The 25 best Xbox One games
Updated on 8/20 with the release of Metro Redux.
Fact: The Xbox One is a fantastic console, one packed with all the media functionality we could ever need, and plenty of games to boot. After all, that's why the console graces our entertainment stands--to play awesome games. Whether your still deciding between buying a PS4 or Xbox One, the question stands: what games should you play if you have an Xbox One?
There are many enticing upcoming Xbox One games we can't wait to get our hands on. But if you're looking for something to play right now, we've ranked the best 25 games currently available, starting with...
25. The Lego Movie Videogame
Ah, Legos--those timeless plastic building bricks are fun to play with whether you're five or 50. Thing is, Legos are equally enjoyable when they show up in video game form, especially considering developer Traveller's Tales has been making Lego games since 2005. The Lego Movie Videogame, based--as you might've guessed--on the excellent The Lego Movie, is yet another delightful virtual experience. It's got hilarious, witty writing, tons of playable characters, and enough action to keep you entertained for its six-hour campaign.
It follows the plot of its theatrical counterpart, and succeeds in transforming some of the film's more memorable scenes into gameplay segments that are a blast to interact with. You'll swap between several characters--protagonists Emmet, WildStyle, and Batman, among others--in your quest to stop Lord Business. Just be sure to watch the actual movie first, unless you don't mind the game spoiling some of its more important scenes.
Buy The Lego Movie Videogame now
24. Peggle 2
We were all ready for Peggle 2 to be the Xbox One's first must-own downloadable--the original was, after all, one of the best things ever in the history of anything. Sadly, Peggle 2 didn't end up being the game we wanted. Some technical issues and a lack of online leaderboards (seriously?!) hold it back, but even with those caveats it's still an absolute treat to play.
The new Peggle Masters are cute, clever, and damn fun to play as, and the presentation is downright charming. Watching Bjorn the unicorn rock out and fart rainbows is as enjoyable as it sounds, and though there might not be as much content as you'd hope, there's still enough to justify grabbin' it.
23. Need for Speed: Rivals
The best thing that ever happened to the Need for Speed franchise was Criterion coming in and mucking with the formula. Criterion, best known for its vehicular carnage franchise Burnout, instilled in the franchise a unique verve, taking the time-tested cops-versus-racers aspect of Need for Speed and accentuating it with brutal demolition. And while Need for Speed has since been passed off to developer Ghost Games, Criterion's vision for the long-running franchise is just as potent.
Need for Speed: Rivals' greatest attributes involve its open, living world. Yes, there are AI challenges that pop up as you tear through the world's streets, but it's the surprising element of online connectivity--where a partner or perp can pop into your game at any time--that gives the game its lived-in charm. Mix in some of that next-gen visual magic, with realistic weather patterns that impact your on-road experience, and you've got one of the best racers currently available for the Xbox One.
Buy Need for Speed: Rivals now
22. Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare
If the phrase "Team Fortress meets Plants vs. Zombies" doesn't sell you on Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare... well, then there's a good chance you hate fun. The charming PvZ universe is filled with colorful characters and imaginative concepts, and the transition from top-down strategy game to third-person shooter went as well as could be expected. Each of the three game modes provides different kinds of multiplayer fun, making for one of the better shooter experiences on the system.
The biggest success, however, comes with the addition of booster pack-style unlocks. Every class has a massive wardrobe of equippable items, from goggles to beards to freaking dolphin-powered shotguns. Oh, and it's pretty--very pretty. It's fun, polished, and takes advantage of the Xbox One's power to make for some surprisingly strong visuals. Seriously, wait until you see the Sunflower.
Buy Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare now
21. Ryse: Son of Rome
If Michael Bay directed Gladiator, the result would be something like Ryse: Son of Rome. This beautiful hack-and-slash outing is easily one of the best-looking games on next-gen, with absurdly realistic characters and environments that should help you justify your $500 purchase. But Ryse is more than a pretty face--the combat, though not very deep, is rewarding and brutal, and you'll be jumping between smiles and cringes as you slice off the arms and legs of your opponents.
