Developer: Respawn Publisher: EA Release date: 2014 Play Anywhere? No
I, probably like a few others, could defend Titanfall until I’m blue in the face. While it’s hard to argue that the lack of a campaign did nothing to hurt its longevity, Respawn’s wild new FPS was a thrillride while the going was good.
Featuring parkour, giants robots, and an almost impossibly frenetic pace, Titanfall was a shot in the arm for the FPS genre on the Xbox One, but for whatever reason, most people didn’t stick around for long. The playerbase dwindled and its lobbies emptied over time, leading many gamers to claim that it had “died”.
While that wasn’t entirely the case (it maintained a dedicated following through its lifetime), things were improved for its sequel, Titanfall 2: a game with less sales but remarkably higher acclaim. It’s almost moot to check the original Titanfall if you haven’t yet, though you can get it for “free” with EA Access.
9. Forza Motorsport 7
Developer: Turn 10 Studios Publisher: Microsoft Studios Release date: 2017 Play Anywhere? Yes
You should always know what you’re getting with a Forza game: gorgeous visuals and some of the most pinpoint controls for a racing game that you will find on the market. In that regard, Forza Motorsport 7 might be one of the best in the series and comes packed to the gills with content. You could get dozens of hours of it without even realising.
It’s a pity, then, that Microsoft and Turn 10 Studios had to bend the knee to industry conventions and jam in loot crates where they don’t belong. It feels so inorganic and completely against the ethos of Forza as a whole –playing to unlock extra content– that you might be comfortably better off playing one of the earlier games in the franchise instead.
9. Quantum Break
Developer: Remedy Publisher: Microsoft Studios Release date: 2016 Play Anywhere? No
Here’s a fun little fact for you: I totally forgot about Quantum Break until about two thirds of the way through writing this. Ironically, plenty of people forgot to even check out the game upon release – it struggled to meet sales expectations. Make no mistake, though, Remedy’s video game/movie hybrid is worth checking out.
Featuring neat time mechanics and some decent performances from its cast, the video game portion of Quantum Break offers a solidly enjoyable experience. It’s when the control is taken out of the player’s hands, however, that the game suffers. Its cutscenes, however well produced, just leave players itching to get back into the fray, which contributes towards Quantum Break feeling like a worthwhile experiment with mixed results. It’s still worth experiencing so hunt around for a pre-owned copy if you can.
7. Dead Rising 3
Developer: Capcom Vancouver Publisher: Microsoft Studios Release date: 2013 Play Anywhere? No
Not the best Dead Rising game but certainly not the worst, Dead Rising 3 launched for the Xbox One to a warm reception. It had more zombies on-screen than ever and a bigger environment to kill them in, though common complaints were made about its darker tone and less likeable protagonist.
The game has its defenders and just as many detractors, though there is a pretty easy way of finding out if Dead Rising 3 will be for you or not. Do you like killing hundreds of the undead and doing battle with obese American women? You’ll love it. Just try not to let the single tear roll down your cheek when you see all of its antiquated Kinect and SmartGlass mechanics.
6. Sea of Thieves
Developer: Rare Publisher: Microsoft Release date: 2018 Play Anywhere? Yes
It feels a little weird placing Sea of Thieves anywhere on this list, purely because, well, it’s not really what it’s supposed to be just yet. It’s drastically lacking content and variety and just doesn’t match the full pirating experience that many were hoping for. Sea of Thieves remains a work-in-progress for Rare.
But, and this is an important but, if you can grab a few friends and play online together to sail the seven seas, Sea of Thieves may just be the most fun game on Xbox One — if only for a little while. It creates a lot of hilarious and memorable moments, but you feel that Sea of Thieves will need more meat on its bones if it’s going to last the distance. Watch this space.
5. State of Decay 2
Developer: Undead Labs Publisher: Microsoft Studios Release date: 2018 Play Anywhere? Yes
Perhaps I am missing something, but State of Decay 2 isn’t the disaster many have been painting it as, merely the natural progression and evolution from the original game. Boasting better combat, deeper mechanics, and loop that keeps pulling you back, it, for my money, is a far superior game and one of the best zombie games around.
