Gaming

The Best Games On Xbox Game Pass (January 2024)

Microsoft’s Game Pass service is easily worth the price of admission. Many might balk at the concept of having their video game library locked behind a subscription service, but the fact is subscribers get access to an incredible selection of titles spanning from indie darlings to triple-A blockbusters for a surprisingly affordable monthly fee.


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Xbox Game Pass: How To Subscribe And What Games Are Available

Xbox Game Pass packs a lot of value into its subscription model — here are all the details you need to know, from price to recently added games.

With such a dizzying array of fantastic titles on display, it can be a daunting task deciding which ones are worth a player’s time. Given that the cost of entry is taken care of with the subscription fee, the most pressing matter is determining the best use of your hard drive space. Thankfully, the diamonds of this collection are readily apparent. Here’s a look at the greatest games that Xbox Game Pass has to offer.

The selections listed here will include games available on EA Play, which is included with a subscription to Game Pass Ultimate.


Halo: The Master Chief Collection

The Rookie from ODST, Master Chief in Halo CE, Noble Six in Reach

The adventures of the Master Chief have never been as accessible as they are in the Master Chief Collection. This gathering of Halo games is the definitive collection of 343 Industries’ endeavors to immortalize the series. Not only is every mainline Halo game (not counting Halo 5: Guardians) included, but the fantastic Halo 3: ODST and Halo: Reach were added as well.

From beloved campaign co-op to thrilling Firefight matches to iconic multiplayer modes, the Master Chief Collection has it all. Anyone who thinks of themselves as a Halo fan should consider it a must-play from Xbox Game Pass. And for those who have never completed the Master Chief’s saga, there is no better way to finish the fight.

Rollerdrome

rollerdrome player jumping at the enemy

Rollerdrome

Genre(s)
Third-Person Shooter

How Long To Beat
5 Hours

X|S Enhanced
Yes

File Size Xbox Series
4 GB (January 2024)

If you’ve ever wanted a mix of Doom Eternal’s frenetic gunplay with the combo-stacking tricks of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, Rollerdrome was made for you. It’s a concept only geniuses could come up with, and that’s exactly what Roll7 are. The developers behind Rollerdrome knew what alchemical awesomeness they were brewing when they elected to combine the smooth flow of pulling skate tricks in a wide arena with the cerebral ballet of fighting off enemies with specific guns and tactics.

The game isn’t that long, numbering only a few missions before you “complete” it. But taking the time to master the skills that Rollerdrome requires of you is where the whole experience shines. Sure, if you’re looking for a fun, quick arcade-y time, Rollerdrome can be that for you. But it’s an homage to replayability, encouraging and daring you to return to arenas for another go. It’s hard to describe how satisfyingly challenging Rollerdrome is. We just hope you trust us when we say it’s totally rad.

Goat Simulator 3

goat simulator 3 physics

Goat Simulator 3

Developer(s)
Coffee Stain North

Genre(s)
Simulation , Adventure

How Long To Beat
7 Hours

X|S Enhanced
Yes

File Size Xbox Series
4 GB (December 2023)

Like its predecessor before it (Goat Simulator; there is no Goat Simulator 2), Goat Simulator 3 is an unsung hero of the simulation genre. There are sims that let you farm, fish, hunt, mow the lawn, and pressure wash, but none of these titles let you goat. Many come to Goat Simulator 3 for the obvious hilarity of being a goat that wreaks havoc on an island’s populace. But you stay for the surprising breadth of gameplay opportunities it gives you.

Coffee Stain Studios spared no expense when it came to making Goat Simulator 3. They could have just dumped you on a sparsely filled map with a few citizens to baa at, but instead, they gave us one hell of a game.

You can collect goat statues from hidden areas, unlock events that pay homage to iconic games and memes, adorn your goat with a plethora of apparel, upgrade your secret goat palace with spacious rooms and glorious trophies, participate in cooperative minigames sprinkled throughout the island, complete the goatiest of goat challenges, and that is still just scratching the surface. Goat Simulator 3 could have just been a silly game that appeals to your love of chaos. Instead, it’s the greatest silly game that appeals to your love of chaos.

Dune: Spice Wars

Dune Spice Wars Best Units Sardaukar

Dune: Spice Wars

Developer(s)
Shiro Games

Genre(s)
Real-Time Strategy

How Long To Beat
8 Hours

X|S Enhanced
Yes

File Size Xbox Series
5 GB (December 2023)

At its core, Dune: Spice Wars brings a digestible, bite-sized 4X strategy experience to Xbox Game Pass in fine fashion. It packs enough depth to keep strategy fanatics’ gears turning, but doesn’t sacrifice accessibility and pacing — a perfect intersection for both veteran strategy fans and genre newcomers.

