The best Xbox One games in 2019: every must-play on Xbox One S and One X

By Staff, Friday, 11 October 2019 12:48 GMT

Xbox had an amazing E3. Thanks to a no-show from their greatest rivals Microsoft had the undivided attention of the world, and used it to show off some of their best games and services.

But you’re not here to talk about games that might be good in the future, you’re here for the best Xbox One games right now, and whether you’re digital-only, or physical discs through-and-through, there’s an Xbox One model made to suit your needs.

Thanks to subscriptions like Game Pass, owning an Xbox is better than ever. So to help you sift through the huge range of choices, these are the best Xbox One games – officially and painstakingly selected by VG247.

We’ve got everything from the biggest blockbusters to the most innovative indies. These are the best games available right now for Microsoft’s Xbox One. We’ll be updating this list regularly with the latest and greatest gaming has to offer, so if your favourite’s missing – let us know in the comments.

The best Xbox One games

The latest games to make the list are the latest entry into one of Microsoft’s flagship franchises, Gears 5, and the nostalgia-tinged kart racer Crash Team Racing: Nitro Fuelled – which is a brilliant, couch co-op addition to your ever-growing Xbox library.

March saw the release of two exceptional action games, Devil May Cry 5 and Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. You’d be hard pressed to find a pair of big-budget games that’re a tougher test of your gaming mettle, but they’re both brilliant all the same.

The first addition to the list in 2019 was the stellar remake of Resident Evil 2 – an early GOTY contender. While late last year we added the incredible Red Dead Redemption 2, as well as Hitman 2 and Assassin’s Creed Odyssey.

If side-scrolling rally silliness is your bag, then look no further than Trials Rising – a moreish, petrol-fuelled grin-fest which is a must for fans of noughties flash games and arcade racers alike.

The unique setting and tough survival of Metro Exodus make it another worthy addition to the line-up.

While Respawn Entertainment’s new battle royale, Apex Legends, makes the list too.

In summer 2018 we added Dontnod’s flawed, but supremely interesting, Vampyr. There’s not much else like it available on Xbox One, and fans of Victorian gothic ambience and hefty exposition should definitely give it a look.

And earlier in 2018 we added Capcom’s life-consuming action-RPG Monster Hunter World to the list, as well as overnight streaming sensation Fortnite: Battle Royale. Microsoft’s first AAA-exclusive of 2018 – Sea of Thieves – dropped in March. Despite some launch issues, it’s such swashbuckling fun that it’s made our list too.

And now, in alphabetical order:

alien_isolation

  • Alien Isolation
Key Info 
ExclusiveNo
Released2014

A stand out both for the horror genre and the Aliens property, Alien Isolation came out of left field. A first-person adventure from a team near synonymous with real time strategy? A really, genuinely good licensed game? Who could have predicted this?

Alien Isolation isn’t a shooter – it’s a stealth game, and an unusual one in that the Alien AI is very hard to predict. Although it ruffled the feathers of those who like to “win” games by playing the system, for those in it for the atmosphere nothing beats the dread of having no clue where the creature might pop up next, or if it’ll sniff you out this time.

  • Apex Legends
Key Info 
ExclusiveNo
Released2019

From the creators of Titanfall 2, Call of Duty 4, and Modern Warfare 2, Apex Legends is a new contender for the best battle royale around, thanks to its rock-solid shooting fundamentals, dense and varied map, and its roster of well-balanced characters.

It’s free-to-play too, so costs nothing to test out; making it perfect for scratching that casual multiplayer itch without having to commit to buying a premium-priced game. The absent price tag isn’t the only reason to download Apex though, it’s as thoughtfully crafted as Respawn’s previous work and a lot of fun to play.

The included microtransactions are expensive, but there’s still plenty of game to get stuck into without spending a penny.

  • Assassin’s Creed Odyssey
Key Info 
ExclusiveNo
Released2018

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is the most ambitious title in the series yet and offered players a choice between a male and female lead with no gameplay or story difference for the first time. Both characters say and do the same thing throughout the entire game, and the player-choice doesn’t stop there. Odyssey doesn’t so much take a leaf out of the book of dialogue-heavy RPGs like Mass Effect, as rip out the whole idea of divergent narratives based on player decisions root-and-branch.

Odyssey is a huge game too, since you can expect to spend well over 100 hours in Classical Greece before you’ve collected every secret, upturned every stone, and met every friendly face.

What’s more, this latest Assassin’s Creed doesn’t shy away from the mythical and fantasy elements of its setting – creating in-universe explanations for some of the most famous legendary monsters as it builds to its bonkers conclusion.

James reviewed Assassin’s Creed Odyssey for us and wrote a tonne of guides to help you navigate the vast map and wealth of quests to tackle.

assassins_creed_origins_photo_mode (5)

  • Assassin’s Creed: Origins
Key Info 
ExclusiveNo
Released2017

Assassin’s Creed: Origins looks incredible in 4K on the Xbox One X, which is especially amazing considering the size and density of its open world. The bright desert landscapes and cities are a sight to behold – well worth a look if you’ve got the tech.

These platform specific improvements bag Origins a space on this list alongside the newer Odyssey.

After a year off for the series, Assassin’s Creed: Origins takes a look at what started the war between the Assassins and Templars in the first place, following new Assassin Bayek as he fights for peace in a region beset by the threat of Roman invasion and political upheaval.

Revised combat and better traversal are top of the list of improvements that make Origins one of the best Assassin’s Creed games to date.

  • Battlefield 5
Key Info 
ExclusiveNo
Released2018

Battlefield 5 is probably the best Battlefield game since Bad Company 2. Yes, the union jack face masks were a bit tone-deaf, but you can’t deny that Battlefield 5 is an excellent shooter.

You have your single-player War Stories that take you across different theatres of war and a solid multiplayer experience which values tactics and positioning over twitch skills and a keen focus on team-playing and support classes that makes you feel like your role in the team really matters.

