The best games for Xbox newcomers
If you're hailing from PlayStation land or just picking up your first game console, there are plenty of worthy Xbox titles to dive into. Sure, Microsoft hasn't been as aggressive as Sony when it comes to looking for exclusive, big budget products, which is what we pounded the Xbox Series X for in our review. Even so, it's not like there's nothing to play. And Microsoft has a huge advantage that Sony doesn't have: Xbox Game Pass, its subscription service with a rotating selection of popular titles.
Game Pass also gives you access to any first-party Xbox game on launch day, and those titles never leave the service. That alone makes the subscription a much better deal than spending $ 60 on a new version. For most gamers, we recommend getting started with Game Pass Ultimate, which includes Xbox and PC game support as well as Xbox Live multiplayer. Alternatively, you can pay $ 10 per month for Game Pass on consoles or PCs separately.
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Here are a few select Game Pass titles you can jump into:
Halo: The Master Chief Collection
While we have to wait another year for Halo Infinite to arrive, you have plenty of time to delve into Microsoft's iconic FPS series. The Master Chief Collection has every Halo entry you actually want to play - you can just ignore the disappointing Halo 5: Guardians - and gives you an easy way to watch the franchise evolve. And although it was originally released in 2014, it has been updated to deliver 120 frames per second on the Xbox Series X. Master Chief has never looked this handsome.
Forza Horizon 4 and Forza Motorsport 7
Microsoft's Forza series has something for everyone. The Horizon games offer an open driving experience with a variety of challenges and killer soundtracks. The more traditional motorsport entries feature realistic racing with a variety of cars and tracks. It's hard to go wrong with a Forza game, but the latest entries have near perfect their mechanics. And as usual, they're also great for new gaming hardware.
Microsoft's other great shooter franchise is still worth playing. Gears 5, in particular, builds on the strengths of the franchise with glorious set pieces and numerous ways to crush your enemies (chainsaw rifles, giant lasers, make your choice). It's also one of the best looking games you can find on the Xbox Series X thanks to the next generation update. And as a bonus, you have silky smooth 120 fps multiplayer to look forward to.
Who would have thought a franchise best known for featuring beefy heroes with chainsaws would be a solid strategy game too? Gears Tactics feels almost like a miracle, and delivers all of the thrills we've come to expect from the Gears universe, except that it's delivered through a traditional turn-based combat system. It's basically XCOM meets Gears, without the punitive hassles the earlier series is known for. First off, if you're more of an RPG fanatic than a shooter dog, this is the Gears entry.
Sea of thieves
Rare's Pirate Simulator is an acquired taste: it's best experienced with friends and has a deep learning curve that can put off casual gamers. Still, it's worth a try. At a time when so many games look like clones of popular franchises, Sea of Thieves sings at its own discretion. It is the ideal game for everyone who has ever dreamed of sailing their own pirate ship through treacherous waters.
State of decay 2
Zombie survival games are a dozen these days, but even so, the State of Decay series stands out. This sequel refines the setup of the original game: you play as a survivor of a zombie apocalypse who has to build a camp, recruit others and keep the threat of the undead at bay. Don't expect a great narrative. Like the best survival games, State of Decay 2 shines when it comes to up-and-coming gameplay or the adventures you experience as you explore its complex systems.
One of the earliest Xbox One titles, Sunset Overdrive is a really fun shooter that has been all but forgotten over time. Insomniac Games created what is like a cross between Jet Set Radio, Prince of Persia and their own Ratchet & Clank series. It's a great game that will make you drag across power lines and gasp like your life depends on it as you explore an open-world dystopian city. And there's a grenade launcher that shoots dynamite teddy bears - how can you not love that?
The great thing about Xbox Game Pass is that there are always new games and Microsoft is continually expanding the service with titles from EA Play and the upcoming acquisition of Bethesda. Make sure to check out Control which was by far the best game of 2019. Dragon Quest XI S, the long-running series debut on Xbox; and Nier: Automata, a real cult classic. Treat the Game Pass like a buffet and you are sure to find some gems.
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