The 12 Best Games For The Xbox One

Illustration by Sam Woolley

You’re heading to the store to get an Xbox One right now, and need to know which games to get. Or you’re at work or in school, daydreaming about what you want to play next. Or maybe you’re suiting up for a battle in the console war, cinching on your armour and trying to remember which games will best help you make the argument for Microsoft’s new console. We’re here to help.

These days there are more good Xbox One games than ever, with new contenders arriving all the time. In the list below, we’ve listed the games we recommend for Microsoft’s machine. We will, of course, continue to update the list regularly as more games are released for the Xbox One.

We’ve capped the list at 12, and will continue to remove old games to make way for new, better entries. Here goes...

Rise of the Tomb Raider does much of what its predecessor did: It gives us a relatable, less superhuman Lara Croft and sets her loose in a hostile environment with only her wits and a pickaxe to stay alive. While the story may not be ultimately as gripping or cathartic as the first game, the full experience is knit together very effectively, with a good mix of puzzle solving, exploration, sneaking and fighting. Things get more interesting with the game’s downloadable add-ons, too, which have Lara taking on zombies and swamp witches along with a repeatable survival mode that’s so good it could be the foundation of a standalone game. All that and the game is so beautiful it’ll often have you pausing just to take in the view.

A Good Match For: Fans of Crystal Dynamics’ 2013 Tomb Raider reboot, bow and arrow enthusiasts, anyone who really hates bears.

Not A Good Match For: Folks looking for a deep or nuanced story, people who hate collectibles.

Read our review.

Watch the game in action.

Purchase From: Amazon | Wal-Mart | Best Buy | Gamestop

Cuphead doesn’t look or sound like any other video game — take one look at the gorgeous backdrops, 1930s-inspired art style, or take one listen to the Ellington-infused big band soundtrack. It plays more familiarly, a side-scrolling shoot-em-up that turns players into perfectionists. Each boss requires precision, planning, and perfect timing to defeat, and the rush of victory is like nothing else. Come for the beautiful art and music, stay because you can’t stop playing until you finally beat this next boss.

A Good Match For: People who like mastering brutally difficult games, anyone who wants a video game that looks unlike any other.

Not A Good Match For: The easily frustrated, those who don’t love old-school side-scrolling shoot-em-up games.

Read our review.

Watch it in action.

Purchase From: Available digitally from the Xbox Store.

In Hitman, a simple setup paves the way for an unusually complex game. You enter a level with a target. You can eliminate that target in any way you see fit. Maybe you’re in a Paris fashion show, maybe you’re in the market outside a Moroccan embassy. Maybe you’re in a sprawling Italian villa, maybe a posh Bangkok hotel. Wherever you are, you’ll likely be impressed by Hitman’s painstakingly detailed clockwork communities as they tick along, inviting you to explore and exploit them. The main story assassinations are the tip of the iceberg here, as repeatable escalations, player-made challenges, and miss-and-you-fail elusive targets round out a supremely satisfying collection of sneaking, costumery, and espionage challenges. Yes, Blood Money was great, but this new Hitman represents a pinnacle for the series.

A Good Match For: Fans of classic spy movies, people who like playing dress-up, meticulous folks who love hatching a plan.

Not A Good Match For: People hoping for a good straight-up action or straight-up stealth game—Hitman has elements of both but is kind of its own thing.

Read our review.

Watch it in action.

Purchase From: Amazon | Walmart | Best Buy | Gamestop

Epic Games’ goofy, chaotic take on the Battle Royale formula has become a global sensation for a reason: it’s a really fun, good game. It starts with the familiar Battle Royale formula: 100 people land in a massive arena, and only one can win. Then it polishes things up with colourful characters, funny items, and a level of technical polish you’d expect from the people who make and maintain the Unreal Engine. It works great on consoles, just like it works on PC and even phones. And unlike its competitors, it has a ridiculous crafting component carried over from the base version of Fortnite. Getting shot at? Time to build a panic-wall. Want to get the drop on an opponent? Time to build a huge tower and get the angle. A constantly changing, constantly entertaining game, Fortnite Battle Royale is easily one of the best zero-dollar gaming investments you can currently make.

A Good Match For: Anyone looking for some silly competition, fans of competitive online games, world-famous rappers.

Not A Good Match For: Those who like to win. There’s only one winner per Fortnite match, and it probably won’t be you, at least not for a while after you start.

Read our take on why we like the game.

Watch it in action.

Purchase From: Available (for free) on the Xbox Store.

