If you’ve added an Xbox One S or Xbox One X to your entertainment center this year, you’ll need some games to play. Now more than ever, it’s far easier — and cheaper — to load up on the best games to play. Why? Because of how excellent Xbox Game Pass has become.
For $14.99 per month ($1 for the first three months if you’re a new subscriber), the all-in-one Game Pass Ultimate subscription gets you access to hundreds of games to download. It also grants you the ability to play multiplayer games online with friends (where supported). Lastly, you’ll get exclusive discounts on popular games.
Signing up to the Game Pass will get you instant access to six of the 10 games below. Though the others listed here that are not included with Game Pass are worth purchasing by themselves.
We’ve rounded up our favorite and most-used games, apps, and entertainment. Check out our app picks for iPhones, Android phones, PCs, Macs and TVs; our favorite mobile games from Apple Arcade and Google Play Pass; and our top choices for the PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch. We’ve also listed our favorite streaming shows on Disney+, Hulu and Netflix, some great sci-fi books, and exciting new podcasts. (Note: pricing was accurate at the time of publishing, but may change.)
The Outer Worlds
Obsidian’s latest title is great if you’re feeling the need for more first-person shooters imbued with RPG elements, much like Bethesda’s Fallout games. In fact, this developer was behind Fallout: New Vegas, so it’s no surprise that The Outer Worlds is equally rich with memorable characters, a story with stakes, and of course, plenty of fun guns and skills to let you spec out your class.
The latest entry in the Gears franchise is its best yet. It’s a lot like the Gears you know and love, complete with snapping into cover, pulling off satisfying Active Reloads, and chain-sawing baddies into pieces. But Gears 5 also delivers a fantastic campaign that can be played with a friend on the couch or over the internet, and as expected, the multiplayer delivers plenty of modes that should keep you entertained for a while.
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
If you’re a glutton for games that will punish you for small mistakes, and reward you handsomely for perfecting enemy patterns and level layouts, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice was made for you. Developed by FromSoftware, the studio behind Dark Souls, this takes place in feudal Japan, and incorporates a deep give-and-take parry system that makes combat more nail-biting, strategic, and in a way, more welcoming to newcomers than Dark Souls’s stat-heavy progression. (But it’s still hellishly difficult.)
Devil May Cry 5
Few games really lean in on its strengths like Devil May Cry 5 does. Within the first few minutes, you’re plunged into the game’s signature fast and frenetic action. And it doesn’t let up throughout its campaign. My colleague Andrew Webster likened the game’s structure to that of a different era, one that focuses only on what it does best, and leaves umpteen game systems and branching storylines to other games. Despite this being the fifth in the series, it’s welcoming to newcomers.
Respawn Entertainment is most famous for Titanfall and this year’s Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, but its free-to-play FPS Apex Legends is a must-have for your new Xbox One. Similar in design to other battle royale games, like Fortnite and PUBG, this game is a competitive shooter where you only get one chance to climb to the top. But what sets Apex Legends apart is its fluid gameplay, satisfying gun play, and character classes that you’re guaranteed to have fun experimenting with.
If you’re in the mood for a slow-burning game that lets you explore the universe at your own pace, Outer Wilds is a must-try. While for its first few hours it seems like a rather innocent space-travel game, spending more time with it will reveal a game built with a deep story, and an intriguing run-based gameplay loop that will teach you to make the most of exploring the depths of planets you travel. This is a game you’ll want to talk about to everyone you know.
Untitled Goose Game
One of this year’s most talked-about games wasn’t a triple-A blockbuster, but a small indie game where you take on the character of a naughty goose terrorizing some unsuspecting townsfolk. Untitled Goose Game is a game about creating hi-jinks, not by blowing stuff up, but by strategically squawking, sneaking, flapping your wings, and being gently conniving, as it is in a goose’s nature to do. Silliness aside, this is a vivid, joyful game that’s as fun to watch as it is to play.
Most games offer up the same pacing and structure each time you pick them up to play. Void Bastards is built differently. It’s a first-person shooter that rolls the dice to shuffle up what kind of character you play as, how the game’s levels are laid out in each playthrough, and finally, what kind of rewards you’ll get for beating them. Though everything is different in each session, your loot and gear are persistent, letting you get the advantage as the game gets more difficult. Did I mention that this game’s design is absolutely gorgeous?
The latest game from Remedy Entertainment, makers of Max Payne, Quantum Break, and Alan Wake, is its most cohesive, polished, and engaging yet. Control is a third-person shooter, but that’s a limiting description. As Jesse Faden, you work to unravel the classified secrets of a top-secret government agency, gaining new super powers along the way, such as [redacted] and [redacted] to combat the paranormal Hiss. If you like X-Files, Twin Peaks, and action titles that let you do cool stuff, you should check this one out.
Resident Evil 2
Capcom completely overhauled its 1998 horror classic and the remade RE2 is one of this year’s best games. Not only do the refined controls make this version far more enjoyable to play, the team has used modern hardware to elevate the story beats, and with them, the scares. Like the original version, this one allows you to play multiple perspectives after your first playthrough, giving you more incentive to play through twice than most games provide.
Lastly, if you want even more game recommendations for Xbox One, check out last year’s list (many of which are also available on Game Pass).
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