The Xbox One might not have the same selection of exclusives as the PlayStation 4 or Nintendo Switch, but the handful it does have are worth checking out. Some of the best Xbox One games are first-party titles, but you’ll find loads of other quality games from the likes of Electronic Arts, Bethesda, and Ubisoft that compose a huge library of games worth playing.
A lot of them are available on Xbox’s Game Pass program as well, so you can try out the best games on the system without shelling out $60 left and right. If you’ve already upgraded to the Xbox Series X, don’t worry: The vast majority of Xbox One games work on the Series X and Series S with Microsoft’s Smart Delivery program.
From the snowy mountains of Valhalla to the concrete walls of the Federal Bureau of Control, here are the best Xbox One games.
The best Xbox One exclusives
The best Xbox One X games
The best Xbox Series X exclusives
Apex Legends is a squad-based battle royale from Respawn Entertainment, the studio behind the excellent Titanfall series. While it doesn’t have the Titans or the awesome wall-running, Apex Legends is a refreshing entry in the battle royale genre. The 60-player format splits players up into teams of three, with each contest choosing from a pool of legends with unique abilities.
Apex Legends has the best nonverbal communication system we’ve seen in a multiplayer game. The ping system lets you place markers on weapons, enemies, and other points of interest to help you keep your teammates informed. There’s no need to even speak through a mic. It’s that good.
The spacious sci-fi map is full of surprises and little details. The gunplay is as good as Titanfall and feels great in the battle royale format, thanks to varied options and a bunch of cool attachments. And in a change from other battle royale games, you can bring teammates back to life after a bit of recon work.
The best part about Apex Legends? It’s free-to-play and none of the microtransactions give you a competitive advantage.
Read our full Apex Legends review
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla
Although Assassin’s Creed Valhalla runs better on the beefier Xbox Series X, it’s still an excellent title on Xbox One (and it supports Smart Delivery, so you can get the Series X version when you upgrade). After a few short hours in the game, it’s easy to see that Valhalla is one of the best Assassin’s Creed games ever made. The game showcases what Ubisoft’s AnvilNext 2.0 engine has to offer, as developer Ubisoft Montreal pushes the tech to its limits.
It’s not just the visuals that stand out, either. Valhalla still uses the open-world design featured in Origins and Odyssey, but Valhalla’s world feels denser than its predecessors. Furthermore, Valhalla ramps up the intensity of combat encounters, making each swing of your sword or mace feel fiercer than ever. In many ways, Valhalla is to Odyssey and Origins what Black Flag was to the first Assassin’s Creed games: A familiar experience with just enough refinement to make a difference.
Read our full Assassin’s Creed Valhalla review
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare defined the Xbox 360. Its intense single-player campaign played out like a blockbuster film, while its competitive multiplayer kept the disc in players’ consoles for years.
Infinity Ward returned to the sub-series with the reboot Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, a game that understands what fans loved about the original game without feeling trapped by its legacy. This time around, the story is told in a more grounded and realistic way, with disturbing content that is not included for mere twists or shock value.
Competitive multiplayer has also been refined in the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, adding the massive Ground War mode alongside staples like Team Deathmatch and Domination. With the release of Warzone battle royal, there is even more to love about this game.
Read our full Call of Duty: Modern Warfare review
Remedy Entertainment fans got a taste of the studio’s potential with the Xbox One game Quantum Break, but Control is a much more refined take on the third-person shooter genre. Set in the morphing headquarters for the Federal Bureau of Control, Control is a “paranatural” mystery that starts weird and only gets weirder.
As protagonist Jesse Faden, you’re given the role of director upon your entry and must work to purge the Hiss enemies from the Bureau. You do this with the help of your unique superpowered abilities, which include telekinesis and mind control. Alongside these, you have the Service Weapon, a unique handgun that shifts forms and functions like a shotgun or even a machine gun. It makes Control’s combat satisfying and encourages experimentation.
Read our full Control review
Some games are hard. And then there is Cuphead. The 2D sidescrolling game combines challenging platforming gauntlets with some of the most difficult bosses on the planet, each of which is capable of taking down the titular hero in just a few hits, and it requires some of the quickest reflexes of any game we’ve ever played.