You choose to play as one of several factions vying for control of the famed desert planet — and perhaps more importantly, its vital, naturally occurring resource known as spice melange. The Harkonnen, noble Atreides, wily smugglers, native Fremen, and more are playable depending on the specific game mode one decides to pursue, with each offering their own lore-appropriate perks and drawbacks.

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Speaking of which, Spice Wars is quite amenable to the desired time investment. From action-packed, one-on-one multiplayer duels to lengthy solo campaigns rife with devious politicking, the game offers rule sets and match settings that scale appropriately to your free time.

Rise Of The Tomb Raider

Rise-of-the-Tomb-Raider-Lara-Croft

The “Survivor” trilogy, as the newest Tomb Raider games are colloquially known as, is one of the best ways to experience Lara Croft’s story and character. And if we were to pick out the jewel of this trilogy, it would have to be Rise of the Tomb Raider. This middle entry improves upon the foundation the original laid down and avoids the mistakes its eventual successor makes.

Narrative-wise, it focuses on Lara’s drive to uncover the secrets her father first delved into and her need to overcome the guilt she feels at both disregarding her dad’s theories as well as dragging her friends into these dangerous endeavors. What follows is an awe-inspiring, and often harrowing, adventure into the secret of immortality. You’ll solve puzzle rooms a la Indiana Jones-style treasure caves and shoot your way past Trinity goons who are trying to reach that eternal-life-giving secret before Lara.

Rise of the Tomb Raider combines the adventure you’re used to seeing in this series with a more emotionally impactful story, and it succeeds in giving us the kind of journey you can only experience in a Tomb Raider game.

Remnant: From the Ashes

Remnant From The Ashes Promotional Art

Remnant: From the Ashes

Genre(s)
Action RPG

How Long To Beat
13 Hours

X|S Enhanced
No

File Size Xbox Series
35 GB (December 2023)

The facets of Remnant: From the Ashes that separate it from Dark Souls are also the ones that make it a fantastic Soulslike title. This cooperative action game features aspects of a looter-shooter title, but its challenging boss fights and gritty undertones are reminiscent of FromSoftware’s classic Dark Souls. To many fans of the genre, it is essentially Dark Souls with an emphasis on gunplay versus swordplay.

In addition to this, the game encourages co-op engagement to a much higher degree, which places a whole new spin on every boss encounter. As players and their friends level up their characters, new strategies can be built upon that all hinge on playing as a team. This is something that is largely missing from Dark Souls, but it makes Remnant: From the Ashes a very unique title, and a true gem for the Game Pass library.

Thirsty Suitors

Players In Combat Poses

Thirsty Suitors

Developer(s)
Outerloop Games

How Long To Beat
9 Hours

X|S Enhanced
Yes

File Size Xbox Series
3 GB (November 2023)

Thirsty Suitors wears its bombastic nature on its sleeve. As soon as you hop into the game, it takes you for a ride through its protagonist’s mind as she reminisces on past mistakes and her own flaws. It does this not through some monotonous inner dialogue, but through a bright yellow, rail-grind of a journey from romance quiz question to romance quiz question. Jala (our main character) skateboards past former entanglements, regrets, and anxieties with all the style and frankness you come to love her for.

Seriously, Jala and the various ways she can approach the emotional situations she’s confronted with are the highlight of the narrative.

Gameplay is turn-based with a flair, as you navigate through arguments and battles with Jala’s family members and ex-lovers by using taunts specifically designed to undermine these various “opponents.” But the heart of Thirsty Suitors is how it grapples with the idea of accepting responsibility for mistakes and moving forward. Jala’s story, despite its singular approach to style, is one we can all relate to.

Jusant

The protagonist climbs a sheer mountain face with lots of handholds and platforms on it

Jusant

Genre(s)
Puzzle

How Long To Beat
4 Hours

X|S Enhanced

File Size Xbox Series

Many know Don’t Nod Entertainment as the developers behind the Life Is Strange series. While those games are clearly centered around a dialogue-heavy narrative that lets players massively affect the outcome of the story, Jusant feels like a step in a new direction. You control your protagonist as they begin an upward climb of this massive tower. All you really know as you start off is that you must get to the top.

Be prepared for sweaty palms on your controller as you make this climb.

