Best Xbox exclusives you need to own

Xbox exclusives - Forza Horizon 4
(Image credit: Turn 10)

The best Xbox exclusives are like a guided tour of the must-sees or must-plays available as part of Microsoft's gaming ecosystem like the Xbox Series X and the delightful Game Pass. However, bear in mind that this list may be up for quite the rejig soon if the rumors are true about Microsoft taking a lot of its titles multiplatform, with more news allegedly coming this week

If you're looking for more recommendations that include multi-platform releases, check out our list of the best Xbox One games and the best games on Xbox Game Pass. If you're short on hard drive space or in need of add-ons, have a gander at our roundup of the best Xbox One external hard drives and the best Xbox One accessories. If you just want the best Xbox exclusives, read on for 10 unmissable classics.

Recent updates

This list of best Xbox exclusives has been checked to ensure we've got the best reflection of the exclusives currently available. 

15. Hi-Fi Rush

Hi-Fi Rush

(Image credit: Tango Gameworks)

Developer: Tango Softworks
Genre: Rhythm-action
Game Pass: Yes

Hi-Fi Rush really puts the action in rhythm-action, with its take on the genre seeing you pull off attacks on the beat for impressive combos and finishing moves. From the minds at Tango Softworks (yes, the people behind The Evil Within and Ghostwire: Tokyo), Hi-Fi Rush is a colorful explosion of fun, with an epic soundtrack and mechanics that'll keep you tapping your foot to the beat for days afterwards. With inventive boss battles and a stunning art style, this has gone down a treat.

14. Microsoft Flight Simulator 

Microsoft Flight Simulator

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Developer: Asobo Studio
Genre: Flight
Game Pass: Yes

Sometimes, you just want to see what your house looks from the seat of a Boeing-747, and Microsoft Flight Simulator is more than happy to oblige that insatiable curiosity. The beloved franchise flew back into our hearts by giving you all the options you'd expect from a flight simulator - immaculately crafted planes and stunning vistas to soar over - as well as the sort of tranquil experience you'd want when 50'000 feet up in the air. Well, tranquil until you have to land the plane again...

13. Pentiment

Pentiment screenshot

(Image credit: Xbox Game Studios)

Developer: Obsidian
Genre: Adventure
Game Pass: Yes

What about a murder mystery set in 16th Century Germany where you've got to solve a series of murders across the course of 20-odd years? Well, that's Pentiment for you! From the brains at Obsidian, Pentiment is a brilliant little detective puzzle game where you get to know the inhabitants at a personal level to try and figure out whodunnit.

12. Quantum Break

Xbox exclusives - Quantum Break

Developer: Remedy Entertainment
Genre: Action
Game Pass: Yes

It might've overextended a bit with its experimental TV tie-in elements, but Quantum Break from Remedy Entertainment (makers of Max Payne and Alan Wake) has moments where its mix of third-person shooting and temporal powers really soars. As Jack Joyce (played by Shawn Ashmore, the lead in a relatively star-studded cast), you've stumbled into time-manipulating godhood and must use your newfound superpowers to wipe out waves of armed goons and prevent the cataclysmic End of Time. It's worth playing Quantum Break just for those moments when you've trapped enemies in a prism-like stasis bubble, peppered them with soon-to-be-unfrozen bullets, then warp-dashed over to another baddie for a melee takedown, all in the span of a few seconds.

11. Halo: The Master Chief Collection

Xbox exclusives - Halo: The Master Chief Collection

Developer: 343 Industires
Genre: Shooter
Game Pass: Yes

You can't really say you've owned an Xbox unless you've played at least one Halo game. It's the series that cemented the console's gaming credentials, and for that reason Halo: The Master Chief Collection is pretty damn near essential. Not only does it include Halo 1, Halo 2, Halo 3 and Halo 4, but also optionally remasters the earlier games so you can enjoy them as they were originally created, or in a spruced up high fidelity version. There's even multiplayer although that had a rocky start and, a few years down the line, isn't as busy as it used to be. No, the main draw here is the chance to play through four of the Xbox's most formative games in their best possible versions - the early games are remade with improved graphics, there are frame rate boosts, re-done hi-res cutscenes and more. Everything's brought up to a modern standard, remastering and reinvigorating the classics. 