You won’t mind dying to the same enemies over and over too much, however, as the Cuphead is also a gorgeous love letter to classic animated films of the ‘30s such as Steamboat Willie, and the hand-drawn animations and environments are nothing short of breathtaking. Combined with an era-appropriate soundtrack that’s heavy on the swing and the piano, and you have an absolute classic hit. Even if you aren’t a video game fan, Cuphead is still impressive artistically.
Bungie seemingly rushed the original Destiny to release, offering a campaign mode that didn’t make much sense and had a surprising lack of endgame content. Destiny 2 aimed to right these wrongs, and its campaign is everything we expect from developer Bungie — loud, fast, funny, and a whole lot of fun.
Now more than four years after launch, Destiny 2 has evolved in surprising and great ways. While the first two, smaller expansions didn’t add much in terms of depth, the more recent ones have given the experience a welcome makeover. Rife with new endgame content, missions, and areas to explore, Beyond Light changes the identity of Destiny 2 and will keep Guardians busy (and happy) as the online first-person shooter continues to grow.
With The Witch Queen expansion set for launch on February 22, 2022, Destiny 2 fans have a lot to be excited about.
Read our full Destiny 2: Beyond Light review
Devil May Cry 5
After taking a darker direction with DmC from Ninja Theory (more on that developer in a bit) back in 2013, the original series returns with Devil May Cry 5. Set after the events of the four other games, Devil May Cry 5 puts you in control of three different characters, each with unique weapons and abilities to master. Nero’s brutality contrasts with Dante’s flashiness, and both are about as different from V’s demon-spawning style as possible.
Devil May Cry 5 feels like the perfect blend of old and new, with a gorgeous engine making it one of the prettiest games on the Xbox One. It hasn’t lost the series’ challenge, however, and a second run on Son of Sparda difficulty mixes up the enemy variety to put your skills to the test.
Read our full Devil May Cry 5 review
A sequel that is even better than the 2016 reboot, Doom Eternal is a confident and lightning-fast first-person shooter from the masters at id Software. It expands on its predecessors’ movement-centric combat with Glory Kills providing health when performed on staggered enemies, and there are more than twice as many types of demons ready to tear the Doom Slayer limb from limb. They’ll have a hard time doing so, as he’s packing a spring-loaded arm-blade, powerful chainsaw, and a huge arsenal of guns.
Where Doom Eternal far surpasses 2016’s Doom is its competitive multiplayer Battlemode, which shifts the generic deathmatch modes to asymmetrical battles between one Doom Slayer and two demons. Every battle is a tense affair from beginning to end, with the demons capable of spawning more allies to their side and ganging up on the Slayer as he attempts to evade and launch his own counter-attack.
Read our full Doom Eternal review
Fortnite needs no introduction. Epic Games’ third-person shooter — and its free battle royale mode — took the industry (and the world) by storm with its unique mix of last-man-standing action and building mechanics.
It dominates children’s conversations at school, sparked countless imitators, and even managed to surpass PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, which used a similar structure that served as the main inspiration for Fortnite battle royale. With a consistent stream of content updates always giving players something new to do or see, the player count remains high, while some parents even buy tutoring sessions to improve their kids’ skills — and their own.
Read our full Fortnite Battle Royale review
Forza Horizon 4
Playground Games has proven itself as one of the best racing game developers on the planet, and the studio has outdone itself with Forza Horizon 4. Taking the action to Britain this time around, Forza Horizon 4 is packed full of racing challenges and open-world fun to partake in, and running on an Xbox One X at 4K or 60 frames per second, it’s a stunning display of power. The Horizon series is much different from Forza Motorsport, emphasizing exploration and with less of a focus on realism.
A new seasons system changes the environments, as well, freezing over lakes or turning easy roads into muddy deathtraps, and with real players always racing around you in the world, the Forza Horizon 4 allows you to be just a few moments away from a race at any time. It even has a battle royale mode, (if you can believe it)!
