Paul's top Xbox One games of 2015

Since the Xbox One launched in late 2013, the console's software library has grown exponentially each year. 2014 was a fine year for Microsoft's latest console, but 2015 is where it really came into its own. Several of Phil Spencer's (head of the Xbox division at Microsoft) projects and big-name exclusives came into fruition, and the floodgate of downloadable indie titles never seemed to close.

Your friendly neighborhood Games Editor has combed through those games big and small to bring you this list: The 11 best Xbox One games of 2015. And if you're feeling negative, see the Worst Xbox One Games of 2015 as well.

Best Beat 'em Up: Castle Crashers Remastered

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Originally released on Xbox 360 way back in 2008, Castle Crashers from indie developer The Behemoth became an early standout XBLA hit during a time when mainstream gamers were still learning to accept downloadable games. One to four players could select a knight and embark on a humorous quest to rescue four princesses from an evil wizard's army.

Castle Crashers Remastered showed up on Xbox One almost out of nowhere, touting several welcome improvements like HD textures, an uncapped 60 FPS framerate, a brand new mini-game called 'Back Off Barbarian,' new menus, and numerous minor rebalances and tweaks. Most excitingly for owners of the original version, they could get the Xbox One game for free for a short time after release. Previous owners who missed out on the free promotion can still save $5 on Castle Crashers Remastered.

Castle Crashers Remastered

The beat 'em up genre is not the most highly-populated nowadays (Rock Zombies was the only other Xbox One entry in 2015). Few games have exceeded Castle Crashers' scope since 2008 — only Charlie Murder, Scott Pilgrim, and Phantom Breaker: Battlegrounds come close. But nothing truly tops Castle Crashers.

Part of Castle Crashers' longevity comes from the simple but addictive character leveling and loot systems that make revisiting past levels worthwhile. We can chalk the rest up to the game's subversive (and occasionally juvenile) sense of humor, memorable and expressive character artwork and backgrounds, and both local and online co-op for four players.

Castle Crashers Remastered doesn't stray much from the original design, but the bump in textures and frame rate ensures that it looks as good on Xbox One as we remember it looking on 360. Teaming up with a friend or three and laying into hordes of enemies proves just as addictive now as it ever did. The faster loading and streamlined menus certainly help.

Castle Crashers Remastered

The new 'Back Off Barbarian' mini-game involves hopping around environments and dodging enemies using only the four face buttons or arrows. I doubt anyone will play it once they unlock its Achievement, but the 360 version's mini-game (absent in Castle Crashers Remastered) wasn't any more enjoyable. Shame the game still only has 12 Achievements, but at least they pay out 1,000 Gamerscore here instead of 200.

I regret that we didn't review Castle Crashers Remastered, but it's sort of a game that speaks for itself. If Remastered proves anything, it's that Castle Crashers deserves a sequel. And The Behemoth really needs to release games more frequently than once every few years!

Buy Castle Crashers Remastered at ($14.99) (opens in new tab)

Best Twin-Stick Shooter: Crimsonland

Crimsonland is one of the more robust games to come from 10tons, a developer known mostly for its casual games. The Steam version of Crimsonland is a modern remake of a classic PC game of the same name. That remake would come to mobile and PlayStation platforms before eventually landing on Xbox One.

The meat of the Xbox One version is its 70-level campaign (10 of which are Xbox exclusive). The goal in each level is simple: kill everything. The more things you eliminate, the more blood coats the ground. A meter at the top of the screen indicates how many enemies remain. Once the meter fills and the last monster dies, you can move on to the next level. You'll also unlock a weapon, perk, or game mode.

Crimsonland Xbox One

Crimsonland also packs six distinct survival modes in which players can compete for higher leaderboard scores. Only a few of those modes have any real staying power, but they will certainly provide a challenge to Achievement hunters. And every mode in the game supports 4-player local co-op, so you never have to face the alien hordes alone.

Although its simplistic visuals won't turn any heads, Crimsonland still won its way into my heart thanks to its healthy arsenal of unlockable weapons and perks. Nearly every new level you beat unlocks a new weapon or perk, so you're constantly earning new stuff. These will then appear in subsequent levels, adding variety to your quests. Beating levels and unlocking new gear just doesn't get old.

Crimsonland Xbox One

The only big weakness in Crimsonland's gameplay is its uneven difficulty. A few particular levels are far harder than the rest due to annoying spider enemies that split in two when shot and the random nature of weapon drops. One Achievement is also tied to a 2048-style puzzle mini-game, which is neither fun nor fair to players.

Still, Xbox One owners who dig twin-stick shooters won't find a better example of the genre than Crimsonland.

Buy Crimsonland at ($13.99) (opens in new tab)

Best Fighting Game: Dead or Alive 5 Last Round

Dead or Alive 5: Last Round is the latest evolution of Dead or Alive 5, with all the characters, stages, and modes from the previous versions of DOA5 plus some new characters and features. Fighting fans can buy the whole game outright for $40 (a steal), or grab the Core Pack of eight fighters for free.

Last Round offers a multitude of modes to keep players busy, starting with Story mode. The story menu consists of multiple pathways dotted with battles. These battles star a variety of different characters, giving players a taste of the game's cast and some of their relationships with one another.

