The 25 Best Xbox One Games Of All Time
- March 7, 2021
After seven years in the spotlight, the Xbox One is no longer on center stage thanks to the Xbox Series X|S. That said, it’s not quite time for the Xbox One’s curtain call yet, as Microsoft and third-party developers will likely support the Xbox One for at least a couple more years. Even Microsoft’s biggest exclusive of 2021, Halo Infinite, will appear on Xbox One when it launches. Still, it’s not a bad time to look back on the experiences that defined the Xbox One’s remarkable run. While the Xbox One is a tad light on exclusives, the library is still filled with a wonderful assortment of games that will stick with us for a while. Nearly every Xbox One game works on Xbox Series X–and some even have enhancements–so Series X owners should check out some of the gems from the last console generation while they wait for new experiences. With that in mind, we’ve rounded up the 25 best Xbox One games of all time–in alphabetical order, not ranked.
From early hits such as Grand Theft Auto 5 and Sunset Overdrive to recent darlings like Hitman 3 and Yakuza: Like a Dragon, our list hopefully has something for everyone. Some of these games–such as the first-party Microsoft titles–are even available to play for free if you subscribe to Xbox Game Pass. If you also happen to own other consoles, make sure to take a peek at our picks for the best Nintendo Switch games and best PS4 games. Xbox One users should also look at our roundup of the best games to play with an Xbox Game Pass subscription. If you don’t already have Game Pass, keep in mind new subscribers can get their first month of Ultimate for $1.
Remedy Entertainment’s Control further cemented the studio’s status as one of the most inventive developers of modern action games. Like the studio’s previous games, Control works hard to provide exciting action gameplay that feeds into a rich story full of twists and turns. In Control, you play as Jesse Faden, the new director of the Federal Bureau of Control, a government agency that investigates paranormal phenomena. Control’s winding story is riveting to watch play out thanks to clever world-building and believable characters. The powers Jesse gains throughout her journey are equally mesmerizing and lead to some of the most stylish action sequences and puzzles we’ve seen in a AAA game. Expertly paced, exploration through the FBC’s headquarters feels much like a metroidvania, with areas gated off until you acquire new abilities. The pair of post-launch expansions add to the story, and fans of Alan Wake definitely won’t want to miss out on them.
See our Control review.
Both a gorgeous ode to classic cartoons and a polished run-and-gun, Studio MDHR’s Cuphead is a pure delight and one of the rare sorts of games that feels timeless. Though Cuphead has since moved to other platforms, it was initially only available on Xbox One and PC. After Cuphead and his brother Mugman gamble away their souls, the Devil gives them the chance to keep them by procuring the souls of an eclectic bunch of formidable foes. Cuphead mostly consists of challenging boss battles, but each section of Inkwell Isle also has a pair of deftly designed run-and-gun levels. Cuphead’s action gameplay has a beautiful simplicity to it that hinges on well-timed dodges and memorization rather than elaborate controls. While the gameplay is delightfully challenging, the real draw of Cuphead is the presentation. Resembling 1930s-style cartoons, Cuphead’s hand-drawn characters and animations have a remarkable attention to detail. The authenticity of Cuphead’s graphics is further bolstered by a catchy jazz soundtrack that always hits the right notes based on the situation playing out on screen. Cuphead is an all-around triumph.
See our Cuphead review.
While Devil May Cry 5 doesn’t bring a ton new to the table, it still manages to feel incredibly fresh and nostalgic in the same breath. Open-world action games have shoved level-based linear action games to the side over the past decade, so Devil May Cry 5’s rigid dedication to “old ways” stands out. There’s a level of focus to Devil May Cry 5, which constantly thrusts you in the center of the action, that makes it constantly exciting. With three playable characters (and a fourth via paid DLC), Devil May Cry 5 offers a lot of variety when it comes to combat. It features one of the most elaborate combo systems in the modern action game genre, and it only gets better the more you experiment.