When EA first announced the series was returning to history with Battlefield 1, we all sucked in our breath and glanced at each other uncomfortably. Whether the campaign is poignant and educational or exploitative and shallow is a matter of opinion, and we’re all a bit tired of the painful mental acrobatics we need to do to justify our discomfort with historically-informed virtual warfare versus modern or future warfare. But if you can switch that part of your brain off, wow: fantastic action.

It captures the camaraderie described by those who survived through the war, whilst giving you a taste of the horrors that would have ensued on the battlefield. War is hell, after all.

  • Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 – Blackout
Key Info 
ExclusiveNo
Released2018

Black Ops 4 released in October to rapturous success and introduced the first battle royale mode in the series, Blackout.

In terms of pure gameplay, Blackout is by far the best battle royale mode out there, taking all the best bits from the previous Call of Duty multiplayer modes and creating a map filled with easter eggs, zombies and a collapsing circle. What else do you really need?

It’s a welcome change to the mode made popular by the likes of Fortnite and PUBG, and hardcore Call of Duty fans are revelling in how much fun Blackout is to play. Just watch out for that zombie horde when you’re searching the Mystery Box.

  • Crash Team Racing – Nitro Fuelled
Key Info 
ExclusiveNo
Released2019

We love Crash’s new design. He looks like the softest, cuddliest bandicoot to ever don a Aku Aku mask and shout, “WOAH!”

Like the recent main game remasters, Crash Team Racing totally revamps the genre classic with gorgeous visuals, detailed environments, and the smooth gameplay we’ve come to demand from modern titles.

What’s more, CTR is still the same chaotic fun that it was in 1999, only now it has a revamped single-player Adventure Mode as well as online and local multiplayer races.

cuphead

  • Cuphead
Key Info 
ExclusiveNo
Released2017

Dripping with nostalgia from all directions, Cuphead combines old school run-and-gun platforming action with the animated stylings of an even more distant yesteryear. Famously challenging, although perhaps as much because it is in need of a more complete tutorial to string together its sandbox of tricks as because we’re all ageing out of twitch reflexes.

Master its intricacies, though, and you’re in for a good time. Originally a pure boss rush game, you’ll soon find these sections the most satisfying as you fall back into long-forgotten habits of memorising attack patterns. Microsoft has scaled back its first-party efforts but its “indie” publishing is still going strong. Worth the wait, and up to the hype.

dance_central_spotlight

  • Dance Central Spotlight
Key Info 
ExclusiveYes
Released2014

Dancing games are great, we don’t care what anybody says. Lock your housemates outside, close all the blinds, check for hidden spy cams and just have a nice time while getting some useful aerobic exercise.

Dance Central Spotlight is the first in the Harmonix series for Xbox One, making use of the bundled Kinect. It works a little better than most Kinect games, and although it’s still a bit patchy the on-screen camera feedback is a lot more useful than games that use controllers. Even with a slimmed-down music library, Dance Central Spotlight is a heck of a good time.

dark_souls_2_ps4_xbox_one_scholar_of_the_first_sin

  • Dark Souls 3
Key Info 
ExclusiveNo
Released2016

Magnificent. Very probably the franchise’s swansong, as creator Hidetaka Miyazaki is well and truly over it after five games, but what a way to go out. Packed with cheeky references and another episode of the baffling, looping lore fans love unpacking and recombining, Dark Souls 3 is a Souls game for Souls fans as well as being the most accessible entry to date.

We say accessible, but we mean “fair”: bonfires are closer together, summoning works, upgrades are no longer potentially disastrous one-way horrors. But the challenge is still there, and PvP is even better than ever. Very much worth the effort.

destiny_2_emb_crucible_pvp_the_fortress_6

  • Destiny 2
Key Info 
ExclusiveNo
Released2017

It’s Destiny, Jim, but not as you know it. The addition of a big number “2” to Bungie’s shared-worlds shooter has brought about a revolution in time wasting loot cycles and it is even more beautiful than ever. With a campaign that almost makes sense (!) and a gentle pull back from psychological manipulation (!!), Bungie is clearly growing into its powers; we can forgive it a a few gross loot boxes and a rather tiresome amount of quipping for the chance to blow holes in space faces with the universe’s tastiest collection of boomsticks.

Less grindy than the first one but with possibly even more delicious gunfeel, Destiny 2 has so far shown no inclination to keep trotting out new events and features to keep you plugging away at your Light – I’m sorry, Power – level and exclaiming over yet another new and tasty firearm. The hardcore still run out of stuff to do about three hours after weekly reset, but everyone outside the 2,000 hours family is having a great time.

dead_rising_4

  • Dead Rising 4
Key Info 
ExclusiveNo
Released2016

There are two Dead Rising games console-exclusive to Xbox One and to be honest there’s not a great deal to pick between them. Neither really nails the feel and formula that made the first game so special. Both of them dialled back the unforgiving mechanics, and the fourth entry removed the timer all together, much to the fanbase’s horror.

But for all its failings – the new Frank West is unpopular, and the disconnect between the story, game and stated developer intentions is hilariously wide – Dead Rising 4 smooths many rough edges with more mature tech and the best action the series has ever seen. If you want to beat up endless zombies with daft objects, here’s your ticket.

  • Devil May Cry 5
Key Info 
ExclusiveNo
Released2019

Slaying demons, and doing it stylishly! Devil May Cry 5 blends flashy, combo-driven chracter-action with a rockin’ soundtrack and bags of personality.

There are tons of skills to unlock and abilities to master across multiple playthroughs, with tougher difficulties becoming available each time you roll the credits. As a package, there’s a lot more on offer here than a once-through story, which lets you make the most of the fantastically experimental combat system.

