Xbox Game Pass, the video game subscription service from Microsoft, allows you to play many excellent games available on the Xbox One, Xbox Series S, or Xbox Series X consoles. For a monthly subscription fee of $9.99, you can download an unlimited amount of games from the collection of games, some of which are award-winning.
Although Xbox Game Pass doesn’t include the benefits of Xbox Live Gold, mainly online co-op, a bundled subscription is available for not much more at $14.99. There’s something for everyone, with hundreds of games to choose from and new games constantly added.
From quirky dungeon-crawlers to intense first-person shooters, here’s a look at the top 10 games available for free with Xbox Game Pass.
10. Boyfriend Dungeon
Released in 2021 by Kitfox Games, Boyfriend Dungeon is a dungeon crawler dating simulation game. As the main character, you must navigate through dungeons with battle buddies who can transform into sentient weapons. However, the great thing about this game is that you can date your weapons.
It sounds strange, but the character development and storyline are solid. Progressing through the dungeon and improving your relationship with characters is addictive and will have you binge-playing this game. It has many characters, including men, women, and non-binary individuals, so there’s bound to be someone for everyone.
Who knew that a dungeon crawler combined with a dating sim would result in such a riveting experience?
Firewatch, developed by Campo Santo and released in collaboration with Panic in 2016, is a first-person point-of-view adventure/mystery game in Wyoming’s Shoshone National Forest. As a newly hired fire lookout named Henry, you must navigate the forest, investigate rambunctious park patrons, and communicate with a fellow fire lookout named Delilah. But before long, strange things start to happen, and you must uncover the truth.
The gameplay involves navigating the forest in search of clues and completing tasks. It’s an enjoyable game, but if you’re inexperienced with a compass, you should take a refresher course before venturing into the wilds of Wyoming.
8. Viva Piñata: Trouble in Paradise
Viva Piñata: Trouble in Paradise was created by Rare and published in 2008 by Microsoft Studios. It’s similar to a farm-simulation game, but you have a garden that you must restore instead of a farm. Your main objective is to attract piñatas around Piñata Island to your garden, where you can acquire them as permanent residents. The piñatas themselves are animals with adorable names, usually relating to food (e.g., Mousemallow, Chippopatamus, Bunnycomb). It’s a vividly colorful game and superb for releasing stress after a long, exhausting day of real life.
Developed by Playdead and Double Eleven before being published by Xbox Game Studios in 2010, Limbo is a puzzle game. After waking in a forest, you play as a young boy whose name and purpose are unknown. You must evade spiders and traps, run from people pursuing you, and complete puzzles to progress. It has a black and white palette, a lack of dialogue, and an ending open to interpretation. These features, amongst other things, make this a thought-provoking must-play.
6. What Remains of Edith Finch
What Remains of Edith Finch is considered an adventure game, but if you’re hoping to scratch that itch for a psychological and existential storyline, then this game is a perfect choice.
Created by Giant Sparrow and published by Annapurna Interactive in 2017, the game follows a series of stories revolving around the Finch family, who once resided in a house in Washington state. As Edith Finch, you explore the abandoned house and learn about the family’s cryptic past, unfortunate present, and inevitable future. By opening doors that have been closed for years, you will piece together the fate of the Finch family and, eventually, the fate of Edith herself.
It’s a game meant to baffle, mystify, and perturb. The creative plot and artistic flair will have you following Edith to the game’s conclusion.
5. Overcooked! 2
Overcooked 2!, the sequel to the first Overcooked!, was created by the videogame developer Team 17 and released in cooperation with the game studio Ghost Town Games in 2018.
The premise is that King Onion has made the disastrous mistake of reading out of the “Necro-nomnom-icon,” an ancient and powerful book. Due to this egregious act, he accidentally releases the army of “The Unbread” (zombie-like slices of bread committed to taking down the Onion Kingdom). To stave off The Unbread and resolve King Onion’s lapse of judgment, players must act as chefs and slice, dice, bake, boil, and fry their way to victory. Players must fulfill orders and satisfy customers within each level before time runs out. It seems relatively simple, right?
Not only do you have to navigate the kitchen to create meals, but you must do so while avoiding hazards like flying balls of fire, communicating with your fellow chefs, and thinking on your feet as new obstacles are introduced.
Since each level is delightfully different, the gameplay is diverse enough to keep players immersed and, occasionally, raging at the TV screen during a particularly challenging level.
Overcooked 2! supports up to four players, and while it does have a solo option, it is infinitely more entertaining when you’re playing with friends.
4. The Walking Dead: A New Frontier
Telltale Games is known for its choice-based games, and its adaptation of The Walking Dead received praise for its engaging plot and unique gameplay.
The game, released in 2016, follows people who must navigate a world overridden by “walkers,” the name that The Walking Dead franchise has given to zombies. By making choices when it comes to dialogue and decisions, you must save your characters from being killed or, worse, infected.
This game is appropriate for people who want to get into extreme games but are tentative about the stress of playing a horror game. It provides an intense story and compelling gameplay, making it a binge-worthy game. However, it’s also full of heartache. You’ll be sad when it ends, but only partly because of the tragic storyline. The other reason will be because you enjoyed it so much, you’re sorry it had to end.
3. Back 4 Blood
The day that Turtle Rock Studios announced the release of Back 4 Blood in collaboration with Warner Bros., fans of Left 4 Dead rejoiced. Left 4 Dead is a zombie game released in 2008, and now that the new Back 4 Blood game was released in 2021, it’s been a wild ride.
Back 4 Blood is a first-person shooter in which players must survive a zombie apocalypse. It has a similar structure to Left 4 Dead and is now customizable when it comes to weapons, outfits, and character builds.
Additionally, a system was implemented that allows you to purchase cards using Supply Points earned by playing campaigns. You can have advantages in areas such as speed, aim, and damage resistance by activating unique cards.
The levels are more immersive and complicated, the zombies more potent, and the stakes higher. But don’t let that deter you, because Back 4 Blood is worth the playthrough.
Minecraft was released in 2011, and any other game might be considered dated a decade after its inception, but Minecraft is timeless. Essentially, it’s like legos for gamers. You create entire worlds with just blocks, and the only limit is your imagination.
There are many ways to stay entertained within the game, but many people enjoy creating art and entire cities. Minecraft isn’t just a game, but also a collaborative platform that allows people to share creativity and information.
One notable example is The Uncensored Library. Created by Reporters Without Borders, this impressive library makes censored articles into books that are accessible to everyone. Within countries where people don’t have access to certain information, this feature is essential and a fantastic way of showing how technology can be used to advance society. The library’s motto, “Truth Finds a Way,” is a perfect example of how Minecraft can be fun, informative, and life-changing.
1. Stardew Valley
An explanation is not needed as to why Stardew Valley is on this list. Since its release in 2016, Stardew Valley has taken the gaming world by storm. Its conception was especially impressive as Eric Barone, also known as ConcernedApe, created the game independently, designing everything from the soundtrack to the plot. This was a passion project, and the amount of care that went into it is palpable.
Barone cites the game Harvest Moon as a great inspiration. Indeed, both games are role-playing farm simulation games in which you have been bestowed a farm that must be restored to its original glory. You will create your piece of heaven through farming, ranching, and mining for materials.
Barone currently has a new game, Haunted Chocolatier, in development. Unfortunately, it does not have a release date, but all Stardew Valley fans will be on the edge of their seats until they can get their hands on this highly anticipated game.