Best Xbox One Games Windows Central 2021
As the Xbox library continues to mature, we now have quite literally hundreds of amazing games worth playing on Microsoft's console platform. Whether you're a veteran or a newcomer looking for something to play, we've compiled a list of the biggest, brightest, and best games we've played since the Xbox One launched back in 2013.
- Overall Pick: Red Dead Redemption 2
- Editor's Pick: The Outer Worlds
- Best RPG: The Witcher 3
- Best Competitive Shooter: Rainbow Six Siege
- Best Campaign Shooter: Prey
- Best Co-Op: Monster Hunter World: Iceborne
- Best Racing: Forza Horizon 4
- Best Open World: Assassins Creed: Odyssey
- Best Stealth: Desperados III
- Best Action Adventure: NieR: Automata
- Best Horror: Resident Evil 2
- Best Survival: The Long Dark
Best Xbox One Games: Overall — Red Dead Redemption 2
Whether you have an Xbox One S or a 4K-powered Xbox One X, there is one quintessential experience you cannot live without on Microsoft's home console. Rockstar Games' reputation for unrelenting quality continues in Red Dead Redemption 2, which is an open-world adventure on a whole other level.
Unprecedented environmental detail, dynamic ecosystems, storytelling worthy of Hollywood, and uncannily realistic character presentation coalesces to make Red Dead Redemption 2 the ultimate Xbox One experience. Set in the closing days of the classic "Wild West" era, one of the region's last surviving criminal gangs attempts to rebuild their fortunes after a disastrous run-in with an increasingly powerful federal law system.
Red Dead Redemption 2 is first and foremost a story-driven game, where you'll guide Arthur Morgan and the Van der Lin Gang across a risky parade of daring heists, train robberies, and gang wars. Spanning five fictional US states across a wide variety of terrain, with all sorts of compelling missions and side objectives, Red Dead Redemption 2 is a must-have title for any library.
- Engrossing story
- Great character acting
- Incredible visuals
- Huge amount of content
- Satisfying combat
- Online systems aren't great
- The opening is a bit slow
Best Xbox One Games: Editor's Pick — The Outer Worlds
For our latest Editor's Pick, we're choosing The Outer Worlds, for dragging Bethesda's neglected Fallout formula into the modern era.
Built by Obsidian Entertainment, The Outer Worlds sports all of the same wit, charm, and consequences as Fallout New Vegas, against a backdrop of stunning sci-fi scenery and tight RPG shooting gameplay. The Outer Worlds is an absolute must-buy for RPG fans everywhere, especially those who miss the good ol' days of Fallout 3, New Vegas, and Mass Effect.
Set in a distant colony lightyears from the Solar System, The Outer Worlds is a vision of what full-blown unregulated capitalism looks like, where serfdom, starvation, and desperation hits all corners of this near-failed colonial space experiment.
At its core, The Outer Worlds is a shooter through and through, with tight gunplay mechanics and satisfying physics. The Outer Worlds follows some of Obsidian's RPG traditions as well, however, with dialogue choices and a branching narrative that affects the outcomes of the story. You decide what kind of space farer you are, and how you'll build and customize your story. The Outer Worlds is an excellent title, well-worth your attention.
- Gorgeous sci-fi worlds
- Satisfying and responsive combat
- Excellent character depth and writing
- Choices that actually matter
- Available in Xbox Game Pass
- Companion A.I. isn't the best
- UI could use some improvements
Best Xbox One Games: RPG — The Witcher 3
The Witcher 3 held our "best overall" Xbox One game for years for a good reason, like Red Dead Redemption 2, it is a masterpiece in its own right. Built by CD Projekt RED, The Witcher 3 is unequivocally the best RPG on Xbox One today, by a fairly huge margin too. Set in a dark, medieval-inspired fairy tale land, The Witcher 3 follows Geralt of Rivia's attempts to track down his protege, Ciri. Along the way, Geralt gets caught up in all sorts of political intrigue, trading his supernatural hunting services for coin and information.
The Witcher 3 is packed with dozens of hours of content, which will push to well over 100 hours if you pick up the stellar expansion packs along with it. Exceptional methodical combat, stunning visuals, and harrowing monsters.
