Project xCloud is finally out of preview and released in earnest on Android devices on the Xbox Game Pass app, where you can also remotely install games to your Xbox or PC. But this list isn’t for gaming on TV or monitors. This is for the on-the-go players who want to play via the cloud. The Xbox Cloud Gaming, or Project xCloud, library has grown by more than 50% since we last covered the list, as it launched with over 150 titles. That means there are several new hits on this list, so don’t miss out on what’s new and playable on your smartphone or tablet via Xbox Cloud Gaming.
25. The Wolf Among Us
This adaptation of the comic book series Fables comes from Telltale’s heyday. Fresh off its massive success with The Walking Dead, the California studio launched The Wolf Among Us, a neo-noir detective story starring characters from nursery rhymes and children’s stories like the Big Bad Wolf and the Little Mermaid. Not quite Grimm’s Fairy Tales but certainly not Disney either, this unique adaptation helped cement Telltale as more than a one-hit-wonder. It holds up today too, even if we may sadly never get the sequel that was once planned.
Though it’s just in Game Preview, Xbox’s equivalent to Steam Early Access, Grounded is fast making a name for itself as a bona fide survival game with a kid-friendly twist. The gameplay mechanics still go as deep as fans of the genre crave, with basebuilding, armor crafting, and plenty of secrets to find, but it’s all done up like Honey I Shrunk The Kids, where enemies aren’t zombies or mutants. They’re bugs, because you’re shrunk to a centimeter tall.
If you’re looking for a western RPG to play on xCloud, you can’t do better than Vampyr. This haunting title comes from Dontnod, the creators of Life is Strange, and is dripping with as much atmosphere as its protagonist’s chin is dripping with blood. Featuring a unique morality system that lets you feast on anyone, even questgivers, for their blood, players have a heavy hand in altering the story as they see fit.
22. Shadow of the Tomb Raider
If you’ve been following Lara Croft’s rebirth over the past decade, you can’t miss Shadow of the Tomb Raider. It’s designed as Crystal Dynamics’ final act to Lara’s three-part origin story reboot and it goes to some unsettling places. Lara sees herself become something of a villain in Shadow, and must reconcile her behavior with her intentions, all while stopping yet another Big Bad in her way. With more emphasis on stealth and plenty of new puzzle mechanics, this is Lara at her most skilled and self-confident yet.
One of the newer entries on this list, Spiritfarer combines gorgeous hand-drawn art, some light farm sim touches, and a bittersweet death-positive vibe to deliver one of 2020’s most memorable indies. As the titular Spiritfarer, it’s your job to guide parted souls to the afterlife, and in doing so you’ll get to expand your boat to accommodate more passengers, learn their stories, and help them find peace. It’s as lovely to play as it is to look at and thus should not be missed.
Turn to the next page for more of the best xCloud games…
20. Civilization 6
For years, console gaming has meant accepting a lack of strategy games, but lately that’s proven to be a trend that’s disappearing, thankfully. Few games stand as a greater testament to that than Civ 6, which is a series that has almost never seen console launches. Years ago, players could grapple with the watered-down Civilization Revolution, but now on Xbox and xCloud, you can explore history with the complete, unfiltered version of one of the best strategy series out there.
16. Civilization 6
For years, console gaming has meant accepting a lack of strategy games, but lately that’s proven to be a trend that’s disappearing, thankfully. Few games stand as a greater testament to that than Civilization 6, which is a series that has almost never seen console launches. Years ago, players could grapple with the watered-down Civilization Revolution, but now on Xbox and xCloud, you can explore history with the complete, unfiltered version of one of the best strategy series out there.
19. Destiny 2
If you’re looking for a game you can play forever on xCloud, you’ve found one such example right here. Destiny 2 is newer to the xCloud library than many on this list, and as one of the generation’s biggest time-sinks, something tells us you’ll appreciate the increased accessibility of Bungie’s loot shooter. Jumping into Destiny 2 on xCloud may seem like a less than ideal way to play, but give it a try and you may be surprised. With a good connection, all of these games run just as well as they do on console, and that means Destiny fans can now turn their beloved game into a mobile experience. The future is so cool, huh?