You’re alone on an island, surrounded by puzzles. That’s The Witness, an extremely complicated game that is really very simple. Some of the puzzles are obvious: They’re on screens right in front of you, stacked in orderly rows. Other puzzles are much less easy to find. All of them will stymie and confound you, but over time you’ll gradually dismantle them until the game’s grand design is laid out in front of you like the workings of a finely crafted watch. Some games make you level up your character to access new areas; this one makes you level up yourself. There are few more satisfying feelings in gaming than when you finally realise the solution to a puzzle in The Witness. With a click, a new door opens.

A Good Match For: Puzzle fiends, people who like a challenge, anyone who liked Myst and wants to see what a modern evolution would be like.

Not A Good Match For: Anyone wanting action, the easily frustrated, people who don’t like puzzles in games and generally just go look up the answers.

Read our review.

Watch it in action.

Study our tips for the game.

Purchase From: Available from the Microsoft store.

Titanfall 2 gave us what we were expecting—more of its trademark fleet-footed, giant robot-enhanced competitive multiplayer. It also gave us an unexpectedly fantastic singleplayer story campaign, and that’s really what sets it apart. What could’ve been a series of botmatches or boring corridor shootouts instead was an uncommonly well-designed hybrid of platforming and action movie gymnastics. The spirits of Valve and Nintendo are alive and well at Respawn Entertainment, evidently.

Read our review, and a breakdown of the best level.

Watch it in action.

Purchase From: Amazon | Wal-Mart | Best Buy | Gamestop

XCOM 2 refines or overhauls almost every little thing about 2012’s XCOM: Enemy Unknown, a game that was already good enough to win Kotaku’s 2012 Game of the Year award. The game is meaner and faster than its predecessor; most missions have timers that push you forward and force you to take risks, and the new alien types will break even your most time-tested strategies. You’ll get more attached to your team of customisable soldiers than ever, which makes it all the harder to watch them die horribly in the field. As if the original version of XCOM 2 wasn’t good enough, the brilliant 2017 expansion War of the Chosen makes the game bigger and better in almost every way.

A Good Match For: Strategy fans, people who liked the first game, anyone who’s ever wanted to understand just how difficult it is to fight off an occupying force from the inside out.

Not A Good Match For: The easily frustrated, those looking for a simple game, anyone who rages at missing point-blank shots due to dice rolls.

Read our review, and our take on the 2017 War of the Chosen expansion.

Watch it in action.

Study our tips for playing the game.

Purchase From: Available digitally from the Microsoft Store/Amazon

Just as there must always be a Stark at Winterfell, there must always (apparently) be a Forza: Horizon game on our list of the best Xbox One games. Forza Horizon 4 uses the same winning formula that has worked so well for every preceding game in the series, spicing things up further with a ton of new cars and, most notably, weather that shifts with the seasons. It is, to paraphrase a wise man, “The Rolex watch of Hot Wheels playsets,” a game that looks amazing, feels wonderful to play, and will remind car-lovers everywhere why they love cars.

A Good Match For: Car lovers, driving enthusiasts, those who like seeing immaculately rendered video game weather.

Not A Good Match For: Those who haven’t enjoyed previous Horizon games; anyone who prefers open-world games that let you get out of your car and walk around; people hoping to see Toyota cars in a racing game.

Watch it in action and hear our impressions of the game in the same video.

Purchase From: Amazon | Walmart | Best Buy | Gamestop

There’s no shortage of ambition in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. Geralt of Rivia’s latest adventure is massive, a world you can get lost in for hours and still have plenty to do. And while many games these days have sprawling landscapes, The Witcher 3 is utterly dense. Every nook and cranny is filled with memorable characters, clever writing, and rewards for curious players. The main story is as thrilling as it is emotionally draining, and the side quests are actually worth doing! Best of all? You don’t need to have played a Witcher game to enjoy the heck out of the third.

A Good Match For: Open-world fans, especially those who enjoyed Skyrim but were disappointed by the combat. In The Witcher 3, fighting is nearly as enjoyable as exploration.

Not a Good Match For: People who value their time and social life, or those who prefer their games hyper-polished without any framerate drops or other nagging technical flaws.

Read our review, and thoughts on the game’s (excellent) free DLC.

Watch it in action.

Study our tips for the game, and catch up on The Witcher lore.

