The Xbox One (and soon, the Xbox Series X runs Xbox 360 games via emulation, and as a result of the Xbox One's superior hardware, the games often run far better as well. When backward compatible games launched, they usually did so with all of their DLC, complete with online services intact.
Sadly, no new games are being added at this time, but there are already dozens of the greatest titles on offer. The full list of available games can always be found here.
Here's a comprehensive list of our picks for the best games that you must play available on Xbox One's backward compatibility, in no particular order.
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (opens in new tab)
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare is arguably what caused the franchise to explode into the FPS juggernaut we all know it as today. Thankfully, Activision and Microsoft have preserved the console version for all eternity by including it in the backward compatibility program, complete with online systems intact.
Alan Wake captures Remedy's affinity for slick, shooter action and throws the player into a creepy, mystery-laden narrative. Alan Wake and his wife travel to a fictional town in rural America, only to discover that things are certainly not what they seem in Bright Falls. It's up to Alan Wake to find out why a horror novel he can't remember writing appears to be coming to life, threatening everything he holds dear.
Dead Space is arguably the best survival horror game launched for the Xbox 360, and here's why. Dead Space takes cues from the likes of Resident Evil 4, with claustrophobic over-the-shoulder shooting in dark, winding mazes. Dead Space is a beloved survival horror title with satisfyingly gory shooter gameplay and paranoid atmospherics. This is a must-play title for horror fans everywhere.
Stealth 'em up
Deus Ex Human Revolution follows the exploits of Adam Jensen, who is an augmented cyborg operative tasked with unraveling a global corporate conspiracy. The game takes place in several wide-open gameplay hubs, which support alternate routes and many different styles of play. Deus Ex Human Revolution packs in dozens of hours of gameplay and must be experienced by sci-fi fans everywhere.
Pardon the double entry, but it's hard to mention one without the other! Fallout 3 and New Vegas bring a blend of apocalyptic first-person shooting, open-ended RPG mechanics, complete with a branching narrative. New Vegas can be buggier than Fallout 3, but its abundance of choice-driven quests make the game a little more rewarding. Both titles are excellent and remain two highlights of the X360 generation.
Dragon Age Origins introduced the popular RPG franchise's universe in an explosive, bloody way. The dreaded Darkspawn are invading, and it's up to you as one of the few remaining Wardens, to beat the Darkspawn back and save the continent from destruction. Dragon Age Origins is one of the most rewarding RPG stories, with story decisions that truly matter.
Save the galaxy
Mass Effect is an RPG shooter developed by BioWare, famed for Knights of the Old Republic and Dragon Age. Mass Effect's ambitious gameplay and tremendous branching narrative make it an addictive, highly rewarding series. Every game is worth playing, with Mass Effect 2 and 3, especially more than holding up even against modern blockbusters.
The old west
Red Dead Redemption is a quintessential game based in the Wild West. Enjoy satisfying slow-motion gunslinging, dozens of side-activities, all manner of humorous, moving and exciting quests, and epic Wild West scenery in one handy package. At the same time, we wait patiently for the next entry in the Red Dead series.
Old school witcher
The Witcher 2 sets the stage for the events of The Witcher 3, with the Northern Kingdoms besieged by war and civil disobedience. Geralt of Rivia finds himself caught up in the violence, as he hunts a rogue witcher to clear his name for the assassination of King Foltest. Throughout, you'll grow in strength, defeat giant monsters, and unravel a medieval-fantasy conspiracy that threatens the entire nation.
In XCOM: Enemy Within, you take charge of an elite task force set up to defeat an encroaching global alien invasion. In combat, XCOM is a turn-based strategy game, taking place on grid-based maps spanning various types of terrain across the world. When you're not battling increasingly dangerous and complex aliens, you're developing XCOM's underground base of operations, building new facilities, and researching all sorts of new technology.
What's your favorite?
Microsoft announced Xbox backwards compatibility at their E3 press conference in 2015. At the time, it was the most requested feature on the Xbox UserVoice feedback site, but it never seemed particularly likely to become a reality. Xbox head Phil Spencer announced backward compatibility, not only stating that the Xbox One would gain hundreds of titles as part of the system but also that currently owned licenses and discs would "just work," thanks to the emulation.
Since then, every major publisher has contributed games to backward compatibility, from Activision to EA, to Bethesda and beyond. Microsoft worked hard to resolve the licensing issues surrounding getting more Xbox 360 games onto the Xbox One emulator. Still, the team has since shifted focus to getting licenses in place for Project XCloud game streaming. Maybe they'll return to backward compatibility again in the future.
What's your favorite backward compatible title? Are there any you think should be included on this list? Let us know in the comments.