Read our full Forza Horizon 4 review
The Coalition outdid itself with Gears 5, a third-person shooter that improves on its predecessor in nearly every way. Combat feels just as perfect as ever, with intense shootouts against both Swarm and robotic DeeBees. More open-ended areas feature side missions that add additional context to the game’s world.
Gears 5 is one of the best games in the entire series, with psychological horror elements sprinkled throughout its story and a tremendous selection of cooperative modes. The new Escape game mode is great for aggressive players, and the competitive multiplayer doesn’t change what was already nearly perfect.
Read our full Gears 5 review
Who would’ve thought that the strategy genre would work wonders with the Gears of War franchise? Well, Microsoft did, and the resulting Gears Tactics is one of the finest games in the series and easily the best spin-off game. It takes the traditional third-person action and translates it to a top-down, turn-based environment. This is a strategy game that plays way differently than the traditional third-person shooter.
Battles here are a bit slower than what most Gears fans might be used to, as players have to navigate environments one turn at a time to take down swarms of Horde enemies. While it feels very different from a normal entry in the series, it does retain the beloved gameplay of hiding behind cover and thinking about your next move.
With a new take on Gears lore and a strong campaign, this is worth checking out for Gears and XCOM fans alike.
Halo 5: Guardians
343 Industries wasn’t content to deliver exactly what fans expected in Halo 5: Guardians. Longtime protagonist Master Chief largely takes a backseat to newcomer Spartan Locke on an adventure that hops across multiple planets and features a favorite supporting character in a very different role.
It’s a gorgeous game full of jaw-dropping moments, but multiplayer is where Halo 5: Guardians really shines. Between the classic arena competitive matches and the large-scale Warzone mode, there’s enough content in Halo 5 to keep you fragging your friends for months or even years on end. This might not be the best in the series, but even a mediocre Halo game is leaps and bounds better than most shooters out there.
Read our full Halo 5: Guardians review
Halo: The Master Chief Collection
Halo: The Master Chief Collection is the perfect introduction for Xbox One owners new to Microsoft’s console family. Containing the first four numbered games in the series — as well as their prequel, Halo: Reach — it’s enough content to keep you busy for weeks and months on end. Halo 2: Anniversary is a highlight of this package, a remastered classic with new cinematics and sound effects that even show up Halo 5.
As you may have heard, Halo: The Master Chief Collection was a bit of a mess at launch, but the game’s server issues have stabilized. There are more than 100 multiplayer maps to choose from, spanning from the original Halo to Halo 4. The majority are remastered versions of old favorites, but a select few were rebuilt from the ground up specifically for the collection. Of course, if you’re like us, you’ll be spending all your time blowing your friends up in Blood Gulch anyway.
Read our full Halo: The Master Chief Collection review
Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice
Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice is one of the few games that actually earns the title of “masterpiece.” From beginning to end, Ninja Theory’s tormented adventure game feels purposefully crafted, with every detail lending to the game’s drab atmosphere. The game was so impressive when it released in 2017, in fact, that Xbox Game Studios acquired Ninja Theory shortly after. Now, the studio is working on the upcoming Xbox exclusive Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II.
Although Senua’s Sacrifice is a game you should play, keep in mind that it’s a heavy game. It’s not afraid to lean into its themes, using audio and visual design to create a certain uncomforting atmosphere. Thankfully, the heavier themes are broken up by environmental puzzles and surprisingly tight sword combat.
Read our Hellblade: Senua‘s Sacrifice review
Hitman 3 is a perfect send-off for Io Interactive’s World of Assassination and a celebration of the studio’s long-running stealth sandbox. The third game comes with some of the most imaginative level deigns the trilogy has seen, including the excellent Dartmoor murder mystery and an interesting throwback level in the form of Berlin. Hitman 3 doesn’t change much of the core formula, and for a sandbox game, that’s a good thing.
Even better, you can import your Hitman and Hitman 2 items and levels into Hitman 3. After five years, you can now fully unify the World of Assassination trilogy under one roof, sharing items between levels. If you already own the first two games — Hitman was a part of Games with Gold at one point — Hitman 3 is the quintessential Hitman experience.
