Xbox Game Pass is full of awesome shooters, RPGs, and racing games—but what if you’re more into strategy games over action games?
At first glance, you may not think you have many options since strategy games usually end up as PC games, but Xbox Game Pass is packed with more strategic goodness and tactical candy than you might realize.
We’re talking traditional strategy games here. That includes turn-based strategy games and real-time strategy games, while excluding not-quite-strategy games like city builders and simulation-style games.
Here are the best strategy games on Xbox Game Pass that you can start playing right now if you have an active subscription.
This latest installment in the long-running Desperados tactical stealth series is as difficult as the previous games. If you prefer easier turn-based strategy games, you’ll want to look elsewhere on this list.
As the name hints, this game takes place in the Wild West, with all the outlaws and cutthroats that implies. Make sure to be on the lookout for items in the environment you can use as improvised weapons, as you’ll need any edge you can get on the higher difficulties.
8. Fae Tactics
Fae Tactics is the type of indie game that’s easy to ignore on Xbox Game Pass because it isn’t a splashy AAA game.
But if you skip over it, you’d be making a mistake—especially if you’re a fan of Final Fantasy Tactics—since this turn-based tactical RPG has a lot to love for fans of that type of tactical combat.
The game’s gorgeous 2D artwork is a perfect backdrop for its battles. If you’ve been thinking about trying out a strategy RPG, Fae Tactics is a great way to jump back into the pool.
If you prefer your turn-based tactics a little more modern and sci-fi than swords and sorcery—and if you love a challenge—give Phoenix Point a try. The game is a spiritual successor to X-COM, designed by Julian Gollop, who gave us that franchise in the first place.
Maps are procedurally generated, meaning you’ll never fight on the same battlefield twice and you can’t memorize map layouts to roll through the same way every time, which gives Phoenix Point great replayability.
At some point, they’re going to need to increase the number at the end of the name because the sheer amount of Warhammer 40,000 games coming out will top it before long. Warhammer 40,000: Battlesector is a turn-based strategy game set in the grimdark 40K universe.
Warhammer games are a toss-up when it comes to quality, but developer Black Lab got it right with Warhammer 40,000: Battlesector.
5. Worms W.M.D
The Worms series debuted in 1995 with countless titles and spin-offs released since then, but the core gameplay remains intact. Fortunately, these 2D turn-based tactics games remain fun after all these years.
Worms W.M.D is the latest proper entry in the series with all the same terrain-deforming, worm-blasting fun you remember in full effect. Worms W.M.D will scratch your tactics itch, and it’s also great as a party game!
This is one sequel that many thought we’d never see. The original Evil Genius hit store shelves in 2004, letting you play as a villain building a lair that would fit right into any James Bond film.
Sure, it was basically a reskin of Dungeon Keeper, but the humor and art direction meant that didn’t matter. Evil Genius 2: World Domination picks up where the original left off, albeit several years later.
The game does an impressive job of looking and playing like you remember the original, but with some nice quality-of-life improvements and upgrades to gameplay mechanics.
Hailing from grand strategy powerhouse Paradox, Stellaris was first released for PC in 2016. This 4X strategy game pulls from classics like Sid Meier’s Civilization as well as Paradox’s own Crusader Kings series, making for a game much deeper than your standard Civilization clones.
As the name implies, Stellaris: Console Edition is the same game but packaged for consoles. The game looks and plays great on Xbox Series X|S consoles as well as Xbox One.
Whether Brütal Legend is a strategy game or a strategic action game has been debated since the game’s initial release. Double Fine head developer Tim Schafer has said the game is based on some classic RTS titles, but also said that you shouldn’t play it like an RTS.
Regardless of what genre Brütal Legend falls under, it’s a sadly overlooked game with excellent battles and a fascinating world that looks like you’re traveling through a heavy metal album cover.
Before it launched, the idea of a real-time strategy game for the Xbox 360 set in the Halo universe seemed like an idea destined to fail. But it didn’t, and Halo Wars turned out to be one of the best implementations of an RTS on any gaming console to date.
Halo Wars: Definitive Edition takes the original game and gives it a gorgeous coat of paint. If you have Xbox Game Pass but never tried Halo Wars, Definitive Edition is the perfect reason to finally give it a shot.