Best Xbox Live Arcade games

best xbox live arcade games header image copy
When the Xbox Live Arcade launched on the Xbox 360 in 2006, it ushered in a new era of digital downloads and nostalgia capitalization. The original Xbox Live Arcade launched with a meager six titles, a size limit hovering around 50MB, and its unknown longevity hanging in the balance. Needless to say, the service has come a long way.

The Xbox Live Arcade now boasts more than 600 titles from independent and major game developers alike, ranging in cost from nothing on up (prices frequently change), and capping size limits of more than 2.5GB. Many of them are still the classics we know and love, or re-envisioned versions thereof, along with a formidable host of burgeoning new hits like Castle Crashers and the sandbox phenomenon known as, you know, Minecraft. Unfortunately though, there’s also a copious amount of downright awful titles. No one should have to play a game produced by a company known for its seasoned tortilla chips. No one.

Here are our picks for the best Xbox Live Arcade Games so you can avoid sifting through hoards of egregious titles. They may not be as elaborate, eye-catching or renowned as modern blockbuster classics like Call of Duty and Halo, but they won’t cost you a whopping $60 either. Also, check out our expansive selection of the best Google Chrome gamesthe best free PC games and the best PSN games if you’re in need of a few more extracurricular activities for your downtime.

Role playing

DeathSpank — $15

Game designer Ron Gilbert has shown an (often) amusing knack for interactive story telling given his previous work on the first two Monkey Island games and Maniac Mansion. DeathSpank has a similar satirical air about it, throwing players into the role of the game’s protagonist DeathSpank and his unrelenting question for an ancient artifact, but it’s more hack ‘n’ slash than brainteaser. The action RPG is loaded with wit and loot, and savage unicorns, all set against a vividly gorgeous backdrop of 2D and 3D animation. Questing can be rather tedious given its stereotypical formula, but the evolving gameplay and Gilber’s iconic humor keep it all afloat amid the few drab moments.


Crimson Alliance — $15

We aren’t going to lie, Crimson Alliance can be shallow in many respects. Whether it be the uninspired gameplay, the generic three-class system, or its feeble attempt of humor, it comes of as a sub-par knockoff of the more renowned and robust titles currently flooding the market. However whittled down its core may be though, the mere fact the title offers online and local co-op helps add a much-needed social element often lacking in RPG industry. Once connected, four players can simultaneously don the role of either a wizard, assassin or mercenary — each with its own skill set — and traverse the Crimson Empire in search of ways to upgrade their loot and eradicate the armies of darkness. Sound familiar?

Crimson Alliance

Bastion — $15

When Bastion burst on the scene in 2010, the hack-and-slash RPG was noteworthy for its compelling story, awesome narration, and gorgeous hand-painted environments. The game hasn’t changed much since, not that it needs to, allowing players to take on the role of “The Kid” and traverse a floating world edging ever closer to complete oblivion. The crumbling world of Calamity is rich and compelling, loaded with dark secrets and ferocious beasts, and stacked to the brim with a slew of upgradable weapons at your disposal from the get-go. The original score is also one of the most finely-crafted musical journeys of any indie title to date thanks to first-time game composer Darren Korb. Again, dig that narration.


Torchlight — $15

The notion that games must often break new ground in order to be considered great is an unfortunate one — one players must look past in order to truly appreciate Runic Games’ Torchlight. The title sports similar gameplay and the isometric perspective akin to Diablo, but it does so with several refining characteristics and modern twists, carrying the player through a series randomized dungeons beneath an old mining boomtown infatuated with a magical ore known as Ember. The usual RPG classes are all present (i.e. a warrior, mage, and thief), the world details vividly colorful, and there’s enough variation among baddies and loot that it never seems overly redundant. The drawback? It’s only single player.


Castle Crashers — $15

Not only is Castle Crashers one of the best games on the Xbox Live Arcade, it’s also one of the best games on the Xbox 360 period. The side-scrolling game, set in a fantastically absurd medieval world of mysticism and magic, follows four knights on their quest to reclaim a stolen gem and an abundance of princesses from a dark sorcerer hellbent on power and world domination. The plot is simplistic, but the title shines in its character progression, varied game modes and a quirky sense of humor that remains authentic and wildly entertaining from start to finish. It’s challenging, whether playing alone or with up to three others, while offering fresh, cartoonish visuals in the same vain as The Behemoth’s previous title, Alien Hominid.

Castle Crashers
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: camera with A.I. director, robot arm assistant

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!

These Xbox One exclusives are the definition of quality over quantity

Xbox One has a prestigious collection of handpicked titles that you can't play on other consoles. Here are the latest and greatest Xbox One exclusives, including some that are also available on PC

This list of PlayStation 4 exclusives puts its competitors to shame

The PlayStation 4's game library and incredible selection of exclusive games could make anyone with an Xbox One or Nintendo Switch think twice. Here's our list of the latest and greatest PS4 exclusives.

Xbox One X vs. PS4 Pro: Which console is more powerful?

Far from cooling down, the console wars are only getting more intense. We compare Microsoft's Xbox One X to Sony's PlayStation 4 Pro to help you decide which premium console is right for you.

Take a trip to a new virtual world with one of these awesome HTC Vive games

So you’re considering an HTC Vive, but don't know which games to get? Our list of 25 of the best HTC Vive games will help you out, whether you're into rhythm-based gaming, interstellar dogfights, or something else entirely.

Xbox app lets you access your console while away from home. Here's how

Microsoft's Xbox allows you to access your profile information and launch media content directly from your mobile device. Check out our quick guide on how to connect your smartphone to an Xbox One.

Goodbye, Machinima: YouTube gaming channel pulls the plug after 13 years

Machinima, a YouTube gaming channel that was launched in 2006, has suddenly shut down, with all of its videos set to private. The #RIPMachinima hashtag is now making the rounds in social media to reminisce about the channel's content.

These are the best indie games you can get on PC right now

Though many indie games now come to consoles as well, there's still a much larger selection on PC. With that in mind, we've created a list of the best indie games for PC, with an emphasis on games that are only available on PC.

Overkill’s ‘The Walking Dead’ delayed indefinitely for PlayStation 4, Xbox One

Overkill's The Walking Dead for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One have been postponed without a new release date. The co-op zombie shooter suffered massive delays, then received lukewarm reviews once it launched for the PC through Steam.

The hottest Nintendo Switch games you can get right now

The Nintendo Switch's lineup started off small, but games have steadily released as the console continues through its second year. Here are the best Nintendo Switch games available now.

How you can give your PS4 a fresh start with a factory reset

Learn the many ways you can factory reset your PS4. From reverting your settings to factory to doing a full wipe and reinstalling the latest PlayStation firmware, we cover it all here, step by step.

Can't stand keyboard gaming on PC? Here's how to use a PS3 controller instead

Properly connecting a PlayStation 3 Controller to a PC is no easy task, especially when you opt for third-party peripherals. Thankfully, our guide will help you through the process.
Product Review

‘Resident Evil 2' is a terrifying new virus you'll want to catch

Resident Evil 2 brings the Raccoon City incident to a new generation of players, acting both as a nostalgic throwback and a thoroughly modern horror game with some of the best visuals of the generation.

‘Fortnite’ update makes you the most dangerous snowman ever

The latest content update for Epic Games' Fortnite adds the Sneaky Snowman item, turning players into stealthy masters of disguise. The update also changes the Sniper Shootout game mode.
1 of 7