Read our Hitman 3 review
One of the most popular games of all time, Mojang’s Minecraft was a hit on Xbox systems long before Microsoft bought the developer. Its nearly endless creation tools allow players to make unique and impressive structures, and its simple survival gameplay offers a challenge for those looking to venture into the unknown and slay the monsters they find.
The Xbox One version is one of the best, as the recent Bedrock update enabled cross-play with other platforms like iOS, PC, and Nintendo Switch. No matter where your friends are playing Minecraft, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to build and explore together. Minecraft is also an awesome choice for relaxing on your own, made even better with the use of mods.
Monster Hunter: World
It’s not exactly the most traditional Monster Hunter game, but that’s what makes it so damn good. If you enjoy a good open-world RPG where you can track rare monsters, engage in tough combat, and craft awesome armor out of their remains, then Monster Hunter: World is right up your alley.
Monster Hunter: World modernizes a classic RPG and makes it easy for anyone to jump in. It features beautiful zones that feel alive, monsters with improved AI, and cool DLC crossovers with Final Fantasy, Street Fighter, and Horizon Zero Dawn. There’s also a multiplayer mode where up to four players can don their best gear and take down dangerous beasts together. And if you can’t get enough, you should definitely try the Iceborne expansion.
Read our full Monster Hunter: World review
Mortal Kombat 11
Some game franchises suffer from fatigue after their first few entries, with later games paling in comparison to the originals. NetherRealm’s Mortal Kombat is not one of those series.
Mortal Kombat 11 is a fighting game designed by masters of the genre. It offers brutal and complex combat while also including tutorial and practice systems so newcomers can enjoy the game. The addition of the Fatal Blow system makes every second of a fight suspenseful, even if one player has a huge advantage. Not to mention, the infamous Fatalities are gorier than ever.
Mortal Kombat 11 is also, hands down, one of the prettiest games on the Xbox One. Animations — both for faces and attacks — are stunning, and there’s a sense of fluidity that we rarely see outside of NetherRealm’s work. With a ton of different modes to choose from and an over-the-top story to play through, Mortal Kombat 11 is well worth the price of admission.
Read our full Mortal Kombat 11 review
Nier: Automata/Square Enix
A stunningly well-realized version of auteur director Yoko Taro’s vision, Nier: Automata is a depressing and existential action game that avoids many of the narrative traps associated with android stories. There are no questions regarding what it means to be human, but rather what it means to be yourself. Protagonists 2B and 9S struggle to accept reality, making for some of the most emotional moments we’ve ever experienced in a game.
With Platinum Games handling the combat, the Nier: Automata is also a flashy and tight action game complete with twin-stick shooter segments to break up the monotony.
Read our full Nier: Automata review
No Man’s Sky
Xbox One fans had to wait more than two years to get their hands on Hello Games’ No Man’s Sky, but the game they eventually received was far better than the one released back in 2016. Multiple updates have overhauled many of the game’s systems, resulting in more engaging adventures that no longer felt like blind busywork. Improvements like base-building allow you to feel like you’re truly living in the game’s enormous universe, rather than merely looking at it from a distance.
The biggest addition to the No Man’s Sky, however, was multiplayer. It finally gave players the chance to explore uncharted territory together and attempt to survive the harsh conditions found on many mysterious planets. And now, the game has expanded far beyond what was initially promised, with so much more to do.
Read our full No Man’s Sky review
Ori and the Will of the Wisps
Ori and the Blind Forest is one of the best Metroidvania games ever made, blending simple but effective combat with terrific platforming and exploration. Its sequel, Ori and the Will of the Wisps, took five years to release, but it was well worth the wait. The game is even more gorgeous than its predecessor, with a more refined art style and an atmospheric, orchestral soundtrack. It keeps the brilliant escape sequences of the first game, and though it does away with its unique checkpoint system, it still understands what made the original so successful.
Ori and the Will of the Wisps is a bigger game, too, but that size doesn’t change the emotional and touching story it tells. Microsoft may have a new mascot for Xbox and not even realize it yet, and it’s from a game developed by a strikingly small team at Moon Studios.
