Since its launch in 2017, Game Pass has gone on to expand its catalog of games, now offering over 200 titles across multiple genres. With a wide-selection of classic Xbox 360 games, new releases, and Xbox exclusives, Game Pass is a great deal for those looking to save some money while gaming.
However, a constantly shifting and growing library can also make searching through Game Pass’ entire catalog sometimes feel like a chore. So we’ve decided to do some of the leg work for you and highlight the best games included with a Game Pass subscription. We’ll be updating this list in the future with new titles, so make sure to check back.
Ori and the Blind Forest (Xbox One, PC)
Ori and the Blind Forest is a Metroidvania platformer from developer Moon Studios. The game has players taking control of Ori, a fox-like white guardian spirit, along with a fairy named Sein. Both have special abilities that when used in tandem, allow the player to defeat enemies and navigate through tricky environments.
As you progress through the game, Ori and Sein obtain new abilities, allowing you to reach new areas that were previously inaccessible. Although the game presents itself as a narrative-focused endeavor, it’s platforming is just as demanding as something like Super Meat Boy and requires a lot of split-second decision-making.
Halo: The Master Chief Collection (Xbox One)
When the Master Chief Collection first launched back in 2014, it was littered with a number of game-breaking bugs. For the past five years, 343 Industries has been working hard to make the collection run more smoothly. With a number of updates that address matchmaking and gameplay issues, as well as some quality of life improvements to the classic games, the MCC is in a much better state in 2019.
The collection includes Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, Halo 2: Anniversary, Halo 3, and Halo 4. In addition to matchmaking improvements, each title now offers local offline LAN multiplayer as well as support for 4K and HDR displays. These changes make the MCC the definitive way to experience the original saga.
Forza Horizon 4 (Xbox One, PC)
Forza Horizon 4 is a testament to everything developer Playground Games has learned since releasing the first entry in 2012. The arcade racing sim has received the highest ratings of any Horizon title before, and for good reason. Set in the United Kingdom, the game features 420 beautifully-rendered vehicles and introduces a new dynamic weather system that allows the world to cycle through seasons over time.
In addition, FH4’s use of a connected online world allows you to see other players while exploring open-roads, making the world feel more populated. While this feature is optional, it does a great job at integrating online multiplayer, a core component for several game modes.
Ashen (Xbox One)
While Ashen may borrow its challenging combat mechanics from Dark Souls, it also introduces some new concepts for the action-RPG genre. In it, you’re tasked with rebuilding a home for your character after civilization has crumbled and deadly creatures now roam the world. The game has you exploring caves, forests, and ancient ruins in search of stronger equipment, which is the crux of Ashen‘s progression system.
Along the way, you’ll be balancing time spent in both the light and the dark; areas of light tend to be a lot safer, while darker environments are often brimming with frozen skeletons, giant spiders, and other dangerous monsters. Ashen’s cartoonish visuals pair nicely with the grim, fantasy tone of the game and given the kind of titles Annapurna Interactive is known for, comes as a pleasant surprise.
Sea Of Thieves (Xbox One, PC)
Sea of Thieves is a worthy recommendation for any Game Pass subscriber albeit with one caveat—it’s main appeal comes from playing with friends. While it’s possible to go through the game solo, ship invasions from enemy players make it hard to progress without a squad backing you up.
There’s also the issue of larger, more complex ships requiring multiple players to man each of its components. And if you’re not playing a pirate game to have a giant pirate ship then what’s the point? Aside from that, Sea of Thieves has a terrific, cartoonish art style, and simple mechanics that are welcoming of new players.
The Messenger (PC)
The Messenger is a platformer that’s more likely to appeal to fans of retro games who admire 8 and 16-bit graphics. That’s because a majority of the game feels like a love letter to classic side-scrollers like Ninja Gaiden as well as Metroidvanias like Castlevania: Symphony of the Night.
In it, you play as a ninja tasked with delivering an ancient scroll to the top of a mountain whose path is littered with an assortment of supernatural monsters and deadly traps. Along the way, you’ll master the art of “cloudstepping” while acquiring new powers and tools, such as a grappling hook and glide ability that open up new areas.
Battle Chef Brigade (PC)
Battle Chef Brigade combines the action of side-scrolling brawlers with the strategy of tile-matching puzzle games to create a thrilling and addictive experience. The Adult Swim published game has you racing against the clock to create delicious meals as you compete with another chef to win over the hearts of judges.
Battles see you traveling back and forth between the kitchen and the outdoors, where an array of unique and challenging monsters provide an opportunity to gather exotic and flavorful ingredients for your dishes. Picking the right ingredients and tailoring your dishes to each judges’ tastes are a sure-fire recipe for success.
