(Updated November 22, 2019)
Super specific list and something I wouldn’t otherwise have written about if it weren’t for Microsoft’s give us $1 and we’ll give you three months of Game Pass Ultimate promotion. I gave them my buck and don’t regret it — games like The Outer Worlds, Rage 2, Metro: Exodus, ect… are on available for download PLUS a few indies that I probably wouldn’t have played right away or ever: Bloodstained, The Messenger, Slay the Spire, and just a bunch more.
Plus, your $1 investment gets you a year of EA Access Basic so you can play games like Inside, Fe, Unravel 1/2, A Way Out, and Sundered (plus some AAA hot garbage), 3mo. of Discord Nitro and 6mo. of Spotify Premium.
What’s really dope is that with cross-play, I can game with the Xbox homies I lost when I switched platforms! Unfortunately, the list of games we can play together isn’t that great, boiling down to 1st-party titles and obscure indies. Initially we wanted to play Remnant: From the Ash together but it’s console exclusive for game pass and the Steam version doesn’t support cross-platform play. So to find the best substitute game for us to play, here’s a list of the games worth considering when looking for a cross-platform multiplayer game on game pass:
ARK: Survival Evolved
ARK is a first person survival game that has you managing resources and player relations on a dinosaur island. Tame, conquer, or eviscerate the landscape; the choice is yours as long as you build yourself up and survive the game’s steep learning.
If you’re playing on a public server, it’s pretty common to get raided by other players who have much more experience than those starting out. Upon death, you’re character is reset and you must race back to where you died to retrieve your goods. It’s not uncommon for other players to have looted your base in the mean time so be prepared to die time and time again. On the plus side, you can be the one doing the raiding as well!
This game has a super rich history of clan building on YouTube and other platforms. If you want to survive long term, you kind of have to treat this game like a survival MMO and build trust in other players. Personally, I’d prefer setting up a private server and just playing casually since like many survival games, the learning curve can be a bit steep and the punishment upon death can be quite off putting. Still, if this sounds fun and you’ve got about 100GB free on your HDD, I’ve heard nothing but good things about this game!
Gears of War 4 and/or Gears of War 5
Last gen’s mega-hit Gears of War is still going strong with a few sequels. Expect solid shooting with in-depth cover mechanics, plenty of gore and some set pieces that will probably push your system to it’s graphical limits. Co-op wise, these are going to be bread and butter campaigns. If you just want a narrative driven romp with some friends, either one is going to be fine.
The versus mode has a professional-level competitive scene so I imagine picking it up and playing it a couple hours for a few months will stay engaging if you’ve got friends that are oriented around growth. Maps have some versatility to them and weapons definitely serve as tools to complete certain tasks rather than all-purpose, homogenized pieces of equipment. While this isn’t Warframe or Melee, movement options do play a strong role in mastering your abilities. This game did pave the way for cover-shooting as we know it today.
Horde mode has always been a mode that rewards observant player. Matches can last minutes or hours depending how set party is for survival. As you get deeper into the PvE combat, options and strategies unlock and combat stays as dynamic and expressive as your party wants it to be.
Metroidvania isn’t exactly the genre I think of when I picture a co-op game but Guacamelee! is here to change my mind. The first game in the series did a good job of emphasizing engaging platforming challenges in addition to beat-em-up style combos. The art style is inspired by Latin folk-lore from Mexico and Central America designs and makes every part of the world feel so vibrant and memorable. The humor was a great mix of character interaction, puns and nostalgia that never leaned too hard on any one approach.
From everything I can gather online about the sequel, the developers at Drink Box took everything the community said they enjoyed about the first game and made a more refined experience out of it. Co-op is drop in drop out so players can stay for the whole journey or pop in for a short time to assist a buddy making the trek.
Forza Horizon 4
The Horizon spinoff of the Forza series feels like a successor to the open world, non-simulation vibe of the Need for Speed franchise. The modelling and physics for engines, tires and terrain as there like you would expect from a Forza game but with many, many accessibility options toggle to allow for a user created mix of arcade and simulation gameplay. I know the world looks nice and the cars sound powerful but that isn’t enough to make me want to play a racing game. If I can, however, go as fast as I want, and make interesting, dynamic decisions while I weave through streets without slamming into every corner because I didn’t start braking three seconds again, I’m going to play your game.