Your character says not a word as they start the slow process of stretching from handhold to handhold, foothold to foothold, with only their climbing gear and a small blob-shaped companion. But despite this wordlessness, the story of Jusant is conveyed in every melancholy melody that plays as you reach abandoned villages that used to thrive on the outcroppings of this tower. It’s illuminated in the gorgeous environments of the tower’s cavernous interior. And it’s felt with every step you take to ascend.

Jusant is by no means a mind-bending puzzle game or an incredibly impressive narrative game, but it’s a quietly thoughtful experience that stands out from the crowd by the literal and figurative way it says so much by saying so little.

Like A Dragon: Ishin!

Like a Dragon Ishin Finders Weepers substory Ryoma reading the diary

Like a Dragon: Ishin!

Genre(s)
Action-Adventure

How Long To Beat
25 Hours

X|S Enhanced
Yes

File Size Xbox Series
27 GB (November 2023)

The Like a Dragon series, previously known by the Yakuza moniker, is well-loved for its balance of off-the-wall humor and actual emotionally striking moments. Nearly every entry in the series walks this balance beam to perfection, and Ishin, though it wraps itself in the environments of historical Japan, is no exception. Your favorite Yakuza characters are back, but this time they’re stepping into the shoes of iconic figures from the Bakamatsu period.

Despite this new setting, fans of the series will have no problems finding something to love. These zany characters, though attired in patterned robes, are just as endearing and captivating as before, and the story, though grounded in history, is as engrossing as the ones that we’ve seen in other entries. So if you’re waiting to play Infinite Wealth, Xbox Game Pass has got you covered with Like a Dragon: Ishin!

Dead Space (2023)

dead space 2023

Dead Space (2023)

Genre(s)
Survival Horror

How Long To Beat
12 Hours

X|S Enhanced
Yes

File Size Xbox Series
31 GB (November 2023)

You’ll see the original Dead Space further along on this list, but the remake (also made available on EA Play through Xbox Game Pass Ultimate) garners a place on this list due to a mountain of its own merits. 2023’s Dead Space is a chilling horror game that builds upon the foundations of the first in a myriad of ways. Atmospheres are enhanced through new graphics, necromorphs are blown to bodily bits with every blast from the plasma cutter, and the entirety of the USG Ishimura is available to explore without any segmenting chapter loading screens.

As a major fan of the original, Dead Space’s 2023 remake was everything I wanted it to be and more.

Isaac Clarke is now also completely voiced, and certain elements of the story have been further clarified with due diligence given to later game lore. This Dead Space is a must-play for fans of the original or for anyone who missed out on it and are looking for a good starting point. It’s the kind of horror game that can make you whole once again.

Warhammer 40,000: Darktide

Darktide - Zealot's Immolation Grenade Melting Through A Horde Of Unarmored Enemies

Warhammer 40,000: Darktide

Developer(s)
Fatshark

How Long To Beat
30 Hours

X|S Enhanced
Yes

File Size Xbox Series
56 GB (November 2023)

Warhammer 40,000: Darktide is exactly the sort of title that belongs on Xbox Game Pass. The rush and chaos (Chaos, get it, because it’s Warhammer 40K) of diving into a run with a group of up to four players is just inherently fun on its own. It’s got exactly the sort of engagement factor that you’d see with Left 4 Dead. However, this offering from Fatshark is wrapped in the rich lore of the Warhammer 40K universe, and as a result, the environments ooze the exact sort of grim-dark stylings you’d get from reading one of the series’ novels.

Even as a bit of a newcomer to the Warhammer 40k universe (I’ve read several of the books but have never played the tabletop game), the vibe of Darktide just feels spot on.

The quips your character tosses around range from boisterous shouts of their skills with a chainsword to condemnations of all Heretics who oppose the Emperor’s will. And even if you’re not a die-hard fan of the Warhammer 40K universe, Darktide’s gameplay loop keeps you coming back for more as no run is ever alike thanks to the Specialist enemy types that randomly spring up during a mission.

Cocoon

cocoon bug and orb worlds

Cocoon

Developer(s)
Geometric Interactive

Genre(s)
Puzzle , Adventure

How Long To Beat
5 Hours

X|S Enhanced
No

File Size Xbox Series
3 GB (November 2023)

Jaw-dropping puzzle games can be hard to find. We’re talking about titles that create innovative mechanics which task players with thinking in the terms the game presents. Puzzle game greats like Portal and Superliminal do this to perfection. If you didn’t “think with Portals” while playing Valve’s classic, you were going to get interminably stuck, but once you did, clever thinking and problem solving were open to you.

