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With hundreds of games available, choosing what to play on PC Game Pass can be daunting. This varied selection of the best games available through the service should help you cut through the noise.
By on December 21, 2021 at 5:59AM PST
One of the best deals in PC gaming today, Game Pass is a gigantic collection of games that you can access at any given time once you subscribe to the service. With every first-party Microsoft game added to Game Pass on launch day, subscribing to the service makes a ton of sense, but which games are worth playing in a library of almost 200 titles currently? To help you get started, we’ve put together a list of the best games on the service, which was recently renamed to PC Game Pass
It’s worth noting that Game Pass regularly adds and removes third-party games from the service so try these titles out while you still have the chance to do so.
A Plague Tale: Innocence isn’t the kind of game you boot up if you’re looking for fuzzy feelings of warmth and hope. Rats, death, and brutal violence all combine to form a harrowing journey for the young cast you’ll play as amidst the backdrop of the Hundred Years’ War during the Middle Ages. With the odds stacked against them, Amicia and Hugo need to keep their wits about them as they face the worst of human depravity and the ramifications of the black death.
That’s not to say that the game doesn’t have faint glimmers of hope woven into its design, but like every small victory gained in Plague Tale, they’re rare occurrences that you’ll learn to appreciate when you come across them in this beautifully haunting story.
Read our A Plague Tale: Innocence review.
The latest Age of Empires game doesn’t stray too far from the golden days of the series, but as a historical simulator where you can throw waves of soldiers at enemies and their fortifications, AoE 4 is still a strategic treat that has been slowly improving since launch day. Backed up by fascinating history lessons, a diverse collection of maps to wage war on, and a number of factions that feel unique when compared to each other, Age of Empires 4 has plenty of tactical depth to chew on.
Read our Age of Empires 4 review.
Ever looked at your local town and thought that you would do a fine job running it? Consider Cities: Skylines as a perfect test run of your mayoral ambitions, as it throws surprisingly authentic city-building game mechanics at you and tasks you with turning your town into a gleaming metropolis. It’s easier said than done, of course, as you have to factor in zoning, having proper policies in place, and the creation of boroughs to house your booming population.
That may sound daunting, but Cities: Skylines has a largely relaxed approach to its design, creating a friendly atmosphere where you never feel too pressured to ensure that your city runs like a finely-crafted clockwork mechanism of industry and commerce. It may not have the overt wow factor of other games in the genre, but Cities: Skylines is a deep and dedicated approach to handling the less-than-glamorous work that goes into managing a human habitat.
Read our Cities: Skylines review.
A World War 2 saga that reminds you just how brutal the war in Europe truly was, Company of Heroes 2 might have old-school visuals by today’s standards–the game was released in 2013 after all–but its content and gameplay is as sharp as ever. That’s thanks to the game’s regularly interesting mechanics, excellent campaign missions, and fascinating twists on the strategy genre that hammer home the importance of knowing the lay of the land before you commit to throwing your troops into the horrifying meat grinder of war.
Every resource point and tactical advantage is won through the sacrifice of brave but ultimately forgotten heroes, a fact that Company of Heroes 2 reminds you of with every mission in this tightly constructed and thrilling strategy game.
Read our Company of Heroes 2 review.
Paranormal dread and the power of storytelling at its best, every aspect of Control is a showcase for developer Remedy Entertainment’s greatest strengths. Throwing players into a constantly shifting world full of mysteries, Control’s riveting and well-honed action plays second fiddle to its engrossing story, a constant sense of unease, and moments of imaginative ingenuity that make for some of the coolest moments ever seen in video games.
Its brilliantly crafted world makes you want to stick around and explore it, as every secret uncovered further enhances the appeal of the Oldest House and makes it one of the coolest video game locations of recent memory. A game that shows the passion of its development team within every facet of its design, Control is Remedy at its very best.
Read our Control review.
Intrigue, backstabbing, and sinister political maneuvering through the lens of ye olde medieval court, Crusader Kings III bills itself as a historical grand strategy experience. It certainly lives up to the claim, with this particular entry being its most accessible yet and capable of providing dozens of hours of entertainment. Every playthrough feels like a grand saga that sets the stage for the rise and fall of kingdoms, the level of autonomy granted to players adds incredible depth to every conversation, and the joy of being an underhanded influence in shaping world history is a guilty pleasure that’s meant to be savored.
