Flat tasks players with navigating a series of surreal dreamscapes that revolve around a central theme. Each level introduces new mechanics that play a key role in traversing the clear-cut geometry of the environments. The oftentimes bizarre conceptual basis of the stages themselves coupled with the reliably hilarious implementation of the game’s physics practically guarantee an uproarious time, but the puzzles themselves are thoughtfully designed. The experience is made all the more enjoyable when played alongside one or more friends — cooperatively brainstorming solutions to puzzles is surprisingly exhilarating… when you’re not busy trying to figure out new and exciting ways to throw one another into bottomless pits.

Outlast 2

Approximate Game Length 8 Hours
Genre Survival Horror
Developer Red Barrels
X|S Enhanced No
File Size 18 GB (December 2021)

The first Outlast game took horror fans by storm, and the second solidified the series’ foothold in the genre. Outlast 2 places players in the hapless shoes of Blake Langermann, a journalist who quite literally crash-lands into a hellish situation with no hope of escape. As with the first title, running and hiding are the only viable options when confronting the terrors of the night, whether they be the deranged cult members of the local town, the fiendish shapes that pursue players in Blake’s nightmares, or the deformed and infected Scalled. The scares of Outlast 2 reach into core fears regarding human nature. The game utilizes this horror in an effort to craft an unnerving story experience that leaves one with a contradictory sense of numbness and fright.

Psychonauts

Approximate Game Length 16 Hours
Genre Platform Adventure
Developer Double Fine Productions
X|S Enhanced No
File Size 4 GB (December 2021)

The original Psychonauts was the definition of “hidden gem” when it released in 2005. Despite critical acclaim, the hysterical puzzle/platformer didn't find much of an audience until years later. With a sequel finally here (fifteen years and three console generations later), there's never been a better time to play through one of Double Fine's most beloved titles. Fans of any 3D open-world platformers, collectathons, or adventure games will feel right at home in the world of Psychonauts. Not only is it one of the funniest games ever written (alongside the likes of Portal), but the creativity of its level design rivals some of Nintendo's best worlds.

Subnautica

Approximate Game Length 30 Hours
Genre Open-World Survival
Developer Unknown Worlds Entertainment
X|S Enhanced No
File Size 8 GB (December 2021)

Applying a marvelous open-world formula to a purely underwater environment is a phenomenal concept, and Subnautica pulls it off with aplomb. After crashing onto a watery alien world on a single lifepod, players must do their best to survive using the resources at their disposal. Not only are food and water constant concerns, but the terrifying creatures of the deep must be contended with as well. The survival genre might be oversaturated at this point, but Subnautica proves that with a few unique elements and a captivating atmosphere, even a small indie game can stand out in an ocean of similar titles.

Grim Fandango

Approximate Game Length 10 Hours
Genre Classic Adventure
Developer LucasArts
X|S Enhanced No
File Size 4 GB (December 2021)

Grim Fandango has players exploring and solving puzzles in a film noir version of the Land of the Dead. It is easily one of the most striking and unique games in the Xbox Game Pass portfolio. Grim Fandango's sheer creativity makes it a treat to go through, but that’s not the sole merit it sells itself on. The game has an incredible style and sense of place, but it also backs all of its pizzazz up with equally compelling characters. But fair warning! For as great as Grim Fandango's world and writing are (and yes, they still hold up today), it is worth mentioning that this is a classic adventure game. There's very little hand-holding to speak of, even in the remastered edition on Game Pass. That said, there's no shame in looking up a puzzle or two.

Goat Simulator

Approximate Game Length 5 Hours
Genre Casual Goat Simulation
Developer Coffee Stain Studios
X|S Enhanced No
File Size 3 GB (December 2021)

Though there are plenty of strategic titles available to play on Xbox Game Pass, sometimes all anyone really needs is the ability to be a goat for a short while. Thankfully, Goat Simulator has this covered. The delightful physics of the game can keep players entertained for hours, long after they’ve uncovered many of the secret achievements and hilarious references it contains. The joy of being a destructive goat is brought to life in this riot of a title by Coffee Stain Studios. And while the actual functions of being a real-life goat are largely ignored for comedy’s sake, the fantastical nature of Goat Simulator keeps entertainment levels at an all-time high. Look like a goat. Act like a goat. Be like a goat.

