GAMINGbible's Guide To The Best Xbox One Games
The Xbox One is in something of a tricky position. Microsoft's console has a lot going for it, like the brilliant subscription service of Game Pass, and the incoming xCloud - a Stadia-beater before it's even launched. But when it comes to platform-exclusive games, few can argue that it has the edge over the PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch.
Nevertheless, with Game Pass representing the very best games subscription model available, and a handful of genuine greats that you can only play on Microsoft platforms, it's far from a bad first choice when it comes to enjoying today's spectrum of gaming experiences. Here's GAMINGbible's guide to the very best games on Xbox One, right now - updated with a couple of winners from 2020.
Ori And The Will Of The Wisps
Moon Studios, 2020
The first Ori game, ...And The Blind Forest, was an instant Xbox classic - and you can find it a little further down this page. But nobody could have foreseen just how much better its sequel would be. This is generation-defining stuff, truly - for both the platforming and metroidvania genres. Gorgeous in motion, offering a stiff challenge, a symphony for the ears and with a story that nourishes the soul, Ori And The Will Of The Wisps is exceptional across so many fronts that it's almost unfair to put it against similar games released of late, so elegantly does it put them in its shadow. Our review, which you can read here, went as far as to call Will Of The Wisps the best Xbox One game ever (sample quote: "an epic, emotional adventure that borrows from some of the best games out there and smartly remixes various genres and ideas in thrilling, unexpected ways") - which probably means you should stop reading and start playing, huh.
Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 + 2
Games that were brilliant at the turn of the millennium are still brilliant today - who knew, honestly? But Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 + 2 might rank as the best remaster (note: not remake, these are the old games underneath) we've ever seen and played. Developers Vicarious Visions - who did work on the OG THPS2, albeit the Game Boy Advance version - deserve so much credit for taking a (pair of) 20-year-old classic(s) and ensuring it shines even brighter, somehow, in the here and now. You can argue it's not really fair to pop a remaster in a list like this; but on the other hand, it's our list, and it's a great game, so, whatever. SKATE, or die, your choice. Read our review of this perfect remaster, here.
Remedy Entertainment, 2019
From the team that brought you Alan Wake and Max Payne, Control is a superlative third-person adventure through a shape-shifting environment, possessed by the wicked spirit of supernatural dramas. If you've ever wanted to play an X Files episode - or, more accurately, a whole season of it - this might be the closest you'll come. Control also features one of the most thrilling sequences of action game history with its Ashtray Maze, and its all-round creepiness will stay with you long after the credits have rolled. Not that it's over, yet - at the time of writing, DLC is incoming.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
CD Projekt Red, 2015
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt might not wholly redefine the fantasy role-playing genre, but it doesn't half polish it to a high shine and leave you basking in its glow. With stronger storytelling that Skyrim and greater moral ambiguity than Fable, a colourful cast of NPCs to care about and a world that never stops surprising - you'll be making new discoveries well into your 200th hour of play - it's a game that feels infinite in scope for the longest time. And then you hit its end, complete its excellent DLC, and wish you could do it all over again. Lucky you! You can.
Resident Evil 2
This remake of Capcom's 1998 survival-horror sequel has convincingly out-performed its PlayStation-period predecessor. It's scarier than the old game, it looks incredible, it plays smoothly, and it's even out-sold the original now, shifting five million units since its release in early 2019. And look, sales figures don't often mean squat when it comes to the quality of a game - Call of Duty and FIFA do millions every year, after all - but Resident Evil 2 really is a title that matches its commercial might to critical acclaim. It's a modern-day must-play for any new Xbox owner, assuming your pants can take it.
Forza Horizon 4
Playground Games, 2018
No racer on Xbox One comes close to the majesty of Forza Horizon 4. It's easy to pick up and as tough to master as you slide its settings to be. It's a Pokémon-style catch 'em all cornucopia of cars both exotic and absolutely clapped out (but we love those crappy bangers even more). Its open-world map, based on parts of England and Scotland and featuring a shrunken interpretation of Edinburgh, is a joy to drift around, giving you the freedom to thunder up and down motorways or tear across snow-covered hillsides, as your mood (and the in-game seasons) decides. A must for all virtual petrolheads, and those who simply love exploring vast gaming worlds.