18. Ori and the Blind Forest
While the much-anticipated sequel is here to wow us again, don’t overlook the original if you missed it til now. With stunning art, lovely music, and perhaps the best metroidvania experience since the games that gave the genre its name, Ori and the Blind Forest is an unforgettable debut from Moon Studios. The combat and traversal is precise and there’s always something more to be seen for the completionist at heart. It makes for a great mobile gaming experience.
17. Warhammer: Vermintide 2
If you’re still impatiently waiting for Left 4 Dead 3, get in line behind me. But also like I did, realize that there are many great alternatives to that unlikely sequel. One of the best is Warhammer Vermintide 2. Don’t let the IP scare you off. I know nothing of Warhammer and still enjoy my time with Vermintide 2 every time I load up my axe, bow, sword, and other weapons in this fantasy-infused take on four-player co-op versus the hordes.
16. Wasteland 3
Though Wasteland 3 is multi-platform due to distribution deals in place before the studio was bought by Microsoft, inXile’s first major release since joining the Xbox Game Studios family should bring a smile to anyone invested in the future of Game Pass. This tactical RPG delivers difficult choices and intelligent combat scenarios in equal measure for upwards of 80 hours. I’ve personally found it’s become my favorite mobile game of the year, as odd as that sounds, but thanks to Xbox Cloud Gaming, it need not seem so strange. It’s a great game and works really well on the small screen.
One of the progenitors of hardcore survival games, DayZ has survived thanks to its community of passionate fans that spend not hours but days, weeks, and even months in their persistent servers fighting to survive harsh elements, roaming zombies, and winner-take-all players. Those persistent servers make a great case for DayZ on xCloud, as it’s the kind of game you can jump into for as long as you want, leave, and return later to everything being as you left it – well, at least for your character. The world goes on without you and when you do jump back in, prepare for more of the unforgiving landscape of DayZ.
14. World War Z
Speaking of zombies, what about the best Left 4 Dead-inspired game to come out since Valve stopped working on the series? That describes World War Z. Don’t be fooled by the strange ties to an IP not exactly in the spotlight. This third-person take on co-op zombie shooting mirrors Left 4 Dead in the best ways and even improves on it in several, like new defensive abilities and character classes. If you saw this game on the digital store and expected another forgettable licensed game, give it a chance. It’s so much better than that.
13. Tell Me Why
Dontnod has delivered standout titles for years. Whether it was early favorites like Remember Me or the more recent episodic successes of Life Is Strange, the French team has surged in acclaim over the past decade, but none of its games have been more important socially than Tell Me Why. Focusing on a pair of twins, one of whom is transgender, the game explores the dynamics of such a person while also touching on darker subject matter like family conflict and a repressed past. It will grip anyone who tries its three-episode arc, but it’s especially noteworthy that it’s been lauded by the trans community for a brilliant depiction of its protagonist.
12. Dead By Daylight
Asymmetrical horror games have become one of the coolest new trends in games, so playing Dead By Daylight on xCloud is like a trend within a trend. Trendception. This 4v1 experience pits survivors against one terrifying monster and it’s a perfect fit if your friend group is looking for a party game. Load up xCloud on a few phones or TVs in a shared space and watch as your horror game becomes an oscillating machine of scares and laughs. Basically it’s like the Wii U’s Mario Chase, but much bloodier.
11. Gears 5
The latest in the Gears saga spurred opinions all over the map. Some adored it, while others felt it didn’t break enough new ground. For what it’s worth, I personally loved the move to put Kait in the starring role, and the open world sections were a step in the right direction for The Coalition’s baby. It’ll be years before we get another sequel, but in the meantime, queuing up another round of Horde on your phone is an awesome way to pass the time.
Turn to the next page for our top 10 best xCloud games…
10. The Outer Worlds
The phrase “from the team behind Fallout: New Vegas and South Park: The Stick of Truth…” should be all it takes to convince you The Outer Worlds is worth playing. One of 2019’s most beloved games is now playable on your Android device, revealing that even in a crappy year, we can still occasionally have nice things. The Outer Worlds delivers all the questing and companion goodness of a Fallout, but set in a new, comically cynical dystopia that’s worth scouring for every last quest.
9. PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds
Though the battle royale craze arguably began in even earlier mods of PC games, the real genre explosion occurred only once PUBG took the world by storm back in 2017. Today, it’s been usurped by the likes of Fortnite, Call of Duty Warzone, and Apex Legends, but for genre purists (like me!), you still can’t beat the original PUBG, jank and all. Nothing else quite packs the realism and the thrill of battle royale all in one package, keeping it unique in an increasingly crowded field.