Banjo-Kazooie

Approximate Game Length 12 Hours
Genre 3D Platformer
Developer Rare
X|S Enhanced No
File Size 576 MB (December 2021)

Very few developers can live up to the incredible quality of Nintendo games. In 1998, Rare released Banjo-Kazooie on the N64, and managed to compete —and in some ways exceed— the genre-defining Super Mario 64. Luckily, the HD re-release of Banjo-Kazooie holds up remarkably well. With so few traditional 3D platformers releasing to pick up the mantle, it remains one of the best games in the genre readily available today. The original Banjo-Kazooie builds on the open-world hub design popularized by Mario 64, and expands on it with an interlocking array of shortcuts and secrets. Combined with some incredibly creative abilities, a loveable cast, and an unforgettable soundtrack by the legendary Grant Kirkhope — it's obvious why fans are still clamoring for a Banjo-Kazooie 3 years later.

Star Wars: Squadrons

Approximate Game Length 10 Hours
Genre Space Flight Simulation
Developer Motive Studios
X|S Enhanced Yes
File Size 24 GB (December 2021)

EA’s track record with Star Wars properties may have seen a fairly recent low point, but Squadrons contributes to their redemption arc in fairly fine fashion. Though the title may imply a relation to the iconic N64 title, Squadrons is most certainly a more immersive brand of space flight sim. That said, it’s likely one of the more accessible recent entries into the genre when compared to the likes of Elite Dangerous.

RELATED: The Best Star Wars Games to Play in 2021

The campaign’s not quite robust, but still weaves a decently compelling narrative as players experience both sides of the ongoing conflict between the Rebel Alliance and the Empire in the aftermath of the second Death Star’s destruction. However, the multiplayer suite is clearly the star of the show. The thrilling 5v5 dogfights make for intense instant-action space battles, while Fleet Battles offer a more tactical experience as you and your squadmates strategically assault the enemy’s capital ships while defending your own. The game’s fantastic visual performance in VR is just the cherry on top. Read our review here.

Undertale

Approximate Game Length 8 Hours
Genre RPG Adventure
Developer Toby Fox
X|S Enhanced No
File Size 275 MB (December 2021)

A heartfelt delight from start to finish, Undertale is an indie darling for a reason. It takes typical tropes found in old-school RPGs and uses them to spin a surprisingly deep tale that takes player action into consideration. Players accompany a young child through an underground world of monsters as they try to make their way back to the surface. These “monsters” are full of kind-hearted insight and jovial humor, and talking to each one is part of the game’s charm. Undertale is the kind of game that comes around once in a lifetime, and it is a must-play title for any fan of the RPG genre. Though the challenges that Undertale presents can be arduous, its story is nothing short of miraculous. It’s the kind of game that fills you with determination.

Fable 2

Approximate Game Length 12 Hours
Genre Action RPG
Developer Lionhead Studios
X|S Enhanced No
File Size 8 GB (December 2021)

Fable 2’s critical reception upon launching in 2008 was on par with the landmark release of Bethesda’s Fallout 3 — no mean feat considering the impressive legacy of the latter. Fable 2 isn't an 80+ hour epic open-world RPG with endless possibilities. Still, the decisions players make and the impact these have on the world still feel more tangible than a lot of modern games with branching narratives. Fable 2's setting evokes whimsy and wonder, but it never feels toothless or childish. It's a perfect taste of the universe Lionhead and Peter Molyneux created and a great entry to jump into before the Microsoft Studios franchise reboot set to release on the Xbox Series X|S

What Remains Of Edith Finch

Approximate Game Length 2 Hours
Genre First-Person Exploration
Developer Giant Sparrow
X|S Enhanced No
File Size 3 GB (December 2021)

Though the walking simulator genre is not for everyone, What Remains of Edith Finch is an undeniably unique experience. Edith Finch returns to her old family home to uncover the secrets behind a family curse. While she explores the rooms of the creaky and gargantuan Finch house, she chases after the stories of her deceased family members. Players are treated to a smorgasbord of experiences as they dive into the memories of the Finch family. Scenarios are played out that will delight and shock players as they are taken through both lighthearted adventures full of imaginative magic and narratives that evoke an ineffable sense of cathartic despondency quite unlike anything else in the medium.

