The 20 best Game Pass games to play in 2021

Our pick of the 20 best Game Pass games you can play with your subscription.

Game Pass is pretty incredible for the user. A monthly subscription grants you access to hundreds of games, many of which are genuinely great.

Here, we've picked out the 20 best Game Pass games you can download right now. But don't read this as a canonical list - we're not into that - and instead look at it as 20 games that cover the impressive range of the subscription. Game Pass is about flicking through a library and trying something out you might have skipped, or finding a hidden gem you might have completely missed altogether. There are some big hitters we've left out, but that shouldn't really be a surprise. Everybody knows Gears of War is a Game Pass game and everyone's already bought GTA 5 three times. What are the 20 games you really should play?

Before we dive in, too, note that you can pick up a single month starter subscription for just a pound here, or you can top up a subscription if you already have one here.

This list includes games that are available on either Xbox consoles or PC or both (most variations of the subscription cover both!), and many of them are now available on Android - and hopefully other platforms soon - via xCloud, too. But for a list of absolutely everything available - just in case you want to rightfully berate us for missing a favourite - you can peruse our full Xbox Game Pass games list.

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What Remains of Edith Finch

Game Pass Platforms: Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PC, xCloud

When we are gone our books will still be piled up in the hallways and our clutter will still spill through the house. This is the premise of What Remains of Edith Finch, an inquest by way of exploration. It works because the writing is vivid and the setting is astonishing: a family home that has become progressively more addled with each code-violating extension. Really though, what surprises is how this sad little game about death is so staggeringly filled with life. Stellar.

Books fill a cluttered, sunlit entrance hall in Edith Finch

Want to read more? See our full What Remains of Edith Finch review.

Outer Wilds

Game Pass Platforms: Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, xCloud

Even if you couldn't leave the starter planet in Outer Wilds it would still be special. The atmosphere! Pine trees and firs rising into the darkness, a cluster of wooden houses, and the invitation right at the start to sit a spell and roast a marshmallow. But you can leave the starter planet and each of the worlds awaiting you out there are just as detailed and melancholy and richly evocative. This is exploration at its most dynamic and thrilling. Give in to it.

A view of a planet and the sun in Outer Wilds

Want to read more? See our full Outer Wilds review.

Halo: Master Chief Collection

Game Pass Platforms: Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PC, xCloud

The quintessential Game Pass game for obvious reasons, the Master Chief Collection is about as good a deal as it gets. Several of the best shooters ever made, combining some of the best campaigns, the best levels, the best local co-op fun you can casually have and the best high-skillcap online multiplayer maps, too. Beautiful, nostalgic, and genuinely essential playing. It's a boring choice, yes, but a fantastic one. The PC version now includes all six games, too: Combat Evolved Anniversary, 2 Anniversary, 3, ODST, Reach, and 4.

Campaign action from Halo: Master Chief Collection

Want to read more? See our full Halo: Master Chief Collection review.

Lonely Mountains: Downhill

Game Pass Platforms: Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PC, xCloud

The soundtrack really sells this: windy solitude with the twittering of birds, the creaking of branches, the scrape of gravel under your tyres. Lonely Mountains may be a game about bombing around in a bike, but it's also about the world you're bombing through - nature at its empiest and most moving, all delivered with low-poly visuals and a devious wit when it comes to track design. Beat times and unlock bike parts if you fancy, but the setting is the star here. This is a game to load up just to spend time in its world.

A cyclist crosses a fallen tree over a ravine in Lonely Mountains: Downhill

Want to read more? See our full Lonely Mountains: Downhill review.

Sunset Overdrive

Game Pass Platforms: Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PC

So many jokes - and many of them hit their marks. But also so much cheer and colour and zip. Before Insomniac mastered its open-world superhero schtick with Spider-Man for the PS4, the Xbox got this, a wonderfully zany shooter that delights in the pleasures of movement as you zip around, bounce across the rooftops and unlock deliriously odd weaponry. Deep down this is a big budget version of The Floor is Lava. It's a real treat.

Skating on some rails in Sunset Overdrive

Want to read more? See our full Sunset Overdrive review.

Scourgebringer

Game Pass Platforms: Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PC, xCloud

Scourgebringer's the kind of game you install and never have to delete - so compact it barely takes up any room, so vivid it's always in rotation. Room by room rid the world of horrible pixelated foes in this kinetic and violent pocket roguelike. The world is richly detailed and the enemies are horribly memorable, but the real thrill here is in the movement. Fantastic.

Scourgebringer gameplay

Want to read more? See our full Scourgebringer impressions.

Titanfall 2

Game Pass Platforms: Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S

Xbox wants to move on from its reputation as the shooter console, but the problem is its full of incredible shooters - and Titanfall 2 might just stand above them all. The campaign is a lesson in fun, a breezy buddy movie with some extraordinary, break-neck platforming and a sense of real, Halo 3-style generosity: have a mech, have a smart pistol, have a load of machine guns and rockets and relentless action, just have at it. Multiplayer is also snappy as anything, too, but if nothing else just play the campaign. It's just concentrated brillance. A banger.

