Rainbow Six Siege
If you're used to shooters like Call of Duty and Battlefield, Rainbow Six Siege will surprise you with a different approach to the genre. Rather than relying solely on your reflexes, it's a much slower and tactical affair. Players get split into two teams, attackers and defenders, with both given one minute to prepare before the round begins.
The defenders will then try to hold their position while attackers do their best to infiltrate them. There are several Operators in Rainbow Six Siege to choose from, with each offering different gadgets and weapons that will prove useful in achieving objectives. Despite the slow-paced gameplay, each match only lasts around three to four minutes, making it perfect to play on the go.
Ori and the Blind Forest
Ori and the Blind Forest is a Metroidvania that follows the titular Ori and a floating Orb called Sein as they work to recover the light of three main elements that are key to the world's balance. It’s an utterly beautiful game with painterly graphics that make the world a joy to explore. And, since Ori and the Blind Forest is a Metroidvania game, there is a lot of exploring to be done.
Outside of marvelling at the scenery, you'll be collecting items and upgrades before backtracking to areas you couldn’t previously traverse. It provides a greater challenge than you might expect if you were to judge a book by its cover but remains more accessible than other entries in the genre. So if you’ve not played a Metroidvania before, it’s a great place to start. Then, if you enjoy it, the sequel Ori and the Wild of the Wisps is also available on Game Pass.
Undertale captured the imagination of gamers when it launched back in 2015. Its alternative approach to combat allowed you to befriend anyone that tried to fight you, which felt fresh and gave the game more heart than most possess. In an industry where violent games are the norm, it was a delightful change of pace to play something where your enemy is one battle away from becoming your pal.
The game plays out from a top-down perspective and sports a retro-inspired art style that adds to the charm of Undertale. Despite the copious amounts of loveliness within the game, it can be brutally difficult too. Combat plays out in mini bullet hell segments that can be very tricky, particularly if you decide and try to kill everyone you meet. If you're yet to dabble with indie games, Undertale is a great place to start.
Sea of Thieves
If you’re looking for a game to play with your friends that can be taken seriously or not, Sea of Thieves is an excellent choice. It sees you and your crew sailing the seas, hunting for treasure and battling against skeletons and other beasties. Sailing your boat is just as much fun as the combat, with everyone needing to do their part to ensure you make it safely to your destination.
There’s also a chance you’ll run across other players too and opt to engage them in a spot of naval combat by launching a barrage of cannonballs their way. Of course, they can fire right back, causing you to scurry about the deck, emptying buckets of water while one of your pals patches up the holes with planks of wood to stop your vessel from heading to a watery grave.
It truly is great fun, so long as you’ve got a few friends who are willing to dive in with you. Sea of Thieves also offers cross-play across PC, Xbox and mobile, meaning you can join up with your regular crewmates on whichever device they prefer to play.
What Remains of Edith Finch
What Remains of Edith Finch is a narrative-driven, first-person exploration game that sees you heading to Orcas Island with the journal of the titular Edith Finch in hand. The game is narrated by Edith and explores the tragic tales of her relatives through a series of vignettes. These are uncovered by rooting around the Finch household, which is a joy to explore.
Each of these stories features different gameplay mechanics and visual style, a simple yet beautiful metaphor for how we all see the world in our way. Though it is a predominantly sombre tale, What Remains of Edith Finch leaves a lasting impression and is an experience you will be glad you had.
Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy
Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy was something of a surprise hit for Square Enix and Eidos Montréal when it released in 2021. If you didn't get a chance to play it back then and enjoy singleplayer experiences, now you can join Peter Quill and co as part of your Xbox Game Pass subscription.
The story sees the Guardians facing off against the Universal Church of Truth and the Lethal Legion, among other unsavoury characters. At times you will have to make choices that will affect Star-Lord's relationship with his allies and how he interacts with them going forward. It's a compelling story backed by a fantastic soundtrack and enjoyable combat.
