If Xbox Game Pass is incredible value for money – and of course it is – then RPGs are the most valuable games on it: where a first -person shooter might think it's special with a campaign lasting six to ten hours, RPGs are likely to consider that just enough for a tutorial level. These are big adventures with big rewards for gamers skilled enough and patient enough to level up their characters and take on ever more terrifying enemies.
The line between RPGs and other genres, especially action games, is awfully blurry these days but we're not interested in quibbling over definitions: we want great games we can completely lose ourselves in, and these three deliver exactly that.
Final Fantasy XIII-2
Yes, it’s an old game. But it’s also a brilliant one, and with The Zodiac Age leaving Game Pass this month FFIII-2 is one of the best FF experiences you can play for free. It’s a great and massive JRPG with a superb battle system and a strong story featuring some great voice acting. Its predecessor, Final Fantasy XIII, was quite divisive: many FF veterans hated it, accusing it of dumbing down and general weirdness. But the sequel was much more warmly received, partly because it’s much more accessible and largely because it’s a lot of fun to play thanks to its battle system, menagerie of monsters, puzzles and mini-games.
Edge of Eternity
Coming to Game Pass on February 10, this epic JPRG is a fun option for fans of Final Fantasy and Chrono Trigger. The French developers clearly love their JRPGs and this game is a fond homage to the genre with excellent turn-based combat and a Final Fantasy-style battle gauge. It’s a lower-budget affair than the titans of RPGs so adjust your expectations accordingly: if you do you’ll find this an ambitions and often enthralling adventure.
NieR: Automata BECOME AS GODS Edition
Is it an RPG? Is it an action game? Is it really, really weird and often incredibly irritating? Are you going to love it and hate it and then love it all the more? The answer to all of these is yes. NieR: Automata is one of the strangest and most enjoyable action role playing games I’ve ever played, and the Xbox Game Pass version is better than the version I bought and played on PS4.
The BECOME AS GODS edition doesn’t include any new gameplay but it does bundle the core game with its DLC, delivering a world you’ll lose yourself in for weeks or months alongside one of the great game soundtracks. If you can get through the opening fight without rage-quitting you’re in for an absolute treat.