Read our full Ori and the Will of Wisps hands-on
Not to be confused with the unrelated The Outer Worlds from Obsidian Entertainment, Outer Wilds is a unique first-person adventure game that tasks you with uncovering the secret behind an endless time loop constantly threatening the galaxy. Depending on when you reach a location, it can change and offer a different experience, potentially helping you to unravel the mystery at the center of the time loop.
Outer Wilds is designed to be played repeatedly as you gradually uncover the answers you need — almost like a playable version of the film Edge of Tomorrow. It’s a race against time, but one you won’t truly lose if you’re making the most of your exploration. If you want to ignore that and just roast a marshmallow instead, that’s also an option.
Despite a few server issues, Outriders lives up to the hype. It’s a mishmash of genres, composed of a Destiny-like loot system, a cover system reminiscent of Gears of War, and a list of abilities that calls back to Mass Effect. It’s tough to separate those elements when the bullets are storming, though. Outriders seamlessly blends multiple systems and gameplay styles, making for one of the most frenetic and enjoyable shooters in recent memory.
Plus, it’s on Game Pass. Although a marquee title for the Xbox Series X and Series S, Outriders is available on Xbox One, and it’s available for free if you’re a Game Pass subscriber. The game looks and runs better on the next-gen machines, but you can start playing on Xbox One and carry your progress over whenever you decide to upgrade.
Read our Outriders review
Pro Evolution Soccer (series)
Konami’s Pro Evolution Soccer series continues to improve over the years, rivaling Electronic Arts’ FIFA franchise with its emphasis on total ball and pass control, as well as improved animations and new strategies to help you manage your players exactly as you want to.
Using the Fox engine — the technology behind Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain — Konami can create a gorgeous soccer game, with detailed players and natural movement that make it feel like you’re watching a live soccer match rather than simply playing one on your Xbox One. The Pro Evolution Soccer isn’t as popular as FIFA, but that underdog position has only motivated Konami.
Platformer fans have enjoyed a renaissance as of late, with so many fantastic games that fall under that category. Most recently, Double Fine shipped Psychonauts 2, a sequel to one of the best cult classics from the Xbox and PS2 generation. Thanks to a successful Fig campaign that concluded in 2016, Double Fine was able to create something special with Psychonauts 2.
Though it’s not perfect, this game is often regarded as everything fans had hoped for, featuring engaging characters, fun platforming, and a story that feels interconnected to the gameplay. Thanks to Microsoft’s purchase of Double Fine, the developer is now a first-party Xbox studio, meaning you can play this game at no additional cost on Game Pass.
Read our full Psychonauts 2 review
Red Dead Redemption 2
Red Dead Redemption 2/Rockstar
It’s rare that a AAA open-world game can surprise us, but Rockstar’s Red Dead Redemption 2 manages to do it regularly. The western is a prequel to the 2010 game Red Dead Redemption, but it is far more than a simple retread of that title’s themes.
As a member of the Van der Linde gang, protagonist Arthur Morgan must wrestle with his past and his uncertain future as the government hunts down the remaining outlaws in a rapidly changing Wild West locale.
Every story mission is absolute gold, never falling into a pattern of repetition. The emergent activities you’ll discover in the open world are engaging enough to keep you busy for hours. Want to cause chaos or just hunt game? You totally can, or you could try your luck at a few hands of poker. Red Dead Redemption 2 frequently appears on Xbox Game Pass, and although it isn’t available on the service right now, that doesn’t mean it won’t reappear at some point in the future.
Read our full Red Dead Redemption 2 review
Who could predict that one of the best “sports” games on the Xbox One would involve rocket-powered cars driving alongside glass domes as they knock an oversized soccer ball across the field?
Psyonix’s Rocket League is a goofy game, but don’t let its wacky premise fool you – Rocket League demands your full attention, as players with enough practice can pull off some truly masterful goals and block balls in a last-ditch effort to keep their lead in a tough match. The simple controls are easy enough to grasp, however, so you should be able to get the hang of things quickly and begin (trying) to score a few goals. Now that it’s free-to-play, it’s easier than ever to jump in.
