Best of Xbox Game Pass: RPGs

Luke Albigés - March 16th 2022

Xbox Game Pass is absolutely packed with great games, even more so if you're an Ultimate subscriber and get all those EA Play titles included in the service as well. But which are most worthy of your time? In this new feature series, we'll be trying to help you find the answer to that recurring question.

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Xbox Game Pass Ultimate includes over 100 high-quality games for console, PC, phones and tablets, all the benefits of Xbox Live Gold, and an EA Play membership, all for one low monthly price. Play together with friends and discover your next favorite game. See more below.

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Best of Xbox Game Pass is our attempt to make finding the service's must-play games easier than ever, breaking down the vast catalogue by genre and with the TA news crew weighing in on what they think are the games in each field that you won't want to miss. The plan is to update these articles as the Game Pass library changes, whether when something featured here leaves the service, or when a new arrival comes along that perhaps bumps one of our personal picks down to being an honourable mention. As well as individual picks, we'll also run down a selection of the other best examples of the genre in question, which might include super-obvious picks that have already been discussed to death, or low-key highlights from the indie scene.

Kicking things off, we've got RPGs, and fans of meaty, stat-packed adventures are spoiled for choice with Game Pass. As a bonus, all of these will help towards our inaugural set of TA Targets — the RPG and daily unlock ones should be fine, but you might want to look elsewhere for your completions. These things tend to be pretty massive!

Xbox Game Pass: Best RPGs

Yakuza: Like a Dragon

The action-packed combat of the Yakuza series never felt to me like it would translate especially well when the shift to turn-based battles for Like a Dragon was first announced, but man, did the team manage to prove me wrong. Yakuza: Like a Dragon is an RPG about RPGs, with playful new protagonist Ichi seeing his world through the lens of the classic 8-bit JRPGs he loves so dearly. In his mind, he's the world-saving hero, and his allies powerful wizards and warriors to help him do battle against the evil forces sweeping Yokohama. From gang members to violent drunks, these 'monsters' — literally, as Ichi sees them — are tackled with traditional JRPG-style turn-based combat, albeit more over-the-top than you might be used to in the genre. From using a mobile phone to call in 'summons' with wild animations to changing classes to use weaponised hostess abilities, Like a Dragon is anything but normal.

Like previous games, though, the latest mainline Yakuza title isn't afraid to go to some pretty heavy places, and it's amazing just how well it manages to strike a balance between serious beats and its madder moments without causing too much of a disconnect. It helps that the game is absolutely massive, so when you get into one of those hard-hitting scenes, the fact that you appointed a chicken as CEO of your new company is too distant a memory to interfere with its impact, and this tonal ebb and flow continues throughout this superb adventure to surprisingly solid effect. Yokohama isn't the biggest open world setting the series has known, but the slower nature of combat here compared to earlier games means that's not necessarily a bad thing, plus it feels densely packed with story and side content that will keep you going for hundreds of hours. If you're going after those Yakuza: Like a Dragon achievements, though, be prepared for a bit of a grind getting the final few ticked off...

Yakuza: Like a Dragon

Become Ichiban Kasuga, a low-ranking yakuza grunt left on the brink of death by the man he trusted most. Take up your legendary bat and get ready to crack some underworld skulls in dynamic RPG combat set against the backdrop of modern-day Japan in Yakuza: Like a Dragon.

Russian and Brazilian Portuguese subtitles available in early 2021 via patch update.

Game leverages Smart Delivery allowing access to both the Xbox One title and Xbox Series X|S title when available.

Dragon Age: Inquisition

Dragon Age: Inquisition isn’t always the most imaginative high-fantasy RPG, but it is a comfortingly enjoyable romp that finds ways to keeps its hooks in you. It starts out with a big, bad explosion on a hill. Then a big bad guy starts doing big and bad things literally because he is really bad. Now, you know this Corypheus dude is bad because he is always swaddled in darkness and speaks weirdly — those are his defining traits, I don’t know how else to put it. Anyway, this leads to the formation of the Inquisition, led by your player-created character. The target is to stop this guy opening interdimensional tears across the land of Thedas by bringing together some of the finest and oddest folk in the land. From a lovely castle, you will embark on missions to different areas, talk to your companions, recoup from fights, and explore every nook and cranny for something new. The over-arching narrative does have an air of well-trodden fantasy tropes, but it is still full of interesting detail. Often you find yourself attached to the smaller stories which help tie together the larger narrative, especially todards the twisting, turning ending.