Read our Crusader Kings III review.
The first impression of Darkest Dungeon is that, despite its suitably grim visuals, it doesn’t look that different from a number of other games from the past that threw a motley collection of adventurers into catacombs that are filled with monsters and treasure. The big difference here is that these dungeons aren’t just oppressive environments with danger around the corner; they leave a lasting impact on the psyche of your party members, creating a constant struggle to survive born from real-world mental trauma.
It’s a dark and gloomy descent into despair as you juggle tactics, party management, and mental wellness, with clever application of strategy never failing to feel rewarding. It’s a game about endurance, and once you face the final horror that lies waiting at the bottom of the abyss, that final victory will feel like a deeply personal achievement.
Read our Darkest Dungeon review.
Id Software’s sequel to its brutal 2016 reboot of the Doom franchise isn’t just one of the best games to have if you want to show off your new OLED TV or latest PC graphics card. It’s packed with unrelenting action, an adrenaline rush of bloody power that throws everything and the demonic kitchen sink at you in a metal display of power. Faster and more violent than ever, Doom Eternal dials up the carnage to 11, while also being a surprisingly deeper game in the story department.
Its multiplayer isn’t too shabby either, and with update 6.66 having added a new Horde mode, new Battlemode content, and more master levels, Doom Eternal is old-school cool for a new generation.
Read our Doom Eternal review.
Dragon Quest has been an RPG series of consistently high quality over the years, with Dragon Quest XI being no exception to that rule. The latest entry in the long-running collection of classic JRPGs is a confident adventure, one that sticks to its old-school guns and polishes its formula so that it provides a familiar and safe experience. While it may not be anything revolutionary in its genre, Dragon Quest XI is still some of the finest fantasy comfort food you can dig into, flavored with impressive visuals, an engaging narrative, and a superb soundtrack.
Read our Dragon Quest XI review.
If you’ve ever dreamt of exploring the world from the driver’s seat of a luxurious Ferrari but were held back by something minor such as not having a lifetime’s worth of cash to afford the car, then Forza Horizon 5 is just for you. A celebration of car culture, the latest game in the series is its best entry yet. Pure pedal to the metal speed and power, Forza Horizon 5 turns Mexico into a playground for high-speed exploration and petrol-powered tourism. Hundreds of cars are available, the game is a treat for the eyes, and its major setpiece moments are pure driving bliss.
Read our Forza Horizon 5 review.
The Gears of War universe has always had spin-off potential, and Gears Tactics is a great example of how the characters within that series can easily transition into other genres. Essentially a mix of Fire Emblem and XCOM, Gears Tactics puts more emphasis on thoughtful action over brute force reactionary combat. It’s up to you to find the best path forward in maps that are littered with dangerous Locust combatants, and if you make a wrong move, say goodbye to your troops.
Best of all, Gears Tactics feels like a Gears game. Characters look like they spend all day in the gym, the world looks characteristically bleak, and even though you’ve got a bird’s-eye perspective, seeing an enemy meet the business end of a Lancer’s chainsaw is still as satisfying as ever to watch.
Read our Gears Tactics review.
Roguelikes have become a staple part of any gaming diet, but few of them are as nutritious for the soul as Hades. Developer Supergiant’s latest game is a Greek tragedy for the ages, as the quest to escape from the ancient underworld is fraught with peril, twists, and some of the best gameplay that the genre has ever seen. Multiple runs through the game are naturally part of its design, but the beauty of Hades is that even if every attempt ends in failure, you’ll always feel as if you’ve made some crucial progress on your odyssey.
Beautifully animated and packing a soundtrack that’ll stay with you long after the end credits have rolled, Hades is the pinnacle of roguelike fun.
Read our Hades review.