Purchase From: Amazon

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey takes all the role-playing-game elements introduced in last year’s Origins and expands on them significantly, adding a ton of fun new unlockable skills that will force players to actually focus on their gear and character builds. It also introduces a choice of male or female protagonists, as well as a branching dialogue system reminiscent of games like Mass Effect and The Witcher 3. Quests can have wildly different outcomes based on your decisions. It’s an entertaining tour of ancient Greece filled with adventure, romance, and more than a little myth. Just remember that whatever you choose to do, you’ll probably have to justify your choices to Socrates at some point.

A Good Match For: Action-RPG fans, those who like games that mix stealth and combat, lovers of Greek history and mythology.

Not A Good Match For: Those looking for a more traditional stealth-based experience along the lines of earlier Assassin’s Creed games, people who are afraid of eagles.

Read our review.

Watch it in action.

Study our tips for playing the game.

Purchase From: Amazon | Best Buy | Gamestop

It’s a fan-art generator. It’s pure cosplay fodder. It’s a meme machine, a water-cooler mainstay, and a cultural obsession. Overwatch is all of those things, but above all else it’s a finely tuned competitive video game that manages to encourage pitted competition and enthusiastic teamwork while ensuring everyone is having a good time.

A Good Match For: Team Fortress 2 fans, people who liked banging action figures together as a kid, people who’ve wanted to try a competitive first-person shooter but haven’t yet found the right fit.

Not A Good Match For: Anyone who wants to play offline, or who is hoping for a substantial single-player story campaign. Overwatch is strictly multiplayer-only.

Watch it in action.

Study our tips for the game.

Read our review.

Purchase From: Amazon | Wal-Mart | Best Buy | Gamestop

For years, the best way to understand why so many people love Monster Hunter games was to play one on a mobile device. With Monster Hunter: World, everything that makes Capcom’s long-running series so great is finally playable on a modern, big-screen gaming system. World takes advantage of that screen real estate, and the massive beasts you’ll fight look just as fearsome as you’d expect. World may be the most approachable Monster Hunter game yet, but it’s still a complex, rewarding game that you can play for hundreds of hours without running out of things to do. It’s fun to play solo, fun to play with friends, and basically just really fun.

A Good Match For: Anyone looking for a thick, complicated game; those who like Dark Souls-style combat against huge enemies; people who’ve been intrigued by Monster Hunter and looking for a way to get into the series.

Not A Good Match For: Those who want a game that’s straightforward and easy to get into; vegetarians.

Read our review.

Study our tips for playing the game.

Watch it in action.

Purchase From: Amazon | Walmart | Best Buy | Gamestop

How has this list changed? Read back through our update history:

Update 11/12/2018: We’ve added Forza Horizon 4 and Assassin’s Creed Odyssey and taken off Gears of War 4 and Forza Horizon 3.

Update 4/30/2018: We’ve added Monster Hunter: World and Fortnite Battle Royale while taking off Resident Evil 7 and Inside.

Update 10/20/2017: We’ve added Cuphead and XCOM 2 and taken off Dark Souls 3 and Grand Theft Auto V.

Update 6/7/2017: We’ve added Gears of War 4 and taken off Destiny, which Bungie has been winding down in anticipation of the sequel later this year.

Update 2/24/2017: We’ve added Resident Evil 7 and taken off Diablo 3.

Update 12/21/2016: We’ve added Titanfall 2 and Hitman while cutting Ori and the Blind Forest and Metal Gear Solid V

Update: 10/28/2016: We’ve cut Sunset Overdrive and Assassin’s Creed Syndicate and added Forza Horizon 3 and The Witness.

Update 7/21/2016: Goodbye to Batman: Arkham Knight and Forza Horizon 2; hello to Overwatch and Inside.

Update 2/27/2016: Fallout 4 and Dying Light come off the list, while Dark Souls 3 and Rise of the Tomb Raider make it on.

Update 11/26/2015: Fallout 4 and Assassin’s Creed Syndicate make their way onto the list, edging out Dragon Age: Inquisition and Assassin’s Creed IV. We’re still keeping an eye on Halo 5’s to see if it’ll earn it a spot on the strength of its multiplayer.

Update: 10/15/2015: We’ve added Metal Gear Solid V to the list and taken off Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin. We’ve also updated our entry for Destiny to account for the Taken King expansion and cleared out old comments to make room for new ones.

Update 7/16/2015: These swaps are getting harder. After much deliberation we cut Wolfenstein: The New Order, despite our affection for the surprisingly good story-driven first-person shooter. We’re also saying goodbye to another over-achiever, Shadows of Mordor, whose best trick, the Nemesis System, isn’t enough to keep it on our ever more competitive top 12.

