These days, gamers are blessed with such a rich abundance of titles that it feels like there’s something new and exciting to get our teeth into every time we refresh our news feeds. But while these hot-off-the-press releases can be completely worth the hype, the flip side of this prolific production is that there’s already a substantial body of classic games out there for Xbox One, and we think it’s one well worth diving into.
Professing to know the best Xbox One games of all time can feel a bit odd when the console in question has only been out for five years, yet what’s out there is already of such a high calibre that frankly, it would be rude not to. That said, the majority of our picks actually have a considerable pedigree behind them, being the latest in a long line of releases from series that have enjoyed success across multiple consoles – series like Gears of War, Battlefield, Assassin’s Creed and Forza Motorsport. This is surely testament to the fact that like a good wine or cheese, some franchises just get better with age.
But that’s certainly not to say that the best Xbox One games just mean more of the same – far from it. Whether you’re in the market for an exciting racing simulator with more cars to choose from than Cristiano Ronaldo and the most realistic graphics around; a tried, tested and beloved combat format with more pace than ever before; or a space-based shooter with better guns, smoother jumps and a whole lot more heart than your average, look no further than our list of the very best.
1. Gears of War 4
A best-in-series shooter for the Microsoft legend
Best for: Skill | Genre: Shooter | PEGI rating: 18+ | Release date: October 2016
It was always going to be difficult to definitively name the best game for Xbox One, but we think Gears of War 4 gets pretty close to perfection. As a Microsoft exclusive, Gears of War has always been a big factor in choosing between Xbox and PlayStation, and this is something of a greatest hits, taking everything players have loved about the series and building on it to create the finest third-person shooter around. It’s a little quicker, and there are considerably more robots, but the same cover-based shooting gameplay we all know and love is there, and it’s this balance between familiar and groundbreaking that gives games like the excellent Battlefield 1 and Overwatch a run for their money as the best Xbox One shooter.
Our best multiplayer for Xbox One is fast, frantic and fun for everyone
Best for: Multiplayer | Genre: Shooter | PEGI rating: 12+ | Release date: May 2016
There’s not a simple answer to what makes a good team in this fan favourite objective-based shooter. Far above and beyond choosing between a tried and tested 3-4-2-1 and a maverick 5-2-1-2 on FIFA 18, you have to look a lot deeper, and when you do, you’ll realise just what it is that makes Overwatch so brilliant. It’s accessible to anyone, but not because it’s easy – rather, it redefines what makes a useful skill in combat, and with an incredibly diverse cast of characters, from gorilla scientist to blue-skinned assassin, there are a lot of those skills to choose from, and you’ll have tons of fun figuring out what works.
3. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
A sprawling, realistically rendered world that’s a continual joy to explore
Best for: Exploring | Genre: RPG | PEGI rating: 18+ | Release date: May 2015
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt takes the prospect of the open world into frankly ridiculous new territory with its enormous map: gorgeously detailed, dotted with villages, and with an immersive real-world feel thanks to ever-changing weather and true-to-life day/night cycles. It’s precisely this impulse to explore that might distract you from your main quest, although reviews suggest that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Already packing in around 100 hours before you even stray from the main narrative, the RPG’s main story is full of diverse activities and a hugely varied cast of characters that, while piquing your curiosity, will present more and more opportunities to satisfy it.
4. Destiny 2
Not sure what game you want? Destiny 2 is all things to all gamers, a treat on all fronts.
Best for: Variety | Genre: Shooter/RPG | PEGI rating: 16+ | Release date: September 2017
It’s not often that a sequel lives up to the expectations of its original, let alone exceeds them – yet that’s exactly, according to happy fans, what Destiny 2 has managed. New to the series, or even to Xbox? Not a problem. If you’re in the market for an addictive multiplayer game, or a great-looking shooter with hints of an RPG about it, you’re in the right place. A much stronger single-player campaign than the original Destiny, a more linear beginning to up accessibility for first-time players, and an enormous variety of side activities make Destiny 2 fresh and exciting even if you’re not sure what kind of game you’re looking for.