Prey

Approximate Game Length 25 Hours
Genre First-Person Shooter/Immersive Sim
Developer Arkane Studios
X|S Enhanced No
File Size 37 GB (December 2021)

Becoming immersed in a science-fiction universe that is as well-crafted as Prey’s is an experience like no other. Thrown into the mind of Morgan Yu, players must unravel the mystery behind the catastrophe that has befallen the Talos I space station. A strange alien life form known as the Typhon has taken over, and Morgan must contend with the peculiar threat they pose to the humans left alive on the station. Arkane Studios blends aspects of Dishonored, BioShock, and Soma in a masterful fashion, allowing players to choose how they wish to tackle problems they encounter. They can proceed in a stealthy fashion, upgrade weapons and go in guns blazing, acquire almost supernatural powers from Neuromods, or use the handy GLOO Cannon to tackle the Typhon menace. The appeal of Prey comes not only from the immersive world of its narrative but from the diverse array of playstyle options it gives its players to do with as they will.

Stellaris

Approximate Game Length 30 Hours (Per Game)
Genre Grand Strategy
Developer Paradox Interactive
X|S Enhanced No
File Size 9 GB (December 2021)

Grand strategy games make for a precious commodity on consoles, as the genre’s innate complexity and densely layered menus don’t tend to translate well. Stellaris, however, breaks that mold in fine fashion. After selecting (or generating) the civilization of their dreams, players are placed at its helm as it discovers faster-than-light (FTL) travel and begins its journey amongst the stars. Whether by military might, diplomatic intrigue, or economic guile, the general goal is establishing interstellar supremacy. But as the saying goes, it’s the journey and not the destination. The myriad of potential events that may unfold as you guide your civilization along the path to victory is truly astounding. Occurrences that range from humorously bizarre to terrifyingly cataclysmic lurk behind every discovered planet and unmapped corner of the galaxy. Players will chase clues left behind by ancient precursor civilizations, encounter all manner of alien races, explore the furthest reaches of known space, and so much more. No two games will ever turn out the same.

Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes Of An Elusive Age – Definitive Edition

Approximate Game Length 70 Hours
Genre JRPG
Developer Square Enix
X|S Enhanced No
File Size 31 GB (December 2021)

Dragon Quest XI follows a silent protagonist and his band of merry friends as they explore impressive vistas and small towns in a typical JRPG fashion. Unlike the modern Final Fantasy games, Echoes of an Elusive Age sticks to the traditional turn-based battles of yesteryear. Yes, Dragon Quest XI is still an aggressively traditional JRPG, but that doesn't stop it from being a first-class game and a must for any fans of the genre. Square Enix has been iterating on the Dragon Quest formula for three decades, and it shows. It's hard to imagine a more polished and complete package than Dragon Quest XI. Read our review here.

Fallout 4

Approximate Game Length 70 Hours
Genre Action Role-Playing
Developer Bethesda
X|S Enhanced No
File Size 34 GB (December 2021)

Bethesda’s latest spin on the definitive post-apocalyptic roleplaying experience isn’t without its detractors, but it’s hard to argue that anyone’s getting a raw deal with its inclusion on Game Pass. As the Lone Survivor of Vault 111, players are immediately faced with tracking down their son after he’s snatched from the Vault by a mysterious band of mercenaries and scientists. It’s a simple and lofty motivation, but factoring in an irradiated wasteland rife with terrifying mutants, raiders, and long-abandoned ruins concealing vital supplies, it becomes apparent that the road’s going to get bumpy. Fallout 4 took a significant (and fair) amount of flak for its relatively rail-roaded narrative and lackluster dialogue navigation, but frankly, there’s still a lot there to love.

RELATED: 10 Most Breathtaking Locations In Fallout 4

Describing a wasteland ravaged by nuclear war as “beautiful” doesn’t roll off of the tongue, but Bethesda’s signature open-world charm is still well-intact. The Commonwealth serves as a compelling setting, from the ruins of Boston to the Glowing Sea. And as per usual, there’s a near-endless amount of content for players to explore and uncover. And once poring over the vanilla content has lost its luster, one can turn to an impressive and accessible selection of mods to spice up their playthrough utilizing the modding community’s boundless creativity.

