This week, Microsoft’s xCloud experiment bears fruit. If you’re have a Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription, you can stream 150 games from the Xbox One library to your phone with no extra charge or limits on play time. It’s a welcome addition to an already valuable subscription. And that’s before the EA Play games come along, too!
We’ve selected some of the games in the Xbox One’s library that you should check out. It’s not exhaustive, but it’s a good cross-section of the games on display, and a few of them should be great for the smaller screens and on-the-go form factor of phones.
What You’ll Need
It’s technically possible to play all of these games using only your phone because the Game Pass app includes support for on-screen virtual controls. But please, for the love of Game, don’t do that. None of the games (with one important exception) were meant to be played on a touchscreen.
Instead, you should grab a controller. Anything compatible with Android should work with the Game Pass app, but we can heartily recommend both the Razer Kishi and the MOGA XP5-X Plus. They offer access to all of the familiar options of an Xbox One controller.
Oh, and you’ll need an Android phone or tablet. Unfortunately, Apple has put up a roadblock for Game Pass and other streaming services on the iPhone and iPad. Now, without any further ado, let’s get to the games. As an aside, these are also great picks to check out on Game Pass for PC.
Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night
Bloodstained is a spiritual successor to the much-loved Castlevania series, which has been so cruelly neglected by Konami. Long-time Castlevania producer Koji Igarashi made this one, and it shows: the combat, RPG gear, and sprawling secret-filled map are the equal of any of the classic Castlevania games. The game looks gorgeous with its 3D models, monsters, outfits, and environments. But don’t worry: All of the combat is in classic 2D.
Forza Horizon 4
Forza: Horizon is Microsoft’s absolutely gorgeous driving series, set over an even more gorgeous open world. Number four adds dynamically changing seasons, chill tunes, and more than four hundred meticulously modeled cars for you to play around in. You can participate in a variety of race modes, or just drift through the gorgeous English countryside, occasionally lowering the property value if you decide to do so in one of the off-road vehicles.
Halo: The Master Chief Collection
Halo is a game series with legendary single-player campaigns, and The Master Chief Collection has six, count ’em, six of them: the original Combat Evolved, Halo 2, 3, ODST, and 4, and the prequel Reach. If that’s not enough to get your alien-shooting fingers itching, all six games include full online multiplayer support—yes, even back to the original. The game had a rocky start, but continued support has made it a shining example of post-launch upgrades.
Untitled Goose Game
Nothing expresses utter disdain and cruelty towards every living thing quite like a big horrible goose. In Untitled Goose Game, players take on the role of the titular untitled waterfowl, terrorizing a sleepy British village by stealing pretty much everything. The gameplay could be described as “stealth” (the Metal Goose Solid jokes make themselves), but it’s more like “annoy.”
It’s honking good fun. The no-pressure casual gameplay is especially good for a phone setup.
This third-person action game likes to keep its cards close to its chest, keeping players guessing at the nature of its sci-fi story. Said action is blistering, and the world you fight through is haunting and engaging. But you’ll only truly understand the nature of the androids in Nier: Automata and their struggle after you’ve completed it multiple times.
You’ll need a high tolerance for anime tropes to enjoy this one (said androids have an odd habit of fighting in underwear and high heels), but it’s well worth the effort.
Ori and the Blind Forest
This 2D platformer has one of the most engaging drop-dead gorgeous presentations I’ve ever seen in any game. The character designs are sickeningly cute, but the don’t let them fool you: Ori and the Blind Forrest has some seriously challenging enemies as you explore its world and go through its story. Once you’re done with the original, you can check out the sequel, Ori and the Will of the Wisps. Be warned: Parts of both games are so sad and cute that they’ll give you Land Before Time flashbacks.
Sea of Thieves
Pirates are fun. That’s pretty much the core idea behind Sea of Thieves, Rare’s Xbox-exclusive swashbuckler. But despite the somewhat cartoony look, there are some deep multiplayer mechanics in this game: You’ll need to use teamwork to effectively sail a massive ship, track down treasure, and take on either the sea’s supernatural enemies or other players in the open world. There’s a zen quality to Sea of Thieves that’s surprisingly engaging, especially if you can get together a crew of friends.
A recent release that went straight to the Xbox Game Pass, Spiritfarer is essentially an old point-and-click adventure game with a few coats of gameplay polish. You play the ferry master on the barge of the dead, helping spirits on their way to the new world. Stunning cartoon animation and a base-building mechanic are overlaid on the relationships you build with your passengers, each of which has to come to an end.
The Outer Worlds
This action-RPG comes from Obsidian, the much-loved developers of Fallout: New Vegas. And fans of that game will find The Outer Worlds a familiar experience: You wake up from a vault colony ship in a hyper-corporate star system, and you’ll have to navigate dangers both human and alien to revive your fellow colonists.
Or not—it’s up to you, and the cast of characters you recruit to your team. The Outer Worlds is short and sweet, but offers a compelling colorful world that mixes sci-fi and Gilded Age sensibilities.
The Yakuza series is among the most beloved of open-world story-focused games, and the prequel Yakuza 0 frequently tops the list of the franchise. Take on the role of Kazuma Kiryu before he became an organized crime legend, beating feat (among other things) in the brimming streets of ’90s Tokyo. Yakuza 0 has a plot that’s alternately serious and ridiculous, with combat that’s surprisingly competent, but it’s the large cast and fleshed-out world bristling with stuff to do that will keep you coming back.
Honorable Mention: Minecraft Dungeons
Minecraft Dungeons isn’t an amazing game by all accounts—it’s just a dungeon crawler with some Minecraft elements added on. If you’re a fan of the genre, play Dungeon of the Endless on Game Pass instead. But Minecraft Dungeons is notable here because it’s the first game with touch controls and an interface that dynamically shifts if you play them on a phone’s touchscreen.
It’s worth checking out, especially if you can compare it to the same game on your Xbox One or PC. This is a sneak peek of what’s possible when future games are made from the ground up with Xbox Game Pass in mind.