You play as three characters across the game, a refreshed but unmistakably old-school Dante, his Devil Breaker-wielding nephew Nero, and new face V, who fights at a distance using ethereal familiars.

diablo_3_reaper_of_souls

  • Diablo 3: Ultimate Evil Edition
Key Info 
ExclusiveNo
Released2014

Diablo 3 faltered out of the gate but by the time it made the leap to consoles it was up and running, having ditched a number of systems, rebalanced everything, gained a bunch of new content and evolved into an ARPG worth investing in. Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls Ultimate Evil Edition is particularly special because it represents the most complete and feature-filled version of Diablo 3 to date.

To our surprise, Diablo 3 works really, really well on Xbox One. Perhaps we should have expected this given the popularity of earlier series entries on consoles, but I doubt anybody really appreciates just how well Blizzard managed the transition to control pads until they actually have it in their hands. Co-op this with your buddies for best results – from the comfort of your couch.

dishonored_2_guide_walkthrough

  • Dishonored 2
Key Info 
ExclusiveNo
Released2016

Someone has to keep the dream of immersive sims alive, and with Eidos Montreal’s Thief and Deus Ex efforts falling a bit flat, it’s a good thing Arkane is standing strong with its whalepunk stealth-em-up series. Building on the very solid foundations of the first game, Dishonored 2 adds a second protagonist and a suite of new powers to the mix.

Although the mixed-era aesthetic and quiet little lore details are a joy to explore, it’s Arkane’s level design that really shines in Dishonored 2. The Clockwork Mansion folding and unfolding around you is as unforgettable as it is initially daunting, and it’s only the best known of a number of warren-like arenas through which you hunt, a shadow with a single target.

divinity_original_sin_enhanced_edition

  • Divinity Original Sin
Key Info 
ExclusiveNo
Released2015

In the year 2017 we are puzzlingly if delightfully blessed with a significant number of old-school style western RPGs. While the big triple-A brands move into 3D space action, a counter-revolution brings us a stack of retro releases like Torment: Tides of Numenera and Wasteland 2. Our pick of the bunch is Larian’s absorbingly self-aware fantasy RPG.

There is so much to discover in Divinity: Original Sin. The dev team’s commitment to simulation is unrivalled, so that very often the question “I wonder if I can do this?” is a resounding yes, and it’s one of the game ever to live up to the promise of freedom of play style and full systemic combat. Absorbing and entertaining solo, hilarious in co-op. pro tip: take the animal speech skill.

DOOMs

  • DOOM
Key Info 
ExclusiveNo
Released2016

Look, no, it’s not the esport scene creating multiplayer banger Bethesda obviously hoped it would be, and you should feel free to completely ignore that part of it. But DOOM is something way more important than the publisher’s wet dream of a money spinning multiplayer game: it’s an incredible shooter that understands what made the original special and builds on that foundation rather than continuing on the path the genre has taken in all the year’s since.

DOOM’s single-player campaign plays so much faster than other FPS story modes, and totally eschews cover and hitscan in favour of rapid movement and real projectiles. You’ll lead your fire, you’ll dodge, and you’ll think about positioning as you master each enemy type’s attack patterns – and eventually you’ll get right up in their faces and melee them for that sweet health boost. You won’t ever stop moving, and that is the real winner here.

dragon_age_inquisition

  • Dragon Age: Inquisition
Key Info 
ExclusiveNo
Released2014

The best BioWare game for new-gen, until it does another one. Dragon Age: Inquisition is absolutely huge, representing hundreds of potential hours of gameplay for the really keen, and despite a tendency to edge towards filler content it delivers with scaling challenges (lower difficulties are button mashers; higher settings require minuscule tactical control and serious preparation legwork) and a plethora of interacting RPG systems.

As usual, BioWare’s writing and especially its characters and dialogue are superb, and while you may pretend it’s all about the politics we know you’re in it for the kissing scenes.

dying_light

  • Dying Light: The Following Enhanced Edition
Key Info 
ExclusiveNo
Released2015

A somewhat surprising inclusion, and not one we would have predicted back when TechLand parted ways with Dead Island and Deep Silver to make a new kind of zombie sandbox. A much less silly take on the zombie apocalypse, Dying Light is filled with moments of genuine horror, but it’s the process of levelling up and upgrading equipment that makes it so compelling. Every venture in the dark brings risk and reward – and the opportunity to return with an enormous automatic weapon and take revenge on the scary monsters. Take advantage of the new parkour system to explore the open world in every direction.

The free support Techland threw at this one was amazing, and expansion The Following is a really worthy add-on. Bundling it all up for re-release as Dying Light: The Following Enhanced Edition is a move we applaud. What’s more, Dying Light Bad Blood is a new battle royale mode that’s scheduled for release this year.

skyrim special edition

  • The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim Special Edition
Key Info 
ExclusiveNo
Released2016

One of the best games of the last generation remains one of the best games in this one, and now you can have slightly better visuals to go with it. What’s not to like? Bethesda made Skyrim Special Edition because it used Skyrim to figure out its new-gen tech for Fallout 4, and having done half the work already, it went ahead and finished the port. This is unlikely to happen again (sorry, Morrowind) fans, so it’s a good thing every Elder Scrolls RPG has an almost unlimited amount of content, isn’t it?

Skyrim set a new standard for RPGs and is still having enormous impact on the industry today. Without Skyrim, we wouldn’t have The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. We wouldn’t have Dragon Age: Inquisition and Mass Effect Andromeda. If you don’t know why, it’s time to check back in with Tamriel.

fallout_4_guide_perks_idiot_savant

  • Fallout 4
Key Info 
ExclusiveNo
Released2015

Old-fashioned and a little ugly, but still so damn essential. Fallout 4 has faults and it doesn’t look very pretty, but it’s an open world ripe for exploring, for building, for creating and surviving.

