Best Xbox One Games Windows Central 2019

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.

Best Overall: Red Dead Redemption 2

Windows Central Best Award

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 huge variety of terrain, with all sorts of powerful missions and side objectives, Red Dead Redemption 2 is a must-have title for any library.

Pros:

  • Engrossing story
  • Great character acting
  • Incredible visuals
  • Huge amount of content
  • Satisfying combat

Cons:

  • Online systems aren't great
  • The opening is a bit slow

Best Overall

Red Dead Redemption 2

A masterpiece.

The quintessential Xbox One masterpiece, Red Dead Redemption 2 sets the standard for gameplay, visuals, and storytelling.

Editor's Pick (May 2019): World War Z

For our May 2019 Xbox editor's pick, we're jumping on World War Z, which is a Left 4 Dead-like co-op shooter with an emphasis on massive zombie hordes and individual character progression.

Built on the same license as the popular World War Z movie, World War Z is a surprisingly solid title with a lengthy, character-driven campaign, a variety of progression upgrades and mechanics, and satisfying gunplay. Beyond guns, there is an array of other tactical weapons, including chainsaws, turretts, and traps, with levels divided up into run n' gun sections and stationary, Horde-style defensive portions. World War Z is an excellent option for Xbox games looking for a fresh co-op adventure, and it's relatively cheap, with no microtransactions, too.

Pros:

  • Good price
  • Huge, dynamic zombie hordes
  • Varied maps and gameplay scenarios
  • Lots to unlock and digest

Cons:

  • Physics and animations are a bit janky

Editor's Pick (May 2019)

World War Z

Shred some Zeds

World War Z is a 4-player co-op action game with an emphasis on gigantic zombie hordes, character unlocks, and more.

Best RPG: The Witcher 3

The Witcher 3 held our "best overall" Xbox One game for years for 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.

Pros:

  • Stunning visuals
  • Incredible writing and cinematics
  • A huge cast of memorable characters
  • Satisfying, violent combat
  • Consequence-heavy story decisions

Cons:

  • RPG progression systems lack depth

Best RPG

The Witcher 3

An essential RPG

The Witcher 3 is an awe-inspiring RPG full of romance, political intrigue, and of course, monster slaying.

Best 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.

Pros:

  • Precise, smooth gunplay
  • Diverse lineup of Operators and gadgets
  • Competitive, refined multiplayer maps
  • Free updates all year round

Cons:

  • Sharp learning curve for new players

Best Competitive Shooter

Rainbow Six Siege

Relentless tactical shooting

Rainbow Six Siege is an aggressively strategic shooter from Ubisoft, taking place in claustrophobic urban levels complete with environmental destruction, tons of tactical gadgets, and an emphasis on teamplay.

Best 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.

With an emphasis on puzzle solving, passive world-building narrative, and exploration, Prey is an underrated gem fans of games like Dead Space and Bioshock must not miss.

Pros:

  • Huge areas to explore
  • Tons of playstyle customization
  • Subversive story
  • Satisfying combat mechanics

Cons:

  • Frequent loading screens, particularly towards the end

Best Campaign Shooter

Prey

Atmospheric sci-fi shooting

Prey is an incredible (and underrated) atmospheric shooter that combines the best of Dead Space tension and Bioshock-like evocative world building.

Best Co-Op: Monster Hunter: World

Monster Hunter: World is a massive action RPG with a ton of things to see, do, and kill. 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 are able to take on a wide range of creatures of all shapes and sizes.

Sporting dozens of weapon types for all sorts of playstyles, a load of armor types, upgrades, and on-going (free) content updates makes Monster Hunter: World a leading co-op action game.

Pros:

  • Exciting monster battles
  • Piles of loot to obtain and craft
  • Satisfying combat

Cons:

  • Steep learning curve
  • Needlessly complex co-op systems

Best Co-Op

Monster Hunter: World

Hunt monsters with your friends

Monster Hunter: World is an incredible co-op RPG where you and up to three friends can hunt down gigantic monsters and craft incredible gear.

Best 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 huge 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.

Pros:

  • Huge open shared world gameplay
  • One of the best looking games on any platform
  • Constant content updates

Cons:

  • Abundant loading screens
  • Ranked multiplayer matchmaking is slow

Best Racing

Forza Horizon 4

Race in a stunning British-inspired landscape

Forza Horizon 4 is an essential racing game experience, taking place across a stunning re-imagining of British landscapes.

Best 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.

Pros:

  • Gargantuan open world
  • Some of the best Xbox One X visuals to date
  • Satisfying melee combat

Cons:

  • Can feel a tad repetitive at times

Best Open World

Assassins Creed: Odyssey

Adventure in Ancient Greece

Assassin's Creed: Odyssey is an essential open world title, taking place in a colossal recreation of ancient Greece.

Best 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 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 devestating supernatural storm.

Pros:

  • Engrossing, emotional story
  • Unique time-travel mechanics

Cons:

  • Visuals and animations aren't the best

Best Graphic Adventure

Life is Strange

Twin Peaks for your Xbox

Life is Strange is a hit story-driven episodic adventure game. Controlling Max Caulfield, you'll guide her through a small-town murder mystery with a dash of time-travelling supernatural intrigue.

Best Action Adventure: NieR: Automata

NieR: Automata is one of the most unique and complex games ever, 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.

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, there's no better game on the Xbox One.

Pros:

  • Challenging narrative full of twists
  • Incredible sound track
  • Explosive combat

Cons:

  • A lot of backtracking and re-used areas

Best Action Adventure

NieR: Automata

Become as Gods

NieR: Automata is an award-winning hack n' slash action game with some light RPG elements, set in the ruins of an apocalyptic earth. Mysterious robots have taken over the planet, and the remnants of humanity send advanced androids in attempts to retake Earth.

