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5 underrated Xbox Game Pass games you should play while you still can

Whenever new titles get added to Xbox Game Pass, only a handful of games make a splash. Day one releases like Starfield are always guaranteed to get subscribers logging in, but smaller titles tend to fly under the radar. That’s especially the case when it comes to indies that aren’t considered “game of the year” material, but probably should be. There’s a wealth of inventive, groundbreaking titles at your fingertips — though sometimes they can disappear from the service before you even realize they were there at all.

If you need help finding something new to dig into, I’ve got some recommendations. The service is loaded with indie standouts that you may have skimmed over while scrolling through your library. Next time you need something new to play, consider checking one of these games out.


Mimi paddles down a river in a kayak in Dordogne.
Focus Interactive

One of 2023’s best narrative games, Dordogne is a moving story about a young girl’s summers spent with her grandmother in France. The four-hour story is an emotionally loaded experience, showing the bond the two form in picaresque slice-of-life scenes while unearthing some painful memories too. Its heartfelt coming-of-age story is worth playing in its own right, but Dordogne is especially worth checking out thanks to its gorgeous art style, which makes every frame look like a watercolor painting. It’s the most beautiful game released so far this year and one you absolutely shouldn’t miss.


A group of Tinykin surrounding Milo in front of some scientific glassware.

If you’re an Xbox owner who wishes you could play Pikmin 4, Game Pass offers you the next best thing. Tinykin is a Pikmin-inspired indie game that takes the chaotic strategy setup of Nintendo’s oddball series and turns it into an excellent puzzle-based exploration game. Like Pikmin, players round up an army of creatures that each come with their own power. The twist, though, is that the little guys don’t need to battle bulbous enemies. Instead, the gameplay loop is more about solving puzzles in Honey, I Shrunk the Kids-like environments that turn kitchens and bedrooms into massive explorable spaces with tons of verticality. It may not be as big as Nintendo’s latest exclusive, but it might be a pound-for-pound tighter experience overall.

Genesis Noir

A God-like figure holds its hands out at a small man in Genesis Noir.
Feral Cat Den

Genesis Noir is an odyssey like no other — and you can probably tell that right away from its unique black-and-white art style. Developed by Feral Cat Den, the standout indie plays out like a trippy point-and-click adventure game. Players take control of No Man, a detective who finds himself caught up in a love story between celestial entities. It’s a love story so bitter that it quite literally causes the Big Bang. A strange and wonderful meditation on the universe’s creation, Genesis Noir is a thoughtfully designed little adventure full of gorgeous art that animation history nerds (like me) can gush over.


A photo takes a camera of an animal in Toem.
Something We Made

I love a good photography game, something that I largely attribute to playing Pokémon Snap as a kid. So, I admittedly have a soft spot for games like Toem that have me snapping pictures as their main gameplay hook. Even setting that bias aside, though, Toem is an undeniably charming indie that anyone with a Game Pass subscription should check out. In it, players set out across a black-and-white world, taking photos of its oddball creatures to complete quests. It’s a consistently surprising game that finds creative ways to turn photography into a puzzle tool. Whether you have Pokémon Snap nostalgia or not, it’s a relaxing way to spend a few hours.

Escape Academy

A plaza in Escape Academy.
Coin Crew Games

I’ve only ever been to a real escape room once, but I loved the experience. Unfortunately, it’s hard to wrangle together enough friends to go consistently. If you’re in that same boat, Escape Academy is the perfect solution. The first-person puzzle game throws players into a series of well-designed puzzle rooms that aren’t too tough or too easy (it’s no surprise that developed Coin Crew Games has experience designing real escape rooms). Each is full of varied puzzles that’ll test your logic on the fly. With a strong co-op mode that lets you play alongside a friend or family member, it’s a satisfying little puzzler that features everything that makes escape rooms so fun to complete — and without all the hassle of organizing a crew.

Editors' Recommendations

Giovanni Colantonio
Giovanni is a writer and video producer focusing on happenings in the video game industry. He has contributed stories to…
One of Game Pass’ best titles leaves PC on August 15 and you don’t want to miss it
Death Stranding

While Xbox Game Pass frequently adds new games to its library, some titles do leave the service every fifteen days. Sometimes, those games are fantastic and PC Game Pass will lose a heavy hitter on August 15: Death Stranding. If you aren't familiar with this game, it, ironically, is a PlayStation console exclusive that's part of Microsoft's subscription service only on PC. Death Stranding first released on PS4 in November 2019 and tells a story about a man who is trying to reconnect a post-apocalyptic while dealing with lots of supernatural threats along the way.

