The Xbox One might not have the same selection of exclusives as the PlayStation 4 or Nintendo Switch, but the handful it does have is worth checking out. Some of the best Xbox One games are first-party titles, but you’ll find loads of other good stuff from the likes of Electronic Arts, Bethesda, and Ubisoft that comprise a huge library of games worth playing.
Thanks to a strong lineup of shooters and racing games, fans of those genres needn’t look any further than Microsoft’s Xbox. It also boasts many great platformers you aren’t going to find on other consoles. Whether you’re looking for a lengthy single-player game with a great story or an online world to get lost in with friends, there is something for you.
From Control to Rocket League, these are our picks for the best Xbox One games.
- Best Xbox One headsets
- Best Xbox One controllers
- How to set up Xbox Game Streaming and play games on your phone
- How to connect your phone to an Xbox One
- How to gameshare on an Xbox One
Here’s a quick-jump menu if you’re looking for a specific genre:
- Survival Horror
- Battle Royale
- First-person shooters
- Sandbox/building games
- Puzzle games
- Role-playing games
The other three Horseman of the Apocalypse use melee weapons in the Darksiders universe, but Strife prefers his handguns. In the prequel game Darksiders Genesis, developer Airship Syndicate turned the series into an isometric dungeon-crawler, and Strife’s attacks are reminiscent of twin-stick shooters. He’s joined by the melee-focused War, and the two can swap at any time when playing solo.
Darksiders Genesis ditched the open-ended design of the main series for mission-based stages, but they’re stuffed with secret collectibles and new abilities that make it imperative to replay missions. Numerous difficulty levels and unlockable areas ensure it won’t wear out its welcome.
Plants vs. Zombies: Battle for Neighborville
The long-awaited follow-up to Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 might not have the same name, but Plants vs. Zombies: Battle for Neighborville is a sequel in every sense of the word. The ongoing battle between the two factions has come to a head in the titular town, bringing with it huge boss fights and tons of multiplayer modes.
Six new character classes hit the Neighborville scene alongside all of your favorites made playable since the original game. Cooperative play makes a return, too, so you can share the experience with friends. Overall, PopCap continues to nail the Plants vs. Zombies charm with this third installment, packing plenty of goofy humor and puns.
Remedy Entertainment fans got a taste of the studio’s potential with the Xbox One game Quantum Break, but Control is a much more refined take on the third-person shooter genre. Set in the morphing headquarters for the Federal Bureau of Control, Control is a “paranatural” mystery that starts weird and only gets weirder.
As protagonist Jesse Faden, you’re given the role of director upon your entry and must work to purge the “Hiss” enemies from the Bureau. You do this with the help of your unique superpowered abilities, which include telekinesis and mind control. Alongside these, you have the Service Weapon, a unique handgun that shifts forms and functions like a shotgun or even a machine gun. It makes Control’s combat satisfying and encourages experimentation.
Read our full Control review
The latest entry in the Contra series, Contra: Rogue Corps, bears little resemblance to the earlier games. What does pay proper homage is Blazing Chrome, an action-packed 2D run-and-gun game that resembles Contra: Hard Corps on the Sega Genesis. Weapons are brutal, enemies attack relentlessly, and you’ll need to be at your very best to vanquish bosses.
Blazing Chrome is a little more forgiving with checkpoints and continues than the original Contra games, but the style and flair are pure mid-‘90s. You can take a buddy with you on the adventure as you show baddies who’s boss.
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
From Software had the option to release another Dark Souls game. Instead, the legendary studio created an entirely new franchise with Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. This action game takes plenty of inspiration from Dark Souls and Bloodborne, but the addition of a “Posture” system for deflecting attacks — along with a resurrection mechanic — help make it feel like a distinct game in its own right.
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is ludicrously difficult, which could turn off From Software newcomers. Those who have the time and patience to battle through its boss fights, however, will find one of the most rewarding and addicting action games of the generation. The pain is good, and we want more.
Read our full Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice review
Devil May Cry 5
After taking a darker direction with DmC: Devil May Cry back in 2013, the original series returns with Devil May Cry 5. Set after the events of the four other games, Devil May Cry 5 puts you in control of three different characters, each with unique weapons and abilities to master. Nero’s brutality contrasts Dante’s flashiness, and both are about as different from V’s demon-spawning style as possible.
Devil May Cry 5 feels like the perfect blend of old and new, with a gorgeous engine making it one of the prettiest games on the Xbox One. It hasn’t lost the series’ challenge, however, and a second run on “Son of Sparda” mixes up the enemy variety to put your skills to the test.
From Software’s excellent action-role-playing game Bloodborne isn’t available on the Xbox One. Instead, owners get their own Souls-like game in the form of Ashen. Like the best games in the genre, Ashen forces players to think tactically as they approach situations, dodging and carefully choosing their attacks to avoid being overwhelmed. Stamina must be preserved, and the game’s dreary and gray color scheme only gets you in the mood to kill.
Where Ashen differs from its competition, however, is in its watercolor-like art style. Characters in the games don’t have faces, almost like you’re trying to remember who you saw in a dream, giving the game a surreal feeling. It also supports a “passive” multiplayer component, where you can choose to cooperate with other players or force them to continue alone.