As far as co-op features go, it looks like players can play through the whole campaign together but players who are further in the story will have to join the worlds of players earlier in the story if you don’t want to start a new campaign together. With games like this, I always expect there to be a series of missions player must complete before they can interact and it seems like they’ve tried to reduce that as much as possible here.
In addition to the story/free-roam elements, players can of course invite each other to single races or circuit races if you’re all about settling a grudge match at a moments notice.
Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite (Marvel 4)
I think MvCI Is a good inclusing for fighting game representation on game pass. If you’re an FGC nerd who wants to get good at every Marvel game, you probably already own this. However, if you’re a comic fan who plays for the character interaction but hates forking out $60 to hear a few lines of dialogue then BAM! Download this game!
I listened to a podcast where one of the writers who worked on this game was a host and lemme tell you what — he had nothing for love for this game before and after he left Capcom. The whole team went out of their way to ensure each character interaction and story path felt rich and rewarding. Players who knew about character backgrounds going into this game are going to be rewarded ten fold can I can only imagine the beginner who cares more about that sort of thing then hitboxes is going to have a great time.
The FGC still still has Marvel 4 representation despite Dante’s infinite and broken options at launch. The game’s evolved to be worthy of the Marvel vs. Capcom moniker and if you like the game after you 3mo. trial is up, it’s probably going to be hecka cheap enough to scoop a copy for you and your circle to get on.
State of Decay 2
My GF and I have been playing the shit out of this game since we dropped the buck on game pass. Imagine light crafting, base building and resource management with satisfying and surprisingly tough combat against crowds of zombies. The game is open world and features three different maps to play on, each with visually distinct elements. Transportation is on-foot or by vehicle though cars do take damage and require the occasional refill on gas. Lastly, you’ve got to manage your base’s supplies and the morale/health of party members.
That’s a pretty loose description but honestly what you’ll be thinking about most while you play this game. The story generally feels like it’s there to push you along to visiting new locations but everything you do in between is so satisfying and complex that even managing your survivors sleepiness feels great.
To talk a little more on combat; if you’re a good shot and keep your melee weapons in check, it’s really easy to enter a flow state. Sometimes you’ll find yourself going against too many enemies and the fear of permadeath triggers fight or flight. These moments create a similar sense to a bonfire rush in a souls game when you know you basically have to play perfectly or else you’ll lose all your progress. Prior management of resources like stamina, ammunition and projectiles really pay off here and let you feel like a juggernaut. I like to play this game fast and loose but my partner hates it. Holy moly does this game reward you for it, though!
One thing about the co-op though: you don’t share worlds with friends, rather visit them. You can collect ammo, weapons and medicine there but trading with other survivors is disabled and putting your survivors to bed won’t trigger medical benefits of sleep unless you’ve built up your resources in your own world. Essentially, if you want to play this game entirely coop, everyone has to spend time in their own world for awhile. Survivors and gear do carry over between worlds so that really isn’t a bad thing.
This game was mostly a disappointment compared to how Microsoft hyped it up. However for being a Crackdown game, it’s functionally and makes some exchanges with old and new designs to form at least a decent 2-player co-op experience.
I would almost compare this title to a super hero game because of how many super-human abilities the player will have as they progress. Things like climbing building, leaping incredible heights, using cars as projectiles and chaining attacks together still looks like a ton of fun and the original games were my favorite definition of what a sandbox cops and robbers game could be like.
This does have multiplayer that’s set in sectioned off portions of the map but everything I’ve read online makes it seem like things are pretty underwhelming. Imagine most of the abilities of singleplayer translated to a team arena but I guess in practice, this leads to moment where players just circle the map, always able to see the other player but never able to hit them. A shame the multiplayer wasn’t more, really. Crackdown was one of my favorite games on the Xbox 360.
Sea of Thieves
This game looked weird when it was announced and still looks weird to me 3 years later. I don’t think Sea of Thieves is a bad game, by any means, rather I just don’t think I’m the type of player who would get the most out of what this game has to offer. There are small objectives and quests the player can party up and work on but I think much of the enjoyment of this game comes from a players ability to truly role-play as a pirate and treat everyone yee encounter like a scurvy dog… Yarg!
There’s more to be said about this game by other people so if this sound fun, I’d prefer you skip my review and just watch any of these people on YouTube.
This is where the list falls back on indie. I haven’t spent any personal time with these games but honestly, most of them look more fun than the AAA games!
