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My new Xbox Game Pass obsession is this Borderlands-style roguelike

Combining elements from many genres into one incredibly charming and addictive package, Roboquest is the best roguelike you’re not playing.

Xbox Game Pass Roboquest Borderlands meets Hades: A split image with a yellow robot from the game holding a weapon, while on the right is the Xbox Game Pass logo.

Are you a fan of Borderlands’ charming cell-shaded visuals and bombastic style? Do you love the fast-paced combat of Doom? Yes? Well, Roboquest is for you. This FPS roguelike takes a lot of different influences, chucks them all into a pot, and serves up one of the best roguelike experiences I’ve ever had – which is problematic for my productivity. Plus, I found it lurking in my Xbox Game Pass library, so if you’re one of the millions of Xbox fans with a subscription, you have no excuse to not give it a go for yourself.

Roguelikes are all the rage these days. While it used to be the realm of superb indies, even triple-A giants like The Last of Us and God of War are taking on the genre. Xbox players especially have a lot to enjoy, with Game Pass being no stranger to the best roguelike games, from Dead Cells and Slay the Spire all the way to Dicey Dungeons, Moonlighter, and Hades. In other words, you’re spoilt for choice no matter where you play.

However, while these heavy hitters get heaps of (undeniably well-deserved) praise, Roboquest has been lost among the noise around all the best Xbox games and best PS5 games since its launch in November 2023. Well, no longer. After digging through the seemingly bottomless Xbox Game Pass games list, I’ve uncovered this hidden gem of an Xbox exclusive, and I haven’t stopped playing.

Xbox Game Pass Roboquest Borderlands meets Hades: Gameplay of Roboquest showing the player shooting a fire weapon at a group of robots in a desert area.

Roboquest takes its inspiration from several of the best FPS games, roguelikes, and even bullet-hells to create one of the most addictive games I’ve played. Before each run, you’ll choose one of six distinct classes, unlocked through playing the game. Though these classes only change two core abilities, the overall effect on your run is remarkable as you start picking up weapons and upgrades during a mission.

With the beginner Guardian, for example, your shield can block all damage while your bash ability can be used to melee foes, earning you extra healing cells. However, things get absurd once you start making a build on the fly with the random assortment of weapons and perks you can choose. You could go all in on your melee ability, causing it to deal ranged damage or buffing you. On the other hand, you could focus on your shield, activating various weapon-boosting effects to turn you into a bullet-hose tank.

Xbox Game Pass Roboquest Borderlands meets Hades: The perk selection interface with two upgrades to choose from.

I’ve been loving the Commando class simply because I feel like the one and only Doom Slayer, packing a shoulder-mounted shotgun and rocket launcher. I’ve freestyled various different builds so far, from one which focused on spamming my abilities as much as possible, to an all-out explosive build. The latter even paired with a unique weapon effect that allowed me to throw the gun like a bomb when I reloaded – just like Borderlands’ iconic Tediore weapons.

When you put these unique and often rather makeshift builds to the test, you’re in for some incredibly fast-paced and satisfyingly challenging combat. The music blasts away, pumping you up for each fight, while the punchy sounds and cartoon effects make every shot satisfying.

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As a roguelike, Roboquest is naturally tough. Thankfully, completing runs does net you materials to grant permanent upgrades and more build opportunities that reduce some of the reliance on good luck. Nevertheless, you need to be playing at the top of your game, especially as your only source of healing will generally be small health orbs dropped by defeated foes that you need to run over. Additionally, more orbs are generated from melee kills. In other words, you need to keep moving – and killing – to stay alive.

This was one of my favorite aspects of the Doom reboots, encouraging the player to always be using the full arsenal of tools available to them, rather than sitting back and waiting for the right moment. What’s more, you can double jump, grind on rails, and even bounce on enemies’ heads Mario-style (which also counts as melee damage, wink, wink), giving you lots of options at any given moment.

Xbox Game Pass Roboquest Borderlands meets Hades: The player fighting a large robot boss firing a red laser to the right.

While fighting through its varied levels, creating builds on the fly, and hunting for upgrades is certainly the highlight, Roboquest also features many great bosses that cap off each area in a run. This is where the bullet-hell aspects generally come into play, with bosses throwing out projectiles left, right, and center and demanding you dodge them or be sent back to base camp for another run.

Speaking of, as is the case with the strongest roguelikes out there, it’s ultimately that ‘one more run’ feeling that keeps you locked in. While I’m yet to beat the game, or even make it to its final stages, every run I do gives me more upgrades and opportunities for the next run. Maybe my next run will be the one? Or the one after that?

Unlike most of the competition, however, Roboquest also lets you bring a friend along. That’s right, Roboquest is also going toe to toe with the best co-op games. Playing multiplayer games with your friends is a surefire way to make anything more fun. Nevertheless, this also opens the door for even more varied and destructive combinations.

With that in mind, I’m determined to see it through to the end, unlocking all of the classes and upgrades, and making the ultimate build in my favorite new Xbox game. Again, it’s one of the best Xbox Game Pass games, so you don’t even need to fork out $24.99/£19.99 for it if you’re subbed – though it is certainly worth the price if you’re not. In other Xbox news, check out this custom Final Fantasy 14 Xbox Series X that is as beautiful as it is useless.