Other single-player modes include Arcade, Time Attack, and Survival. None of these has story-based endings (like you might expect from Arcade), but they're all good fun. Each offers the choice of fighting in solo or tag battles. Online players can challenge you while you go through single-player modes, which helps take the boredom out of matchmaking.

Dead or Alive 5 Last Round for Xbox One

Although Xbox One already has a solid fighting game in Killer Instinct, Last Round still provides a worthwhile alternative. This one is fully 3D, with players able to move in any direction rather than being confined to a 2D plane. The 3D presentation includes gorgeously colorful graphics and character models, stages with destructible walls and secret areas, and some very * ahem * bouncy ladies. But you can turn off the bounce and play it as a serious fighting game, so don't let the exaggerated body physics turn you away.

Dead or Alive 5: Last Round is a big, beautiful fighting game that can easily be enjoyed by both fighting beginners and experts. We'll be streaming it as part of our Koei Tecmo stream series in 2016, so don't miss it!

Dead or Alive 5: Last Round review

Best Adventure: The Fall

Xbox One saw several fine adventure titles in 2015, including King's Quest (which would be in this list if episodes weren't still coming) and Minecraft: Story Mode. But my favorite entry combines traditional point-and-click adventuring with Metroidvania-like nonlinear platforming and an engrossing science fiction narrative.

The Fall starts out with a bang, with a protective suit-clad person hurtling through space. As the suit plummets towards a lone planet's surface, its artificial intelligence (known as ARID) kicks in and prevents the suit and its wearer from being destroyed.

The Fall for Xbox One

Unlike so many other games, you don't play as the person inside the suit here. Instead, players control the female-voiced ARID. Her job is to protect the unconscious wearer, and so she immediately seeks out a medical facility within the planet's ruined industrial complex. But it soon becomes clear that ARID and her passenger are not alone. Another suit wearer has been crucified on a communications pole, and a mysterious figure stalks our protagonists from afar.

Metroidvania-style platformers traditionally feature expansive maps with areas the player can't reach until finding upgrades later in the game. The Fall cleverly incorporates these mechanics with ARID's status as an AI. She can't access the suit's full suite of abilities until life-threatening situations arise that require them.

Gameplay consists of running, jumping, and climbing ledges as you search for clues as to what happened inside the facility and a way to save the suit pilot. ARID will also acquire a gun that helps not only in combat, but also in your search for parts and items. Aiming the gun's flashlight allows you to highlight and interact with the environment, a clever integration of traditional point-and-click mechanics.

The Fall for Xbox One

The actual controls for interacting with objects leave something to be desired, though. You have to hold a shoulder button and use the analog stick to navigate context-sensitive menus whenever you need to pick up or otherwise interact with something. It's quite clunky, but you get used to it. Occasionally getting stuck on puzzles and a few missable Achievements are the only other real annoyances.

The Fall ends on a revelation that you shouldn't let anyone spoil for you. Despite the cliffhanger ending and promise of a sequel, this is a complete game rather than an episodic title like many modern adventure games. Sci-fi fans won't find a more intriguing tale among Xbox One's 2015 lineup.

Buy The Fall at ($9.99) (opens in new tab)

Best Shooter: Gears of War Ultimate Edition

Microsoft published two huge shooters in 2015: Gears of War Ultimate Edition and Halo 5. Choosing between the two of them for this list presented a challenge. In the end, Gears wins out because its campaign is simply much better than Halo 5's — and it offers split-screen co-op. Play through the story alone or with a friend and you'll quickly see what made Gears of War such a system-selling game back in the Xbox 360 days.

Gears of War is a third-person shooter. While modern shooters tend to play similarly, the first Gears introduced clever mechanics like the active reload system that stand out even today. Instead of just pressing a button once to reload, players have the option to press the button again at precisely the right moment (indicated by a meter at the top of the screen) to perform an active reload. This completes the reload faster and makes the reloaded bullets deal extra damage.

Gears of War Ultimate Edition

Gears didn't invent the concept of taking cover to avoid enemy fire, but it did create the most intuitive cover system in gaming. Players can tap the A button when standing next to nearly any wall or object to take cover behind it. From there you can aim and fire (popping out slightly) or blind fire without raising your head. Tap the button again to hop out of cover. On the whole, the cover system just works, with very few instances of missing, taking, or leaving cover unintentionally.

Of course Gears of War always played great, but the Ultimate Edition updates the game's visuals to modern standards as well. The new version features new-and-improved character models and textures, and it runs at 1080p and a solid 30 FPS (and 60 FPS in multiplayer) to boot. Other enhancements include a previously PC-only campaign section, several extra multiplayer maps, and new options and tweaks here and there.

Gears of War Ultimate Edition

Gears of War is one of the best third-person shooters of all time, with a distinct personality and world and plenty of innovative and refined gameplay mechanics. Even if you knocked out the original on Xbox 360, the Ultimate Edition is well-worth a visit for its memorable campaign and satisfying competitive multiplayer modes.

Gears of War Ultimate Edition review

Best Free to Play: Gems of War

I could hardly write this list without including Gems of War, one of my current favorite Xbox titles. Gems is a spiritual successor to Puzzle Quest – a match-3 puzzle-RPG with endless hours of content and PvP gameplay. It's also one of the rare free to play games that never stops being fun even if you don't buy anything.