The Coalition outdid itself with Gears 5, a third-person shooter that improves on its predecessor in nearly every way. Combat feels just as perfect as ever, with intense shootouts against both Swarm and robotic DeeBees. More open-ended areas feature side missions that add additional context to the game’s world.
Gears 5 is one best games in the entire series, with psychological horror elements in its story and a tremendous selection of cooperative modes. The new “Escape” mode is great for aggressive players, and the competitive multiplayer doesn’t fix what was already nearly perfect.
Read our full Gears 5 review
Diablo 3: Ultimate Evil Edition
The launch of Diablo III is infamous. Hotly anticipated, the game was hit with awful server issues and serious gameplay flaws that simply sucked out the fun, like a real-money auction house. Thankfully, Blizzard revamped the game through many patches and one full-blown expansion.
Blizzard released the game on consoles years later with support for up to four players in co-op. The result is a fiendishly entertaining, supercharged action-RPG that’s a blast to play with buddies on a couch or online. While other RPGs have a better story or better graphics, Diablo III is pure stress relief. Sit down, obliterate some demons, and watch your numbers shoot into the stratosphere.
Read our full Diablo 3: Ultimate Evil Edition review
Dark Souls III
Taking inspiration from Bloodborne, the studio’s PlayStation 4 exclusive, Dark Souls III speeds up the Souls series’ distinctive tough-as-nails combat without sacrificing what made fans fall in love with the franchise in the first place.
Though Dark Souls III continues the series’ legendary difficulty, even the most menacing foes can be dispatched through a mixture of practice and patience. The loop of killing enemies, trading in their souls to upgrade your character, and venturing back into the unknown will keep you glued to your console for hours at a time. If you ever get frustrated, you can always summon a stranger to join in on all the fun.
We likely won’t see another game in the Dark Souls series from From Software and mastermind Hidetaka Miyazaki, but we couldn’t be happier with Dark Souls III as the conclusion. It’s the work of a genius who has only further refined his art over time, and a shining example of how to make a franchise successful without sacrificing the more “hardcore” gameplay elements.
Read our full Dark Souls III review
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
Although the story remains the main draw for the Metal Gear franchise, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain trades lengthy cutscenes and monologues for open-world gameplay that provides countless ways to approach any mission. Tranquilizers, sniper rifles, shotguns, a remote-controlled robot arm; all this and more is available, giving the game an endless sense of replay value.
After completing a mission using a stealthy, nonlethal approach, one may feel the urge to replay the same mission, marching into an enemy outpost with a machine gun and a rocket launcher to burn the whole thing down. Few games encourage experimentation like MGSV.
Despite some questionable narrative choices, MGSV is a powerful ending to one of gaming’s most important franchises, setting a new bar for open-world gameplay.
Grand Theft Auto V
The most commercially successful video game — or media product — of all time, Grand Theft Auto V deserves its popularity. The open-world criminal action game builds on what Rockstar Games has done well for decades, with a staggering number of side activities to complete and locations to visit.
Its three-protagonist main story is both emotional and hilarious, with the psychopathic Trevor often stealing the show with his violent and over-the-top outbursts. It only gets better when you enter Grand Theft Auto Online, which allows you to gain influence in Los Santos and show the world why you deserve respect.
Despite being nearly five years old, the game continues to get new content updates. We anticipate it will live on for at least another five years.
Read our full Grand Theft Auto V review
Agent 47 always kills his target, but even Square Enix cutting ties with developer IO Interactive couldn’t keep the master assassin from continuing his mission. Building on the basic mechanics and structure of 2016’s Hitman — but packaged as a full retail release rather than an episodic game — Hitman 2 brings Agent 47 on a whole new set of assassination missions, sending him everywhere from Miami to New Zealand.
You’re more than welcome to just garrote or shoot your victim in Hitman 2, but the real fun comes when you get creative. Plan elaborate accidents, poison food, or even snipe a target while they’re in the middle of an F1 race. The possibilities are endless, and new content will make the game even better over time.
Read our full Hitman 2 review
A stunningly well-realized version of auteur director Yoko Taro’s vision, Nier: Automata is a depressing and existential action game that avoids many of the narrative traps associated with android stories. There are no questions regarding what it means to be human, but rather what it means to be yourself. Protagonists 2B and 9S struggle to accept reality, making for some of the most emotional moments we’ve ever experienced in a game.
With PlatinumGames handling the combat, it’s also a flashy and tight action game complete with twin-stick shooter segments to break up the monotony.
Read our full Nier: Automata review
Sometimes games don’t have to be anything other than fun, and Insomniac Games demonstrates that perfectly with the Xbox One exclusive Sunset Overdrive. Mixing the goofy third-person shooting of the studio’s Ratchet & Clank series with the navigation of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater or Jet Grind Radio, Sunset Overdrive constantly has you on the move to build up your combo and take out more enemies.
Its silly anti-corporate story is certainly derivative, but it packs in plenty of hilarious characters and self-aware moments. Once you complete the main story, it’s an absolute blast to just soar around the city and find every secret.
Read our full Sunset Overdrive review
Mark of the Ninja: Remastered
Did you miss out on Mark of the Ninja on Xbox Live Arcade in 2012? Now’s your chance to remedy that poor life decision. Mark of the Ninja is one of the most imaginative stealth games of all time.