Cocoon, a puzzle game made by one of the developers behind Limbo and Inside, deserves a spot alongside these phenomenal games. With a minimalist yet alien level design, you control a little character that transports orbs to various devices. These orbs contain entire worlds, and you can seamlessly move in between these worlds. As you travel further and further along, you must dive into these orbs while carrying other orbs, thereby placing a world within a world.

It sounds confusing when described, but Cocoon does a fantastic job introducing this recursive world concept to you. And we can’t understate how amazingly seamless going in between orbs is. Cocoon is a game you have to play to understand how awesome it is, and it is currently one of the major highlights of the Xbox Game Pass library.

Spiritfarer

Stella embracing a reindeer spirit on a boat while their cat Daffodil watches on the side in Spiritfarer

Spiritfarer

Developer(s)
Thunder Lotus Games , Kowloon Nights , Canada Media Fund

How Long To Beat
30 Hours

X|S Enhanced
No

File Size Xbox Series
6 GB (November 2023)

Spiritfarer casts you as a ferry master shepherding souls to their final resting grounds. It sounds grim, but behind its premise is an incredibly hopeful game about love, loss, and growth. The game’s art design allows it to walk the line between tackling a depressing subject and remaining the soothing experience players expect from a management sim.

Spiritfarer wears a lot of hats. Premise aside, at its core, it’s a light farming and relationship sim. It mixes and matches a lot of elements fans of the genre will be familiar with, including crop planning, gift-giving, and plenty of crafting. It has a lovely world to explore, and even some light platforming thrown in for good measure.

Lies Of P

nameless policeman lies of p

Lies of P
Developer(s)
Round8 Studio , Neowiz

Genre(s)
Soulslike

How Long To Beat
20 Hours

X|S Enhanced
Yes

File Size Xbox Series
35 GB (November 2023)

No one does a Souls game like the creators of this “genre” themselves, FromSoftware. But damn does Lies of P come incredibly close to reaching the same level of polish and iconic design as its inspirations. You take on the role of Pinocchio, a Victorian-apparelled stringless puppet who makes for a very silent protagonist, but this take on the fairy tale is much grimmer. The fictional city of Krat has been overrun by frenzied puppets, and you must navigate past blood-soaked cobblestone streets and gear-strewn alleyways to find your creator, Geppetto.

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Lies of P: What to Do After Beating the Game

Finishing Lies of P is an achievement in itself, and it may leave players gloomy wondering what to do next once the credits roll.

The combat is familiar if you’re a fan of Bloodborne and Sekiro, as are most of the trappings of a Soulsborne game. However, a few changes have been made to the formula that shine a spotlight on how well Lies of P stands out from the crowd of other Soulslike titles. From Ergo (the Souls or Blood Echoes equivalent in Lies of P) waiting for you outside of boss arenas to blade and handle upgrades being separate, a variety of alterations have made Lies of P a delightful, if challenging tale to experience if you’ve been longing for more Soulslike action since Elden Ring released.

Quake II

Quake 2 Phalanx Tank

Quake 2

How Long To Beat
8 Hours

X|S Enhanced
No

File Size Xbox Series
2 GB (November 2023)

Seemingly having taken it upon themselves to preserve the mid-to-late 90s FPS boom with a modern sheen, Nightdive Studios has graced us with yet another remaster-done-right with Quake II. A tried-and-true classic from the old id Software catalog, Quake II’s original release furnished players with an extensive, and at the time, somewhat uniquely interconnected single-player campaign, co-op support, and as is requisite to the Quake IP, a bombastic and fast-paced arena multiplayer experience.

But Quake II’s 2023 remaster is so much more than an updated port. Sure, it packs in the usual bits and bobs: a graphical tune up, modernized UI and QOL features, multiplayer support, and the like. But this thing comes packed with every expansion pack ever released, a brand-new single-player campaign developed by MachineGames, and perhaps among its most novel inclusions, the entirety of the Nintendo 64 port’s version of the campaign — an experience entirely unique to the N64 until now.

The whole package arriving on Game Pass as soon as it was announced is really just the cherry on top of this lovingly crafted late 90s time capsule.

Starfield

starfield-7

Starfield

How Long To Beat
20 Hours

X|S Enhanced
Yes

File Size Xbox Series
101 GB (November 2023)

The anticipation for Starfield prior to its release was immense, and the weight of expectations from fans eager for Bethesda’s latest RPG must have caused more pressure than performing a space walk without a suit. But Xbox Game Pass subscribers should be thrilled to know that Starfield is an utter joy. It’s filled with the dense exploration and well-thought-out storylines many have appreciated from the Elder Scrolls and Fallout series in the past. It’s exactly the kind of game you can spend years sinking your time into, a true successor to the might of Skyrim.

