The best of Xbox One
The Xbox One has some of the best games of this console generation. Sure, there are a legion of distractions - the apps, the multimedia plugins, the camera powered by magic - but it's constantly tempting you back to play games. It's like some dark, rectangular figure in the corner of your living room: "Oh, you want to watch TV? I'll show you something far better". And there are some stellar games on Xbox One.
To help you keep up, here is our constantly-evolving rundown of the best the console has to offer. Opinions change (particularly when you consider how many upcoming Xbox One games there are to look forward to), so we don't include scores - our team of experts (picked from core GR staff and members of the Official Xbox Magazine team) has fought and very nearly died to wedge their favourites into this list. Enjoy the spoils of war.
A whopping 23 years after Doom first appeared, and the series is still a leading light in transforming hideous monsters into piles of digital gore. This new Doom has a tight focus on the savage feel of its combat, mixing beefy weapons with horrific ‘glory kills’ to create something that… just feels great to play. And because it so successfully nails the combat, you’re happy to explore the game’s tightly-designed maps for secrets, and even have a crack at creating your own in the powerful SnapMap editor. The multiplayer is delightfully on-point too, recreating that smooth, twitchy feel that has been id’s trademark since Quake 3. A truly wonderful shooter, if you have the stomach for it.
We sort of knew what we were getting. It's big, it's buggy, it's Bethesda. Fallout 4 is a natural evolution, bringing with it the often aimless exploration, gentle humour and moral greyitude of the last two instalments, while propping it all up with a new-gen veneer. They might not be enormous shifts, but main character voice acting, better gunplay and (shock) not having to look inside crates to loot them all make this a streamlined version of a now-classic formula. Frame rate dips and occasionally horrifying glitches rear their heads as usual, but it's difficult to feel too bad when there's simply so much going on. Once again, Bethesda has crammed several games' worth of joyously inconsequential stuff in here, resulting in one of the most compulsive, moreish games of this generation. Get stuck in, and you won't emerge for weeks.
Metal Gear Solid 5: TPP
If we didn't know better (or should that be worse?), we'd say Konami took the Hideo Kojima brand off of his last stab at Metal Gear Solid because it feels quite so different to his previous efforts. Yes, it's packed with the off-kilter jokes, mechanical ingenuity and conspiracy theories so wild they're seemingly drawn from the darkest of the internet's depths - but at it's core, this is a very different kind of Hideo Kojima game.
The switch to wide-open spaces featuring multiple missions not only makes this an embarrassing masterclass for the rest of the world's stealth-action developers, but effectively turns every player into their own spy film director. That time you pulled off a tense, magical heist alongside your mute sniper buddy? That was all you. When it all went tits up and you were forced to detonate C4 stashed across an enemy base, before riding into the sunset on your own personal chicken-mech? You were the architect. It's long been said that Hideo Kojima has been more obsessed with emulating his favourite films than making true games. MGS 5 proves that to be false - he wants you to do that yourself. We'll happily spend a few hundred more hours obliging him.
Rise of the Tomb Raider
Don’t be fooled by its frostbitten landscapes; this is the kind of barn-burning action-adventure that, until recently, only (ahem) other consoles used to get. Pivoting effortlessly from digital sightseeing to cinematic survival, then into stealth before exploding into brutal action, this is truly blockbuster stuff - appropriate for one of gaming's biggest icons. Amidst a gaming landscape packed with open worlds that sap full weeks of your life away, that Rise of the Tomb Raider packs all its thrills into a dizzying ten hours isn't just welcome, it's an accomplishment - this is non-stop fun. Except when Lara's murdered by your fumbling fingers. That's not so nice.
It’s such a good return to form for baldy that everyone should try their hand at this rebooted murder sim. The episodic approach might not have sat well with a few fans but the levels released so far are so rich, and deeply detailed that you need a little time between them to really dive in and discover everything you can do. There seems like an almost limitless way to reach and end targets - even without the online challenges, user-created contracts and time-limited one shot Elusive Targets there’s so much to do that weeks later you’ll still be finding new things. Right now it’s one of the best free roaming open world experiences on Xbox.
Dark Souls 3
It’s difficult to sell a game about slime, ash, tears and failure, but let’s try. Dark Souls 3 delivers the complete Miyazaki experience in a tighter, more focussed adventure. When you reach the end of your journey, you’ll look back with an unparalleled sense of reward and remember icy cities, crumbling tombs, bleak dungeons and breathtaking spires. It may lack the grandeur of the first game, but is still Dark Souls 3 is a bold, savage experience that stays with you forever. Also: you can turn into a pot and murder other players, so that’s nice, too.
Batman: Arkham Knight
Rocksteady finishes its Arkham trilogy on a high. Arkham Knight's a heady, silly, rain-slicked romp around the Gotham. There's crime to fight from sewer to stratosphere, and Batman's as powerful as he's ever been. With some genuine surprises along the way, not to mention some of the neatest open world storytelling yet pressed to disc, it's hard to see why Batman's so grumpy about it all. We are firmly in the pro-Batmobile camp, too. Take it for a spin and you’ll wonder how you ever explored Gotham without it, crunching through buildings are shocking baddies, before changing into a tank that plays like some Japanese mecha. We love it. Maybe not the Cloudburst, though...
