While Microsoft’s newest game console hasn’t struggled anywhere near as badly as Nintendo’s Wii U, the Xbox One’s launch in late 2013 had a cloud of negativity and pessimism surrounding it, after Microsoft spent most of that year bungling and backpedaling on its own messaging. Despite some early setbacks, including an on-going month-to-month sales battle that frequently sees Sony’s PS4 coming out on top, Microsoft has made some key in-roads with the Xbox One, fixing many of the problems that plagued the system’s launch. Most importantly, when it comes to software, Microsoft arguably has Sony beat with a better line-up of exclusive titles. The Xbox One’s library is growing rapidly, but as of right now, these are the 10 best games available on the console.
10. Dead Rising 3
Arguably the best launch game on Xbox One, Dead Rising 3 successively brought the popular zombie-killing series onto next-gen machines while improving upon some of the flaws of the previous titles. Dead Rising 1 and 2 were notoriously harsh experiences, as they placed a tight time restriction on players that had to be followed in order to succeed. The time limit mechanic has thankfully been substantially overhauled, allowing players to more fully enjoy the bonkers tone and fun this series has always been known for. The open world is bigger, there are thousands of zombies on-screen at once, and the enjoyable weapon crafting system from Dead Rising 2 returns, now with vehicles. Dead Rising 3 is definitely not perfect, but it injects some much-needed fun into the zombie genre.
9. Sunset Overdrive
A key component of Microsoft’s 2014 holiday season marketing strategy, Sunset Overdrive was developed by Insomniac Games exclusively for the Xbox One, which was surprising considering Insomniac has had a long history of exclusivity with Sony. It’s hard to argue with Microsoft’s strategy, as Sunset Overdrive turned out to be a pretty good game that PlayStation fans were surely envious of. Insomniac takes the done-to-death post apocalyptic zombie genre and infuses it with a pop of color and their own unique brand of humor. The game is best described as a Tony Hawk skateboarding game mixed with a third person shooter, and while some critics didn’t really “get” Sunset Overdrive, its distinction as one of the most unique games on the Xbox One right now makes it worth a look.
8. Halo: The Master Chief Collection
At its core, Halo: The Master Chief Collection may be the best game collection ever assembled. Unfortunately, devoted fans received a vastly inferior version of this vision when the game was released last November. All the story-based content was intact and as great as ever, but the online multiplayer — easily the most anticipated portion of the set — arrived fundamentally broken. Fortunately, the game is in a much better state now, to the point where Halo fans can finally fully appreciate the vast scope of developer 343 Industries’ labor of love. Nothing will forgive the poor state the game shipped in or the blemish this put on the Halo brand, but at this point in time, The Master Chief Collection is practically an essential purchase for Xbox One owners.
This multiplayer-only shooter developed by Respawn Entertainment (a company filled with ex-Call of Duty developers) had a lot of expectations placed on it, with many touting it as the next “big thing” in online gaming and a serious contender to Call of Duty’s throne. Titanfall didn’t quite live up to that ridiculous hype, but it did deliver an absolutely polished and fully-realized multiplayer design that stands shoulder-to-shoulder with COD. Neither revolutionary or groundbreaking, Titanfall simply excels at delivering a fun competitive experience that feels like a fitting alternative to COD. The game did receive criticism for not including much of a single player experience (and probably could have used more content at launch to make up for this), but Titanfall is still one of the best online games on Xbox One, even over a year after its initial release.
6. Ori and the Blind Forest
It’s an indicator of how strong small studio games are right now that one of the best games on the Xbox One is an indie title. Ori and the Blind Forest is a beautiful game, but it’s also a difficult one — two aspects that generally don’t get paired often in gaming. Fortunately, Ori makes this dissonance work in its favor. Ori’s sumptuous art direction soothes the frustration that will surely arise from the occasionally unfair, but largely satisfyingly challenging gameplay. The indie game scene is positively brimming with sidescrolling adventure games in the same vein, but Ori and the Blind Forest stands above them all by making itself stand out as a memorable experience.
5. Forza Horizon 2
The Forza series has pretty much solidified itself as the top dog in the racing simulator genre (Sony’s Gran Turismo, the former champ, has had too many struggles as of late to be considered the king anymore). While the Xbox One launch title Forza Motorsport 5 is the definitive racing sim experience on the console — and still deserves a purchase — the open-world Forza Horizon 2 is the superior experience. Horizon 2 takes the fundamentals of developer Turn 10’s driving design and unleashes it on the beautiful, sun-soaked open road. With well over 200 cars to choose from and a seemingly never-ending stream of things to do, Xbox One owners can proudly claim to have the best racing experience of the current console generation.
4. Middle-Earth: Shadow Of Mordor
The Nemesis System. If it wasn’t for this ingenious innovation, Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor would most likely have just been yet another Batman/Assassin’s Creed clone. Granted, the combat design is actually really satisfying and the story is surprisingly compelling for essentially being Lord of the Rings fan fiction featuring made-up characters. Still, it’s the Nemesis System that everyone will remember. Every enemy responds to your character’s presence in a particular way and thanks to the unique power system of the enemy ranks, even the lowliest, ugliest orc can rise up to become a powerful commander. There’s much more to it than that, but the Nemesis System alone makes Shadow of Mordor one of the most unique Xbox One experiences.
3. Diablo III: Reaper of Souls
At this point, Diablo III has become shorthand for “reliably fun and rewarding game experience.” This action role-playing game from the legendary design experts at Blizzard just gets everything it needs to right. There’s no better game on the Xbox One to play together with friends on the couch, and the best part is that Diablo III is designed to be not only be accessible to players of pretty much every skill level, but is open to male and female players alike (a distinction that is becoming more and more important in gaming). The Xbox One version also includes the excellent expansion Reaper of Souls and the essential Adventure Mode, which adds endless replay value. Great for brief 20 minute sessions or marathon affairs, Diablo III is one of those games you’ll always want to go back to.
2. Dragon Age: Inquisition
Bioware simply makes great RPG experiences and they currently have the one of the best on Xbox One with Dragon Age: Inquisition. Much improved over the lackluster second entry in the series, Inquisition is an often overwhelming experience in terms of the sheer magnitude of content Bioware has jammed into the game. It will easily take players hundreds of hours to see and do everything, to the point where this could easily be the only game in someone’s library. Sure, Inquisition is also available on PS4 and PC, but Xbox One players shouldn’t let a lack of exclusivity deter them from checking out the definitive RPG experience on the system.
1. Grand Theft Auto V
What more really needs to be said about Rockstar’s behemoth open world crime fantasy? GTA V missed the mark with its storytelling, failing to deliver any kind of emotional resonance on par with Niko Bellic’s tragic tale in GTA IV, but this disappointment is made up for almost entirely with just how fully-realized the game’s fictionalized take on Los Angeles is. The attention to detail in this game is astounding, from the variety of things your character can do and say, to little things like the way flip-flops are realistically depicted. Although the game was originally developed for previous generation hardware, the Xbox One version is a noticeable leap forward with beautiful graphics and a 1st person mode that changes the whole experience.