One of last year's best action games is free to play on Xbox with Game Pass this weekend

Screenshot of Dead Island 2.
(Image credit: Deep Silver)

What you need to know

  • On occasion, Microsoft will host a special Xbox Free Play Days event in which several games are free to play on Xbox consoles for a weekend for Xbox Game Pass Core and Ultimate subscribers.
  • Free Play Days has returned for this weekend, and from now until February 18 at 11:59 p.m. PT, Xbox Game Pass Core and Ultimate subscribers can play Dead Island 2, Code Vein, Warstride Challenges, and Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl 2 for free.
  • All four of these games are also discounted significantly for the duration of the event, with the best deal being 85% off of Code Vein. This makes it easier to buy them for permanent access if you enjoy playing them during Free Play Days.
  • I've played both Dead Island 2 and Code Vein myself, and strongly recommend them. Warstride Challenges and Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl 2 have plenty of positive reviews, too.

When you think of the best games that came out last year, award-winning titans like Baldur's Gate 3 and Alan Wake 2 instantly come to mind, as do other popular games like Diablo 4 and Lies of P. One that I feel went under a lot of radars, though, is Dead Island 2, a sequel to the classic zombie ARPG that finally emerged after almost a decade of development hell. Its visceral melee combat, amusing writing, stunning visuals, and ridiculously impressive gore and dismemberment physics all made it one of my favorite games of 2023 — and this weekend, you can play it on Xbox for free as long as you have Xbox Game Pass Core or Ultimate.

That's because Dead Island 2 — along with Code Vein, Warstride Challenges, and Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl 2 — are free to play on Xbox consoles from now until Sunday, February 18 at 11:59 p.m. PT for all Xbox Game Pass Core and Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscribers thanks to the return of the Free Play Days event

Notably, subscribers to the standard Xbox Game Pass tier that doesn't include console multiplayer are not eligible for these offers, so you'll need to upgrade to Ultimate for it if you want to take advantage of the event.

Code Vein is one of the four games available to play for free this weekend through Xbox's Free Play Days event. (Image credit: Bandai Namco)

To play each game, you can either add them to your library while signed into the official Xbox website or download and install them from the Xbox Store while on your Xbox console (you'll find all four of them on the Free Play Days tab). Keep in mind that the PC versions of these games aren't on the Microsoft Store, so you'll have to use a console to play them for free this weekend (you can grab the original Dead Island games as well as Code Vein for 85% off and Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl 2 for 50% off on Steam right now, though).

Something folks still using a last-gen console will be happy to hear is that aside from Warstride Challenges, these Free Play Days games can all be played on Xbox One systems as well as the newer Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S consoles. You'll be missing out on improved visuals and performance, of course, but even so, it's great that players on older systems can join in on the fun.

Microsoft is also offering some substantial discounts on each of the four featured games during the event, which makes it easier to buy them for permanent access if you end up enjoying them. The best of these is a colossal 85% markdown on Code Vein, though you can also save $30-40 on various Dead Island 2 editions as well as $25 on Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl 2 and $5 on Warstride Challenges. Oh, and heads up, PC players: 

Great games on offer this weekend

Warstride Challenges released last year, and has gotten tons of very positive reviews. (Image credit: Focus Entertainment)

These are arguably some of the best games I've ever seen come to Free Play Days, with all of them sporting mostly positive reviews across the platforms they're available on. As I said before, I love Dead Island 2 — check out my review for more on why — but I also strongly recommend Code Vein, which is essentially "anime Bloodborne" with vampires tons of great buildcrafting options. It's one of the stronger non-FromSoftware Soulslikes on the market, for sure (my colleague Arielle Danan even considers it one of the best Soulslikes on Xbox and PC).

I'm not much of a fighting game guy, so I can't speak to the quality of Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl 2, but it seems like an awesome follow-up to the original game that's got more content and polish. I haven't played Warstride Challenges either, but it's got glowing reviews and looks like a blast for those that enjoy "boomer shooter" gunplay and movement mechanics.

Brendan Lowry

Brendan Lowry is a Windows Central writer and Oakland University graduate with a burning passion for video games, of which he's been an avid fan since childhood. You'll find him doing reviews, editorials, and general coverage on everything Xbox and PC. Follow him on Twitter.