It’s true, people really are relying on video games to get through the pandemic now more than ever. Of course, that’s understandable, considering we’re all seeking new ways to escape the madness that laps the world most days. And yet, gaming has managed to keep us truly occupied this past year, and it even continues to hold out a helping hand to anyone in need of a new home. Heck, even if it’s just for a few short hours between news rounds — video games are always capable of providing the warmth and distraction we need. And luckily, we have Xbox Game Pass to keep us company.
Whether you’re a big-time spender on all the latest releases or just a casual player with only a few minutes to spare here or there — there’s no denying the fact that Xbox Game Pass is a fantastic platform to tinker with. And, for a single dollar for 3 whole months of playtime, it seems as though Microsoft is persuading even more people to cross the threshold into the Xbox territory these days. I mean, we can’t exactly complain about a deal like that, right? Just take a look at these five incredible titles that feature among the many. If these don’t whet your appetite for that subscription plan — then we don’t know what will.
5. Gears 5
If you’ve been following Gears of War ever since its 360 debut back in 2006, then you’ve probably already caught up on the latest chapter to the timeline. If not, then we can only urge you to continue the journey in Gears 5, the dramatic sequel to JD, Del and Kait’s jam-packed story. However, if you’ve yet to experience Gears in its entirety, then you’ll be pleased to know that the whole saga is available to play through Xbox Game Pass. That’s right — all five entries plus spin-offs.
Branch out from the COG elite and investigate the mysterious origins of the Locust army with the help of some old friends. Explore the vast open-world and unravel Kait’s deep connection with Queen Myrrah herself. Gear up and take the fight way beyond the frontlines in this explosive follow-up to the award-winning franchise.
4. Sea of Thieves
If you’re on the hunt for something a little more multiplayer-friendly, then rest assured that Sea of Thieves has plenty to keep you and a barrel of friends busy. With a whole ocean to explore and a legacy to carve amongst fellow pirates, it is up to you and your crew to drift from island to island in search of fame and fortune. Failing that, then you can always cruise the ocean as a lone sailor, though we wouldn’t recommend it — unless you plan on going head to head with every other four-man ship on the watery playground.
Fight your way to the apex of eternal glory either alone or as four. Venture across death-defying waters in search of forbidden treasure. Harvest gold in any way you can in order to replenish your supplies and mould your perfect vessel. Do it in any way you see fit — so long as it’s, well, pirate-like.
3. Forza Horizon 4
Whether you’re deeply invested in the street racing scene or just happy to take the wheel in general, Forza Horizon 4 has a little something for everyone. From off-road dirt tracks to cramped city suburbs, Forza transforms an enormous portion of the UK into a complete racing playground where almost anything is possible.
Establish yourself as the best driver in the Forza scene by competing in various events that span from rallying to street racing, stunt shows to movie scenes. Purchase a chain of homes around the country and market yourself as the go-to driver for anything that involves four (or even two) wheels. Dominate the circuit and climb the ranks from underdog to kingpin. Do whatever it takes to make your name celebrated from all corners of the map and beyond.
2. Monster Hunter: World
If time is definitely on your side and you’re looking to indulge in a meaty questline with a never-ending narrative, then you’re going to want to consider Monster Hunter: World. Boasting hundreds of hours of nonlinear gameplay, invigorating battles and groundbreaking exploration, World puts you at the forefront of an everlasting fantasy with no boundaries to keep you grounded.
Take to the lands with nothing but your wits and a single weapon to carve your future. Evolve, craft and inspire as you shovel through creatures of all shapes and sizes across a vast world with enchanting backdrops. Go big or go home as you establish yourself as the go-to monster slayer in a world crawling with death-defying obstacles and unforgiving enemies. Be the monster hunter that everybody needs, plain and simple.
1. Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice
While there are plenty of psychological horror games that flood the Game Pass realm — nothing quite beats the award-winning Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice when it comes to hard-hitting narratives. Thanks to Ninja Theory and their powerful take on mental illnesses, Hellblade was able to not only entertain its players — but also inform them. Sure, it can be a little daunting and monochrome at times, but as far as video games go, we could easily brand this one as art in its purest form.
Take a pair of decent headphones and lock yourself in a dark space where only your monitor illuminates the room. Immerse yourself in the underworld as Senua, a heartbroken warrior with a thirst for redemption, as you spiral deep into madness in search of Helheim. With nothing but fragmented thoughts playing on your conscience from the moment you embark on your quest, your intuition really is your old friend deep within the pits of Hell. Can you make it through without succumbing to the pressures of your decaying mind?