Update: E3 2017 gave us our best look at the upcoming year of Xbox One games. Over the course of the week we had a chance to see many excellent titles, everything from Assassin's Creed Origins to Sea of Thieves, and we walked away from the event feeling even better about the future of Microsoft's system.
Many of these games will likely appear on this list in time – but until then we've rounded up a list of outstanding Xbox One games that you need to play ASAP.
Original article continues below…
Overall, the last three and a half years have been kind to Microsoft's all-in-one entertainment system, and that's largely thanks to Microsoft listening to what fans had to say and acting on their criticisms.
The company trimmed down the original Xbox One to create the smaller, 4K and HDR-capable Xbox One S and, recently, Microsoft lifted the curtain on the new high-powered Xbox One X that will bring us even greater things with promises of virtual reality and native 4K gaming rather than just upscaling.
Still, as good as the future looks you shouldn't let that stop you from enjoying the great games that are available right now: Whether you're looking for a high-octane adventure, a thrilling driving experience, a top quality first person shooter, or a left-field indie title you'll be able to find it on Xbox.
With such a large and diverse library of games at our thumb tips, it's not easy to narrow them down into a 'best of' list but someone had to do it.
So, all that said, whether you're still running a 500GB launch console, have just picked up an Xbox One S, or you're scouting out what you'll be able to get if you decide to pick up Project Scorpio, our guide to the best Xbox One games will help you make the most of your console. We're always updating it, too, so you'll never fall behind on the latest and greatest releases.
You'd have to be blind to miss this indie fantasy stunner
A top-class graduate of the “Metroidvania” school of action-adventure design, in which an enormous world gradually opens up as you unlock new abilities, Ori is the kind of experience you show a reactionary relative who thinks “videogame art” is a contradiction in terms.
There’s the world, to start with – a dreamlike maze of canted-over trunks, thorny caverns and sunlit glades – but it’s not just a question of blissful visuals. Ori is a crisp, empowering platformer, with a main character who learns to scurry up surfaces and ricochet away from projectiles, like a spacecraft “sling-shotting” around a planet.
The Definitive Edition improves upon the original by adding new areas to explore and additional background on one of the game’s most beloved characters.
The team-based shooter you need to buy on Xbox One
Overwatch has, without a doubt, been one of our favorite games to come out of the last year – garnering our Game of the Year 2016 award.
It's a classic team arena shooter from Blizzard that sets two six-person teams of wildly different characters against each other in a bright and cartoonish science fiction universe. And while it feels similar to the Call of Duty you've played before, Overwatch turns traditional shooters on their heads by adding unique character abilities and cooldowns to the mix that force you to strategize every once in a while instead of blindly running from room to room.
Great graphics, tight maps, and a good roster of characters to enjoy playing. Overwatch is good old fashioned fun and we thoroughly recommend it.
Consult your doctor first to see if Dark Souls 3 is right for you
Playing a Dark Souls game is a masochistic thing. The pain of losing to the same boss ten times in a row is crushing, but chasing the buzz of a victory makes it all worth it.
Dark Souls 3, the latest in the soul-crushing series, is back and more terrifying than ever. The graphics have been updated for the modern era, with stunning lighting effects, which illuminate all that is good, as well as what's better left unseen.
The gameplay is faster than previous Souls games, riffing off of BloodBorne's rapid pacing. Finally, the story and the online multiplayer come together to make this a game that you won't put down once you pick it up.
Huge, exotic and amazing to behold: Australia is a petrol-head's dream
While the original Forza titles were about pristine driving skills around perfectly upkept tracks, the Horizon series has a penchant for trading paint and isn't afraid to have you get down and dirty with off-road races from time to time.
While the first two entries in Turn 10's spin-off franchise surprised and delighted, Forza Horizon 3 is the unabashed pinnacle of the series, and stands amid some of the greatest racing games ever made.
A chilling return to form
Your gaming collection isn't really complete if it doesn't have a quality horror title and if we had to suggest one it'd be the newest installment in the Resident Evil franchise.
Resident Evil is the franchise that put survival-horror games on the map and though it lost its way slightly in later titles, the newest game is a return to form for Capcom.
By going back to the survival-horror basics and getting them dead on, Capcom has made Resident Evil 7 a genuinely frightening and exhilarating gaming experience. If you have the stomach for the gore, it's absolutely worth playing.
Don't miss our full review of the game.
They had the technology to rebuild him, better than before
The original Titanfall was a great game – so great that it long held a place on this very list. However, its sequel, Titanfall 2, improves on it every conceivable way: the motion is more fluid, there are more distinct titans to choose from and, hold onto your hats here, there’s actually a single-player campaign that might take the cake for the best first-person shooter story of the year.