This game looks like a fun, survival/base building game set on distant planets! Players have access to lots of tools that help them terraform the surface of each planet into what ever they’d like to get out of it! Machines like rovers, drills, shuttles, ect.. can all be 3D printed at the player base to aid in exploration. Like Minecraft, this title seems to use a minimalist art-style that surely lets the designers focus on creating engaging interactions between all the systems at play to make this game unique.
Games like this seem to do best in the hands of creative players but with the over-all goal of Astroneers to find the rest of your crew before crash landing, I’m sure there are many objectives that grant the player a chance to learn just how everything works.
Games about Mountain Biking are kind of a hard sell to me despite loving to bike myself. I’m sort of questioning why this is and Descenders is telling me that it’s because the genre was underappreciated until this game!
From what I can gather, this plays a bit like Trials meets SSX. Players need to focus on self control and nailing movement to thrive but once they feel comfortable with those skills, tricks and exploration really takes off. Levels are procedural generated but never fear — this game was in early access for quite a bit of time to grant many opportunities for the developers to get feed back from the player base.
First person mode looks like a ton of fun, especially when hitting the steepest jumps or weaving through thick forests. Racing support up to four players and since the game shifts player attention to mechanical mastery and speedy reactions over course memorization, I feel like this could be a hit party game for groups who really like to dig into getting good at a game.
Full Metal Furies
This indie game made by the developers of Rogue Legacy is a “true-cooperative” action RPG that seems to draw inspiration from play style synergies of a MOBA within a PvE framework. There’s also a lot about this game that reminds me of Broforce action meets beat’ em up presentation.
If you’ve got a group of friends that all feel confident enough to min/max their character iteratively between battles while also communicating intentions with ease, this game is probably insanely rewarding. Plus, there’s many crazy boss fights, epic loot drops and dangerous exploration all wrapped up in a story mode.
I’m disappointed that they didn’t add an extra R to the title and make every hero an animal. Just imagine upgrading your cheetah into a panther! That’d be sick lol
Riptide GP Renegade
I’m consistently surprised by the number of jet ski racing games that exist right under my nose yet not many people seem to talk about them. I think they continue to be made an released as budget games because of how easy racing games are to pick up and play plus the only work that really needs to be down outside of initial engine polishing is player modelling and world modelling. Because of this, Riptide GP Renegade looks about as fun to play as you’d expect from a jet ski game with a handful of courses and players to unlock.
I will say that many of the levels to race on in this game have a presentation similar to a themed pinball table: It’s not always clear why things look the way they do but after you’ve played on them a few times, you begin to appreciate the designers pulled from many different visual elements than a few understandable ones that would just end up feeling repetitive.
If you remember this game only takes up about 400MB on your HDD, it doesn’t sound so bad for short, pick up and play sessions when you just don’t know what else to play.
Unlike many of the other games on this list, I find Timespinner to be one that you’re going to enjoy most if you’re ready to commit to about 6-10hrs. playing this with someone else in just a few sittings. The creators put quite a bit of effort into extracting all the best qualities of action platforms of the 90s and centralizing them around the theming of the world this game is set in.
Your quest has the young Lunais setting out to seek revenge on the empire that killed her family. The gameplay is largely comparable to Symphony of the Night with the inclusion of a time pause mechanic that’s utilized in many action puzzles across the game. Coop comes in the form of player 2 controlling the familiars Lunais will be using similar to the partner mechanic in Paper Mario except player 2 will have full control.
If turn-based tactical games are a bunch of your friends’ jam then Wargroove might simultaneously inform you of an itch then scratch it for you!
Build an army from 12 different characters and try to conquer each other’s land in freeplay or across a campaign. Lots of indepth character synergy is at play here and thanks to the game’s grid based layout, a feature rich map creator can let everyone face off under any conditions imaginable.
Personally, I’d love to pick up a game like this and play it with friends who enjoy strategy table top games but can’t always find time to commit to long sessions.
This article is in no way sponsored and was wholly created to be a resource for myself and friends to use when while we try to find more cross-platform coop games that can be played until our trial runs out.
A few games were intentionally dropped from this list: Munchkin Quacked Quest, Zoo Tycoon Ultimate, DiRT Rally and 2 Disney games weren’t talked about because of their awful reviews. Some potentially fun games like Pandemic, Lichtspeer, Riverbond and Supermarket Shriek weren’t talked about because they looked way. way too boring.
I hope you find something here you like!
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