Like a kid in a candy store
Xbox Game Pass is like walking into a candy store. There are so many different options to choose from when it comes to its game selection, and some of the best games on Xbox Game Pass can be hard to spot.
Some need acquired tastes like licorice (It Takes Two) while many others will enjoy a beloved, comfortable chocolate bar (Minecraft). However, there is at least one sweet game you’ll enjoy with the service. Here are the 10 best games on Xbox Game Pass right now.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition
Those seeking adventure should look towards The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. This (take a deep breath) 12-year-old game (breathe out) still has a fervent fanbase, and is still played to this day for good reason. There are many weapons, armor, spells, and even dragon shouts to find across the open world. There are also branching side quests that in and of themselves have deep, fascinating stories and characters behind them. You should take an arrow in the knee in this game and explore the grand landscapes of Skyrim with Xbox Game Pass. The Special Edition also comes with all of the DLC.
Forza Horizon 5
The best open-world racing game is easily Forza Horizon 5. Each car is incredibly detailed, the scenery of Mexico’s various biomes is glorious, and it’s fun to race around each corner and stretch in the game. There are a bunch of challenges throughout the open world map, and you can find abandoned cars in warehouses and farmhouses ready to be restored. The customization system is also in-depth, and you can even download designs from other players around the world. Forza Horizon 5 is one of the best games on Xbox Game Pass right now just from how expansive and entertaining the racing is.
In my opinion, Halo Infinite gets way too much flak. This entry was my first step into the series, and I was floored by this sci-fi experience. Each weapon in Master Chief’s arsenal feels powerful, but in the frantic first-person shooter levels, you’re scrounging for whatever you can find, adding to the tension of battle. Finding improved weapons from the tough bosses you kill in the open world is gratifying, and the world itself truly grabbed me. The storyline with Master Chief saving the UNSC and the world on the brink is also thrilling to experience. The multiplayer, to me, feels dated with tired map design and modes, but the single-player campaign is the main attraction.
Hi-Fi Rush is one of the best Xbox exclusives in years. It combines thrilling action combat with engaging music rhythm gameplay to create a unique melee-focused experience. You play as a unique, clumsy protagonist, trying to save the day from Vandelay Technologies’ evil leader. The slapstick is on point, and the script is laugh-out-loud hilarious. The action is also fantastic as you switch between the powers of your allies and string together combos on your foes. You also can’t forget the stand-out music selection in Hi-Fi Rush with rock hits from Nine Inch Nails, The Prodigy, and The Black Keys. Hopefully, we get a Hi-Fi Rush sequel in the future.
It Takes Two
It Takes Two is my favorite co-op game, period. In fact, you can’t even play the game without a friend or family member playing along. The mechanics of It Takes Two are impressive as each character has a different tool set that you don’t think would blend well together but does. Each level is imaginative as you play as shrunk-down parents going through the locales of a family home. At one point, you’re in a stunning wintry landscape inside a snow globe, while the next has them exploring a greenhouse that’s near and dear to one of the protagonists Cody. The platforming is spectacular, and the bosses are thoroughly designed to make your brain ponder. The graphics are impressive, as it takes you from one interesting biome to the next, each with its own eye-opening cinematic moment.
Mass Effect: Legendary Edition
The original Mass Effect trilogy was groundbreaking for its time and still stands as a strong narrative experience. This sci-fi trilogy from BioWare has an engaging storyline, outstanding voice performances, and the option to make big decisions along the way. You’ll grow attached to almost every character as they have nuance and depth; you’ll grow a bond as you finish their specific side quests and find more about their background and current situation.
One traumatic event for a character is about deciding the future of an entire species; to quote the sci-fi film Back To the Future, “This is heavy.” The ending mission of Mass Effect 2 is still memorable to this day as there are real life and death decisions around your crew that are made. Despite Commander Shepard’s awful dancing, there’s a lot to like in the Mass Effect trilogy. Your choices felt like they really matter, and BioWare created such an exciting franchise because of its branching story paths. It’s the Star Trek game that CBS wishes it could make.
There’s not much else to be said about Minecraft but I’ll try my best. It’s a worldwide phenomenon for a reason as it allows players to build their own structures, craft their own items, and explore a randomly generated world. Building with your friends is a lot of fun, and many players have created amazing buildings throughout the years like Hogwarts from Harry Potter. Someone even made a working 3D graphing calculator. This game is great for kids, as it lets them show their creative side and figure out how to build materials in the game. Despite existing for over a decade, the game is still getting updates and DLC based on Mega Man X and SpongeBob SquarePants.
Monster Hunter Rise
After many years of struggling to get into the series, Monster Hunter Rise finally got me on the saddle. Alongside your friends, you’re taking down monstrous beasts, collecting their materials, fur, etc, and then crafting incredible gear for your player. It’s a rewarding game loop that keeps you playing for hours on end. There’s a strategy to each battle, and you need to keep your wits about you to survive in some of these encounters. What made Monster Hunter Rise click with me is the new maneuverability of the wirebugs that let you zip from place to place like Indiana Jones’ whip. You can also mount your pet palamute, letting you get to the battle quicker. It’s one of the best games on Xbox Game Pass because of how gratifying collecting resources and physically seeing your character getting stronger is.
Persona 5 Royal
Want a game that will entertain you for over 100 hours? Persona 5 Royal is that. This turn-based RPG is a more mature take on the Pokemon series as you capture demons and turn them into personas, using them for special moves in battle. There are many spells and abilities to master as you proceed through well-crafted dungeons called palaces. The story is also exceptional as it dives deep into current topics like the power of social media and how it can be a force for good or evil.
But there’s more to the game than the turn-based battles. You’re getting to know the Phantom Thieves and other classmates from your school through the Social Link system, playing mini-games, and improving your character’s stats and cash reserves with jobs and working out. If you haven’t checked out the game before, you should know Persona 5 Royal is a must-play on Xbox Game Pass.
Finally, there’s Psychonauts 2. It’s a strange 3D platformer that has your character Raz use psychic powers to proceed through the weird mind-worlds of whoever’s mind he enters. The visuals really pop on screen with its Tim Burton-esque, yet colorful look. The game also finds a way to keep introducing new mechanics to the player with all sorts of psychic abilities like fire and levitation, among others. The platforming segments are highly entertaining through the very end of the game. The script is also charming as the nerdy Raz struggles to fit in with the other Psychonauts recruits.
Chris is a freelance writer for multiple outlets, including Destructoid! He loves narrative games like Kingdom Hearts, Life is Strange, and Beyond Good & Evil. However, he does enjoy Fortnite and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate from time to time.