Best 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. Solve the puzzles in the iconic museum-turned-police station, evade the hulking Mr. X, and scavenge for supplies in zombie-infested sewers. This is a must-buy title for horror fans.

Pros:

  • Stunning, horrific visuals
  • Terrifying atmosphere
  • Satisfying gunplay

Cons:

  • Voice acting hasn't evolved since the 90s
  • Missing a few areas from the original, where's my giant moth at?

Best Horror

Resident Evil 2

The best is back

The Resident Evil franchise suffered a bit of a lull for a while but returned with spine-chilling gusto on the backs of Resident Evil 7 and the Resident Evil 2 remake. Resident Evil 2 proves the original classic from the 90s had a timeless formula.

Best Survival: The Long Dark

The Long Dark is a stunning survival simulator from Hiterland 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.

In The Long Dark, you'll scavenge supplies, fashion weapons, and ultimately survive, managing your hunger, third, and of course, temperature.

Pros:

  • Vast open world survival
  • Well-balanced systems and mechanics
  • Tons of locations to explore, and hazards to overcome

Cons:

  • Performance isn't always the best
  • Visuals look a bit dated

Best Survival

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 wildnerness, sending tempretures plummeting and driving the local wildlife insane. Your only aims are to scavenge, craft, and survive.

Best Platformer: Ori and the Blind Forest

Ori and the Blind Forest 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 home from corruption.

With tight, acrobatic platforming and satisfying magical combat, Ori and the Blind Forest stuns with its haunting music, atmopsheric locations, and challenging gameplay.

Pros:

  • Intense platforming action
  • Beautiful worlds
  • Moving narrative

Cons:

  • Honestly, nothing really

Best Platformer

Ori and the Blind Forest

An stunning, emotional showcase

Ori and the Blind Forest is an industry-leading action platformer, with incredible hand-painted visuals and satisfying acrobatic combat. You play as a cat-like magical creature called Ori, on a quest to save the forest from corruption.

Best 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 game's mysterious authority, whose true nature slowly reveals itself as you march through this evocative title.

Pros:

  • Gorgeous presentation and sound
  • Unnerving silent narrative
  • Challenging, satisfying puzzle action

Cons:

  • No replayability

Best Puzzle

Inside

Dystopian puzzling

Inside comes from the creators of Limbo, with a similarly stylish side-scrolling puzzle adventure, set in an equally sobering setting. Guide a young boy on his escape from a dystopian regime, and discover the horrors of this dark world's society.

Best 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.

Pros:

  • Satisfying and strategic combat
  • Intriguing apocalyptic world
  • Fun narrative and story telling

Cons:

  • Performance can be iffy at times

Best Strategy

Mutant Year Zero

A quirky post-apocalypse

Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden is an apocalyptic turn-based strategy game, where your aim is 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 Simulation: Surviving Mars

Surviving Mars is an addictive simulation game, set on the Red Planet. In Surviving Mars, its up to you 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.

Pros:

  • Addictive, satisfying simulation mechanics
  • Gorgeous, well-optimized visuals
  • Great balance between simulation and strategy

Cons:

  • Late-stage gameplay isn't as engaging as it could be

Best Simulation

Surviving Mars

Become Matt Damon, sorta

Surviving Mars is an addictive sci-fi simulator where players are tasked with the colonization of the titular Red Planet. Expand, manage oxygen levels, food, and water, while navigating dangerous hazards.

Best Stealth: Hitman 2

Inside the mind of the iconic barcode-branded assassin, Hitman 2's lineup hosts some of Agent 47's most ambitious heists yet. Built upon shared foundations with the 2016 episodic reboot, the latest title explores six missions across half a dozen locations; from dense jungles of Colombia to a blazing Miami raceway.

Blending in with the crowd is vital, leveraging an extensive lineup of gadgets, disguises, and tailored scenarios to eliminate targets in style. The best assassins will kill victims in plain sight and cover the tracks, making for a stealth experience like no other.

Pros:

  • Rich, detailed environments
  • Rewarding and flexible stealth gameplay
  • Highly replayable

Cons:

  • Light main narrative

Best Stealth

Hitman 2

Ultimate assassination

Hitman 2 is the ultimate assassination simulator, set in huge sprawling stealth puzzles packed with all sorts of tools and weapons for getting the job done. Packed with on-going mission updates, Hitman 2 will last for dozens and dozens of hours.

Best 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.

Pros:

  • Great netcode and server infrastructure
  • Fun, accessible combat with tons to master
  • Cast of quirky characters for various playstyles
  • Piles of cosmetics to unlock

Cons:

  • Story content isn't well-executed

Best Fighting

Killer Instinct

C-c-c-combo breaker

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 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 mode 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.

Pros:

  • Smooth performance
  • Lots of arenas and gameplay modes
  • Short gameplay rounds
  • Cross-platform play

Cons:

  • Matchmaking algorithms aren't great at making competitive matches

Best Sports

Rocket League

Soccer, rockets, and racing

What happens when you combine rocket-powered sports cars with soccer? You get Rocket League. Dash across a wide range of neon-washed stages and game modes in this high-octane sports game that is addictive as it is fun.

Best 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.

Pros:

  • Endless creativity
  • Large free content updates every few months
  • Full cross-platform support for multiplayer

Cons:

  • Dedicated "Realms" servers are expensive to rent
  • Promised visual upgrade packs have been delayed

Best for Kids

Minecraft

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.

Bottom line

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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