It’s difficult to imagine a Microsoft-backed product as an underdog, but the Xbox One is just that. The PlayStation 4 soars on the strength of its strong console-exclusive titles; and the Nintendo Switch does the same, while also offering a cool home-and-away functionality. Still, Xbox One has a lot going for it; in fact, Microsoft’s console has excellent titles and features that you’ll only find on the Xbox One.
If you want top-notch racing action, Microsoft has two series that’ll zoom into your heart: Forza Motorsport and Forza Horizon (the PCMag office favorite). Want platforming action? Check out the beautifully animated Cuphead. Dig high-seas adventure? Sea of Thieves has you covered.
Xbox One, naturally, has many of the third-party games you’ll find on other consoles. If you want Dragon Ball FighterZ, Final Fantasy XV, Red Dead Redemption 2, or Tekken 7, you can purchase them for Xbox One.
In terms of features, Xbox Play Anywhere?is one of the coolest to emerge from Microsoft’s video game division. When you purchase select digital titles, such as Cuphead or Resident Evil VII: Biohazard, it becomes yours to play on both Xbox One and Windows 10 PC. In fact, your progress is saved via the cloud, so you can start a game on Xbox and finish it on PC (or vice versa).
Likewise,?Xbox Backward Compatibility?offers additional play options. With it, you can fire up Xbox 360 and original Xbox titles on your Xbox One. This applies to classic digital games, as well as disc-based titles. Xbox Backward Compatibility also boosts those games’ pixel counts and expands the color details. Even better, if you’re playing Xbox 360 games, you can fire up your old game saves, achievements, and Gamerscore. And if you sign up for Xbox Live, you can play those classic games with friends.
Xbox Game Pass is a Netflix-like service that lets you play hundreds of select titles for just $9.99 per month. Naturally, you lose access to the games once you stop paying the subscription fee, but if you’re someone who plays tons of games, this may be a fine alternative to separately purchasing each title. In 2019,?Microsoft brought Xbox Game Pass to PC.
Finally, if you’re a gamer with a physical disability, the?Xbox Adaptive Controller?is a godsend. Developed by Microsoft and organizations such as AbleGamers, Cerebral Palsy Foundation, Special Effect, and Warfighter Engaged, the Xbox One and Windows 10 accessory is designed for gamers with limited range of motion and use of limbs. Microsoft really has something for everyone this console generation.
If you want to check out the best games on the Xbox One platform, check out our pick. They’re fantastic games that’ll keep you enthralled for hours at a time. If you’re a fan of Microsoft’s gaming platform, you may also want to check out our story on everything we know so far on the Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X, the company’s Xbox One successors.?
Cuphead is a charming run-and-gun, shoot-’em-up that channels Konami’s iconic Contra series, while also taking heavy inspiration from the rubber hose animation style that was prominent during 1920s- and 1930s-era cartoons. If you’re familiar with the Contra series’ fast-paced gameplay, Cuphead should feel right up your alley: the titular protagonist and his brother Mugman must best a wide variety of perilous stages and bosses to complete their quest.
Cuphead lacks the expansive level design featured in Contra and other genre classics, but the hardcore action game gives you a beefy list of complex and satisfying boss fights to overcome, like you find in Treasure’s Alien Soldier.
D4, the oddball point-and-click adventure game from the ever-bizarre and lovable Swery, is another reason to own an Xbox One. Drawing from Philip K. Dick’s trippy metaphysics, David Lynch’s surrealism, and LucasArts’ classic adventure mechanics, D4 is a far cry from the usual AAA offerings.
It tells the story of a widower, detective David Young, who is obsessed with unearthing the events that led to the death of his wife Little Peggy. The story involves time travel, a giant, and a woman dressed as a cat who may or may not be real. It’s a good old time.
Dark Dreams Don’t Die is the first part of a multi-arc story; a story that may not see a conclusion due to Swery leaving the developer, Access Games.
Devil May Cry is a genre-defining action series that pits your demon-slaying protagonist against the hordes of hell, giving you a sword, guns, and a robust list of special attacks to string together in crazy and over-the-top combos.?Devil May Cry 5?continues the series’ wild action legacy.