You can craft weapons and gear or scavenge whatever you find. You can follow the story or go your own way. There’s so much packed into Bethesda’s Boston Commonwealth it will keep you busy for months on end. From romancing companions to butchering whole factions, it’s never dull, often hyper-violent, funny and life-consuming.

  • Far Cry 5
Key Info 
ExclusiveNo
Released2018

Far Cry 5, the most successful title in the Far Cry series, arrived early 2018 and presented us with the most comparable-to-real-life story yet. Set in a not-so-fictional Montana, we’re introduced to Joseph Seed and his family, the cultist leaders of the Project at Eden’s Gate.

Full of trademark Far Cry style, 5’s streamlined gameplay and intriguing array of weapons and locales makes it a worthy addition to this list.

The wide open world is chock-full of more easter eggs than a giant bunny’s basket, and even you have the choice of letting Seed walk free and ending the game early. But as you systematically take down his family members and undo his work, be warned, keep an ear to the ground and listen to the radio.

  • FIFA 19
Key Info 
ExclusiveNo
Released2018

FIFA 19 is out now and the reviews are as beautiful as the game itself. Once again, EA Sports has managed to outdo itself with more and better gameplay and features when it really could just do a roster update and still bringing in the cash – let’s be real.

Notably, this year’s release doesn’t strive off in a bold new direction so much as refine everything in a slightly more casual direction. This won’t please the absolute hardcore fanbase, but it does open the sim to a much broader audience who have a chance of a good time without burying themselves in spreadsheets and swearing over half their life to a single video game.

final fantasy 15

  • Final Fantasy 15
Key Info 
ExclusiveNo
Released2016

Some games simply cannot be separated from their history, and you can see the long, tortured development of Final Fantasy 15 in its abbreviated story, the sudden wonkiness of the final few acts, and the way it never quite puts it all together. Also, the in-game advertising.

But if you can forgive these foibles and accept that patches and additions Square Enix is hurriedly applying, there’s a lot to love here. Road tripping with your Best Boys is the heart of the experience, and the smashingly gorgeous world is just there to be a nice background to the fake Instagrams you take of your fake life. If this is royalty in crisis, it’s a wonder Noctis cares enough to pursue his destiny. (You may not).

  • Fortnite: Battle Royale
Key Info 
ExclusiveNo
Released2017

What happens when you drop 100 people onto a cartoony island filled with guns, traps and giant llama statue?

Just about everyone on the planet has heard of Fortnite by now, so I won’t patronise you by explaining the real basics.

Fortnite’s tight third-person gunplay is epically moreish and its super low free-to-play barrier to entry make it no surprise that it’s taken the world by storm. Season 5 has just dropped too, giving Battle Pass holders ten more weeks of challenges to complete as well as new skins, vehicles, weapons and toys.

  • Forza Horizon 4
Key Info 
ExclusiveYes
Released2018

Forza Horizon 4 presented Xbox One players with a truly outstanding 4k racing experience. With more classic cars, a Bond car special bonus and new seasonal barn finds introduced to the game, Forza Horizon 4 is hailed as the best in the series by a long way.

You can visit Edinburgh in Forza Horizon 4, but there’s a distinct lack of vomit on the pavements which ruins the immersion a little.

forza_6

  • Forza Motorsport 6
Key Info 
ExclusiveYes
Released2015

While its more recent open world cousin deserves attention, Forza Motorsport 6 is the best vanilla racing sim experience on Xbox One. Racers always perform better at console launches, but with a few years extra experience on the console under its belt Turn 10 lived up to its name by cranking the dials skywards on this one.

With a new, lengthy story mode, twice as many vehicles as Forza 5 released with, rain and night racing in glorious HD, and seven new tracks you don’t already know backwards, the is the strap in excuse you’ve been looking for. We used to favour Project CARS for top racer, but with the dust settled on both of them, we found ourselves favouring the flagship series instead.

And by the way, no: we don’t think this one needs updating. Microsoft and Turn 10 have let microtransactions creep too far up Forza 7’s back passage.

gears_of_war_campaign_new_shot_4

  • Gears of War 4
Key Info 
ExclusiveYes
Released2016

Gears of War 4 has gone under the radar a little bit as Microsoft has fumbled around trying to work out how to sell games this generation, and that’s a damn shame. Despite the shift in developer, it’s a worthy continuation of the shooter series and far more memorable than prequel Gears of War: Judgment, which was produced with Epic still overseeing the ship.

What makes Gears of War 4 so good is The Coalition’s masterful identification of what made the original games so sticky, and its willingness to double down on that and throw everything else out in favour of fresh material. The result feels familiar in a good way, like a well-fitting pair of shoes, but is new and interesting enough that you won’t be bored. Cross-buy, cross-save and even cross-play with Windows 10 is a nice bonus, and a valuable lesson for all the other developers out there whinging that balancing multiplayer for keyboard and mouse as well as control pad is too hard.

  • Gears 5

Whatever you think of the strange decision to drop the “of War” from the official name, Gears 5 is an interesting evolution for the series, teaming more open environments and a personal story with the tried-and-tested, muscular third-person shooting.

As well as the strong campaign this is probably the most complete Gears package to date, with competitive online multiplayer and a massively fleshed out PvE Horde mode, where you fight against ever-increasing waves of swarming nasties. If that’s all a bit sedate for you though, there’s also the new Escape game mode, where you and your fireteam try to outrun certain death at the hands of encroaching “Venom” gas while fighting off the hordes.

In our full review, Simon Miller thought that Gears 5 is the best the series has been in years, and you can read why here.

ghost_recon_wildlands_gamescom_2016_screen_1

  • Ghost Recon: Wildlands
Key Info 
ExclusiveNo
Released2017

There’s only room for one open world, co-op Tom Clancy game on this list, and sorry, The Division; you’re not it. On of the bestselling games of 2017, Ghost Recon: Wildlands is almost excessively generous with its dramatically beautiful Bolivian landscape, endless list of things for you and your buddies to get up to, and countless combinations of gear and ability to bring to each new encounter if you’re the experimenting type.