The hallmark of the Puzzle Quest series is its match-3 puzzle battles, and that's just what you get in Gems of War. Matching three or more gems of the same color makes them disappear, and it also provides your team of warriors with mana of that color type. Each troop on your team has a unique offensive or defensive spell you can call on after building up enough mana. Alternately, matching skull gems delivers a physical attack without consuming resources.

Gems packs a hefty single-player campaign with over 15 kingdoms to conquer. Each of these locations offers numerous Quests and Challenges to complete. These all amount to battles against AI opponents, but they still provide lots of rewards and goals to work towards. The XP earned from battles helps level up your primary hero, and other resources will level your troops or help unlock new kingdoms.

Gems of War Xbox One

Single-player content aside, the real fun comes from asynchronous multiplayer battles. You can invade other players' kingdoms or suffer invasions of your own. The winner gets a pile of gold and earns Trophies that contribute to multiplayer rank. Meanwhile, joining a guild allows you to cooperate with other players towards common goals and unlock numerous bonuses. Windows Central ranks among the top 30 guilds as of this writing!

Free to play games aren't too common on Xbox One yet. And as with mobile, many free to play games suffer from cynical design that aims to milk players of their real-world money. But Gems of War ranks right up there with Warframe (one of my 2014 faves) as a game that's fun to play for free and paying players alike. Puzzle fans won't be able to put it down.

Get Gems of War at (Free with In-app Purchases) (opens in new tab)

Best Indie Co-op: Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime

One of the best things about indie games is how different they are from the mainstream. Lovers takes place in a very different universe in which a machine called the Ardor Reactor allows explorers to travel the galaxy and unite its peoples with love. When the forces of Anti-Love manage to destroy the Ardor Reactor, it falls upon the heroic Lovers to put things right.

In Lovers, one or two players will have to pilot a spherical ship through exotic levels as they seek to rescue Space-bunnies and other hostages from their Anti-Love captors. Finding all of the hostages in each randomly generated level will allow our heroes to escape to the next level and unlock new ships and upgrades.

Several games on this list play fantastically in co-op, but Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime benefits from truly distinct cooperative design. One person can pilot the ship, but you can't attack or man the shield while piloting. That's where the other player (or AI in single-player) comes in. Both astronauts must scramble from station to station, cooperating to navigate and avoid danger amid barrages of enemy fire.

Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime

Lovers' cooperative nature also leads to its greatest weakness. Playing by yourself just isn't nearly as fun as bringing along a partner. When playing solo, you'll choose an AI co-pilot and assign it to various stations on the ship. But bossing around an imperfect AI doesn't feel nearly as good as working things out with a friend.

Even though I don't recommend Lovers as a solo game, it makes a perfect couples games. The delightfully cute setting and deep gameplay (with selectable difficulty levels) will appeal to friends and significant others like. Team up and share the love!

Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime review

Buy Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime ($14.99) (opens in new tab)

Best Collection: Rare Replay

This Xbox One exclusive celebrates the legacy of Microsoft's UK-based Rare studio. Since 1985, Rare has made games for a number of platforms including personal computers, NES, Nintendo 64, and Xbox consoles. The studio languished on Kinect titles for a while, but Rare Replay hopefully marks Rare's return to glory.

Rare Replay

Rare Replay collects 30 games spanning from 1985-2008. A few of my favorites: Battletoads Arcade, the Banjo Kazooie platformers, Jetpac Refuelled, RC Pro-Am I and II, and Viva Piñata: Trouble in Paradise. Grabbed by the Ghoulies for the original Xbox has even been remastered here rather than emulated, so it looks better than ever.

As much as I love this trip through Rare's history, some of the developer's best games didn't make it into the collection. Not just Nintendo-published titles like Goldeneye and Donkey Kong Country, either. Microsoft chose the aged Conker's Bad Fur Day instead of the vastly superior remake Conker: Live and Reloaded, and the crappy NES Battletoads is here rather than the much-better Super NES sequel. And a few games like Conker's just control terribly, which could have easily been fixed for Rare Replay.

Rare Replay

What Rare Replay really does right is teach modern gamers about the studio's history and provide incentives to play through older games. Snapshots are new optional goals that will unlock bonus content and Achievements when completed. That overall progression system will keep you hopping from game to game — even the really old ones. For the low price of thirty bucks, you're sure to find something to appreciate in Rare Replay.

Rare Replay review

Best Roguelike: Rogue Legacy

The Roguelike is a genre that has really blossomed along with indie gaming. Some traits of Roguelikes include randomly generated levels, large numbers of helpful and harmful items to discover, and usually some form of "Permadeath" – the inability to continue upon dying.

All four Roguelikes that came to Xbox One in 2015 are great: Rogue Legacy, Ziggurat, Quest of Dungeons, and Binding of Isaac: Rebirth. But Rogue Legacy is tops thanks to its tight Castlevania-style action-platforming mechanics and superior metagame elements.

Rogue Legacy

Rogue Legacy (Image credit: Cellar Door Games)

Each time you play Rogue Legacy, you'll select from three randomly generated adventurers from a great family. Each varies in many ways, including gender, appearance, class, spells, special techniques, and traits. And each time you die, you'll have to start again as a randomly-generated heir with new traits and abilities.