Astroneer (Xbox One, PC)
Astroneer is an online space exploration and survival game where up to 4-players can work together to colonize an alien planet, mining its resources and using them to craft a variety of tools and vehicles. The game doesn’t follow a pre-determined story or contain any scripted events, giving you the opportunity to carve out your own adventures.
The game’s bright and colorful visuals blend nicely with its low-poly graphics, especially when using your landscaping tool to terraform environments. Additionally, a recent 1.0 update added a new solar system to explore in addition to new suits, environmental hazards, vehicles, and items to craft.
Slay the Spire (PC)
Slay the Spire is a Roguelike card-strategy game developed by American studio MegaCrit and published by Humble Bundle. At the beginning of each playthrough, the game has you selecting from one of three predetermined characters, each with their own unique starting conditions and decks of cards.
The goal of the game is to make your way through several levels of a spire, with each level having a set number of encounters determined by a branching path that culminates in a boss battle. During each run you’ll come across campfires that allow you to heal or upgrade cards, shopkeepers that offer cards to purchase, chests with random loot, and random choice-based encounters.
Guacamelee! 2 (Xbox One, PC)
Following the success of the popular 2D Metroidvania centered on powerful luchadors, Guacamelee! 2 remains loyal to the original while sporting a few refinements. The sequel takes place seven years after the events of the first Guacamelee!, and sees a much older and out of shape luchador Juan called back into action when a new enemy from a different timeline threatens to destroy the entire Mexiverse.
Although a majority of the mechanics will feel familiar to anyone who’s played the first, minor changes to progression and an expanded move set for chicken transformations make the experience feel fresh. Additionally, the game introduces new enemy types, abilities, and stunning hand-crafted environments that are much larger than the original’s.
Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun (Xbox One, PC)
Shadow Tactics utilizes a lot of core stealth mechanics you wouldn’t expect to find in a real-time strategy game. Set during the Japanese Edo period where a new Shogun has risen to power and organized a group of specialists to deal with a rebellion, you assume control a team of deadly assassins specializing in different fields.
Missions have you combining your team’s lethal long-range and close combat weaponry as well as distraction tools and traps in order to assassinate targets. You’ll get to know each member of your squad as their diverse personalities come to light and relationships evolve over the course of the game’s story.
Monster Hunter: World (Xbox One)
While Monster Hunter games have typically always appealed to a much smaller community, Monster Hunter: World is Capcom’s biggest attempt at bringing in a Western audience to the creature slaying franchise. World features a number of quality of life improvements to the series, with an updated UI and tutorials to welcome new players.
Although some parts of World still feel cumbersome and confusing, the important thing here is how well the game delivers on its main component: hunting monsters. Creatures and environments look stunning and each locale has a number of systems in place that make them feel like living ecosystems. If you’ve ever wanted to get into the series but felt too intimidated, this is the perfect entry to start with.
Hollow Knight (Xbox One, PC)
By this point, Hollow Knight has pretty much solidified its place in Metroidvania hall of fame. The game is centered on its title protagonist, a silent sword-wielding knight on a quest to unlock the mysteries of Hallownest, a dark and dangerous kingdom that offers great rewards to any brave enough to explore its treacherous environments.
The 2D action-platformer does an excellent job at finding new ways to use its Metroidvania format to encourage exploration by providing the player with massive environments littered with collectibles and rewards. Additionally, experimenting with different load-outs opens up new opportunities to min/max and reach hidden areas.
Into the Breach (PC)
Into the Breach is a strategy game developed and published by Subset Games, and the second title to come from the studio, their first being 2012’s FTL: Faster Than Light. The game is set in a far future where humanity is fighting against an army of monsters known collectively as the Vek. Gameplay has you engaging in turn-based battles through the use of soldier-operated mechs that can be equipped with a variety of weapons and armor.
Similar to FTL, the game is split up into sequences that take place across a number of islands, each with their own procedurally generated mission scenarios; in this regard, Into the Breach would be considered a Roguelike. Should the player happen to lose any mission scenario for any reason, they are given the option to send one of their pilots back in time to the start of the first mission, essentially starting a new game, while still retaining their current experience and abilities.
SteamWorld Dig 2 (Xbox One, PC)
Steamworld Dig 2 improves on everything from the first game without making any compromises on the series’ addictive formula. In it, you control a steam-powered robot miner named Dorothy as she sets out to search for the first game’s protagonist, Rusty, after he’s gone missing.
However, like most Metroidvanias, SteamWorld Dig 2’s story mainly serves to complement the game’s satisfying gameplay loop, which sees you delving deeper into underground mines and collecting valuable resources to then be sold in exchange for new gear and upgrades. Improving your gear allows you to go further and further into the mines, revealing new challenges and more valuable resources.
Metro Exodus (Xbox One, PC)
The Metro games have only gotten better with each new installment and Metro Exodus is by far the most impressive entry in the series. Aside from upgraded current-gen graphics, the game features larger sandbox environments to explore as well as a more focused story and stealth-based gameplay.
