2022 was yet another banner year for Microsoft’s Game Pass subscription service, and only one month into 2023, that trend shows no signs of slowing down.
Atlus’ JRPG classics Persona 4 Golden and Persona 3 Portable made their debut on Xbox consoles, and Tango Gameworks’ surprise release Hi-Fi Rush told a cathartic rock n’ roll story at just the right time. What’s more, GoldenEye 007 has reemerged, filling a strongly felt absence in Rare Replay Collection. That’s a lot of “free” video gaming to be done!
With the sheer size and the bounty of choice it offers, Game Pass can be a bit overwhelming to digest. But we’re here to help. Here are the 29 PC and Xbox Game Pass games that you should be checking out if you subscribe to Microsoft’s flagship service.
[Ed. note: This list was last updated on Jan. 27, 2023. It will be updated as new games come to the service.]
Rhythm games, for players who prefer to shoot, dodge, punch, and jump on their own time, can be a tough sell. But such is not the case with Hi-Fi Rush, the action game from Ghostwire: Tokyo developer Tango Gameworks. It provides an array of visual cues to help rhythmically challenged players, but crucially, it doesn’t require that protagonist Chai attacks according to the game’s metronome. Instead, its rhythm elements are an optional layer to interact with, offering score chasers something to aspire to. For everyone else, the game’s vibrant world, rock n’ roll storytelling, and entrancing traversal stand well enough on their own. It’s a cathartic triumph of a game. —Mike Mahardy
Hi-Fi Rush is available via Game Pass on Windows PC and Xbox Series X.
For as good as the original Resident Evil games are, they’ve been hard to recommend for a couple decades now. Their fixed camera angles, intimate locales, and focus on survival made for a palpable sense of dread, but their cumbersome control schemes and opaque, often infuriating puzzle structure can make all but the most patient modern players quit. They hold a special place in my heart, and I’ve devoured their numerous remakes and remasters whenever they see the light of day. But let’s face it: They’re outdated.
Signalis, on the other hand, is brand-new, and it shows. Its controls are (mostly) smooth; its puzzles are intuitive; it’s downright eerie. It puts you in the robotic shoes of a reawakened android as she searches for her counterpart in a wintry, forsaken base. Ammo is limited and deranged enemies won’t hesitate to rush you with butcher knives. Its unforgiving atmosphere and PlayStation 1-era graphics belie a modern, clever approach to one of our most revered — and intense – genres. —Mike Mahardy
Signalis is available on Windows PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X via Game Pass.
A Plague Tale: Requiem
Video games have an endless fascination with protectors. Whether it be a man escorting his proxy daughter through an apocalyptic America, a father guiding his son through the trials of mythical Armageddon, or a government agent sent to retrieve the president’s daughter from a remote Spanish village, this is a medium obsessed with those who have been deemed guardians. And despite the pedigree of the above examples, I have encountered few “escort” stories as stunning as that of A Plague Tale: Requiem.
Set shortly after A Plague Tale: Innocence, Requiem finds protagonist Amicia and her younger brother Hugo during a brief reprieve from the Macula, the sinister plague that gives Hugo vicious powers, but is also eating him from the inside. The respite comes to an end, of course, propelling the duo on a journey across the French countryside, through rat-infested tunnels, and across the rooftops of plague-ridden slums. Pacing is crucial in third-person adventures, and Requiem’s expert flow of puzzles, stealth sequences, horrifying set-pieces, and brutal combat scenarios is pacing at its best. —Mike Mahardy
A Plague Tale: Requiem is available on Windows PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X via Game Pass.
Persona 5 Royal
Persona 5 Royal takes one of the best and longest JRPGs of the past decade and tacks another major story chapter on the end. Normally, the idea of spending another 20+ hours in a game that already takes 100+ hours would sound like nightmare, but with Persona it’s more like that one time your parents were two hours late to pick you up at a friend’s house.
Royal adds a new Phantom Thief for you to battle alongside. But in typically Persona fashion, that new party member doesn’t matter nearly as much as the relationship they come with it. An extra 20 hours in Royal is another 20 hours spent getting to know your best friends, a great cast of beloved characters that act as both confidant and turn-based chess pieces. And, of course, there are new non-combat friends to make as well, all of which feel just as fleshed out as the original cast.