The most fun (and sometimes frustrating) aspect of Rogue Legacy's character randomization is the trait system. Each hero has one or more attributes that can affect gameplay to varying degrees, such as colorblindness, near-sightedness, ADHD, Alzheimer's, and many more. They might make the game harder or easier, and they'll always keep you on your toes.

Rogue Legacy

Likewise, the cursed castle in which the game takes place also reconfigures itself for each new adventurer. You'll run, jump, and fight through it Castlevania-style, seeking out gold to spend on upgrades between games. Eventually these upgrades make your family strong enough to reach and defeat the bosses that guard each region of the castle.

Not only is Rogue Legacy the best Roguelike on Xbox One to date, I'd also peg it as one of the very best 2D action-platformers of the year – even better than Ori and the Blind Forest. Fans of platforming and exploration will love this legacy.

Rogue Legacy review

Buy Rogue Legacy at ($14.99) (opens in new tab)

Best Licensed Game: Transformers Devastation

Licensed games don't tend to turn out very well (aside from the Batman: Arkham series), and the first Xbox One Transformers game certainly proved that. But we have to give Activision props. The publisher contracted Japanese developer Platinum Games (makers of the Bayonetta series) to create a game based on the original Transformers cartoon, and it turned out really well!

Transformers Devastation

Transformers Devastation begins just like an episode of the classic 80s TV series. Megatron and his villainous Decepticons are attacking a human city, so the heroic Autobots must stop him. The story comes to life through beautiful cel-shaded animation that closely resembles the show, and it even features authentic voices for characters like Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, Megatron, and Soundwave.

Whereas past Transformers games played like third-person shooters, Devastation actually plays more like Bayonetta. Each of the five playable Autobots can hack and slash at the Decepticreeps, transforming to vehicle form and back as they pull off stylish combos. Players even get to battle against massive bosses like Devastator. Shooting and driving are present too, but you'll spend more time on melee combat and platforming.

Transformers Devastation

The only downsides to Devastation result from its relatively low budget. The city environments all look alike, and the game is a bit on the short side. But just like Bayonetta, Platinum designed this one to be replayed on all five difficulty levels. Progress carries over between playthroughs, so your team keeps gaining better loot and higher stats needed to take on higher difficulties.

If you like Transformers or Japanese-style action games, Devastation will "transform and roll out" straight into your heart.

Best RPG: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

For RPG enthusiasts, the battle for overall Game of the Year comes down to just two titles: Witcher 3 and Fallout 4. By most accounts, Witcher 3 offers superior role-playing elements (despite not having custom characters), whereas Fallout 4 leans a bit too much on combat and shooting this time around. If you only have the time or resources for one, I suggest siding with the Witcher.

The Witcher started life as a Polish fantasy novel series (now available in English (opens in new tab), but CD Projekt Red's games have really done more to popularize the property than anything else. A quick recap eases new players in, explaining that protagonist Geralt and his few fellow Witchers are monster hunters for hire — skilled fighters capable of casting spells called Signs. Geralt's goal in the third game is to save his lover Yennefer and protégé Ciri from the ghostly Wild Hunt.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

Unlike previous games, Witcher 3 is a full-on open-world game. Geralt can explore the vast land at will either on foot or horse. The story and sidequests here are unusually deep and interesting though, filled with morally ambiguous choices and memorable characters. The Witcher 3 is one of the more mature RPGs around, in fact. Brutal death, nudity, and other adult themes permeate the game… but it still has a sense of humor, too.

Hopping into an established series for the first time can be rough, yet The Witcher 3 goes out of its way to please fans and newcomers alike. The combat and especially menus are still a bit unintuitive, but those are small imperfections in an otherwise massive and exceptional game. I only wish I had more time to devote to this game and its expansion!

Witcher 3: Wild Hunt review

About these picks

I did not consider exclusivity when choosing my favorite Xbox One games of the year. And I only considered games that I actually played, which means a few well-loved games couldn't be on this list. Games I wish I could've played:

  • Batman: Arkham Knight
  • Dying Light
  • Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
  • Rise of the Tomb Raider
  • The Swapper

Still, this year of Xbox One games kept me busier than I could've imagined. We can look forward to even more games – big and small – in 2016. And don't miss my Worst Xbox One Games of 2015 roundup, guys and gals. It's a rare instance of me breaking my number one rule: "Don't hate; appreciate."

Did you play any of my favorite 2015 games, awesome readers? Let us know what you thought of them!

Paul Acevedo is the Games Editor at Windows Central. A lifelong gamer, he has written about videogames for over 15 years and reviewed over 350 games for our site. Follow him on Twitter @PaulRAcevedo. Don’t hate. Appreciate!

