There are now thousands of games available for the Xbox One and choosing between them can be a tricky task. However, we’ve played a huge amount of them over the years and have our own favourites.
Here, then, are our picks for games you really should check out. Some are enhanced for Xbox One X and many of them are even available on Xbox Game Pass Ultimate – a subscription service to download and play full games as often as you like. It needn’t cost the Earth, therefore.
Red Dead Redemption 2
Although Red Dead Redemption 2 starts slow, the amount of depth and variety in mission types will soon have you well and truly hooked. It is also massive, so make sure you put aside a month to get through everything it has to offer. And, with the addition of Red Dead Online, you’ll have plenty to do even after the single-player story is finished.
The fifth instalment in the Gears of War series – not including the prequel, Judgment – is a tour de force of a game that adds open world elements for the first time to great effect. It also puts you in the oversized COG shoes of Kait, the franchise’s first female lead character, and has some truly memorable boss battles.
Gearbox has created the best Borderlands yet. It feels very familiar to the others in the series, which is to its benefit as that makes it easy to launch straight into, but there is enough new and improved to sate the appetites of fans and newcomers alike.
The Outer Worlds
If you’re a fan of action-RPGs and crave some proper Fallout-style action that’s distilled to its proper essence – i.e. with none of that building nonsense or other extraneous elements – then you’ll love The Outer Worlds.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare
Along with the superb single-player campaign and Special Ops, CoD: Modern Warfare all adds up to a mighty fine package. If there was a suspicion in recent years that the Call of Duty franchise was beginning to creak under the strain of its annual nature (albeit with a rotating roster of three developers taking turns), this game does a great job of allaying such fears. We’d recommend it over the newer Black Ops Cold War.
Fortnite is free to play and aimed at everyone – kids and adults alike. The mixture of first-person shooter gameplay, base-building and cartoon graphics attract young and old and with cross-platform play you can even take on those on Switch or PS4.
Otherwise known as PUBG, this essentially kicked off the now massively popular Battle Royale format. It started on PC but came to Xbox One first – in terms of home console releases. It’s no longer exclusive but the Xbox One version benefits from being around longer than PS4 and looks especially good on an Xbox One X.
Post-apocalyptic games may have been done to death, but Metro Exodus still manages to generate a new spin on the genre, due at least in part to its uniquely Eastern European worldview. It’s a fine game too: beautifully crafted, intelligently placed, rich in terms of story and endowed with gameplay that is both satisfyingly varied and nicely fettled.
Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla
Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey breathed fresh life into the franchise and Valhalla cements its best parts. You take on the role of Eivor, a Viking warrior tasked with settling their people in England, and it’s a rip-roaring tale to enjoy.
If you like third-person shooters then Control offers up one that’ll feel quite unlike any you’ve previously played, thanks to its stratospherically weird paranormal storyline. Both in terms of gameplay and ambiance, Control is utterly original, very distinctive and deeply satisfying, thanks to a decent roster of side-missions and challenges beyond the main story.
Ori and the Will of the Wisps
A delightful sequel to Ori and the Blind Forest, this lovely platformer will win you over with gorgeous artwork and smooth, satisfying gameplay. It’s an impressive package through and through, and can also scale up to give a serious challenge if you crank up the difficulty. Its gentle story and characterful animations should live long in the memory.
Spyro Reignited Trilogy
This is a splendid remaster of one of the most endearing platform game series of the 90s. It offers each of Spyro the Dragon, Spyro 2: Ripto’s Rage! and Spyro: Year of the Dragon but with a major, modern overhaul of the visuals and audio. Developer Toys for Bob even got the voice actor for the two sequels to revoice Spyro in the first for continuity.
Forza Horizon 4
Not just one of the best driving games on the Xbox One, Forza Horizon 4 is one of the best on any games machine. Its UK setting works wonderfully for providing great variety in race styles and conditions. Plus, the seasons mechanic, with spring, summer, autumn and winter offering different themes throughout your gaming experience, makes for superb longevity.