Marius' quest for revenge is wrapped in occasionally corny dialogue, but that doesn't stop it from being a surprisingly enjoyable tale. It dances around with mythology without ever going full-bore God of War, keeping its feet planted mostly in reality for the entirety of the seven-hour campaign.
Buy Ryse: Son of Rome now
There’s a distinct dearth of stealth action to be had on the Xbox One, but with the release of Thief, you now have a venue for all of your pent-up pickpocketing needs. This reboot of the classic franchise purports to deliver stealth of the old-school variety, in the vein of its seminal predecessors.
It’s not entirely successful--the story is a muddled mess rife with clichés, and in many ways it fails to incorporate recent innovations in the genre--but what it gets right is something that’s simply unavailable elsewhere on the platform. And looking to the future, it seems that Thief may be your only option for dedicated sneaking games for some time. It won’t be remembered as a classic in the way the original is, but if you’re looking for some cloak-and-dagger amidst all of the first-person-shooting on the Xbox One, Thief is a fine place to find it.
Buy Thief now
19. Metal Gear Solid 5: Ground Zeroes
The Xbox One is still new enough that it has yet to see fresh titles from gaming’s most iconic franchises, which makes the arrival of Metal Gear Solid 5: Ground Zeroes noteworthy. Snake goes next-gen with his newest installment, looking better than ever thanks to the snazzy graphics of Konami’s Fox Engine. MGS’s movement and combat has also seen a worthwhile update, and the open world setting enhances the sneakier elements, enriching Metal Gear in ways we never expected.
Unfortunately, Ground Zeroes ends up being a rather expensive prologue to the true Metal Gear Solid 5. It introduces all these new elements, but only gives players a couple hours of content to play around with for $30. If you love Metal Gear, you won’t feel ripped off, but you should definitely understand this is but an appetizer before you engage in this tactical espionage.
Buy Metal Gear Solid 5: Ground Zeroes now
18. Dead Rising 3
Dead Rising 3 doesn’t have the shiniest pixels or the cleanest textures, but it doesn’t need them to impress on next-gen. Not when it can display thousands of zombies, items, and collectibles onscreen all at once, with virtually no loading across a massive city. That’s because Dead Rising 3 recognizes that it’s great at zombie-killing mayhem, and that's precisely where Capcom Vancouver focused.
DR3 removes so many of the little (and big) annoyances of Dead Rising’s core gameplay, allowing you to enjoy killing zombies to the fullest. It might get a little old after your 7,000th kill, but combining weapons and exploring the city of Los Perdidos is fun for more than 15 hours of gameplay. If you’re looking for an Xbox One exclusive to keep you busy for some time, Dead Rising 3 is your best bet.
Buy Dead Rising 3 now
17. NBA 2K14
The advantage of playing NBA 2K14 on a next-gen console like the Xbox One? First (and most obvious): It's significantly prettier. Crowds are no longer composed of the same six character models, and the detailed players are creepy in just how realistic they look. Even things like My GM have received an interface overhaul, making navigation a far more enjoyable experience.
But the Xbox One's hardware also translates into better gameplay. Animations and collision physics have been noticeably improved, making NBA 2K14 feel like a more substantial game compared to its last-gen counterpart. That's not to say you won't be a little weirded out when your teammates speak in magical subtitles instead of words, or that you won't be a tad disappointed that the commentary (full of repeated lines) has been lifted straight from 2K14 on last-gen, but hey--this is still the biggest baller in town.
Buy NBA 2K14 now
16. Call of Duty: Ghosts
Haters gonna hate, but Call of Duty: Ghosts is a damn fine shooter, offering the same great arcadey multiplayer action that hooked the series' repeat buyers all those years ago. And what better way to play it than on a next-gen console? Of course, your opinion of the game will be largely dictated by franchise fatigue, but there's a solid offering here for anyone looking for a nightly distraction.
Many of Ghosts' multiplayer maps now feature some minor destruction events that slightly alter their layout (even if they pale in comparison to Battlefield 4's levolution spectacles), imbuing a touch of spontaneity to most matches. The new Extinction mode, while not quite as exciting as Treyarch's Zombies offering, provides a decently enjoyable break from all the competitive firefighting, and Ghosts' single-player campaign is packed with as many explosive set-piece moments as any in the series. Innovative? Nah. A well-made shooter that'll provide endless hours of online entertainment (until next year's update)? You bet.
