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The 32 Best Games On Xbox Game Pass Right Now

Xbox Game Pass, the premiere subscription service for Xbox users, continues to grow in terms of accessibility and the strength of its game library, spoiling subscribers for choice when it comes to what they'll play next. And with Microsoft testing out new options and tiers — like a Friends and Family plan — there's never been a better time for Xbox owners to check out what Game Pass has to offer.

Of course, once you sign up for Game Pass, you will immediately be met with a veritable sea of options. It can be difficult to decide what to play first, especially since there are so many great games available through the service. That is why SVG has you covered with a breakdown of the best titles Xbox Games Pass has to offer. From single-player platformers to immersive multiplayer experiences, here are the top titles to fire up through Xbox Game Pass.

Sea of Thieves

Ever wanted to experience an authentic pirate simulator with some of your best friends? Well, charter a ship with your saltiest friends in "Sea of Thieves," a stunning embodiment of seafaring adventure where players' fates rest entirely in their own hands.

Released in 2018, "Sea of Thieves" follows the formula of other sandbox games like "EVE: Online" and "Rust," in which players are given tools to create stories of their own. The game was initially  received with mixed reviews. For instance, Game Informer praised its ability to create emergent gameplay, while Polygon complained about lack of content and misaligned gameplay incentives.

Today, the best part of the game is that anybody can hop into "Sea of Thieves" and compete with the best if they have what it takes. As a constantly updated game — which earned it the BAFTA award for best Evolving Game in 2021 — and with over 30 million lifetime players as of 2022, "Sea of Thieves" thrives as a party game on Xbox Game Pass.

  • Release Date: March 20, 2018
  • Genre: Action adventure
  • Game Modes: Online multiplayer (up to 4)
  • Metacritic Score: 69 (Xbox One)

Minecraft

As noted by Windows Central, "Minecraft" isn't in competition to be just one of the best games on Xbox Game Pass, it is in competition for being one of the greatest games of all time. It is the best selling game of all time, has the most cumulative time watched on YouTube, and basically set the stage for the open-world, games-as-a-Service storm that came during the 2010s (per Polygon).

Truly, it is hard to understate the impact that "Minecraft" has had on gaming as a whole. While its blocky textures can appear simplistic to some, they enable a brick-by-brick building approach that begs players to unleash their creativity. Also, this modular core of block placement allows for an infinite number of mods to keep the experience fresh for veteran players.

All of the hype for "Minecraft" is deserved and it still has one of the strongest online communities in the gaming space. Plenty of content creators find themselves coming back to "Minecraft" simply for the ability to create endless stories on the game's blank canvas.

  • Release Date: November 18, 2011
  • Genre: Sandbox, Survival
  • Game modes: Single-player, Online multiplayer (up to 8)
  • Metacritic Score: 88 (Xbox One)

Age of Empires 4

The "Age of Empires" franchise dates all the way back to the late 1990s, so the relase of "Age of Empires 4" 2021 came with high expectations. For the most part, "Age of Empires 4" hit the mark in creating a contemporary installment of the genre, winning the best sim/strategy game at the Game Awards 2021.

GameSpot praised the game as a satisfying historical battle simulator. However, not all reception was peachy, with other publications like Game Informer criticizing the game for not innovating enough on the series' already-proven formula. Still, as a release with a games-as-a-Service model, "Age of Empires 4" released with a well-received campaign system, but only eight playable civilizations. When compared to the landmark title in the franchise, "Age of Empires 2," which housed over 42 playable factions by the end of its expansions, "Age of Empires 4" has a long way to go to reach the heights of its franchise. Still, it's worth a deep dive while it's available through Xbox Game Pass.

  • Release Date: October 28, 2021
  • Genre: Real-Time-Strategy
  • Game Modes: Single-player, Online multiplayer (up to 8)
  • Metacritic Score: 81 (PC)

Stardew Valley

Warm, cozy, and relaxing are all adjectives worthy of "Stardew Valley's" charm. At the same time, however, "Stardew Valley" can be played competitively in the coziest take on esports ever. Whatever style the player prefers, "Stardew Valley" is there to deliver.

