Best Xbox One games
A year ago, we were all still guessing what Microsoft would name its next-gen console, and what its policies would be regarding used games and requiring an always-online connection. But now that many of us have Xbox Ones on our entertainment stands, a bigger question looms overhead: What should we play on the thing?
The system's been available for months, and 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...
Updated on 4/16 with the release of Trials Fusion.
Should you play LocoCycle? Sure, if you're starving for something--anything--to play on your Xbox One. Here's the thing: This isn't a particularly good game. Clunky steering controls are kind of a problem when the game's premise revolves around driving a sentient motorcycle, and LocoCycle relies a bit heavily on quick-time events and other un-fun mechanics (seriously, that ranged combat--yuck).
But! If you're willing to put up with shoddy-at-best gameplay, there's plenty of cheesy humor here that'll keep you entertained. The live-action cutscenes are downright outrageous (in a mostly good way), and its ridiculous story will have you chortling to your heart's content. And then the gameplay will start back up again to bring you right back down. So why's it on a list of the best Xbox One games? Well, hey, you're gonna need something to play during launch, right?
24. Kinect Sports Rivals
Let's be honest: the Kinect was made for party games. Kinect Sports Rivals provides plenty of mini games that utilize your body as the controller. The coolest part? The Xbox One's Kinect even scans your body, producing a comic book avatar modeled after yourself. From target shooting to basically every game you played in Wii Sports (bowling, tennis, etc), most of its bite-sized attractions are enjoyable to play with friends and family alike.
That is, until the frustrations of motion controls set in. Some modes just don't work that well. Try as you might, you'll rarely, if ever, get the Kinect to properly translate your movements into gameplay inputs during the soccer and rock climbing games. Eventually, you'll likely avoid them altogether. Still, Kinect Sports Rivals is a good amount of fun, so long as you don't mind a few frustrating hiccups along the way.
23. Zoo Tycoon
Come for the adorable animals, stay for the constant stress of managing an establishment and a reputation. Seriously, Zoo Tycoon’s furry exterior belies a surprisingly deep and rewarding management sim that’s as addictive as it is anxiety-making. You won’t mind the pressure, because Zoo Tycoon does a good enough job of capturing the essence of going to a zoo, even going so far as to let you interact with the believably animated creatures via the Kinect.
Zoo Tycoon would have earned a higher place on this list had it solved some of its clunky interface issues and included some more notable zoo staples (the lack of pandas is seriously heartbreaking). But you do get to feed apples to giraffes who look so real that you’ll wonder if they’ve been motion-captured. For most, that’ll probably be enough to make you forget about the game’s notable shortcomings.
22. Crimson Dragon
Like dragons? Enjoy rail shooters? Cool, you're the exact niche that Crimson Dragon was made for. The experience is a bit jarring at first; you'll struggle with the sluggish targeting reticle, and balk at how your dragon moves from side to side with some half-assed speed. But once you get used to it--once you go into the options a half-dozen times and tweak the targeting sensitivity, and once you level up your dragon a few times to increase its movement speed--the fun sets in.
Sure, it's not exactly the perfect spiritual successor to Panzer Dragoon, but it is an entertaining, score-based game that'll keep you replaying missions time and time again to edge out your friends on the leaderboards. And you won't mind doing so, considering few missions surpass the 15-minute mark. Plus, few things are as gratifying as replaying early levels with a maxed-out dragon that can destroy everything with ease.
21. 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.
20. Powerstar Golf
Yep, a golf game is indeed among the best Xbox One launch titles. Powerstar Golf combines the accessible on-the-green fun of Hot Shots Golf and Mario Golf with some gorgeous Pixar-caliber visuals, which is about as excellent a combination as you can get. Each golfer has a unique ability up his or her sleeve to help secure an eagle, including things like a supersonic drive, magnetized pins, and a ball that splits into five parts before picking the shot closest to the hole. You can't use them willy-nilly, mind you, but they can secure a clutch win during particularly close matches.
Powerstar also has excellent asynchronous multiplayer--whether or not your golfing buddies are online, you're constantly in competition. The game keeps track of your all-time bests, from drive distance to long-distance putts, then displays them on your friends' courses. You can even shoot for a world record, utilizing one of the many collectible (and visually inventive) clubs and balls you earn by playing.
19. 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.
18. 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.
17. 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.
16. 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.
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.
14. 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.
13. 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.
12. 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.
11. 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.
10. 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.
9. 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.
8. 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.
7. 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.
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.
5. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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