In it, you play as everyone’s favorite Russian post-apocalyptic scavenger Artyom, as he encounters new hazards and enemies in the wasteland of the former Russian Federation. With resources extremely scarce, you’ll have to make every bullet count and scour every nook and cranny for supplies to keep you in the fight.
Riverbond (Xbox One, PC)
Riverbond is a chaotic, voxel-based hack n’ slash action game that supports up to 4-player co-op. In it, you embark on a heroic quest to acquire better gear and defeat waves of enemies in various destructible environments.
The game feels reminiscent of classic dungeon-crawlers like Diablo and features a host of customization options including crossover character skins from popular indie titles like Shovel Knight, Enter the Gungeon, and Bastion. With simple controls and straightforward combat, Riverbond is great for the casual-minded player.
Tacoma (Xbox One, PC)
Developed by Fullbright, the same studio that created Gone Home, Tacoma is an exploration game set aboard an abandoned space station in the year 2088. You play as Amy, an agent that’s been sent to retrieve data from the station after its crew mysteriously disappeared.
As you explore Tacoma, you’ll begin piecing together clues regarding the missing crew, learning more about each character by replaying memories and investigating their living quarters. Although its runtime is brief, clocking in around 2-3 hours, the game offers a lot of interesting narrative threads for you unravel at your own pace.
Batman: Arkham Knight (Xbox One)
Batman: Arkham Knight is the latest and most controversial entry in the superhero series, stemming from gameplay changes along with a poorly optimized PC version. However, look past some of its blemishes and what you have is a solid, action-packed open-world game set in the Batman universe.
The game picks up after the events of Arkham City and sees the Caped Crusader taking on both Scarecrow and the mysterious Arkham Knight in a showdown spanning all of Gotham City. Additionally, Arkham Knight marks the first appearance of the Batmobile and the introduction of vehicle-based combat in the series.
Void Bastards (Xbox One, PC)
Void Bastards is a strategy first-person shooter that has you planning and executing a space prison escape. Inspired by games like BioShock and System Shock 2, gameplay focuses on exploring derelict spaceships, scavenging whatever supplies you can find and taking out any enemies who get in your way.
However, unlike most shooters, you don’t have to fight every battle with guns; Void Bastards features a number of traps and tools that can be upgraded and used to distract or deter enemies, leaving room for different playstyles. The game utilizes Roguelike mechanics that add variety to each run as new characters come equipped with unique skills. However, death isn’t heavily penalized, with crafting progress shared between runs.
Full Metal Furies (Xbox One, PC)
Full Metal Furies is the second game to come from developer Cellar Door Games, best known for creating Rogue Legacy. The game is a co-op based action RPG that supports up to four-player local and online co-op and has you and your friends trying to save a war-torn world from destruction.
Each of the four playable characters has a unique pool of abilities that can be combined to bring down even the most powerful of enemies. Flexible party and upgrade systems ensure you’re able to try different approaches and find out what works best for you and your team.
Descenders (Xbox One)
Descenders is an extreme downhill biking sim that sees you racing down procedurally-generated environments. The game uses an in-depth physics system that allows you to control every subtle movement of your rider, allowing you to pull off some truly impressive tricks.
After picking from one of three teams—Enemy, Arboreal or Kinetic, you’ll start receiving exclusive gear that allows you to show off your squad’s colors. Roguelike mechanics make it so each run is unique and introduces new obstacles as well as ways to overcome them.
Blazing Chrome (Xbox One, PC)
Inspired by retro side-scrollers like Contra and Metal Slug, Blazing Chrome brings back classic run n’ gun action for up to 2-players. In it, you play as either Mavra, a human rebel soldier, or Doyle, a lethal insurgent robot, on a suicide mission to destroy an AI-controlled power plant.
Standing in your path are hundreds of robotic enemies just waiting to be destroyed by your arsenal of powerful and explosive weapons. The game features epic boss battles with giant mechanical foes as well as fully functional jetpacks and hoverbikes, allowing you to explore levels in style.
Outer Wilds (Xbox One)
Outer Wilds is a mystery game that sees your character trapped in a perpetual Groundhog Day-style time-loop. You play as the newest recruit of Outer Wilds Ventures, an up-and-coming space program looking to expand its knowledge of the solar system and its many secrets.
Your journey sees you explore historically-rich planets with unique weather conditions and hidden locations to discover. However, unraveling the mysteries of your alien ancestors won’t be easy as black holes, oxygen deprivation, and other environmental hazards are all part of this reality.
Whether its PC or console, AAA or Indie, New-York born and raised Justin has a natural curiosity to seek out hidden gems and share them with other gamers. He also maintains his own YouTube channel in addition to writing and managing the social media profiles for GamingScan.