"Stardew Valley" was developed by a single person, ConcernedApe, when he needed to brush up on his coding skills to apply for jobs (per GQ). In lieu of corporate ladder-climbing, "Stardew Valley," instead focuses on a rural life where tending crops making friends in town is an honest day's work.

The artwork, music, and storytelling all blend together brilliantly in a way that could only result from a singular creative mind. There's also plenty to scratch at below the surface, with tons of hidden content in the late-game. ConcernedApe has also updated "Stardew Valley" with additional free content over the years, so there's never been a better time to dive in.

  • Release Date: February 26, 2016
  • Genre: Role-Playing Game, Sandbox
  • Game modes: Single-player
  • Metacritic score: 89 (Xbox One)

The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim Special Edition

"The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim" is a once-in-a-generation triumph of RPGs whose reputation is flawless and whose reach is almost absolute within the gaming space. Since its release in 2011, fans and critics alike have rightly raved about the game's nearly endless possibilities. Everything a player could want in an RPG is in "Skyrim." A satisfying and highly customizable combat system, deep progression systems across all skill types, and an open-world absolutely begging to be explored is at the heart of "The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim."

The game's success is so widespread that its subsequent re-releases have become memes within the gaming community for the frequency with which it was constantly re-packaged. "The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim Special Edition" is the ultimate final version for both console and PC players, boasting upgraded graphics and the entire catalogue of DLCs. Most importantly, the "Skyrim Special Edition" allows for console players to enjoy "Skyrim's" infamous and unending list of mods (per PC Gamer).

  • Release Date: October 28, 2016
  • Genre: Role-Playing-Game, Adventure
  • Game modes: Single-player
  • Metacritic Score: 82 (Xbox One)

Total War: Warhammer 3

The "Total War" series is a titan in the grand-strategy genre stretching back all the way to the early 2000s. Gameplay in "Total War" games takes the shape of both turn-based strategy as well as real-time battle simulation. The high fantasy "Total War: Warhammer" sub-series is perhaps its most well-known due to "Warhammer 40,000" being one of the preeminent table-top RPGs.

"Total War: Warhammer 3" picks up in the timeline right where the previous installment left off, giving players even more in-depth decisions for controlling their factions and micromanaging their armies. Its campaign mode is nearly double the size of the one in "Total War: Warhammer 2," as noted by game director Ian Roxburgh in an interview with PC Gamer

Critics received the game well, praising its quality-of-life improvements and its apocalyptic narrative. Following its 2.0 update, "Total War: Warhammer 3" is better and more accessible than ever, there's still plenty of new content on the way.

  • Release Date: February 17, 2022
  • Genre: Turn-Based-Strategy, Real-Time-Tactics
  • Game modes: Single-player, Multiplayer
  • Metacritic Score: 86 (PC)

Hollow Knight

Originally up during the Lumdum Dare indie game jam in 2013, "Hollow Knight"  splendidly follows the formula of classic 2D Metroidvanias. However, "formulaic" isn't exactly the right word to describe "Hollow Knight," as its a wholly inventive and nuanced experience. Players of "Hollow Knight" guide the titular character through a grueling gauntlet of subterranean battles across an ever-growing world of deadly characters and even deadlier obstacles. Gameplay consists of a mix of platforming and high-intensity combat, both of which are accomplished through an intuitive set of movement controls.

"Hollow Knight" simply has it all: an entirely unique setting, an iconic main character, supreme progression mechanics, smooth gameplay, plenty of DLC content, and a sequel — "Hollow Knight: Silksong" — on the way. This stellar combination of mechanics and aesthetics led critics and gamers alike to call "Hollow Knight" an instant classic.

  • Release Date: February 24, 2017
  • Genre: Action-Adventure, Metroidvania
  • Game modes: Single-player
  • Metacritic Score: 89 (Xbox One)

Townscaper

"Townscaper" isn't as much a game as it is an experimental toy — or at least, that's how it has been described its solo developer, Oskar Stålberg (per CNET). Simplicity is the name of the game in "Townscaper," as there are only a few tools the players are given to use when creating a town.