Persona 5 is already an excellent RPG filled with awesome dungeons and a delightful story. But it’s also that rare breed of game that never feels like too much, even as it balloons to multiple days worth of in-game time. So it’s no surprise that Royal makes a great game even better by simply adding more. —Ryan Gilliam
Persona 5 Royal is available on Windows PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X via Game Pass.
Tinykin is one of the best collect-a-thon platformers since the golden age of the Nintendo 64.
You play as a young astronaut, of sorts, who is trapped inside a normal human house. The catch here is that you’re only about the size of an ant, and you use even smaller creatures called Tinykin to help you get around.
As you adventure through the house you’ll command your Tinykin to help complete various tasks, like creating a disco bathtub rave for some resident bugs, rescuing a small critter from inside a piano, or baking a delicious treat with a host of hard-to-find ingredients. Each type of Tinykin has a unique function, and it’s your job to solve puzzles with their variety of skills.
If this sounds reminiscent of Nintendo’s Pikmin series, that’s because it is. But unlike Pikmin, there is no combat in Tinykin, which allows you to focus entirely on exploration and collectibles. —Ryan Gilliam
It’s one of the most peaceful games you can pick up on Game Pass, and one of the best games of 2022.
Tinykin is available on Windows PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X via Game Pass.
PowerWash Simulator is the perfect game to sit on your couch and space off to. As the name suggests, you’re a professional power washer, and your job is to use your washing tools to obliterate grease, grime, and goop off of vehicles, buildings, and even entire playgrounds.
There are some minor upgrade and currency systems, but PowerWash Simulator mostly takes a minimalistic approach — you power wash stuff, no more, no less. Sure, you can take special jobs where you wash something wild like a Mars rover, but it’s really just about making things clean. And while it might sound like boring yard work, it’s actually quite meditative.
Blasting the black film off of a colorful slide provided me with one of the biggest serotonin bursts I’ve gotten from any piece of media in years. It’s a delightful, peaceful game that never fails to relax me after a long week. —Ryan Gilliam
PowerWash Simulator is available via Game Pass on Windows PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X.
Watch Dogs 2
Watch Dogs 2 isn’t just the best installment in Ubisoft’s Watch Dogs trilogy, it’s one of the best open-world games the studio has put out in years.
Watch Dogs 2 takes you to San Francisco and puts you in the shoes of Marcus Holloway, a hacker who works with a hacktivist group called DedSec. You’ll use your drone and RC car to hack things from a distance, or sneak around and remote hack objects with your phone. And when things get too dangerous, you can pull out your stun gun or eight-ball-on-a-rope to deal some serious damage.
Watch Dogs 2’s writing doesn’t always do it any favors when it tries to get serious or make a point about the dystopian police-state future its characters were dreading living in, but its heroes add enough character to the game that even the idiot in the emoji-eyes helmet is lovable. —Ryan Gilliam
Watch Dogs 2 is available via Game Pass on Windows PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge is already a classic Turtles brawler. If you could’ve overheard bunch of kids talking about their dream TMNT game while playing the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles arcade cabinet at a local pizza bar in 1989, or Turtles in Time in 1991, this is the Turtles game they’d be imagining.
But over 30 years later, Shredder’s Revenge implements some features that distinguish it from the days of the coin operated arcade. There’s a world map, side-quests, new heroes, experience points, and online matchmaking that help modernize the throwback trappings. Shredder’s Revenge manages to balance itself nicely between the world of retro and revamp.
With only 16 “episodes,” it’s the perfect Game Pass game to jump into with some pals at a sleepover — as long as there’s pizza, of course. —Ryan Gilliam
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge is available via Game Pass on Windows PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X.
Assassin’s Creed Origins
Assassin’s Creed Origins has always been good — but it was only in hindsight, three years after its release, that I began to consider it great.
