A real bargain (starting at just £ 7.99 a month), Xbox Game Pass is essentially Microsoft’s version of Netflix for video games – you get access to dozens of Xbox and / or PC titles for a fixed subscription fee.
With hundreds of titles on offer, deciding which to download first can be a bit tricky. Dozens of new titles have been added just recently, thanks to the addition of EA Play and nearly the entire Bethesda library. Do you go for a triple-A blockbuster that depletes the GPU or do you go for a groundbreaking indie title? We’ve picked our must-have favorites from the available selection to get you started.
Possibly the best game of 2020, this action rogue sees you take control of the god Zagreus (the rebellious son of Hades, ruler of the underworld) as he tries to escape the domain of his father and track down the mother he never knew. Starring a whole pantheon of Greek gods, mythical monsters, and legendary heroes, the game’s sleek systems, breakneck pace, range of weapon options, and procedurally generated levels mean no two escape races are alike, while your game’s Cracked writing and his soft, smooth approach to storytelling make your downtime between these attempts really meaningful. An essential game for any video game lover.
One of the best things about Game Pass is that it encourages you to play games that you might not buy, and maybe you shouldn’t even buy. 12 Minutes is a perfect example: despite its cunning conceit (you play a man trapped within a terrifying time cycle that restarts if he dies or leaves his tiny apartment) and the all-star cast (James McAvoy, Daisy Ridley, and Willem Dafoe providing the voices), it’s a game that you would probably be disappointed in if you had spent £ 20 on it. It’s short, repetitive, a bit complicated on the technical front and the talent of the actors feels somewhat wasted. In Game Pass, however, you can spend a couple of hours playing it, enjoy the suspenseful and pulpy qualities of it, and then quickly forget about it – no harm, no fail.
A full-blown sequel to the underrated (or perhaps underrated) 2005 debut release of Double Fine, this 3D platformer lets you delve into the psyche of the characters, creating not only engaging and inventive gameplay mechanics, rather, it allows developers to explore mental health and psychology topics in a genuinely new way. Generous, fun, and heartfelt, this is another great Game Pass day one release, and it serves as a real credit to the platform and concept.
This deceptively simple dungeon crawler sees you fight through increasingly challenging procedurally generated rooms in an effort to find the legendary weapon that can kill his past. With beautiful retro pixelated graphics and an easy double-lever shooter approach, it’s easy to learn but hard to master. The rogue design (the level design, bosses, and rewards are largely random, so each tour of the Gungeon is unique) keeps it infinitely playable with a strong “just one more try” vibe that will make you Fly into the wee hours of the morning in search of that perfect combination of weapons and equipment that will allow you to progress to the end.
Possibly the best racing game ever committed to code, Forza Horizon’s fourth game should be one of your first Game Pass downloads, even if you have absolutely no interest in cars. Unlike Forza Motorsport, its sister series, always with a bit of a face, Horizon games expertly combine perfectly tuned driving with arcade excitement in a massive open world, where you can compete with other drivers, try to beat your best times and become a stunt double. And in Horizon 4, you can explore the best of Britain’s hills, historic towns and torrential rains. Simply put, until you’ve traversed the Lake District in a garishly decorated Ferrari and terrifying flocks of sheep as you move around corners, you’re missing out on the best that Xbox and PC games have to offer.