Grand Theft Auto 5
Gaming's biggest blockbuster deserves its place at the head of the list. GTA 5 was already an excellent, brutal, beautiful open-world game, and is made even more so on Xbox One with a visual tidy-up, a glut of new content and the addition of first-person pedestrian-beating. With the addition of online Heists to make its online component even more enticing, Rockstar edges closer to making a game world so vast and varied that you could start to do away with anything else. Which, come to think of it, was probably the plan all along.
Nobody expected this to be quite such an explosive success but then think objectively and put the words ‘cars’ and ‘football’ together and suddenly it all makes beautifully insane sense. Both local and online modes for its petrol fuelled madness makes Rocket League multiplayer gold. Slews of DLC - Back To The Future’s DeLorean anyone - since release and now a new Xbox One/PC multiplayer option means it’s now bigger and better than ever, and there’s no better time to put your hand on your wallet and foot on the gas. Make it one of your life… goals.
When it’s in full flow, Quantum Break is a giddy spectacle. Light refracts and shimmers through crystalline time ruptures. Bullet-strikes spark and sputter in slow motion as time stretches and distorts across the battlefield. And impossibly fast sprint chains into a slow-motion shotgun blast, which chains into an evasive, teleport leap. It’s visually delightful, organised spectacle in the best Remedy tradition, pulling as much from Max Payne as from Alan Wake, and with a fair old dash of Raven’s deeply under-rated Singularity thrown in too. It might not make the most of its gifts, diluting its soaring action with a frustratingly stop-start pace and a bloated glut of lore. But when it all comes together, it’s a good old time indeed.
Superhot is the biggest innovation in time-distorted gunplay since the bullet-time 'shootdodge' made famous by Max Payne. The gameplay hook is simple yet transformative: the passage of time in this FPS all is relative to your movement, so intense firefights end up playing out as sporadic bits of all-out aggression and careful consideration for your next move. It's not uncommon to slice off a thug's arm with a samurai sword, grab the gun from their severed arm while it's still in midair, and blast someone across the room while simultaneously dodging one of their slow-mo bullets. Pulling off a perfect run of the compact levels is exhilarating, and the stark, stylish visuals mimic Hotline Miami by combining surreal visuals with horrendous - but largely implied - violence.
*braces for complaints* Yes, we are well aware of the problems that plagued this particular entry, but now that it works, there's no doubting the craftsmanship here. Bungie's genius meets 343's love in a package that truly does justice to an industry-shaking legacy. Buffed-up, revarnished and back in the shop window, The Master Chief Collection leaves us to wonder if Halo always looked so lovely. And you know what? It more or less did.
Destiny: The Taken King
Destiny is many things to many people. It's a PVE shooter that rivals the very best of MMOs for complex, teamwork-focused raids. It's a true successor to Bungie's multiplayer legacy, taking Halo's strategic combat and repurposing it in the Crucible. It's a game where you get to ride cool Star Wars speeder-bike knock-offs and dance on cliffs. It's even different for those who started last year, and those who joined a year later. The Taken King Expansion didn't just add the best story content the game has to offer - it changed the fundamentals of what was once a problematically complex grind into an inviting, modern shooter template that big games are already scrambling to copy. An insanely addictive MMO space shooter - oh, and it also has some of the nicest skies you'll see this side of your front door.
Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
One of the most immersive RPGs ever made - a standout, mutable storyline, endlessly satisfying detective-cum-hitman Contracts, and side quests deeper than many games' main campaigns. The Witcher 3's world is one of the few game spaces to deserve that title - full of political intrigue, folklore and gross beasts to slice into ribbons. And all of that's failing to mention CD Projekt RED's raft of free DLC, and a couple of expansion packs - the first of which, Hearts of Stone, is responsible for this shooting up to the highest reaches of this list. Beautiful, rewarding and essential, this is a game we'll remember for years and years to come.
Gears of War: Ultimate Edition
The gold standard for remakes. Gears of War: Ultimate Edition is so well remastered you might not notice - it's living up to your rose-tinted view of the past. With previously PC-only 'missing' levels, plus the addition of the other three (unmastered) Gears games as free downloads, it's generous too. If this is the quality The Coalition is capable of, Gears 4 is in safe hands. Apart from anything else, though, this all just reveals how good a game this was first time around. Deceptively strategic and satisfyingly meaty, there's a reason this set the standard for third-person games for the next decade.
Rainbow Six Siege
The first few minutes of a Rainbow Six: Siege match feel more like a slasher film than an all-guns-blazing FPS. The pitter-patter of combat booted feet sounds through the roof. Defenders erect Home Alone defences. Was that the whine of a rappel buckle? It's a sense of tension that beats most horror games. And once all hell does break loose, you're suddenly thrown into the midst of deep, strategical, brutally unforgiving warfare. Ripe with tactical options and built for "one more go" appeal, this is by far Xbox One’s smartest multiplayer shooter.