See our Devil May Cry 5 review.
Dishonored 2 marries stealth with action combat to create one of the most engrossing gameplay experiences on Xbox One. While Arkane Studios’ first Dishonored game is good, the sequel is exquisite, adding a wide range of abilities that give you even more ways to approach the intricately designed missions. The non-linearity of the gameplay, which allows you to do anything from sneak your way through the entire game–not killing anyone–to killing every enemy in sight, is where Dishonored 2 really shines. Though the story falls flat, Dishonored 2’s terrific gameplay makes it one of the best action and stealth games on Xbox One.
See our Dishonored 2 review.
Divinity: Original Sin 2 is not just one of the best tactical RPGs on Xbox One; it’s one of the best ever made in its genre. Set in the rich fantasy world of Rivellon, Divinity: Original Original 2 can be played solo or cooperatively with up to three other players. Nearly every aspect of Divinity: Original Sin 2 is finetuned. The tactical turn-based combat is rigorously layered, allowing for plenty of room for experimentation. It’s bolstered by in-depth character customization and an upgrade system that gives you immense control over the experience. In between battles, the world comes to life, drawing you into a well-written tale that unfolds over the course of 50-plus hours.
See our Divinity: Original Sin 2 review.
Though Forza Horizon is technically a spin-off series, it has evolved over the years to become arguably even more impressive than the mainline Forza series. Forza Horizon 4 takes the open-world racing series to new heights. The beauty of Forza Horizon 4 is that it artfully blends arcade racing with realism, making the experience both approachable and layered. The gorgeous locale based on Great Britain is chock-full of activities, each of which can feel different depending on the current weather. With a huge stable of vehicles, a wealth of content whether you play solo or in the well-designed online mode, and a bevy of customization options, Forza Horizon 4 is pure bliss for racing fans.
See our Forza Horizon 4 review.
Gears 5 may have dropped the “of War” from its title, but it’s a much more varied third-person shooter than its predecessors. The campaign, which centers on Kait Diaz, follows the traditional act structure since the series’ inception, but the levels are far more open, encouraging you to make use of new abilities and weapons. The duck-and-cover gunplay feels familiar, though that’s not really a bad thing since Gears has always felt great in motion. The online multiplayer is also refined thanks to new in-depth progression systems and a variety of modes, including a fun co-op variant to go alongside Horde. Gears 5 is one of the best Xbox console exclusives, and it’s available to play for free if you’re a Game Pass subscriber.
See our Gears 5 review.
Grand Theft Auto 5 initially released just months before the Xbox One launched, but the graphical improvements seen in the Xbox One version that launched the following year make it worthy of inclusion here. Even more than seven years after its release, Grand Theft Auto 5 is consistently one of the best-selling games–for good reason. When it comes to open-world action games, it doesn’t get much better than GTA 5. The story, which stars a trio of less than savory individuals, is well-written and filled with exciting missions that make the most of the fictional city of Los Santos. Nowadays, most people play the game for Grand Theft Auto Online, a constantly updated multiplayer mode that features both cooperative and competitive activities. Grand Theft Auto 5 is one of those games that every Xbox One owner should at least try. Highly polished and incredibly engrossing, GTA 5 still feels cutting edge all these years later.
See our Grand Theft Auto 5 review.
Master Chief has been the de facto Microsoft mascot for nearly two decades now, so it’s practically a must that all Xbox One owners should have a copy of Halo: The Master Chief Collection. Though The Master Chief Collection had pretty major online multiplayer issues when it launched, those have been cleaned up. The collection compiles six games in the iconic FPS series (everything pre-Halo 5). The original two Halo games are remastered, too, which makes them more modernized and look drastically better. While the series has had its ups and downs in recent years, the early entries withstand the test of time. This collection includes a few of the best first-person shooters ever made from both a single-player and multiplayer perspective.