A titan holding a gun sprints towards the camera in Titanfall 2

Want to read more? See our full Titanfall 2 review.

Tetris Effect: Connected

Game Pass Platforms: Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PC

How do you improve on Tetris? By adding lights and sounds and colours and the variable speeds of Tetsuya Mizuguchi's falling block masterpiece Lumines. That's Tetris Effect. So how do you improve on that? You add multiplayer: a range of modes that take the game back to its Soviet origins at one end of the spectrum and that opens it out to asymmetrical Monster Hunter fun at the other end. Three against one! In Tetris! Shot through with comets and space whales and the wheel of the Zodiac spinning against the night sky. Tetris Effect Connected, you are alright!

Four-player Tetris Effect: Connected gameplay

Want to read more? See our full Tetris Effect: Connected review.

Star Wars Battlefront 2

Game Pass Platforms: Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S

Another perfectly-suited Game Pass game, Battlefront 2 is ultimate casual blaster and, after a rough launch, now a very good attempt at capturing the crunchy, breezy fun of the originals. It's not the most sophisticated, but it was never meant to be - the attention to detail is, instead, found in the sumptuous environments, the immaculate sounds, and the silliness of the voice acting, with nods to all of the films and plenty of the cultier cartoons and series that came in between. A carefree blast.

An ewok holding a spear at night in Star Wars Battlefront 2

Want to read more? See our most recent Star Wars Battlefront 2 impressions.

Forza Horizon 4

Game Pass Platforms: Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PC, xCloud

Playground's Forza Horizon series is more than just the complete racing game - it's a joyous, celebratory game of exploration with appeal beyond fans of the genre. This latest entry has a beautiful map of the UK as its base, a plethora of online features and expansions, a wonderfully eclectic selection of cars to collect and an almost overwhelming amount of stuff to do, updated weekly in line with its moody seasonal changes.

A red Porche racing through autumnal trees in Forza Horizon 4

Want to read more? See our full Forza Horizon 4 review.

Destiny 2: Beyond Light and Expansions

Game Pass Platforms: Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, xCloud (base game)

Destiny 2 is a profoundly messy product. If you're coming to this late, the first thing that probably strikes you is: where do I actually begin? Playing through the game's quick introductory mission is liable to leave you with a bunch of choices of where to go next, and no clear idea of which is the best option to pick.

On Game Pass, however, none of this matters - because you can get all the expansions for no extra cost, go anywhere, and sample whatever looks interesting. (Our recommendation? After the New Light tutorial, play each campaign story in sequence, then jump in with friends to sample dungeons and raids - brilliant, unique end-game trials which combine tightly co-ordinated combat and puzzle solving.)

In other words, Game Pass gives you the best of Destiny 2 at no upfront cost, and once get your head around how it works, the understanding of why people are still talking and playing after all this time - brilliant gunplay, glorious skyboxes and those sonorous Bungie lore words everyone loves so much. And, for those already invested, cross save support is a secretly savvy feature to make the switch from PlayStation or PC to Xbox as painless as possible.

Three players on an icy blue planet in Destiny 2

Want to read more? See our full Destiny 2: Beyond Light impressions.

Yakuza 0

Game Pass Platforms: Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PC, xCloud

When a series has been around as long as Yakuza, it's easy to be intimidated by it all. How exactly to pick an entry point when there've been so many entries? Well, Yakuza 0 turns out to be just about perfect - a prequel that requires no prior knowledge of the various goings on in Sega's epic, silly and hugely enjoyable series. And if you have played plenty of Yakuza before this? No worries - what you're getting is a coke-snorting 80s-tinged take on the formula that's arguably the series' very best.

Kazuma Kiryu punches a grunt in Yakuza 0

Want to read more? See our full Yakuza 0 review.

Wasteland 3

Game Pass Platforms: Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PC, xCloud

inXile's old-school role-playing game is a little rough around the edges, but it's packed with character and dripping with atmosphere. Wasteland 3 lets you loose in frozen Colorado, charging you with shooting up its post-apocalyptic towns or, if you'd prefer, playing the good Arizona Ranger, doing your best to do the right thing in a world that's up to no good. As with all good role-playing games, Wasteland 3's tough choices are exactly that. Sometimes there's nothing to be done but the least bad thing. For a game drenched in night and snow, Wasteland 3 is rarely black and white.

Mechanically, Wasteland 3 has all the classic RPG stuff you'd want: an isometric perspective, turn-based combat and stats for pretty much everything, but it's also got a fantastic story and characters you'll remember long after you've made your final decisions. Some of the set pieces are wonderfully imaginative, too, and very much in keeping with the dark humour that underpinned the original Wasteland and the early Fallout games that spawned from it. A religious cult that worships a Ronald Reagan AI? Check. A sadistic drug dealer who's got an army of "Breathers" off their tits on chems? Double check. A tyrannical Santa Claus who's working distressed elves to the bone? Triple check!

Wasteland 3 occupies an interesting place in the Game Pass library. Here we have the old-school Fallout game fans have been craving for years rubbing shoulders with Bethesda's modern Fallout franchise, each entry in which has strayed further from the origin point set by Wasteland way back in 1988. Wasteland 3 is more than a blast from the past. It's just a blast.