5. Titanfall 2
An emphasis on the mechanical, but with a surprisingly human heart
Best for: Combat mechanics | Genre: Shooter | PEGI rating: 16+ | Release date: October 2016
Time travel? Mecha soldiers? Space dinos? If this is your first Titanfall experience, you might be in for a bit of a shock, but you’ll be on board before long. The smooth mechanics, both in-combat and in between, are back, making for a wonderfully fluid playing experience that’ll see you pull off sprints, jumps and jetpack boosts with more than a hint of smugness. It’s challenging enough to keep things interesting, but not unbeatable, and you’ll find that a well-placed move with the right gun (and what great guns they are) will leave you crowing for days. And don’t be fooled into thinking it’s all galactic machine-gunning action – the introduction of a relationship between your character and his Titan brings surprising heart to proceedings.
6. Forza Motorsport 7
Coming back for a seventh lap, Forza Motorsport does it again
Best for: Racing | Genre: Sport | PEGI rating: 3+ | Release date: October 2017
You’ll no doubt have noticed a clutch of first and second sequels in our list so far – but a seventh instalment? Surely that’s pushing it a bit? Well, no, actually, because if its many fans are to be believed, Forza Motorsport 7 is easily the best racing game for Xbox One. As a racing sim, it’s fairly standard, but it excels in other areas. Closely mirroring its predecessor in terms of how the game itself is played, previous racers will find much that’s familiar, apart from a career mode that’s benefited from the introduction of a little structure. The big thing is the enormous garage, featuring every incarnation of car you can possibly dream of, and the drop-dead gorgeous graphics, reflected in everything from the dynamic weather to the superior lighting to the slight shake of the windscreen wiper on a sharp turn. Amazing.
7. Battlefield 1
Harrowing and beautiful, this is one cinematic shooter
Best for: Campaign | Genre: Shooter | PEGI rating: 18+ | Release date: October 2016
We were admittedly a little wary of a game set during the First World War, but Battlefield 1 maintains no illusions about glory or heroism. Rather, it displays the conflict in all its harrowing realism, resulting in a sensory overload of scurrying trench rats and the screams of the dying in the muddy stretches of No Man’s Land. The sound and level design is phenomenally good, all the better for bringing to life the inspired campaign, structured around six separate stories set everywhere from the skies above London to the desolate mountains of Italy – even T.E. Lawrence pops up at one point. These wildly varying storylines not only look great, they command a different style of gameplay, providing a thoughtful, creative shooter the likes of which is hard to find.
8. Rocket League
It’s football, but not as we know it...
Best for: Customisation | Genre: Sport | PEGI rating: 3+ | Release date: July 2015
If FIFA doesn’t quite offer the high-octane thrill you like in a video game, but you enjoy the basic gist, then do we have a treat for you… You might not have to know the ins and outs of transfer policy for Rocket League, but you’ll need a more advanced grasp of physics, because instead of a footballer, you’re a rocket-powered car, and instead of nailing slide tackles, you’ll have to time barrel rolls, somersaults, and all manner of weird and wonderful moves to intercept the fast-moving ball from your opponent. Enormous, unexpected fun, with a customisability element (crowns, flags, pretty much whatever you want to top your car with, you can) that’s very attractive. Plus, with its fast-moving gameplay and distinct lack of real violence, it’s one of the best xbox one games for kids.
9. Dark Souls III
A curious, exploratory RPG with some delightfully dark touches
Best for: Immersive RPG | Genre: RPG | PEGI rating: 16+ | Release date: March 2016
After Bloodborne’s turn as a PS4 exclusive, Xbox players will no doubt be happy to see the Dark Souls franchise back on their screens, and this instalment is a welcome return. While some have found it a little familiar, it’s up to you whether that counts for or against it. The big differences seems to lie in Dark Souls III’s slightly more structured approach to its world, with each section offering a few different ways to crack it and rewarding curiosity at every turn, but the same things that have made the series great so far – the murky ambience, the thoughtful combat – are back in abundance.
10. Assassin's Creed: Origins
Gorgeous, cinematic and immersive
Best for: An amazing-looking game | Genre: Action/adventure | PEGI rating: 18+ | Release date: October 2017
It’s a tough call after the rollicking piracy-themed, shanty-soundtracked ride that was Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag, but Origins could just be the best instalment of the Assassin’s Creed series yet. As a magi in Ancient Egypt, the game sees you explore an open world of unprecedented detail and beauty from a surprising variety of angles – one moment you’re your character’s falcon sidekick, surveying the skies above the city, the next, the man himself, exploring labyrinthine tunnels in the Great Pyramids. With its emotive storyline and jaw-dropping world and more, this is one to lose hours and hours to.
Still loyal to the last generation? We've rounded up the top 10 Xbox 360 games for your perusal.