Sea of Thieves
If you ever wanted to sail the treacherous seas role playing as a pirate with a group of your friends, Sea of Thieves is the Xbox One game for you. Embark on voyages, discover treasure, raid enemy ships, customize your rig, and be the best scallywag this side of the sea has ever seen!
Sea of Thieves feels like a lighthearted pirate simulator. You and your friends go on adventures but also work together to accomplish menial things like putting up the ship’s sails and navigating through dangerous waters. The best part? The entire game is cross-platform, so you can play with your friends on PC. Over time, it has grown into a respectable online service game with more content to pursue than ever before, despite its really rough launch.
Read our full Sea of Thieves review
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
From Software had the option to release another Dark Souls game. Instead, the legendary studio created an entirely new franchise with Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. This action game takes plenty of inspiration from Dark Souls and Bloodborne, but the addition of a Posture system for deflecting attacks — along with a resurrection mechanic — help make it feel like a distinct game in its own right.
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is ludicrously difficult, which could turn off From Software newcomers. Those who have the time and patience to battle through its boss fights, however, will find one of the most rewarding and addicting action games of the generation. The pain is good, and we want more.
Read our full Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice review
It might have begun its life as a spiritual successor to the Harvest Moon series, but Eric “ConcernedApe” Barone’s Stardew Valley has arguably become more influential and revered than the series it tried to emulate. A farming adventure styled after classic 16-bit games on the Super Nintendo, Stardew Valley packs full of charm and character, and in addition to offering a variety of different crops to plant on your farm.
The Stardew Valley also features dangerous dungeons to explore and several different characters to romance. The game’s polish and stunning variety is particularly impressive when you consider that Barone was a first-time game developer. Thanks to its inclusion on Xbox Game Pass, it’s much more enticing to jump in and try.
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order isn’t exactly the most original or innovative game we’ve played. It’s a blend of elements from big-name game franchises like Uncharted and Dark Souls, but with all the classic Star Wars tropes. Despite this, it excels because it so smartly pulls mechanics and structural pieces that fit the Star Wars formula well.
Split between exploration, puzzle-solving, and combat, Fallen Order never feels like it’s wasting your time. When you finally get protagonist Cal Kestis outfitted with his best Force powers and a customizable lightsaber, he feels like an unstoppable warrior who can take on waves of Stormtroopers without issue.
With brilliant performances and a mesmerizing score, the Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is one of the best Star Wars games since BioWare’s Knights of the Old Republic series.
Read our full Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order review
State of Decay 2
State of Decay 2 is a game that arguably doesn’t get enough credit. It’s one of the best zombie games ever, with an immersive world and many ways to play. Undead Labs nailed the gameplay loop in State of Decay 2, with an addictive formula that feels tremendously satisfying, even if things don’t go entirely how you had planned.
Play either solo or with friends as you explore, collect resources, and expand your base to survive the zombie apocalypse. Sure, the zombie craze has come and gone already, but there’s no denying just how fun this game is. Thanks to a slew of updates and improvements, State of Decay 2 is now better than ever and a great way to spend your time waiting for the next installment.
Read our full State of Decay 2 review
Bloober Team is a master of the horror genre, and the studio’s latest release shows that. The Medium is a tense experience from start to finish, using cinematic camera movement and unsettling angles to create a sense that you’re playing a horror movie. In many ways, The Medium feels like modern Resident Evil, just without zombies.
You play as Marianne, a medium who, after experiencing a shattering loss, travels to the Niwa Hotel to solve a mystery that requires reaching over to the other side. What’s interesting is that The Medium renders two worlds at once: The real world and the spirit world. To progress deeper into the hotel and solve puzzles, you’ll need to swap between worlds and even occasionally leave your body to explore the spirit world unchained.
Read our The Medium review
The Outer Worlds
If you ever yearned for Fallout in space, this is the closest relative you’ll likely ever see. That’s because the masterminds behind the popular series, Tim Cain and Leonard Boyarsky, are at the helm of this incredible first-person role-playing adventure, The Outer Worlds.