Update 5/5/2015: We’ve taken off Super Time Force, The LEGO Movie Video game, and Rayman Legends to make room for Dying Light, Ori and the Blind Forest, and Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin. Nearly half of the games on this list now begin with “D.” Mission accomplished.

Update 11/25/2014: Three new games make their way onto the list: Dragon Age: Inquisition, Grand Theft Auto V and Sunset Overdrive edge out Ryse: Son of Rome, Dead Rising 3 and Titanfall.

Update 10/17/2014: We’ve cleared out Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition, Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare, and Need For Speed: Rivals to make room for Destiny, Forza Horizon 2, and Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor.

Update 8/29/14: Strider hops out of the way to clear space for Diablo III: Ultimate Evil Edition.

Update 6/17/2014: The list continues to mature, as Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes and Peggle 2 leave to make room for Wolfenstein: The New Order and Super Time Force.

Update 4/17/2014: Three games enter, two games leave. Our list hits its limit of 12 games, with Titanfall, The LEGO Movie Video game and Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes walking on while Powerstar Golf and LEGO Marvel Superheroes exit.

Update 3/10/2014: Four games walk on to the list: Rayman Legends, Strider, Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare and the newly multiplayer’d Peggle 2 bring our grand total of games up to eleven. One more and we’ll be at twelve, and will have to start cutting games to make additions.

Update 2/14/2014: Our first addition to the Xbox One Bests list is the lovely-looking Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition. Go, Lara, Go.

Want more of the best games on each system? Check out our complete directory:

The Best PC GamesThe Best PS4 GamesThe Best Xbox One GamesThe Best Nintendo Switch GamesThe Best Wii U GamesThe Best 3DS GamesThe Best PS Vita GamesThe Best Xbox 360 GamesThe Best PS3 GamesThe Best Wii GamesThe Best iPhone GamesThe Best iPad GamesThe Best Android GamesThe Best PSP GamesThe Best Facebook GamesThe Best DS GamesThe Best Mac Games

Note: While some games on this list are download-only, all of them can be purchased on the Xbox One’s online store. If you buy any of these games through the retail links in this post, our parent company may get a small share of the sale through the retailers’ affiliates program.


Comments

    *See comments re 6 best games for PS4

      I like how they're also mostly the same list too.

        Why add a console exclusive racing game with a higher metacritic rating when you can cut and paste a different racer from the PS4 article?

    Uhhhhh Forza?
    Seriously, Forza is pretty damn good. Not super brilliant, and containing some obnoxious elements but it's certainly top-6. There's a solid argument that it's the best racing game on any console, that should make it a shoe-in for an early generation top 6 wouldn't you think?

    I think it was just about universally reviewed better than every game on that list except Assassins Creed (which is great).

    Either way, for all the sh*t that was put on it during development, I’m comfortable saying that the Xbone has the best overall launch lineup of any console I’ve ever owned.
    Normally when I buy a new console there’s a period after the first month where I’m absolutely starved of things to play, but so many of the Xbone launch games are fully featured titles that you can rack up many hours with them. Dead Rising has multiple endings and a billion collectables, Forza is (perhaps artificially) almost impossible to 100%, Assassins Creed is huge, Battlefield is addictive, FIFA is fully featured (unlike previous new generations).

    There may well be a pinch sometime late Feb where I’m running low on games but for now I’m still loving it. Titanfall shouldn’t be far away though and will hopefully fix that.

      Agreed strongly. Leaving out Forza 5 in place of Need for Speed is criminal

      But then again, if you wanted to invoke a response from the gamers in the comments section, dropping in a lacklustre racer over Forza in the list was exactly what the doctor ordered, amirite?

    I actually really enjoyed Ryse. I hope they make a sequel (maybe from the Celtic perspective)

      It's a good game but I find you need to really gel with it and get used to the lack of freedom in how you approach combat. Once you do you start to have fun with it.

      Ryse was highly under rated. It was almost universally slagged off before release and only saw moderate sales from those who said 'screw it' and bought it anyway.

      For those that did, they got a very pleasant surprise and word of mouth is now carrying this title forward to where it should be as a solid, action rpg experience.

      The game's lack of depth counters it's visual appeal, but for a launch title it's a very enjoyable game with a great story, excellent theme and shows off the potential of the X1 to great effect.

      I'd definitely recommend Ryse to anyone

    Rivals being good for speed freaks? I dunno about that. I haven't even started the game because by the third act of the unskippable trailer they put at the start of the game I'd had enough. It frustrated me to the point where I seriously don't even want to pick up the game's case to put it on the shelf. It's just sitting under the TV like it was made out of lead.