This game’s pedigree is inherited from one of this generation’s smartest and most unusual shooters. The original Titanfall married ninja-fast on-foot combat to the gloriously thuggish thrill of piloting giant mechs, which are summoned from orbit a few minutes into each match.
The skill with which Respawn has balanced this mix of styles in the sequel is remarkable – Titans have firepower in excess but they’re easy to hit, and maps offer plenty of places for infantry to hide. These ideas coalesce into one of this year’s most remarkable entries in the genre and is well-deserving its own shot in the spotlight as well as a Game of the Year nomination.
A retro-slash-modern romp through the underworld
DOOM is very, very good. Not in a “wow, that’s good for a remake” kind of way, either. It’s genuinely a great shooter – so much so that we gave it a Game of the Year award in 2016. While Overwatch reinventing the wheel for first-person shooting games, DOOM impresses us by bringing us back to the time where dial-up internet was the only way to access AOL email: DOOM is, in so many ways, an excellent evolution of what the series was 20 years ago. It’s brutal. It’s bloody. It has devilish, frightening creatures that bleed when you slice them in half with a chainsaw. It’s the experience we wanted two decades ago but couldn’t articulate it because of the limitations of technology.
A game that makes you the hunter and the hunted
In Arkane’s smart and stylish revival of the 2006 first-person shooter, the moon-orbiting Talos 1 space station is being overrun by Typhon, a shape-shifting collective of aliens. It’s up to your character, Morgan Yu, to fight back by any means necessary.
Similar to Dead Space and BioShock, Prey puts you in a complex, dangerous environment that you don't completely understand, tasking you to explore the mysteries of the space station without succumbing to the disease that's taken hold there. Challenging at first, Prey isn't going to hold your hands while you learn the ropes. Stick it out, find the scattered neuromods and you may survive.
The name of the game is freedom in Lara’s latest sprawling outing
Despite being the sequel to a prequel about the young life of the Lara Croft, this still feels like a Tomb Raider game that has grown up. The reboot which saw a brave new direction for the franchise seemed a lot of the time to be little more than a bit of light Uncharted cosplay, but Rise is a far more accomplished game.
There’s now a genuine open world which feels like there is always something to do, and something more than just harvesting up collectibles in exchange for a light dusting of XP. There are also tombs. Yes, that might seem a fatuous thing to say given the name, but the previous game gave them short shrift. In Rise though they are deeper and more plentiful. Rise also has one of the best narratives of any Tomb Raider game, penned again by Rhianna Pratchett, it’s sometimes rather poignant.
So come on, ditch Fallout 4’s wasteland for a while and give Lara some love.
A refreshing jump back in time
In the latest Battlefield game, DICE takes players back in time to World War One and by doing so completely rejuvenates the once stagnating franchise.
The game offers a poignant and entertaining single-player campaign that sets a new standard for first-person shooter. Broken into six sections, each following a different character and front line location, the campaign never feels dull or repetitive –and even feeds neatly into Battlefield 1's multiplayer mode which, while familiar, also benefits from the much-needed breath of life that the change in setting gives.
Graphically impressive, entertaining, and sometimes touching, Battlefield 1 is a return to form for the series.
The homecoming we’ve waited seven years for
All things considered, this is one of the best games Bethesda has made. It ticks all the boxes: a massive, detail-oriented open-world; still-fantastic tenets of looting and shooting; a story filled with intriguing side quests and subplots that feel like they matter; and of course a classic soundtrack that brings it all to life. In many ways it’s the game we’ve been waiting for since Fallout 3 steered the series away from its top-down role-playing roots. Not only is the world itself wider, but the plot is better, and more digestible, than any of the games before it. There’s still a sense of mystery about what’s happening but you no longer have to dig forever and a day through terminals to piece it together.
Welcome home, stranger.
“Our weapons are fear, surprise, ruthless efficiency and gigantic sidequests.”
Inquisition is the proverbial RPG banquet – a 200-hour array of quests, magic-infused scraps, postcard landscapes and well-written character interactions that’s perhaps a bit too familiar, at times, but makes up for it with sheer generosity.
It puts you in charge not just of a four-man party of adventurers but also a private army with its own castle and attendant strategic meta-game, tasked with defeating a mysterious demon menace.
The choice of Unreal Engine makes for vast open environments and sexily SFX-laden combat – fortunately, you can pause the latter to issue orders if the onslaught becomes overwhelming. It’s a genre giant.
Live the country life in Stardew Valley
It was massively successful on PC, so it makes sense that Stardew Valley has brought its relaxing exploration and farming gameplay to consoles.
In the game you play a new citizen who's come to the town of Stardew Valley to start a new life as a farmer. You get your own land, crops and animals to take care of but every day you're free to do whatever you like in the town.