The World of Assassination trilogy is simply one of the best stealth series ever made, and IO Interactive raised the bar with its finale, Hitman 3. With a heavier focus on the narrative, Hitman 3 draws you into its brilliantly designed sandbox levels. The world really is your oyster in these missions, as you can tackle objectives however you see fit. Though it does feel like a continuation of its predecessors in a lot of ways, Hitman 3 cleverly introduces new twists like the incredible murder mystery level. Hitman 3 also happens to have some of the most lively and interesting NPCs, which help make this absurd and darkly funny world come to life. You should absolutely play the first two games in the trilogy, too, and you can even import all of the levels into Hitman 3 to play them with new enhancements.
See our Hitman 3 review.
If Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain really does wind up as the last game in the storied stealth series, at least it went out on a stellar note. The Phantom Pain has one of the most harrowing openings in a game on Xbox One before giving way to an inspired open world that’s a pure joy to explore. Mechanically, The Phantom Pain is the most approachable game in the franchise, and the open-world design gives you a level of freedom not offered in the series before. The narrative may not make a whole lot of sense if you aren’t a diehard Metal Gear fan, but it’s filled with quality writing and memorable characters.
It’s ridiculously easy to sink hundreds of hours into Monster Hunter World and its excellent expansion Iceborne. Capcom’s action-RPG series wasn’t as popular outside of Japan before World arrived, but it has finally received the widespread recognition and audience it deserved. Monster Hunter largely follows a singular loop where you track and hunt/capture formidable monsters across various locales. It’s best played cooperatively with friends, as each hunt is a trying endeavor that tests your patience and ability to adapt on the fly. World has a wonderful range of customization features and 14 weapons that play drastically differently, giving hunters room to experiment with playstyles. The locales are bigger and better designed in World, as are the monsters, who have dynamic behavior systems that keep hunts interesting. The best part about Monster Hunter World is that even when you finish the story, there is tons to do–and the Iceborne expansion adds even more fulfilling endgame content.
See our Monster Hunter World review.
Mortal Kombat has always done a great job appealing to casual fighting game fans and those who memorize every combo for competitive matches. And Mortal Kombat 11 is no different in this regard. With a deep, ,stylish, and approachable fighting system, Mortal Kombat 11 lets you decide how far you want to dive down the rabbit hole. The cinematic story mode is unsurprisingly silly, but it’s still an entertaining way to learn the ropes, while the Towers of Time mode adds a rotating batch of fun single-player content. You’d be hard pressed to find a better fighting game for solo players, and it’s also a whole lot of fun playing against friends locally or online. We’d recommend grabbing the Ultimate edition, as it comes with the game’s huge roster of 30-plus fighters and the Aftermath story expansion.
See our Mortal Kombat 11 review.
A vibrant and moving adventure, Ori and the Will of the Wisps stands out amongst the crowded genre of side-scrolling platformers on Xbox One. The long-awaited sequel to Ori and the Blind Forest balances the finely tuned platforming we remember with more action to create a well-rounded and layered adventure. The sprawling map is filled with dazzling regions, each of which contain a bevy of tricky platforming sequences, secrets, and dangerous enemies. The evocative story doesn’t need many words to pull at your heartstrings. You should absolutely play Ori and the Blind Forest as well, but the Will of the Wisps smartly expands on the sturdy foundation to build a must-play action-platformer that sticks with you long after the credits roll.
See our Ori and the Will of the Wisps review.
If you could play any game without knowing a single thing about it, Outer Wilds would be the ideal choice. So, we’ll provide you with the bare minimum: In Outer Wilds, you’re a burgeoning explorer looking to uncover the mysteries of a solar system. The catch is that the solar system is stuck in a 22-minute time loop, and you’re the only person around who is conscious of this conundrum. As you travel across the small but lovingly crafted world, you piece together tidbits of information that help you slowly unravel the mysteries of Outer Wilds with each successive run. It’s one of the most enthralling narrative-focused adventures on Xbox One.