It’s a phenomenal concoction of historical tourism, sci-fi storytelling, and open-ended combat. It also displays a confidence that the more recent Assassin’s Creed Odyssey and Assassin’s Creed Valhalla can only partially match. Whereas the two most recent entries embrace the insecure ethos of “content” that has so defined the last decade of open-world games, Origins is content to leave vast swaths of its world empty and to let things burn slowly, in ways both narrative and explorative. Its map unfurls over deserts, mountains, oases, and sun-swept cities slowly being buried in sand, all while its two central figures (Bayek and Aya) navigate one of video games’ most compelling romances. It’s not completely averse to daily challenges and cosmetic DLC packs. But it’s the rare open-world game that trusts my attention span. It understands that pastoral beauty and tragic storytelling, successfully interwoven, are worth more than any number of distractions its successors can throw at me. —Mike Mahardy
Assassin’s Creed Origins is available via Game Pass on Windows PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X.
Citizen Sleeper is a hyper-stylized tabletop-like RPG set in space. In a capitalist society, you find yourself stuck on a space station. You’ll need to manage your time, energy, and relationships to survive the collapse of the corporatocracy and the anarchy that follows. You’ll roll dice and make decisions to get paid and help those around you.
Aside from its interesting setting, Citizen Sleeper making features a vibrant cast of impactful characters, making each interaction memorable. It follows an excellent trend of table-top inspired games to encourage you to find your own objectives, and to revel in the story when things fall apart. It’s packed with tense decisions, great writing, and striking visuals. —Ryan Gilliam
Citizen Sleeper is available via Game Pass on Windows PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X.
Umurangi Generation is a photography game set in the “shitty future.” Players can go around taking pictures of the environment, and pick up on story beats by observing their surroundings in a melancholy city.
Taking pictures of the game’s bizarre but intriguing art style keeps the game interesting, but it’s the story and setting that makes Umurangi Generation memorable. It’s set in a city that’s occupied by militarized mechs sent by the government. As a photographer, you’re taking pictures with friends, yes, but also documenting a brutal future about resistance, oppression, and an epidemic.
It’s beautifully done, and hits close to home with its biting social commentary. —Ryan Gilliam
Umurangi Generation is available via Game Pass on Windows PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X.
Vampire Survivors wants you to “become the bullet hell.”
The only control you have over the game is what character you select, what items you choose during your run, and where your character moves. Depending on your weapons of choice, knives, whips, flames, magic bolts, bibles, or holy water fly out of your character in every direction, decimating hordes or pixelated movie monsters, earning you cash for your next adventure.
Though extremely simple on its face, Vampire Survivors is one of the best games of 2022. It perfectly walks the line between peaceful and stressful, requiring the perfect amount of attention for success. It also facilitates growth through skill and through roguelite progression, ensuring that each run is a bit different from your last. —Ryan Gilliam
Vampire Survivors is available via Game Pass on Windows PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X.
Halo: The Master Chief Collection
The Xbox brand might never have taken off without the Halo series, the first-person shooters that helped to popularize local competitive multiplayer on consoles before taking the party online after the launch of Xbox Live. The Master Chief Collection package includes multiple Halo games, all of which have been updated to keep them enjoyable for modern audiences.
But what’s so striking about the collection is how many ways there are to play. You can go through the campaigns by yourself. If you want to play with a friend but don’t want to compete, there is co-op, allowing you to share the games’ stories with a partner, either online or through split-screen play. If you do want to compete, you can do it locally against up to three other players on the same TV, or take things online to challenge the wider community.
These are some of the best first-person shooters ever released, and they’re worth revisiting and enjoying, no matter how you decide to play them. Sharing these games with my children through local co-op has been an amazing journey, and this package includes so many games, each of which is filled with different modes and options. It’s hard to imagine ever getting bored or uninstalling the collection once it’s on your hard drive.
This is a part of gaming history that continues to feel relevant, and very much alive. —Ben Kuchera
Halo: The Master Chief Collection is available via Game Pass on Windows PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X.