It takes elements from previous games, even including the fan-derided DmC: Devil May Cry reboot, and introduces all-new characters and gameplay systems for series fans and newcomers to enjoy. All systems have been rebalanced and streamlined, making them easy to grasp yet challenging to apply in practice and to master.
The Playground Games–developed?Forza Horizon 4?is an open-world racing game that continues the series’ tradition of fast cars, gorgeous environments, and ridiculous head-to-head challenges. This installment, however, adds dynamic, world-affecting seasonal effects, deeper multiplayer integration, and a new progression system that lets you tackle Forza Horizon 4’s challenges as you see fit.
You unlock seasons by earning Influence, one of the two in-game currencies. The other is gear-centric Credits. The XP-like Influence is earned by entering races, finding cars, and successfully completing challenges. In fact, Influence, along with the new My Horizon Life campaigns and fresh customization features, causes the racer to lean into RPG elements more than ever before.
Although?Gears 5?is the first main game in the long-running series to nix the “of War” suffix, make no mistake: The Gears world is still at war. The third-person shooter is the sixth entry in the franchise and a direct sequel to Gears of War 4, continuing the story of the Coalition of Ordered Government’s (COG) fight against an enemy force, known as the Swarm. Gears 5’s captivating storytelling, solid shooting mechanic, and excellent graphics far outweigh the game’s merely average multiplayer modes.
Still, the hook here is the game’s cover mechanics, which is essential for surviving the enemy onslaught. Gears 5 requires you to use the game’s cover system heavily, since even a few seconds of direct enemy fire can be deadly. In addition, the semi-linear environments let you approach enemies with some flexibility. This makes the cover system feel more dynamic, as some barriers are destructible.
Traditional Gears of War games are cover-based shooters that put you in the boots of muscled soldiers who defend humanity from the mutant horde called the Locust. The series injects brutal weaponry into the third-person shooting action, such as chainsaw-assault guns and spear-tipped rifles, that can be used to melee or blast the Locust Horde into bloody lumps.
Miraculously, Gears Tactics—the franchise’s first venture into the turn-based, strategy genre—preserves many series hallmarks, including wild melee executions, cover-heavy environments, and waves of overaggressive enemies. Yet, the new tactical elements add to the action in wonderfully crafted ways.
Set in present day Los Santos, a fictitious city in the fictitious state of San Andreas, Grand Theft Auto V is a tale of gangsters doing gangster things while in pursuit of the American Dream. As in previous GTA games, GTA V lets you explore a thriving open world while jacking cars, busting caps, fleeing po po, and causing general mayhem. You can participate in leisurely activities like playing golf or tennis, too. It’s simply one of the best games to arrive this console generation.
Killer Instinct?isn’t a title that many gamers expected to be an Xbox One launch highlight, but it’s one of the surprise gems in Microsoft’s video game lineup. The revived series adheres to the original game’s unique blend of manual and auto-combos, which casual and hardcore players use to rack up ridiculous hit totals with a few well-timed?controller?or fight stick inputs.
This Definitive Edition rewards those who displayed purchase patience. It includes all 26 characters from Seasons 1-3, and ports of the 1990’s Killer Instinct I & II. Plus, it supports cross-play with people who play Killer Instinct on PC. It’s a terrific?fighting game?package.
What exactly is the source of the phantom pain that permeates this game’s multi-layered, but incomplete narrative? Snake’s lost forearm? Mother Base’s destruction? Creator Hideo Kojima’s separation from the franchise that he transformed into a AAA display of excellent game design and ingenuity?
Regardless of how you view?Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain’s?flawed story, one hailed as the bridge between Big Boss’ and Solid Snake’s stories, the open-world stealth, Fulton surface-to-air recovery system, army-building, and massive weapon supply form an absorbing action-stealth experience that will be spoken of for years to come.
Xbox Game Studios is known for fast cars and space marines, but every now and then the publisher crafts a family friendly, Nintendo-esque title. Ori and the Will of the Wisps, the sequel to the well-received Ori and the Blind Forest, is a prime example.