It didn't come to PC until July 2020, before that was followed by Death Stranding: Director's Cut for PC and PS5 in the following years. The version of the game that's available through Xbox Game Pass is based on the July 2020 PC release, although it only came to PC Game Pass in August 2022. After a year on Microsoft's subscription service, the deal is up, and it's going to leave on August 15. Death Stranding is a game with a very compelling and socially relevant story and gameplay not quite like anything out there, so Game Pass subscribers who haven't tried this game yet need to before it leaves the service soon. 
It's all connected
Death Stranding follows the journey of Sam Porter Bridges, the adopted son of the President of the United Cities of America, as he attempts to reconnect what's left of America with a Chiral Network and save his sister. Of course, this game has Kojima's signature eccentricity, as Sam also carries around and starts forming a deeper connection with a baby in a pod (called a BB) that helps him avoid deadly creatures called BTs and gives him visions of a mysterious figure played by Mads Mikkelsen. On that note, Death Stranding has a stacked Hollywood cast as it stars people like Norman Reedus, Lea Seydoux, and Margaret Qualley and features characters modeled after Lindsay Wagner, Guillermo del Toro, Nicolas Winding Refn, and more. 
I'm not a huge fan of this game's melodramatic dialogue exchanges and arduous pacing that leaves a lot of the most interesting reveals for the end. Still, it undeniably has some prescient themes about how important connection is, something that became even more apparent and relevant in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. Few video game writers can craft narratives that are as engaging and memorable as the ones in Hideo Kojima's games. Though what I like most about Death Stranding is its gameplay, which isn't quite like anything that came out before or since. 
For the most part, Death Stranding is a game about delivering packages. It initially seemed like a shocking change in style for the man behind the Metal Gear Solid series, but the connections become a bit clearer to me as I had to stealthily avoid BTs and saw the Metal Gear Solid V-level of freedom the game gives players in making deliveries. To maximize profits from deliveries, I have to balance all of the packages in Sam's possession, keeping a close eye on the terrain, and finding the best ways to get Sam to his destination without damaging much of the goods he's carrying.

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You can’t play Baldur’s Gate 3 on Xbox, but you can play these 6 Game Pass RPGs
A player conversation in Baldur's Gate 3.

Baldur's Gate 3 just launched on PC on August 3 and comes to PlayStation 5 shortly on September 6. Unfortunately, an Xbox Series X/S version of the RPG does not have any concrete release date. Developer Larian Studios explained in a community post that this is because it doesn't "want to compromise on quality and feel it would be a shame to downscale to 30 [frames per second, aka fps] or make other compromises to hit an arbitrary date." Still, it's disappointing that Xbox players can't get in on the fun anytime soon. Thankfully, there isn't a shortage of alternatives on Microsoft's gaming platforms.
Xbox Game Pass is home to dozens of RPGs, many of which share the same computer-RPG roots as Baldur's Gate 3. While Xbox players might not be able to enjoy Larian Studios' shockingly thorough and immensely enjoyable Dungeons & Dragons CRPG just yet, they can't go wrong playing these six titles right now. 
Fallout: New Vegas

Where Baldur's Gate 3 may be the pinnacle of fantasy RPG games inspired by Dungeons & Dragons, Fallout: New Vegas is that for postapocalyptic RPGs. This game from Obsidian Entertainment and Bethesda Softworks -- both of which are now owned by Microsoft -- first released in 2010. Despite some in-game glitches that still persist, the Xbox 360 version of Fallout: New Vegas on Xbox Game Pass is just as enthralling of a role-playing experience as it was nearly 13 years ago. The Xbox 360 version can even be played at 60 fps on Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S, thanks to the FPS Boost feature.
Like Baldur's Gate 3, it's a faithful follow-up to some classic CRPGs that give players a massive amount of choice as they complete their adventure however they see fit. You can have endless fun exploring the world and creating experiences that feel personal to you while dealing with its eclectic cast of factions and characters. While it's a bit rough around the edges in certain aspects, New Vegas is still one of the best RPGs ever made. As such, it's worth replaying or trying first the first time if you want to play an RPG, but can't experience Baldur's Gate 3 right now.  
Pillars of Eternity and Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire

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Square Enix commits to release more games on Xbox, starting with Final Fantasy XIV
A screenshot of Final Fantasy XIV running on Xbox.

During Final Fantasy XIV's FanFest today, Square Enix not only confirmed that its popular MMO would finally come to Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S in spring 2024, but that it will commit to bringing more of its games to Xbox going forward.

Over the past decade, Square Enix tended to partner with PlayStation a lot more than Xbox. In 2023 alone, Final Fantasy XVI launched as a PS5 exclusive, while other Square Enix games, like Octopath Traveler 2 and Theatrhythm Final Bar Line, avoided launching on Xbox entirely. That all seems to be changing, though.
Following a reveal at the Final Fantasy XIV Fan Festival in Las Vegas today that the Dawntrail expansion is coming in summer 2024, Head of Xbox Phil Spencer and Square Enix CEO Takashi Kiryu came out on stage to discuss Square Enix's future with Xbox.
First, we learned that Final Fantasy XIV itself is finally coming to Xbox Series X/S with faster loading and 4K support. An open beta test will be held alongside the launch of Patch 6.5x, while a full release is planned for spring 2024.
This partnership is not just for one game, though. "Starting with today's announcement and whenever possible, we are planning to bring our games to Xbox for players to enjoy," Kiryu said while on stage, according to X account Nova Crystallis. This sentiment is reflected in an Xbox Wire post about the port, where Square Enix PR director Luke Karmali states that "this is just the beginning of our journey together."
Final Fantasy XIV is available now for PC, Mac, PS4, and PS5. It comes to Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S in spring 2024.

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