The Hitman reboot was a great episodic adventure but the newest sequel is even better – possibly the best stealth game ever, in fact. You’ll need patience but the sheer number of ways to complete each assassination mission make it a game you will come back to again and again. This game also upgrades the episodes of the first two entries, so you can revisit them too using the new and improved game engine.
Whatever Bethesda may believe, and whatever the tastes of millennials, Doom is all about its single-player campaign, which is a blood-smattered brilliant beast of a game. It’s extensive, insanely hectic, unbelievably satisfying, gloriously gory to behold, and more than worthy update of the classic original.
Resident Evil 2
The original Resident Evil 2’s horror dynamics garnered a huge amount of praise at the time. The 2019 remake makes the maximum use of modern technology to take them to an even higher plane. As a result the new Resident Evil 2 is an absolute tour de force – it’s nothing less than an object lesson in how to remake an old game.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider
The last part of Lara Croft’s origin trilogy is also the best. It is bigger than her previous two outings, has a more involving storyline and plenty of tombs to raid. The skill tree and role-playing elements are superbly realised and the graphics are simply stunning at times – especially when presented in 4K on an Xbox One X.
Monster Hunter: World
Monster Hunter: World proves to be gloriously addictive and endlessly charming, offering an open world experience like few others. Environments are teeming with life and the RPG elements are great and easy to get to grips with, even to franchise newcomers. You’ll soon find yourself addicted to both its charm and challenges. Much like us.
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order
When Electronic Arts secured the Star Wars licence, there was a lot of new hope (pardon the pun) that we’d get games of the quality of Star Wars Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II and Knights of the Old Republic. Sadly, while Battlefront I and II offered great multiplayer action and authentic visuals, they lacked in story or depth. Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order makes up for it in spades, with an expansive single-player campaign and gameplay that feels like a cross between Dark Souls and Tomb Raider. The force is strong in this one.
Sea of Thieves
Sea of Thieves represents a risky approach to create a gameplay experience which feels fresh and unique. But it succeeds. It might just be the first game to nail the knotty conundrum of providing the tools with which gamers can create their own narratives.
Dark Souls 3
As anyone who has played a Dark Souls game would expect, Dark Souls 3 is huge, gothic, creepy, studded with bosses which, when you first encounter them, seem impossibly daunting, yet irresistibly addictive. At times, you will curse the impulse which propels you back into its fetid world, as you struggle to advance even a couple of hundred metres. But the pay-off is that any small triumphs you manage to pull off will be so hard-won that they feel like mighty victories.
Halo 5: Guardians
The fifth instalment of Master Chief’s adventures adds a fresh game style to the proceedings in the form of co-operative play during the campaign mode. You are always accompanied by three other characters for each mission, whether that’s with Master Chief’s team or a new team of Spartans led by Jameson Locke. And don’t worry if you can’t find three friends to play along with, Halo 5 does a very good job with artificial intelligence to give your companions life. There’s also the excellent new multiplayer mode to provide plenty of fun: Warzone. It can lead to some seriously bonkers battles.
No Man’s Sky
While No Man’s Sky was criticised a fair amount straight after launch, continual updates and content patches have arrived to turn it into the space exploration game we all originally hoped for. And the long-awaited Xbox One version came with them from launch. Result.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
Not just one of the best games on the Xbox One, The Witcher 3 can lay claim as being one of the best of all time. It is an extraordinary feat in game design, where it seems that every action undertaken in the massive third-person RPG has an effect on the game world. Save a merchant from some bandits in a random encounter, for example, you might meet him again many hours later in a city, where he gives you a massive discount on items he has for sale. The world itself also seems alive and vibrant while the game is also capable of testing your skills so you don’t just blitz through it.
Grand Theft Auto V
It took a while to get GTA V onto the current generation consoles but nobody can complain considering how much extra the improved game offers over the original version. For a start, Rockstar added a whole new first-person mode, which enables the player to experience the game from a different perspective, even if completed before. Plus, the graphics were given a tasty overhaul to make San Andreas look more spectacular than ever. And let’s face it, GTA V was always one of the best games available anyway.
