You knew it was coming. After running down the best games of 2022, the best Switch games of 2022, and the best PlayStation games of 2022, the Xbox was clearly up next. Like Sony, Microsoft is simultaneously supporting two consoles still—the Xbox One and the newer Xbox Series X|S. With the tech giant buying up studios like Bethesda and Activision Blizzard over the last couple of years, the first-party lineup of the Xbox family will no doubt flourish over the next decade. For now, though, the best thing about owning an Xbox isn’t its exclusives but the sheer number of games you can play with a subscription to Xbox Game Pass. The subscription service has hundreds of games worth playing, with more added every month, including many hitting it on release day. If the Xbox is able to return to the top of the gaming industry, as it did during the Xbox 360 era, Game Pass will clearly be a huge reason why. Exactly half of the games below are playable on Game Pass right now, including our number one pick. It’s only five years old, but Xbox Game Pass has become the defining feature for the console, and the main reason to snap up either an Xbox One or an Xbox Series X|S.
Oh, and here are 10 more reasons: the 10 best Xbox games of 2022 so far.
Trek to Yomi is a side-scroller parry-based samurai fighting game set in Japan’s Edo period, shot in black-and-white with artificial screen aging effects added to evoke Akira Kurosawa’s samurai films of the 1950s and 1960s. It’s a relatively straightforward action game that nonetheless provides exploration opportunities and multiple, eventually convergent, paths through its world. It’s a frequently beautiful game throughout, but especially in the afterlife. It’s more distinct and surreal than the parts of the game seeking to remind you of Yojimbo and Seven Samurai. What comes next feels appropriately unreal. Trek to Yomi is an admirable attempt to bring samurai cinema to gaming audiences. Hopefully it gets more of us to engage with the source material.—Kevin Fox, Jr.
Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands is a fine reintroduction to the looter-shooter space, drawing on multiple RPG heritages to make a fun, if somewhat adolescent, experience. It might be more fun to play than to listen to, but it’s far from intolerable. In fact, a good time should be had by all party members. The combination of ranged and melee weapons with magic, special skills, and companions like a tiny dragon make for frenetic and exciting gameplay in a colorful, surprisingly engaging world.—Kevin Fox, Jr.
The King of Fighters XV lives up to the series’ standard by delivering blazing-fast fights, vibrant character designs and an electrifying soundtrack. In fact, its biggest battle is against the past. Its barebones tutorial and missions do little to welcome new players, making it unlikely to attract anybody who isn’t already familiar with the series. Despite King of Fighters XV’s quality-of-life shortcomings, there’s no arguing that it’s still a good fighting game. It’s just as fast and entertaining as previous entries in the franchise and brings the series into a new era with vastly improved netcode, but it puts up so many barriers of entry that it’s hard to recommend to newcomers to the genre or franchise.—Charlie Wacholz
Good toys are, at their core, fun to play with, and Legos aren’t just good; they’re incredible toys. Every Lego Star Wars game nails this sense of play and fun as it plays with what it means to be Star Wars, turning fascistic wizards, soldiers, politicians, killer robots, and pirates into charming toys. Skywalker Saga is no different, and its unabashed enjoyment of Star Wars is infectious. Even as an un-lapsed fan, I felt my admiration and passion for this rich world surge the same way visiting Galaxy’s Edge or a good episode of Clone Wars would. A simple beat-’em-up with a few puzzles and John Williams’ masterful music doing a lot of the heavy lifting would be fine. Instead, Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga doesn’t just go above and beyond to remind you why you should love Star Wars, but is a testament to how much the people who made it love Star Wars.—Charlie Wacholz
It starts with a familiar enough Western trope. Bandits raid your character’s homestead, killing your child and kidnapping your partner. Instead of working for an evil rancher or railroad man, though, you soon learn the attackers work for man-eating Sirens. Weird West’s world is full of such supernatural horrors, including wraiths and werewolves. Kindly townsfolk and roving robbers are both somewhat acclimated to dealing with these beings, though some civilians have it harder than others. Aside from seeing the setting as an overhead view combination of Dishonored’s steampunk dark magic and Red Dead Redemption’s prestige Spaghetti Western formula, I found myself comparing Weird West to Fallout: New Vegas, which had a Wild Wasteland optional perk setting that tuned up the wackiness. It’s a fun world that ends up being darker and more intense than silly, with humor often coming from absurdity.—Kevin Fox, Jr.