The setting is an alternate timeline that sees corporations colonizing other worlds. Your character originates from a colony ship, The Hope, that becomes lost as it travels through space to the Halcyon star system. Scientist Phineas Welles wakes you from cryosleep 100 years later, with a mission to infiltrate the Halcyon colonies and save fellow humans from The Board, a conglomerate of corporations.
You eventually gain a ship and travel to various settlements scattered throughout the system. As with any other modern RPG, players gain side missions alongside the main story quests. Your choices heavily dictate how the story unfolds, such as diverting power from a local colony or withholding secrets from The Board.
Overall, there’s a definite Fallout feel under all the alien landscapes and technology. What’s missing in the The Outer Worlds is a memorable radio station pumping oldies into our ears.
Read our full Outer Worlds Switch review
The Witness is a game that only Jonathan Blow could make. An atmospheric and existential game focused primarily on circuit-based puzzles, it features a familiar amnesiac protagonist element, but the world Blow has created is interesting enough to make it feel like much more than another tale about regaining your memory and uncovering some big secret.
Instead, you’ll be given philosophical tidbits that could help you in your understanding of your world as you make your way through more than 500 puzzles. If you’ve been subscribed to Xbox Live Gold for a while, you likely already have The Witness in your Ready to Install section, so you can try it out right now.
Read our full The Witness review
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
Taking place after the events of the previous game, The Witcher 3 follows the continuing adventures of Geralt of Rivia, a monster hunter searching for his lost lover, Yennefer, and Ciri, his adopted daughter. Although its central plot offers a long and entertaining quest, there’s far more to the game than finding Geralt’s loved ones.
The world is massive, dense with characters great and small who have problems they need Geralt to solve. Whether it’s exorcising a spirit haunting a village or helping a blacksmith rebuild his business, there are hundreds of little adventures to go on, and some even intersect in surprising ways.
The world of The Witcher is dark. An early scene finds Geralt riding into a war-torn province, the camera pulling back to reveal a massive tree from which prisoners of war have been hanged. It’s a grim image, and it sets the tone for much of what is to follow. Often the game will present choices that can have wide-ranging, unforeseen consequences. Not everyone gets a happy ending.
Despite all the gloom, there are moments of warmth: an orphan reunited with relatives, drinking games with Geralt’s war buddies, a night of passion with an old flame, and more. Wildly ambitious and epic in scope, The Witcher 3 is a watershed moment for role-playing games, setting a new gold standard for the genre.
Read our full The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt review
XCOM 2 and War of the Chosen DLC
Firaxis Games managed to revive a long-dead strategy series in 2012 with XCOM: Enemy Unknown, and things only got better from there.
XCOM 2 is a harder, more diverse, and more engaging game than its predecessor. It requires players to master both turn-based strategy and resource management as they attempt to overthrow alien occupiers before they unleash a mysterious weapon.
With XCOM 2, failing to move your units into correct positions or taking too long to complete objectives could result in them being overrun and killed. Once they’re dead, they’re dead for good. It’s enough to cause an anxiety attack, but with enough perseverance and a hefty dose of luck, you can repel the invaders and save the world.
Read our full XCOM 2 review
Yakuza: Like a Dragon
The Yakuza series has always been attached to Sony, but that’s starting to change. In addition to all seven mainline titles on Xbox Game Pass, Yakuza: Like a Dragon launched on Sony and Microsoft consoles at the same time. (Microsoft even got the next-gen version first.) Like a Dragon flips the script on the Yakuza franchise, ditching Kazuma Kiryu as the protagonist and switching to a turn-based battle system. Even with the changes, Like a Dragon maintains the energy and flare the series is known for.
That includes a moving narrative that’s not afraid to push into absurd territory, a list of minigames that rival the core gameplay loop, and a memorable cast of characters that go beyond their archetypes. Like a Dragon proves that the Yakuza franchise is alive and well, but it also shows how far old gameplay systems can go when put in the right context. Much like many of the games on this list, Like a Dragon is also available via Xbox Game Pass.
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