10. Ori and the Will of the Wisps

Xbox exclusives - Ori and the Will of the Wisps

(Image credit: Moon Studios)

Developer: Moon Studios
Genre: Platformer
Game Pass: Yes

Only one game could replace Ori and the Blind Forest on this list, and that's its sequel, Ori and the Will of the Wisps. Both games are worth playing, but Moon Studios' latest action-platformer improves on the original in every way, from its fluid platforming to its gorgeous world to its heart-breaking story. It's more inventive, more challenging, and thanks to its totally revamped combat and RPG-lite customization systems, much more involved. It's among the best-feeling 2D platformers ever made, it's one of the finest Metroidvania games of this generation, and it's the perfect send-off to one of the most touching stories available on Xbox One.  

9. Sunset Overdrive

Xbox exclusives - Sunset Overdrive

Developer: Insomniac Games
Genre: Action
Game Pass: Yes

Insomniac Games made a name for itself with the beloved Ratchet & Clank series, famous for their varied assortments of outlandish weaponry - so the studio decided to take that expertise in crafting absurd artillery, build an open-world, Jet Set Radio-style metropolis bursting with color around it, and infuse the chaotic proceedings with a healthy dose of punk rock attitude. Sunset Overdrive lets you pull off some spectacularly absurd feats of mass destruction, where you can launch bowling bowls, fireworks, explosive teddy bears, and more, mowing down hordes of mutants, robots, and bizarre gang members while you grind along telephone poles with your physics-defying sneakers. Its attempts at edgy humor constantly fall flat, but the sheer fun and freedom of grinding, flipping, and air-dashing around Sunset Overdrive's urban playground make it well worth a go.

8. Forza Motorsport 7

Xbox exclusives - Forza Motorsport 7

Developer: Turn 10 Studios
Genre: Racing
Game Pass: Yes

After a questionable previous installment, Forza Motorsport 7 finally perfects its racing game. Everything is as flawless as those 4K visuals with better AI, improved handling, more substantial collisions - everything you need to make the cars all feel superb. The precision of the controls creates some great moments as you push cars to their limits - screaming around corners on the edge of the tyres grip. It all combines to deliver an experience that's both realistic and fun, as long as you don't mind working for it as some of the progression can be a little demanding as you try to collect cars and win events to get ever further. But, even though there's a hint of grind, this is still one the greatest racers currently available.

7. Halo Infinite

Last Spartan Standing

(Image credit: 343 Industries)

Developer: 343 Industries
Genre:  Shooter
Game Pass: Yes

Halo Infinite might have been years in the making, with some Craig-sized bumps along the way, but by the time it finally hit consoles, fans were rightly wowed by the game's focused and compelling multiplayer alongside the vast open-world that shakes up Halo's single-player story. Not only does this feel like the most vital Halo since 2010's Halo Reach, but the addition of the grapple hook gives Chief a pleasing maneuverability that made firefights even more satisfyingly chaotic. After several years in the wilderness, Master Chief is finally back on top form. 

6. Gears 5

Xbox exclusives - Gears 5

(Image credit: Microsoft Xbox)

Developer: The Coalition
Genre: Shooter  

Following straight on from the events of Gears of War 4, Gears 5 – as it is now simply called – focuses on the story of Kait Diaz. Struggling to comes to terms with the death of her mother, Kait is now focused on finding out more about her past after in her mother's last moments she's passed a necklace that bears the Locust Horde icon. All the old favourites are back too of course, from Marcus Fenix to his son JD, and it's all in for a brilliant Gears experience. It's not just limited to single-player, or brilliant co-op, story moments though, as there's an extensive multiplayer component to the game too, ranging from PvP frays to a glorious horde mode that literally keeps on giving. 