Explosive Wasteland 3 gameplay in a snowy environment

Want to read more? See our full Wasteland 3 review.

Sea of Thieves

Game Pass Platforms: Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PC, xCloud

Rare's take on the ocean wave is a beautiful game that revels in everything people want from a pirate adventure while also finding the time to be strange, sparse, beautiful and freeing. Take a ship, head out for the horizon and see what kind of a name you can make for yourself. Simple systems power a game that is dazzlingly good at emergent surprises, and even when things are slow there's the rolling, crashing, luminous sea to sit and watch. Lovely!

A pensive Sea of Thieves captain in front of an island sunset

Want to read more? See our full Sea of Thieves review.

Stellaris

Game Pass Platforms: Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PC, xCloud (console edition)

4X games work beautifully in space where there's no limit to the worlds that you can conquer. Even so, Stellaris is special, with a genuine sense of adventure driving you forward into its textured, thought-provoking and sometimes brutal universe. This is a game that eats evenings and weekends if you let it. And once it's over it's so tempting to head back out there and see how far your empire can spread this time.

A Stellaris screenshot of the in game map

Want to read more? See our full Stellaris review.

Hollow Knight

Game Pass Platforms: Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PC, xCloud

Hollow Knight's delight is the delight of discovering an entire ecology. Some games are open worlds or metroidvanias, this feels more like a hedgerow. Duck your head inside and witness the thrilling journey of a tiny insect facing the standard impossible odds.

Parma Violets colour schemes bring this midnight world to life, and the intricacy of the interlocked environments proves perfect for getting the most out of the simple but percussive combat. Hollow Knight is less a game you've played than a place you've been - which explains why people love it with such passion.

Hollow Knight platforming gameplay

Want to read more? See our full Hollow Knight review.

Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Siege

Game Pass Platforms: Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, xCloud

Rainbow Six Siege started out a great game, and got better. I've met good people playing this online, teaming up and feeling out the strategies for ourselves in the early days. Now of course it's a different beast, with more operators to play as and more mechanics to learn, but the Deluxe Edition you get with Game Pass gives you an extra handful of those new characters, and ultimately the core remains the same: a hugely tense, clever, and endlessly dramatic tactical shooter, full of last minute collapses, last-player-standing heroics, and last second saves.

A player setting up a trap in Rainbow Six Siege

Want to read more? See our full Rainbow Six Siege re-review.

Microsoft Flight Simulator

Game Pass Platforms: PC

Sims don't seem like the most Game Pass of titles, really - these things are serious business, after all, often inviting hundreds of hours and sometimes hundreds of pounds of investment from the most dedicated. Microsoft Flight Simulator, though, is a bit different - as befitting a series whose roots run so deep and whose appeal is so broad, this is a sim as casual, kick-back low key entertainment, should you so desire it to be.

I can't pretend to be an expert in the complex arts of aviation and air traffic control routines - I have, in recent months, however, become an expert in just putting a pin in the world map, loading up on some faraway airstrip and just watching the world unfurl beneath my wingtip, Xbox controller in hand. It's something to dip in and out of whenever the mood suits, and is worth a punt even if you've never flirted with sims in the past. In that way, Microsoft Flight Simulator might well be the perfect Game Pass title.

A top-down shot of a plane gliding over rusty red and green fields

Want to read more? See our full Microsoft Flight Simulator review.

Moonlighter

Game Pass Platforms: Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PC, xCloud

It's Zelda with economics. Kind of. Moonlighter sees you exploring procedural dungeons, battling creatures and gathering loot. Fine. But then you head back to town, open up your shop and try to sell the loot you've found in order to make money so you can go back and do the whole thing over again. It works beautifully, two different gaming takes on the pleasures of acquisition. All tied up with a lovely art style too.

Talking to an NPC in a village in Moonlighter

Want to read more? See our full Moonlighter review.

New Super Lucky's Tale

Game Pass Platforms: Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, xCloud, PC (base edition)

There's something wonderful about Super Lucky's Tale, a game that only really wants to be a beautiful old-fashioned 3D platformer that the whole family can have a go at. The cartoon worlds you visit are filled with invention and colour and simple pleasures, and the bosses keep things moving forward at a nice pace. Lucky's one of those mascots who never really had his moment, but playing this - or the VR original - is a reminder that craft and good intentions offer many delights.

Over the shoulder shot of Lucky at the start of a level in Super Lucky's Tale

Want to read more? See our full Super Lucky's Tale review.

For more curated best-of lists like this, feel free to argue in the comments section of the following, too:

If you're running out of storage meanwhile, here's Digital Foundry's roundup of the best Xbox One and PS4 external hard drives.

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About the author

Chris Tapsell

Chris Tapsell

Staff Writer  |  ChrisTapsell

Chris Tapsell is Eurogamer's Staff Writer, its newest Chris, and a keen explorer of the dark arts of gaming, from League of Legends to the murky world of competitive Pokémon.

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