10 Best Classic Games on Xbox Game Pass to Play in 2021


Microsoft's Netflix-like video games service, Xbox Game Pass, is arguably the best video game subscription service right now. Filled with a growing number of AAA titles, some of which are available at launch, Microsoft seems intent on dumping as much proverbial fuel onto the Xbox Game Pass fire as possible to make it grow larger faster.

Just in case you have no budget for the Legendary Edition right now, you can still enjoy the entirety of the Mass Effect trilogy on the Xbox Game Pass.

With that said, not all the best titles on the Xbox Game Pass are recent releases. In fact, some are as old as the Xbox 360 console, if not older.

Scroll down below to learn more about the best classic games on Xbox Game Pass to play in 2021.

Halo: The Master Chief Collection

What better way to experience Halo for the first time (or for the nth time if you're a longtime fan) than to play through the entire Halo storyline?

This is a no-brainer. Halo: The Master Chief Collection is one of the best games on the Xbox Game Pass library. It's a definitive experience that lets you enjoy six Halo games that will let you experience the story of Halo from the start with Halo Reach until Halo 3: ODST.

The best part about Halo: The Master Chief Collection is that the Xbox Game Pass version comes with graphical enhancements. This means that your games should play better with smoother framerates and better visuals. Plus, even to this day, there are still a couple of people playing Halo multiplayer and it's just as fun to play it with friends locally.

TLDR; this is a collection of games that you absolutely shouldn't miss if you have an Xbox Game Pass subscription.

Fallout: New Vegas

Here's to hoping that Bethesda revisits the idea of a New Vegas 2 after Fallout 76.

Fallout 3 was a great way to introduce the classic post-apocalyptic RPGs of the 90s to modern audiences. Fallout 4 was an excellent follow-up as well. For all its flaws, Fallout: 76 is shaping up to be a good game too. However, if we were to single out just one Fallout game outside of the ones released during the 90s, we'd have to go with Fallout: New Vegas.

The now-classic 2010 title is widely considered by many as one of the best Bethesda games ever released, taking the franchise back to the west coast with a heavy dose of RPG elements that seem to be absent in the Fallout games that succeeded it.

Alan Wake

Before Control, Remedy Entertainment made a name for themselves with Alan Wake.

All eyes are on Control right now, as they rightfully should be. It's Remedy Entertainment's best outing yet and sets up a sequel pretty nicely. However, before Remedy Entertainment even began talking about their very own connected video game universe, the studio had a third-person suspense title that feels a lot like a Stephen King novel in video game form.

Alan Wake is a modern-looking cinematic video game that would fit in perfectly in the 80s and 90s, thanks to its clever use of classic mystery and horror tropes from the said years. Alan Wake even has a story separated into multiple chapters with closing music credits for each one. Speaking of music, Alan Wake has a soundtrack that'll make it difficult if not impossible to forget the eerie experience of playing the game for the first time.

As an added bonus, playing Alan Wake will give you a bit of context about the second Control expansion, AWE.

Minecraft

It's Minecraft and it's free, what other reason would you need to download the game if you have an active Xbox Game Pass subscription?

If you've ever needed a good reason to justify an Xbox Game Pass subscription to the missus, let her know that it comes with Minecraft. If you have kids, she won't hesitate to let you pony up the cash for the service.

At this point, Minecraft is so ingrained into popular culture that it needs no introduction. Even people who don't play video games know what Minecraft is. It's that popular. Plus, no other game in the world gives you the kind of meditative experience that Minecraft gives you when playing alone but also has the flexibility to play like a social game that you can share with other people.

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Black

While they are best known for their work on the Burnout and Need for Speed racing games, Criterion Games also have the chops to work on shooters as evidenced by their 2006 title, Black.

Here's a title that most of you have probably never heard of until now.

Black was released back in 2006 by Criterion Games for the Xbox and PlayStation 2 which later released a port to the Xbox 360. During its time, it boasted one of the best-looking visuals, which is why it holds up surprisingly well even today. More importantly, its first-person shooter gameplay is proof that EA made the right call to have Criterion Games help DICE out with the next Battlefield game.

Perhaps the only issue with Black is its short playtime, but since you're getting the game for free with the Xbox Game Pass, that's really that big of a deal.

Banjo-Kazooie

While the graphics definitely have not aged well, Banjo Kazooie's gameplay stands up well more than two decades later.

Because Microsoft also owns Rare, they have rights to the company's numerous classic Nintendo titles. This includes, among many others, Banjo-Kazooie, which looks weird (but in a good way) when played on the Xbox Series S/X and Xbox One, consoles that went to market decades after Rare first released the game in 1998.

Speaking of 1998, Banjo-Kazooie is Exhibit A of why older platformers remain so highly regarded.

The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion

While all the Elder Scrolls games on the Xbox Game Pass library are well worth playing, we recommend Oblivion if it's your first time playing an Elder Scrolls game.

If we're being honest, we could have filled three spots on this list with the three Elder Scrolls games available on the Xbox Game Pass. However, we felt that it wouldn't be fair, so we ultimately went with Oblivion.

Nostalgia-wise, Morrowind would have won out. It's the game that established the Elder Scrolls franchise on consoles, after all. However, Oblivion is a better product in every way. It has a deeper and more nuanced skill system with a larger open world, as well as far more things for players to do than Morrowind and probably even Skyrim.

Speaking of, Skyrim is also a great place to start as it's probably the most popular of the three.

Mass Effect 2

The introduction of the Illusive Man and Cerberus was one of the biggest highlights in the best game in the Mass Effect franchise.

Yes. We are aware of Mass Effect: Legendary Edition, but it's not available on Xbox Game Pass as part of EA Play (it'll be on EA Play Pro though), so we'll have to settle with recommending the next best thing, which is the original version.

Ultimately, we do recommend playing the entire trilogy if you have an Xbox Game Pass subscription. However, if you have to choose just one, you can start with Mass Effect 2. It's arguably where the franchise peaked with its likable set of characters that most of us are guilty of spending too much time trying to flirt with and RPG mechanics that effectively lets you play the game's protagonist, Shephard, however you want.

Brutal Legend

Ozzy Osbourne and Jack Black in a video game with heavy metal music, what more could you ask for?

Brutal Legend is arguably the poster boy when it comes to underrated titles. The hybrid open-world brawler real-time strategy game that featured Jack Black and heavy metal didn't sell particularly well nor was well-received by critics. However, it's gained somewhat of a cult following since it was released on the Xbox 360 more than a decade ago.

Brutal Legend is the sort of game whose experience is hard to put into words and what better way to try out a divisive title than to do so for free as part of your Xbox Game Pass subscription?

Dead Space

More than a decade since it first released, fans are still hoping that the developers decide to revive the Dead Space franchise following 2013's Dead Space 3.

Another EA Play gem for Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscribers, Dead Space is best described as a Silent Hill game set in space. It uses the same psychological horror elements that the long-dormant Konami franchise used to scare the pants off of gamers when it first debuted in 2008. So effective was the formula it used that Dead Space saw two more sequels with the creators' upcoming title, The Callisto Protocol, obviously taking inspiration from it.

Ray Ampoloquio
Ray is based in the Philippines. He is a lifelong gamer and a PC hardware enthusiast. He builds and repairs laptops and computers for friends and family in his spare time. You can find Ray on Twitter.