Wildlands may not have the always-on mindset of your Divisions and your Destiny 2s, but to some people that’s a mark in its favour. Ubisoft’s trademark open world checklist gameplay may not precisely respect your time, but at leats it doesn’t throw a fit if your NAT settings are a little over eager, or demand you grind away in the name of RNGesus all the livelong day. An only slightly more connected twist on a classic formula, scratching the itch in a dry spell between Far Cry and Assassin’s Creed releases.

gta5_pc_pre_launch_6

  • GTA 5
Key Info 
ExclusiveNo
Released2014

There’s no question of leaving GTA 5 off any best of list, even though it did launch last generation. You’d never guess it; Rockstar’s done an uncannily good job of brushing up its already astounding tech for newer hardware.

What can be said about the juggernaut of our times? Should we highlight the multiplayer suite that provides endless hours of dicking about and fantasy fulfilment? The sprawling campaign with its multiple playable characters and on-the-fly character switching? The sheer pleasure of cruising the streets of faux-LA with no purpose in mind at all? There’s a reason everyone and his dog played GTA 5, and you should, too.

halo_5_arena_gamescome_2015_9

  • Halo 5: Guardians
Key Info 
ExclusiveYes
Released2015

Master Chief still isn’t quite back up to form, but Halo 5: Guardians tries so hard it’s easy to forgive its weaknesses. The campaign and accompanying story aren’t the events Microsoft wanted them to be. Fortunately, the online multiplayer is where the meat of the game is at.

Arena Mode is the classic Halo of old, but Warzone is where 343 Industries has successfully shaken up the formula. Influenced by MOBAs, you fight AI and other players, both adding points to your team total. It’s here that you get to play multiplayer first-person shooters differently, and the result is fresh and exciting, backed by the familiarity of the giant Spartans and friends.

halo_wars_2_multiplayer_multi_sided_bash_screen_1

  • Halo Wars 2
Key Info 
ExclusiveYes
Released2017

The PC crowd may not be as impressed as the rest of us. but they aren’t clutching a controller, marvelling at how, once again, It Has Been Made To Work. – and work even better than before. Remember when console RTS was impossible? Yeah. Not so much.

Microsoft really wasn’t messing around with Halo Wars 2, bringing in strategy experts the Creative Assembly (Total War) to take up Ensemble’s mandate. Despite the studio’s hardcore chops this is an RTS that welcomes new potential strategy hounds; it’s a fantastic place to dive into the genre when you find yourself champing for greater depth.

Hitman 2

  • Hitman 2
Key Info 
ExclusiveNo
Released2018

Following the episodic experiment of IO’s first rebooted Hitman, you reprise your role as Agent 47, travelling the world to take out enemies using classic weapons such as a whole fish, a rubber duck and, of course, your briefcase that homes in on enemies like a guided missile.

Hitman has always been about exploring each level, replaying over and over again to unlock the potential crammed into every corner, discovering new ways to infiltrate and execute – Hitman 2 doesn’t forget that, and delivers time and time again.

The locations are extravagant and new features make it easier than ever to kill your targets in ever more elaborate ways. You can also kill Sean bean’s character if you want which, let’s face it, it’s canon for him to die in whatever film or game he’s starring in. Check out our review of Hitman 2 here if you’re still unconvinced.

  • Injustice 2
Key Info 
ExclusiveNo
Released2017

Displacing Mortal Kombat X, NetherRealm stabelmate Injustice 2 is the best fighter on Xbox One, easily ranking above Marvel vs Capcom Infinite and the Xbox exclusive Killer Instinct.

All the same tight fighting action is there, but the (mostly) DC roster takes the aciton in unexpectedly epic directions, especially since the sequel explores some more obscure corners of the comics universe rather than just trotting out the familiar faces.

They’re there too, though, and if you want to smash people’s faces in as Wonder Woman you have absolutely come to the right place. Welcome! Welcome!

playdead_inside_fi

  • Inside
Key Info 
ExclusiveNo
Released2016

Remember when Limbo came out and it was amazing and it took you on an emotional journey and stayed in the back of your mind for years? Inside is that, again, only this time PlayDead had so much money it was able to sit on it and refine away until what it got was so close to perfection as set a standard for everything else.

Forgiving puzzle platforming that demands problem solving rather than split-second timing, a carefully and deliberately unexplored setting, and an atmosphere fine tuned to the emotional breaking point (the game’s haunting score was recorded through a real human skull) make Inside an experience you should not sleep on.

  • Kingdom Hearts 3
Key Info 
ExclusiveNo
Released2019

If Kingdom Hearts 3 is your first brush with the series then you’re going to be very confused, but where else can you romp through beautifully realised Disney worlds with Donald Duck and Goofy for company?

The action’s slicker than ever, and when things look this good it’s quite easy to switch off and enjoy the ride even when you’re not following a word. For veterans though, this long-awaited sequel is a must-play, and delivers on pretty much everything fans could have wanted.

Kingdom Hearts 3 is an interesting oddity if nothing else, and won’t be forgotten in a hurry.

life_is_strange

  • Life is Strange
Key Info 
ExclusiveNo
Released2015

A challenger to Telltale’s hold on the episodic adventure crown, Life is Strange boasts a much more dynamic approach to the formula – not to mention a much less buggy and stiff engine underpinning Dontnod’s efforts. Subverting the consequential choice trope with a time reversal mechanic, offering clearly defined borders and puzzles more involved than “click on the thing”, Life is Strange outshines its rivals in the space.

But it’s the atmosphere that really gets us, tugging at a deep-rooted nostalgia for adolescence – or perhaps just for the media that celebrates it. Max and Chloe’s creators may not have got the hang of natural-sounding teenage dialogue, but they nailed the rest of it.