However, Inquisition really succeeds with its smartly designed hub world structure. If you struggle with something like Assassin’s Creed Valhalla because it is too much, then Dragon Age: Inquisition knows how to parcel up its world into neat, separately-contained areas to much better effect. Each part of Thedas serves up bite-sized narrative arcs with less strenuous exploration than the Ubisoft epic. Each story tends to come with a different biome — mountains, low-hills, desert, and so on — which really gives developer BioWare the space to flesh out the world in many different tangential directions. Each zone is normally filled with things to do and check off like normal, as well as a cool boss fight or secret passageway. The combat is glorious, running in real-time or in an RTS-style with turn-based attacks. With a great mix of classes, weapons, armous, special abilities and revives, you will spend plenty of brain space working out which party-member to take on a mission.

You see, the real good stuff in Inquisition is the strong cast of interesting companion characters. An elven archer named Sera, for example, is an absolute delight. Every now and again the Robin-Hood-like gal will shout wonderful nonsense like “eat it, you lop-eared, son of an arse-nut rot-suck piece of...ugh!" These episodes of story and constant chatter work to make the whole game meaningful as the player starts to agonise over every multi-pronged choice that might end up losing you a favourite friend along the way. On the side, your interpersonal attachment gives combat an added layer of purpose, while giving you an exciting sense of trepidation as you embark on a mission with your fellow squad mates. The DLC is varied and arguably better than the main story at points, so don’t miss out on that either. Anyway, I highly recommend you jump into this well-crafted RPG — it is a solid experience with plenty of fun ideas that will help fill a fantasy hole!

Dragon Age™: Inquisition - Game of the Year Edition

Discover the ultimate version of Dragon Age: Inquisition which includes all DLC and add-ons.
Explore the epic adventure that has been awarded over 130 Game of the Year awards. Take your place as the Inquisitor and lead a team of heroes to save Thedas from the brink of chaos.

The Outer Worlds

When you’re woken up from cryosleep by a mad scientist, booted out onto a strange planet, and given some garbled account of a massive, complex conspiracy theory by said mad scientist, you know it’s going to be a good game. Add to that the fact that you accidentally land on (and kill) the first person you’re supposed to meet, and you’ve got a good idea of how things tend to go in The Outer Worlds. We play as someone who had been in cryosleep on a colonist ship, and who was woken up decades later than expected to find themselves in an unrecognisable future. The future, however, isn’t waiting around for us to catch up; we’re led on a madcap race around the galaxy, struggling to save it (or maybe destroying it?) and trying desperately to catch up with what’s going on. It’s a whole lot of fun, especially since the game doesn’t take itself seriously in the slightest: it’s laughing along with you as you get from one bizarre situation into another.

We can lead a crew of companions; a motley bunch made up of those we’ve found scattered throughout the galaxy, and we’ll explore everything from space stations to settlements, wielding an array of bizarre weapons, and causing confusion as we try to decide the fate of the Halcyon colony. The imagination that went into the game makes each world feel alive with potential, and the wacky sense of humour keeps things fresh throughout. The Outer Worlds is ridiculous fun, and it’ll keep you engrossed for quite some time — plus, you can brush up on your skills before The Outer Worlds 2 arrives!

The Outer Worlds

The Outer Worlds is a new single-player sci-fi RPG from Obsidian Entertainment and Private Division. As you explore the furthest reaches of space and encounter a host of factions all vying for power, who you decide to become will determine the fate of everyone in Halcyon. In the corporate equation for the colony, you are the unplanned variable.

The Elder Scrolls Online

The Elder Scrolls Online offers everything that makes the mainline series great, and a whole lot more. Being an MMO it’s going to have a Marmite effect for much of the franchise’s fanbase: you’ll either love it, or you’re going to detest it more than Molag Bal dislikes the truth. If you can look past the fact that you won’t be embarking on an adventure in the same style as Skyrim, The Elder Scrolls Online is sure to offer you an equally as rewarding experience. It’s absolutely crammed full of lore, interesting characters, a massive portion of Tamriel to explore, dungeons to explore alone or with groups of up to 12 players, PvP combat, solid class structure, and a ridiculous number of additional features that you just can’t get from the single-player experiences.