Buy Call of Duty: Ghosts now
15. Killer Instinct
Killer Instinct crashes into the Xbox One lineup with refreshing fury and fantastic potential. A reboot of the classic title of the same name, Killer Instinct may be one of the most gorgeous titles to be released at launch. That’s to say nothing about its gameplay which, as we talked about in our Killer Instinct review, is fantastically refreshing in its own right. It welcomes all: from the noob button mashers to the skilled veterans of the fighting game genre. You’re able to dish out combos easily upwards of 10 hits, but unless you know how to finish, your opponent's life bar will regenerate part of the damage.
To be fair though, this game was rolled out a bit before its time. What’s there is amazing, but we’re riding the wave of a really, really good demo. More characters, a solid single-player story mode, more levels, these are all things that are promised in the days to come. But since the game is free-to-play, there’s no reason not to pick it up right when you boot up your Xbox One for the first time. You won’t be disappointed.
14. Max: The Curse of Brotherhood
Despite all the high points of growing up with a sibling--shared laughs, memorable adventures--doing so also has a few pitfalls. Few things are as heartbreaking as hearing mom and dad declare out loud that they love your brother/sister more than you--it's enough to make you wish your sibling would be transported to a scary world full of dangerous monsters, ya know? Except in Max: The Curse of Brotherhood, that wish actually comes true. And you, as Max, sort of feel bad about it considering it's your fault, so you venture off to save your obnoxious--but loved--little brother.
Don't let this lighthearted platformer fool you: At times it's just as challenging as it is charming. The only tool Max has at his disposal is a magic marker, which gains new abilities over time. Eventually it can cause vines to sprout up from the ground, or water to erupt in a platform-like fountain so he can continue along his journey to save his brother from the clutches of some evil monsters. Sure, the controls get a tad frustrating a times, but once you get used to them, The Curse of Brotherhood proves to be a fantastical platformer well worth checking out.
Buy Max: The Curse of Brotherhood now
13. Trials Fusion
Few things in gaming are more satisfying than finishing a track in Trials Fusion. The physics-based racer punishes you for the slightest slip-up by sending your fragile racer flying to his death, and continues to throw continually difficult tracks in your way. At first you'll be hopping over small gaps and launching off of futuristic ramps, but by the end you'll be climbing a 90-degree cliff while crying your eyes out. It hurts, man.
Fusion also adds in some new elements, including ATVs and tricks. While neither totally change the Trials formula all that much, they both help create an experience that feels a little fresher, all without sacrificing the fun, punishing gameplay fans have come to expect from the platformer.
Buy Trials Fusion now
12. Forza Motorsport 5
As we said in our Forza Motorsport 5 review, it sounds like a rip-off compared to Forza 4. It's got, like, half the car count, fewer tracks than before, and a fairly stripped-down career mode. Yet, surprisingly, this content reduction actually has some benefits--namely in the way it makes performing well and buying new cars far more meaningful than ever before.
Of course, it retains the top-notch racing simulation quality that made its predecessors a household name for any virtual car enthusiast, and its new "Drivatar" system--which models AI opponents after racing performance pulled from actual players--adds a great amount of challenge to the single-player experience. And god damn, it sure is a pretty game, complete with loads of customization that could keep you busy for days. So yeah, less content in exchange for some wonderful improvements.
Buy Forza Motorsport 5 now
A retelling of the NES original, Double Helix's Strider is a side-scrolling action game that wastes no time getting down to business. As Hiryu, your goal is to infiltrate Kazakh City and take down its evil dictator. In practice, that means exploring the varied environments Metroidvania style, obtaining new abilities and items as you slice through the cybernetic torsos of the many robot enemies standing in your way.
The gameplay here is insanely fun and flashy; Hiryu's signature cartwheel jump returns, and as you perform mid-air sword strikes and rocket-propelled slide kicks, neon colors spray from every direction. Simply watching the game is a worthwhile spectacle, but its most impressive feature is its wonderful sense of constant forward momentum. Backtracking through previously explored areas is an option for secret hunters, but you'll rarely be forced to do so. The fast-paced action is engaging from beginning to end, and the memorable boss fights provide plenty of challenge. This is a reboot done right.