  • How come you didn't play top games of the year? Arkham Knight, tomb raider, fallout?
  • He has other games he has to play and review.  There is only so much time in the day.
  • Are you his butler?
  • Lol
  • Nope....and people like you are the reason some folks hate comment sections. 
  • He isn't but I am.. You rang sir?
  • Because not every over hyped game is good. They mostly over-shadow excellent games.
  • IMHO those ratings are given by other entities, so I would consider this to be an alternative source for game reviews. Otherwise we will always be playing top games of the year and nothing else, right?
  • I wish I was any good at Rogue Legacy....very fun though!  There is going to be a lot of games people haven't played on here yet.
  • Where is Halo, Forza and Lara??? Boooo
  • He said Halo lost out to Gears because the campaign sucked, which it did. The story was lame.
  • I didn't like being Locke as much as I was, but in general I thought the actual story was awesome. The scene where chief puts a smack on Locke was awesome.
  • Story was ok, but playing the campaign overall was extremely repetitive and felt lacking. I was also very uninspired by the music
  • if the story was so good i would have finnished it and continued to play the game. i am sitting on level 3 start.  hm. maybe I might play halo today.
  • To be fair, Gears' campaign isn't all that good, and it's 9 years old.
  • Yeah, I didn't like the gears campaign but I enjoyed halo, but its all personal opinion.
  • Gonna have to try castle crashers now.
  • great choice!
  • No Halo 5, This is one heck of a honest top ten list. ;")
  • Lol cant say the same for ign gs being that they are paid by publishers in the form of ad revenue
  • Well, this site also has giveaways that are often from the publisher as well.
  • And you well know our giveaways are not paid by other companies. ~ ~
  • Are your Saturday Twitch codes not from the publishers?
  • Right, they are donated but they don't pay us and we don't pay them.
  • Our This Week in Xbox News giveaways are paid by us, just fyi!
  • Jez you can pay me to like you know game. Just send me the free games!
  • Last Halo I played and actually enjoyed was Halo 2. Halo 3 is still sitting on the shelf, unfinished. Bummer. 
  • How can I respect a list that says, "I didn't play Dying Light?" It's my favorite campaign of 2015 for sure, with the poor multiplayer the only reason I'm not sure if it's my outright #1 game for last year.
  • What makes you the authority on video ratings, or qualified to dictate the authors time?
  • Paul does say that it is "his" list of favorites for 2015, not "the" list of best games of 2015. And yeah I am sure there are quite a few out there that didn't make the cut, I got my money's worth back from buying my son Skylanders and Disney Infinity 3.0 -the new Toybox is a whole lot of fun- but those were not there either. And I'll lie if I say Infinity is not on my favorites for 2015 
  • "what no Blops 3" nobody will ever say.
  • I'm presuming these selections further endorse the studios and management behind the titles themselves. Yay for passive-aggressive journalism! Seriously though. Thanks for certain omissions.
  • Paul is a part time writer who has a family and another job. He can only play so many games in a year. Watch his Saturday night twitch streams and get to know him before you crucify him for not playing your favorite game and omitting it.
  • Misinterpretation. My gripe with modern journalism extends far beyond the purview of video games. But given the constraints set forth by advertising partners, sponsors, etc. his interpretations, selections, and choice format is great. In a way, video game journalism has sort of "reclaimed" some credibility this year. This redemption includes Paul here at WinC along with several other writers at many more outlets. While I would prefer more assertive criticism pertaining to the administration of certain Microsoft franchises, a snub is better than nothing negative.
  • When it comes to our video game coverage, none of the publishers actively endorse or reward what we do here.
  • Good PR speak. But again to remind you - as if you need reminding - the issue extends beyond here. Technically, video game journalists aren't saying anything critical about franchises by omitting them from their "tops" list. All the while, Microsoft seriously compromises its ethics by complaining about a certain absence. It is an unfortunate situation that media coverage has devolved to this point. If these writers are in such a jam whereby the only means they have to make a critical statement is by omission from a meritorious list, the creative cages surrounding the administration of news outlets must be discouraging. +1 for the video game journalists. Also seriously, get new people to administrate the Halo series. The ones there now are a bunch of conniving twits.
  • PR speak? I'm just a guy telling you how it is. I couldn't possibly get any more frank about it, lol What sort of critique would you like to see from us? I didn't tow the line on MGSV or Fallout 4 in my reviews. Would've been in my interests to say FO4 was amazing and perfect cus Bethesda have been typically reluctant to provide us with early access to their games, but I would've found it to be immoral/dishonest.
  • Konami screwed HK. Screw em. As for FO4, I can't say much as I'm currently on gaming sabbatical. Longtime Halo player, my concern is with the Halo series. I've been calling for new leadership at Micrsoft's Halo division since Ballmer was replaced by Nadella who replaced Mattrick with Spencer. There's too much negativity associated with the people currently tasked with heralding the series. That's almost two years. My gripes with them are numerous, but can be traced back to mismanagement of multiplayer (no ranks, 4 maps per playlist) and the release of paid DLC atop the Halo 4 season pass Having several news outlets (destructoid, Polygon, The Next Web, IGN multiplat, Game Awards) omit Halo 5 from their GOTY lists is the closest thing to criticism Microsoft's Halo division has received. Gaming blogs should have blasted them for MCC. Why didn't they?
