I’m sure many of you will be getting a new Xbox soon, whether its for your birthday, christmas or just because you decided to treat yourself. A good friend of mine, Chris, recently did the same thing, went out and bought himself an Xbox Series X, so I given I run a video games YouTube channel and podcast I thought I’d put together a guide of ten games to check out on the Xbox. You will need Xbox Game Pass to check out these games, but it’s incredible value so if you don’t have Xbox Game Pass you really should give it a try. I’ve made the list nice and varied including new games, old games, surprise hits from 2022, and some modern classics from the last 5 years. While this is a list for Chris, hopefully you might find some inspiration in here too.
Without further delay, let’s dive into the list.
Halo: The Master Chief Collection
This is a great place to start. Here we have Halo: Combat Evolved, Halo 2, Halo 3, Halo 4, ODST and Halo Reach. It’s great to relive the multiplayer, on the maps we played so much. It’s also good to go back through the campaigns. I didn’t really appreciate the single player or co-op campaigns at the time, but I’ve since learned to love them, and here is a collection of great story content. Originally this collection was plagued with issues, but 343 have done a great job bringing it up to standard, and it’s the definitive way to experience the Halo franchise these days. I played a few games of multiplayer and it reminded me of our setup in Middleton Road with two CRT TVs back to back, where we’d either be able to play against each other or as a team. Halo 3 multiplayer probably lives most vividly in the memory, especially the level on the beach from the Halo 3 beta.
At the time of publishing this, Somerville is a new game, from the co-founder of Playdead who released classics like Limbo and Inside. This is all about a castastrophe happening to a family, and you have to work to make your family whole again. It’s a Sci-Fi adventure where you have to navigate dangerous terrain and uncover the mysteries of Earth’s visitors. The developers have pedigree, and once you’re done with Somerville then I’d recommend Limbo and Inside too.
Dead Cells is a modern classic. This is a 2D sidescrolling action-platformer, similar to Castlevania. As you progress through the levels you collect new abilities and powers, and your objective is to clear the whole game with a single life. It’s tough, but can be very rewarding when you get the right mix od weapons and abilities. Originally released in 2018, the game has had various updates since then including new story and quality of life changes. It’s also a shining example of ‘game feel’ and how to get that right, because Dead Cells feels near perfect to play – it’s fast, great jumping and dashing, plus the weapons have variety and heft to them. If you like side-scrolling games, this is one of the best.
I always remember you talking about playing an Alien game with Jordan, where you’d be in the tunnels and see the Alien creeping up behind you with the classic blip on the monitor screen. Alien: Isolation is probably the closest you’ll get to that experience. Rather than action, this is very much a horror survival game and stays very true to the original Alien movie. There’s loads of suspense, a few jump scares and the AI of the Xenomorph is very good. There’s nothing more terrifying than crouching and hiding while the Alien is slowly walking around trying to find you. Personally, horror games creep me out, but this one may give you a healthy dose of nostalgia.
Power Wash Simulator
This is a strange one. It’s Power Wash Simulator, and one of the break out indie hits of 2022. The premise doesn’t sound fun, but when you play this game it’s very theraputic. This is about powerwashing things, vans, gardens, various objects. The powerwashing tool has various nozzles, much like a real power washing tool might have. It’s the perfect game to switch off to; maybe put on some music or a podcast, or listen to TV. It’s perfect if you’ve had a busy day at work and want to wind down. There’s no puzzles, frustrating combat, it’s just get into the power washing zone and relax.
Kentucky Route Zero
Kentucky Route Zero is a text-based narrative adventure, much like reading a good book. It’s also one of the best written video games of the last 10 years. The story focuses on a group of misfits on a mission to find “The Zero”, a lost highway that doesn’t appear on any map. In terms of gameplay you walk, read and pick up clues. It’s bleak and at times reminds me of something David Lynch might produce. It’s one of those narrative experience that stays with you years after experiencing it.
Titanfall 2 is probably most famout for having the best campaign in any first person shooter. It has a similar look and feel to Halo, albeit you also have a huge mech, which you jump in and out of throughout gameplay sequences. If you like first person shooters, then this is simply a must play. It was developed by Respawn, now famous for games like Apex Legends, a battle royale set in the Titanfall universe that was released to compete with the likes of Fortnite and PUBG. Titanfall 2 was originally dead on release because it came out during the release of Call of Cuty and Battlefield in their heydays, meaning it didn’t really find an audience for it’s multiplayer. It’s campaign however, is one of the very best.
Outer Wilds is an open world adventure game, where you have to explore a solar system. The twist is after roughly 20 mins the sun explodes, and you have to figure out why and stop it. Each time you go through a playthrough, you collect different bits of knoweldge and information and you have to put it all together and prevent the life-ending explosion. You have your own little space ship and you can explore a number of different planets, all beautifully hand crafted with their own puzzles, life and vegetation. This game doesn’t hold your hand, but it’s worth perservering as its up there with the very best games released in the last 5 years.
Halo Infinite is 343’s latest entry to the Halo series. This is an open-world take on Halo. There’s a huge campaign, plus free-to-play multiplayer with many of your favourite modes. This is one of the better feeling Halo games from 343, Halo 4 and 5 didn’t feel quite right to me, and this feels much more like Halo 3. Halo Infinite plays homage to much of what Halo: Combat Evolved did on the original Xbox. This game also has a bit of history, given it was supposed to come out in 2020 with the launch of the Xbox Series X, then it was delayed for a year, only to come out pretty half baked. There was a great reception on the mutliplayer release, then the player base quickly fell away and the complaints came in from the audience saying it wasn’t as fully featured as The Master Chief Collection. Personally, I think it’s great fun, and a good modern take on the Halo franchise.
This is the one for me. Destiny 2 has a free-to-play version of it via the store, rather than Xbox Game Pass. This is the follow up to Halo from Bungie, and builds MMORPG mechanics on top of what made Halo great. To me there’s no better feeling first person shooter out there, and Destiny 2 has a decent multiplayer. My main focus in the game is the PVE side, or player VS enemies meaning the story, campaigns. If you level up and get into the end game this is where the real fun begins with huge 6 person raids, 3 person dungeons, and some of the most satisfying and fun I’ve ever had in gaming. Destiny 2 can seem a little bit inpenetratable sometimes, but it’s good fun solo or with a team, plus it has a thriving community and plenty of people willing to chip in and help out. At it’s core it’s a first person shooter, where you travel around the solar system killing bad guys in space. If you like the free-to-play version of the game, then I’d recommend buying The Witch Queen Expansion, as that has a killer campaign.
If you do get a new Xbox sometime soon, I hope you enjoy it. Xbox Game Pass has a wealth of games in there, it’s the best value in gaming for sure, whether you’re interested in new games, classic games or some of the greatest hits.