Android gamers have a whole new world open when playing video games on their mobile devices thanks to cloud gaming with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, formerly known as Project xCloud. Right now, if you look at the full list of every game you can play, you’ll notice that you can choose from over 200, which might feel a bit overwhelming.
Luckily, we have your back, and we’ve picked some of the best ones of the bunch that we think you should check out first. This is by no means an exhaustive list — Microsoft has an impressive cloud gaming library full of excellent games.
You’ll see some games come and go; such is the nature of Game Pass. But we’ll be sure to update this when we can so you always know which games to play on your phone. We also rounded up the best phones for Game Pass. And you’ll need a controller for basically all of the games (save a few) before you can dive in, so be sure to check out our picks for the best controllers for Game Pass on Android, too!
A Plague Tale: Innocence
A bleak and grisly tale, A Plague Tale: Innocence is the gripping story of two orphans escaping the Hundred Years’ War and the Black Death. It’s more of a historical fantasy adventure than true historical fiction, but the way things are blended together makes for an excellent game and a perfect one to kick off this list.
You play as Amicia, a French noble-born girl whose world is turned upside down when her home is attacked by soldiers of the Spanish Inquisition, and she must escape with her little brother Hugo. Then she discovers that the world outside her estate is plagued, quite literally, by a mysterious, demonic infestation of disease-bearing rats that can kill anything they touch.
There’s plenty of horror elements here, too, which is why I think of this game as grisly. The bubonic plague was no walk in the park, and it’s interesting to see a story set right in the middle of it. You’ll need to see the two orphans to safety while avoiding the Black Death and enemy soldiers. This game is all about stealth, so be ready.
There’s no genre that indie developers have perfected quite like the platformer. Celeste, with its beauty and challenge, is one of the most fun and challenging out there. You control Madeline and must help her “face her inner demons” as she climbs to the top of the imposing Celeste Mountain. As you might expect, it’s not a simple hike to the summit as you jump and air-dash over obstacles that can kill Madeline with a simple touch.
It’s Celeste’s challenge that makes it stick in your mind — it’s been referred to as a “masocore” title. Every single section is difficult, and you will have to try them again and again to triumph. If you ever liked games like Super Meat Boy or the Binding of Isaac, you might find some similarities with Celeste.
But the controls are simple, and the soundtrack is one of the best in gaming, so it’s very easy to become absorbed in Celeste. If you want a difficult but enjoyable indie platformer, this is the game for you.
Dead Cells is a game that we’ve praised quite often, including featuring it in our best Android games list. That’s because it’s a near-perfect blending of a Metroidvania and a roguelike with some Souls-like elements thrown in for good measure. It’s truly a wonderful game, but it’s intensely difficult.
Dead Cells features permadeath, but don’t let that deter you. You’ll need to learn your enemies’ patterns to best them in crazy combat. The combat itself is varied, and there are tons of different builds to suit every player. Since death is permanent in Dead Cells, you’ll have to start completely over when you die. That means you lose all progress, equipment, etc., and let me tell you, it sucks to die.
Still, Dead Cells is considered by many to be one of the best indie games of the last decade, and for good reason. It presents you with a great challenge with plenty of payoff and reward when you succeed. Learning from your mistakes and failures is part of the fun.
Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
With its arrival on Android via Game Pass, Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is now officially on every platform in existence. And it’s not hard to see why it’s become such a mainstay for gamers. As the latest in the Elder Scrolls RPG series, it offers an expansive open world and so many quests that you’ll easily get distracted from the main story. Skyrim is a mainstay of the Bethesda RPG library, and the Special Edition available on Game Pass comes with all of its add-ons.
If you’re looking for an RPG on Game Pass, you’re in luck: Many of Bethesda’s other titles have joined Game Pass alongside Skyrim. But if you’re looking for a good fantasy RPG with various quests and stories, Skyrim’s the go-to. It’s even getting a 10-year anniversary update with Skyrim Anniversary Edition.
There’s not much we can say about Skyrim that hasn’t been said in the 10 years isn’t been around. It’s one of the most influential and memorable RPGs that was made in the 2010s, and it’s still fun to return even if you’ve played it before, meaning it’s perfect for those who want to jump into it on Xbox Game Pass.
Gears of War is one of Microsoft’s long-standing franchises, right there with Halo and Forza. The Gears franchise has been popular for its third-person shooting action and a grisly post-apocalyptic setting. Gears 5 came after short hiatus and reinvigorated the franchise with new life.