Forza Horizon 4

Approximate Game Length 13 Hours
Genre Racing Simulation
Developer Playground Games
X|S Enhanced Yes
File Size 80 GB December 2021)

There’s nothing quite like coasting past Great Britain’s stunning vista at 150 mph with lo-fi beats propelling each and every drift. Forza Horizon 4 makes simulation racing seem easy, expertly mixing arcade racer challenges with precision controls. Not to mention that Horizon 4 is easily one of the best-looking games on modern consoles — and it looks even better on the Series X. The Horizon franchise has been polished and refined over 15 years, and it shows: Forza Horizon 4 is the benchmark all other racing games are judged against. Read our review here.

Tetris Effect: Connected

Approximate Game Length 2 Hours
Genre Puzzle
Developer Monstars, Resonair, Stage Games
X|S Enhanced Yes
File Size 4 GB (December 2021)

There’s a little bit of extra magic in Tetris Effect that takes it to another level beyond being a run-of-the-mill adaptation of the 1984 tile-matching phenomenon. Of course, this is Tetris at its core, which needs no explanation. The crowning jewel of Tetris Effect is its roughly 2-hour long “Journey Mode,” which whisks players between a series of audio-visual vignettes. These occupy the space between a live concert with electric lighting and lasers and a state-of-the-art planetarium visit. Combined with a multiplayer mode, and a tremendous version of the original game, Tetris Effect: Connected is the full package.

Titanfall 2

Approximate Game Length 7 Hours
Genre First-Person Shooter
Developer Respawn Entertainment
X|S Enhanced No
File Size 68 GB (December 2021)

Titanfall 2’s relatively understated presence in the FPS genre is more than a bit puzzling, because it was the object of significant critical acclaim upon release. And its die-hard fanbase has quietly asserted that it’s handily one of the most solid shooters to have ever hit the market for years since. Frankly, they’ve got a lot going on to support that opinion. The game’s campaign is practically as solid as its multiplayer suite, with the former weaving a compelling sci-fi narrative around pilot-in-training Cooper and his surly oversized robot acquaintance, BT-7274.

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Big mechs and wall-running mechanics go a long way on their own, but Respawn’s take on the FPS formula just feels polished in a way that many contemporary shooters don’t — and is more than partially responsible for its remarkable overnight success with Apex Legends.

The Walking Dead

Approximate Game Length 13 Hours
Genre Episodic Adventure
Developer Telltale Games
X|S Enhanced No
File Size 4 GB (December 2021)

Telltale's The Walking Dead resulted in the studio's meteoric success, as well as the contemporary popularization of the graphic adventure genre. Capitalizing on the popularity of The Walking Dead following its adaptation into a wildly popular television series, Telltale's take on The Walking Dead is initially told from the perspective of former convict Lee, whose journey to prison is interrupted by the zombie outbreak. Eventually, the focus shifts to the young Clementine and follows her evolution into a savvy survivor hardened by the ravages of the post-apocalypse. The unfolding narrative bends and shifts responsively to the player's choices throughout the game, making every dialogue option seem tense and impactful while ensuring that no two playthroughs end up telling the same story.

Ori & The Will Of The Wisps

Approximate Game Length 12 Hours
Genre Platform Adventure/Metroidvania
Developer Moon Studios
X|S Enhanced Yes
File Size 5 GB (December 2021)

Beauty is not often associated with video games, but Ori and the Will of the Wisps is a beautiful title. The artistry with which character motions and backgrounds were created is astounding. Even the music that accompanies players along their journey with Ori is gorgeous. However, Ori is not simply a great game because it looks good. It is functionally exquisite as well. The precise platforming from the first game, Ori and the Blind Forest, is still in place, with even more tools of traversal at players’ disposal. New combat mechanics have been added to Will of the Wisps as well, and they are extraordinary to execute. Ori and the Will of the Wisps is the complete package: jaw-dropping visuals, emotional storytelling, and perfectly honed gameplay elements. Read our review here.

Mass Effect 2

Approximate Game Length 25 Hours
Genre Third-Person Shooter/RPG
Developer BioWare
X|S Enhanced No
File Size 13 GB (December 2021)

Though subsequent titles were released after it, Mass Effect 2 remains the pinnacle of the series. Commander Shepard and the rest of the Normandy SR-2 crew face a grave threat to the galaxy. The Reaper menace is ever-growing, and players must assume the role of Commander Shepard as they plan to tackle this foe.

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Mass Effect 2 is truly BioWare at its finest, with compelling dialogue between characters, engaging combat sequences, and a high-stakes story that ends on an unforgettable note. Despite the age this classic RPG is showing, it is a game worth playing.