Stardew Valley is definitely a title that'll appeal to those who have enjoyed games like Animal Crossing and Harvest Moon as it's pretty much perfect for curling up and sinking hours of your weekend into it. It's also very reasonably priced on the Xbox Live store.
A smart, stealthy, steampunk adventure
Following the surprise 2012 hit Dishonored wasn’t going to be an easy task, but Dishonored 2 has more than lived up to its expectations.
Picking up 15 years after the events of the original, Dishonored 2 takes players back to the Victorian Steampunk city of Dunwall. This time, though, you have the choice of whether or not you want to play as the original title’s protagonist Corvo, or his equally-skilled protegee Emily.
Dishonored 2 doesn’t differ wildly from the first game, but there was nothing wrong with Dishonored in the first place. What we get is a vastly improved and close to perfected take on it.
Anyone who likes their games filled with atmosphere, character, and a bit of wit and intelligence will find Dishonored 2 worth picking up.
Stories don’t come bigger than this
Geralt didn’t have the smoothest of entries to consoles, but after some heavy patching and a lot of angry words about visual downgrades, we’re left with an RPG boasting tremendous scope and storytelling.
Oh, and combat. And don’t forget Gwent, the in-game card game. And there’s the crafting to get stuck into. And the alchemy.
You’re rarely short of things to entertain yourself with in The Witcher 3’s quasi-open world, then, and all the better that you’re in a universe that involves the supernatural without leaning on the same old Tolkien fantasy tropes. Invigorating stuff.
Waynes, pains and Batmobiles
It’s a Batman simulator. You get to be Batman.
If you want to pretend you need more reasons than that alone to play it, Rocksteady has a track record for peerless fisticuff-based combat, empowering gadgetry and dark storytelling. Oh, plus you can drive the Batmobile. In short, it’s the complete superhero sim package, presented impeccably and unrelenting in its delivery of show-stopping cinematic set-pieces. Even standing on top of a building watching your cape dance gently in the breeze makes you feel cool.
Out of this world online multiplayer
Calling Destiny ambitious is a disservice to the game. It’s an ambient world (er, galaxy) that operates in real time. It combines single- and multiplayer into a single campaign, seamlessly transitioning between the two. It’s from the team that made Halo, so while Destiny may not have the iconic face of Master Chief plastered on the box, it will have the same creative minds doing what they do best: sci-fi.
So what do you do? Imagine a first-person shooter-inspired World of Warcraft. You’ll create a character and build him/her from a rookie enforcer to earth’s savior by unlocking abilities and improving your expertise with one of the four main types of weapons. Before long you’ll be haunting the same locales for a rare weapon drop and partying up with friends to take down some of the toughest space brutes this side of a Sith Temple.
The Gears keep on turning for this excellent third-person shooter franchise
Despite a new platform, a new development team and a new-ish set of muscled heroes on its box art, Gears of War 4 isn't some grand reimagining of the series that helped Xbox 360 go supernova back in 2006. But then again, such a revelation shouldn't come as a shock – this is the cover shooter that made cover shooters a fad-filled genre all unto itself, so messing too drastically with that special sauce was never a viable option.
Instead, the Xbox One and Xbox One S get the Gears of War template we all know and love with a few extra features gently stirred into the pot. For a start, the jump to current-gen tech has made all the difference to The Coalition's first full-fat Gears title. Spend a little time in the previously remastered Gears of War: Ultimate Edition and you'll see how small and confined those original level designs were, even with a graphical upgrade to make it feel relevant again.
It's more than just graphics, though. It's the return to form for the franchise; the focus on what makes a Gears game so great, that really won us over.
There’s no fear and loathing in Los Santos – just explosive entertainment
Yes, including one of last generation’s greatest games among this generation’s finest is rather boring, but GTA V on Xbox One is too good to ignore, with HD visuals, a longer draw distance and a faster frame-rate.
Among other, more practical perks it includes a first-person mode, which genuinely makes this feel like a different game, though the missions, tools and characters are the same. The new perspective pushes Rockstar’s attention to detail to the fore, allowing you to better appreciate the landscape’s abundance of in-jokes and ambient details.
GTA V’s open world multiplayer remains a laidback thrill, whether you’re stuntdiving with friends or teaming up to complete a Heist (a long overdue addition to MP, but worth the wait) – it’s probably the best place to hang out on Xbox Live.
How many Snakes does it take to change a lightbulb?
Okay, so Hideo Kojima’s last game for Konami – and his last ever Metal Gear game – might be a little tough for the MGS n00b to get to grips with, but it’s still one of the best stealth-action games ever crafted. The open-world shenanigans will satisfy all your behind-enemy-lines / Rambo fantasies and probably confuse you with crazy plot twists and a million characters all with the same gravel-toned voices.
But hey, that’s all part of its charm, right?
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