Slay the Spire
In Slay the Spire, I play as one of three unique characters, in order to fight my way through a randomly generated map filled with battles, treasure chests, and RPG-like encounters. Combat is similar to that of a turn-based RPG, but instead of selecting attacks and spells from a menu, I draw cards from each character’s specific pool of cards. These cards allow me to attack, defend, cast spells, or use special abilities. Each character has their own set of cards, making their play styles radically different.
I also learned to buck my expectations for the kinds of decks I should build. The key to deck-building games is constructing a thematic deck where each card complements the others. In card games like Magic: The Gathering, this is easy enough to do, since you do all your planning before a match — not in the moment, like in Slay the Spire. Since I’m given a random set of cards to build a deck from at the end of each encounter, I can’t go into any run with a certain deck-building goal in mind. I have to quickly decide on long-term deck designs based on what cards are available to me after a battle. The trick with Slay the Spire is to think more creatively and proactively than the typical card game requires. —Jeff Ramos
Slay the Spire is available via Game Pass on Windows PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X.
Among Us was originally released in 2018, but it took the events of 2020 to make it a phenomenon. You can play with up to 10 players, running around each level trying to finish tasks while an imposter (or several) tries to kill everyone else without being found out. It’s basically a goofy take on The Thing, but weaponized as a social game with multiple levels of strategy. How the imposter tries to get away with it, and talk their way out of it when emergency meetings are called, is half the fun.
There’s something amazing about the idea that there are so many games out there, so many titles across so many platforms, that the near-perfect game for every situation seems to already exist … somewhere. In this case, it was found and rescued from relative obscurity, and there’s even a free-to-play iOS and Android version that can connect with PC players if you want to get a crew together.
The thought of all those hidden gems, just waiting to be given a second chance, is comforting in a time when so many people are finding it hard to continue to be creative, or have hope at all.
Among Us helped show us that relief may come from unexpected places, and the game has been keeping players occupied, and laughing, ever since it took off in the summer of 2020. —Ben Kuchera
Among Us is available via Game Pass on Windows PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X.
Tetris Effect: Connected
Tetris Effect: Connected is another game that offers so many ways to play, and it’s also one that’s easy to match with folks who might be intimidated by most other games.
The core game is pure Tetris: Flip the pieces, create solid horizontal lines across the board, and watch them disappear as you try to deal with the falling shapes before your tower reaches the top. But the campaign brings in beautiful music and pulsing, shifting visual effects that help bring the experience to new heights of relaxation and satisfaction. It’s Tetris with a pulse, both literally and figuratively.
This version of the game comes with a suite of online modes so you can play with or against others to prove your skill or practice your fundamentals. You can play purely for the relaxation of the music and visuals if you’d like, or you can adjust the game’s options until the experience is pared down to pure ability and reaction time. How you play, and what you get out of it, is up to you. Tetris Effect: Connected is a platform as much as a single game, giving you many ways of enjoying one of the best puzzle games ever created.
Tetris Effect: Connected can show off what your home theater can do in terms of image quality and sound system, sure, but it also teaches that truly inspired game design doesn’t have an expiration date. There may be better versions of Tetris released in the future, but it’s going to be hard to top this one. —Ben Kuchera
Tetris Effect: Connected is available via Game Pass on Windows PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X.
Minecraft is a game in which everything looks like it’s made out of large, square blocks, and you can harvest materials and use them to build whatever you’d like out of those blocks.
There isn’t much left to say about Minecraft that hasn’t already been said, but the game remains popular online, and it has the ability to keep my children occupied in a way no other game can match, in my experience. They ignore the survival mode and go straight for creative, treating it like a split-screen world in which they can build anything they’d like, without worrying about whether they’re going to run out of Lego bricks.
It’s a game that can be meditative when played alone and social when shared with others, and there are mountains of user-created content to sift through and explore. Like the rest of the games on this list, Minecraft is very easy to get into, but you may find it tricky to leave. —Ben Kuchera
Minecraft is available via Game Pass on Windows PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X.
Stardew Valley is quaint, but in the best way possible.
You start the game by inheriting a farm from your grandfather, and you then move to a sleepy town to take over the diminishing acres. For the next 10, 20, 50, 100-plus hours, you work to turn that farm into a modern utopia.