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New Game+ is relevant to Starfield’s main story but remains optional. However, those who choose it should do a couple of tasks before heading in.

You take on the role of a miner soon to be a willing or unwilling explorer, depending on how you role-play your character. Once you set upon this adventure, the world, nay, the universe opens up to you. You can then spend hours surveying planets, becoming a seedy seller of contraband, building glorious outposts, hunting down space bounties, or doing just darn near anything your space-faring heart desires. Starfield is a fantastic game, and one of the best you can play on Xbox Game Pass.

Firewatch

A player holding a radio looking at the forest in Firewatch

Firewatch

Developer(s)
Campo Santo

Genre(s)
Adventure

How Long To Beat
4 Hours

X|S Enhanced
No

File Size Xbox Series
3 GB (November 2023)

Part thriller, part mystery, and part romance — Firewatch is an unforgettable walking sim/radioplay that puts players in the shoes of a newly appointed lookout. The goal? Watch for fires.

If you’re a fan of great dialogue and superb voice acting, Firewatch is definitely one to try out. The main characters, Henry and Delilah feel like real people who are actually in the situations they’ve been placed in.

Needless to say, the game’s actual plot is far more interesting than its logline. The creative team behind the game includes industry veterans, including some of the minds behind the first season of Telltale’s The Walking Dead. And with such a short time to complete, Firewatch is a must for anyone who enjoys a story-first experience. In terms of gameplay, Firewatch has players exploring the great outdoors, but like any great thriller, there’s a lot more happening than meets the eye.

A Short Hike

A Short Hike

A Short Hike

Developer
Adam Robinson-Yu

Genre(s)
Adventure

How Long To Beat
2 Hours

X|S Enhanced
No

File Size Xbox Series
693 MB (November 2023)

A Short Hike is one of the shortest games you can play on Xbox Game Pass, clocking in at about two hours, and that’s being generous if you decide to beeline toward the top of Hawk Peak (the overall objective of the game). But to do so would do the game a great disservice. Though its visuals are exceedingly simple, and the premise is straightforward, A Short Hike does a fantastic job of highlighting the enjoyment we derive from going off the beaten path.

How many times have you ignored a main questline in order to explore a new area or talk to an interesting character or collect just one more ability upgrade? A Short Hike is the sweetest love letter to this style of playing a video game.

Playing beachstickball ultimately gives you nothing, but it’s a fun diversion from your journey. Following the painter as he goes from one spot to another doesn’t reward you much aside from listening to him talk about his paintings, but finding him is more about learning his struggles than it is the Golden Feather you get for it. And giving that kid who bought all the Feathers enough money for college is not a requirement to finish the game, but it was downright satisfying to be kind to him. A Short Hike is just as its title describes, incredibly short. But making it last just a little bit longer is what the game’s about.

Limbo

The boy stares up at an emerging giant spider in a dark and barren landscape.

Limbo

Developer(s)
Playdead

Genre(s)
Platformer

How Long To Beat
5 Hours

X|S Enhanced
No

File Size Xbox Series
212 MB (November 2023)

A violent black and white puzzle platformer starring a small child in a nightmarish world, Limbo is one of the most striking games ever made. An early indie game darling, Limbo has players moving through the stark environment, solving puzzles and trying to escape with their life. Despite its bleak aesthetic, Limbo is still an incredibly thrilling experience. It’s a game that tries to keep its player’s stomach in knots during cinematic moments, and even manages to surprise during its puzzle sequences. It’s easy to see why so many developers are still trying to emulate Limbo’s success today.

Venba

venba family food

It’s not often that such a short game can hit you in the feels, but that’s exactly what Venba accomplishes in its easily digestible runtime. You play as Venba, an immigrant from India managing (and feeding) her small family of three. Gameplay is simple, taking the form of click-and-drag puzzles as you work your way through Venba’s recipe book. Some instructions are missing, so you have to use context clues and logic leaps to complete the exquisite dishes, which are made downright aromatic using bright colors and boldly drawn art.

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It’s engaging without being tough, and it highlights the culture that Venba embraces as her son grows up and distances himself from it. The story is the main draw of the game, as it reflects on the trials of parenthood, specifically focusing on how raising a child in a “better” place can lead to cultural dissonance and rejection, but ultimately acceptance, of the unique heritage we receive from our family.

Antonio Josse

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