    I already brought the game, you can stop trying to sell the concept to me and just let me drive around really fast like the people in the video are talking about!

      Chill out bro.

    I'd take out Ryse from that list and I'd put Forza and Killer Instinct in it.
    Okay, that's more than 6 then, but shhhh :P

    The lack of Killer Instinct on this list is disgusting.

    MASSIVE lols at no Forza. I got an xbox one at launch and it's easily the most replayable game of the lot.

      I agree.

      I picked up ryse, dead rising and forza. Since beating ryse forza hasn't left my xbone and won't for some time yet.

    Seriously? NFS instead of Forza? Maybe for 10 year olds...

    I have to ask the question;

    Why do we have a 'Best of' for a console that hasn't been out for very long?

    I can understand 'Best of PS3' or 'Best of Xbox360', especially as the consoles will start to lose momentum with their newer versions out, but the market needs some time for more games to come out because these lists are such a large percentage of the games that are available.

    I for one think a best of previous generation is a good one to do again, as there are a lot of people who are taking advantage of price drops and giving the other consoles a spin, myself included.

    Dead Rising 3, RYSE: Son of Rome, Forza 5, Killer Instinct, Spartan Assault, Max... maybe Peggle 2?

    IMHO NFS deserved to be on the list more than Forza5. After starting it I finished it in 3 days not because it's lacking in content,(*cough* Forza *cough*) but because I just couldn't put it down. Good Lord the sounds. Never before have I heard a V12 sound so good. That's what I want from a game. I want to be so engrossed that I can't put it down. The dialogue was rubbish though.

      Lacking content compared to previous forza titles? Yes. Lacking in content compared to nfs? No way in hell.
      If car sounds are your thing you can't get more realistic than Forza6.

      Two different styles of racing games though. Ones an arcade racer with very little depth, the other is a racing simulator geared towards mechheads.

    I just started playing Ryse earlier in the week despite having it since launch. I should hate this corridor of carnage but I'm enjoying this uber violent hand holding experience coming off a game where I had to actually do things. The fact I'm past the half way mark after two sittings doesn't hurt either.

    tldr I woudn't recommend this to anyone as a full game experience but it makes for a nice palette clenser between 'real' games.

    I'm torn about Forza 5 personally. The AI is god-awful- they constantly brake check even on straight roads and gentle turns, always smash into you and PIT maneouvre you. It's a good game but the constant shit from the AI just gets unbearable after a while.

      I heard it's based on actual players' driving behaviours. So if they drive dirty, it's because the AI is based on a real dirty driver. Correct me if I'm wrong.

    Anyone notice neither COD or Battlefield made the list?

    Good call IMHO. COD Ghosts is a rehash of old content and Battlefield 4 was (and still is) a woefully buggy, unstable, glitchy piece of crap.

    In fact, I'm gutted there was no 'definitive' FPS to get on launch this gen for Xbox. So used to Halo as the fall back and it's not there this gen.

    Titanfall will be amazing though, can't wait for that!

    So 2 whole games you can’t get on other platforms. Meh.
    PS4 shits all over this console from a great height and always has.

      In your opinion. I play mainly multi platform games , and besides a couple of exclusives that interest me (Spider, God OW), technically superior multi plats on X (I have a 4k screen, but if you didn't it's reassuring to know when/if you upgrade, you're getting those updates free), free backwards compatibility (after 10+ years of acquiring a digital library, that's personally important to me), better/more functional OS (probably subjective as well) and controller (subjective as well I guess, but I use an Elite controller, and find it the best I've used in 35+ years) - The Xbox one to me, is the superior platform.

      You're welcome to disagree. It's a big world, many opinions!

        I'm with you on the One X. I've got a 4k Screen and the native 4k is miles better than the upscaled 4k my PS4 pro outputs. I just have a better experience with the Xbox UI and online systems (specifically my Gold games not being enjoyable) and the backwards compatibility is a godsend.

        I've been more of an Xbox fan since the original so i'm probably skewed, but the same shows for arnna and PS4, stating it "shits all over this console from a great height and always has."

          It can't be understated how big of a drawcard the backwards compat is. And some games really get great treatment with the patch.

            I've played a few backwards compatible games & remasters but after having a Xbox One X & a 4k HDR tv I have recently discovered that I cannot play older games anymore.. the X has spoiled me.

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