This loving tribute to the multiplayer beat ‘em ups of the late ‘80s and early ‘90s focuses like a laser on the nostalgia of a certain generation. It’s not just that it’s based on the version of the Turtles from the first cartoon and toy series (complete with the original voice actors), the same era that inspired the beloved arcade brawler from 1989; the entire genre is so inherently old-fashioned that it can’t help but feel like some long-lost game from 30 years ago. If you miss teaming up with your friends to bash generic punks and thugs in a cartoonish version of New York City, Shredder’s Revenge will wind back the clock for you. It wouldn’t make this list if it was just nostalgia, though; Shredder’s Revenge adds enough modern tweaks to drag that formula into the 21st century. It’s an example of a game that does what it sets out to do about as well as it possibly could.—Garrett Martin
The third in Roll7’s series of arty, lo-fi skateboard games follows the typical trajectory of a videogame series: everything is bigger, longer, deeper. Beefier, even. It has characters. A whole story, even. At its heart it’s still the thumb-aching, quick-twitch trick machine that OlliOlli has always been, but with the narrative and world-building elements expanded so thoroughly that it doesn’t always feel like the elegant puzzle engine it used to be. That’s neither good nor bad—it comes down to your personal tastes—but it’s all done with the same charm and the same cool aesthetic that the series is known for. And given that it’s been seven years since the last time we dipped into a new OlliOlli, this is very cool World is a welcome one indeed.—Garrett Martin
You know what’s just full of respect? Andrew Shouldice’s Tunic. That’s what. This one-man adventure jam doesn’t go easy with its puzzles, having faith that its players will be able to think their way through every tricky scenario presented to them. It also has a deep and overt respect for ‘80s Nintendo games, specifically the original Legend of Zelda; that’s evident not just in the game’s isometric view and general environment, but also in its in-game manual, which isn’t just some mystic, sacred text the adorable fox hero has to seek out, but also a recreation of an NES-era instruction booklet. Tunic sifts through the shared experiences of our gaming past to create something new and unique enough to exist outside the easy allure of nostalgia.—Garrett Martin
You’d be forgiven for thinking Elden Ring was the only game that came out this year. For a solid three months it seemed to be the only thing anybody talked about, wrote about, or even played. From Software blew its signature RPG formula up into one of the largest open world games in memory, which makes it more accessible than their earlier Souls games, but also even more mysterious and unsettling. Its massive, secret-filled world is clearly influenced by The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, but with the brutality and subtle approach to storytelling you expect from a Souls game. It might be a little too big, and devolves into a bit of a slog in the late game, but Elden Ring remains an almost unthinkable achievement. I’m dumped over 170 hours into it and still occasionally pop in again to look for any caves or ashes I might’ve overlooked. Elden Ring has a way of setting up camp inside your head and refusing to leave that few games can match.—Garrett Martin
You can think of Citizen Sleeper as a sort of digital board game set in a sci-fi dystopia beset by end-stage capitalism and all the rampant dehumanization that entails. It’s a game about work and death where the only levity comes from the relationships we make with others—yes, the friends we made along the way, but not nearly as banal or obvious as that sounds. It questions what it means to be a person in a system that inherently subjugates personhood to corporations and wealth, and it probably won’t surprise you that the answers it lands on aren’t always the most optimistic or uplifting. Here at Paste Cameron Kunzelman described its “melancholy realism” as part of a trend alongside other story-driven games that are largely hostile to the dominance of capitalism, and it echoes the impossibility of thinking seriously about this medium, this industry, and, well, every aspect of society today without discussing the impersonal economic system that drives it all. It’s a heady RPG that respects your time and intelligence, and one of this year’s must-play games.—Garrett Martin