The Best Xbox Game Pass Games (September 2023)
The products discussed here were independently chosen by our editors. GameSpot may get a share of the revenue if you buy anything featured on our site.
What games should you play on Xbox Game Pass?
Nowadays, Xbox users don't even need to purchase games to get their money's worth with the Xbox Series X or Xbox One. Thanks to Game Pass Ultimate, a $17 per month subscription service, Xbox players have access to revolving library of more than 400 games on Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One as well as hundreds of games for PC as well. With so many games to choose from and a limited number of hours in the day, it can be challenging to pick what to play from the Game Pass library. And if you wait too long, a game you might've liked could leave the service. We've rounded up some of the best Game Pass games available now. New games arrive on the service just about every week, and old games leave the service, too. We'll continue to update this list as the Game Pass library rotates.
More Xbox best lists
To be clear, there are plenty more excellent games on Xbox Game Pass than the ones we’ve listed below--the service is loaded with worthy games. These are just the games we think every Xbox owner should play. The list includes recent releases such as Starfield and Sea of Stars as well as Microsoft staples, including Halo Infinite and Forza Horizon 5.
A Plague Tale: Requiem
The first Plague Tale was an unexpected hit from a relatively small developer punching above its weight. The sequel could have expanded its scope, but instead, Asobo Studio kept its narrative tightly focused on telling a human story set in an alternative French history. Though the rat-controlling mechanics have been expanded, the story is still concerned primarily with the family dynamics between Hugo and his protective older sister, Amicia. It's also a downright beautiful game, with lush environments that rival those from the biggest AAA studios.
Arcade Paradise is an inventive blend of management sim and retro-styled compilation. As the manager of a laundromat with some arcade machines buried in the back, you'll slowly build up your collection of arcade machines, transforming the business into a successful arcade. But you also get to play the arcade machines yourself, unlocking achievements and getting high scores that help the machines generate more money for your business. The result is a compelling gameplay loop that also has a surprisingly resonant story at its core.
Batman: Arkham Knight
Rocksteady had redefined the idea of what a superhero game could be with the Arkham series, and the studio's third game starring the caped crusader dialed up the action to 11 to create the ultimate Batman experience. Hard-hitting heroics, nail-biting chase sequences in the Batmobile, and a storyline focused on ghosts from the past made for a fitting finale in Rocksteady's epic trilogy.
Read our Batman: Arkham Knight review.
An impeccably crafted indie platformer, Celeste is known for its tough-but-fair difficulty and surprisingly emotionally engaging story. As you climb the mountain you'll come face to face with devilish platforming challenges that will test your skill, all while discovering a subtle story of self-discovery and overcoming depression. It has a stellar 94 score on Metacritic, so don't sleep on this one. And don't worry if you aren't a platforming pro, as Celeste has a full suite of difficulty modifiers that let you experience the climb on your own terms.
Death’s Door is a top-down action-adventure about everyone’s favorite topic: Death! Players control an immortal crow employed as a reaper whose latest job breaks bad, stranding them in the mortal world. Your avian psychopomp is armed with a glowing blade and other equipment to aid in their quest through the game’s numerous environments filled with enemies to fight, puzzles to solve, and secrets to uncover. While Death’s Door deals with some otherwise grim themes, it’s never dour or nihilistic. In fact, the world is full of charming characters to interact with, and a life-affirming story about growth and acceptance to compliment the excellent gameplay.
Read our Death's Door review.
Bigger, bolder, and more brutal than ever, Id Software unleashed hell on Earth with Doom Eternal, much to the delight of everyone who played this sequel. Pure action from start to finish and unrelenting when the armies of the damned were thrown at you, Doom Eternal is a metal journey through the apocalypse that takes no prisoners.
Read our Doom Eternal review.
FIST: Forged in Shadow Torch
This charming indie metroidvania packs clever worldbuilding with high production values to make a distinct experience. Starring an anthropomorphic bunny in a power suit, FIST has you navigate a tough-as-nails industrialized setting, unlocking new abilities while enjoying a well-told story.