  • Reviewers had a tough time criticizing Halo MCC's broken multiplayer because we assumed it'd be fixed upon release or shortly thereafter. Once it continued having problems, Kotaku and many sites reported on those problems and subsequent patches. That said, MCC offers a robust campaign package, so it's entirely possible for a reviewer to recommend it for the campaigns alone. And nowadays, thankfully, the package seems to be fixed. In the future, MCC will serve as a cautionary tale against compiling too many complex games with separate online multiplayer components in a single package. A project of that scale has never been done before or since on consoles (that I know of).
  • Well aware of the misplaced trust. Even though the journalists were complicit in propogating the lie, at least it was unintentional. It is encouraging to see that incident was not swept under the rug. And while a direct statement like, "The people administrating Halo are lying swindlers with commerce-centric policies that resonate poorly with its diminishing fanbase" would be exponentially more effective at consigning change. I still applaud a GOTY snub.
  • bla bla bla bla bla bla. If you dont like it dont buy it. But to expect a company to change its management to suit your favore is retarted. What makes you or me have any right to say that? We are consumors are we not we buy or do not buy the game. There is not change your manager.
  • Wow, I'm missing out on a few games I haven't seen before. Nice Top 11 List!!
  • I have preordered Lego Avengers.
  • Knowing how quickly those titles fall in price ive never bothered to preorder aside from tt never offering any bonuses to make for a reason to pay full price
  • I agree. I just wait for sales. But I will admit they are taking longer to drop in price now it seems (especially with lego jurassic world)
  • I think they are costing more to make now and they are getting more popular as well. I bought most all the Lego games during this Christmas sale. Only missing the pirates of the Caribbean.
  • The sale price on 360 version like the 1 version wasn't deep enough of a discount digitally. besides I got a retail(new) copy for much less
  • Life Is Strange?
  • It sure is.
  • I liked that one quite well, but I only wanted to pick one adventure game so I went with The Fall. Also, the first episode of Life is Strange has horrendous dialog seemingly written by a sailor. Makes the game harder to get into than it should be.
  • You better catch up on all the amazing games you missed from last year.
  • Transformers WfC/FoC left a baad taste in my mouth. Would've preferred to see the license go to ea or ubi
    As nice as replay is its just a bundling of the 360 xbla/god versions which have been on sale to gwg free
  • New Lara is 10/10 game for me. There is time exclusivity for Xbox, so I am bit surprised it's not in the list, that's all. No need to say FM6 is the best sim racer on Xbox platform, yet...
  • I like Forza Horizon 2 a lot better, else Fora 6 would be on the list. Read the last section to see why Tomb Raider's not in there.
  • F6 is a simulation, H2 is an arcade.  Very different games.
  • That's true. The issue I have with Forza 6 is the campaign is too long and sterile. Turn 10 really needs to work on their campaign structure.
  • I think MSR dropped the ball on their drivatar implementation. They peev me off to much that Im not interested anymore in playing any mode requiring them if I do. Glad I didn't pony up for ultimate @ launch
  • As Paul stated in the article . It is hard to rate a game he hasn't played.
  • You called the NES Battletoads crappy? Who doesn't love that game? You must be the first.
  • He doesn't like challenging games ;)
  • A lot of people like the first 3 levels...and then never see the rest of the game.  Fun start but it is crazy hard.
  • It's a beautiful mess of a game that pretty can almost only be beaten by save states. That's silly.
  • I'm loving Gems of War at the moment although I hate the fact that the Challenge achievement has glitched on me and hasn't popped even though I have five starred about 10 of the challenges, I hate glitched achievements.
    Also I had heard about Rogue Legacy before and really wanted to but it, but had forgotten the name, now I can get it, yay!
  • I agree with the Witcher 3 but the rest... Still I feel some weed here
  • I like the list! Very honest. Also a big thank you to windows central and paul for the twitch stream giveaways, because I won Lovers during the holiday stream and now I am thoroughly enjoying one of Paul's favorite games of the year!
  • Halo 5 the best.
  • A top ten list that doesn't include Ori and the Blind Forest. Fail.
  • Sorry Paul, but you know I feel the same. I knew you weren't going to add it though :'( Best game of this generation so far :D
  • Bob I think I might play this game. I just picked it up last week on sale.  Paul I will see if Bob tells the truth. Maybe you made a mistake and need a rewrite ;) Bob clearly would aprecitate the bonus category. "One great game that didn't make the list."
  • I didn't like it enough to include it, especially not against Rogue Legacy. :P
  • Another cool list of games Paul
  • I played Dead or Alive from this list. Nothing else. I've been meaning to play The Witcher 3 but I think I'll wait until I finish the bunch of games I still have to finish before buying another one.
  • Witcher 3 was just on sale, made me wish i had the money to buy it but xmas wiped me out.
  • U guys are missing the point, the title clearly states :" Paul's top xbox one games".... "Paul's"...... Which basically means his opinion, thus no one here can say:" What about this or that." If there stood :" THE best xbox one games" it would've been another matter, yet there doesn't. So quit whining about your opinions not being written on this post.
  • So true. I enjoy pauls editorials on games. He has good tastes in games I wouldn't normaly play. I feel it is opening me into another relm of gaming.
  • Even if he didn't play all the games, the word "PAUL'S" justifies the post. So there is no reason to corrupt this comment section with mouth diarrhoea because your opinions are not supported.
  • Thanks for the kind words.