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Red Dead Redemption 2
Rockstar's visually dazzling epic set on the wild frontier of late-18th-century America is an hours-swallowing adventure that some will struggle to connect with, due to its slow-paced story and, let's say, curious control scheme. But get over that hurdle and prepare to lose yourself in one of gaming's most luxurious second lives, as you walk in the boots of Arthur Morgan and company, experiencing life as a (kinda) cowboy like no other game has ever delivered.
Mobius Digital, 2019
What initially seems like a small, cute indie game about some alien chap blasting off into space becomes one of the most mind-bending adventures of its generation, where time is but a concept to bend to your will and the only limit to your fun is just how willing, or not, you're prepared to immerse yourself in proceedings. Outer Wilds is the story of a universe on the clock, of discovery against the clock, and of pulling loose threads together to form conclusions that far surpass any early expectations. Think: Groundhog Day meets 2001: A Space Odyssey, with beautiful music and way more mystery and suspense than a game this charming looking should ever be capable of.
What Remains Of Edith Finch
Giant Sparrow, 2017
The walking simulator that flips that pigeonhole on its head inside its opening hour, Edith Finch is a collection of short stories, of interactive vignettes, that come together to comprise one of the most heart-squeezing experiences you'll ever have on Xbox. It's a game consumed by death, by despair and misery. It tells of fears, of depression, of horrific accidents and relationships crumbled to dust. But it's also full of love and hope, and frames its tales of the Finch family in such a creative fashion that, come its end, you can't not feel good. Assuming you can play through the tears that come before then, of course.
Halo: The Master Chief Collection
343 Industries, 2014
The best of Halo - well, most of Halo (the first four games, plus ODST and Reach) - in one package. I don't know what more you need from me, here. It's Halo. You've got an Xbox. They go together like cheese and pickle, salt and vinegar, the Tories and bumbling posh lads who've never had to work a proper day in their lives. Go get it already.
Ori and the Blind Forest
Moon Studios, 2015
This incredibly beautiful metroidvania - as in, you need to gain new items and abilities to access new areas, as you proceed through the game - lit up the indie gaming space in 2015, and was a significant shot in the arm for non-AAA console exclusives on Xbox One. It's no longer a game limited to Microsoft's platform, having come out for Switch in 2019, but Ori and the Blind Forest remains an essential on today's Xbox, with its outstanding art and sumptuous music certain to leave you spellbound. Beware its difficulty spikes, but get over them and Ori could become an all-timer.
Matt Makes Games, 2018
Celeste knocks you down and puts you in the dirt - but then picks you up again, time after time, and tells you that you can do it, that you can beat it. It's a game where challenge is a case of reading its tells, learning its systems, and then using that knowledge to transform you, as the game's protagonist Madeline, into a gravity defying, mountain-climbing superhero. Dash and dodge and dash again, across spikes and through libraries, navigating shattered cities and sparkling caves - Celeste is an inspirational journey of breaking through to the other side, overcoming hardships both tangible and inside your own mind. It's an adrenaline rush with an emotional aftershock that can never be forgotten.
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
Sekiro took FromSoft's trademark Soulsborne formula - testing battles where button-mashing means immediate death, set within stunning environments and supported by opaque storytelling - and planted it, confidently, in a fantastical recreation of Sengoku-period Japan. Playing as a shinobi known as Wolf (and, later, Sekiro), our mission is to rescue a kidnapped Divine Heir - but this being FromSoft, it's not quite as simple as murder enemies, find quarry, roll credits. There are choices to be made, which change the direction of the game, leading to a set of distinct outcomes. But really, the story is secondary to the swordplay on show here, which might be gaming's greatest-ever showcase of steel-on-steel high-stakes combat.
The Coalition, 2019
You want a Gears game? Here's your Gears game. And, thankfully, it's a pretty good one, too. After the relative disappointment of Gears of War 4 in 2016, which delivered on the multiplayer front but was rather lacking for solo Gears fans, Gears 5 (actually the sixth main Gears game) brought focus back to its characters, delivering a twisty, tumultuous and gripping campaign that comes pretty close to matching the violent majesty of the second Gears. It introduces light RPG and open-world elements without diluting what made past Gears greats, well, great. With a wealth of multiplayer options also included, Gears 5 is a shooter that should keep you coming back for more and more, no matter how many Swarm nasties your Lancer chews through.
Featured Image Credit: Microsoft / Rockstar / Mobius Digital / Remedy Entertainment
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