For starters, it’s a 2D sidescroller, a perspective not known for stealthy mechanics. It works well, though, as you can sneak past enemies or stealthily eliminate them, but you must be sure to stay out of sight. The game wants you to feel like the ninja. If your character doesn’t have a line of sight on an enemy, you won’t be able to see them on the screen. You must master both sight and sound to become a worthy ninja.
The remastered version also includes noticeable visual updates.
Red Dead Redemption 2
It’s rare that a AAA open-world game can surprise us at all in 2018, but Rockstar’s Red Dead Redemption 2 manages to do it regularly. The western is a prequel to the 2010 game Red Dead Redemption, but it is far more than a simple retread of that title’s themes.
As a member of the Van der Linde gang, protagonist Arthur Morgan must wrestle with his past and his uncertain future as the government hunts down the remaining outlaws in a Wild West quickly being tamed.
Every story mission is absolute gold, never falling into a pattern of repetition. The emergent activities you’ll discover in the open world are engaging enough to keep you busy for hours. Want to cause chaos or just hunt game? You totally can, or you could try your luck at a few hands of poker.
Read our full Red Dead Redemption 2 review
The Surge 2
The Surge was one of the best sleeper hits from 2017. It utilized the Souls formula while swapping fantasy for science-fiction to focus on a technological facility on the brink of collapse. For The Surge 2, developer Deck13 moved the action into a city and its surrounding areas, creating a more diverse and interesting world inhabited by dangerous enemies and bosses to defeat.
The Surge 2 still uses the famous limb-targeting system from the first game, which you can use to get the edge on an enemy or “farm” a certain resource you need. The game’s removable implants give you a ton of control over how you create your character. Overall, you can play The Surge 2 your way, and the game doesn’t stop you.
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order isn’t exactly the most original or innovative game we’ve played. It’s a blend of elements from big-name game franchises like Uncharted and Dark Souls, but with all the classic Star Wars tropes. Despite this, it excels because it so smartly pulls mechanics and structural pieces that fit the Star Wars formula well.
Split between exploration, puzzle-solving, and combat, Fallen Order never feels like it’s wasting your time. When you finally get protagonist Cal Kestis outfitted with his best Force powers and a badass lightsaber, he feels like an unstoppable warrior who can take on waves of Stormtroopers without issue.
With brilliant performances and a mesmerizing score, you have one of the best Star Wars games since BioWare’s Knights of the Old Republic series.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider
Shadow of the Tomb Raider is the finale to the trilogy that began with the Tomb Raider reboot in 2013. It builds on everything the previous games did and more, highlighting the Lara Croft we know and love who finally ditches fear for total confidence. It’s packed full of engaging combat, fun environmental puzzles, and moving cinematics.
Given this is the third installment, you should play the excellent Tomb Raider and Rise of the Tomb Raider before diving into the shadows. The story begins two months after the second installment.
Read our Shadow of the Tomb Raider review
Sea of Thieves
If you ever wanted to sail the treacherous seas roleplaying as a pirate with a group of your friends, Sea of Thieves is the Xbox One game for you. Embark on voyages, discover treasure, raid enemy ships, customize your rig, and be the best scallywag this side of the sea has ever seen!
Sea of Thieves feels like a lighthearted pirate simulator. You and your friends go on adventures but also work together to accomplish menial things like putting up the ship’s sails and navigating through dangerous waters. The best part? The online experience is cross-platform so you can play with your friends on PC.
Resident Evil 7: Biohazard
If Resident Evil’s deviation from its classic survival horror roots bummed you out, then you’ll be happy to know that it returns in Resident Evil 7: Biohazard. Don’t expect old school Resident Evil, however, as this is a modernized take that’s way more refreshing. Instead of using the third-person visuals of Resident Evil 6, Biohazard immerses us in the first-person.
The story takes us somewhere we’ve never been before: Dulvey, Louisiana. You play as Ethan Winters as he investigates an isolated plantation in search of his wife. You’ll fight desperately for your survival and uncover incredibly horrifying secrets that could be related to Umbrella Corporation.
Resident Evil: Biohazard is one of the best games for Xbox One to satisfy that biting survival horror bug.
Serving as the first game to popularize the battle royale genre, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds remains one of the most-watched games on Twitch.tv to date.
If you’re unfamiliar with this game style, a traditional match in PUBG lasts about 20-30 minutes. One hundred players battle each other on a giant map in a fight to be the last man (or woman) standing. To increase their chances of survival, they must scour the map for weapons, armor, first aid, and more. The stakes only get higher as a life-draining storm quickly closes in over the map, restricting the open terrain and forcing players to confront one another.
PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds is the perfect Xbox One game for people who just want to play something quick or enjoy fast-paced shooters. There’s also a squad mode for those who would like to group up with four of their friends.
Apex Legends is a squad-based battle royale from Respawn, the studio behind the excellent Titanfall series. While it doesn’t have the Titans or the awesome wall-running, Apex Legends is a refreshing entry in the battle royale genre. The 60-player format splits players up into teams of three, with each contest choosing from a pool of eight legends with unique abilities.
Apex Legends has the best nonverbal communication system we’ve seen in a multiplayer game. The ping system lets you place markers on weapons, enemies, and other points of interest to help you keep your teammates informed. There’s no need to even speak through a mic. It’s that good.