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
Kojima’s last Metal Gear Solid game for Konami also happens to be his grandest moment. Taking the franchise into the realms of open world seems to have been an inspired decision, with so much to do and missions to complete that you will be playing for hours. We know, we’ve still not seen everything there is to see in the game. We also love the way you can tackle just about everything in multiple fashions – run and gun or sneaking around are just two ways you can complete objectives, each causing different reactions.
Halo: The Master Chief Collection
With Halo: The Master Chief Collection, 343 Industries put together an amazing package of the four best Halo games remastered for the current generation console. We’ve had Halo 5: Guardians since release, but the previous four are a worthy set of games regardless. The Xbox One version of Halo 2 is such an amazing upgrade to the Xbox original that it’s almost worth the money on its own.
Destiny 2 might have had its critics at launch, but it has improved into a very fine game, with multiple upgrades and campaign add-ons over the years. And, with Bungie having made the core experience free-to-play after becoming a self-publisher, there is now no excuse not to give it a whirl.
The continuing success of Minecraft might come as a surprise to some but with each new release a new generation of fans is born. And, because Microsoft is now the sole owner of the series, the Xbox One version is exemplary. It also offers cross-platform play.
Winner in the best game category at the Pocket-lint Gadget Awards way back in 2014, Alien: Isolation maybe took many by surprise with its adherence to the tone of the first Alien movie, both graphically and thematically. Rather that arm you with hefty weaponry and send floods of xenomorphs in your direction, the name of the game is survival as you are hunted through a destroyed space station by just the one Alien. Cue some pant-wettingly scary moments.
Far Cry 4
Although we love Far Cry 5, the former outing for the series is one of our favourite first-person shooters and remains the better of the two. Far Cry 4 has everything a modern game should offer. At its heart it’s an FPS, but there are role-playing game elements, driving challenges, wonderful co-op play and one of the largest open world maps we’ve seen in such a game. The mission structure is excellent, while the amount of side missions and other things you can do is almost overwhelming. But perhaps the best thing about Far Cry 4 is the superb villain in Pagan Min. Evil and funny in equal measure and the closest you’ll get to a truly realised Bond-style foe in gaming.
Dragon Age: Inquisition
Although it helps to have played the previous Dragon Age games on older consoles beforehand – at least to follow the plot – Dragon Age: Inquisition is a mighty role-playing game from Bioware that deserves inspection regardless of whether you are a fan of the genre or not. Its storyline is broad and far reaching and the game has perhaps the most side missions and other things to do off the beaten path as any we can remember.
Batman: Arkham Knight
Bigger than the other Batman games before it and stunningly beautiful to boot, Arkham Knight wraps up the trilogy in spectacular fashion. Without giving away too many spoilers, the use of the Joker throughout the game is inspired and we think the inclusion of the Batmobile adds variety to missions and the overall gameplay. Plus, the playable areas of Gotham City are so big this time around that it’s a thrill racing around them in the super-powered vehicle.
Project Cars: Game of the Year Edition
The Forza series might be the best known in the simulation driving game genre when it comes to Xbox One, but the community created Project Cars matches it for realistic driving experiences. Where Project Cars takes the idea a little further is in offering the most amount of customisation for races you are likely to see in a racing game, even down to the ability of choosing how the weather will change with each lap. The first game is also far superior to the sequel, we feel.
Life is Strange
Without a major licence to hang onto, the original Life is Strange could have escaped your notice, even though it features every bit as engrossing a story as The Walking Dead or other episodic adventure game. The five episodes, which follow teenage girl Max after she discovers she can turn back time, feature fantastic voice acting and twists and turns that will have you guessing until the very end. And the best part about it is that your actions determine the outcome. Its excellent sequel is also well worth your time.
A bizarre hybrid of footy, driving sims and Robot Wars, Rocket League in an online multiplayer team game that’s become a massive cult hit. Two teams of up to eight players have to basically use their rocket-powered cars to force a giant football into their opponents’ goal. Bonkers and brilliant in equal measure.
Writing by Rik Henderson. Editing by Britta O’Boyle.