Gameplay consists of bringing buildings, roads, bridges, and other structures into existence with only the simple choice of a color and the click of a button. If the player right-clicks, then something will be built, while left-clicks will remove something from the same space. Playing is as simple as that — there are no points, no timers, and no real objectives.

The algorithms that create new buildings are brilliant. Once a player spends a few minutes toying around in "Townscaper," they generally get a feel for what adding two buildings of the same color next to each other will do. Similarly, players will quickly pick up that verticality is the other main vector of choice in creating unique constructions. Other than that, "Townscaper" is what players make of it, and no more. This simplicity and escapism has been praised by critics and players, and it's easy to see why.

  • Release Date: August 26, 2021
  • Genre: City-Building
  • Game modes: Single-player
  • Metacritic Score: 86 (PC)

Assassin's Creed Origins

Ubisoft's "Assassin's Creed" franchise largely revolves around a shadow war between the Assassin Brotherhood and the Templars, who have secretly manipulated the course of human history for millennia. The early days of this longstanding conflict are explored in the 2017 prequel "Assassin's Creed Origins," set amidst the intrigue between Ancient Egypt and the Roman Empire. After a man named Bayek embarks on a quest to avenge his young son, he stumbles across a vast conspiracy orchestrated by Cleopatra and Julius Caesar for the fate of the western world.

"Origins" provides a more robust combat system compared to previous titles in the venerable video game series, with Bayek arming himself with a wider variety of weaponry. The naval combat mechanic introduced in "Assassin's Creed III" makes its return here, with Bayek's wife Aya attacking enemy ships. An immersive and ambitious entry in the series, "Assassin's Creed Origins" proves there's still plenty of life in the long-running franchise.

  • Release Date: Oct. 27, 2017
  • Genre: Action-adventure
  • Game Modes: Single-player
  • Metacritic Score: 85 (Xbox One)

Dead by Daylight

One online survival horror game that has been entertaining players for the past five years is the popular "Dead by Daylight." The asymmetrical game sees four players take on the role of survivors while a fifth player joins the match as a brutal serial killer. The four survivors elude the killer and attempt to repair five generators to open the exit gate while the killer systematically hunts and sacrifices their prey.

Boasting several major horror licensed characters, from Freddy Krueger from "A Nightmare on Elm Street" to Ash Williams from "Evil Dead," "Dead by Daylight" definitely possesses some impressive horror cred. With the game on Xbox Game Pass, now is the perfect time for players to check out the online phenomena and see if they can survive horror's most notorious villains.

  • Release Date: June 20, 2017
  • Genre: Survival Horror
  • Game Modes: Online multiplayer (up to 5)
  • Metacritic Score: 58 (Xbox One)

Dead Space 2

One of the greatest science fiction horror game franchises of all time has got to be "Dead Space," which blends supernatural survival horror with an interplanetary scale. The series follows protagonist Isaac Clarke, who learns that a strange virus causes the infected to mutate into violent, undead monsters. 2011's "Dead Space 2" sees Isaac emerge from a space station asylum after temporarily losing his sanity from his experiences in the first game, only to find that the undead Necromorphs have overrun the station.

As noted by Bloody Disgusting, "Dead Space 2" is arguably the pinnacle of the franchise and a standout in the horror genre in general, effectively balancing the survival horror elements with action-oriented gameplay mechanics in a mix that has yet to be matched. The developers provided a more accessible experience with "Dead Space 2" than its predecessor, featuring more intuitive controls and polished level design. More cinematic and ambitious than the first game, "Dead Space 2" embraces the possibilities of its blend in genres without compromising on the scares.

  • Release Date: Jan. 25, 2011
  • Genre: Survival Horror
  • Game Modes: Single-player
  • Metacritic Score: 90 (Xbox 360)

Dragon Age: Origins

BioWare has had an extensive history crafting widely acclaimed RPGs titles. One of its most successful series is the high fantasy franchise "Dragon Age," which started with 2009's "Dragon Age: Origins." The game takes place in the medieval kingdom of Ferelden, where players traverse the realm to recruit an alliance of humans, elves, and dwarves to take on a monstrous horde of creatures known as the darkspawn. Players can choose from a variety of protagonists, with each of their respective backstories integral to the overarching "Dragon Age" mythology.