Forza Horizon 5
Between its amazing visuals, myriad gameplay options, and bevy of content, Forza Horizon 5 is a racing game that anyone can enjoy. From a technical standpoint, it’s remarkable what the team at Playground Games achieved--everything from the meticulously detailed vehicle models to the lush virtual recreations of Mexico’s landscapes are visually engrossing.. Better yet, the gameplay is some of the best in the racing genre. Unlike the simulation-heavy Forza Motorsport line, the Forza Horizon series lean towards arcade racing, emphasizing player freedom in vast open worlds. Forza Horizon 5 doubles down on the philosophy, letting players focus on the type of experience they want--be that tense races against other players, single-player challenges and story content, or just chilling out and cruising the open road.
Read our Forza Horizon 5 review.
One of Microsoft’s newest exclusives, Gears Tactics cleverly applies the aesthetic and atmosphere of the franchise to a tactics game. Despite being a totally different genre, Gears Tactics still feels like a natural addition to the iconic franchise thanks to sound mechanics and great level design. Many of the notable Gears of War gameplay systems and quirks are adapted into the top-down tactical spin on the genre. With a meaningful progression system, deep but approachable tactical encounters, and a number of great boss battles, Gears Tactics is a can’t-miss experience for Gears aficionados and strategy game fans alike.
Read our Gears Tactics review.
Grand Theft Auto 5
Have you heard about this Grand Theft Auto thing? We think it could be big. The latest entry in the series has been going strong for a decade now across multiple console generations, in part due to the extremely popular Grand Theft Auto Online. If you haven't tried it yet, Game Pass offers the perfect way to dive in. You can go straight to Online to start living your life, amassing a collection of vehicles and building a crew with your friends. Or you can go through the massive story campaign, which still looks and plays great for a game that started on the Xbox 360.
Halo Infinite’s single player campaign finally takes the series to its most obvious next step: a giant open world set on a Halo ring. Along with the open-ended gameplay structure, players also get more controls over Master Chief’s loadout thanks to new gear and abilities to unlock, and bases you can upgrade for access to new weapons and vehicles.
This new direction certainly freshens up the Halo formula, but 343 managed to broader the scope without sacrificing Halo’s core gameplay. The open-world feels more like a giant, seamless Halo level rather than just another open world filled with copy-and-pasted objectives to check off a list, and there are still plenty of story-focused missions with a more directed, linear approach akin to the previous games.
Read our Halo Infinite review.
Halo: The Master Chief Collection
If you’ve never played the Halo franchise before, Halo: The Master Chief Collection is the perfect place to start. The Master Chief Collection comes with six Halo games, including remastered versions of the first two original Xbox entries. Halo features some of the very best single-player campaigns in the genre as well as extremely solid online multiplayer, at least after years of fixes and improvements. Back when the collection was originally released, the online multiplayer was spotty to say the least, but it has come a long way. Halo: The Master Chief Collection offers the best way to play some of the most heralded first-person shooters ever created.
Read our Halo: The Master Chief Collection review.
Hi-Fi Rush was a wild surprise when Microsoft introduced and launched it on the same day during a showcase. It was a bright, popcorn animated adventure from the studio that brought you… The Evil Within? What may be even more impressive is that it was really good, an absolute gem of a rhythm-action game that had somehow not leaked ahead of time. The original IP follows Chai, a good-hearted doofus who signs up for free cybernetic surgery and ends up with a Zune grafted into his chest. He comes out of the other side with the power to defeat corporate ne'er-do-wells to the gyrating beat of the world. It's like Elite Beat Agents mashed together with Devil May Cry.
Hollow Knight: Voidheart Edition
Enchanting and utterly engrossing, Hollow Knight is one of the best metroidvanias ever made. Team Cherry’s adventure stars a nameless knight armed with a nail who explores a labyrinthine world known as Hallownest. With a gorgeous art style and an incredible amount of variation in the environments, Hollow Knight’s expansive world is a constant joy to explore. Challenging combat rewards those with patience and perseverance. Hollow Knight truly stands out in a fairly crowded genre. If you haven’t waded through Hallownest yet, now’s a great time to slay some insect ahead of the sequel, Hollow Knight: Silksong.