If you want the full breakdown, Windows Central has a comprehensive review. The gist is that Gears 5 has a decent campaign and plenty of game modes. Some of those include a lot of multiplayer content, which is awesome because Xbox Live Gold is included in the Game Pass Ultimate subscription!
Gears needed a change, in our opinion, and the fifth installment did just that. It looks incredible, it offers a ton of play options, and it’s the evolution that the franchise needed. If you’re a Gears veteran or want to give it a shot, Gears 5 is for you.
Grounded is a game from Obsidian, known widely for its fantastic RPGs, that mixes “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids” with survival with some horror thrown in there for good measure. If you’re an arachnophobe, beware of this game, I’ll just say that. This won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but it has been well-received so far.
This game sees you as a micro-human trying to get by in the jungle that is your backyard. You’ll be pitted against spiders, poisonous mites, hungry larvae, and the usual survival staples like hunger and thirst. It’s an admittedly tough game and can feel a bit difficult for new players. However, with a bit of practice and some resolve, you’ll be well on your way.
Our friends over at Windows Central have done a great job putting out content for this game, so if you decide to hop into Grounded, be sure to check out their stuff. Also, if you’re just getting started, they have a beginner’s guide for you.
Halo: The Master Chief Collection
Halo is a juggernaut of gaming, specifically first-person shooter, space. Bungie revolutionized what a console shooter could be with excellent gameplay that got better with time, an interesting story and lore, and a thriving community. A lot of that carried over to Destiny, too.
The Master Chief Collection contains five games: Halo: Combat Evolved, Halo 2, Halo 3, Halo 3 ODST, Halo: Reach, and Halo 4. Throughout most of them, you’ll play as the iconic Master Chief as you fight off alien threats and save humanity. All of the games have their strengths and weaknesses, and some have special places in our hearts.
Whether you’ve been playing Halo for years or you want to check out what all the commotion is about, the Master Chief Collection is the premier way to experience the universe. There’s an absolute ton to do with the extensive single-player campaigns, Firefight, and PvP multiplayer.
Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice
Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice is an incredibly interesting game that I think everyone should experience. Not only is it beautiful and well-done, but it shows what it’s like to go through life with psychosis. It’s an eye-opening game and one that left me with my jaw dropped when I finished it.
Senua is a Celtic warrior who travels to Helheim to find the soul of her dead lover. Throughout her journey, she’ll take on the horrors of the Norse underworld. It’s a tense game, and it doesn’t ever let up, making you question how much Senua is experiencing versus how much is the manifestation of her illness.
I can’t recommend this game enough, especially if you want a good adventure that shines a light on life with psychosis. It’s not very long, but it hits hard with beautiful vistas, intense combat encounters, and light puzzle elements.
Hollow Knight is, without a doubt, my favorite indie game of the last decade. It’s a near-flawless Metroidvania set in a world brimming with character, lore, and places to explore. It’s an incredible game that I’ve played to completion on both PC and Switch; that’s how much I love it.
It captures the solitary, lonely mood of Super Metroid. The story is incredibly engaging with its Souls-like obtuseness. It forces you to piece together what’s going and what happened in the past to create current events. You play as the Hollow Knight, a lone figure armed with a sword on a quest to uncover what happened in Hallownest, a vast underground kingdom.
There are tons of things to see and do, several abilities to unlock, and a multitude of items to find to make your journey easier or to unlock previously barred-off areas. True to the Metroidvania genre, Hollow Knight is an endless treat to play.
Minecraft Dungeons is an action RPG in the same vein as Diablo and Titan Quest. It lacks the depth and nuance of those giants, but that’s okay. Think of Dungeons as a way to dip your toes into the ARPG genre with the familiarity of the Minecraft universe.
You’ll be exploring, finding loot, and defeating hordes of enemies on your adventure, and there’s plenty of replay value with greater difficulties (which offer better loot).
Once again, our pals over at Windows Central have extensive coverage of this game, and they’ve worked hard to provide everyone who plays Dungeons with solid guides. Be sure to start with the ultimate guide if you’re going to try out this ARPG.
At the time of writing, this is one of my two top picks for this list. Nier: Automata, stylized as NieR: Automata, is truly a wonderful game. It’s difficult figuring out where to start with this one because there’s so much about this game. It combines fantastic combat with a truly incredible story featuring the now-iconic 2B combat android.