"Dragon Age: Origins" perfects the RPG gameplay mechanics from BioWare's past efforts, allowing characters to move around the battlefield while selecting their actions. Intuitively mapped for home console gameplay, "Origins" also allows players to hotkey their favorite actions and pause in the midst of battle to better formulate their strategy. With its immersive world, epic stakes, and extensive cast of fan-favorite party members, "Dragon Age: Origins" set a high bar for console-based RPGs that very few subsequent titles have yet to exceed.

  • Release Date: Nov. 3, 2009
  • Genre: RPG
  • Game Modes: Single-player
  • Metacritic Score: 86 (Xbox 360)

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles side-scrolling beat-em-ups developed and published by Konami in the late '80s and early '90s helped define and popularize the genre. Developer Tribute Games actively sought to recapture what made those classic games so great while refining the presentation and gameplay for more modern sensibilities with the new title "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge." A top-to-bottom love letter to Konami's celebrated Ninja Turtles games, "Shredder's Revenge" is simply one of the best old school side-scrolling action games in years, as noted by PCWorld.

As Shredder launches a renewed campaign to conquer New York City, the Turtles and their friends band together to battle through waves of enemies. Allowing for up to six players to join together online, "Shredder's Revenge" gives each of its playable characters their own distinct styles for kicking butt. Both a blast from the past for longtime fans and perfectly accessible for new players, "Shredder's Revenge" is a nostalgic revival done right.

  • Release Date: June 16, 2022
  • Genre: Action
  • Game Modes: Single-player, Local multiplayer (up to 4), Online multiplayer (up to 6)
  • Metacritic Score: 87 (Xbox One)

Dragon Ball FighterZ

After making waves in the fighting game community with the "Guilty Gear" and "BlazBlue" series, developer Arc System Works set its sights on the iconic "Dragon Ball" franchise with "Dragon Ball FighterZ." The game features a packed playable roster of fan-favorite heroes and villains from the every "Dragon Ball" series, each boasting their signature fighting techniques. A fixture at fighting game competitions since its debut in 2018, "Dragon Ball FighterZ" is one of the fastest-paced and most popular fighting games released in the past several years.

Featuring frenetic three-on-three tag-team battles, "FighterZ" is accessible to novice fighting game players and rewards those with a keen eye for team-building strategy and technique. Using Unreal Engine 4, Arc System Works meticulously recreated the look of the classic anime franchise, complete with vibrant colors and lighting that hold up in the heat of battle. Not just a great addition to the long line of "Dragon Ball" games, "Dragon Ball FighterZ" is perhaps the best fighting game currently available on Game Pass.

  • Release Date: Jan. 26, 2018
  • Genre: Fighting
  • Game Modes: Single-player, Local multiplayer, and Online multiplayer
  • Metacritic Score: 86 (Xbox One)

Mass Effect Legendary Edition

BioWare thrilled gamers with the "Mass Effect" trilogy, released from 2007 to 2012, blending dense RPG storytelling with third-person shooter action. The "Mass Effect" trilogy's timeline chronicles the adventures of Commander Shepard, a spacefaring soldier who leads his crew to stop a sentient race of machines from purging all organic life in the galaxy. All three games have been bundled together in the "Mass Effect Legendary Edition," which boasts sharper visuals and a number of quality of life changes for modern audiences.

For this remastered compilation, BioWare focused on optimizing the single-player experience, omitting the online multiplayer component present in the original version of "Mass Effect 3." Proving that the franchise's bones are still as effective as ever, "Mass Effect Legendary Edition" retains what made the trilogy so popular while adding a fresh coat of paint.

  • Release Date: May 14, 2021
  • Genre: Third-person shooter, Action RPG
  • Game Modes: Single-player
  • Metacritic Score: 90 (Xbox One)

The Yakuza Remastered Collection

Sega has been immersing gamers in the Japanese criminal underworld with its "Yakuza" franchise since 2005, mixing open-world exploration with hard-hitting action in an addictive series. The third, fourth, and fifth main installments of "Yakuza" series are compiled in the "Yakuza Remastered Collection," all enhanced for modern consoles. Restoring much of the content cut from their initial North American releases, the compilation provides the definitive English-language versions of the three games.