Though it may have launched in a shoddy state, State of Decay 2 was still overflowing with content, allowing gamers to live out their dreams of surviving through the post-apocalypse in greater detail than ever. Its micro-management may be too much for some, but nobody ever said that eking out an existence in an open world game overrun by the undead would be straightforward.
4. Gears of War 4
Developer: The Coalition Publisher: Microsoft Studios Release date: 2016 Play Anywhere? Yes
A surprisingly polarising new entry in the series, Gears of War 4 is likely to appeal to anyone who’s a fan of the long-running shooter franchise. Newcomers might come away a little confused, however, especially when it comes to returning characters and the backstory involved.
Gears of War 4 is essentially just more Gears of War with better graphics and a couple of minor gameplay tweaks. Its campaign is decent but not quite groundbreaking, though most of your time will probably be sponged up by its multiplayer. Yes, the microtransactions are a little invasive, but Horde mode is just as fun as ever to buddy up with a friend on and unwind with.
3. Halo 5: Guardians
Developer: 343 Industries Publisher: Microsoft Studios Release date: 2015 Play Anywhere? No
Another polarising return for a beloved Xbox property, Halo 5 showed that the industry might have changed too much for the franchise to once again sit on the FPS throne, but also that it still definitely had a place in the gaming landscape. Halo is Halo and will always be better than most of its peers.
A misleading marketing campaign led to disappointment for many and those that enjoyed it still had their gripes, but Halo 5 kept the secret franchise formula for the most part. It lost split-screen and added microtransactions while tweaking the speed of the gameplay to mixed results, but Halo 5 is still one of the best games of its kind on the console.
Developer: Insomniac Games Publisher: Microsoft Studios Release date: 2014
Play Anywhere? No
Insomniac’s true Xbox One exclusive being ahead of the last two games might be a controversial choice, but whereas Halo 5 and Gears of War slightly expanded and arguably struggled to improve on the groundwork laid by their predecessors, Sunset Overdrive represented something completely fresh.
An open-world shooter, Sunset Overdrive gives the player a huge playground to grind through and shoot crazed mutants in. It’s a breathless and chaotic game with a generous side-helping of infantile humour which doesn’t always bring laughs, but it makes up for it with its vibrancy and dumb fun appeal.
When you combine that with heaps of customisation and unlockable skills, you could do far worse than sinking a couple of dozen hours into this supremely underrated gem.
1. Forza Horizon 3
Developer: Playground Games Publisher: Microsoft Studios Release date: 2016 Play Anywhere? Yes
We’re only picking one game from each Forza “thread”, otherwise it would just be littered with Forza titles. Ever since the series began, each new Forza effort has maintained a consistent quality and attention to detail that you don’t see in many other racing games, but Forza Horizon 3 might just be at the top of the pile.
Taking the action to sunny Australia, Forza Horizon brings its impressive garage to bursting point with an impressive amount of new vehicles. The same polished handling and small tweaks to the overall experience amount to one satisfying ride, so be sure to get behind the wheel if you’re yet to. If you’re looking for a writer who doesn’t make racing puns, I may not be your guy.
What did you think to this list? Any I missed? Let me know down below, but while we have you here, we have more Xbox for your fine self. There’s a pretty sturdy guide for the best overall Xbox One games you ought to take a gander at, as well as all the upcoming Xbox One games for 2019. If you want to check out the competition, we have the equivalent for PS4 and Switch, too.
UPDATE: 08/07/17 – Superhot drops out of the list thanks to its new PS4 edition. UPDATE: 13/10/17 – Cuphead runs and guns its way in.
UPDATE: 20/03/18 – Forza 7 and Super Lucky are added.
UPDATE: 19/04/18 – Sea of Thieves shanties on on.
UPDATE: 11/06/18 – State of Decay 2 shuffles its way in.
UPDATE: 07/03/19 – Candleman makes way thanks to its ports for Crackdown 3.
UPDATE: 20/03/2019: Cuphead drops out thanks to its Switch port. Had to change all the numbers, goddamnit.
UPDATE: 05/03/2020: Ori and Super Lucky’s Tale nudged off due to Switch, and Black Desert. More number changes, heck sake.
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