Source: Russell Holly / Android Central
Android gamers have a whole new world open to them when it comes to 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 100, 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 that 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 a 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 makes for an excellent game and a perfect one to kick off this list.
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 two orphans to safety while avoiding the Black Death and enemy soldiers. This game is all about stealth, so be ready.
A truly gripping tale of survival in truly awful circumstances, A Plague Tale: Innocence will keep you on the edge of your seat the whole time.
Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night
We talk a lot about Metroidvanias here at Android Central and have even shone some light on one of the big defining games of this genre, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. But while Konami and Nintendo are content to rest on their beloved franchises, throwing a proverbial bone to fans every few years, the indie scene has picked up the slack. One stellar example of this Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night.
Bloodstained feels almost exactly like a modern Symphony of the Night. It has a similar aesthetic, but it’s a wholly new world full of new characters, heroes and villains, to give life to it. You play as Miriam, a girl who can absorb demonic powers for her own use. You can change up how she looks if you want, and it adds new flavor to an already interesting game.
The Metroidvania lives on, and it’s thanks to games like Bloodstained that it continues to do so. Platformers are a game that anyone can pick up and try pretty easily, so be sure to add this one to your list! It’s so worth it, I assure you.
This spiritual successor to Castlevania nails it, as far as we’re concerned. It’s an excellent Metroidvania and worth checking out.
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 the 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.
Play as a failed alchemical experiment and survive an ever-changing environment in Dead Cells. It’s some intense action all the way through.
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.
Experience this fresh breath of life for the Gears franchise. This is the best Gears experience you’ll find; it’s the best that Gears has ever been.
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 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. If you’re just getting started, they have a beginner’s guide for you.
Obsidian’s latest game is less an epic RPG and more of a survival-horror game where you’re shrunk down to a tiny size. You’ll need to outlast the basics and the terrors in your backyard, like spiders.
Halo: The Master Chief Collection
Halo is a juggernaut of the 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.
The definitive Halo experience, the Master Chief Collection contains Halo: Combat Evolved, Halo 2, Halo 3, Halo 3 ODST, Halo: Reach, and Halo 4. Yep, it’s all in one package.
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 some light puzzle elements.
Join Senua as she delves deep into Helheim to save the lost soul of her lover. This game is truly a powerful experience as you battle Senua’s inner demons.
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.
This Metroidvania is the best of the modern bunch, and it even has some Souls-like elements thrown in, too. It’s truly an indie masterpiece, and I highly recommend it.
Metro 2033 Redux
Metro has made quite a name for itself. I remember playing the first game, Metro 2033, in the earlier parts of the last decade and falling in love with the cramped, suffocating post-apocalyptic setting. The game tries its best to bring you down into the slums of the underground metro stations, and it succeeds.
The original game had some relics of the past in its design, so the studio behind it, 4A Games, released the Redux version. This update used the new engine from the sequel, Metro Last Light, and included some of the quality of life changes from the follow-up.
You play as Artyom as he leaves his home metro station to brave the darkness on a mission given to him. You’ll come across Communists, Nazis, and other horrific beasts as you go along. Metro does an excellent job of conveying horror without the need for jump scares. I loved every minute of playing through this game.
Survive the post-apocalypse in this gritty, suffocating first-person shooter. It’ll keep you gripped the whole time you 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 higher 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.
The Minecraft universe now has an ARPG to its name. While lacking the robustness and depth of the classics that preceded it, Dungeons is a great way to introduce yourself or someone else to the endless pursuit of loot.
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; F-Z are for some kind of failure state like self-destruction. 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.
This thoughtful, engaging game is practically a perfect mix of beat-em-up gameplay and provocative storytelling. Just be sure that you keep playing even when you think you’ve finished the first time through.
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.
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. Seriously, try this game out.
This emotional and beautiful journey will keep you gripped the entire time. The Metroidvania gameplay is so near perfect. This game is a gem to play.
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. I haven’t gotten a chance to play this game yet, but our sister site Windows Central gave it a glowing review. Considering how much I adored the first one, you can bet that I’ll be giving this one a try.
Much like the first game, Will of the Wisps features utterly breath-taking visuals. I’ve been amazed at screenshots and videos. 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.
Take what the first game did right, and up the ante; that’s what Ori and the Will of the Wisps did. It looks even better than its predecessor, with another excellent score and refinement of the superb Metroidvania gameplay.
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.
Considered by many to be “Dark Souls with guns,” Remnant: From the Ashes sees you as one of the final survivors of humanity. Face down the Root, an otherwordly faction, as you press deeper into the post-apocalypse.
The Outer Worlds
The Outer Worlds is Obsidian’s second game on this list. Many, myself included, consider The Outer Worlds to be 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.
Embark on an epic adventure and enjoy a fun RPG, one that only Obsidian could create. Fight your way through the corporate hellhole of the Outer Worlds as you make a name for yourself.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
Okay, if you haven’t heard of The Witcher 3 by now, you are seriously missing out. Considered to be one of the best games of the last decade, The Witcher 3 concludes the now iconic Geralt of Rivia’s journey as he desperately searches for a woman named Ciri, who’s like a daughter to him. This game features some of the best storytelling I’ve ever seen, with impressive voice acting work that draws you into the world, excellent side-quests that aren’t just filler or fetching, and gorgeous visuals that just make you feel like you’re on the Continent or Skellige.
The Witcher trilogy itself is a testament to how a small game studio perfected their craft and became a gaming household name. CD Projekt Red absolutely crushed it with The Witcher 3, even if I was a big of the first two games. I can go on at length about this game, and next to Nier: Automata, it’s my favorite one on this list.
While the combat may be the weakest part of this game, it’s by no means bad, and you can certainly master it enough to take on the brutal Death March difficulty. If you haven’t played it before and are looking for a great RPG experience, then be sure to check out The Witcher 3.
Embark on an epic adventure with Geralt of Rivia, the titular Witcher. See beautiful landscapes, experience wonderful storytelling, and meet spectacularly-written characters along the way.
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.
Survive the brutal post-apocalyptic Colorado wasteland in the aptly-named Wasteland 3. It’s a gripping and deep CRPG perfect for the most hardcore RPG fans out there.
Windows Phone: 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, but we’d love to hear yours in the comments!
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