- Stunning visuals
- Incredible writing and cinematics
- A massive cast of memorable characters
- Satisfying, violent combat
- Consequence-heavy story decisions
- RPG progression systems lack depth
Best Xbox One Games: Competitive Shooter — Rainbow Six Siege
Cranking out its fourth year of free post-launch updates, Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Siege's tactical shootouts continue to draw millions on Xbox One. It's growing roster of playable Operators define its hero-style gameplay, depicting elite counterterrorism forces for both offensive and defensive play. Backed by a lineup of ultra-competitive, destructible arenas, Rainbow Six Siege rewards strategy and resourcefulness over raw firepower. There's simply no other multiplayer shooter on the market that matches Ubisoft's tense, skill-driven battlefront.
With Operator and map knowledge essential, there's a sharp learning curve for new Siege recruits. However, upon grasping those underlying mechanics, map flow, and gadget synergies, Rainbow Six Siege's perfected formula comes to light.
- Precise, smooth gunplay
- A diverse lineup of Operators and gadgets
- Competitive, refined multiplayer maps
- Free updates all year round
- Sharp learning curve for new players
Best Xbox One Games: Campaign Shooter — Prey
Prey is an incredible story-driven shooter from Arkane Studios, set aboard the Talos I space station. Set in an alternative world timeline, Prey follows the discovery of a mysterious alien species, and humanity's experiments on the creature's physics-bending abilities. As you might expect, things go south pretty quickly, and you find yourself as one of the station's remaining survivors.
Prey follows the immersive sim tradition, drawing inspiration from the likes of Deus Ex, System Shock, and Bioshock, where player agency is the game's signature calling card. You can choose to play as a pure human, focusing on technology and weaponry as your primary combat focus. However, you can also choose to splice your DNA with the typhon alien genetic material, gaining access to a range of wild powers.
With an emphasis on puzzle-solving, passive world-building narrative, and exploration, Prey is an underrated gem that fans of games like Dead Space and Bioshock must not miss.
- Huge areas to explore
- Tons of playstyle customization
- Subversive story
- Satisfying combat mechanics
- Frequent loading screens, particularly towards the end
Best Xbox One Games: Co-Op — Monster Hunter World: Iceborne
Monster Hunter World is a massive action RPG with a ton of things to see, do, and kill, and the mammoth-esque Iceborne expansion makes it even better. As a hunter, your job is to study the game's diverse fantasy ecosystems and eliminate dangerous encroaching predators that threaten the balance. Various monsters, wyverns, and other gigantic creatures swarm through the game's varied locations, and you and up to three friends can take on a wide range of creatures of all shapes and sizes.
With dozens of weapon types for all sorts of playstyles, a load of armor types, upgrades, and on-going content updates, Monster Hunter World: Iceborne is a leading co-op action game that has quickly become Capcom's most successful game of all time. Since the game launched, Capcom has baked in dozens of free items, major events, new monsters, and entire additional areas to keep the gameplay loop fresh, and the loot addiction rolling.
Monster Hunter World: Iceborne isn't for everybody by any means, and its complexity can be a daunting mountain to climb for newcomers, but if you can crack its mysteries, few games this gen have been as rewarding.
- Exciting monster battles
- Piles of loot to obtain and craft
- Satisfying combat
- Steep learning curve
- Needlessly complex connectivity systems
Best Xbox One Games: Racing — Forza Horizon 4
Forza Horizon has always been the racing game that everybody can enjoy, but for the fourth outing in the series, it kicked everything up a notch. It's the most ambitious entry yet with a vast shared world experience paired with weekly content updates to keep players engaged and entertained week in, week out.
It's a technical triumph, offering 4K HDR visuals on Xbox One X, a performance mode with a 60 FPS frame rate, and an almost entirely destructible environment. And thanks to Microsoft initiatives like Game Pass and Play Anywhere, Forza Horizon 4 is accessible to more players than ever before.
