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6 Bethesda games Xbox Game Pass members should NOT miss

Prey
Prey (Image credit: Bethesda)

Doom Eternal

Source: Nicholas Downie / Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Nicholas Downie / Windows Central)

Last week Bethesda formally joined Microsoft's creative arm, now positioned adjacent to Xbox Game Studios. With the deal approved in both Europe and North America, Bethesda has formally onboarded the Xbox family, bringing its first-party studio count up to a massive 23. With this new acquisition comes a wealth of established studios, including the legendary Bethesda Game Studios, behind RPG icons The Elder Scrolls and Fallout.

With this talent comes an incredibly diverse and impressive backlog of games that span decades. It can be daunting for newcomers, especially when 20 top Bethesda titles joined the Xbox Game Pass games list this week. But worry not, we've rounded up the must-play experiences in the Bethesda family, focusing on the oft-overlooked masterpieces.

Escape the space station in Prey (2017)

Prey Xbox Wc

Source: Nicholas Downie / Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Nicholas Downie / Windows Central)

Prey released back in 2017 and represented a new venture for the developer Arkane Studio. The game takes you to the space station of Talos 1, a paradise where all things seem normal, until that all changes. After spending what appears to be a normal day at the office, your way of life is derailed as aliens escape and take over the space station. It shares themes with classics like Aliens, except instead of a Xenomorph hunting you down, there are shapeshifters trying to morph and betray you. This leads to a consistently very tense environment, scanning and checking every nook for enemies.

This focus on survival and scanning for enemies is part of Prey's absolute brilliance. Each level is incredibly detailed and provides some of the most iconic enclosed level designs since the original Bioshock. While Rapture remains possibly one of my favorite worlds created in gaming, Talos 1 remains a close second.

If you aren't sold on Prey yet, the variety in combat styles should get you the rest of the way there. Prey's systems are built around playing into your strengths. While you can head in guns blazing, there are more interesting and creative ways to navigate Talos 1 and the creatures that occupy it. Opportunities include leveling up your hacking to use the space station's defense system against the Mimics or even splicing yourself with Mimic DNA, granting you incredible inhuman powers. All of these things come together to make it one of the most crucial games to play from the recent Bethesda catalog.

Kill nazis in Wolfenstein: The New Order

Wolfenstein: The New Order

Source: Bethesda Softworks LLC (Image credit: Source: Bethesda Softworks LLC)

Wolfenstein is possibly one of the most iconic FPS franchises from the era of 90's PC gaming. Wolfenstein 3D, in tandem with the original DOOM, went forward to lead the charge of the FPS genre in 1993. Wolfenstein: The New Order was the first Wolfenstein game in over five years when it was released in 2014. Machine Games revive that magic with Wolfenstein: The New Order and turned it into a Nazi killing machine.

High-octane, Nazi-killing action is what makes Wolfenstein special.

Wolfenstein: The New Order features incredibly kinetic combat and drives home the actions you are performing. When you are blasting away Nazi super-soldiers with a mini-gun you feel the power of the weapon as it shreds through your enemies.

As much fun as blasting and rampaging is, stealth combat is equally rewarding to the player. It's a race of killing Nazi officers so that they can't raise the alarm, summoning waves upon waves of troops that will overwhelm you quickly.

Wolfenstein: The New Order brings that classic formula to modern times, while also introducing a cast of characters who are easy to fall in love with. Pack all of this together with an industrial metal soundtrack from the brilliant mind of Mick Gordon and it becomes the complete package. Wolfenstein: The New Order is an absolute must-play simply if you love FPS games whether you played the previous games or not. It's a fantastic introduction to the world of Wolfenstein, with its modern rebirth bolder than ever.

Play your way in Dishonored: Definitive Edition

Dishonored Definitive Edition

Source: Nicholas Downie / Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Nicholas Downie / Windows Central)

Arkane Studios takes the stage again, this time for the stealth action franchise Dishonored. In a corrupted world, filled with plague, politics, and bloody assassination, it shines with immersive world-building and character systems. While many stealth games require you to crouch and sneak to get a positional advantage on your enemy, Dishonored gives you a host of mystical powers that make navigating the world of Dunwall easier.

