If you’re wondering what to play on Game Pass this month, or you’ve exhausted the library of existing games, we’ve got some good news. There are plenty of new, exciting games hitting the Xbox Game Pass library for May, and we’ve lined up some of the best right here.
Red Dead Redemption 2
Replacing Rockstar’s GTA 5 (which left Game Pass on May 7), Red Dead Redemption 2 is set in America’s Wild West in 1899, twelve years before the events of Red Dead Redemption. You play as Arthur Morgan, an enforcer with the Van der Linde Gang, who, in the opening scenes, are fleeing to the mountains pursued by federal agents and bounty hunters after a heist gone wrong in the nearby town of Blackwater.
This open-world game doesn’t really ramp up the RPG-like elements until you’re a couple of hours in, when suddenly you’ll have to hunt animals for food, upgrade your camp’s facilities, and resupply the medicine cart. In addition to this, there’s a whole host of moral choices to make, like whether to help old friends on their quests or turn them down – and you can carry out favors for those you meet along the way too to earn discounts in shops.
Red Dead 2 may at times feel like more of a grind than its predecessor, but the beautifully realized world, buzzing towns, and engaging little details will draw you in. The game features bursts of story-telling action interspersed with long periods spent exploring and absorbing every inch of the world, so if that’s your thing, it’s well worth playing while it’s on Game Pass.
Final Fantasy 9
Considered by many to be the best FF game in the series – although my personal favorite is still 8 (and no, it’s not because Squall was my first video-game crush, although that helps) – Final Fantasy 9 has a more medieval feel than its sci-fi predecessors. The game scores 94 on Metacritic; the highest score of the series. Final Fantasy doesn’t have a longstanding history on Xbox, which is why it’s great that this title is available to play on Game Pass.
Released in 2000, Final Fantasy 9 takes place on the planet Gaia. You play as Zidane Tribal, a thief who’s a member of a troupe plotting to kidnap Garnet Til Alexandros XVII, the Princess of Alexandria. As with previous FF installments, this game features the Active Time Battle turn-based command system, where you can control up to eight characters (in a party of four). Abilities can be unlocked by equipping different weapons, add-ons, and armor, and each character can access two command abilities.
I won’t give away too much of the story, but what makes the game really stand out is its range of minigames and sidequests, from frog catching with Quina to the Tetra Master card game, and Chocobo Hot and Cold.
Since it landed on Game Pass on May 7, Day Z has already seen a huge influx of new players, and has become “one of the most played games on Xbox” according to developer Bohemia Interactive. Rating a solid 56 score on Metacritic, this open-world MMO survival sandbox game isn’t for everyone, but if you’re into slow-burning survival games, I’d give it a go.
You wake up on an island in the middle of nowhere in a post-apocalyptic world, armed only with an apple, a flare, and a can of fizzy pop. What happens next is up to you – there’s no guided, action-packed storyline or quick-fire gameplay. Exploring the world around you can be tough at first and you’re likely to find yourself dying a lot as you get to grips with the (admittedly clunky) control system and inventory management.
The game’s visuals are a bit dated, the zombies aren’t especially scary or shambling, and there are even a fair amount of graphical bugs. But where Day Z really comes into its own is when you play with friends. In co-op there’s plenty of longevity and a Walking Dead-style appeal: build your own community of survivors, recruit others, and defend your base camp to the death. Day Z may be a slow burner, but played with others it’s less of a lonely experience and one that will eat up hours of your time.
Landing on Game Pass on May 14, this indie puzzle role-playing game is all about anxiety and mental health. Created by seventeen-year-old Emily Mitchell, Fractured Minds won the 2017 BAFTA Young Game Designers Award in the 15–18 years category.
Although the game is short (it can be completed in under 15 minutes), it’s meaningful and you’ll find yourself thinking about it long after the end credits roll. Divided into six short chapters, the game touches on emotions like paranoia, self-loathing, fear, anxiety, isolation, and being overwhelmed. You’re trapped in a series of prisons, which you escape by solving simple puzzles, only to find yourself trapped in yet another cage.
Incredibly relevant right now during a time when more of us are isolated than ever before, it’s well worth checking out Fractured Minds if you have some time to spare.
Originally released on Xbox 360 back in 2010, and coming to Xbox Game Pass for its 10th anniversary celebrations, Remedy Entertainment’s Alan Wake is the game I’m most excited to play this month. Play as best-selling author Alan, who takes some time out to cure his writer’s block and ends up in the town of Bright Falls, Washington. This supernatural action horror game is part Twin Peaks, part Stephen King, and completely scary. Well, if you like moody, pine forested-backdrops, fiction bleeding into reality, and all sorts of spooky goings-on.
Whether you played the original on Xbox 360 or are new to Alan Wake, there’s no time like the present to revisit the game, or see what it’s all about for yourself when it drops later this week.
I’ve already downloaded Red Dead Redemption 2 – but am currently playing my way through Assassin’s Creed Origins after the recent Xbox sale – and can’t wait to line up Alan Wake in my games library too! Which of these games are you most excited for?