Slay The Spire

Approximate Game Length 20-60 Minutes Per Run
Genre Deck-Builder Roguelike
Developer Mega Crit Games
X|S Enhanced No
File Size 572 MB (December 2021)

Slay the Spire popularized and perfected the deck-building rogue-like in one fell swoop. It's an impeccably well-balanced game that threads the needle between being simple enough for newcomers and deep enough for veterans of the genre. Because Slay the Spire is a single-player game, enemies aren't confined to the same rule-set as the player, which lets every enemy feel unique and exciting. Any fans of drafting table-top games or classic TCGs like Magic: The Gathering owe it to themselves to give Slay the Spire a try.

The Evil Within

Approximate Game Length 18 Hours
Genre Survival Horror
Developer Tango Gameworks
X|S Enhanced No
File Size 34 GB (December 2021)

A large part of The Evil Within’s appeal comes from its cinematic approach to the genre. An unnerving ambience is key to immersing players in Detective Sebastian Castellanos’ plummet into abject horror. Trapped in the mind of a sadistic killer, Sebastian is confronted with gruesome scenes at every turn, and players are tasked with relentlessly pressing forward no matter the next nightmare that awaits them. Reminiscent of the Resident Evil series, The Evil Within forges its own identity with bloody imagery that borders on hallucinogenic and a combat system that is as measured as it is gripping. If one can find the resolve to pick up this gut-churning title, The Evil Within’s established take on horror makes it impossible to put down.

Sea Of Thieves

Approximate Game Length N/A
Genre Online Adventure
Developer Rare
X|S Enhanced Yes
File Size 23 GB (December 2021)

Despite weathering criticism concerning a lack of content at the outset, Sea of Thieves has steadily been accruing more in-game activities for players to pursue as it sails along. Rare’s delightfully vibrant pirate simulator plops you onto a dock with a ship — and the rest is up to you. Whether you sail about completing tasks for one of the trading companies, seek out other players for some PVP thrills, or aimlessly hop about from island to island slaying skeletons with no particular aim in mind, the game doesn’t push you in any particular direction. However, that’s an intrinsic part of its charm. It can certainly be played solo, but earnestly, you'll want to grab a friend or three before diving in. The pirate’s life truly shines when it’s lived alongside a few loyal crewmates.

Skyrim

Approximate Game Length 34-100 Hours
Genre Open-World RPG
Developer Bethesda Game Studios
X|S Enhanced No
File Size 29 GB (December 2021)

The Elder Scrolls has been synonymous with the very concept of open-world RPGs for decades now, and Skyrim is the title to show if a demonstration is required. All memes aside, the Dragonborn’s quest to defeat Alduin is a spectacle rarely equaled by RPGs in general, and a lot of that is due to the fact that it has as many chapters as the player would like it to have. The frigid province of Skyrim is unforgivingly gorgeous, and the amount of “optional” content is nearly endless. Factor in the innovative decision to make a stunning library of user-generated mods available on Xbox consoles, and you have what is likely the most content-rich game currently available on Game Pass.

Alien: Isolation

Approximate Game Length 20 Hours
Genre First-Person Survival Horror
Developer Creative Assembly
X|S Enhanced No
File Size 24 GB (December 2021)

For the most part, games based on the Alien movie franchise have been frantic shooter affairs, clearly drawing their inspiration from James Cameron’s space marine sequel film, Aliens. Alien: Isolation chooses instead to base its environments and style of horror on Ridley Scott’s classic original Alien. Fans of Scott’s film will undoubtedly be pleased by Isolation, as the entire title serves as an homage. However, the game does not rest on the movie’s laurels. Alien: Isolation creates one of the most suspenseful horror experiences ever played in a video game. This is all owing to the fantastic AI of the titular Alien. The perfect predatory instincts of the Xenomorph make players feel as if their every step is heard, and when the Alien is in play, there is no relief from that tension.

A Way Out

Approximate Game Length 6 Hours
Genre Co-Op Action-Adventure
Developer Hazelight Studios
X|S Enhanced No
File Size 17 GB (December 2021)

A Way Out distinguishes itself from nearly every other game on the market by not just offering a co-op mode, but by making it the essential centerpiece of the experience. Emphasis on “essential,” as it can’t actually be played in single-player. Players take on the roles of Vincent and Leo, two inmates planning an escape from the prison where they are currently being held. Little do they know the twists and turns their adventure will take.

