Action is a tough video game genre to pin down and define. From open-world sandbox games to cinematic set-pieces, action games can mean all kinds of different experiences. Of course, that’s part of the appeal.
And fortunately for Xbox gamers, Xbox Game Pass has tons of great action games that you can play on your Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S consoles. With so much variety, you’re sure to find one you’ll like.
Here are some of the best action games on Xbox Game Pass, ranging from big-budget masterpieces down to indie hidden gems. No matter what your tastes are, you’d be remiss to skip any of these.
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10. Crackdown 3
The original Crackdown first hit the Xbox 360 way back in 2007. The game was well-received, though its sales figures were heavily boosted by the inclusion of Halo 3 multiplayer beta codes included in each copy.
Three years later, Crackdown 2 came out and improved on the first game in many ways, leaving many to still remember it fondly.
And then in 2019, we got Crackdown 3. This one doesn’t innovate that much on the earlier games, but that’s fine by us. It’s a classic open-world game that’s souped up with updated graphics and some quality-of-life improvements, making it a great game for Xbox Game Pass.
9. Trek to Yomi
As of this writing, Trek to Yomi is relatively new to Xbox Game Pass but it’s already worthy of making this list due to its awe-inspiring black-and-white visuals that are heavily Kurosawa-influenced.
Indeed, this side-scrolling action game isn’t just an ode to Akira Kurosawa but to many early Japanese films in general. It’s also tough as nails—you’ll probably have to play many sections over and over again—so it helps that it’s so nice to look at.
Yakuza 6: The Song of Life is the last of the action-based Yakuza games, at least for now. Half brawler and half Shenmue-inspired open-world city roamer, Yakuza 6: The Song of Life is packed with action-heavy combat, but also features plenty of minigames to keep things fresh.
The most recent game in the franchise, Yakuza: Like a Dragon, dropped action combat in favor of a turn-based RPG approach, while the action-oriented gameplay moved to spinoff series Judgment.
We’ve featured Maneater before in our review, saying it delivers “good old-fashioned fun in droves.” In case you aren’t familiar, Maneater is an action game with RPG elements where you play as a very deadly, very hungry, very awesome shark.
Despite the gory premise and presentation, playing Maneater feels more in line with a goofy game like Katamari Damacy than, say, Resident Evil. Except it has a whole lot more blood.
The final entry in developer Rocksteady Studios’ trio of game-changing Batman games is the weakest. That said, given how much praise the other two games got, you’d be silly to think that Arkham Knight is weak. It absolutely isn’t, not by any stretch of the imagination.
The combat system pioneered in Batman: Arkham Asylum received a few tweaks to make it feel as strong as ever. And while it isn’t always perfect, the Batmobile is an interesting addition to Batman: Arkham Knight that helps add variety to the gameplay.
5. For Honor
Like many Ubisoft games of the era, For Honor didn’t exactly make a grand entrance at release. Despite its initial stumbles, Ubisoft kept working on For Honor, and like many of the series the publisher stuck with, it eventually gained a loyal fanbase.
For Honor’s melee combat system is unique and may take some getting used to, but this game delivers the brutality of close-quarters combat in a way that not many games achieve.
Now that Bethesda is part of Microsoft, every game in the Dishonored series is available on Xbox Game Pass, and they’re likely to stay there. If you aren’t sure if you’ll like the series, or you’re only going to play one, don’t sleep on Dishonored: Death of the Outsider.
This standalone expansion takes place after the events of Dishonored 2, but you can fully enjoy this game without having played that one. This game is only about 6.5 hours long, making it a tight and focused experience that doesn’t demand too much commitment.
Hitman Trilogy is anything but a tightly focused experience, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Considering how this title packs three modern Hitman games into a single package, you can expect a whole lot of gameplay hours to enjoy as the iconic assassin.
The Hitman games have you playing as Agent 47 who’s tasked to complete all sorts of missions. How you complete those missions is up to you, whether you want to slice through as a ruthless and efficient killer or try to pull off the most comedic and ridiculous assassinations ever.
Following the relatively disastrous Marvel’s Avengers, not even fans had much hope for Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy when it was announced. After it launched, players were cautiously optimistic as they tested the waters. Could this one actually be good?
As it turns out… Yes! Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy is actually a pretty good game. This cinematic adventure tells a great story and the gameplay is interesting and varied to boot.
Psychonauts 2 is one of the best 3D platformers ever made, and it’s fortunately available on Xbox Game Pass. With this long-awaited sequel, developer Double Fine took everything that made the original game great and made it just a little better.
The gameplay is solid and the world design is second to none. You may find yourself wanting to play through this one again just to revisit the environments, which is a testament to its high-quality make.