The spacious sci-fi map is full of surprises and little details. The gunplay is as good as Titanfall and feels great in the battle royale format thanks to varied options and a bunch of cool attachments. And in a change from other battle royale games, you can bring teammates back to life after a bit of recon work.
The best part about Apex Legends? It’s free-to-play and none of the microtransactions give you a competitive advantage.
Mortal Kombat 11
Some game franchises suffer from fatigue after their first few entries, with later games paling in comparison to the originals. NetherRealm’s Mortal Kombat is not one of those series.
Mortal Kombat 11 is a fighting game designed by masters of the genre. It offers brutal and complex combat while also including tutorial and practice systems so newcomers can enjoy the game. The addition of the “Fatal Blow” system makes every second of a fight suspenseful, even if one player has a huge advantage. The infamous Fatalities are gorier than ever.
Mortal Kombat 11 is also, hands down, one of the prettiest games on the Xbox One. Animations — both for faces and attacks – are stunning, and there’s a sense of fluidity that we rarely see outside of NetherRealm’s work. With a ton of different modes to choose from and an over-the-top story to play through, Mortal Kombat 11 is well worth the price of admission.
Read our full Mortal Kombat 11 review
Building off of the success of Injustice: Gods Among Us and Mortal Kombat X, NetherRealm’s Injustice 2 quickly became our favorite fighting game of this generation of consoles. A myriad of mechanical tweaks enhances fight sequences, making the combat loop more intuitive and exciting. Visually, Injustice 2 has some of the best character models and facial animations around and makes good use of them in its surprisingly great story mode.
Injustice 2‘s best selling point might be its robust customization and leveling system. Each fighter levels up and can be customized with gear obtained through loot boxes. The RPG elements are more than just a tacked-on feature: They feel right at home in Injustice 2. Combine the addicting leveling and customization features with the Multiverse — a constantly changing portal with reward-filled scenarios — and Injustice 2 easily becomes one of the greatest single-player fighting experiences of all time.
Simply put, Injustice 2 is the best fighting game you can find on the Xbox One.
Read our full Injustice 2 review
Dragon Ball FighterZ
There have been dozens of Dragon Ball Z games produced over the years, and nearly all of them are unplayable piles of garbage. Arc System Works managed to not only set a new standard for the series with Dragon Ball FighterZ, but it also managed to create one of the best fighting games of all time.
The tag-team fights look like they were pulled directly from the anime, with crisp animation and all the classic series attacks you can think of. But FighterZ is also one of the most accessible fighting games around. Even someone who has never played a fighting game can get the hang of it quickly, but its remarkable depth has made it the new favorite of the fighting game community.
Read our full Dragon Ball FighterZ review
Few first-person shooter franchises are as big as Borderlands, and its numbers-based approach — as well as its heavy emphasis on looting new weapons — helped to make it a hit for shooter fans and role-playing fans alike. Never before had a game felt like Diablo with guns, and Borderlands 3 delivers on the all-out action, goofy humor, and bizarre characters we’ve come to expect from the series. Gearbox didn’t reinvent the formula after all these years, but the studio didn’t need to.
Borderlands 3 also greatly expands the scope of the series, taking it from just the planet Pandora to several other locations. The variety helps make the game feel fresh.
Not every single-player game has to be next Citizen Kane when it comes to storytelling, especially when all-out action serves as such a worthy substitute. In Rage 2, violence reigns supreme, with id Software and Avalanche giving you dozens of creative ways to destroy your enemies. Ranging from monsters to armored fascist warriors, there are plenty of baddies standing between you and the final boss — who just happens to operate an enormous mech-suit capable of squashing you in seconds.
Rage 2 is far superior to the original game, with brighter colors, more enthusiastic characters, and tighter first-person shooting. It doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel when it comes to story or mission design, but nearly every activity you can do in the game turns into an explosion-filled battle to the death.
Read our full Rage 2 review
The Metro series breaks from the trend of most post-apocalyptic shooters’ “fun during the end of the world” themes for a bleak and borderline nihilistic story that underscores the horror of nuclear war. Metro Exodus, the third game in the series, is 4A Games’ most ambitious project, moving much of the action out of the titular subway system and onto a diverse landscape filled with various mixes of sand, trees, and snow.
It remains Metro at its heart, however, with scavenging and resource management still crucial as protagonist Artyom braves the game’s hostile environments. The focus on gear customization also allows you to approach combat in whatever way you see fit, including pure stealth or guns blazing action. There isn’t a “correct” option for these encounters and the dangers you encounter while moving to the next objective can often result in your plan going down the drain before it begins.
Read our full Metro Exodus review
Halo 5: Guardians
343 Industries wasn’t content to deliver exactly what fans expected in Halo 5: Guardians. Longtime protagonist Master Chief largely takes a backseat to newcomer Spartan Locke on an adventure that hops across multiple planets and features a favorite supporting character in a very different role.
It’s a gorgeous game full of jaw-dropping moments, but multiplayer is where Halo 5 really shines. Between the classic arena competitive matches and the large-scale Warzone mode, there’s enough content in Halo 5 to keep you fragging your friends for months or even years on end.