8. State of Decay 2
If you want a zombie game that accounts for virtually every aspect of zombie survival, from resource scavenging to base building to neighbor relations – and yeah, a bit of zed-bashing, State of Decay 2 is the only game that so deeply scratches all itches. It’s a bit janky, sure, but hundreds of hours later, I don’t seem to mind. No game lets you more accurately act out your Walking Dead fanfic than State of Decay 2 and it’s a game that is surprisingly welcoming to short or long sessions, making it a no-brainer for the xCloud crowd.
7. Halo: The Master Chief Collection
You can’t have an Xbox without at least a few Halo titles, but how about almost all of them? The Master Chief Collection encompasses every numbered Halo through Halo 4, plus Reach and ODST, into one glorious package. Whether you’re a series veteran looking to dive back into the classics or a newcomer to the franchise, The MCC will give anyone an encyclopedic knowledge of Bungie and 343’s flagship Xbox series.
6. A Plague Tale: Innocence
A Plague Tale: Innocence picked up some deserved awards hype last year, but it still seems to have slipped through the cracks for too many. A stealth-action game driven by story and taking place amid a grotesque rodent plague swallows France, I jokingly call it The Rats of Us instead, because its gameplay mechanics clearly borrow so much from Naughty Dog’s classic. But A Plague Tale stands on its own too, as one of the best story-driven games of 2019. Play it before the inevitable sequel is announced.
2016’s Hitman was something of a reboot for the franchise, and what a great experiment that was. Though the episodic delivery didn’t win everyone over at the time, it doesn’t matter today, four years later, when the entire game plus all DLC is on xCloud. Hitman is, at its heart, a puzzle game. It just happens to have a darkly humorous heart and about 500 ways to assassinate the world’s worst villains. If you missed the series, Hitman 2016 is a great jumping-on point, and if you’ve already played it before, then you know how great it is.
4. Sea of Thieves
Rare’s pirate adventure sim wowed few at launch, but in the two years since, this live-service game has grown to become one of Xbox’s most beloved brands, not to mention its best-selling new IP of the generation. A barren sea early on has given way to monstrous sharks, volcanic islands, PvE skeleton ship battles, and a fully fledged story mode that regularly receives new chapters. More comes to the shores of Rare’s game every month too, so there’s always reason to set sail again and again.
3. Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice
In its six- to eight-hour run time, Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice tells a better story than some do in 100 hours, but maybe that’s the point. Hellblade is a reminder that a tight, intense, heartfelt story can be more effective than a never-ending quest-a-thon. It tells the story of Senua, who ventures into the Norse underworld to save the soul of her loved one, Dillion. Along the way, the allegorical story touches on mental illness, ostracization, and grief. Yeah, it’s not exactly a pick-me-up, but it’s so well done, it deserves to be played by everyone.
2. Forza Horizon 4
The wild thing about Playground Games is that they’ve never made a game that’s worse than the one before it. Forza Horizon 4 continues that upward trajectory by giving players the deepest, most satisfying “simcade” racing experience ever put to video games. With England to explore through seasons that change weekly and more challenges than one may ever be able to complete, it can feel like getting four games in one – not to mention the Lego Speed Champions expansion which is like a whole new game yet again, and will definitely speak to your inner child, or even your adult self. Lego is cool forever, right?
1. The Witcher 3
The Witcher 3 is widely considered not just one of the generation’s bets RPGs, but one of the best role-playing games of all-time. It won over 150 game of the Year awards back in 2015, and it’s still just as riveting today as it was then. If the Netflix series or Cyberpunk 2077 has you itching to see what CD Projekt Red has done with Poland’s monster slayer, playing it on a phone or tablet is, perhaps surprisingly, satisfying. It worked on Switch and it works maybe even a bit better in this case, since it’s included with your Game Pass subscription already. Basically, there’s no wrong time or way to play The Witcher and thankfully Xbox Cloud Gaming gives you the flexibility to suit those sudden urges to hunt monsters (and maybe a bit of love) as Geralt of Rivia.
Game streaming services are here to stay, and they’re already changing how we play games forever.