See our Outer Wilds review.
Rainbow Six Siege is one of the best multiplayer first-person shooters ever made, and it’s arguably the very best tactical shooter on consoles. Since its launch in 2015, Rainbow Six Siege has built off of a foundation of precise, impactful gunplay and brilliantly designed maps to create a consistently rewarding multiplayer experience. With more than 50 unique operators, 20 maps, and a lively player base, Rainbow Six Siege is one of the rare first-person shooters that always feels like there’s more to learn. Siege has a relatively steep learning curve, but it’s worth the time and effort. Siege is also on Game Pass, so subscribers can check it out to see if it clicks with them.
See our Rainbow Six Siege review.
For a game focused on an outlaw gang with a propensity for violence, it’s somewhat surprising that Red Dead Redemption 2 is at its best when the dust settles and you’re chatting with townsfolk, traveling by horseback, or completing one of the many missions that doesn’t necessarily require violence. Rockstar’s follow-up (which is actually a prequel) follows Arthur Morgan, a gruff but lovable man who is a member of the Van der Linde gang during the fall of the Wild West. The lavishly designed open world is breathtaking and easily one of the most impressive from a visual standpoint on Xbox One. What makes Red Dead Redemption 2 so unique in the open-world genre is the deliberateness of its gameplay, which feels more methodical and slow-paced than most comparable titles. From an animation and sound design point, Red Dead Redemption 2 has few peers, and the smooth transitions between cutscenes and gameplay give it a cinematic feel. Filled with wonderful writing and well-drawn characters, the lengthy solo campaign is a thrilling ride. Red Dead Online adds to the experience by offering live service multiplayer with cooperative missions and competitive game modes.
See our Red Dead Redemption 2 review.
Capcom’s Resident Evil 2 remake remained faithful to the original while modernizing the controls and tweaking the story to ultimately create one of the best experiences in the storied franchise. Though extremely similar to the 1998 game, the graphical power of the Xbox One helps intensify the frights–of which there are many. A lingering sense of dread blankets the entire campaign. Much of this can be traced to Mr. X, one of the most terrifying characters in franchise history. He shows up when you least expect it, which keeps you on the lookout for another spine-chilling encounter. For those who long for old-school third-person survival horror, the Resident Evil 2 remake is a top-notch option. It’s gripping, consistently frightening, and does a remarkable job of making you feel like you’re never quite safe.
See our Resident Evil 2 review.
When Sea of Thieves launched in 2018, it was a good game but lacked content and incentives to keep playing for the long haul. Rare has steadily added to the cartoon pirate adventure, giving players a near endless number of activities to complete solo or cooperatively and progression systems that make it all worthwhile. Though Sea of Thieves is lighthearted in tone, don’t mistake the colorful open world as a place to embark on a leisurely adventure. Other players aren’t always sailing the high seas to be friendly. Sea of Thieves builds tension well, as you never know when you’ll be caught in a battle against a nefarious pirate who wants your hard-earned treasure. At its core, Sea of Thieves is, of course, a quest to be the best pirate you can be, and now it’s actually worth working toward that goal.
See our Sea of Thieves review.
From Software’s Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice takes cues from the massively popular Dark Souls series in terms of difficulty, but the combat is entirely different. Set in the Sengoku period in Japan, you play as a shinobi named Wolf working to restore balance after a successful coup. Sekiro is a highly demanding experience that focuses on blocks and parries. In order to defeat enemies, you have to deflect attacks and spar until they become unbalanced. It’s an intriguing combat system that really forces you to put yourself in danger at all times; this is on display best during each of Sekiro’s daunting boss fights. Though you do acquire some upgrades throughout, Sekiro is mainly a sword-fighting game that requires you to master your skills, and it’s top of its class in this regard. While exploring the richly drawn world, you’re encouraged to be stealthy, which helps give you the upper hand in combat. Sekiro is a different kind of beast, but From Software’s iconic style is baked into its DNA to create one of the most technically sound and unique action games around.