Read our full Halo 5 review
Halo: The Master Chief Collection
Halo: The Master Chief Collection is the perfect introduction for Xbox One owners new to Microsoft’s console family. Containing the four numbered games in the series — as well as their prequel, Halo: Reach — it’s enough content to keep you busy for weeks on end. Halo 2: Anniversary, a remastered classic with new cinematics and sound effects, is an incredible game that occasionally even shows up Halo 5.
As you may have heard, Halo: The Master Chief Collection was a bit of a mess at launch, but the game’s server issues have stabilized. There are more than 100 maps to choose from, spanning from the original Halo to Halo 4. The majority are remastered versions of old favorites, a select few were rebuilt from the ground up specifically for the collection. Of course, if you’re like us, you’ll be spending all your time blowing your friends up in “Blood Gulch” anyway.
Read our full Halo: The Master Chief Collection review
Destiny 2: Forsaken – Legendary Collection
Bungie seemingly rushed the original Destiny to release, offering a campaign mode that didn’t make much sense and a surprising lack of endgame content. Destiny 2 aimed to right these wrongs and its campaign is everything we expect from developer Bungie – loud, fast, funny, and a whole lot of fun.
Now more than a year after launch, Destiny 2 has evolved in surprising and great ways. While the first two smaller expansions didn’t add much in terms of depth, Forsaken, the most recent and largest DLC, gave the experience a welcome makeover. Rife with new endgame content, missions, and areas to explore, Forsaken changes the identity of Destiny 2 and will keep Guardians busy (and happy) for the long haul.
Read our full Destiny 2: Forsaken review
A sequel that is even better than the 2016 reboot, Doom Eternal is a confident and lightning-fast first-person shooter from the masters at Id Software. It expands on its predecessors’ movement-centric combat with Glory Kills providing health when performed on staggered enemies, and there are more than twice as many types of demons ready to tear the Doom Slayer limb from limb. They’ll have a hard time doing so, as he’s packing a spring-loaded arm-blade, powerful chainsaw, and a huge arsenal of guns.
Where Doom Eternal far surpasses 2016’s Doom is its competitive multiplayer Battlemode, which shifts the generic deathmatch modes to asymmetrical battles between one Doom Slayer and two demons. Every battle is a tense affair from beginning to end, with the demons capable of spawning more allies to their side and ganging up on the Slayer as he attempts to evade and launch his own counter-attack.
Read our full Doom Eternal review
Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus
Wolfenstein: The New Order came out of nowhere to surprise first-person shooter fans with its glorious combat, thoughtful level design, and a weirdly touching story about killing Nazis on the moon. Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus doubled down on everything players loved about the first game, but the United States setting made B.J. Blazkowicz’s mission even more personal.
Whether you want to kill Nazis with a hatchet, a grenade, or dual-wielded machine guns while you roll around in a wheelchair, Wolfenstein II has you covered. It also happens to feature one of the coolest twists we’ve ever seen in a video game.
Read our full Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus review
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare defined the Xbox 360. Its intense single-player campaign played out like a blockbuster film while it’s competitive multiplayer kept the disc in players’ consoles for years.
Infinity Ward returned to the sub-series with the reboot Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, a game that understands what fans loved about the original game without feeling trapped by its legacy. This time around, the story is told in a more grounded and realistic way, with disturbing content that is not included for mere twists or shock value.
Competitive multiplayer has also been refined, adding the massive Ground War mode alongside staples like Team Deathmatch and Domination.
Far Cry (series)
No shooter franchise is better at doing explosive and the stupid than Ubisoft’s Far Cry, and it has managed to do so everywhere from the Himalayan mountains to the hostile plains of Montana. The fish-out-of-water premise in most of the games makes for emergent and exploration-focused open-world gameplay, and the more recent games include fantastic villains to make your mission feel extra important.
With a ton of different weapons and vehicles at your disposal, the only limit to the mayhem you can create is your imagination. We’re pretty sure it’s the only game series on our list that lets you kill a bull with a tractor and a Molotov cocktail before jumping off a mountain in a wing-suit. Fun.
The Far Cry series is often at its most creative and experimental in its spinoff titles. Far Cry Primal took us back to the literal Stone Age, where combat was done primarily with bows and melee weapons. In the most recent game Far Cry New Dawn, a nuclear apocalypse left the world in ruin, making crafting and scavenging the stars of the show. All are worth playing, and they all offer something different.
Read our full Far Cry New Dawn review
Overwatch has become nothing short of a phenomenon since it launched in 2016. The team-based “hero shooter” features a refreshing take on objective-based multiplayer action that emphasizes teamwork and strategy over brute force.
With a selection of more than 20 playable heroes, plus at least one additional character added for free through post-release updates, Overwatch encourages you to experiment with different styles of play. Though Soldier: 76 may appeal to longtime shooter fanatics and Reinhardt seems like the obvious choice for RPG lovers, you’ll quickly find that keeping teammates alive as Mercy or holding down a crowded area with Hanzo can be just as rewarding.
Read our full Overwatch review
Respawn Entertainment struck gold with 2014’s Titanfall, but the game lacked a single-player campaign and quickly lost most of its players. With the sequel in 2016, the studio delivered one of the best campaigns of the generation, focusing not just on tight first-person shooting and mech combat, but also thoughtful platforming challenges.
