The majority of games available on Xbox Game Pass are primarily playable on Xbox consoles, whether that's the Xbox One or the Xbox Series X|S. However, plenty of them are also playable on PC.
Among those games, there's a subset that's actually better when played on a PC rather than one of the Xbox consoles. Those are the games we're focusing on in this list of Xbox Game Pass games.
Here are the best PC games on Xbox Game Pass that absolutely make Xbox Game Pass worth its price. Most of these games came out within the past few years, with a few classics sprinkled in.
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10. Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition
Technically, Age of Empires II is an old game—a really old game. But the Definitive Edition is a masterpiece-level remaster that honors the 20th anniversary of this classic game for the ages.
Not only is Age of Empires II still one of the greatest real-time strategy games ever made, the Definitive Edition serves as proof that real-time strategy games are still just as fun now as they were then.
Everything gamers loved about the original is still here, except with a fresh coat of paint and some great quality-of-life improvements.
Have you ever wished that the XCOM turn-based tactics series had more of an emphasis on huge combat robots of the mecha variety? If so, Battletech is the perfect game for you.
Battletech is a turn-based tactical strategy game with an XCOM-inspired campaign mode, plus a few touches that make it very different. The main difference? There's no grid!
Somehow, Battletech does away with one of the most defining features of turn-based tactics games and still works. The precise positioning will have you considering each move much more carefully.
8. Europa Universalis IV
Developer and publisher Paradox certainly know how to do grand strategy games with depth, and Europa Universalis IV remains the company's finest work to date.
If you've never played a game in this series before, prepare to spend lots of time learning the game and how it wants you to play. This is a complex experience that's rewarding if you can get over the learning curve.
7. Galactic Civilizations III
Stardock's 4X series Galactic Civilizations has been a go-to franchise for strategy fans for years, and Galactic Civilizations III fulfills the promise of those earlier games while making improvements.
Picking up where games like the Civilization series leave off, Galactic Civilizations III sees you exploring, expanding, exploiting, and exterminating your way through an entire galaxy.
Like most 4X games, the focus is on the bigger picture—you won't be engaging in tactical ship-to-ship combat, but instead focusing more broadly on where the fights happen as you expand your empire.
6. Shenzen I/O
Shenzen I/O isn't for everyone, but if you've ever wanted to feel like a computer genius without actually being one, this is as close as you'll get.
Then again, the better you get at playing Shenzen I/O, the better you'll get at understanding programming-related concepts—and, who knows, you might actually be able to leverage that into real programming.
Shenzen I/O is a game that boasts its in-depth gameplay right from the get-go, starting with its included manual and datasheets.
5. Hearts of Iron IV
Yes, we're featuring another Paradox game: Hearts of Iron IV. Yes, it's another grand strategy game full of complexity. It bears repeating: Paradox knows its niche, and they do these games really well.
While the battles in Hearts of Iron IV are more hands-on than the battles in a game like Europa Universalis IV, don't go into this expecting a tactical combat type of game. It's still very much strategic.
Sure, you can micromanage if that's your cup of tea, but if you'd rather focus on the bigger picture stuff, the AI can handle the grunt work of micromanagement surprisingly well.
4. Everspace 2
While the original Everspace made heavy use of roguelike elements, the sequel pursues a more traditional take on the space fighter genre.
This may sound like a step backward, but, if anything, Everspace 2 feels like a much stronger game than its predecessor.
The game has been in Early Access for quite some time, but as of this writing, its official release is imminent. The game is complete enough to start playing, so if you have Xbox Game Pass, don't hesitate to jump in.
3. Torment: Tides of Numenara
Torment: Tides of Numenara is a spiritual successor to one of the most beloved Dungeons & Dragons-themed RPGs of all time: Planescape: Torment. If you love narrative experiences, this is the one.
Torment: Tides of Numenara had huge shoes to fill in trying to follow the cult classic success of Planescape: Torment. Does it reach the same heights as its inspiration? Maybe not, but it's still a deeply rewarding RPG.
Like Planescape: Torment, there's some combat in Torment: Tides of Numenara, but combat is definitely not the focus. Rather, it's the storytelling that takes center stage.
2. Dyson Sphere Program
Like the indie hit Kerbal Space Program, Dyson Sphere Program wears its entire premise in its name.
In this factory simulation game, your main goal is to construct a fully functional Dyson sphere to harness the energy of a star.
Some people will find Dyson Sphere Program addictive, others will find it meditative, and others will find it boring. No matter what your final take ends up being, it's absolutely worth checking out.
1. Total War: Warhammer III
The Total War series has been around for more than 20 years, having debuted with Shogun: Total War way back in 2000. The series really came to prominence with 2004's Rome: Total War.
And, in many ways, 2022's Total War: Warhammer III is still following that basic blueprint, except with many upgrades. The game mechanics have expanded and evolved, and it's a much more in-depth game than the earlier entries in the series.
This is the type of game you could easily lose a month to if you enjoy games that combine turn-based strategy with real-time tactics.