The Xbox One might not sit at the very top of the console market this generation, but it’s provided one of the most incredible comeback stories these past few years. After a famously shaky start, Microsoft’s Xbox One has been transformed into a formidable ecosystem – thanks to a philosophical shift, and in Xbox One X an incredible piece of hardware. The X can safely boast of being the most powerful console available, making it the platform of choice for multiplatform games, but it’s thanks to initiatives like Game Pass as well as original exclusives such as Sea of Thieves that makes Xbox One arguably one of the best places to play games right now. Here’s our personal pick for 20 of the best Xbox One games out there for Microsoft’s console right now.
Editors Note: Eurogamer is refreshing its series of ‘best games’ features, and today we’re looking at the Xbox One. You’ll continue to see more platform lists appearing on the home page in the coming weeks – we’ve covered the best PS4 games so far – with the aim to update them several times a year as new releases supplant a given system’s existing library.
The thing about Sunset Overdrive was that, even before it landed, it seemed exciting. This hardware generation got off to a bit of a bad start. It was all about mega games, games as services, and yet Sunset Overdrive, with its dumb jokes, its bright colours, its explosions that spelled out the word “BOOM” in fireballs seemed like the best of the PS2 era, a knockabout action game that was emphatically not for everyone.
In the hands, Sunset Overdrive is a total delight, too, quickfire gags piling on top of one of the most beautifully empowering control systems in years as you rail-grind, bounce, and air-dash your way across a personable open-world, compact enough to be ownable, bright enough to make exploring a delight.
Forza Horizon 4
What started just a few years ago as a spin-off to the more conventional Xbox racing flagship, Forza Motorsport, is now arguably the best racing game series anywhere – and certainly one of the most popular. Forza Horizon, with its gorgeous open-world maps and upbeat festival gimmick, marries unimpeachable car-nerd authenticity to a joyous, adventuring spirit that widens its appeal beyond motorsport fans to anyone who likes fun video games.
For the fourth game, developer Playground brought the series home to Britain with its best map to date, made even more romantically exciting by changing seasons – while constant live updates have rendered it impossible to put down.
What Remains of Edith Finch
Edith Finch offers a rambling mansion designed with the intricacy and engineering flair of a pop-up book and tells the story of a doomed family through the stories and objects they left behind. Exhilarating, romantic, funny and devastating, this is an astonishing reminder of the power of games.
Sea of Thieves
Every pirate cliché stuck in a single game? It works because pirate clichés are wonderful things, and because Rare is that unusual developer that’s confident in its own silliness while humble enough to listen to feedback.
What launched as a bit of a curio – Eve Online at sea and with a sense of humour – has blossomed into a wonderfully generous open-seas swashbuckler, filled with creaking boats, clattering skeletons, and a sense of mystery that settles around some occasionally rather sparse systems. A delight.
This is a game to set your watch by, a clockwork solar system filled with compact treasures and a genuine sense of wonder. Blast off in a rickety launcher from a wooded planet and travel between a cluster of worlds, all of which are shaped by violent forces.
There is something beautiful about the way the narrative unfolds, completely unforced, completely without combat. The fact that you can land on a comet and wander about would be enough in itself to grant this a special place in players’ hearts. But the comet is just the start, and the sense of mystery runs very deep. A total gem.
Halo: The Master Chief Collection
To be honest, if multiplayer is your thing you may be better off turning to Halo 5: Guardians – a fine, underrated package that has been assiduously updated and has a very active community. But its weak campaign pales in the face of this towering, comprehensive monument to everything that came before.
It includes two all-time-greats that are as stirring now as ever – the first Halo: Combat Evolved and Halo 3 – plus the fascinating spin-off ODST, while fan-favourite prequel Reach will be added soon. The Master Chief Collection had issues upon release, but after a lot of work it stands as one of the finest and most generous reissue compilations anywhere. An essential part of any Xbox library.
Those halcyon, creativity-kissed days of the summer of arcade that once blessed the Xbox 360 may be but a memory, but this generation Cuphead has served as an admirable reminder of the indie heart that once beat through Microsoft’s store.
It’s a fine game on its own merits too, with some interesting inspirations – Treasure’s offbeat boss-rush Alien Soldier is perhaps the most prominent – and an art style that’s to die for. Oh, and it’s also impossibly brutal – but hey, that’s just as it should be for a hard-edged 2D run-and-gunner like this.
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
Speaking of tough games… From Software’s previous titles haven’t exactly shied away from presenting players with seemingly insurmountable challenges, but Sekiro is something else. Getting beyond the opening area is a feat almost equal to surviving Dark Souls’ Blighttown, and it only gets harder from there on out.
Good thing that the challenge is always fair, then, and that the combat system is brilliant – poised, balletic and with little flickers of brutality, all served by the strength of vision and clarity of art that has made FromSoft one of modern gaming’s greatest studios. Sekiro’s a tough game, but if you stick it out you’re in for something truly special.
Fortnite’s greatness isn’t that it’s the best battle royale out there but that it’s a game that offers unparalleled ways to engage with it. You can play it as a walking simulator or an exploration game as easily as a shooter. Character and animation combine to create a wonderful playground, while the incremental level design – level design by midnight elves – should change the ways that games tell their stories through their landscapes.
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Scourgebringer’s the kind of game you install and never have to delete – so compact it barely takes up any room, so vivid it’s always in rotation. Room by room rid the world of horrible pixelated foes in this kinetic and violent pocket roguelike. The world is richly detailed and the enemies are horribly memorable, but the real thrill here is in the movement. Fantastic.