Titanfall 2’s multiplayer is even better than the first game, with a great mix of modes and one of the best progression systems around. All of its post-launch maps are free, ensuring more casual players aren’t left out of the fun. Titanfall 2 unfortunately disappointed on the sales charts, but we’re praying that Respawn can continue the franchise in the future.
Read our full Titanfall 2 review
After two lackluster campaigns in Battlefield 3 and Battlefield 4, Electronic Arts and DICE finally managed to pull it all together and deliver the complete package in the World War I-themed Battlefield 1. Focusing on several soldiers’ experiences during the “war to end all wars,” the campaign delivers emotional, heartfelt moments that contrast with the large-scale, destructive warfare for which the series is known.
As polished and exciting as the campaign may be, multiplayer remains the real star of the show. Returning modes such as Conquest and Rush feel right at home in their World War I setting, with wide-open spaces, armored trains, heavy tanks, and Behemoth vehicles help create what is possibly the most chaotic Battlefield game ever made. The new Operations mode, which takes teams across a series of multiplayer maps in an all-out, extended version of Conquest, is where Battlefield 1 is at its absolute best. The 64-player firefights see both teams clawing forward to try to get the advantage, while the game’s environmental destruction system sends buildings plummeting to the ground left and right.
Read our full Battlefield 1 review
Fortnite needs no introduction. Epic Games’ third-person shooter — and its free battle royale mode — took the industry (and the world) by storm with its unique mix of last-man-standing action and building mechanics. It dominates children’s conversations at school, sparked countless imitators, and even managed to surpass PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, which used a similar structure that served as the main inspiration for Fortnite: Battle Royale.
With a consistent stream of content updates always giving players something new to do or see, the player-count remains high while some parents even buy tutoring sessions to improve their kids’ skills – and their own.
Read our full Fortnite Battle Royale review
With deep customization options, a surprising amount of lore, and engaging moment-to-moment gameplay, Warframe doesn’t feel like a free-to-play game the many quests and activities you’re required to complete can keep you playing without regard for any other game for weeks.
The parkour navigation and a mix of third-person shooting and melee combat will take some time to master, but having a solid team by your side will make the experience much less daunting. Its cooperative missions make it a great choice to play with a group of friends online. Warframe arrived on Xbox One in 2014 and has since received continuous updates.
Path of Exile
There are surprisingly few dungeon-crawling games like Diablo III in this generation, and even fewer made available on Xbox One. Path of Exile is not only a great alternative to Blizzard’s game — which released more than six years ago — but it’s also completely free to play.
Path of Exile combines skills and items into its skill gem system, which changes how your abilities work depending on the gems slotted in your gear. There are nearly 20 different Ascendancy Classes to choose from, including Gladiator, Inquisitor, and Deadeye, each offering unique passive skills to change how you play.
One of the most popular games of all time, Mojang’s Minecraft was a hit on Xbox systems long before Microsoft bought the developer. Its nearly endless creation tools allow players to make unique and impressive structures, and its simple survival gameplay offers a challenge for those looking to venture into the unknown and slay the monsters they find.
The Xbox One version is one of the best, as the recent “Bedrock” update enabled cross-play with other platforms like iOS, PC, and Nintendo Switch. No matter where your friends are playing Minecraft, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to build and explore together. Minecraft is also an awesome choice for relaxing on your own.
It might have begun its life as a spiritual successor to the Harvest Moon series, but Eric Barone’s Stardew Valley has arguably become more influential and revered than the series it tried to emulate. A farming adventure styled after classic 16-bit games on the Super Nintendo, Stardew Valley packs full of charm and character, and in addition to offering a variety of different crops to plant on your farm.
It also features dangerous dungeons to explore and 12 different characters to romance. The game’s polish and stunning variety is particularly impressive when you consider that Barone was a first-time game developer, and an upcoming multiplayer patch will make the game even better.
No Man’s Sky
Xbox One fans had to wait more than two years to get their hands on Hello Games’ No Man’s Sky, but the game they eventually received was far better than the one released back in 2016. The “Next” update overhauled many of the game’s systems and requirements, resulting in more engaging adventures that no longer felt like blind busywork. Improvements like base-building allow you to feel like you’re truly living in the game’s enormous universe, rather than merely looking at it from a distance.
The biggest addition, however, was multiplayer. It finally gave players the chance to explore uncharted territory together and attempt to survive the harsh conditions found on many mysterious planets.
Read our full No Man’s Sky review
XCOM 2 and War of the Chosen DLC
Firaxis Games managed to revive a long-dead strategy series in 2012 with XCOM: Enemy Unknown, and things only got better from there.
XCOM 2 is a harder, more diverse, and more engaging game than its predecessor. It requires players to master both turn-based strategy and resource management as they attempt to overthrow alien occupiers before they unleash a mysterious weapon.
Failing to move your units into correct positions or taking too long to complete objectives could result in them being overrun and killed. Once they’re dead, they’re dead for good. It’s enough to cause an anxiety attack, but with enough perseverance and a hefty dose of luck, you can repel the invaders and save the world.
Read our full XCOM 2 review
The Banner Saga (series)
If you’re in the mood for a stylish tactical role-playing game, The Banner Saga and its two sequels are a perfect choice. The games’ old-school cartoon aesthetic is gorgeous enough in their own right, but they’re backed by a deep cast of playable characters, several different classes, and important choices that can completely change the course of the story in, not just the first game, but all of them.