Nier: Automata is set thousands and thousands of years into the future. Humanity is nearly extinct from a war with alien invaders, and they send androids out to fight a new proxy war. You start as one of those androids, YoRHa No. 2 Type B, as she investigates alien machine activity at a factory. She meets up with 9S, a scout model, and together they learn the truth about the machines, the war, and their purpose.
Many people complete the playthrough as 2B and think they’ve finished the game. Ha, far from it! Nier: Automata contains 26 endings, one for each letter of the alphabet. Don’t worry. Only endings A-E are gameplay while F-Z are for some kind of failure state like self-destruction. In the second playthrough, you’ll play mostly the same story as 9S, but once you finish endings A and B, which act as sort of a prologue, you get into the real meat of the game. Just play see it to the end of endings C or D (you have to choose one or the other), and you’ll see why I love this game.
Ori and the Blind Forest
One of the cutest games on this list, Ori and the Blind Forest, came out to nearly universal praise for its platforming and Metroidvania identity. It’s truly a fantastic game with tight controls, gorgeous visuals, an incredible soundtrack that is quite emotional, and a story that keeps you gripped the whole time.
You play as Ori, a small forest sprite who must purge a dark, malignant force from the world. The forest is dangerous and forbidding, and saving it means Ori must put themselves in some terrifying situations with the help of their light helper, Sein.
We’re big fans of Metroidvanias here, so Ori and the Blind Forest was an immediate pick for this list when we saw it’d be available on Xbox cloud gaming. I don’t want to say too much more about this game because I don’t want to spoil the experience for you, but you should seriously try this game out.
Ori and the Will of the Wisps
If you thought we gushed about Ori and the Blind Forest, then wait until you hear about its sequel, Ori and the Will of the Wisps. Everything that made the first game great is even better in the follow-up, and we couldn’t be happier. Our sister site Windows Central gave it a glowing review.
Following the events of the first game, Ori and their owl friend Ku travel to a new land that is also plagued by darkness, and events conspire to separate them. Now Ori must find their way back to Ku using a whole new suite of combat moves and special abilities to navigate the new, dark world around them.
Much like the first game, Will of the Wisps features utterly breath-taking visuals. To accompany that and the near-flawless gameplay is a beautiful score to draw you into the world. The whole game just brings pure joy, and we heartily recommend it.
Psychonauts 2 is the long-awaited sequel to the original Psychonauts. Developed by Double Fine Productions and published by Xbox Game Studios, it took a long time but is finally here. Our sister site Windows Central refers to it as a “must-play” title in its Psychonauts 2 review.
Psychonauts 2 is an extremely colorful game with a lot of polish and a lot of heart. The story includes a recap of the first game’s events, so newcomers and series veterans can both jump in with no issues. While the game definitely has a strong sense of humor, it also isn’t afraid to tackle big topics, including the importance of mental health and respect.
The action-adventure platforming gameplay is also just as good as it was in the first game, with hero Raz having to use his multiple psychic abilities to resolve whatever problems are lurking in the brains of those around him. The environments are also exceptionally beautiful and bizarre.
Remnant: From the Ashes
Remnant: From the Ashes has often been described as a roguelite Dark Souls with guns. Having played through a fair portion of the main game, I think that’s a pretty fair assessment. The game is certainly challenging, resource management is key, and you have a strange story told intermittently.
Your character ventures out into the post-apocalyptic world to fight the Root, a strange entity from another dimension that has basically wiped out humanity. These tree-like enemies are tough and come at you hard, so don’t let up. You’ll use a variety of guns and abilities to see yourself through to the end.
Remnant also features co-op so that you don’t have to go it alone. While cool, I haven’t taken advantage of this personally, partially because of how progress is saved. Only the host player gets progress, so when you go back to your game, you start wherever you left off when you joined a co-op session. Not the best choice, in my opinion. Still, Remnant: From the Ashes is a spectacular game.
The Outer Worlds
The Outer Worlds is Obsidian’s second game on this list. Many, myself included, consider The Outer Worlds a spiritual successor to Fallout: New Vegas. It features a similar writing style, similar humor, and everything else that made New Vegas the best 3D Fallout without being an actual Fallout game.
This being an RPG, you have tons of choices to make, companions to recruit, and weapons to master. The different worlds feel unique in their own rights, and the game looks fantastic on each platform (Switch excluded). Though it’s not quite on the level as Halo or Destiny, the gunplay feels very good, and I just overall enjoyed this game a lot.
The first DLC, Perils of Gorgon, is also available, so you’ll have plenty of content to play through when you load up The Outer Worlds for the first time on Xbox cloud gaming. It’s a real treat and if you like Obsidian’s writing, check it out.
