If you're looking for a teen-rated gift for a loved one, or you're a teen yourself looking to give something new a try (and your parents won't let you play mature-rated games... at least openly), take a look at our list of curated picks of the vety best Xbox One games available today.
Note: This collection features games that achieve a "Teen" ESRB rating in the United States, and while it should correspond to a "Teen" rating in most other markets, it may differ per region.
STAR WARS: Jedi Fallen Order (opens in new tab)
Star Wars games are often sub-par, which is why I'm elated to report that Jedi Fallen Order bucks the trend, and then some. Built by EA's most acclaimed studio Respawn, Jedi Fallen Order charts events between the prequel-trilogy and the dark times, following the fall of the Jedi at the hands of Darth Vader. This game is unmissable.
Kingdom Hearts is what happens when the worlds of Disney and Final Fantasy collide and, in return, is one of the industry's greatest crossover franchises. Kingdom Hearts is an action RPG set across several well-known Disney franchises, including Monsters Inc, Pirates of the Caribbean, Toy Story, and Frozen, topped off with some cameos from characters from the Final Fantasy world.
Before Fortnite, Overwatch was the latest shooter hotness, and it's still going strong! Overwatch is a team-based sci-fi shooter with a colorful, diverse cast of characters and a ton of free updates and events. Compete in teams of six across a variety of objectives and find which mode works best for you.
If you're looking for something a little slower and more tactical, consider the turn-based sci-fi strategy of XCOM 2. Set in an apocalyptic dystopic Earth, humanity has been occupied by a legion of aliens and mutants, enslaved on a global scale. It's on you, then, to take the fight back on a global scale with crafty guerilla warfare, and a range of evolving sci-fi tech.
Rocksmith, unlike Guitar Hero, actually teaches you to play the guitar, using gamification, an existing electric or electro-acoustic guitar, and Rocksmith's official cable. Rocksmith trains players to master an array of staple songs, with studies to back up the fact it actually does improve guitar skills for all guitarists, from beginner to pro.
Not a phase, mom!
Fortnite is a free-to-play title, but if you want to grab a gift for a Fortnite-fanatic friend or loved one, this is a great bundle to start with. It comes with some edgy "emo" style cosmetics, perfecting for a brooding teen who definitely isn't having a phase.
Co-op shooter glory
Destiny 2 is a connected shooter perfect for cooperative play with friends, and the latest expansions, titled "Forsaken," and "Shadowkeep" improved the general quality of the game by leaps and bounds. The Upgrade Collection includes everything you'd need to get started.
Hunt the world
One for the more determined teens, Monster Hunter: World is a challenging co-op action RPG set in a vast world full of giant monsters. While it's not as casual as something like Fortnite, gamers who really like to sink their teeth into a truly deep game will find it as rewarding as it is difficult.
Rock the Dragon
Dragon Ball FighterZ is an action-packed fighting game set in the popular Dragon Ball anime universe. Play as famous characters like Goku, Frieza, Vegeta, and Cell, across various story-based campaigns and in competitive play.
The Sims is a timeless franchise all about creating your very own, well, life, with simulated inhabitants. Customize their homes, their lifestyles, and much more, in what is quite possibly one of the most addictive time-wasters on the market.
While Dark Souls and Dark Souls III sport a "mature" rating, Dark Souls II managed to slip under the ESRB-radar somewhat, but it's still dark, violent, and difficult. Dark Souls is a bit of a phenomenon, known for its incredibly challenging and incredibly rewarding action-RPG gameplay — if the player is brave enough, that is.
Final Fantasy XV: Royal Edition pulls together all of the action RPG's story content into one glorious bundle, making for a vast journey across a wide, fantastical world. A war between nations has torn the world apart, and it's on you as the surviving, rightful heir, to reclaim your throne and protect the innocent.
Racing, with an edge
Need for Speed Heat is the latest racer from EA, and praise the Maker; it strips out all the microtransactions that derailed Need for Speed's last outing. Unlike the fuzzy wackiness of Forza Horizon, Need for Speed Heat is all about street racing, evading law enforcement, and being a bad guy. It's Forza with a side of edginess, and who doesn't like that?
Wholesome fun, mostly.
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While the good stuff tends to reside in the mature-rating bracket, there's still tons of great fun to be had with generally more wholesome, age-appropriate stuff.
By far and away the best game on this list is currently Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order, which not only presents official story details between the events of Episode III and Episode IV, but also offers seriously challenging gameplay for those who want to test themselves. It's truly unmissable.
Additionally, RPG fans should take a look at Final Fantasy XV (opens in new tab), which is an excellent example of a teen-friendly story with plenty of drama and suspense, while games like Overwatch (opens in new tab) continue to be fast-paced co-op competitive fun with frequent updates to keep them fresh.
If you're still looking for ideas, you should look at our top Xbox picks for kids as well.
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Jez Corden a Managing Editor at Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by caffeine. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his Xbox Two podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!
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