Life is Strange: Before the Storm, a prequel series, as well as a full sequel – Life is Strange 2 – have come out since, but the original is still the best.

metal_gear_solid_5_the_phantom_pain_3

  • Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain
Key Info 
ExclusiveNo
Released2015

Despite the post-launch fallout that has seen visionary creator Hideo Kojima leave his baby behind, Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain is still a fantastic game – one of the very best on this generation of consoles.

That’s because it’s a bizarre and unique, hilarious, violent, exhilarating stealth sandbox. It offers an almost overwhelming amount of choice to tackle missions, and throws out a bunch of boring stealth cliches we’ve become numb to over the years. The story is uncharacteristic in that it’s subdued, but the meta game of building Motherbase will keep you busy for months. The only downside is that we’re pretty sure there will never be another game like Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain.

Metro Exodus

  • Metro Exodus
Key Info 
ExclusiveNo
Released2019

It might not have the same level of polish as a lot of blockbuster shooters, but Metro Exodus makes up for it in originality and ambience – and boy, is it a looker on Xbox One X.

As Artyom, you navigate the derelict post-society of a nuclear-ravaged Moscow, where irradiated survivors have retreated into the city’s underground transport network for shelter. Exodus is the most open and ambitious game in the series yet, as the story takes to the mutated surface world above the metro.

There’s a meaty amount of hardcore exploration and survival on offer here, without the nagging monotony of things like a hunger or thirst bar. The realism and difficult comes from the tough enemies, scarcity of resources, and immersive gameplay mechanics and flourishes. Never have we more enjoyed pressing a button to smear stinking mud and stagnant water from the visor of perilously cracked gas mask.

shadow_of_war_1

  • Middle-earth: Shadow of War
Key Info 
ExclusiveNo
Released2017

Middle Earth: Shadow of War takes everything we loved about the first game and turns it up a notch. The series’ renowned Nemesis System – which makes powerful enemies remember your fights, gloating about their victories and bearing a grudge for their defeats – remains the jewel in the crown of an immensely satisfying experience that sees Talion step up his fight against Sauron by amassing his own army of orcs.

While the story can be heavy on exposition, Shadow of War is at its best when you’re fighting hordes of enemies, looting legendary gear and hunting down the strongest orcs for your army.

minecraft_1

  • Minecraft
Key Info 
ExclusiveNo
Released2014

The phenomenon that is Minecraft is found on every platform, but it was the Xbox 360 version that really blew the roof off. It has since been supplanted by its new-gen cousin, chiefly because Mojang and 4J kindly put in the extra work needed to make it possible to import your existing worlds. The enormous Minecraft player base has very little reason not to upgrade to the newer version, with its larger worlds and more bells and whistles.

Xbox has always been the home of console Minecraft, and now that Microsoft owns Mojang we only expect that to become more pronounced. It’s got that glorious 4K update and cross-play now, too. PS4 …. does not.

  • Monster Hunter World
Key Info 
ExclusiveNo
Released2018

Monster Hunter World has been one of the breakout hits of early 2018, selling more than 7.5 million copies since its release in January.

As a member of the fifth fleet to travel to the colony of Astera in the New World, your mission is to research the diverse biomes across the continent – as well as protect the more bookish types in the group from the menagerie of vicious creatures ready to pounce from the bushes.

Even though you’ll visit the same locations many times, there are so many different types of beast to track down and hunt that there’s always something to keep you busy. This is a deep game with tons of unique armor sets and weapons to craft. Some people might find the loot progression a bit of a grind, but the fights are tense, engaging and tough enough to still feel like a fresh challenge after multiple runs.

You can team up with three friends to hunt as a party of four, but solo play is a fun and viable option as well. You can join other people’s in-progress quests quite easily – and there’s a search function if you’re stuck on one in particular – so you don’t have to go it alone, even if you’re short on people to play with.

Monster Hunter World has also been consistently updated with free DLC since launch. The first new boss, Deviljho, was just added to the game.

ori_and_the_blind_forest

  • Ori and the Blind Forest: Definitive Edition
Key Info 
ExclusiveNo
Released2015

A magical sidescroller with over 30 awards to its name, Ori and the Blind Forest lives up to the hype – especially in this new version, which boasts cross-save with Windows 10 as well as a stack of new content and features.

Stunning hand-painted graphics meet flexible upgrade paths for one of the most ravishingly lovely explore-‘em-ups of all time. Ticks a lot of those Metroidvania boxes we don’t see enough of these days, too.

outlast

  • Outlast
Key Info 
ExclusiveNo
Released2014

The scariest game on consoles now that Silent Hills teaser P.T. has been pulled, Outlast is a mostly combat-free survival horror in which running and stealth are your only defence. You think you’ve seen enough spooky abandoned psychiatric hospitals in your time to be immune to the horrors of a new one, but you are wrong.

A more polished effort than Zombie’s Daylight, Outlast is memorably terrifying. The plot and events are absolute nonsense, but you won’t care, because you’ll be shitting yourself. Highly recommended, except for pregnant women and people with heart conditions. Better than the sequel, we think.

overwatch_fi_15

  • Overwatch
Key Info 
ExclusiveNo
Released2016

Overwatch was born when Blizzard axed an MMO that had been in the works for a decade, and the surviving team had to find something to turn their frowns upside down. A first person quad shooter with MOBA-style hero balancing may not have been the obvious development, but in the face of all doubters Overwatch became an overnight sensation with its strange genre blend.

Despite the laughably slim meta-narrative, Overwatch won hearts and fired loins with its cast of characters. The friendships, enmities, familial and potentially romantic relationships between the cast are told in animated shorts, comics, and subtle in-game hints, with each new droplet falling on the fandom like water on a Mad Max: Fury Road extra.

quantum_break_gamescom_2015_jack_joyce

  • Quantum Break
Key Info 
ExclusiveYes
Released2016

In the year 2016, Microsoft published a narrative-driven first-party exclusive with no multiplayer and lo! It was pretty good.

