We are literally just days away from one of the biggest Xbox exclusives ever: Starfield. But as the hype builds, so does the anticipation. And as we approach the release date, that anticipation can be a little too much. Fear not though, as we have a list of the best Xbox and Game Pass games to help tide you over until Starfield. Some you won’t be surprised to see, but there are a couple that you may not expect.
So, have a read, pick what you fancy and ease yourself into the 7 best Xbox and Game Pass games to play before the release of Starfield.
And even then, they’ll probably fill a gap post-Starfield too.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Let’s start with a fairly obvious one. Most people are hoping that Starfield is like a Skyrim in space, so it makes absolute sense to include it on this list.
But this bit goes out to the three people out there that have still yet to ever play Skyrim. Your adventure begins in a world where dragons haven’t been seen for over a thousand years. But it isn’t long before one shows up to inadvertently save your life. Or rather, save you from being beheaded by eating your executioner before proceeding to attack you.
Skyrim perfects the open-world dungeon crawler in a way that many have tried, but few have come close. There is a reason it remains an incredibly popular game some 12 years after it first released. A Special Edition release followed by an Anniversary Edition to celebrate the 10th anniversary, and I wouldn’t at all be surprised to see another release on the next generation of consoles.
If you’re looking for something to tide you over to Starfield, you can’t do much better than Skyrim. It may be a high fantasy setting, but it is Bethesda Game Studios at their absolute best. Something that many gamers hope they can replicate in Starfield itself.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition is on the Xbox Store and Xbox Game Pass.
Another fairly obvious choice – and another from Bethesda Game Studios – is their 2015 subsequent release after Skyrim. It’s the exceptional Fallout 4.
If those same three players that have never played Skyrim are also unfamiliar with Fallout, let me help you. The Fallout series is a post-apocalyptic retro-futuristic shooter RPG. Fallout 4 has you exploring the state of Massachusetts after the aftermath of nuclear war.
The Fallout games have always done an excellent job of making you feel like you are a tiny part in this hostile new world, at least when you first venture out of the vault. As your exposure builds to the post-apocalypse, so does your arsenal and loot collection. Many players excited for Starfield are hoping that its variety of guns follows the blueprint laid out in Fallout 4.
And as the pre-release info suggests, building your own ships in Starfield is a big thing too. As Fallout 4 introduced such a comprehensive base building system, many are hoping that Starfield’s ship building represents the next evolution.
Fallout 4 is on the Xbox Store and Xbox Game Pass too.
No Man’s Sky
Of course we can’t mention space exploration and ship customisation without mentioning the one that does it best: No Man’s Sky.
Let me once again reiterate that number: 18,446,744,073,709,551,616. That is the number of planets available to explore in No Man’s Sky. Sure, this dwarfs Starfield’s ‘over 1000’ planets considerably, and whilst procedural generation is used across both titles, the planets in Starfield will be much more detailed.
Don’t let procedural generation put you off. Bethesda have used it for years, and No Man’s Sky is perhaps the best example of using it to present endless opportunities for exploration.
Another reason to play No Man’s Sky is for the phenomenal soundtrack. It pairs up perfectly with the action on screen. And with Inon Zur in charge of the music for Starfield after stellar jobs in Fallout 4 and Fallout 76, hopes are high that the sound of Starfield can elevate the sights of Starfield.
Another one available through Xbox Game Pass, No Man’s Sky can also be found on the Xbox Store.
Bear with me on this next one as it will take a bit of explaining, but should hopefully make sense.
Antstream Arcade is the hit streaming service that recently launched on Xbox consoles, specialising in retro video games. It contains none of the traditional open-world games made popular over the last decade, few first-person games, but a ton of ‘space’ games.
The likes of Space Invaders, Defender, R-Type, Alien Breed, Asteroids and more are all included here for you to fully prepare for taking on hostiles from other planets. And who can forget that the absolute classic, Attack of the Mutant Camels, is on Antstream too.
I want to mention Super Star Wars is in Antstream too. If I know big Bethesda open-worlds like I think I do, it will be chock full of easter eggs and references: I’ll eat my hat if there isn’t a Star Wars one in there somewhere.
So get yourself fully clued up on the history of space travel in video games and give any of the 1300+ games on Antstream a try before jumping into Starfield.
Again, the Xbox Store will sort you out with an Antstream Arcade purchase on Xbox.
The original Destiny holds a very special place in my heart, so I wanted to include it here as a seminal piece of sci-fi shooter history.
Its mixture of perfect gunplay, world and alien design, soundtrack and (albeit hidden) lore, plus the timing of its launch for personal reasons, has meant it is one of the best games I have ever played. And if Starfield comes close to the feelings I had when playing Destiny, it will be a special game for many.
Sure, Starfield will be very different. The gunplay will be a slower affair, and there is no multiplayer. But Destiny was at its best when exploring these strange worlds alone. My first encounter with the Vex will live long in my memory, something I have previously written about before.
Plus, if Starfield can match the crispest of UIs that the original Destiny had, then I will happily spend almost as long perusing the menus as I do exploring uncharted worlds.
I almost didn’t include Halo in this list, because it felt like one obvious choice too far. There are many reasons I hope that Starfield differs from Halo, not least because the Master Chief is such an iconic character, but there is no freedom to play 117 as you would choose. Something that Starfield will do very differently.
But there is one reason to include Halo, and perhaps another point for Destiny too: the weapons. I need only mention the assault rifle or energy sword and images are conjured in your heads of these iconic weapons. Synonymous throughout the entire franchise, some of Halo’s weapons are truly legendary.
Bethesda has a history of making unforgettable weapons too: who can forget the first time they launched a mini nuke from a Fat Man, or used the Wabbajack with hilariously unintended consequences. Starfield is a blank canvas currently, so it will be interesting to see which weapons become synonymous with it.
The Halo: Master Chief Collection on the Xbox Store and Xbox Game Pass will give you all the Halo you could need.
Mass Effect Trilogy
Finally then, is perhaps the trilogy that even those with less of an interest in sci-fi have perhaps played – the Mass Effect trilogy.
Available on modern consoles in one package titled Mass Effect Legendary Edition, this will be a great introduction into how to properly build a crew for your adventures in Starfield. If you’ve got a spare 100+ hours to go at.
Everyone has their favourite crew mate in the Mass Effect trilogy, and as many have found out the hard way, safety is not guaranteed. Starfield has already introduced several of their own companions and whilst it is unlikely there will be any suicide missions in this game, the prospect of exploring outer space with dedicated NPCs is an enticing one.
Confirmed companions so far include space cowboys and robots, but we wouldn’t be surprised to see some alien companions hidden in the galaxy too. Whether they will live up to the likes of Garrus Vakarian and Liara T’soni is a big ask. But if anyone can do it, Todd Howard sure can.
You guessed it, The Mass Effect Legendary Edition is also available in Xbox Game Pass and on the Xbox Store.
And that’s our list! There are some pretty lengthy games here so you may not find time to play them all between now and 1st September when Starfield launches via the Deluxe Edition, but based on the various aspects we’ve provided, surely there is at least one here for you to try.
And who knows, it may even keep you occupied after the launch of Starfield, delaying your voyage into the unknown. But we highly doubt that. Starfield is one of the most anticipated Xbox games ever and it’s likely to warrant a play from day one.
You can grab a download of Starfield from the Xbox Store. The Starfield Premium Edition for £99.99 will give you five days early access. The Starfield Standard Edition drops on 6th September, via Game Pass too. It’ll be playable on Xbox Series X|S and PC.
Those on Xbox One won’t be able to play Starfield though.