The trilogy follows longtime series protagonist Kazuma Kiryu, a mobster who seeks to leave his violent life behind. However, Kazuma's past proves impossible to completely escape, leading to grueling battles against unsavory crime figures who threaten those around the reluctant former gangster. With each game boasting a bevy of minigames and fast-paced street brawls, "The Yakuza Remastered Collection" delivers plenty of wacky open-world thrills.

  • Release Date: Jan. 28, 2021
  • Genre: Action, Adventure, RPG
  • Game Modes: Single-player
  • Metacritic Score: 81 (Xbox One)

Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy

After the bomb that was the launch of "Marvel's Avengers," Square Enix's next Marvel game seemed set up to fail. Despite critical consensus that "Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy" was indeed a much better game, it still managed to be a sales disappointment for Square (via PC Gamer), despite the massive brand recognition the Guardians have. However, now that it's on Game Pass, many comics fans can now give it the love it deserves. 

Playing as Star Lord, you lead Drax, Gamora, Rocket, and Groot on an epic space adventure that mixes the best parts of action games, RPGs, and movies. Where "Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy" succeeds is in its story. The character interactions are funny and heartfelt, and the constant banter pulls you though the game. The writing is matched only by the excellent voice work and animation. Each of the Guardians are fleshed out, with Drax being given a particularly great arc that doesn't merely treat him as comic relief. This 20-hour adventure will make the time fly faster than any MCU TV binge. 

  • Release Date: October 26, 2021
  • Genre: Action-Adventure, RPG, Shooter
  • Game Modes: Single-player
  • Metacritic Score: 84 (Xbox Series X|S)

Slay the Spire

You can trace the proliferation of deck-building roguelike games on Steam back to a handful of titles, but "Slay the Spire" arguably kicked off the trend in earnest when it debuted in early access in 2018. A hit from the start (via Destructoid), this indie card battler charges you with picking a starting class before embarking on a randomized run through a map full of enemies and loot. As you progress through the titular Spire, you will need to make decisions about which cards to add and remove from your deck. 

A blast to get your head around, "Slay the Spire" provides hours of depth and strategies to learn. The game's structure forged the path for future iterations like "Monster Train" to tweak and improve upon and for games like "Inscryption" to subvert and surprise, but the core gameplay loop of "Slay the Spire" is still so satisfying. Sometimes the original is still where it's at. If you have Game Pass and have never explored the genre, it's a great place to start.

  • Release Date: August 14, 2019
  • Genre: Rogue-like, Card Game, Indie
  • Game Modes: Single-player
  • Metacritic Score: N/A

Kentucky Route Zero: TV Edition

Released over the course of nearly a decade, "Kentucky Route Zero" is an amazing indie game. From the launch of Act 1 in January 2013 until the final act and subsequent "TV Edition" console port in 2020, "Kentucky Route Zero" only got better. The melancholy minimalist adventure game is a modernization of the point-and-click genre. You start off as Conway, a driver on one final delivery to the ethereal Dogwood Drive, but throughout the five Acts — and five short experimental Intermissions — you play as many characters who share the same burdens.

The writing of "Kentucky Route Zero" evokes post-modern literature and Southern Gothic poetry. It is a distinctly American tale about labor and the exploitation of the American worker. It is a game about debt, in all its forms. From the hauntingly beautiful music to the hard angles of the distinctive visual styling, every minute of "Kentucky Route Zero" is working to communicate its themes. It's not a story to be missed.

  • Release Date: Jan 28, 2020
  • Genre: Adventure, Indie
  • Game Modes: Single-player
  • Metacritic Score: 84 (Xbox One)

Hitman Trilogy

What's better than one of IO's excellent new "Hitman" games? Well, the whole trilogy of course — and that's what Xbox Game Pass has to offer! One of the absolute best deals on the service is this wealth of new "Hitman" levels and targets. The episode "Hitman" reboot, was a much needed refresh for the series, kicking off a new era of critical success for the "Hitman" franchise.. Bringing the best elements of its "Hitman" series forward, IO crafted a series of sandboxes filled with hilarious tools and ways to take out targets of high importance.