These powers force players to think outside the box to navigate each level, making Dishonored akin to the "Thief" reimagining we hoped to see. But stealth action isn't your cup of tea, you're not just restricted, with a wide variety of non-stealth powers and equipment to kill your targets. Have you ever wanted to watch someone be eaten alive by a pack of plague rats? Yes? Dishonored is the game for you.

While Dishonored offers you a wide variety of ways in which you can play, constantly make you second-guess your kills and experiences. The more people you kill in Dishonored the more chaotic your ending will be. Dishonored can be played from beginning to end non-lethally, while many stealth games offer this. Dishonored counts this in their "Chaos" system that will ultimately affect your ending. In a world full of evil, it is your choice in how you want to approach, making for an incredibly unique stealth experience.

Feel the terror in The Evil Within

The Evil Within

Source: Microsoft (Image credit: Source: Microsoft)

If you loved Resident Evil 4 back when Capcom was released many years ago, cast your attention to The Evil Within from Tango Gameworks. The Evil Within takes a lot of inspiration from a lot of early survival horror games but playing with psychology that creeps under your skin very quickly. It's often hard to describe horror to people, but with the Evil Within, you're one cold person if you walk away unphased.

It is not just the monsters that create this uneasy feeling you will experience from The Evil Within. It is the world itself, both unsettling and thrilling, springing some of the most terrifying horrors on you without notice. And while you may fear every corner has a monster waiting, there are a wide variety of weapons and tools, opening a matter of picking your battles.

Very few games attempt such an approach to survival horror today, and even fewer games execute that premise like The Evil Within. If you are a fan of horror survival games like Silent Hill and Resident Evil — or a general horror fanatic — then you must try The Evil Within.

Explore Morrowind two decades later

Morrowind Xbox Wc

Source: Nicholas Downie / Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Nicholas Downie / Windows Central)

While would recommend Skyrim to experience the Elder Scrolls franchise, the most modern installment of the franchise, don't sleep on Morrowind. Yes, Morrowind is an original Xbox game that was released back in 2002. So while it certainly shows its age, it's still one of the most important RPGs of its time. It truly pushed open worlds to the limit for its time and a true inspiration for its time. Without Morrowind, we most likely wouldn't have amazing open-world RPGs like The Witcher 3, Kingdom Come: Deliverance, and many more.

The world is surprisingly alive for a game from 2002, filled to the brim with non-player characters (NPCs) that want to help you, hinder you, and harm you some more. The game is set in the province of Morrowind as a deity is rising to power in order to overthrow the Imperial empire that ruled over the province. And when playing through Morrowind, you will find much of the early beginnings of Oblivion and Skyrim.

You can slowly experience the build-up to what we know as the Elder Scrolls franchise in its primitive stages in Morrowind. While the AI certainly feels dated, and the combat is certainly clunky by modern standards, there's just something so special about Morrowind. I certainly have nostalgia for the game which helps. but I hope everyone can experience even a few hours of the game to understand its importance to the games we love.

Return to Fallout 76 after its best updates yet

Fallout 76 Photo Mode Wc

Source: Nicholas Downie / Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Nicholas Downie / Windows Central)

Now hear me out — Fallout 76 was criticized very heavily when it launched. It was all very well deserved, from the state of the mission design, as well as the many game-breaking bugs. However, Bethesda knuckled down and began fixing these bugs, and creating free DLC to make Fallout 76 more like a... Fallout game.

With the addition of NPCs, the world feels much more like a traditional Fallout experience, with a focus on companion quests, base building, and survival mechanics. There's is a great mix of new enemies that separate Fallout 76 from previous Fallout installments, like a flying Scorch Beast, an acid-spewing dragon that provides a formidable foe for even the most seasoned players. Fallout 76 went from the black sheep of the Fallout franchise to possibly one of the riskiest gambles that paid off for Bethesda in the long term.

There's no better time to come home to West Virginia. It feels like a classic Fallout experience, with the added benefit of being able to experience it with your friends. The MMO-lite aspects of the game, that keep you constantly scavenging, participating in events, and base building blends phenomenally with the Fallout universe. If you love Fallout and have a few friends who also love the long storied franchise, then Fallout 76 is certainly worth a download.