This is easily the most relaxing game on Game Pass. All you do is plant seeds, care for animals, mine some rocks, and befriend the villagers. There’s plenty of drama to be had — with the Wal-Mart-like JojaMart and an army of slimes trying to stop you from mining — but at the end of the day, you’re still going to pass out in your farmhouse and get ready to plant more strawberries the next morning. —Ryan Gilliam
Stardew Valley is available via Game Pass on Windows PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X.
Age of Empires 4
Age of Empires 4 serves as a reminder of what came before. It’s a classic real-time strategy game on PC that pits historic empires against one another. It has several campaigns, narrated like history documentaries, as well as online skirmishes so you can battle against friends.
But there are loads of other historic RTS games out there. What makes Age of Empires 4 special is that it came out in 2021. It’s a game designed to remind players what they loved about RTS games when they were all the rage over a decade ago, but it trades out aged sprites for glorious visuals and smooth performance. —Ryan Gilliam
Age of Empires 4 is available via Game Pass on Windows PC.
Nobody Saves the World
Nobody Saves the World is a delightful RPG from DrinkBox Studios, the indie team behind the Guacamelee games. You play as a bizarre, white husk with the unique ability to transform into a variety of creatures. By completing quests, you’ll improve the forms you have and unlock even more.
Nobody Saves the World is weird and funny. It’s silly and colorful. And it’s got an excellent gameplay loop. Each form plays differently, and you can use abilities and bonuses from other forms to further customize your playstyle. You’ll need to experiment to find wacky ability combinations and defeat enemies or solve puzzles.
DrinkBox has built something really special with Nobody Saves the World, and it’s the perfect Game Pass game to pick up for a weekend. —Ryan Gilliam
Nobody Saves the World is available via Game Pass on Windows PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X.
2016’s Doom builds off of one of the oldest franchises in gaming history with speed, acrobatics, and an absolutely killer soundtrack. Doomguy moves extremely quickly, swapping between a variety of guns, grenades, melee attacks, and a giant chainsaw to blow up demons off of Mars.
The game is bloody, metal as hell, and surprisingly funny. Doom makes you feel like a god, capable of clearing any hurdle the game could throw at you, and it doesn’t offer a single dull level in its lengthy campaign. —Ryan Gilliam
Doom (2016) is available via Game Pass on Xbox One and Xbox Series X.
Mass Effect Legendary Edition
The Mass Effect franchise was gigantic for the Xbox 360 era, but it didn’t transfer to future platforms well — purchasing and downloading the entire story became confusing and expensive when moving to the Xbox One and Xbox Series X. But 2021’s Legendary Edition finally made the entire Mass Effect trilogy accessible in one package.
The story follows Commander Shepard, a futuristic military hero, who’s tasked with gathering a collection of alien misfits for a variety of missions. Each game is wonderfully crafted, with stand-alone stories and breakout characters that don’t rely on the series’ wider narrative. As a trilogy, the games build on each other with meaningful choices that carry over to the next entry, giving weight to your choices.
The Legendary Edition is the way to experience Mass Effect, and it’s a must-play whether you’re on your first run to save the galaxy or your fifth. —Ryan Gilliam
Mass Effect Legendary Edition is available via Game Pass on Windows PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X.
Spelunky 2 is the follow-up to one of the most beloved roguelikes ever made. The sequel is still a treasure-seeking, ultra-hard adventure, but takes place on the moon instead of on Earth. You’ll run through a variety of biomes nabbing treasure, whipping enemies, and trying not to get killed by a variety of traps.
Spelunky is hard, and its very sensitive controls can be hard to get used to. But those two aspects of the game come together to form a satisfying loop that punishes the player as often as it rewards them. Those moments of success make you feel like you’re getting away with something — like Indiana Jones sliding under a door in the nick of time, but still managing to grab his hat. —Ryan Gilliam
Spelunky 2 is available via Game Pass on Windows PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X.
Outer Wilds is a giant mystery, and the less that’s said about it, the better.
The gist is that your small solar system ends and restarts every 22 minutes. Your job is to discover why that’s happening, and put the clues together so you can attempt to stop it.