You can import the save data you create for the original game into The Banner Saga 2 and The Banner Saga 3, allowing you to create an ongoing narrative that is uniquely yours. Improvements and additions to the combat system in the sequels only makes the tactical battles more rewarding, as do the new playable characters.
Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night
Following the underwhelming Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2, Konami placed the series on the back burner. Former Konami producer Koji Igarashi had no interest in letting spooky action-platforming die, however, and created Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night so that the spirit of the classic “Metroidvania” could live on.
Designed to be a very similar experience to games like Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, Bloodstained features horror-inspired enemies, crafting, backtracking, and a plethora of enemies and bosses to defeat. Before launch, its art style also underwent a radical overhaul that makes it look far sharper and more fluid, with the 2.5D perspective retaining depth and fidelity.
Inside is the spiritual successor to developer Playdead’s smash-hit platformer Limbo and perhaps the strangest game available on the Xbox One. Its puzzle-solving gameplay blends elements of science-fiction with creepy, trial-and-error death traps, and emergent gameplay mechanics seamlessly into its narrative.
While just as nihilistic as Limbo, Inside‘s story contains an element of strange, twisted beauty that only Playdead can deliver. The unnamed protagonist — a small child who wears the only bright item of clothing — reacts with fear, anxiety, and determination to the events transpiring in this depressing world. By the end you might wonder, “What did this person do to deserve this?” What did we do to deserve a game as refreshing as Inside?
Read our full Inside review
Mega Man 11
Mega Man 11, the first mainline entry in the renowned franchise in more than eight years, is somewhat a reimagining of the Blue Bomber — at least visually. Capcom ditched the retro-pixelated aesthetic for a bright and modern 2.5D look. This change allows the simply stunning levels to truly pop, from the eight, equally interesting robot bosses to the excellent platforming sequences. Each level feels different than the last and the power-ups are both useful and satisfying in action. Mega Man 11 shows that Capcom still has it. A truly sublime platformer.
Ori and the Blind Forest
So much is made of the technical aspects of graphics, it is easy to forget how far a strong grasp of style can go. With striking watercolor backgrounds and character designs that evoke Miyazaki films, Ori and the Blind Forest is among the most beautiful games of this or any other generation, putting many AAA titles to shame. The sensuous visuals would suffice to make a great film, but a game needs gameplay, and Ori shines there as well. Inspired by classic games like Metroid, the game puts the player in control of the nimble forest spirit Ori, who must navigate a large 2D world, collecting items and abilities that allow Ori to reach new areas. Certain abilities are necessary to complete the game and thus are easy to find, but there are many things hidden off the beaten path, rewards that adventurous players will find useful.
Despite its adorable protagonist, Ori and the Blind Forest is a viciously difficult game. Combat often requires the player to dodge numerous projectiles, pirouetting through the air as they fight enemies, and some sections add difficult platforming into the mix. Thankfully, the game is generous with checkpoints, a welcome gift from an otherwise harsh mistress. For those who long for the challenges of old-school games, Ori and the Blind Forest is a revelation, infusing Metroid’s style with modern sensibilities.
Ori and the Will of the Wisps
Ori and the Blind Forest is one of the best Metroidvania games ever made, blending simple but effective combat with terrific platforming and exploration. Its sequel Ori and the Will of the Wisps took five years to release, but it was well worth the wait. The game is even more gorgeous than its predecessor, with a more refined art style and an atmospheric orchestral soundtrack. It keeps the brilliant escape sequences of the first game, and though it does away with its unique checkpoint system, it still understands what made the original so successful.
Ori and the Will of the Wisps is a bigger game, too, but that size doesn’t change the emotional and touching story it tells. Microsoft may have a new mascot for Xbox and not even realize it yet, and it’s from a game developed by a strikingly small team at Moon Studios.
A perfect example of acknowledging inspiration without being weighed down, Yacht Club Games’ Shovel Knight is a brilliant action-platformer combining the boss design of games like Mega Man 2 with the platforming expertise of DuckTales, and the result is glorious.
The game’s retro pixel-art aesthetic doesn’t feel like it was pulled from yesteryear, as it makes use of effects only possible on recent consoles like the Xbox One. But it adds a sense of charm and familiarity that is lacking in contemporary platformers. With several additional campaigns such as Spector of Torment available as free updates, you don’t need to stop playing after the credits roll the first time, either.
Ubisoft has been making Rayman games since the ‘90s, experimenting with everything from 3D platforming to arena combat, but the recent 2D platforming games like Rayman Origins return to the series’ simple and engaging roots.
Sequel Rayman Legends is the best of the bunch, with creative level and enemy design, intuitive and clever puzzles, and some of the best music on the Xbox One – with special musical escape levels at the end of most chapters, you’ll see just how carefully-crafted Rayman Legends truly is. If the difficulty is getting to be too much for you, a friend can always join in on the fun and help you get through some of the game’s trickier sections.
Read our full Rayman Legends review
Looking for a tough-as-nails platformer and rogue-like that also rewards you for each small success? Then you have to check out Dead Cells. This fast-paced game tasks you with exploring levels and fighting vicious enemies to escape a ‘cursed’ island. While the setup isn’t much different from Dead Cells’ peers, the game’s highly responsive controls take the combat to a new level.