As Agent 47, you can either follow a series of increasingly elaborate story missions throughout each level or you can obsessively try every unique way of assassinating your targets before moving on. Each map offers hours of gameplay that allows players to flex their creativity and improvisational skills. These "Hitman" games are all dark slapstick comedies, but you're in strict control of the hijinks.

  • Release Date: January 20, 2022
  • Genre: Action-Adventure, Stealth, Immersive Sim
  • Game Modes: Single-player
  • Metacritic Score: 85 ("Hitman," Xbox One), 87 ("Hitman 3," Series X), 84 ("Hitman 2," Xbox One)

Overcooked 2

One of the great couch co-op series of the past decade has got to be "Overcooked," and the sequel ups the ante. "Overcooked 2," a "Diner Dash"-style game that forces you to continuously communicate with your teammate(s) to get the best scores. This is the perfect example of a co-op game that will make you want to strangle your partner. But you will need them to progress through the Onion Kingdom as you take on increasingly wacky and challenging levels. 

"Overcooked 2" offers a wide variety of playable characters, maps, and recipes to try across the game and its DLC. There are also plenty of accessibility options that make "Overcooked" a fun experience even for those who don't play a ton of video games. From its presentation to gameplay, "Overcooked 2" is inviting to players of all ages. Easy to learn, but hard to master — harder still to put down once you've begun — "Overcooked 2" is as rewarding as it is chaotic.

  • Release Date: August 7, 2018
  • Genre: Arcade
  • Game Modes: Single-player, Local Multiplayer, Online Multiplayer (up to 4)
  • Metacritic Score: 83 (Xbox)

Outer Wilds

"Outer Wilds" is an anomaly. It is a space adventure game, a timeloop game, and so much more all wrapped into one unforgettable package. As a Hearthian of Timber Hearth, you find yourself repeatedly exploring a (relatively) small solar system when you find yourself stuck in a 22-minute timeloop. It is your job to find a way to stop the supernova that will destroy all life. As you explore and solve environmental and contextual puzzles, you will learn the secrets of the universe and a race that came long before your own. 

Terrifying and exhilarating, the solar system of "Outer Wilds" is filled with diverse planets full of their own fascinating stories. Using just a limited set of tools, the gameplay of "Outer Wilds" is unlike anything else out there. It's worth seeing through to the end, even if you need to consult a guide or two, just for the beautiful ending that ties the game's existential themes together.

  • Release Date: May 30, 2019
  • Genre: Adventure, Puzzle
  • Game Modes: Single-player
  • Metacritic Score: 85 (Xbox One)

Deep Rock Galactic

If you and your friends are looking for a novel take on co-op shooters on Game Pass, look no further than "Deep Rock Galactic." You take on the roles of a variety of dwarves as you mine your way through rock and stone to find treasure and enemies to take down. As you level up, you gain access to cooler weaponry and innovative tools. This combination of mining and resource hunting with a side of wave-based shooting is a winning one, and it gives "Deep Rock" its own identity in a crowded market.

Adding to the fun is Bosco, an adorable robot companion who is given to solo players to balance out the difficulty. Still, "Deep Rock Galactic" is best enjoyed as a co-op experience with up to four players. There are hundreds of hours' worth of bug-infested caverns to fight through (via HowLongtoBeat), so strap in and get your crew together. 

  • Release Date: May 13, 2020
  • Genre: Shooter, Action
  • Game Modes: Single-player, Online co-op (up to 4)
  • Metacritic Score: 85 (PC), 83 (Xbox)

Tetris Effect: Connected

It's pretty much an undisputed fact that "Tetris" is one of the best video games of all time. The puzzle title is one of gaming's founding fathers and has spawned dozens of sequels and likely hundreds of imitators. Perhaps the best of all "Tetris" sequels is the trippy, Tetsuya Mizuguchi-directed "Tetris Effect," later released with additional modes on Xbox and Game Pass as "Tetris Effect: Connected." This fully featured version of "Tetris Effect" is one to keep installed on your hard drive at all times. 