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A Way Out takes players on a unique journey, albeit an occasionally awkward one. Stiff dialogue and forced emotional moments aside, the perfectly absurd narrative and strangely integrated (yet thoroughly fun) mini-games weave together an uproarious experience for you and your partner of choice.

Doom Eternal

Approximate Game Length 16 Hours
Genre First-Person Shooter
Developer id Software
X|S Enhanced No
File Size 88 GB (December 2021)

Doom’s explosive 2016 reboot was a tough act to follow — a fact that didn’t seem to elude id Software when it came to designing the sequel. Following the events of the Doom Slayer’s initial outing, the forces of Hell have invaded Earth. From there, the narrative unfolds as expected: the Doom Slayer’s got a job to do, and it’s going to involve a lot of shotgun shells. Doom Eternal, pardon the cliche, turns every knob up to eleven, tears them off, and forgets that they existed to begin with. It may have seemed impossible to make the fevered rhythm of Doom 2016’s combat even more of an arrhythmia-inducing experience, but id Software did just that by expanding the Slayer’s arsenal and unleashing even more terrifying demons for him to loose it upon. Read our review here.

Overcooked 2

Approximate Game Length 8 Hours
Genre Cooking Simulation
Developer Team17, Ghost Town Games
X|S Enhanced No
File Size 8 GB (December 2021)

Finding the perfect co-op game can be a bit of a struggle, but Overcooked 2 has got that covered. This absolute treat of a game allows up to four players to bumble about different kitchens preparing familiar dishes.

RELATED: The Best Local Co-Op & Split-Screen Games On Xbox Game Pass

Hilarity ensues as each kitchen needs to be cleared within a certain time limit. If the game feels like a breeze after the first playthrough, Overcooked 2 adds challenges to the mix by including secret levels and additional stars to earn. Don’t hesitate to join the Onion King and his faithful dog Kevin as they seek to halt the Unbread after they were raised using the Necro-nom-nom-icon. It’s one scrumptious journey.

Wolfenstein: The New Order

Approximate Game Length 20 Hours
Genre First-Person Shooter
Developer MachineGames
X|S Enhanced No
File Size 44 GB (December 2021)

Looking at screenshots of Wolfenstein: The New Order, it would be easy to mistake it for a modern-day retreading of the 1980s corridor shooters its predecessors popularized. However, The New Order set the stage for a 21st-century version of Wolfenstein that lives up its lineage and forges a new path for the series. It matches the smooth gunplay id Software fans expect with a dusting of RPG tropes (i.e. skill trees, branching narrative paths, and side quests), and the whole package comes together exceptionally well. The WWII alternate history narrative expertly switches between the ultra-violence and bombast id Software is known for and —somehow— manages to tie into an emotional core with a beautifully drawn cast of characters. The latest series of Wolfenstein games (developed by MachineGames) are easily some of the best single-player first-person shooters available today, and The New Order is the best place to start.

Dishonored 2

Approximate Game Length 18 Hours
Genre First-Person Action-Adventure/Stealth
Developer Arkane Studios
X|S Enhanced No
File Size 54 GB (December 2021)

Dishonored was a phenomenal stealth title, and its sequel follows in its footsteps while managing to take some big strides forward on its own. Dishonored 2 is a gem that has gone vastly unappreciated. It continues the story of Corvo and Emily as they work to regain the throne after a coup. Players can pick between one or the other to play as, and both Corvo and Emily are given unique skills, making Dishonored 2 highly replayable. In addition to that, Dishonored 2 is home to one of the most innovative and exciting levels in video game history, utilizing a time-travel mechanic in a manner that astounds and inspires.

Deep Rock Galactic

Approximate Game Length N/A
Genre Co-Op First-Person Shooter
Developer Ghost Ship Games
X|S Enhanced No
File Size 2 GB (December 2021)

Danger. Darkness. Dwarves. Everything that needs to be known about Deep Rock Galactic can be summed up in its tagline. Up to four players can dive into the dangerous mines of Hoxxes IV, braving the enemies that lurk in the darkness as doughty dwarves. The straightforward nature of Deep Rock Galactic’s gameplay belies the deeper system in place. There are multiple mining assignments players can tackle, intuitive upgrade paths, and a delightful hub area where players can relax (or randomly bellow “Rock and Stone!” between pints of ale) before diving into a tense mission. Deep Rock Galactic knows what its strengths are, and it knows how to play to them. All players have to do is prepare themselves for a good time.