Hollow Knight is another excellent Metroidvania game that takes a lot of inspiration from FromSoftware’s Dark Souls, except it plays out from a 2D perspective and replaces fantasy-themed enemies with warrior bugs. That may sound a little Pixar, but Hollow Knight is tough as nails and only increases in difficulty as you gather more abilities.
It is an immensely enjoyable game, particularly if you love a challenge, with plenty of fearsome enemies and imposing bosses to defeat. There is lots of backtracking and exploring since you unlock new powers that are just as useful for traversal as they are in combat situations. It’s a delightful world to explore, with each hand-drawn area providing a real visual treat.
Dragon Age: Inquisition
Dragon Age: Inquisition is the third instalment in Bioware’s fantasy RPG series, and it’s an engrossing game that you can easily lose dozens of hours to. You play as the Inquisitor, embarking on a journey to settle the civil unrest in Thedas whilst also contending with tears in the sky that have sprung up across the continent.
Once you have made your character by choosing your race and class, you will head out to tackle a series of quests, gaining experience along the way to improve your stats and unlock new talents. You can also team up with numerous companions who will lend a hand in battle before heading back to Skyhold to make vital decisions that could affect the future of the region. It’s a cracking RPG if you’re hunting for a game to sink a lot of time into.
We couldn't cover Xbox Game Pass without mentioning a Halo game, and what's better to include than 343 Industries' latest effort? Many players viewed Halo Infinite's campaign as a return to form for the series that newcomers and ardent fans of the series alike enjoyed.
Outside of the campaign, there's also an extensive multiplayer suite to dive into, which boasts all the plentiful modes Halo fans will expect. Whether you decide to tackle the campaign or the multiplayer, there's stellar combat to enjoy, with each weapon packing the punch you'd hope for when wielding futuristic space guns.
While Forza Motorsport 7’s beauty lies in its realism, Octopath Traveler is simply a piece of art. The developer describes its captivating look as HD-2D, which equates to 2D sprites in 3D environments with gorgeous effects added on top. It looks like a retro-styled pop-up book brought to life and certainly stands out from the crowd of retro-inspired games.
It’s not just a looker either, Octopath Traveler’s gameplay is also great fun. The turn-based combat will see you whittling down your enemies shield before unleashing your most powerful attacks and spells on their unsuspecting health bar. It adds intriguing layers to the usual strategy found in this type of game, and the stunning effects make battering enemies incredibly satisfying.
Most of you are likely at least aware of Minecraft, even if you've never spent any time in its pixelated sandbox worlds. Its enduring popularity has cemented its place forever in the history of popular culture, though it looks set to remain relevant for a long time yet.
It's a game where the only limits are your imagination. A quick search on YouTube for “best Minecraft builds” will pull up some stunning creations that are works of art in their own right. But even if you're not the most gifted Minecraft builder, there's still plenty of fun to be found in its massive worlds.
f you haven’t previously purchased Playdigious’ excellent mobile port of the roguelike Metroidvania Dead Cells, then you can enjoy it as part of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. It even has dedicated touch screen controls. The game sees you playing as a blob that takes control of a corpse in a dungeon at the beginning of each run before heading out to murder dozens of enemies.
From there, you will battle your way through a series of increasingly difficult, randomly generated levels, hunting for better weapons and other items to help defeat your enemies. However, you will need to tread somewhat cautiously because once you die, you’ll have to start all over again. The gameplay is fast, frantic and feels incredibly satisfying with every run, making Dead Cells a great game to play in short bursts.
Not all games need to be serious. In fact, sometimes the sillier, the better. Gang Beasts is a fine example of that. It first rose to popularity on Twitch and YouTube, where viewers found watching a group of friends cackling as they battled atop rooftops with gelatinous characters endlessly entertaining.
If you have a group of friends you regularly play games with, it's an easy recommendation. You and your pals can battle each other locally or together online against the gangs that stalk the streets of Beef City in the gang game mode.