The Xbox One might not have the same selection of exclusives as the PlayStation 4 or Nintendo Switch, but Microsoft’s console still has a huge library of games worth playing. With a strong lineup of shooters and racing games, fans of those genres needn’t look any further that the Xbox, and there’s also a number of great platformers you aren’t going to find on other consoles. We know the Xbox One isn’t exactly known for its exclusives but the handful it does have are definitely worth checking out — and there’s still a ton of other great titles to indulge in.
Whether you’re looking for a lengthy single-player game with a great story or an online world to get lost in with friends, there is something for you. From Shadow of the Tomb Raider to Rocket League, these are our picks for the best Xbox One games.
From Software’s excellent action-role-playing game Bloodborne isn’t available on the Xbox One, but Microsoft’s players get their own Souls-like game in the form of Ashen. Like the best games in the genre, Ashen forces players to think tactically as they approach situations, dodging and carefully choosing their attacks in order to avoid being overwhelmed. Stamina must be preserved, and the game’s dreary and gray color scheme only gets you in the mood to kill.
Where Ashen really differs from its competition, however, is in its watercolor-like art style. Characters in the games don’t have faces, almost like you’re trying to remember who you saw in a dream, giving the game a surreal feeling. It also supports “passive” multiplayer, where you can choose to cooperate with other players or force them to continue alone.
Gears of War (series)
Epic Games certainly didn’t invent the cover-based third-person shooter, but the developer’s 2006 game Gears of War turned it into a worldwide phenomenon. The original three games and prequel Judgment are playable on Xbox One through backward compatibility, and the first game as also remastered as Gears of War: Ultimate Edition for the system.
If you’re looking for the latest Gears of War experience on Xbox One, Gears of War 4 has you covered with a gripping and horror-focused campaign that harkens back to Epic’s earlier work, as well as a well-balanced competitive multiplayer mode that sees the series at its very best.
‘Diablo 3: Ultimate Evil Edition’
The launch of Diablo III is infamous. Hotly anticipated, the game was hit with awful server issues and serious gameplay flaws that simply sucked out the fun, like a real-money auction house. Thankfully, Blizzard revamped the game through a number of patches and one full-blown expansion. It released the game on console with support for up to four players in co-op.
The result is a fiendishly entertaining, supercharged action-RPG that’s a blast to play with buddies on a couch or online. While other RPGs have a better story or better graphics, Diablo III is pure stress relief. Sit down, obliterate some demons, and watch your numbers shoot into the stratosphere.
Read our full Diablo 3: Ultimate Evil Edition review
‘Dark Souls III’
Taking inspiration from Bloodborne, the studio’s PlayStation 4 exclusive, Dark Souls III speeds up the Souls series’ distinctive tough-as-nails combat, without sacrificing what made fans fall in love with the franchise in the first place.
Though Dark Souls III continues the series’ legendary difficulty, even the most menacing foes can be dispatched through a mixture of practice and patience. The loop of killing enemies, trading in their souls to upgrade your character, and venturing back into the unknown will keep you glued to your console for hours at a time. If you ever get really frustrated, you can always summon a stranger to join in on all the fun.
It’s unlikely that we’ll be seeing another game in the Dark Souls series from From Software and mastermind Hidetaka Miyazaki, but we couldn’t be happier with Dark Souls III as a conclusion to the series. It’s the work of a genius who has only further refined his art over time, and a shining example of how to make a franchise successful without sacrificing the more “hardcore” gameplay elements.
Read our full Dark Souls III review
‘Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain’
Although story has always been the main draw for Metal Gear, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain eschews lengthy cutscenes and monologues, instead focusing on open world gameplay that provides the player with countless ways to approach any mission. Tranquilizers, sniper rifles, shotguns, a remote-controlled robot arm; all this and more is available, giving the game an endless sense of replay value.
After completing a mission using a stealthy, nonlethal approach, one may feel the urge to replay the same mission, marching into an enemy outpost with a machine gun and a rocket launcher, burning the whole thing to the ground. Few games encourage experimentation like MGSV. Some questionable narrative choices aside, MGSV is a powerful ending to one of gaming’s most important franchises, setting a new bar for open-world gameplay.