Toby Fox’s indie RPG plays with genre tropes in a completely unexpected way. The player doesn’t have to harm anyone. If you choose to, you can resolve your problems with restraint and pacifism or you can slaughter everyone who dares to cross your path. When was the last time an RPG gave you the option (a legitimate option) not to become a killer? Undertale’s whole reputation as a buster of genre conventions is well-earned.
The game is set in the world of monsters, with the player being the first human to enter their world. There are several monsters who are not happy to see you there, and they will do whatever they can to make sure you don’t proceed. As stated, you can try to gently convince them you’re not a threat or prove to them that you absolutely are.
In case that’s not enough to convince you: Undertale is also a blast to play, with its bullet-hell gameplay and off-beat humor. It’s not like any other game you’ll play on Game Pass — or possibly anywhere else — and it’s something everyone should play at least once. You can check out our beginner’s guide over on iMore if you want to get started.
Wasteland is a venerable RPG franchise, and the third installment is no exception. It’s an expansive and content-packed experience through the irradiated snowy wastes of Colorado — why is my home state the setting for post-apocalyptic adventures? I digress.
This game is deep and should make hardcore CRPG fans very, very happy. It wants to give you, the player, a sense of freedom, both in your character development and narrative experiences. How you spec your character will profoundly affect other parts of the game, from dialogue choices to combat.
Wasteland 3 features a grid- and turn-based combat system, similar to XCOM. There are a ton of stats to choose from, offering extreme build diversity. If you need help getting started, and absolutely no one would blame you if you did, Windows Central has an awesome beginner’s guide.
What Remains of Edith Finch
Good old dyed-in-the-wool adventure games are hard to come by these days. What Remains of Edith Finch is a slow-paced adventure game that tells a story about family, legacy, and wonder. You, as the titular Edith Finch, explore the sprawling Finch family estate and try to determine what became of each of its members with the help of many environmental puzzles.
Edith Finch is not as long as some of the other games on this list. It’s great to play an RPG that’ll take up a whole week, but sometimes you might just want a game that’ll only take up a handful of hours, and that you can actually finish. If you want a game where puzzle-solving is the main mechanic or a game you can play and finish in an afternoon, then give Edith Finch a try.
As stated, it’s generally a very bright, pretty game, but it does have some horror elements. The story of what happens to the family members can at times veer into the disturbing, which we feel is important to warn gamers about. Some of the Finches are children when they meet their ends, which might make some uncomfortable.
Wolfenstein: The New Order
The Wolfenstein series reboot takes the classic first-person shooter from World War II into an alternate history where the Nazis won, and it’s up to you to tear down their now-entrenched order. New Order is a fast-paced first-person shooter where you must take on mechanized Nazi soldiers with various weapons, almost all of which you can dual-wield if you choose.
In addition to its shooter gameplay, New Order updates and humanizes the character of B.J. Blazkowicz, formerly just a face on your screen and now a deeply traumatized war veteran who kills Nazis as a form of therapy. Having been wounded near the beginning of the war, he was unable to thwart the Nazi victory and now must fix the world by allying with the resistance movement.
The story of New Order and its bad future separates it from previous Wolfenstein games and its fellow FPSes. It retains the Nazi-killing momentum of the origial games, but adds in a touching story about war, resistance, and the toll both take on people.
The entire Kiryu-era Yakuza series has made its way to Game Pass, offering seven games of serious Japanese crime drama mixed with zany side content held together by stoic protagonist Kazuma Kiryu. But one has to start somewhere, and the first game’s remake is as good a place as any. Like every other game in the series, it has a very serious drama at its heart, while its great and varied gameplay will keep you from getting bored.
If you want an action game, Yakuza is one of the best on Game Pass. Kiryu can master three different combat styles and put them all to good use on the streets of Kamurocho. If you ever get bored, you won’t have to walk far before you can find a bunch of unusual minigames, including darts, karaoke, and bowling. No matter what kind of mood you’re in, Yakuza likely has a minigame that’ll suit you.
The other games in the series, including the most recent game Yakuza: Like a Dragon, are also worth playing and are also available for Android devices, but Kiwami provides the best point of entry. It blends a touching, meaningful story with humor well enough to satisfy even the most jaded gamer.
Lots to play
Microsoft isn’t going easy on us with how many games you can play on cloud gaming with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. We’ll be sure to update this as noteworthy titles come and go. Each of the games on this list has been vetted by us and receives our hearty recommendations.
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