Read our Hollow Knight review.
Madden NFL 23
Annual Madden releases are as predictable as death and taxes at this point, and eager football fans are certain to buy it up every year and start doing their touchdown dances. But if you don't mind waiting a little while for your gridiron action, you can play the last iteration for cheap through Game Pass. Madden tends to hit the service around the time the regular football season is wrapping up, near the end of winter, so right now Madden NFL 23 is the one on Game Pass, which featured a new skill-based passing that made the on-field play feel better than it had in recent years. If you want to compare it to the latest iteration, Game Pass Ultimate subscribers can play a 10-hour trial of Madden NFL 24.
MLB the Show 23
The great American pastime spent years tied exclusively to PlayStation, as MLB The Show was the premier licensed baseball series and it was internally developed by Sony's own San Diego Studio. That changed a couple of years ago with the announcement that The Show would come to Xbox as well--and not only that, but Xbox started offering the franchise as part of its Game Pass library, on release day. Now you can hear the crack of the bat and feel the cool summer breeze on Xbox with a highly regarded simulation sports game. MLB The Show 23 features a new Storyline mode focusing on the trailblazing Negro Leagues, packaging a reverent history lesson into the sports action.
Monster Hunter Rise
Monster Hunter World introduced loads of new fans to the Monster Hunter series, which up to that point had a niche but enthusiastic audience in the West. That game spent some time on Game Pass, but now it's been removed and you can play the more recent Monster Hunter iteration instead. Rise borrows several quality-of-life improvements that made World such a success, and adds another one: the Wirebug, a new tool that lets you easily and quickly traverse the map by swinging through the wilderness. Monster Hunter Rise is an ideal entry point for franchise newcomers.
We’d be remiss not to include both games in Moon Studios’ incredible Ori series. Ori and the Blind Forest and its 2020 sequel Ori and the Will of the Wisps are two of the best platformers available on Xbox. Both have stunning visuals and tell emotionally gripping stories that feed off of the atmosphere and well-drawn characters. While they are similar in terms of aesthetic and feel, Ori and the Will of the Wisps is more action-oriented, whereas the Blind Forest largely focuses on platforming and exploration. The Will of the Wisps gives Ori new abilities that help them square off against daunting bosses. Both games are brilliant in their own right, and are must-play platformers on Xbox. You should play them in order to get the full emotional weight of the story.
Read our Ori and Will of the Wisps review.
One of the most unusual games on Game Pass, or anywhere, Pentiment is an adventure game set in 16th century Bavaria. As a manuscript illustrator sent to an Abbey, you're caught up in a series of murders. The decades-spanning story explores the idea of historical narrative and how truth is recorded and remembered across generations. It's really unlike anything else.
Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire
The first Pillars of Eternity was a thrilling study in old school RPG gameplay with a modern makeover, but its sequel outdoes the original in almost every way possible. A more confident follow-up that doubles down on its strengths while further refining its formula, Obsidian Entertainment's sophomore effort is an entertaining game filled with rich writing and easily-accessible gameplay for newcomers to the genre.
Read our Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire review.
It's safe to say that there's no game like Psychonauts 2 on the market, as Double Fine's return to the cult-classic world of Razputin Aquato and the titular psychic peacekeeping agency is an absolute mind-blast of imaginative design. Fun to play and packing an emotional wallop with its exploration of several characters and a deep dive into their respective psyches, Psychonauts 2 is both a hilarious and heartfelt effort.
Read our Psychonauts 2 review.
Sea of Stars
The Messenger was a throwback to classic action games like Ninja Gaiden. Sabotage Studio's follow-up is a wild departure, a retro-styled RPG modeled after classics like Chrono Trigger and Paper Mario. What's more, it's actually set within the Messenger universe, making the two an unexpected duology--so far. Beyond the surprising story connections, though, Sea of Stars is also just a stellar RPG in its own right. Sabotage has smartly updated systems while paying reverent care to the elements that already worked well in classic RPGs, and the whole experience is complemented by beautifully robust pixel art.
