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They're not all great, but that doesn't mean there's nothing worth subscribing for. Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we'll be counting down our top 10 best and worst free Xbox games with gold ever.
The games with gold program is a great concept on paper. Pay for the monthly sub, and get free games every month. Not a bad deal, right? Well, it's not always worth the price of admission. For this list, we'll take a look at the must play games, but also the misses.
Subscribe to WatchMojo—Ranking Pop Culture Since 2006
#5 WORST: "How to Survive: Storm Warning Edition" (2013)
Indies are always hoping to stick out from the crowd, and while 505 Games' survival title succeeded in that regard, it did so by generally underwhelming and offering remarkably few redeeming factors. You'll get your first taste of the generic story and unsatisfying combat within the first five minutes, and unfortunately things don't get much better once advanced mechanics like crafting get introduced. You'll always be given guns that are far better than you can create, which makes the entire concept worthless and unbalances the game.
#5 BEST: "Dark Souls" (2011)
Unless you've been under a rock for the past 7 years, chances are you or someone you know "prepared to die." Dark Souls' notorious difficulty surged it to popularity with millions of players, the mechanics of the game essentially forming the basis of a new genre. While the focus is on great atmosphere and intense boss fights, the stamina meter means that combat is a thoughtful process that requires a surprising amount of strategy. You might not enjoy replaying stretches of the game for hours on end, but when it finally clicks you have hundreds of hours of potential entertainment just waiting for you in Lordran.
#4 WORST: "ZHEROS" (2016)
Beat 'em up games haven't quite made the leap out of the 80s, but back in the day they ruled the arcade. Trying to capture that nostalgia, Rimlight Studios copied that formula to bring you a game that has all the flaws of those older titles and... not much else. It's jam-packed with both levels and enemies that all share similar designs to the point of being boring, and the bread and butter of the genre, the combat, just sucks. The combos aren't rewarding to pull off and are so simple that it just comes down to button-mashing the whole way through.
#4 BEST: "Bayonetta" (2009)
It's one of the most celebrated hack and slash games in recent years thanks to its challenging, lightning quick combat, and is one of the best games Platinum has ever put together. Following the story of the titular witch, players use a variety of weapons to slaughter hundreds of enemy angels. It's not a complicated concept, but between the combo systems, witch time, and advanced techniques like dodge offsets, the combat has such a high skill ceiling that fighting stays engaging the whole way through. It's arguably only surpassed by its sequel, but since that's essentially Nintendo's property now, you should probably take what you can get.
#3 WORST: "The Deer God" (2015)
The Deer God is beautiful to look at, and it clearly endeavors to be more than just entertainment. If developers want to give players a message throughout the adventure, then more power to them, but that only works if they're delivering said message via a satisfying gameplay experience. The problem with The Deer God is that aside from its great, if not entirely unique visual style, it really has nothing going for it. The linear platforming is laughably easy and offers little replayability, and the bosses are so easy to exploit that they become long, boring tests of patience instead of giving us a thrill.
#3 BEST: "Rayman Legends" (2014)
It's debatable whether it's the greatest platformer ever as some fans claim, but Rayman's latest adventure is definitely one of the most challenging. Over more than 120 levels you'll constantly be tasked with mastering new mechanics that can range from ziplines to musical performances. And while it may seem daunting, this helps break up the experience and keep it fresh. It may not have the name recognition of Mario, but its art style and sense of humor are just as good, providing something other games just can't match. After all, what other game lets you fight a giant lava luchador? Exactly.
#2 WORST: "Halo: Spartan Assault" (2013)
Don't be fooled by the superficial Halo elements like Covenant enemies and the arsenal of classic weapons you've come to expect, because beneath all that beats the heart of a shameless spin-off cash grab. Microtransactions aside, the two biggest offenders here are the controls and the lack of immersion. The title was originally designed around infuriating context specific touch inputs, which means that switching things over to an Xbox controller just makes the game extremely easy. Even when the action does pick up, it's hard for us to get invested since the top-down perspective makes us feel like we're controlling ants and takes all the intensity out of the firefights.
#2 BEST: "Bioshock Infinite" (2013)
The newest entry to the Bioshock universe might have disappointed fans that were hoping for a return to Rapture, but outside of the complaints of that vocal minority, there's very little to criticize this title for. Columbia is a beautifully designed city filled with fun characters, and while it may seem like a happy-go-lucky place, in the right moments it can get your heart going as good as any moment from previous games. The gunplay still isn't perfect, but the story is more nuanced and deep than ever. It also gets major credit for giving you Elizabeth as arguably the most useful AI partner in video game history.
#1 WORST: "Murdered: Soul Suspect" (2014)
Possession is a flawed mechanic because it gives players too much freedom. It's impossible for the developers to program for every different outcome, so players end up in a Monkey's Paw situation where their dreams are only half realized. Sure, we get to investigate our own murder with ghostly powers, but we can only interact with NPCs in very specific, limited ways that make our diverse options feel pointless. Yes, we get to explore the town of Salem, but it's so small that it feels claustrophobic. You get the idea, but the game is riddled with these kinds of compromises. Even the enemies are a joke, since half the time Ronan can ignore them altogether.
#1 BEST: "Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain" (2015)
Hindsight hasn't been kind to Kojima's last at-bat with the franchise, but there's still plenty here to make it worth picking up. On top of the stellar graphics and open-world, the gunplay is so good that we could spend hours just sniping people with the Brennan. Important as that is though, Metal Gear fans are really looking for a well-written story, and while it's weaker here than in the past, it's still more than good enough to get players emotionally invested in the characters and plot. It's still Snake, it still has the box, and it still has great bosses, so go download it right now.