Battlefield: Hardline

Approximate Game Length 8 Hours
Genre First-Person Shooter
Developer Visceral Games
X|S Enhanced No
File Size 48 GB (December 2021)

There’s a whole suite of Battlefield goodness available via EA Play — and frankly, if the series’ signature multiplayer madness is your jam then you’re better off opting for one of the more recent titles. However, Hardline deserves a special mention on account of its relatively innovative campaign.

RELATED: Best EA Games On Xbox Game Pass (Through EA Play/Ultimate)

In a genre where single-player offerings often play second fiddle to the multiplayer component, Hardline’s bombastic police drama is a diamond in the rough that’s more than worth the price of admission.

Grounded

Approximate Game Length N/A
Genre Survival Adventure
Developer Obsidian Entertainment
X|S Enhanced Yes
File Size 5 GB (December 2021)

Obsidian Entertainment is back at it again with a unique take on the survival genre. Players assume the role of kids who have mysteriously become minuscule in a strange Honey-I-Shrunk-the-Kids kind of scenario. Now no larger than an ant, these kids have to find out what happened to them and survive the perilous environs of an average backyard. Grounded is currently in early access, so there are portions of the title that are still in progress. That said, even in this state, the game is an utter joy. Collecting grass blades to construct shelter, pebbles to make hammers, and water droplets to quench your thirst puts a fresh sheen to this rather crowded genre. The only thing to watch out for? The spiders. Common spiders are the primary enemies in Grounded, and for those who suffer from a touch of arachnophobia, a sudden attack from one of them can be practically heart-stopping.

Peggle

Approximate Game Length 5 Hours
Genre Puzzle
Developer PopCap Games
X|S Enhanced No
File Size 640 MB (December 2021)

Peggle is a straightforward puzzle game, make no mistake about that. Players shoot a set amount of balls to clear a level of an array of pegs in the center of the screen. That is the gist of the game. However, its simplicity is all part of Peggle’s genius. There is nothing more satisfying than to aim that cannon, shoot that ball, and then watch it bounce from peg to peg. A further layer of strategy is added to the game when different characters, with different ball-shooting abilities, are unlocked. The basic nature of Peggle’s premise should not deter anyone from playing it. Besides, nothing beats the exultation of hitting that final peg, when the screen zooms in on the ball in slow motion and the triumphant sounds of Beethoven’s Ode to Joy trumpets forth.

Gears 5

Approximate Game Length 11 Hours
Genre Third-Person Shooter/Action-Adventure
Developer The Coalition
X|S Enhanced Yes
File Size 97 GB (December 2021)

The latest mainline entry in the Gears franchise is one of its boldest. Gears 5 rolls right into new territory with a fresh multiplayer mode, a partial open-world experience in the middle of the campaign, and a devastating story twist that has left fans reeling. As with any Gears title, Gears 5 offers a robust campaign co-op experience with up to three players. The game follows Kait Diaz and her companions as they struggle to hold the line against the encroaching wave of the Swarm. Action is the order of the day any time a player picks up Gears 5, and between roaring a Lancer’s chainsaw at an enemy and diving for cover from an onslaught of bullets, there’s hardly a moment left to breathe. Read our review here.

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order

Approximate Game Length 17 Hours
Genre Action-Adventure
Developer Respawn Entertainment
X|S Enhanced Yes
File Size 50 GB (December 2021)

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is the best lightsaber game of the modern era. Developer Respawn lovingly combines heavy exploration (think modern Tomb Raider games), with a more nuanced battle system in the vein of God of War or Dark Souls. The game takes place in the fallout of Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith, and puts players in the role Cal Kestis — an untrained Jedi Padawan. With subtle touches like using Cal’s lightsaber as a flashlight or customizing its hilt, Fallen Order feels like a 21st-century love letter to the Star Wars toys and action figures of decades past. It's also a fantastic action-adventure game. Read our review here.