Sea of Thieves
A live-service game that's not all about the shooting, Sea of Thieves is Rare's quirky take on a pirate simulator. It's gone through a lot of iterations since it was first released in 2018, so nowadays it's a full-fledged pirate simulator. You can crew your ship and sail the high seas, plunder other ships, find hidden treasure, and even deal with otherworldly pirate ghosts. The game recently began an ongoing tie-in with Monkey Island, bringing back beloved characters from the classic adventure series.
Slay the Spire
Slay the Spire marries deck-building with roguelike systems to create one of the best indies in recent years. Throughout your journey up the Spire, you square off against monsters, uncover treasures, and expand your deck of cards. Slay the Spire's card-based combat is easy to get the hang of but requires trial and error to find success. While you have to start back at the beginning each time you die, you gradually earn new cards, which help you advance further the next time. It’s an intoxicating loop that makes it easy to want to try “one more time” before putting down the controller. Each of Slay the Spire’s four playable characters have unique decks, adding a ton of incentive to brave the Spire for subsequent runs after the credits roll.
Read our Slay the Spire review.
Bethesda's ambitious RPG set in outer space was one of the year's most anticipated games, and a big selling point for Microsoft's Game Pass as a platform exclusive. The spacefaring RPG has you discovering the mystery of ancient alien artifacts, while also taking part in countless sidequests for various factions and friends. The so-called NASA-punk aesthetic gives the universe a lived-in feel, while adding unique elements like space battles and colony building to Bethesda's already packed-full repertoire of RPG systems and immersive conversation options.
Before Insomniac Games was making a name for itself as a reliable producer of Spider-Man games for Sony, it was grabbing headlines for the wildly imaginative Sunset Overdrive. Pure attitude, unbridled creativity, and fun, the zombie apocalypse brought on by a virulent energy drink was far more enjoyable than it had any right to be. An absolute blast of punk rock energy and deadly firepower, Sunset Overdrive is still the perfect game for anyone who's sick of taking cover behind some nearby crates.
Read our Sunset Overdrive review.
Respawn Entertainment's first Titanfall game set the stage for a massively enjoyable multiplayer game about man versus massive mechanized warsuits, but its first--and sadly only--sequel polished those ideas to a mirror finish. Every nut and bolt had been tightened, gameplay was further refined, and online multiplayer is still a blast to play, but the real triumph of Titanfall 2 is a single-player campaign that still stands as one of the very best stories in all of gaming.
Read our Titanfall 2 review.
Tunic, the long-awaited adventure starring a fox with a sword, is more than just a great Zelda-like. While it harks back to old-school Zelda games in terms of not guiding players toward the objectives, Tunic has its own approach to creating mystery and intrigue. All throughout the world you'll find pages of an instruction manual--really does look like one that would've been packaged with a game in the early '90s--that you have to piece together to learn about the world around you. It does a wonderful job replicating the thrill of discovery found in early Zelda games. Tunic is much harder than Zelda games from a combat perspective, but overcoming each challenge feels like a great triumph. Plus, any combat pains you may have are made worthwhile by gorgeous world that is a joy to explore.
Read our Tunic review.
Yakuza: Like a Dragon
After years of busting heads with the Dragon of Dojima, Yakuza: Like a Dragon came along to chart a new course for the long-running Sega franchise. Replacing Kiryu Kazama was the newly-paroled Ichiban Kasuga, a thug with a heart of gold who soon found himself caught in the middle of a vast conspiracy in the Japanese underworld. One other big change that Yakuza: Like a Dragon made was to its combat, as the game pulled heavily from classic Dragon Quest adventures to create a fresh spin on the RPG genre. Heavy on story and action, the latest Yakuza is a stunning new chapter for the series.
Read our Yakuza: Like a Dragon review.