5. Forza Horizon 5

Forza Horizon 5

(Image credit: Xbox Game Studios)

Developer: Playground Games
Game Pass: Yes

The Forza Horizon series is undoubtedly the best racer going at the moment, and this latest entry's jaunt to Mexico continues the hot streak. The South American country hosts plenty of thrilling locations to screech through, from drifting around a volcano to skidding around swamps, with the fleet of cars you race in as eye-meltingly fast as you'd hope for. And, if you want to make sure you've got a full set, we've got the Forza Horizon 5 Barn Find locations to help you test them all out. 

4. Grounded

Grounded screenshot

(Image credit: Xbox Game Studios)

Developer: Obsidian
Genre: Survival
Game Pass: Yes

Obsidian's take on Honey I Shrunk the Kids has been in Early Access for a number of years, but it's out in full now and has shot into the top five of our best Xbox exclusives. Grounded is a survival game where you play as a kid who's been shrunk down and has to make a life in the garden with the bugs and the dirt. It's got serious crafting and survival mechanics depth, and also makes for an unexpected horror game too with all those bugs.

3. Starfield

Starfield trailer

(Image credit: Bethesda)

Developer: Bethesda Studios
Genre: Action RPG
Game Pass: Yes

Bethesda Game Studios' epic space RPG has arrived and although Starfield isn't taking the number one slot in our best Xbox exclusives list, it is still one of the best out there. Join Constellation as they look for the mysteries of the cosmos, meet friends and foes alike, become a space pirate, or just spend literal days building your very own spaceship - Starfield is not short of things to do and planets to discover.

2. Psychonauts 2

Psychonauts 2

(Image credit: Double Fine)

Developer: Double Fine
Genre: Adventure / Platformer
Game Pass: Yes

Some 16 years after the original game was released, we finally got a sequel. Thankfully though, Psychonauts 2 was more than worth the wait, delivering a fantastically whimsical tour through various minds against a soundtrack that'll get your feet tapping. It's a fantastic platformer with levels that are so brilliantly designed that you'll be thinking about them for years to come. Plus, there's a handy recap at the start of the game so you don't have to have played the original to get stuck in.

1. Sea of Thieves

Xbox exclusives - Sea of Thieves

Developer: Rare
Genre: Adventure
Game Pass: Yes

Possibly the biggest boon for Xbox One owners is the fact that Sea of Thieves is all theirs. Rare's emergent pirate adventure sees players sailing across the big blue, finding treasure where the X marks the spot, defeating hordes of skeletons and undead sea captains, and even collecting chickens and other items to sell to travelling merchants. Of course, you're doing all that in between swigging grog, singing sea shanties and having a laugh with your mates. Because, if you know nothing about Sea of Thieves, all you need to know is that's it's the best game to play with your friends. 

Sam Loveridge
Global Editor-in-Chief, GamesRadar+

Sam Loveridge is the Global Editor-in-Chief of GamesRadar, and joined the team in August 2017. Sam came to GamesRadar after working at TrustedReviews, Digital Spy, and Fandom, following the completion of an MA in Journalism. In her time, she's also had appearances on The Guardian, BBC, and more. Her experience has seen her cover console and PC games, along with gaming hardware, for a decade, and for GamesRadar, she's in charge of the site's overall direction, managing the team, and making sure it's the best it can be. Her gaming passions lie with weird simulation games, big open-world RPGs, and beautifully crafted indies. She plays across all platforms, and specializes in titles like Pokemon, Assassin's Creed, The Sims, and more. Basically, she loves all games that aren't sports or fighting titles! In her spare time, Sam likes to live like Stardew Valley by cooking and baking, growing vegetables, and enjoying life in the countryside.