The big gimmick of Quantum Break is that there’s a live action TV show of sorts included with it, and what you see changes depending on what you do. This was all supposed to be a seriously big deal back when Microsoft was pushing the TV angle for Xbox One, but ended up being pretty low-impact when the platform holder dropped that approach like a hot rock.

Never mind though! As old-school action adventure goes, this is great.

  • Red Dead Redemption 2
Key Info 
ExclusiveNo
Released2018

We had high expectations for this prequel and oh boy, did Red Dead Redemption 2 deliver. The game follows Arthur Morgan, a member of the infamous Van der Linde gang, as he struggles to make sense of a changing world and hold onto his adopted family.

With exciting shoot-outs, dynamic and ever-changing environments and some real, wholesome moments throughout the game, Red Dead Redemption 2 was one of the games of the year in 2018, and sets a new benchmark for what we can expect in video games for years to come.

  • Resident Evil 2 Remake
Key Info 
ExclusiveNo
Released2019

As early as January we already had a contender for Game of the Year 2019. Resident Evil 2 Remake is filled with the same quality jump scares as the original game, adding in some new challenges and streamlining everything that terrifying about the original.

Kirk’s review of Resident Evil 2 Remake shows how gripping and terrifying the gameplay is. We have a complete guide on how to survive Raccoon City and on how to achieve the elusive S Rank in your playthroughs, as well as top tips for getting started in Resident Evil 2 Remake. Just watch out for Mr. X.

resident_evil_7_screens_8

  • Resident Evil 7: Biohazard
Key Info 
ExclusiveNo
Released2017

When Capcom started touring a VR horror demo, we all made jokes about how amazing it would be if Resident Evil 7 took some cues from cancelled Konami project Silent Hills. We didn’t expect Capcom to actually do it, but Resident Evil 7: BioHazard is indeed a first-person creep through a closed location.

Somehow or other many gameplay systems survived this transition, reminding us that third-person shooting was never the real heart of Resident Evil, while terrified hoarding of green herbs against the possibility of whatever is around the next corner most definitely is. It could be longer. It could be scarier. But it could also actually kill you with fear, especially in VR, so maybe Capcom drew a sensible line there.

rise_of_the_tomb_raider_gamescom_2015_screen_4

  • Rise of the Tomb Raider
Key Info 
ExclusiveNo
Released2015

A finely crafted single-player adventure, with our intrepid Lara going back to her roots; exploration and scrappy fighting across beautiful vistas and wild terrain. Rise of the Tomb Raider is a true return to form for Croft, but also a technical marvel. Crystal Dynamics’ skill when making this game cannot be underestimated: Lara bangs against walls and stumbles through the light, grips to the highest of ledges with only death below, and kills with precision when the situation requires it. And there’s genuine adventure here, where puzzles need to be solved and treasures found.

Although the earlier Xbox One release is missing some of the cosmetic goodies from the 20th Anniversary Edition on PS4, all the meaningful additions were patched in or made available as DLC. The Xbox One version is definitely no less special.

rocket league

  • Rocket League
Key Info 
ExclusiveNo
Released2016

Fast cars playing football. Rocket League is instantly and infinitely playable, whether in couch co-op or online. Like the best arcade games, you’ll pick up the premise quicker than a click of your fingers, racing for the ball and smacking it into the back of the net.

Which is all very satisfying. And then you realise the clever physics system can be worked to your advantage and the next thing you know you’re trying all kinds of crazy stunts and tricks. Some work spectacularly and others fail miserably but at no point will you stop grinning. Developer Psyonix continues to add modes and fine-tune the gameplay, giving us every reason to believe Rocket League will continue to be played for years to come.

  • Sea of Thieves
Key Info 
ExclusiveYes
Released2018

With a crew of friends in tow – or complete randos you meet online for that matter – Sea of Thieves is a swashbuckling good time for sea-faring folk and landlubbers alike.

You embark on quests laid out by procedurally generated treasure maps, sailing the high seas in search of excitement, adventure, and most of all precious booty. While there might’ve been a list of error codes as long as your arm on release, online connectivity is getting more and more stable.

Clearing dungeons of skeletons is challenging and varied enough to keep you occupied for a good while, but the spontaneous PvP is the best thing about Sea of Thieves. Locking swords in an impromptu pirate battle is always a laugh, and adds an extra layer of tension when you’re to whisk a particularly big horde back to port.

  • Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
Key Info 
ExclusiveNo
Released2019

FromSoftware games have long been a byword for devilishly difficult, unapologetically hardcore action-adventure RPGs, and Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice evolves the formula yet further. Dark Soul’s restrictive stamina metre is gone, leaving a complex combat system based around mechanically intensive deflects and counterattacks in its place.

Set in a dark vision of feudal Japan, Sekiro’s story is more forthcoming than Dark Souls’ – featuring straightforward NPCs and dialogue and everything – but the mysteries it contains are no easier to uncover.

This will test your skills – and your patience – to the limit, with no crutches to rely on, but ooh is it worth it.

tales_from_the_borderlands_episode_4 (3)

  • Tales from the Borderlands
Key Info 
ExclusiveNo
Released2014

Gearbox freely admits it’s kind of rubbish at doing anything interesting with the hugely potent Borderlands setting, but Telltale has no such problem. Expertly honing in on key story hooks, tugging heartstrings and proving wickedly funny, Tales from the Borderlands ought to make Gearbox take a long, hard look at its own efforts and pull up its socks.