Slime Rancher

Approximate Game Length 16 Hours
Genre First-Person Adventure
Developer Monomi Park
X|S Enhanced No
File Size 1 GB (December 2021)

Slime Rancher drops players onto the Far, Far Range, where their job is to cultivate and care for the adorable Slimes that gather in the region’s various zones. Each type of Slime, be it a Honey Slime, a Puddle Slime, a Quantum Slime, and so on, plops out valuable Plorts, which can be sold on the Plort Market. With the earnings for selling what is, in essence, excrement, players can purchase upgrades to their Ranch to further their endeavor of collecting yet more Slimes. Its gameplay loop is simple, but Slime Rancher offers players who want to relax into a friendly simulation game a delightful time.

Frostpunk

Approximate Game Length 10 Hours
Genre City-Building Survival
Developer 11 bit Studios
X|S Enhanced No
File Size 5 GB (December 2021)

11 bit's recent reputation for generating thoughtful, yet heartwrenching conceptual titles holds true with Frostpunk. Set in the late 19th century following the onset of a cataclysmic volcanic winter, Frostpunk tasks players with managing a group of survivors as they struggle to survive the sub-zero temperatures — and themselves. While the elements are brutal enough to contend with using limited resources and the precise application of heat sources, players will be confronted with ethical dilemmas that demand one sacrifice or another. Implementing necessary policies will disenfranchise, if not outright endanger their population in many scenarios, putting your ideals and humanity in jeopardy as you struggle to answer a singular question: how far will you push the people under your care for the sake of seeing another frostbitten day?

Resident Evil 7: Biohazard

Approximate Game Length 10 Hours
Genre First-Person Survival Horror
Developer Capcom
X|S Enhanced No
File Size 22 GB (December 2021)

In a marvelous return to form, Resident Evil 7: Biohazard terrifies players with a mix of hideous creatures to contend with and tense moments of resource management. Rather than buckling down with the more action-oriented setpieces of its predecessors, Biohazard grounds players in a single location for the majority of the game. As Ethan Winters, you must navigate your way through the peril-riddled and decrepit Baker house in search of your missing wife, Mia. The game’s switch to first-person perspective from the Resident Evil franchise’s typical third-person viewpoint is a gamble that pays off as players now have to deal with monsters face-to-face, in a very literal sense.

Outer Worlds

Approximate Game Length 20 Hours
Genre RPG
Developer Obsidian Entertainment
X|S Enhanced No
File Size 33 GB (December 2021)

Obsidian Entertainment played to its strengths here, and it shows. As the lucky person chosen to be plucked from a derelict colonist ship (unsubtly dubbed “The Hope”) to raise some hell, Halcyon essentially your oyster. Whether you’re a guns-blazing commando or a smooth-talking pacifist, Obsidian’s taken pains to ensure that you’re able to dismantle or decide the delightfully morose corporate deadlock ruling over Halcyon in your own way. The Outer Worlds excels in terms of writing, features a vibrant cast of characters, and packs in an impressive amount of player agency given how narrative-heavy it is. In short, it’s a fine dose of good, old-fashioned RPG goodness. Read our review here.

Dead Space

Approximate Game Length 12 Hours
Genre Third-Person Shooter/Survival Horror
Developer Visceral Games (Formerly EA Redwood Shores)
X|S Enhanced No
File Size 6 GB (December 2021)

Combine the measured horror of Resident Evil 4 with a cold and unfeeling sci-fi environment, and Dead Space is the end result. Players join Isaac Clarke as he traverses the dark, metallic hallways of the USG Ishimura, a gargantuan planet-mining spaceship. Gruesome terror lurks around every corner in the form of Necromorphs, the reanimated corpses of the Ishimura’s crew. Though Dead Space was first released in 2008, it maintains an unrelenting sense of dread that exceeds the bounds of most modern horror games. Its atmosphere will linger in your memory long after you’ve finished the game, and whispers of “Make us whole” will haunt your worst nightmares.

Minecraft

Approximate Game Length N/A
Genre Survival Sandbox
Developer Mojang
X|S Enhanced No
File Size 801 MB (December 2021)

Is there really any respectably concise way to describe Minecraft? Having managed to reach 200 million sales since its humble 2011 origin, this unassuming little sandbox title pays dividends with the sheer breadth and variance of content it's capable of. Feel like testing your mettle against the elements and an array of hostile creatures that emerge after nightfall? Survival Mode is the place to be. Into quite literally creating your own fun, or just wanting to channel your inner architectural visionary without limitation? Creative Mode is the answer. Of course, there's also a maddening depth of community-generated content to explore as well. Of all the titillating titles available on Game Pass, Minecraft is the one most likely to never make egress from your hard drive.

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