The start of something bigger for Game Pass

These are some of my favorite Bethesda-related games that you will be able to access as part of your Xbox Game Pass membership. There are many, many more already there, as well as more to come in the future. Games like Starfield, Elder Scrolls 6, and more will all join the best Xbox Game Pass games from launch day, so it's ideal to see the best of these franchises.

9 Comments
  • The funny thing about Morrowind is that the oldest, crudest game (graphically) is the largest, most flexible, and most complex. Just a sample: you can fly, teleport, use three types of blades, spears, multiple layers of clothing and armor, everything enchantable.
    (Looks much better at 4K/60 auto HDR that in 2002 on a 300MHz Celeron.)
    The thing screams for a remake.
  • I knew Halo was on the verge of being 20, but wow I didn't think Marrowind was. I played it on the Xbox and it was even amazing there. I imagine the PC version must have blown it away.
  • Not really.
    I played it on both.
    PC hardware made a difference if you went high end but the textures were comparable on both.
    Morrowind is why I bought my Xbox; it was cheaper than buying the cheapest video card that would run it. A couple years later I upgraded my PC and played it a bit to explore Mods and VIVEC was more stable but it wasn't all that different.
  • Wow, that's crazy. That was during a time where there wasn't parity at all when it came to PC vs console. I remeber playing C&C on the PS1 and then seeing the PC version for the first time. Granted that is a but older, but it was almost a different game entirely.
  • The OG XBOX *was* a PC.
    Celeron CPU, NVIDIA GPU, DirectX based.
    The reasons it was quickly replaced were varied (MS was new to the biz) but one of the bigger ones was that it was (more or less) easily hacked and repurposed as a PC, usuzlly running LINUX or XBMC (which has evolved into KODI, now official and available at tbe store). These Media Center and Linux boxes had essentially zero attach rates which is why MS lost a couple billion in establishing the XBOX brand.
    (There's also uncorroborated reports that NVIDIA wasn't a particularly helpful partner in cost reduction, driving MS to AMD's ATI GPUs, who were much more atuned to the needs of a console builder and were willing to license the tech, not just sell chips.)
    So, anyway, when people seek to dismiss the XBOXes as "just a PC" MS folks just smile. In fact, legend has it that when Gates was shown the OG XBOX prototype his fitst qurstion eas "Can it run Windows?" The answer being, "If necessary." Which is even more true today, hence the XBOXes sanctioned ability to run unsigned UWP apps. For extra points: The OG XBOX was a rush job, driven by Sony's hype-filled claims that its upcoming PS2 would be a full blown home computer able to replace PCs for image processing, online access, and other apps. That...concerned MS. So they threw a lot of support to Sega's DREAMCAST and when it became clear that wasn't sticking, gave birth to the XBOX. There's a whole book out there on the birth of XBOX.
    Sony, being Sony, went back to the hype well with PS3, describing the CELL chip as a supercomputer capable of running scientific jobs and LINUX. We all saw how that exercise in goldplating ended up. The whole "console wars" thing this century has been an exercise in self inflicted wounds by all players. (Yes, Nintendo, too. No Wii HD for one.) It remains to be seen if the tgree can all get things right at tge same time, for once.
  • I love that so many comments are about Morrowind. We're all Old.
  • Well, as Spencer said, the console market is aging.
    That's one of the reasons for xCloud, to reach other demographics. The console offers GAMEPASS a "homebase" of sorts and a catalog of streamable games both old and new; while competidors like LUNA and STADIA have to convince developers to support their platforms,MS already has a substantial revenue stream in their dual-mode subscription. It's not unlike how NETFLIX ramped up by first establishing themselves among the existing DVD rental business and then slowly transitioning customers to strraming.
    GAMEPASS is cementing itself among console and PC gamers while waiting for the tech and infrastructure to mature as it opens up to mobile and TV customers. It'll take time but the Golden Oldies will grease things along nicely. So yes, Morrowind, Doom, Halo, Forza, Fable are all names nongamers will have heard here and there and will be curious about. Good franchises to entice folks to the service with. MS is following a known good blueprint.
  • I'm glad that Prey is now exposed to a wider audience given how brilliant of a game it is in narrative & creative gameplay. Arkane deserves more success with their titles. - the immersive sim must live on as a genre.
  • I only started playing it a couple days before it left Game Pass last time and was enjoying it, so I'm glad to see it back.