It’s safe to say that without Halo, the video game scene would look very different today. One of the biggest influences in gaming, Halo has been a cultural mainstay over the decades that has helped shape perceptions and popularized the scene with its various sequels and spin-offs. If you’ve ever wanted to see just how far Halo has come, the Master Chief Collection is a fascinating time capsule of games in the mainline series that presents those titles in their best and most authentic form possible.
It’s a collection that celebrates the legacy of Master Chief and his adventures, lovingly crafted and assembled by studios who went to great lengths to make each game shine on newer platforms so that they can be enjoyed by future generations. Even better, the package is constantly being updated, creating a relevant package of preservation.
Halo Infinite certainly lives up to its title, as the latest adventure starring Microsoft’s Mjolnir-armored hero is an epic sandbox of precision engineering and old-school action. Years in the making, Halo Infinite tells a touching story inside of its action-packed sandbox, effortlessly leveraging its trademark gameplay with subtle new tweaks to the formula. It’s old-school Halo that has grown out of its Halo 5: Guardians rebellious phase–thank, Cortana–and it comes equipped with a multiplayer suite that shows great potential for the future.
Read our Halo Infinite review.
A good Metroidvania game knows that it needs to have engaging characters, boss fights that’ll test every skill you’ve acquired within its confines, and a collection of gear that you acquire. Hollow Knight has all that and more, as the twisting catacombs of the Hallownest easily rank as one of the most atmospheric worlds in the entire genre. With an art direction that blends beautifully animated characters with eerie backdrops, everything about Hollow Knight oozes character.
If you’re on the hunt for an action-adventure game that you can easily spend hours inside of, Hollow Knight’s dense world, rich storytelling, and secrets hidden in every corner of its design make it one of the very best in its class.
Read our Hollow Knight review.
Microsoft Flight Simulator is one of the most technically impressive games of this generation, a global tour across the entire planet where no airspace is off-limits. Whether you’re flying high above the scenic metropolis of Tokyo or you’ve chartered a retro biplane to give you a bird’s-eye view of the African savannahs, the level of accurate detail on display is an engineering feat that can instantly transport you to the other side of the world.
A visually stunning showcase that pushes PC (and Xbox Series X) hardware to the limit, the experience keeps on getting better as developer Asobo Studio has been pumping a steady supply of new content into the game, ranging from updated locations to new airports, refreshed photographic data, and a full collection of air races to take part in. Whether you’re planning to perform some stunts or you’re ready for a long-haul flight across the Atlantic, Microsoft Flight Simulator is a terrific showcase for what gaming is capable of creating.
Read our Microsoft Flight Simulator review.
Deck-building games have been all the rage over the last few years, with Monster Train being a fascinating spin on the usual formula by injecting some roguelike qualities into the mix. Each run within the Boneshaker train is split across multiple floors in a series of turn-based battles that feature escalating challenges the further you progress, upgrades can be found along your journey, and you can change strategies by choosing which clan you want to represent before you start your journey. Slay the Spire popularized the format, but Monster Train introduced fun wrinkles like units that you have to tactically deploy across the four floors of your train.
It’s a solid and consistent challenge all the way to the end, each card features fantastic artwork, and the satisfying gameplay mechanics make for a heck of a great train ride.
One of the best redemption stories in all of gaming, the No Man’s Sky of today is a vastly different experience when compared to its original launch. Nothing short of an epic odyssey across the vast backdrop of space, every planet can be explored, habitats can be built, and space empires can be visited in this cosmic sandbox of star trekkin’. Bigger and deeper than ever, No Man’s Sky regularly expands with major content drops that add anything from new gear to fleshy and biological spacecraft that you can raise as you hop from planet to planet.
There’s nothing quite like No Man’s Sky, a game that reached for the stars and went beyond them.
Read our No Man’s Sky review.
A gorgeous pair of platforming metroidvanias, the Ori series is pure art combined with some of the best gameplay in its class. Both games are emotional experts, tugging at your heartstrings with finely crafted characters and backgrounds that tell an intimate story which will live rent-free in your head for years after you’ve completed the games. Those stories are worth preserving and treasuring, as The Blind Forest and The Will of the Wisps will leave you feeling both heartbroken and hopeful, thanks to their superb design and soundtracks that perfectly complement the visuals.