10. Wolfenstein: The New Order
Wolfenstein: The New Order makes no pretenses about what sort of game it is. This is a shooter that revels in the act of shooting, as evidenced by the fact that you have tons of awesome weapons at your disposal--almost all of which can be dual-wielded, laser cannons included.
As William "B.J." Blazkowicz, you'll gun down a few hundred Nazis (and their Nazi mechs and robot dogs) during your quest for salvation. The journey is paved with some truly memorable set-piece moments, some of which are action-packed, while others are subtle and tense. With fun gunplay, a great cover and upgrade system, and some surprisingly good character development, New Order leaves a lasting impression.
Buy Wolfenstein: The New Order now
9. Child of Light
The first thing you'll notice about Child of Light, an RPG from the team behind Far Cry 3, is just how whimsical it is. The hand drawn, watercolor art style is rich in detail, and the story--written entirely in rhyme--has a fairy tale structure that isn't afraid to touch on heavier themes. And the music, ye gods the music, is downright incredible.
You play as Aurora, a young girl who finds herself in an unknown magical kingdom called Lemuria. She's told only she can bring light back to Lemuria, as it has been enveloped in darkness, and she'll do so through exploration, puzzle solving, and turn-based combat. Battles here have a surprising amount of depth thanks to her ability to slow and interrupt enemies, turning even the most basic of fights into strategic bouts. Add to the mix some deep skill trees and useful crafting, and you have one of 2014's more memorable games.
8. Rayman Legends
Good platformers are hard to come by on the Xbox One. Amazing platformers even less so--in fact, Rayman Legends is one of your few options if precision jumping and high-speed chases strike your fancy. And that's totally okay, because Legends is not only one of the best games of 2013, but also one of the most finely tuned platformers of the seventh console generation.
Though its Xbox One rerelease is only marginally prettier, its gameplay remains phenomenal. As Rayman--or one of his many pals--you'll have dozens of levels to explore, each of them packed with excellent platforming challenges, timed obstacle courses, and tons of hidden Teensies to save from captivity. Legends also comes packed with a slew of awesome additional content, such as remastered levels from its predecessor, Rayman Origins, as well as regularly updated challenges and a few ridiculously addictive minigames. If you haven't already played this on a last-gen console, do yourself a favor and pick it up.
Buy Rayman Legends now
7. Super Time Force
Super Time Force rewards you for playing with yourself. In this fast-paced, Contra-style shoot-em-up, you’re travelling through time and blasting apart robot enemies as a cast of ‘80s stereotypes. Interested in close-quarters-combat? Choose the radical dinosaur, Zackasaurus, and you’ll be chomping up baddies left and right; or you can play as the deadly sniper Aimy McKillin and take out foes from afar. Or you can do both, at the same time, because time travel.
Death in Super Time Force lets you travel back and spawn a new character to fight alongside with. They’re not AI-controlled, either--they do exactly what you did when you played them, meaning you’re literally fighting next to yourself. It makes the game’s tougher battles much easier, and gives you a huge sense of reward while you blast apart your foes.
6. Watch Dogs
In most open-world games, escaping from the police during a car chase means knowing when to drift around tight corners at top speed. In Watch Dogs, all you have to do is hack a stoplight as you drive through an intersection, creating a huge pileup that stops your pursuers dead in their tracks.
In Watch Dogs, you control Aiden Pearce, self-styled vigilante and hacker, who has access to the central operating system that controls the infrastructure of a near-future Chicago. Need more cash? Hack citizens' bank accounts for profit. Need to take down a bunch of thugs? Create a distraction by hacking a nearby ventilation system, causing it to explode. The world is literally at your fingertips, and hacking your way through Watch Dogs' Chicago is an absolute thrill.
Buy Watch Dogs now
Though Titanfall's online-only campaign is sort of a bust, the narratives of each individual match are plenty exciting. The game's unique elements all work together to craft compelling stories, be it the time you'll barely escape on the evac ship, or the other time you'll crunch a bunch of players under your titan's feet. Each multiplayer battle is a story.
