With over 100 games on the fledgling service and more being added every day, it is hard to deny the Xbox Game Pass for PC is a great deal for anyone who likes games. Picking a top 10 list would be an act in futility given just how many good games and hidden gems the service has. Instead, since Game Pass for PC is broken down into 10 categories I have picked one game from each category that alone would be worth the price of a single month of service ($9.99). Here are 10 games available on Xbox Game Pass for PC that every subscriber needs to play.
Classics – Rise Of Nations: Extended Edition
Let’s kick this off with an oldie but a goodie. Rise of Nations originally released all the way back in 2003 and its gameplay has stood the test of time. Instead of just focusing on a specific era of history, this real-time strategy game takes the Civilization route, spanning all of human history. You are charged with picking 1 of 18 nations and leading it through the ages. Pick from over 100 military units that cover land, air, and sea to defend your nation or demolish your enemies. There are over 20 regular buildings with upgrades and technologies to help grow your power, and 14 Wonders of the World to erect, each one giving your nation a special perk. Lead wisely and your nation will rise to dominate the world. Choose poorly and be crushed under the foot of your foe.
Platformers – Hollow Knight
If you haven’t played the critically acclaimed platformer Hollow Knight (and you probably have) then the Game Pass is a great way to experience this awesome Metroidvania 2D action-adventure. Hollow Knight will have you taking on baddies in the depths below the town of Dirtmouth. Get ready to choose your power-ups, hone your skills, and trust your reflexes, but be sure to take some time to take in the beautifully drawn backdrops as you work your way to victory.
Sports & Racing – Forza Horizon 4 Standard Edition
The sports and racing section of Game Pass PC may not be very large, but what is there hits pretty hard. While Xbox One owners just had Forza Motorsports 7 added to their gaming stable (please, please add this to the PC pass!), PC owners have access to the series open world spinoff, Forza Horizon 4. Arguably one of the crown jewels of the service, even gamers who rarely pick up a racing game need to give Horizons a test drive. With more cars than you ever thought possible in a game, you will get the chance to race on road courses, in the dirt, drifting, or just try to pull off stunts.
Indies – Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden
A duck, a boar, and a mutant human; that’s what you have to work with in this X-COM like strategy game. What more would you expect from a developer named Bearded Ladies? Mutant Year Zero is based on the tabletop RPG by the same name and is set in a post-apocalyptic world where humans have all but died off, with most of the remaining survivors driven into violent madness. As your team levels up you unlock additional gear, weapons, and mutations.
Combat is carried out in two stages, a free movement exploration stage followed by tactical, turn-based fighting. You use the exploration stage to identify targets and set a plan of attack. One wrong step or a missed kill shot means your stealthy cover is blown and the whole area is on alert.
Shooter – Metro Exodus
Metro Exodus, the third installment of the franchise based off the novels by Dmitry Glukhovsky, takes you out of the confines of the subway tunnels under Moscow and sends you on a train ride across Russia in search of more survivors. You may have left the narrow tunnels for a more open-world environment, but Metro Exodus maintains the horror vibes and stealth elements the previous titles in the franchise are known for. And let’s not forget that the open environment is still as deadly as the monsters and raiders you will come across. Can you keep your group alive long enough the find the sanctuary you are searching for?
RPG – My Time At Portia
My Time At Portia is a post-apocalyptic (the happiest post-apoc land ever made) city sim full of all the exploration, gathering, and crafting anyone could ask for. You will also get to fight some baddies in the ancient ruins. Where Portia really shines, though, is in the other citizens your character will interact with. As you strive to expand your workshop, everyone has their own personality and agenda. Keeping them all happy is no easy task. There are commissions to complete, conversations to be had, and gifts to give. Do it all right and you may even start a budding romance, possibly ending with marriage and kids. When you do decide to give My Time At Portia a try, make sure you have cleared your calendar; this seemingly light little game is actually pretty deep and can end up sucking up all of your gaming time for weeks.
Strategy – Slay The Spire
In a world with Magic The Gathering, Hearthstone, and a plethora of other card-based games to say that indie title Slay The Spire is a top tier strategy game is quite the accolade for developer Mega Crit Games. They have done a great job of creating a roguelike where the randomness of each game replaces the boring (my opinion, yours may vary) “spend a ton of money to build the best deck possible and see if you can beat everyone else” recipe other TCGs employ. Pick your path and build your deck as you traverse the Spire and vanquish the denizens it holds. To succeed, you must embrace the randomness that most other TCGs try to avoid. Expect to fail often, but with each trip into the Spire you bring with you the lessons of prior runs helping you to find your way closer and closer to the end boss.
Simulation – Surviving Mars
Goat Simulator is a silly little game that I would never pay for, so the Game Pass is a great place for me to try it out. Surviving Mars, on the other hand, is a solid colony builder that easily covers $10 price of a month of Game Pass. By choosing Mars as the setting, developer Haemimont Games has successfully mixed in a little of the survivor genre into this city builder. Unhappy citizens don’t just move away, they die, making every choice along your path to a thriving colony have more weight than in other games of this type.
It’s more than just that, though, which makes Surviving Mars worth a look. The sci-fi setting means we get to build domes and other unique structures, deal with new logistical issues, and experience a new array of environmental challenges and disasters. All of this is done in the visual standards we have come to expect from modern city builders. Good luck builders, and be sure to attach your save file to your resume when Elon starts taking applications for the first trip to Mars.
Puzzle – Bridge Constructor Portal
Taking a game like Bridge Constructor and creating a crossover with Portal (arguably one of the best puzzle games ever made) is like taking vanilla ice cream and pouring hot chocolate over it – vanilla is ok, but adding chocolate to it makes it so much better. Bridge Constructor has never had the most realistic physics model and a real engineer would probably just shake their head in disgust after seeing some of the contraptions I’ve built to successfully (or not) complete a level, but adding portals and the dry humor of GLaDOS to the game takes the possibilities of failure to the next level. So put on your hardhat and remember all the lessons you learned from your time watching Bob the Builder. Can we build it? Well, probably not!
Action & Adventure – Rise of the Tomb Raider
Out of all the genres the Game Pass for PC has, Action & Adventure is probably the one that has enough great games to fill up its own top 10 list. Prey, Dead Rising 4, Wolfenstein 2, and Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice are all fantastic games, but the top spot of the A&A category is going to Rise of the Tomb Raider.
ROTTR checks off all the boxes. Good story? Check. Good fight sequences? Check. Exploration with plenty of puzzles to solve? Check. Climbing and jumping with death just one misstep away? Check. Lara does it all, and she does it well. In Rise of the Tomb Raider Lara Croft is truly the badass we always want her to be. Go download it right now!