The Xbox One has been out since November 2013 – in those near-4 years, there have been plenty of great games released for the system. Back in 2015, I wrote a post about the Top 10 Xbox One Games (so far); now that it has been two years I thought it would be a good time to update this list. In that time a lot has changed for me personally as well as in the gaming world so you may notice games shifting around from their previous spot. That being said, I firmly believe that this is the definitive list of 10 games that you need to play if you have an Xbox One.
Top 10 Xbox One Games (No Remasters)
10. Halo Wars 2
Released February 21, 2017. Metacritic score: 79%
One of the few real-time strategy games to ever work on a console, Halo Wars 2 is a treat to play. Proving that you do not need a mouse & keyboard (though, the game does flourish on PC), the game’s easy control scheme, as well as easy to learn but hard to master mechanics make Halo Wars 2 inviting for beginners, yet deep for those who are interested. The campaign features the Spirit of Fire crew from the original Halo Wars and a brand new Covenant faction to fight, the Banished. Campaign missions range from traditional capture & hold objective missions, defense missions, hero-killer missions, and slow build missions. Unit types feel more balanced and allow for near-unlimited combinations to toy with. The multiplayer, albeit difficult, is rewarding when you counter an enemy perfectly. Strategizing with friends on 3vs3 maps is my favourite part about this game. I highly recommend picking this up if you’re a fan of strategy games or Halo in general.
9. Quantum Break
Released April 5, 2016. Metacritic score: 77%
Don’t let the Metacritic score fool you, Quantum Break is a fantastic game that was held back by an old Xbox mantra of TV merging with video games. The time-bending story is original and interesting – time is breaking and you have to fix it. After going back in time, your character gains time-bending abilities that he can use in combat. The combat is fluid, dynamic, and most importantly, fun. Visually the game is stunning, with time shudders happening all over the place and with every ability you use, time bends with it. The TV show that accompanies the game, while not terrible by any stretch, is the worst part of the game as it effectively takes you out of the world and reminds you that this is just a show with acceptable acting that doesn’t compliment the game in any meaningful way. Regardless, I am a firm believer in this game being worth your time. It takes 7-10 hours to complete and, while not nearly as good as Remedy’s Alan Wake, it’s a commendable experience.
8. Fallout 4
Released November 10, 2015. Metacritic score: 88%
If you are looking for a world to get invested in, look no further than Fallout 4. In Bethesda’s largest world yet, Fallout 4 does an incredible job of giving power to the players. The main story, while interesting, is predictable – that is the only main flaw I can think of. The combat is more accessible and fun than ever, the customization and ways you can play the game are nearly endless, there are a plethora of side-quests and “defend the settlement” missions to keep you coming back, the DLC is all very fun and add a unique element to the core game, and most importantly Fallout 4 allows the player to play the way they want to. Fallout 4 is as deep or as shallow as you want it to be – this is how games should be.
7. Ori and the Blind Forest
Released March 11, 2015. Metacritic score: 88%
Ori holds a very special place in my heart. The opening 5 minutes of this game are powerful enough to make anyone get watery-eyes, and after that, the game becomes one of the best pure platforming adventure games to release in the past two decades. Ori is challenging but fair – it is akin to the games of the NES-SNES era when games were actually difficult. The art style is mesmerizing, the soundtrack is one of my favourite soundtracks in a video game ever, and the level design is masterful. If you like a challenging game, Ori is a game you shouldn’t miss. If you don’t like a challenging game, do yourself a favour and listen to the soundtrack.
Released June 29, 2016. Metacritic score: 93%
Like Limbo before it, Inside is a game that you need to experience for yourself to fully appreciate just how good it is. A short 2-3 hour experience, Inside raises a lot of questions and doesn’t provide many answers – a fascinating take on the human experience. There isn’t too much to say about this game other than it’s a must play, just like Limbo.
5. Forza Horizon 3
Released September 23, 2016. Metacritic score: 91%
Finally, the Horizon series has overtaken the Motorsport series as the premier racing experience on Xbox. Horizon is easily the most fun I’ve ever had in a racing game. The gorgeous Australian landscape provides a unique and breathtaking environment for you to drive in. And that’s important – as good as Horizon is on controls and the core racing experience, it’s just as much a visual experience. The way the sunset gleams off of the ocean, the way that rain muddies dirt paths, the sun beaming down on the wet course… it all comes together packaged with the best racing experience in the world. Horizon is a series that shouldn’t be missed, and like Horizon 2 before it, is much more catered to the casual racing fan.
4. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
Released September 1, 2015. Metacritic Score: 95%
The Phantom Pain is one of the best games I’ve ever played – period. Kojima and his team successfully crafted a game vast in scope yet focused in the experience of the game. The world of The Phantom Pain is believable, beautiful, and expansive. The experience of building Mother Base, sending your troops on side-ops, completing side-quests, upgrading your gear, and piecing together the main story all comes together in one of the best complete gameplay experiences ever made. Metal Gear shouldn’t be missed.
3. Sunset Overdrive
Released October 28, 2014. Metacritic Score: 81%
Sunset Overdrive is GTA on acid – an experience so unique and such a joy to play – yet it criminally sold well below expectations in part due to the negative first-taste of the Xbox One reveal. Sunset Overdrive needs to be played – the game still holds up today graphically and it controls like a dream. Sunset Overdrive made me laugh as much as South Park – a feat that no other game has done. The combat is unique, dynamic, and ridiculous in the best way possible. The DLC is equally hilarious, and well worth the small purchase price. The game is cheap to buy – please buy it. The game deserves a sequel, and the best way to make that happen is to have as many people play the first one as possible. Even if it doesn’t get a sequel, Sunset Overdrive is one of the best experiences you can have and you can only have it on an Xbox One.
2. Gears of War 4
Released October 11, 2016. Metacritic Score: 84%
Gears of War 4 was an absolute treat – a full call-back to the original Gears of War, which ironically is the game’s biggest flaw. I wish Gears 4 would have taken more risks instead of sticking very closely to the original game’s plot, but regardless of that the game is arguably the best Gears of War game ever. The new squad of JD & crew are finding their way in the world when everything goes to hell – and with the help of the old squad they manage to get through it all. The campaign has a great flow to it, the level design is very solid, the gameplay has been polished to near-perfection, it’s arguably the best game on Xbox One visually, and the multiplayer is back in a big way. What more, horde mode makes a big return and is extremely fun to play with friends (not so much alone, as many people quit early). If you’re a fan of the old Gears of War games, Gears 4 is just as good and arguably better. The future is very bright for the Gears franchise.
1. Halo 5: Guardians
Released October 27, 2015. Metacritic Score: 84%
Aside from the questionable narrative decisions in the campaign, Halo 5: Guardians is the best game on Xbox One. The campaign, while flawed in narrative, is still very fun to play. The new squad mechanics do not add much to the game unfortunately, but other than that the level design, gameplay mechanics, controls, and visual quality are all very strong. The real star of Halo 5 is it’s incredible multiplayer. While not as good as the legendary Halo 2 multiplayer, Halo 5 effectively brings the franchise up to speed with the faster pace of modern shooters while still maintaining much of what made Halo multiplayer special in the first place. Forge mode is more powerful than ever, which has allowed for some incredible community-made maps to enter matchmaking. Warzone was an interesting idea that unfortunately is bogged down in microtransactions, but the rest of the multiplayer modes and the quality and fine-tuning behind it makes Halo 5: Guardians a must-play experience.
Honourable Mentions: Remasters
Halo: The Master Chief Collection
Released November 11, 2014. Metacritic Score: 85%
If the MCC wasn’t so broken, it would be the best experience on the Xbox One. The good news is that they’re fixing it. Broken aside, the game is one of the best collections in gaming history, with Halo: CE Anniversary Halo 2 Anniversary, Halo 3, Halo 3:ODST, and Halo 4 all packed into the game complete with multiplayer and forge support.
Released August 4, 2015. Metacritic Score: 84%
Rare Replay is a fantastic callback to Rare’s storied history in video games. From humble beginnings to Banjo & Conkers, all the way up to Viva Pinata, Rare Replay holds a fantastic group of games (along with some forgettable ones, mind you). For less than $30 now, it’s an easy purchase decision to replay some of Rare’s best games back in the day.
Gears of War: Ultimate Edition
Released August 25, 2015. Metacritic Score: 82%
It’s funny looking back at Gears of War – in 2006 those graphics were revolutionary on a console. Now, it looks like a mess; the game did not age well. Ultimate Edition cures many of the graphical flaws of the first game and adds longevity to the visuals that should keep this game looking great for years to come. Keeping intact the exact same game that released in 2006, but updating it for 2015 was a treat to play through. The original Gears of War is a very special game, spawning 4 sequels and launching Microsoft’s 2nd largest franchise behind only Halo.
What are your favourite Xbox One games? Comment below – do you generally agree with my list, or do you have other favourite games?