The Xbox Game pass has gone from strength to strength since it was first announced in 2017. The subscription service, touted as the Netflix for video games, lets players download and play a huge catalogue of games. While the pickings were somewhat slim at first, the choice of titles available now is far better than at launch. This is largely thanks to the fact that publishers such as Bethesda, 2K Games, Capcom, and WB Games have all signed up and added games from their own rosters.
With the reveal of both Xbox Game Pass for PC and Xbox Game Pass Ultimate during this year’s E3, there has never been a better time to dive in and experience the 200 games on offer. Fortunately, we have scoured the service to find the very best games so you know exactly which ones to download first.
Just a quick note before we begin, we have purposely excluded games leaving the service within the next month to keep this list relevant and useful to readers. Any game featured on this list that ends up leaving the service will be replaced with another title.
1. Ori and the Blind Forest: Definitive Edition
Everyone who owns an Xbox One should make sure they play Ori and the Blind Forest. It is simply one of the best first-party games to come out of Microsoft on the console. There are few games that manage to tell such an emotive story without using words. Instead, the developers utilise the beautiful visuals and excellent music to allow the game to express itself. Combined with some nifty puzzles and interesting mechanics, Ori and the Blind Forest is undoubtedly worth playing as an atmospheric and challenging platformer.
2. Rare Replay
Rare Replay deserves a download just for the sheer amount of content it contains. Released in 2015, it comprises almost every major release that developer Rare has created in their 30-year history – excluding the Nintendo-licensed titles they worked on. This means that players can play everything from Jetpac to Banjo-Kazooie, along with the likes of Conker’s Bad Fur Day and Grabbed by the Ghoulies.
Even more impressive is that the team added cheats and snapshot challenges to the older games. Not only do these additions make them a bit more forgiving to play but also ensures there is plenty to do when it comes to grabbing achievements. Even with the disappointment of missing titles such as GoldenEye 007, this compilation still has plenty of quality to entertain young and old players.
3. Human Fall Flat
Playing multiplayer with your friends in the same room is one of the true joys of gaming, but unfortunately, there just aren’t that many games around that focus on that aspect of gaming. Human Fall Flat is one of them, though, with its co-op focused gameplay. Players have to solve puzzles and make it to the end of each level using only their ability to climb, jump, and fall. The physics-based gameplay and slapstick animations make this a blast to play, while the open ended puzzles mean you can keep coming back to levels to find new ways to complete them. Playing with a friend also ensures that you’ll be out of breath from laughing on a regular basis, whether you are playing locally or online.
4. Forza Horizon 4
Forza Horizon 4 could well be the best entry in this established franchise. Set in a reimagined version of the United Kingdom, Forza Horizon 4 is an open world racer where you can explore the map at your own pleasure. Much like other Forza games, there’s a wide variety of cars available as well as hundreds of challenges and races to compete in. A fantastic soundtrack and beautiful visuals help it stand out from the crowd, while the changing seasons feature keeps gameplay fresh by constantly changing the in-game world. It really raises the bar when it comes to racing games.
5. Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition
The best platformers are responsive, challenging, and have interesting mechanics that keep the gameplay feeling fresh throughout. Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition ticks all three of those boxes emphatically. An enjoyable platformer that takes lots of inspiration from classic Metroidvania titles, Guacamelee!’s unique selling point is clearly the influence of Mexican culture and art that is present throughout the game, along with a healthy dose of humour. Almost everyone will be able to finish it and enjoy the experience, although collecting everything can be a real challenge. As an extra bonus, Guacamelee! 2 is also available to play if you love the first instalment.
The Doom franchise might have made some missteps over the last decade or so but with 2016’s DOOM, id Software have brought back everything that made the classic games so popular. Rather than carry on after the unsuccessful Doom 3, the team decided to reboot the series, which proved to be a great decision. As a result, the latest iteration puts a bigger emphasis on exploring the open ended levels and fast paced gameplay. Add to that a widely praised single-player campaign and DOOM is easily one of the best first-person shooters of recent times.
7. My Time At Portia
There’s no shortage of games that seek to emulate the success of Harvest Moon and Stardew Valley. However, the charming My Time at Portia does just enough differently to merit a playthrough all of its own. Mashing together several different genres, players have to take over a business left by a dead relative. After that, it is up to you to decide how to collect resources and make a profit. You could fight in dungeons, farm animals and crops, or mine away underground; the choice is entirely yours.
What My Time at Portia does well is get rid of a lot of the tedious grinding, ensuring that building up your workshop is more enjoyment than work, so much so that it’s easy to get lost in the tasks for hours without realising just how long you have been playing. Compared to the most other titles on Xbox Game Pass, this is a welcome change of pace and a relaxing game that won’t tax you too much.
8. Halo: The Master Chief Collection
Another compilation makes the list but this time it’s for Halo. Fans of the series will definitely want to grab The Master Chief Collection, especially with Halo Reach on its way. While it did have some major problems at launch with its online multiplayer, most of these issues have now been ironed out. The collection includes remastered versions of both Halo: CE and Halo 2, along with improved editions of Halo 3, Halo 3: ODST, and Halo 4.
That means you can play the first four Bungie games from the franchise as well as 343 Industries’ first attempt at a sequel, allowing you to experience every single multiplayer map and campaign level in one place. That’s a lot of content and a perfect way for someone to revisit the series or play through it for the first time.
9. The Walking Dead
Telltale Games might be no more but their most popular series is still very much around. Both the first and second seasons of The Walking Dead are available on Xbox Game Pass along with A New Frontier and The Walking Dead: Michonne. If you haven’t yet played the series now would be a good time to rectify that. After all, these are the games that popularized the episodic adventure genre once again, leading to further games such as The Wolf Among Us and Life is Strange.
Just be prepared for an emotional story and the stress that comes with making life-or-death decisions every other scene. This series also stays more faithful to the original comics, so if you have read them and were disappointed with the television show this should be more up your street.
10. The Banner Saga
The Banner Saga began life as a hugely successful Kickstarter that has since spawned two sequels and a multiplayer spin-off. Unlike many other tactical role-playing games, this series puts a huge amount of emphasis on the story. You take control of two different caravans of characters made up of humans and giant-like Varls in their battle against the demonic Dredge. The stories between the two groups eventually intertwine and become one.
Choice is what truly sets The Banner Saga apart though. Players are given the option to choose who they want to take into battle, how to set up their characters, and even how the story progresses through dialogue choices. Mix in some excellent combat and an exceptional presentation and you have a great game that is surely worth your time. The Banner Saga 2 and 3 are also available on Xbox Game Pass, so you’ll be able to carry on the story and transfer your saves into the sequels straight away.
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