The game impresses with wonderfully timeless platforming action that features a beautiful world made of thought-provoking levels, as well as the tools to move through that world with unparalleled grace. Ori and the Will of the Wisps is also available on PC?via Xbox Play Anywhere, Xbox Game Pass for PC, and Steam.
Overwatch?is Blizzard’s answer to Valve’s classic Team Fortress 2. Boasting multiple game modes, maps, and a roster of more than 30 versatile characters, Overwatch builds on TF2’s established shooter hallmarks and adds a few MOBA-like mechanics to the gameplay.
Like most online-only games, the story is bare, but that doesn’t make the cast of characters any less charming or charismatic. Just don’t get caught up in the trappings of this game’s annoying microtransactions. And, if you dig the game, check out the Overwatch League to see pro players go at it in an?esports?setting.
Last generation, Rockstar Games struck cowboy gold with Red Dead Redemption, an Old West, open-world action game. So, it was inevitable that the developer would produce a sequel, and what a sequel it is!
Red Dead Redemption 2?expands many of its predecessor’s gameplay mechanics, including gunplay, hand-to-hand combat, and Honor System. New features let you dual-wield pistols, hunt for sustenance, and swim across bodies of water. If you ever wanted to live the life of a gunslinger, Red Dead Redemption 2 is as good as it gets.
By slowing down the action and changing the perspective from third person to first person, Capcom has created a Resident Evil game that captures the original title’s dread. A huge part of that vibe is the new environment and scenario; instead of playing as a skilled combatant, you play as a a simple widowed man who winds up in the insane Baker family’s condemned mansion and must battle the horrors within.
Resident Evil 7: Biohazard’s excellent pacing, thoughtful action, and amazing atmosphere result in a game that horror fans should unquestionably play. RE7 is a great game and lays an excellent foundation that Capcom should unquestionably build upon for future series entries.
Reboots may be an overdone entertainment trend of the past few years, but Tomb Raider was truly in need of one. Fortunately, 2013’s Tomb Raider not only returned the series to AAA gaming heights it hadn’t seen in over a decade, but it also managed to turn Lara Croft from a sexy cipher to a well-rounded action heroine.
With all that hard work already accomplished, Rise of the Tomb Raider hits the ground running and delivers more of what worked in the reboot while reintroducing classic concepts that had initially been stripped away. In our post-Uncharted world, it’s great to see Lara Croft remind everyone why she’s the real Indiana Jones of gaming.
Sunset Overdrive?puts you in the role of a downtrodden garbage collector who works for Fizzco, a corporation that launches an energy drink that ultimately turns its customers into mutants. It’s up to you to grind rails, fire wacky weapons, and take down the evil, Umbrella-like company before the mutant-filled awesome-pocalypse becomes the regular, bad kind of apocalypse.
This Xbox One exclusive game delivers good, old-fashioned fun filled with fast-paced action, lots of rock and roll, and some good-natured jabs at the video game industry. Bright and colorful, Sunset Overdrive is very much like an interactive cartoon., and a game that should not be missed.
Tekken 7, like its predecessors, is a fighting game that features limb-mapped controls, massive character move sets, and numerous juggles that let you keep a combo flowing, if you’re skilled enough to input the correct move at the right moment. With this entry, the series receives super moves (Rage Arts) and enhanced, special attacks that can blow through an opponent’s attack (Power Crush).
Tekken 7 is an incredibly tense game of jabs, feints, and sidesteps, because any hit may lead to a long combo sting. Factor in characters with move sets that emulate real martial arts, interactive stages that let you knock people through floors and walls, and terrific slowdown effects that happen when both fighters’ health bars are in the red and they perform close-quarter melee attacks, and you have a fighting game that’s essentially an interactive martial arts flick.
The final installment in the marvelous The Witcher series once again sees Geralt of Rivia slaying beasts, collecting bounties, and securing booty, but this time set in a massive open-world environment.?The Witcher 3’s combat and alchemy mechanics improved upon its predecessors’ fighting and magic casting, but it’s the gorgeous graphics and rich narrative that make this action-RPG the talk of the town.
This Complete Edition rewards those who waited to partake of the monster-slaying action. It includes the Hearts of Stone and Blood and Wine expansion packs, as well as the 16 other previously released DLC.