See our Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice review.
Stardew Valley is arguably the ultimate relaxation game. At this point, you can play it on PC, all major consoles, and mobile–and it probably offers the best bang for your buck on this list regardless of where you play. Since its release more than five years ago, developer ConcernedApe has released a series of free updates that have added a ton of new content. The charming pixelated graphics mesh well with the leisurely pace of Stardew Valley’s loop. From building up your farm and exploring the mines to conversing with locals and developing lasting relationships, Stardew Valley is a smile-inducing farming and social sim that you can easily dump hundreds of hours into without getting bored.
See our Stardew Valley review.
Sunset Overdrive may not be as well-known as some of Insomniac Games’ other properties, but it’s one of the standout console exclusives on Xbox One. Set in a fictional metropolis circa 2027, you play as an employee of an energy drink company who fights those who have overdosed on the drinks, turning them into rage-filled beasts. It’s an admittedly silly premise. However, Sunset Overdrive uses it to its advantage, crafting a funny and explosive world filled with interesting characters and plenty of high-octane action. Sunset Overdrive’s open world is littered with ziplines and grind rails that help make moving feel like a skateboarding game. Combine that with weaponry as zany as Insomniac’s Ratchet & Clank series and you have yourself a thrilling action-shooter. You can even see Sunset Overdrive’s DNA in Insomniac’s Marvel’s Spider-Man series. Sunset Overdrive never takes itself too seriously, which helps keep it lighthearted throughout the roughly 10-hour story.
See our Sunset Overdrive review.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt set a new high watermark for open-world RPGs when it released in 2015. The narrative bones were always there, but previous games in the series had clunky combat. The Witcher 3 rectifies this, creating an engrossing fantasy adventure that balances story with gameplay for a wholly enjoyable experience. Brimming with great writing and world-building, Wild Hunt tells a carefully crafted story that keeps you invested throughout its lengthy runtime. Geralt of Rivia is one of the most memorable protagonists in the genre, and the supporting cast–even minor characters you meet during optional quests–draw you further into the sweeping story. We’d recommend snagging the Game of the Year edition, as it comes with both of the wonderful post-launch expansions.
See our The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt review.
Respawn Entertainment’s Titanfall was one of the earliest console exclusives for Xbox One and the first one to have the next-gen “wow” factor. Ironically, its 2016 sequel is on this list for something the original and many games in the first-person shooter genre have abandoned: a single-player campaign. Titanfall 2’s campaign is one of the best in the rich history of first-person shooters thanks to some seriously impressive level design and mechanics that feel entirely unique. Titanfall 2’s parkour movement system and precise, satisfying gunplay combined with the great mech gameplay makes for a diverse experience whether you’re playing solo or online multiplayer. Sadly, Titanfall 2’s multiplayer servers are wastelands now, but the single-player campaign should not be missed.
See our Titanfall 2 review.
Sega’s Yakuza franchise has grown more popular over the years in North America, and if you’re looking to jump in, the latest entry isn’t a bad place to start. Yakuza: Like a Dragon stars a new protagonist, Ichiban Kasuga, who was in prison and wound up getting betrayed by his boss. Now free, Ichiban searches for answers and seeks to turn his life around. Like a Dragon is a big departure from other games in the series, as it switches from beat-’em-up gameplay to turn-based combat. Thanks to the party-based combat system, Like a Dragon has room to develop relationships between characters in a way that wasn’t possible in previous entries. The sweeping story is filled with humor, a myriad of twists, and expertly written characters. In addition to varied mainline missions that are held together by exciting combat encounters, there’s a plethora of genuinely awesome side content. Yakuza: Like a Dragon compels you to see and do it all; it’s that good.
See our Yakuza: Like a Dragon review.