Monster Hunter: World
The care that this game takes with its animals makes you feel a bit weird about laying into them, frankly. A huge dinosaur will rise out of the swamp where it has been hiding, and thick mud will be running over its huge back plates. Such beauty! Such a sense of a life lived beyond the game. But when all you have is a giant hammer, maybe everything looks like a giant nail? That’s only half the game, anyway, and the other half, in which you get increasingly more fabulous trousers, is just as good. Environment, animals, loot: this is both gloriously simple and dizzyingly deep. Just enjoy!
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey
Ancient Greece seemed like a bit of a misstep at first. After the grandeur and chilly mystery of Egypt, weren’t the Greeks a bit too human with their fighty, spoiled gods and away-break coastlines? In fact, the warmth of the Greek canon is what makes this game such a delight, a sprawling, very human adventure spread across beautiful islands and glorious azure seas.
Depending on who you choose to play as it’s got one of the series’ greatest leads, too. And even if Odyssey’s magpie eye for systems sees even more of the series’ DNA being diminished, what emerges is a confident RPG with a generous heart.
Resident Evil 2 Remake
For years Capcom’s struggled to find the balance between Resident Evil’s action excesses and the survival horror on which the series was founded, and often found itself flitting between the two to awkward effect. It turns out the solution was to be found in one of the series’ most cherished games, as this remake folds together all that came after it with the eerie horror of the 1998 original for what’s easily the best Resident Evil since the hallowed RE4.
If good directing is good writing and good casting, then Titanfall 2 suggests good game design is often a suite of empowering traversal abilities and a bunch of interesting things to do with them. Titanfall 2’s multiplayer was always going to work, its mech-battling, wall-running gauntlets refined over the course of the first game’s lifetime.
But its single-player is the surprise star here, an inventive, restless campaign that is always muddling with the basics of its premise and a storyline that proves surprisingly moving and engrossing. Titanfall 2 is one of the greatest single-player FPS games ever made, and nobody really saw that coming.
The Xbox 360 was the first console you could play Minecraft on, and Xbox still feels like this game’s home-from-home – even through, after acquiring it, Microsoft declined to make it exclusive, and you can play it on pretty much anything. It remains a unique and total original, a fountain of fun and creativity for a whole generation of players, and a deceptively simple sandbox that it’s all too easy to get completely lost in.
It might surprise you, going back to its original mode, to discover that it also functions as quite an uncompromising survival game, as you shore up yourself and your creations against the onslaught of night-time terrors. Not just for kids.
Lonely Mountains: Downhill
The great outdoors has rarely been so beautifully invoked in this downhill racing game set amongst a handful of magnificent low-poly mountain ranges. Play for the best times or to track down hidden resting spots. Stay for the melancholy reminder that we belong in the heart of nature, and that, as the saying goes, the cure for loneliness is solitude.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
An earthy, rural epic, at this point The Witcher 3 is a generational touchstone of design, the sheer mass of its success enough to form a kind of gravitational pull towards grittiness, grimness and scale. So many imitators have tried to capture its magic but so few have really cracked it: its brilliance comes from its humanity. It’s in the complexity of its characters, the nuance of its sometimes moral, sometimes amoral throughline, and the tangible, muddy depth of its world.
At times it still leans towards the puerile – the old staples of lust and gore are ever-present, along with the odd dose of teenage nihilism – but its generosity, its texture and its character remain unmatched. As we move towards a new generation, The Witcher 3 remains the archetypal gaming blockbuster.
Call of Duty Modern Warfare (2019) and Warzone
The latest incarnation of Modern Warfare may not have the nuance of the original, or sleight-of-hand narrative bombast of Modern Warfare 2, but it still packs an almighty punch as a classic shooter. Its campaign is gorgeous, if a little uneven, and with the free addition of Warzone – a surprisingly interesting take on the already cluttered battle royale genre – and some all-time great multiplayer maps like Modern Warfare 2’s Rust returning, the package now is quite something. It may have needed to borrow from its ancestors to get there, but it’s still great. Big, dumb, but brilliant.
The title’s undergone the subtlest of changes, as too has the game itself as The Coalition puts its stamp on Microsoft’s stomping cover shooter series, and for the most part it works. This is a whittling back to the things that matter, a kind of Gears jus, accompanied by some daring new ideas that branch out in new directions (don’t be put off by the inclusion of an open world section – it’s beautifully executed and lends the series an even greater degree of freedom that’s more akin to classic Halo than anything else). It’s seriously fun to play and easily the best big blockbuster exclusive available on Microsoft’s console.
GTA’s tone might be a little wonky, but little else about it is. A massive everything-bagel of a game, it’s as much a second life simulator now as it is a place to steal cash and blow up cars. It’s Online mode, too, is almost an entirely separate game in itself, fostering huge, dedicated communities and subcultures in a way that very few other games can. GTA Online’s heists stand out above all. Enormously fun, even all these years later, they represent everything that developer Rockstar seems to be about: a somewhat folly urge to match the greats of cinema, and an uncanny ability to make a playground of action-fuelled fun.
If you want to hear us explain why we’re doing ‘best games’ lists, and how we’ve settled on the games we have, then you can listen to our process live with a dedicated episode of the Eurogamer Podcast. Do note that this was recorded at the time of our original, 15-game-long list of Switch games, so you’ll see a handful of those have since changed (our apologies, Donky Kong).