  • No problem Paul, I'm just pretty tired of salty people trying to make the world a worst place for other people.
  • Surprise the legendary Halo didn't make a grade but above all I still prefered The Last of Us Remastered and Nathan Drake Collection more.
  • Yeah, they were definitely some top Xbox One games.
  • Thanks Paul for another great article. UNO could have been on the top. 2015 was a GREAT year for XB1. Lots of blockbuster title + NXOE + backwards compatibility + games with gold features. I do also need some time to play all of my library. People should just try them (I will eventually :-). Myself never had experienced Lego games and purchasing 2 with this countdown specials, realized they are really fun to play and time consuming. Have had quality time with daughter enjoying a few of XB1 titles. Happy new year to all of the community
  • atlass there is no Uno on the Xboxone. Get on that man.. Tell Microsoft how you feel. Tell the Vole they are missing the point of gameing.​   Vole:   
  • I think it's funny that half of this list is basically 2D sides scrollers, that could run on a GameCube. But hey let's celebrate the power of the next gen Xbox, right?
  • Graphics aren't the only thing that matter.
  • No doubt. I just find it funny that these games are so popular right now, despite the fact that our computers/ consoles are capable of so much more. That's like buying a Ferrari as a grocery getter.
  • Popularity?  Afordibility.  Both are a factor.  $150 cnd for a game with all its content is extream. $10 to $20 for a game with all its content create populatiry. Other then some people like the these games.  As the other guy said not everything is graphics. Look at minecraft for example. Imagination creates wonders.
  • My kids are so addicted to that game it makes me wonder if they see the real world in blocks. :)    
  • it is a great game for all ages. I tried it the moment it came to windows phone 8. I now love it and my GF loves it too!
  • I wouldn't consider Minecraft to have "bad" graphics. Actually my first impression of the game was that it was breathtaking, in its own way, and from there I became addicted. However, Minecraft can also run on my phone, where as Destiny cannot. I get that graphics aren't everything, I still play certain fps games on pc from 10 years ago and they aren't looking any better. I play them cause they are fun, however at the time they also had competitive graphics and visuals, which these 2D side scrollers don't have.
  • Games are, first and foremost, about having fun.
  • I have to agree with you. Yet, I have to agree with everyone else that talks about the "fun" in a game.
  • I could have made a list of the 11 most technically impressive games on Xbox One, but I'd rather focus on the games I enjoyed the most.
  • I personally have to agree with him most of those indie games look horrible. I bought a next Gen console to play next Gen games with next Gen graphics the X1 & PS4 don't have as many next Gen games as I had hoped they would at this point in their life cycle. If I want a 2D side scrooler I would be playing my Sega genesis.
  • So you expected games to be made for a fringe market?  How many XboxOnes and Ps4's are out there compared to Ps3 and 360?  As the numbers are larger for the previous most games are desighned to work on both systems. A true next gen game will be a DX12 game made only for the Xbox One. I have yet to see any.  Maybe Holoday 2016.  As Windows 10 update arrived after Forza 6, Halo 5, TR ...  Dx12 would only be here now for future games. Would it not?
  • I agree on several of these choices. Nicely put together list. Side note, everyone who hasn't played The Fall, needs to as soon as they can. 
  • You agree with everything.  Follower. Be a Leader like BOB!
  • I was makeing a joke. lol
  • I think Gems is definitely one of  the best games of the year given all of the value and fun you get from a free to play game. So many games to choose from. This was a well thought out list. Excited to see which games made the worst of list and what 2016 holds for us.
  • Gems is a fantastic game which was a huge surprise for me because i dont usually like those games.
  • Paul you missed "Best Racing Game" ? Forza horizon 2 ? :P
  • Forza Horizon 2 came out in 2014, so it's on last year's list.
  • What about Forza 6/NFS ?
  • I like Forza 6 but the list ran long so we couldn't fit it in.
  • What about Just Cause 3?
  • Its Very Glitchy....? That's Why? (THINK SO). Otherwise that game is dope
  • I like Just Cause 3. Just couldn't fit it on the list.
  • I bought Just Cause 3 for my son for Christmas and he loves it. He hasn't had to many problems with it. It does look Amazing.
  • I didn't buy it. I probly wont. Maby at $20.00 unless it has 2 person local play or 2 person local multiplayer. No paul I dont want to buy 2 xbox ones. I expect more! lol
  • For Me Fallout Will Be on The Top
  • For most people, it is between Fallout 4 and Witcher 3 for best RPG.  It is usually just preference of that particular person.
  • Fallout 4 for me too. I did like what little I did play of the Witcher.
  • I didn't buy either. Can't play every game eh. I am like paul in that way.
  • I have no time to play all those games. I'm too busy playing Fallout 4, only taking short breaks so I could also spend some time for this thing called real life. :-D Seriously, Fallout 4 is so huge. I've already spent my entire Christmas vacation playing it and I still have a ton of locations left unexplored. Also, I did not expect to enjoy designing and building settlements so much. I'm even designing settlements when I'm not playing the game.
  • I've contracted Super AIDS from reading this comment section.
  • Reading my comments cures it.  That said, some people on here are pretty bad.  I have read some other top games lists that were basically the most obscure games they could find...and the comments were a lot friendlier.
  • Welcome to WC a group of people all made due to low market share is is it useage share of Windows Phone. We are also still mad that the Usage share and Market share are 2 different  missunderstood things. Please relate to this linke to understand.  I feel I use my Windows phone more then the usual android or iphone user. My usage share is High! I use more then the aveage user who only downloads 6 apps.  I download a whole lot more!