- Massive open shared world gameplay
- One of the best looking games on any platform
- Constant content updates
- Abundant loading screens
- Ranked multiplayer matchmaking is slow
Best Xbox One Games: Open World — Assassin's Creed: Odyssey
Assassin's Creed: Odyssey perfects the franchise's push into deeper RPG territory, taking place within a staggeringly vast Ancient Greece open world. Full of noteworthy historical sites, piles of reasons to explore both overground and underwater, Assassin's Creed: Odyssey is one of Ubisoft's most impressive open-world games to date.
Following the events of Assassin's Creed: Origins, Odyssey follows a young Animus researcher who dives back into Ancient Greece to piece together more puzzles from the game's overarching sci-fi story. Odyssey features full naval combat systems, playstyle tailoring through RPG mechanics, and a vast world full of unique animals to hunt, locations to plunder, and of course, baddies to assassinate.
Since launch, Assassin's Creed: Odyssey has beefed up its campaign with piles of story DLC that delve deeper into Greek mythology, and expand upon the franchise's overarching mysteries.
- Gargantuan open world
- Some of the best Xbox One X visuals to date
- Satisfying melee combat
- Can feel a tad repetitive at times
Best Xbox One Games: Stealth — Desperados III
Desperados III came virtually out of nowhere, reviving a decades-dormant stealth game with a tactical, Wild West-edge.
Desperados III puts you in command of a small party of miscreants in the Old West. Revolving around a tale of revenge and fortune-seeking, you'll fight your way through various highly-detailed locales with an isometric view, setting up ambushes that make the OK Corral seem pedestrian.
You'll start off in old America, where corrupt businessmen vie for control of the expanding country. You'll follow their trail deep into superstitious swamps and neon-lit young cities like New Orleans. The game gives you a truly huge toolkit for stealth and assassination, letting you create complex kill machines with knock-on effects like a Rube Goldberg machine. Each level also comes with some maddeningly tough challenges, if you want to push your wits to the limit.
Desperados III was a true surprise for me, with a great plot, great visuals, and great characters that keep you engaged throughout.
- Rich, detailed environments
- Rewarding, real-time tactical gameplay
- Hugely satisfying
- Surprisingly good plot
- Can be tough for newcomers
Best Xbox One Games: Action Adventure — NieR: Automata
NieR: Automata is one of the most unique and complex games of the gen, combining enticing and addicting gameplay with a deep, philosophical narrative into one cohesive experience. Its world is as intriguing as it is beautiful, and its themes will make you consider topics that have baffled some of humanity's greatest minds for generations.
Set in a distant future where civilization has been wiped out by a mysterious army of crude machines, Nier Automata follows the android "2B," representing one of humanity's final last-ditch attempts at investigating the threat across the surface of Earth, and figuring out a way to eventually return from their orbital sanctuary space stations. Things are, however, certainly not as they seem.
Its complexity and depth may be a deterrent if you simply want to sit back and relax while you game, but if you want a story that will challenge you to think critically with some of the greatest audiovisual sequences of the gen, there are few better games for this on Xbox One.
- Challenging narrative full of twists
- Incredible soundtrack
- Explosive combat
- A lot of backtracking and re-used areas
Best Action Adventure
Become as Gods
NieR: Automata is an award-winning hack n' slash action game with some light RPG elements, set in the ruins of apocalyptic earth. Mysterious robots have taken over the planet, and the remnants of humanity send advanced androids in attempts to retake Earth.
Best Xbox One Games: Horror — Resident Evil 2
Resident Evil 2 is a legendary 90s horror game, completely remade for the current generation. Resident Evil 2's 2019 remake proves that the original had a timeless formula, set in a city-wide zombie outbreak that tears into the locals, mutating humans and animals alike (and even some plants).
Resident Evil 2 follows rookie cop Leon, and local Claire, searching for her brother, caught up in a massive bio-engineering disaster. Benevolent and corrupt big pharma company Umbrella Inc has been playing God, manufacturing "positive" viruses that have incredible healing properties. Problematically, they've also been working to weaponize and militarize the same technology, leading to an unprecedented viral outbreak that has flooded Racoon City with the living dead.