Ori and the Blind Forest
Imagine a lavish, beautiful storybook world… that slams shut on your stupid, bleeding fingers for seven brutal hours. This is Ori and the Blind Forest, the result of Microsoft handing a group of retro fanatics enough money (and freedom) to make a worthy successor to the platformers of old. Not only is this a pitch-perfect update to the formula set up by Metroid and Castlevania, combining mechanical satisfaction with tear-jerking narrative sequences, it's also quite probably the best-looking 2D game of all time. So yeah, it's pretty special.
Forgive us for any confusion, but the beautiful game doesn't have to be literally beautiful. While the FIFA series continues to wow us with genuinely impressive strides with football presentation (it's no wonder sports channels look more and more like they're using video game UIs), PES has continued its quiet, stately work in making it all feel right. Sure, a game between North East London and West Midlands Village might not scream "excitement" to you, but start playing the fizzing, punchy football Konami's perfected through 20 years of tweaks and you'll forget the names, the menus, and anything else you might have taken issue with minutes previously. PES 2016 is the best pure football game we've ever played.
Forza Horizon 2
Arcadified Forza fun for those that can't tell their exhaust from their elbow, Horizon 2 is part open-world game, part racer and, with its focus on lines, trick, points and very irritating men in sunglasses, part skating game. It's also reason alone for new-gen's existence - dynamic, world-altering weather and the Southern European setting outstrip everything that's come before. Tearing up the Mediterranean brings a tear to our eye.
Dragon Age: Inquisition
Enormous, handsome and in love with the subtleties of world design, storytelling and combat, BioWare's many years toil on their sexy world's-end combat fantasies has paid off with their best game yet. Thedas is magnificently beautiful and populated by some of the most likeable characters the medium has to offer - proven by ex-writer Kate's near nervous breakdown when one of them rejected her advances. Dragon Age: Inquisition is the best RPG on Xbox One so far.
The team that brought you Call of Duty 4 takes online multiplayer a large step forwards - and upwards - with roof-clearing mechs. It might not have had the seismic impact Respawn will have hoped for, but it remains the only true reinvention of the FPS on new-gen. The feeling of switching from fleet-footed foot soldier to man-stomping dreadnought is still absolutely thrilling - not to mention a tactical marvel. Literally, all a Titanfall sequel needs to bring is more of the same - this is a rare case of getting it right first time.
It's always worth pointing out the cold, hard facts: 30 classic games for a measly £20? Short of stealing, that’s the best deal you’ll find on Xbox One. Legal disclaimer: don’t start stealing. For those looking for a route back into a glorious, pixellated childhood, budding games historians or people who just want to bulk out their games library for a rainy day, Rare Replay offers much and more. A brilliant tribute to a fantastic legacy, even without some of the Nintendo-restricted outliers.
Halo 5: Guardians
Halo's always been a balance of campaign with multiplayer, but this entry's a tad lopsided. The story of Locke chasing Chief isn't quite the era-defining moment we were hoping for but, luckily, it's the series-best multiplayer that gets our visors misty. Halo 5: Guardians offers so very much to prospective online warmongers. Arena is a return to the Halo of old, tense cerebral skirmishes that are an oasis of sanity in a sea of crude shooters. If you fancy some madness, then you have Warzone - mega-battles powered by a desperately addictive card-collecting system. And more's being added - 343 just reintroduced Big Team Battles and a new version of classic map, Blood Gulch for free. We're home.
Tales from the Borderlands
No one would have predicted that an episodic story based on an RPG-shooter would turn out to be Telltale's best game. But it did. Weird. Tales from the Borderlands tells the story of Rhys and Fiona, two less-than-virtuous protagonists on the search for Vault-related riches. But, more importantly, it's about telling jokes. Weird jokes, lame jokes, creepy jokes - instead of facing you with heart-rending decisions, you're faced with which the best punchline might be. If anything, it's even more agonising. As a result, it's Telltale's most satisfying experience, matching rollicking action with rolling laughter. Brilliant.
Insomniac is back. After a fair few years in a very grey wilderness, the developer's returned to the Xbox fold with a nu-rave hued weapons-fest deserving of the studio that made Ratchet and Clank. Some of Sunset Overdrive's hipster humour might not quite stick, but the basic idea - that it combines straight-up fantasy shooting with skating games' constant movement - is endlessly satisfying. It's also, quietly, pushing out some of the best story DLC going - the ending to the second pack is absolutely inspired. And that's the point - this is a game about throwing ideas around constantly. It doesn't always work, but when it does, there's little else to match it on new-gen.
That's our list of the best Xbox One games available right now. All of you will disagree with some of it, and some of you will disagree with all of it. That's cool, we're all friends here. Now that we've given you a bit of a verbal hug, and some personal validation, why don't you go and play some Xbox games or something?
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