Read our Ori and the Blind Forest review and our Ori and the Will of the Wisps review.
Thanks to the first Pillars of Eternity game saving it from an uncertain future, developer Obsidian had the perfect recipe to improve on for a sequel to the old-school isometric-style RPG. Bigger and bolder than its predecessor, Pillars of Eternity 2 is a gigantic time-sink, merging deep combat systems with meaningful choices to create an adventure that you don’t see too much of in the modern era of gaming. It’s an intricate homage to games such as Baldur’s Gate and Icewind Dale, a superbly constructed and well-written follow-up to a fantastic game and a must-play for any hardcore RPG fans.
Read our Pillars of Eternity 2 review.
Psychonauts 2 is a unique experience, a game that boasts impossibly imaginative design with polished gameplay and a likable cast of mental espionage agents. It’s a sequel many years in the making, but one that was well worth waiting for, as the finished product is developer Double Fine showing how it’s the best studio around when it comes to crafting wholesome, thoughtful, and quirky games. As a game that tackles the sensitive subject of mental health as part of its subject matter, Psychonauts 2 doesn’t just use that theme to construct some of the most unforgettable worlds in gaming–it treats that topic with care and sensitivity.
That passionate and authentic exploration of inner demons makes for a timely game, and one that’ll be remembered as not only a fantastic sequel, but also as a wonderful reminder of hope, redemption, and understanding the inner demons that everyone grapples with day to day.
Read our Psychonauts 2 review.
Sail the oceans, make friends, and plunder some loot. That’s the key appeal of Rare’s Sea of Thieves, a game that has grown considerably since it first set out to sea on Xbox. The current game is an epic voyage across the oceans, one with a strong foundation that improves upon the core gameplay to deliver a more personal and meaningful experience. The Emissary system has been a great incentive to experiment more within that world, running a galleon with friends feels fantastic, and the number of activities added since 2018 now ensures that there’s always something to do in Sea of Thieves.
Read our Sea of Thieves review.
Slay the Spire sounds like an impossible formula to get it right when you first read about it, as this deck-building game doesn’t just incorporate dungeon crawling into its design, it also throws in roguelike elements for good measure. Somehow that created a delicious dish of adventure, fine-tuned in a kitchen of Steam Early Access and released to the wider gaming public across a wide variety of platforms. Slay the Spire is an enjoyable roguelike card-battler, perfectly balancing satisfying combat mechanics with an inventive library of cards to collect.
There are layers upon layers of strategy to learn, seeing an absolutely ludicrous combo hit the mark never ceases to be worth the effort, and the entire experience will gobble up whatever spare time you have available during the day.
Read our Slay the Spire review.
Choices matter in Wasteland 3, and in developer InXile Entertainment’s latest entry in the series, you’ll be making plenty of them. Whether you’ll be able to cope with the consequences of those decisions is up to you, but if there’s a chance to flip a coin over the simple matter of helping a local dictator keep his small community in line or killing everyone and installing a change of regime in this post-apocalyptic tale, is up to you.
Another old-school RPG for the list, Wasteland 3 nails the setting of a world struggling to survive in the shadow of mutually assured destruction with its smooth and streamlined combat, a bounty of decisions to make, and tangible ramifications inside of a classic RPG frame.
A massive departure from the usual beat-’em-up grind of previous Yakuza games, Yakuza: Like a Dragon’s experience can be boiled down to Dragon Quest meets the Japanese criminal underworld. A hard pivot to RPG territory, Like a Dragon is also a new start for the series after it ended the saga of Kiryu Kazuma in Yakuza 6: The Song of Life. Stepping into his shoes is new protagonist Ichiban Kasuga, a man who echoes the honorable nature of the legendary dragon of Dojima but is still a unique character who finds himself caught up in an epic conspiracy tale of gangsters, mayhem, and shady government forces.
A good-looking game that provides plenty of fascinating digital tourism, Yakuza: Like a Dragon retains all the charm and strangeness of the series, but it bravely forges a new path ahead for the series with its comically brutal combat, emotional storytelling, and a new status quo for the criminal underworld.
Read our Yakuza: Like a Dragon review.
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