Solve the puzzles in the iconic museum-turned-police station, evade the hulking unliving bioweapon Mr. X, and scavenge for supplies in zombie-infested sewers. This is a must-buy title for horror fans, representing decades-long legacy that will remain timeless.
- Stunning, horrific visuals
- Terrifying atmosphere
- Satisfying gunplay
- Voice acting hasn't evolved since the 90s
- Missing a few areas from the original, where's my giant moth at?
Best Xbox One Games: Survival — The Long Dark
The Long Dark is a stunning survival simulator from Hinterland Games, set in the icy climbs of Canada. Following a plane crash, you find yourself stranded in the Canadian wilds. A mysterious meteorological disaster has thrown the climate into chaos, driving local wildlife into an unnaturally aggressive frenzy.
The Long Dark is often referred to as "the lonely apocalypse." Although the excellent story mode does have characters, the sandbox version is very much an exercise in isolation. It's you versus the freezing wilds, filled with animals driven mad by the mysterious polar shift.
Armed only with the soaking clothes on your back, you'll have to lunge into the blizzard and scavenge for supplies, hunt and cook your own food, gather firewood to resist hypothermia, repair damaged clothes, and fashion weapons from anything and everything you can find. If you're lucky you may find a gun, if you're even more lucky you'll find some ammunition for it.
- Vast open-world survival
- Well-balanced systems and mechanics
- Tons of locations to explore, and hazards to overcome
- Performance isn't always the best
- Visuals look a bit dated
The Long Dark
Long, cold winter
The Long Dark is an incredible survival game set in northern Canada. A meteorological disaster causes your plane to crash in the wilderness, sending temperatures plummeting and driving the local wildlife insane. Your only aims are to scavenge, craft, and survive.
Best Xbox One Games: Platformer — Ori and the Will of the Wisps
Ori and the Will of the Wisps is a beautiful, hand-painted platformer set in a magical forest world. Guiding the cat-like creature, Ori, you'll embark on a quest to save your friends and home from a seeping corruption.
With tight, acrobatic platforming, upgraded combat, Ori and the Will of the Wisps stuns with its haunting music, atmospheric locations, and challenging gameplay.
- Intense platforming action
- Beautiful worlds
- Moving narrative
- Honestly, nothing really
Ori and the Will of the Wisps
An stunning, emotional showcase
Ori and the Will of the Wisps is an industry-leading action platformer, with incredible hand-painted visuals and satisfying acrobatic combat. You play as a magical cat-like creature called Ori, on a quest to save the forest from corruption.
Best Xbox One Games: Puzzle — Inside
Inside is a haunting puzzle platformer from Playdead, expanding on the concepts pioneered in the studio's previous title, Limbo. In Inside, you control a young boy through a monochromatic dystopian hellscape, with Lynchian industrial overtones and a grisly authoritarian undercurrent.
Throughout the game, you'll be called upon to solve various logic puzzles that test your brains, and occasionally your reactions. The protagonist is being pursued by the game's mysterious authority, whose true nature slowly reveals itself as you march through this evocative title.
- Gorgeous presentation and sound
- Unnerving silent narrative
- Challenging, satisfying puzzle action
- No replayability
Best Xbox One Games: Strategy — Mutant Year Zero
Mutant Year Zero is a turn-based strategy game with RPG elements. In Mutant Year Zero, you control a small team of mutants in defense of the last free human civilization in a distant post-apocalypse. All remnants of our world are in ruin, pieced together by speculation and rumors by the last surviving humans.
With grid-style turn-based tactical combat, Mutant Year Zero is an excellent take on XCOM-style gameplay conventions, with lots of unique areas to explore.
- Satisfying and strategic combat
- Intriguing apocalyptic world
- Fun narrative and storytelling
- Performance can be iffy at times
Mutant Year Zero
A quirky post-apocalypse
Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden is an apocalyptic turn-based strategy game, where you aim to protect the last free human colony from various apocalyptic threats. Oh, you play as a team of mutants, by the way, including a giant duck and a boar man. For reasons.