Set aside some time if you plan on tackling The Elder Scrolls Online achievements, though, because it’s a beast that will require you to invest thousands of hours. Is it worth the time investment? Well, that’s a personal choice, plus the goalposts continuously move due to ZeniMax regularly adding new content, but we’re all for it. If you’re looking for a game to act as your one constant go-to, which you can pick up and put down at will, and that is filled with rich Elder Scrolls lore, then The Elder Scrolls Online is well worth your time — who knows? Maybe it’ll become your new favourite game to play...

The Elder Scrolls® Online

Includes The Elder Scrolls Online base game and the Morrowind Chapter. Join over 18 million players in the award-winning online multiplayer RPG and experience an ever-expanding story in a persistent Elder Scrolls world.

Optimized for the Xbox Series X|S with Console Enhanced, bringing a new level of fidelity and performance—free for all ESO players.

Mass Effect Legendary Edition

Mass Effect Legendary Edition, which is playable via EA Play with an Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription, gives you three of the finest RPGs in existence: Mass Effect, Mass Effect 2, and Mass Effect 3. In the trilogy, Commander Shepard, an officer in planet Earth’s Systems Alliance military, learns of a threat so colossal it could wipe out all life in the Milky Way. As Shepard, you set out on a space-hopping journey to recruit a team to halt the Reaper invasion and restore peace to the galaxy. Along the way, you’ll visit a wide variety of different planets, battle against various species of aliens and mercenaries, get embroiled in interplanetary politics, and even get a little freaky with a few aliens in the bedroom, if you so wish. The writing across all three Mass Effect games is superb, and it really feels as if you’re stepping into a rich universe that existed for aeons before you arrived. But where BioWare really excels is with Mass Effect’s companions, who are all so uniquely memorable and interesting that they’ll stick around long in the mind after completing the trilogy, especially so if you become particularly attached to a character and you end up losing them on the way.

The Legendary Edition makes numerous visual and gameplay upgrades to the trilogy and several quality-of-life improvements. Not only do all three games support 4K/60fps on Xbox Series X, but BioWare went in and updated a lot of the games’ textures, characters models, environments, and lighting. BioWare also overhauled Mass Effect’s combat, the Mako’s handling, and created a whopper of an achievement list — the Mass Effect Legendary achievements offer a total of 2,915 Gamerscore.

Mass Effect™ Legendary Edition

The Mass Effect™ Legendary Edition includes single-player base content and over 40 DLC from the highly acclaimed Mass Effect, Mass Effect 2, and Mass Effect 3 games, including promo weapons, armors, and packs – remastered and optimized for 4K Ultra HD.

Honourable Mentions

If MMOs aren't your style, Xbox Game Pass also has three more famously quite good Elder Scrolls games available in Morrowind, Oblivion, and Skyrim. Sci-fi more your scene? There's another trio of Bethesda classics for you in Fallout 3, Fallout: New Vegas, and Fallout 4 all included in the service. Maybe it was the humour of The Outer Worlds you liked rather than the setting? The first-party Fable series is all there and typically played for laughs, so check those out, or there are the fantastic Pillars of Eternity and Pillars of Eternity II offering a fantasy setting played much straighter, if you'd rather. For JRPG fans, when you're done with Like a Dragon (see you in 200 hours...) there are some heavy hitters in the form of Dragon Quest XI and Final Fantasy on offer. The latter has seen its legacy titles cycle through Game Pass, with current highlights being FFX (which, annoyingly, shares a 1K list with its divisive sequel) and FFXIII-2 — the best of the XIII trilogy, all of which are currently available. Hardy Tarnished who have bagged all the Elden Ring achievements and are seeking their next Souls-like fix could do a lot worse than Mortal Shell, while folks looking for something a little less obvious (and a bit faster paced) than some of these choices should definitely give the likes of Archvale and Nobody Saves the World a try. Shoutout to Undertale too, with its inventive deconstruction of RPG mechanics and killer soundtrack.

Got any of these sitting on your backlog, or newly finding their way onto it? Any other Game Pass RPGs that you might care to recommend? Let us know below!