Editors Note: Eurogamer is relaunching 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 and best Switch games so far – with the aim to update them several times a year as new releases supplant a given system’s existing library.
Microsoft might have lost its place 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, the 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 15 of the best out there for Microsoft’s console right now.
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.
Rainbow Six: Siege
A poster-child for that most modern of phenomena – the lackluster launch followed up by an incredible amount of post-release support – Rainbow Six Siege is also so much more. At this point, it’s arguably the best competitive shooter available on the market, and it keeps getting better.
Enjoyably tactical, demanding well-orchestrated teamwork and with matches that are almost impossibly tense, it’s a very different brand of online shooting – a counterpoint to Call of Duty and Battlefield – that’s proven extremely popular. Long may it live on.
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.
Respawn, developers of one of this generation’s other great surprises – the brilliant Titanfall 2, which also finds its way onto this best-of list – provided another gentle shock with its overnight release of Apex Legends, a battle royale set within that same Titanfall universe.
It’s arguably the best example of the fast-growing genre yet, even if its momentum seems to have stalled somewhat since launch as it’s failed to measure up to the spectacle and stream of updates supplied by rival Fortnite. Forget all that, though, and just enjoy all the little details that still make this an absolute joy to play.
Want to read more? See our 55 Apex Legends tips and tricks.
There’s life in the classic first-person shooter yet – indeed, this generation has provided something of a golden age for them. They don’t get that much more classic than Doom either, and id played a blinder with its amped-up reboot of the 1993 original.
It’s almost impossibly fast, thrillingly violent and impeccably stylish – and that style is torn straight from the dog-eared metal poster from the wall of an angry American teen, and is all the better for it. Through all that there’s an old-school spirit, and level design that harks back to the labyrinthine originals. An exceptional game – and even better, there’s a sequel on the not-too-distant horizon.
Devil May Cry 5
Another game that harks back to a different age, Devil May Cry 5 feels every bit like a PlayStation 2 game.
Sometimes that’s a comparison that’s used as a slur, though this time out it’s very much not – there’s a focus on the fundamentals here that helps make Capcom’s brand of action shine, the flair of combat met by an incredible depth that’s there to be rinsed when you start delving into the harder difficulty levels or reaching the depths of the Bloody Palace. Dante’s never been cooler, basically, and his old-school charm helps make this one a winner.
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.
Dirt Rally 2.0
One of the most pleasant surprises of this generation has been Codemasters’ pivot away from the loud-mouthed exploits of old towards more considered racing sims.
The F1 series has moved further and further towards geekery, and has become all the better for it – if you’re looking for one of the best single-player racing games on any console, you can’t go wrong with F1 2019 – and the shift in style all started with the original Dirt Rally, a pleasingly hardcore game that had a good claim to oust Richard Burns Rally as the best ever take on off-road driving.
Dirt Rally 2.0 is somehow even better, offering refined visuals and an improved handling model that make it near enough essential for anyone with a penchant for threading a few hundred angry horses down a narrow country lane.
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.