Titanfall doesn't reinvent the first-person shooter--you're still capturing flags, playing team deathmatch, and holding points--but it does a good job of making the standard formula feel fresh. How? Well, by letting you run on walls, fight against AI-controlled enemies, and drop giant robots from outer space. And those robots you're dropping from outer space? You can make them land on enemy robots. It's a beautiful thing.
Buy Titanfall now
4. Metro Redux
Metro's Russian nuclear holocaust is no playground. People live in the underground remnants of the country's subterranean tunnels and anywhere you go comes with the threat of being robbed, eaten by mutated monstrosities, or gooified by high doses of radiation. Metro: 2033 and Metro: Last Light's world is not a pleasant place to be, but, holy frijoles, are they great shooters. And now, thanks to the remastered Redux version of the two games, the dilapidated, post-apocalyptic world has never looked or played better.
Before now, the only way to play the Metro series was on a high-end PC with the graphics cranked up past 11. With the Metro Redux, these two amazing shooters have been upgraded to run on the Xbox One (and PS4), and includes improved visuals, additional modes, and interface tweaks. The graphical overhaul not only improves the visuals, but the games now run at a smooth-as-butter 60fps. If you've passed on the Metro series up to this point, Redux is the best version of both games that you're going to get.
Buy Metro Redux now
3. Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag
Take Han Solo, mix him together with Captain Jack Sparrow, throw in a bit of Batman, and you have Edward Kenway, the salty protagonist of Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag. Edward is a fantastic addition to the assassin lineup. At first you may be wary of hoisting your anchor and sailing the high seas, but after even the first hour with this game, you’ll come to realize that this was exactly what the series needed. If this were just a pirate sim adventure, it would still be amazing: Upgrading your ship and choosing your crew and teaching them songs and plundering the high seas gives you a feeling of domineering power.
And the best part is that the Animus sits quietly in the back for most of your adventure. The storyline, honestly, is a bit convoluted at this point, and it’s great to see that both you and Edward just don’t have time for it. Forget AC3, forget your preconceived notions, Assassin’s Creed 4 is definitely a great pick to grab along with your shiny new Xbox One.
Buy Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag now
2. Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition
Lara Croft's new adventure is a Tomb Raider reboot done right, which left us falling head over heels for the reenvisioned heroine (just look at where TR came in on our best games of 2013 list). Gone is the dual pistol-wielding, backflipping archeologist; the new Lara is inexperienced and naive. But all that changes when the psychotic, shipwrecked survivors inhabiting the island of Yamatai try to crush Lara with boulders, riddle her with bullets, and throw her off cliffs.
Now, with the next-gen version out on the new consoles, Lara looks even better than before. Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition completely rebuilds the visuals, adding improved textures, environmental particle effects, and drastically enhanced lighting, plus all of the DLC extras from the original version are included. If you have yet to experience Tomb Raider, the Definitive Edition is definitely the version to play.
Buy Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition now
1. Battlefield 4
The first-person shooter genre is defined by its seminal moments. There's Doom's corridors. There's Quake's multiplayer modes. There's Tribes' breadth and scale. There's Modern Warfare's online progression. And now, there's Battlefield 4's levolution. Sure, the name is awful and its creator should be shot. But the idea--taking an online multiplayer level, and through player action, fundamentally altering that level--will be the new industry standard for the biggest and most lucrative genre in gaming. That fact alone puts Battlefield 4 at the top of this list of the best Xbox One games.
And even setting aside levolution, Battlefield 4 offers one of the finest--if not the finest--large-scale multiplayer components available on any console. With 64-player maps, Xbox One owners are getting the same experience PC gamers have held over them for years, one that's defined by an expertly crafted mix of infantry interacting with ground, air, and sea vehicles. Add in a wholly competent (if not inspired) single-player campaign, and what you've got is one of the best interactive experiences currently available.
Buy Battlefield 4 now
What do you think?
Did you already pick up an Xbox One? If so, which games are you planning on picking up? Let us know in the comments below.
Think the grass is greener on the other side? Check out the best PS4 games, and the best Wii U games.
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