Outer Wilds is a game all about information gathering. There are no experience points or combat, only knowledge. But that knowledge will propel you to bizarre and interesting places. And once you’re finally done, you’ll wish you could erase it all from your memory and play it again. —Ryan Gilliam
Outer Wilds is available via Game Pass on Windows PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X.
The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim Special Edition
The Elder Scrolls 5, better known as just Skyrim, is a classic. And while you can play it on almost any console or device known to humankind at this point, it’s still worth playing on Game Pass if you’ve never given it a chance, or are just craving another journey in its sprawling world.
Like most Bethesda RPGs, Skyrim is a first-person game with a giant, living world. There are dungeons to crawl, stories to uncover, and a variety of guilds to join. But you can also go off the beaten path and discover your own fun in Skyrim — it rewards you for being curious. It’s the kind of Game Pass game that you can play for hundreds of hours and never get bored. —Ryan Gilliam
The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim Special Edition is available via Game Pass on Windows PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X.
Forza Horizon 5
Forza Horizon 5 is the latest racing game to land on Xbox and Game Pass. It’s a visual feast filled with some of the most realistic-looking cars you’ve ever seen. But anyone who loves any of these Forza games will tell you that the Horizon series is so much more than its graphics.
Horizon 5 takes place in a fictionalized Mexico, and gives you the freedom to drive around a massive map in whatever car you want. You can drive a nice sports car while off-roading, or drive a hummer off a massive ramp.
Forza Horizon 5 gives you the freedom and choice to drive how and where you want inside a legion of incredible cars. —Ryan Gilliam
Forza Horizon 5 is available via Game Pass on Windows PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X.
Hitman World of Assassination
Hitman, Hitman 2, and Hitman 3 are some of the best sandbox puzzle games ever made. As Agent 47, you’ll climb buildings, sneak around parties, and murder spies and debutantes with all manner of tools. Hitman World of Assassination includes the campaigns from all three of the games in IO Interactive’s recent World of Assassination trilogy, giving you more than a dozen maps to play on. Just last week, it also added Freelancer mode, which functions like a roguelike as Agent 47 kills his way through four major crime syndicates, fleshing out his safehouse as he goes.
The Hitman series may be about violence and murder, but it manages to stay lighthearted and fun with its wild physics and silly scenarios. It’s the perfect series to goof around in if you feel like being stealthy, or just want to see what happens when you drop a giant chandelier on a crowd of snobby jerks. —Ryan Gilliam
Hitman Trilogy is available via Game Pass on Windows PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X.
Death’s Door is a cute little Soulslike game. You play as a raven who works as a kind of grim reaper for the bureaucratic arm of the afterlife. It’s your job to adventure in the world and claim the lives of a handful of bosses. The world of Death’s Door is charming, as are its characters, with excellent dungeons to explore and puzzles to solve. There are also giant enemies who will test both your skills and patience.
Still, Death’s Door has a friendly air around it. It wants you to succeed, and does a nice job easing you along with easy-to-read enemy and boss patterns. It’s a great, challenging Game Pass game to cut your teeth on before venturing into even more difficult titles. —Ryan Gilliam
Death’s Door is available via Game Pass on Windows PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X.
Guardians of the Galaxy
Guardians of the Galaxy is a game that shouldn’t work at all. But in a world saturated with Marvel content and already popular versions of these characters, Guardians of the Galaxy manages to tell a heartfelt story that gives each Guardian plenty of space to breathe.
As an action game, Guardians of the Galaxy is fun enough, letting you fly through the air on Star Lord’s jet boots and shoot your iconic double pistols. However, just like the story, the game shines most when the team is all working together. As Star Lord, you can command Drax to stun an enemy, or Rocket to blow up an entire group.
Guardians of the Galaxy succeeds over other group-based Marvel games because it gives you a single player experience that’s still focused on friends. In combat and in conversation, every member of the Guardians has a part to play, and it makes for one of the most memorable comic book games out there. —Ryan Gilliam
Guardians of the Galaxy is available via Game Pass on Windows PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X.