  • Probably should have got someone who played the actual best games of the year to write this article
  • But this is Paul's best games of the year, he could have only played one game and put it on the list and that would be acceptable given the title.
  • Next time we'll ask you to write it since you're clearly the arbiter of what everyone's best games of the year are.
  • See that point wayyyyyyyyyyyyyy over there? You missed it.
  • Make your own list then right here right now! 3! 2! 1! GOOO You have the freedom to comment and write. See how many of us read and reply to your list..  Show your brilliance to all of us. COD BEST SHOOTER OF THE YEAR!!!! EVERY YEAR SINCE 1999!!!  and untill 99999.
  • What does your second sentence mean?
  • I think he enjoyed you playing it.   Thats what I took from it. Referancing your external buttox as enjoying playing the game. Meaning you sit on your butt as you play so he enjoyed you sitting playing this game.
  • This is a great list! Some underrated games here and some I'll need to try now! I loved how it's in categories.
  • I enjoyed it too.
  • Isaaaaaaaaaaac! Other than that great list ;)
  • I'd surely have considered it, but our request for a review copy was ignored. :(
  • It is too bad. If paul isn't given the game he wont play the game :( Shure wish we could donate to Windows Central to bring in more games.
  • I do buy some games like Elder Scrolls Online and Shadow of Mordor all on my own. ESO nearly made this list, in fact. But if we get snubbed on a game, I always have many more review games waiting to be played.
  • Sweet we can play ESO Bob convinced me to get it awhile back. 
  • I would try the fall which reminds me of limbo I fell in love with. This list suits me and is a lot more different than you see on internet with top games played which are flooded with action, rpg and hack and slash genre which aren't really fun playing for me.
  • Many times and many times again. I will say COD BO2 Is the BEST GAME OF 2016.. Hey paul I forgot to buy it lol.
  • what is this list? best indi/remade games plus the witcher? 
  • It is pauls list of the games he has played.
  • This list of games is by no means a conventional list, it is the result of research and understanding the industry as a whole. If Paul just focused on games we see on shelves, we would be missing out on a lot of things. And I think that is what makes Windows Central (and Paul) stand out from other places. I mean, do we really need another review of Halo? Because back when this and other games were released they had their timely reviews. I too invite people who haven't been on the Twitch streams to attend and watch, use the opportunity to interact with Paul directly and ask for specific games to be included. Maybe then you'll see them listed in 2016.
  • You missed out on the best game, probably when its done, of this generation in MGSV.
  • I'll certainly pick it up one day. I hear the final part of the game is a rushed mess though.
  • That's quite a list you have there Paul!! I wouldn't call myself a hard core Gamer but I do Love and have the Halo and GoW series because I do love a good shoot em up, I bought Batman: Arkham Knight Limited Edition. For my Brother for Christmas, it's the first time we haven't bought it for PC but since the terrible fiasco surrounding the PC version, I went with the Xbox version, I mean you can tell the quality difference, but the story and game play are excellent and definitely reminiscent of the previous two installments from Rock Steady!!!! My brother can't get enough of this game and is playing it in his room and at work and on his PC at home via the Xbox App!!!! So I'm pretty sure it's a winner. I'm definitely looking forward to Crackdown, Quantum Break and GoW 4 in 2016!!!!
  • Great article and some awesome games. I am not a fan of the GoW series so i wouldnt have chosen that, but overall great picks.
  • I like the idea of doing it by genre. sports and platformers and such should be represented as well. 
  • I agree but when you do sports its hard to beat Fifa :)
  • Yeah, we just ran out of room is all. Next year I'll be sure to work them in...
  • Rogue Legacy better than Ori? I will have to look into it. My experience playing Ori was... I don't know... exhilarating. It is an awesome game not only concerning the graphics and the gameplay but also the story. If you say Rogue Legacy might be better I would call it a bold statement, but a statement that makes me rethink my decission to not acquire this game because is not coming from some john doe who plays games for 15 minutes for a review but from a serious gamer.
  • Keep in mind that Rogue Legacy doesn't have nearly as much story as Ori, nor is it as pretty. I just think the overall game is better. Read my actual review to see if it would be a good game for you.
  • I think I missed the review! Will check it asap. Judging by your description on this article, seems like Rogue Legacy has common elements with Spelunky (which I like and fear) anyways, thanks for the info! :D
  • I personally don't think remastered titles belong in a list of "Best Of" titles; only new titles released that year should be eligible.  Maybe in a dedicated "remaster" category, it could work, but for the most part, remastered games are the same as the original version of the game with graphical and framerate improvements. For this reason, I think best shooter pretty much has to be Halo 5 and not Gears of War: Ultimate Edition because Gears has the same campaign as the Xbox 360 version of the game.  I can't state what I think best Beat 'Em Up would be as I personally don't play too many games in this genre. Overall, it's a good list with the exception of the remastered titles.  If I had to choose a game from this list to be my favourite, it would be Gems of War.  It improved the Puzzle Quest formula with 4v4 battles instead of 1v1, making the game more strategic to get the required mana at any given time and also pick targets wisely.  The devs are also super great people (I met a couple at Pax Australia 2015).
  • A lot of very NOT top games there.