Best Xbox One Games: Simulation — Surviving Mars
Surviving Mars is an addictive simulation game, set on the Red Planet. In Surviving Mars, it's up to you to set up your very own space colony, including all the problems therein. Your colonists need oxygen, food, water, and shelter from the violent hazards that exist on Mars.
In Surviving Mars, you'll grow your colony from a single small dome into a sprawling exoplanet city, complete with drone workers, and eventually, terraforming facilities.
- Addictive, satisfying simulation mechanics
- Gorgeous, well-optimized visuals
- Great balance between simulation and strategy
- Late-stage gameplay isn't as engaging as it could be
Best Xbox One Games: Graphic Adventure — Life is Strange
Life is Strange is an evocative graphic adventure game set in a fictional Pacific North Western town in the US. Max Caulfield is an art student with a focus on photography, who ends up with a mysterious power.
In a community filled with horrible secrets, Life is Strange's unique time-bending game mechanic that allows you to experience different branches of your story decisions in real-time. Max teams up with her rebellious childhood friend, Chloe, in an attempt to figure out what ties together a missing girl, the town's shady characters, and a devastating supernatural storm.
- A gripping, emotional story
- Unique time-travel mechanics
- Visuals and animations aren't the best
Best Xbox One Games: Fighting — Killer Instinct
Killer Instinct is an incredible combo-heavy fighting game from Iron Galaxy and Microsoft, based on the 90s games of the same name. The game has a couple of dozen fighters for all sorts of playstyles, with iconic combo-breaking tactical layers on top of relatively accessible fighting gameplay.
- Great netcode and server infrastructure
- Fun, accessible combat with tons to master
- A cast of quirky characters for various playstyles
- Piles of cosmetics to unlock
- Story content isn't well-executed
Killer Instinct is a unique combo-heavy free-to-play fighting game from Microsoft. With over two-dozen varied combatants, tons of cosmetics to unlock, great netcode, and plenty of solo content, Killer Instinct is still easily the best fighting game on Xbox One.
Best Xbox One Games: Sports — Rocket League
Rocket League is what happens when you combine soccer and jet-powered RC racers in confined sci-fi stages. In Rocket League, your goal is to bash the ball into the opposing team's net, scoring points on the way to victory. Heavily physics-based, Rocket League rewards those who take the care to master its nuances. The best players are those that master the game's more advanced moves, gliding through the air and wall riding.
With tons of free updates, cross-platform play, and lots to unlock, Rocket League has kept millions hooked for years.
- Smooth performance
- Lots of arenas and gameplay modes
- Short gameplay rounds
- Cross-platform play
- Matchmaking algorithms aren't great at making competitive matches
Best Xbox One Games: For Kids — Minecraft
Minecraft is a legendary crafting and building game from Mojang and Microsoft. Set it infinitely procedurally generated random worlds, comprised of various types of landscape environments, Minecraft encourages its players to do anything they like. Build gigantic structures, set up farms, tame animals, protect villagers, or explore the Hellish Nether, Minecraft is a game that keeps on giving, extensible with mods and free updates.
- Endless creativity
- Large free content updates every few months
- Full cross-platform support for multiplayer
- Dedicated "Realms" servers are expensive to rent
- Promised visual upgrade packs have been delayed
Best for Kids
Best kids game ever
Not just the best kids game on Xbox One, but very possibly the best kids game of all time. Minecraft (Bedrock Edition) can bring together games from phones, tablets, VR, Nintendo Switch, PC, and Xbox, all inside a single game for some digital Lego survival goodness.
Red Dead Redemption 2 retains the top spot for its majesty, vision, and cover-to-cover excellence. Few games have begun to approach what Rockstar has achieved with Red Dead Redemption 2, which is ultimately the example by which all other open-world action games should follow.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Jez Corden is a full-time writer for Windows Central, focusing on Xbox, Surface, and Windows PC. He spends the vast majority of his time gaming or writing about gaming, with a mission to provide gamers in the Microsoft ecosystem the best and most up-to-date info possible.
Matt Brown is a staff writer at Mobile Nations for Windows Central. Following years of professional consumer technology and gaming coverage, he's focused on the world of Xbox and Windows PCs. You can follow him on Twitter @mattjbrown.
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