‘Grand Theft Auto V’
The most commercially successful video game – or media product – of all time, Grand Theft Auto V deserves its popularity. The open-world criminal action game builds on what Rockstar Games has been doing well for decades, with a staggering number of side activities to complete and locations to visit.
Its three-protagonist main story is both emotional and hilarious, with the psychopathic Trevor often stealing the show with his violent and over-the-top outbursts. It only gets better when you enter Grand Theft Auto Online, which allows you to gain influence in Los Santos and show the world why you deserve respect. Despite being nearly five years old, the game continues to get new content updates, and we anticipate it will live on for at least another five years.
Read our full Grand Theft Auto V review
Agent 47 always kills his target, but even Square Enix cutting ties with developer IO Interactive couldn’t keep the master assassin from continuing his mission. Building on the basic mechanics and structure of 2016’s Hitman – but packaged as a full retail release rather than an episodic game – Hitman 2 brings Agent 47 on a whole new set of assassination missions, sending him everywhere from Miami to New Zealand.
You’re more than welcome to just garrote or shoot your victim in Hitman 2, but the real fun comes when you get creative. Plan elaborate accidents, poison food, or even snipe a target while they’re in the middle of an F1 race. The possibilities are endless, and new content will make the game even better over time.
Read our full Hitman 2 review
A stunningly well-realized version of auteur director Yoko Taro’s vision, Nier: Automata is a depressing and existential action game that avoids many of the narrative traps associated with android stories. There are no questions regarding what it means to be human, but rather what it means to be yourself, and the struggle of protagonists 2B and 9S to come to terms with reality makes for some of the most emotional moments we’ve ever experienced in a game. With PlatinumGames handling the combat, it’s also a flashy and tight action game complete with twin-stick shooter segments to break up the monotony.
Read our full Nier: Automata review
Sometimes games don’t have to be anything other than fun, and Insomniac Games demonstrated that perfectly with the Xbox One exclusive Sunset Overdrive. Mixing the goofy third-person shooting of the studio’s Ratchet & Clank series with the navigation of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater or Jet Grind Radio, Sunset Overdrive constantly has you on the move in order to build up your combo and take out more enemies.
Its silly anti-corporate story is certainly derivative, but it packs in plenty of hilarious characters and self-aware moments, and once you’ve completed the main story, it’s an absolute blast to just soar around the city and find all the secrets you can.
Read our full Sunset Overdrive review
‘Mark of the Ninja: Remastered’
Did you miss out on Mark of the Ninja on Xbox Live Arcade in 2012? Now’s your chance to remedy that poor life decision. Mark of the Ninja is one of the most imaginative stealth games of all time. For starters, it’s a 2D sidescroller, a perspective not known for stealthy mechanics. It works really well, though.
You can sneak past enemies or stealthily eliminate them, but you have to make sure to stay out of sight. Mark of the Ninja wants you to actually feel like the ninja, so if your character doesn’t have a line of sight on an enemy, you won’t be able to see them on screen either. You have to master both sight and sound to become a worthy ninja. The remastered version also includes noticeable visual updates.
‘Red Dead Redemption 2’
It’s rare that a AAA open-world game is able to surprise us at all in 2018, but Rockstar’s Red Dead Redemption 2 manages to do it on a regular basis. The western is a prequel to the 2010 game Red Dead Redemption, but it is far more than a simple retread of that title’s themes.
As a member of the Van der Linde gang, protagonist Arthur Morgan must wrestle with his past and his uncertain future as the government hunts down the remaining outlaws in a Wild West quickly being tamed.
Every story mission is absolute gold, never falling into a pattern of repetition, and the emergent activities you’ll discover in the open world are engaging enough to keep you busy for hours. Want to cause chaos or just hunt game? You totally can, or you could try your luck at a few hands of poker.
Read our full Red Dead Redemption 2 review