Somehow or other, Telltale managed to tell a story completely separate from the main Borderlands series so that anyone can enjoy it, while still tying back firmly to existing canon and even pushing the meta-narrative along. Maybe the new season of The Walking Dead will change our minds, but for now, Tales from the Borderlands is the best Telltale game of this generation.

titanfall_2

  • Titanfall 2
Key Info 
ExclusiveNo
Released2016

Releasing disastrously close to bigger shooter brands in the crowded 2016 holiday season, Titanfall 2 has not received even half the credit it deserves. Although fans of the original complained about what Respawn threw out, the sequel still packs in so many new ideas and features that there’s no cause for complaint beyond adjustment disorder.

Technically stunning, Titanfall 2 presents one of the best single-player FPS campaigns of the decade, while pushing fast-paced, agile combat further than ever. Competing shooters simply cannot boast this flow, and the ace in the hole – the massive disruption of the Titans – has only improved now that everyone gets a decent go at it.

  • Trials Rising
Key Info 
ExclusiveNo
Released2019

Trials Rising might not be a straight-up hardcore racer, but what it lacks in realism it makes for with balls-out excitement and pulse-pounding fun.

Memories of wasted lunchtimes and afternoons with those old flash games where you had to do tricks with your motorbike over humps will come flooding back as you flip and spin through each level, either score-attacking solo, or competing for bragging rights in local or online co-op.

  • Vampyr
Key Info 
ExclusiveNo
Released2018

In the shadow of The Great War, Dr Johnathan Crane returns home to London to find a strange pestilence sweeping the city: a vampire epidemic. Freshly turned – against his will – Dr Crane must not only find a cure for the illness, but unravel the twisted plot that led to his transformation, rubbing shoulders with the humans and higher vampires vying for control in the chaos.

At its best, Vampyr is a masterclass of gothic ambience and investigation-based storytelling that repeatedly tests your morale fortitude. The strength of your abilities is linked to gaining XP, which can be gained in large quantities by feeding on named citizens. The only problem is that these citizens have names, backstories, families and problems – making Johnathan choose between upholding his Hippocratic Oath to do no harm and slaking his thirst for blood.

Pacing issues, which include near-constant backtracking and massive dumps of dialogue, can be frustrating. And the combat gets a little repetitive too, especially when the difficulty spikes towards the end of the game, but what Vampyr does get right is engrossing and memorable.

If you like your games talky and stylish and can put up with grinding then Vampyr is worth a try.

the_witcher_3_wild_hunt_guide_walkthrough

  • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
Key Info 
ExclusiveNo
Released2015

The winner of the all-star 2015 open world championship, The Witcher 3 beat all who came before it and has set a bar for every game to follow. Nobody but CD Projekt RED has produced such a large world of such incredible detail, nor found a way to populate it with things people actually want to do, as opposed to collectibles.

There are hundreds of hours of things to do in The Witcher 3 and all of them revolve around a central narrative studded with moments of high-tension drama, political intrigue and genuine human warmth. The DLC only improved on this strong beginning. Geralt’s adventures may be drawing to a close with this one, but he’s going out in better form than ever before.

the_witness_mountain_2

  • The Witness
Key Info 
ExclusiveNo
Released2016

The release of The Witness will be looked upon as the next great leap forward in video game puzzles in a few years to come. It took its time to come to Xbox One, but it was worth the wait.

It’s a game that flips the player’s emotions from infuriated to elated within seconds, as the seemingly impossible goes *ping* in your brain and the next thing you know you feel like the cleverest person on the island. When baffled you’ll do well to wander away from one puzzle and explore the others, because the secrets to unlocking this massive conundrum lie all over the beautiful landscape. Surrender to the world of The Witness and you’ll eventually escape. Eventually.

wolfenstein_2_screenshot_2

  • Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus
Key Info 
ExclusiveNo
Released2017

Wolfenstein 2 is about one thing: killing Nazis, and boy does it do it well.

After a series revival with 2014’s brilliant Wolfenstein: The New Order, The New Colossus picks up with BJ Blazkowicz as he takes on an occupied United States in an alternate history 1960s. Tough, but fun, shooting – with some of the coolest guns around – makes Wolfenstein 2 a real blast and one of the best action games on Xbox One.

xcom 2

  • XCOM 2
Key Info 
ExclusiveNo
Released2016

Turn-based strategy is not naturally at home on consoles, but as with the first in Firaxis’s alien-hunting series XCOM 2 makes the transition to console with laudable grace and style.

It helps that XCOM 2 is such a good-looking game, zooming effortlessly from the necessary battlefield view down to an almost cinematic third-person view of the actual action, allowing you to take in all the tiny details that give it so much charm. It also helps that XCOM 2 is so bloody more-ish; one more turn, one more go, one more save scum while you try to get through this level without losing your favourite soldier guy and his souped-up gun.

  • Rage 2

Rage 2 is much more than a pink nightmare, offering an abundance of movement and combat abilities for players to unlock and experiment with. Alongside being able to drive literally every vehicle you come across, you’re able to find a wealth of powers and weapons to wield against your enemies, including a revolver that fires incendiary rounds you can detonate and a rocket launcher that can lock-on and fire a barrage of miniature missiles.

Playing as a Ranger in a power suit you can zip around the place in no time, and even slam into your enemies in a power move that’s just as gory as it sounds.

Check out our Ark guide to find the best gear in the game, as well as the best cheats to use.

  • Dauntless
  • Dauntless is a free-to-play action-RPG where you hunt Behemoths and break off parts to craft better gear. It has true cross-play and progress can be transferred between platforms, meaning that you don’t need to worry about switching from PC to Xbox Box and vice versa.

    Despite having a more cartoony aesthetic, it’s proved popular with Monster Hunter fans and new players alike. There are plenty of quests to be getting on with, so jump in with a few pals and give it a try.

    A mobile and Switch port should be coming soon, alongside new weekly challenges and regular updates.

    Evergreen list

    The best games of each platform

    Best of series and misc

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