The visually stunning story mode takes you through numerous stages set to a variety of absolutely banging tracks across all musical genres. These stages range from pretty neat to transcendentally entertaining. Yes, we are all connected in this life — and isn't that a beautiful thing? 

The breadth of additional single-player and multiplayer modes give "Tetris Effect" nearly endless replay value. The 4v1 Connected mode allows for you and your friends to experience co-op "Tetris" on a scale never before seen. Plus, if you have a Virtual Reality headset and PC Game Pass you can even play the game as intended — in glorious VR (via VR Upload).

  • Release Date: November 10, 2020
  • Genre: Puzzle
  • Game Modes: Single-player, Local Multiplayer, Online Multiplayer
  • Metacritic Score: 80 (Xbox One), 88 (Xbox Series X|S)

Alien Isolation

If you want to have a restful night's sleep, you might not want to play "Alien Isolation" before bed. Based on the sci-fi classic "Alien," "Alien Isolation" puts players in the shoes of Amanda Ripley, daughter of series protagonist Ellen Ripley. Amanda travels to a remote space station to investigate her mother's disappearance, but ends up grappling with an elusive Xenomorph instead.

The secret behind the terrifying Xenomorph in "Isolation" is its complex AI system, which uses two separate AI mechanics to observe both the player and the alien itself. The effect is frightening, with the Xenomorph reacting and figuring out increasingly tricky ways to outsmart players in real time. Even though "Alien Isolation" appeared on shelves way back in 2014, the creepy cool experience has kept it relevant to gamers everywhere. Now, with the game available on Xbox Game Pass, there's no reason not to give it a shot.

  • Release Date: Oct. 7, 2014
  • Genre: Science-fiction, survival
  • Game Modes: Single-player
  • Metacritic Score: 78 (Xbox One)

Fallout 3

"Fallout 3" falls in the middle of the long-running series' bizarre story, but in many ways it signified a shift in the franchise's trajectory. "Fallout 3" turnedt he franchise into an open world RPG full of chaos, dark humor, and downright weird scenarios, and its quirkiness made it stick out. The game follows the Vault Dweller, a nameless survivor of the nuclear apocalypse. After living underground for years in Vault 101, the Dweller sets out to find their long lost father, who may yet be alive (and voiced by Liam Neeson).

Like Bethesda's "Elder Scrolls" series, "Fallout 3" allows players to make choices that impact the narrative itself. Under the guidance of gamers, the Vault Dweller can be as evil or kind as they please, wreaking terror throughout the Wasteland or making it a decidedly better place. The many choices allow for a varied experience and offers tons of replay value. IGN's review of the game specifically noted how well it's written, and that kind of creativity never really goes out of style.

  • Release Date: Oct. 28, 2008
  • Genre: FPS, RPG
  • Game Modes: Single-player
  • Metacritic Score: 93 (Xbox 360)

No Man's Sky

"No Man's Sky" is a rousing success story of a game that blew up years after it originally released. While the original package might not have offered everything gamer's wanted in a space exploration game, consistent updates from developer Hello Games have crafted the title into a finely tuned and immersive experience. Xbox Game Pass subscribers can take advantage of all those updates by picking up "No Man's Sky" as part of their subscription.

"No Man's Sky" encourages exploration, and players are mostly left up to their own devices in terms of plot. Gamers can work to get the fanciest ship in the sky, uncover alien civilizations, or hop from planet to planet and just take in the sights. It's up to players what they want to do with their time, and the game itself offers little direction. With that much freedom and the vastness of space at your fingertips, what is stopping you from hopping on a ship and setting sail amongst the stars?

  • Release Date: July 24, 2018
  • Genre: Open-world, action adventure
  • Game Modes: Single-player, Online multiplayer
  • Metacritic Score: 77 (Xbox One)

Tunic

"Tunic" is an action-RPG that looks an awful lot like a "Zelda" game, and in some ways they do share similarities. The game follows a cute fox armed only with a sword and vague instructions on where to go. From there, "Tunic" encourages players to explore and experience the world for themselves, with minimal guidance from supporting characters or signposts. The journey is full of puzzles and adorable enemies, but that doesn't mean that things will be easy.