You’ll also come to appreciate the many special abilities your character can acquire across multiple runs. They feel powerful even though you are, in fact, almost constantly at risk of dying if you slip up. This high-risk, high-reward gameplay creates wonderful tensions and will make you crave just one more run.
Some games are hard. And then there is Cuphead. The 2D sidescrolling game combines challenging platforming gauntlets with some of the most difficult bosses on the planet, each of which is capable of taking down the titular hero in just a few hits, and it requires some of the quickest reflexes of any game we’ve ever played.
You won’t mind dying to the same enemies over and over too much, however, as it’s also a gorgeous love letter to classic animated films of the ‘30s such as Steamboat Willie, and the hand-drawn animations and environments are nothing short of breathtaking. Combined with an era-appropriate soundtrack that’s heavy on the swing and the piano, and you have an absolute classic.hit
Not to be confused with the unrelated The Outer Worlds from Obsidian Entertainment, Outer Wilds is a unique first-person adventure game that tasks you with uncovering the secret behind an endless time loop constantly threatening the galaxy. Depending on when you reach a location, it can change and offer a different experience, potentially helping you to unravel the mystery at the center of the time loop.
Outer Wilds is designed to be played repeatedly as you gradually uncover the answers you need — almost like a playable version of the film Edge of Tomorrow. It’s a race against time, but one you won’t truly lose if you’re making the most of your exploration. If you want to ignore that and just roast a marshmallow instead, that’s also an option.
Life is Strange 2
Like Dontnod’s first outing, Life is Strange 2 is an episodic adventure with minimal gameplay and an emphasis on the writing and characters. Thankfully, the story of Sean and Daniel Diaz is well-done through the first episode. Once again, a supernatural force infiltrates the lives of our main characters and leads to the brothers leaving their hometown.
Life is Strange 2, so far, has the makings of a game that comments on relationships with the police and race relations. Dontnod deftly navigates these tough issues to create a compassionate and moving beginning to the story. Episode one is well worth playing and it will have you anxiously awaiting the remaining four.
The Witness is a game that only Jonathan Blow could make. An atmospheric and existential game focused primarily on circuit-based puzzles, it features a familiar amnesiac protagonist element, but the world Blow has created is interesting enough to make it feel like much more than another tale about regaining your memory and uncovering some big secret.
Instead, you’ll be given philosophical tidbits that could help you in your understanding of your world as you make your way through more than 500 puzzles. If you’ve been subscribed to Xbox Live Gold for a while, you likely already have The Witness in your “Ready to Install” section, so you can try it out right now.
Read our full The Witness review
Tom Clancy’s The Division 2
Tom Clancy’s The Division had some problems with its competitive “Dark Zone” and endgame content when it launched back in 2016, but it was still an enjoyable shared-world shooter with an addictive progression system. The Division 2 doesn’t radically alter the formula, but the move from New York City to the nation’s capital gives you more variety in the environments you’ll fight through. Blasting through a Mars exhibit in a museum is unlike anything we’ve experienced in a game before, and it’s even more fun when you bring some friends along for the ride.
The Division 2 tweaked the “time-to-kill” for enemies and agents alike, leading to more intense and risky firefights than in the first game. Make a few wrong decisions and you’ll be gunned down, and the enemies you face are smart enough to take cover and avoid letting you get too many shots off before switching locations. The Division 2 is a game of small changes, but they lead to a very satisfying whole.
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is an ambitious RPG that almost feels unrecognizable within the framework of the long-running Ubisoft series. Taking place in Ancient Greece circa the Peloponnesian War, you get to pick your character for the first time. You can choose between Alexios or Kassandra, siblings who have an unfortunate family history. Sandwiched within the struggle between Athens and Sparta is a story of a nefarious cult and a well-done family story of betrayal, revenge, and reconciliation.
The star of Odyssey is its massive and gorgeous open world. Though the combat and missions become tedious due to excessive level grinding, if you’re a history buff or a longtime fan of the franchise, you’ll probably find a lot to love here.
Read our full Assassin’s Creed Odyssey review
Dragon Age: Inquisition
Dragon Age: Inquisition had a lot to prove. BioWare had disappointed fans a few years earlier with the small and rushed Dragon Age II, and the Mass Effect series had just come to an end with quite a bit of controversy surrounding its ending. This didn’t get BioWare down, however, and it released an absolute masterpiece in Inquisition.
The fantasy role-playing game combined all the best parts of Dragon Age: Origins with a few things that worked in its sequel — such as the action-packed combat — and a clever story involving time travel and political turmoil kept us hooked from beginning to end. We just hope the in-development sequel can live up to Inquisition.
Read our full Dragon Age: Inquisition review
Fallout 4 from Bethesda has everything one expects from their games: a massive open world, hundreds of ways to customize a character, quests, and stories hidden in every nook and cranny, and of course an unfortunate slew of bugs. As with Fallout 3 and New Vegas, the game drops players in the middle of a post-apocalyptic wasteland with a big overarching goal (in this case, to find your kidnapped son.) From there, players are free to explore the world, doing whatever quests they feel like, and treating the wasteland like one big sandbox. There are guns to collect, mutants to fight, wacky characters to talk to — or murder, if that’s your thing.
Perhaps the biggest addition is that players
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