The 10 Must-Play Games That Make Xbox Game Pass Too Good to Be True

Thanks to the advent of digital online distribution, the world has access to more of everything compared to 20 years ago. Whether you’re talking music, movies, TV shows or books, the selection is overwhelming. But this is especially true for video games, which have benefitted more from this shift in shopping than any other medium.

Gone are the days of having to hit up small, specialty game shops to track down that obscure game you’ve been obsessing over, and instead you can just load up the online store on your console of choice and have access to any game you desire. But unlike other forms of entertainment, the price of games are high, and subscription services are nowhere to be found.

Well, they weren’t until Microsoft came along and gave us Xbox Game Pass, which is maybe the best value in video games right now.


What Is Xbox Game Pass?

Xbox Game Pass is a monthly, all-you-can-eat video game subscription service that lets you pay a monthly fee and download all of the available games you want (and there are nearly 400 of them). As long as you’re an active subscriber, you will have access to these games for as long as they’re available on the service.

Like Netflix or HBO Max, certain games will leave at the end of each month, but there will also be a new crop of games that are available to play, keeping things fresh for longtime subscribers.

Plans start at $9.99 a month, which will get you access to as many games as you want on the Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S consoles, or on PC (but not both). However, if you opt for the Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription, you’ll not only be able to play on both platforms, but you’ll also get access to Xbox Live Gold, which allows you play against people online, as well as the ability to stream games from the cloud to your phone via xCloud.


Xbox Game Pass
Starting at $9.99/month

While the bulk of the games are a few years old, or are smaller indie titles, there are also some very recent blockbuster releases here. So whether you’re trying to save a few bucks on that new game you can’t quite afford, you just want to catch up on some classics you can’t quite afford, or you love smaller indie games, there is plenty here to keep you entertained. Take a look at 10 of our must-play games from Xbox Game Pass below.


1. DOOM Eternal

DOOM has always been known for it’s fast-paced, over-the-top, technically brilliant gameplay that borders on absurdity, and 2020’s DOOM Eternal is no exception. Just like the franchise always has, this first-person shooter has you ripping through swaths of enemies with a wide array of weapons as a death metal soundtrack blares in the background. Learning how to best attack a map is the name of the game here, and it will take you run after run to expertly clear the stage, but that’s where the fun of DOOM lies.


DOOM: Eternal


2. The Witcher III

OK, so Cyberpunk 2077 might have come out of the oven not fully baked and infuriated a whole bunch of people, but CD Projekt Red’s previous title, The Witcher III, is still amazing and worth the 100+ hours you will dump into it as you roam the medieval lands as the monster hunter Geralt, who is searching for his missing daughter. Following its release in 2015, this game ended up on virtually every “end of year” list and took home a number of awards, including Game of the Year from The Game Awards. This version also includes the two subsequent expansions that were released, Hearts of Stone and Blood of Wine, which means you’ll have no shortage of things to do once you complete the main quest.


The Witcher III


3. VA-11 Hall-A

If high fantasy isn’t your thing and you want a Cyberpunk-themed game that isn’t completely broken (burn), VA-11 Hall-A is a recent entry to Xbox Game Pass that is decidedly less ambitious than Cyberpunk 2077, but well-crafted all the same. In this point-and-click adventure game, you assume the identity of a bartender living in a futuristic dystopia who is tasked with keeping patrons happy as they bare their souls. Part-drink mixing simulator and part-visual novel, this game pulls plenty of inspiration from games of the early ‘90s, while delivering a story that will hook you from the start.




4. Outer Wilds

Outer Wilds was not only one of the best games of 2019, but it also is one of the most unique games on this list. In this roguelite action-adventure game, you leave your home planet on a quest to go explore the mysteries of the planets around you, except there’s a catch: every 22 minutes, time resets and throws you in a Groundhog Day scenario where you venture out into space, It feels like a game that mixes the time mechanics of The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask with the gameplay of Metroid Prime, except there’s no fighting. Just quiet, low-key exploration that somehow manages to keep you on edge as you try to beat the clock and unlock new parts of the game.


Outer Wilds


5. Dragon Quest XI S : Echoes of an Elusive Age

One of the most beloved RPG series in Japan, the Dragon Quest franchise reached a new level of recognition in the US with the release of Dragon Quest XI over the past few years. Originally released on the Nintendo 3DS, and later remastered for the PS4 and Nintendo Switch, this is one of the best and biggest installments yet, set in a sprawling world full of intricately-designed environments to explore and an epic story where you and a crew of friends and allies work to eradicate evil from the land. And for the nostalgic gamers among us, there’s a mode that lets you switch to a retro-inspired 2D look to make you feel like you’re back in 1994.


Dragon Quest XI S


6. Forza Horizon 4

Racing games might not be as popular as they once were, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some great ones being produced. The Microsoft-developed Forza Horizon 4 is still one of the most visually beautiful games ever made for the Xbox One, with environments and lighting effects that make you feel like you’re looking at the real world. But when you combine that with amazing gameplay, endlessly customizable cars and an open-world approach to progressing through the game, it’s easily still one of the best games you can play on Xbox One Game Pass.


Forza Horizon 4


7. Monster Hunter: World

Monster Hunter has always had something of a cult following over the years, but it was the 2017 release of Monster Hunter: World that really put the franchise on the map (as evidenced by the fact that a live-action film is on the way in 2021). Much as the title suggests, this game is all about tracking down large, mythical beasts, and whether you’re running solo or working with others online, your job is to bring them down. But while Monster Hunter games are simple in concept, this game is about more than just spamming the attack button. You must prepare ahead of time with the correct items and load-outs, level up your character through training, and devise a strategy to take out the monster once you actually find it.


Monster Hunter: World


8. Ori and the Will of the Wisps

If the last generation of gaming confirmed anything, it’s that there’s still room for invention and innovation when it comes to 2D platformers. Ori and the Will of the Wisps may have a whimsical look, but this Metroidvania combines hard-as-nails platforming with customizable load-outs that will keep you engaged as you explore the hub worlds and engage in epic boss battles as its excellent story unfolds.


Ori and the Will of the Wisps


9. Tetris Effect: Connected

Just when you start to think that everything that could possibly be done with Tetris has been done, a new spin on the game pops up that forces you to reconsider that stance. Tetris Effect: Connected is one of those games, and its psychedelic approach to the puzzle franchise not only breathes new life into a game that has been around since 1985 but stands out as one of the best iterations yet. As you clear line after line, the visuals progressively melt in time with the music, producing a euphoric light show that’s meant to evoke an experience similar to synesthesia. Naturally, words can’t do it justice, but with Xbox Live Game Pass, you can try it out for yourself, and play online with (or against) others for the mere cost of a monthly subscription.


Tetris Effect: Connected


10. NHL ‘94

The heyday of hockey video games definitely peaked in the ‘90s, and there is arguably no game more emblematic of that era than NHL ‘94, which was made in the era of greats such as Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux. While you may not get the advanced controls and 3D graphics that you’d expect from a modern sports game, there’s a certain retro charm to controlling a bunch of 16-bit sprites knocking a puck back and forth across the ice, and it’s even better when you play with a friend.


NHL '94


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