In its review of "Tunic," PC Gamer noted that the game actually has more in common with FromSoftware's "Souls" series than any "Zelda" game. Upon death, players lose much of their loot and must track down their hovering spirit in order to regain their treasure. Without that treasure, buying powerful items and maneuvering through the increasingly difficult world is nearly impossible.

  • Release Date: March 16, 2022
  • Genre: Zelda-like, Platformer
  • Game Modes: Single-player
  • Metacritic Score: 85 (Xbox One)

Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion

"Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion" delivers what it promises in the title, but there's more to this game than a silly name. Players are the titular Turnip Boy, who wants nothing more than to avoid paying his taxes. Of course, the long arm of the law is always close behind, and Turnip Boy must work hard to stay out of trouble by solving puzzles, exploring, and even growing crops in order to pay back his massive debt to Mayor Onion.

In its review, The Xbox Hub noted that "Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion" runs somewhat like a clunkier "Legend of Zelda," but that its comedic timing and fun perspective still make it worth picking up – especially as part of the Xbox Game Pass subscription. After all, who doesn't want to be a mischievous turnip and terrorize cute vegetable townspeople?

  • Release Date: April 19, 2022
  • Genre: Action-adventure
  • Game modes: Single-Player
  • Metacritic Score: N/A

Umurangi Generation

"Umurangi Generation," one of the most unique indie titles available on Xbox Game Pass, is a photography simulator full of atmosphere. Players take up a camera and set out to complete increasingly difficult photo challenges. Finding the perfect angle takes finesse – and a lot of exploration – so players get a chance to soak in all the sights and sounds of a world in the throes of revolution.

As Eurogamer's review of "Umurangi Generation" explains, the game uses science fiction elements to explore a story that is very much relevant to contemporary gamers. The story unfolds from the perspective not just of the artist protagonist, but also their friends, a group of colorful punks who are always hanging around each level. Pair an engaging, subtle storyline with the ability to endlessly customize photographs with trippy lenses and effects, and "Umurangi Generation" becomes a must for Game Pass subscribers.

  • Release Date: May 17, 2022
  • Genre: Simulation
  • Game Modes: Single-Player
  • Metacritic Score: N/A

Unpacking

"Unpacking" might have made young fans hilariously misunderstand a piece of gaming history due to its inclusion of a GameCube in one level, but it's much more than a meme. In fact, "Unpacking" subtly tells the story of what it means to fit in and find a place for yourself as well as your things. The premise of "Unpacking" is simple enough: Players are an unnamed protagonist who must unpack their things in a series of homes over the years – from their childhood bedroom to a nursery for their new baby. The game doesn't offer much text to guide players through these life changes, but the items the protagonist must place offer insight into their life.

While "Unpacking" is a relatively short experience, it's a perfect relaxing afternoon play. IGN's review of the game specifically notes how well the game's sound design complements each aspect of unpacking. Clicks and clacks, paired with all the shuffling and soft thuds of the unpacking process, work together to bring the world to life, nicely adding an element of immersion to the whole experience.

  • Release Date: Nov. 2, 2021
  • Genre: Simulation, puzzle
  • Game modes: Single-Player
  • Metacritic Score: 81 (Xbox One)

A Way Out

Josef Fares is an infamous figure in the gaming world, but "A Way Out" showcases what he does best: co-op game experiences. He'd later go on to make the beloved "It Takes Two," but Fares' fascination with co-op games is readily apparent in "A Way Out." The game is exclusively co-op and follows Leo and Vincent, two criminals who attempt to break out of prison and find a way out, so to speak. Players take on the role of Vincent or Leo, who ultimately they must work together in order to orchestrate a successful escape.

While the story itself is an engaging way to spend time with a friend or loved one, "A Way Out" is also important for revolutionizing the way co-op games work. It's Friends Pass system allows gamers to connect online with only one copy of the game. Of course, good old fashioned couch co-op will work just fine as well.

  • Release Date: March 23, 2018
  • Genre: Action-adventure
  • Game Modes: Two-Player
  • Metacritic Score: 79 (Xbox One)