Since 2013, the Xbox One has built up a huge array of fine games. Over the last few years especially, the barrier between PC gaming and Xbox One consoles has thinned: meaning a host of exciting games moving between the two. And all of them are backwards compatible with the new and mighty Xbox Series X.
As well as wielding some mighty processing power, the Xbox One features one of the best games subscriptions out there, the Xbox Game Pass, which provides access to a rotating line-up of titles for a small monthly fee – some of which are even available from this list.
So do take a look at Xbox Game Pass if you’d like to try out a bunch of interesting up-to-date Xbox One games – and also potentially save a bit on the pricier titles.
The games we’ve picked emphasise a variety of styles – from tearing through space to cultivating colourful crops – and also showcase the power of the Xbox One itself, with gorgeous graphics and high-end action.
Some of these games are righteous AAA epics while others have indie origins and are imbued with spirited creativity.
Whether you want to play at being pirates, roam the furthest reaches of the galaxy or meet a wizard that’s been polymorphed into a cat, we’ve got the titles for you. So, without further ado, let’s take a look at the best Xbox One games out right now.
You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.
Best Xbox One games 2021
Best multiplayer game – Sea of Thieves: £34.99, Microsoft.com
Best action RPG – The Outer Worlds: £17.99, Game.co.uk
Best split-screen game – Gears 5: £22, Amazon.co.uk
Best racing game – Forza Motorsport 7: £29.99, Game.co.uk
Best role-playing game – Stardew Valley: £11.99, Microsoft.com
Best open world game – Assassin’s Creed Odyssey: £12.99, Amazon.co.uk
Best platformer – Ori and the Blind Forest: £3.99, Microsoft.com
Best third-person shooter – Control: £24.99, Microsoft.com
Best co-op game – Divinity: Original Sin 2: £41.50, Microsoft.com
Best action adventure – Quantum Break: £29.99, Microsoft.com
‘Sea of Thieves'
Best: Multiplayer game
Pros: Fun for players of all skill levels. Lots of customisation options.
Cons: New content updates are infrequent.
Adventure on the high seas with Sea of Thieves, a hugely successful third-person action game. Among the biggest of the Xbox One console exclusive titles, it sees you putting together a crew and causing mayhem. An open-world adventure, you’ll need to complete suitably pirate-style quests such as finding treasure, plundering loot and doing battle with cursed horrors such as skeletons.
Super-fun when played with friends online, Sea of Thieves also includes a mammoth story-driven campaign that’ll totally fulfill all your pirate fantasies – we had an absolute blast both ways. As you play through, achieving dastardly and gripping deeds, you’ll accumulate your very own personal pirate legend. As you’d expect, Sea of Thieves offers plenty of vast sea thrills, and, er, lots of chickens roaming the islands.
Buy now £34.99, Microsoft.com
‘The Outer Worlds’
Best: Action RPG
Pros: Funny and richly detailed sci-fi world. Complex combat and skill systems.
Cons: Smaller in scale than other action RPGs.
From the developer of the classic Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic 2, sci-fi RPG The Outer Worlds take you out to far-flung space colonies. You’ll explore the furthest edges of space and work with different factions, with your choices shaping the world as you go. Find a ship, lead a crew and build a unique character with their own virtues and flaws.
As well as space stations and settlements, you’ll also encounter an intergalactic corporation that pulls all the strings. The Outer Worlds is infused with grey morality and dark humour, which we especially enjoyed, and is a fun and kind of wild RPG that’s perfect for fans of the likes of the Fallout and Mass Effect series. For us, its droll and satirical tone was a winner.
Buy now £17.99, Game.co.uk
Best: Split-screen game
Pros: Finely tuned combat. Real character development.
Cons: Multiplayer feels like a grind.
One of the latest in the savage Gears of War series, in which humanity is pitted against a grisly alien invasion, Gears 5 sees you exploring new reaches of its cruel and hyper-violent world. A game of murderous fights and polished shooting antics, this instalment includes an expanded narrative, along with equally strong single and multiplayer modes.
It also has a handy robot companion, Jack, who can loot the battlefield for you, among other things. Not to mention the series’ legendary chainsaw-gun features again, along with ol’ faithful “Boomshot” and many, many more.
You play Kait Diaz, who is fighting against both the threat of new alien horde the “Swarm”, while also wrestling with her personal demons. While its deeper character development adds something new to the series, ultimately, Gears 5 is at its peak during action – where it still remains one of the best (and most polished) third-person shooters out there. Get that chainsaw-gun revved up.
Buy now £22.00, Amazon.co.uk
‘Forza Motorsport 7’
Best: Racing game
Pros: Spectacular visuals. Variable weather. Realistic driving simulation.
Cons: Lacks the free-roaming fun of the Horizon series.
If you fancy tweaking a sleek beast of a car and racing across tracks everywhere from Barcelona to Dubai, Forza Motorsport 7 is the game for you, with this instalment bringing striking 4K visuals. Literally hundreds upon hundreds of the fanciest racing cars will be at your disposal, including the likes of Porsches and Ferraris, meaning you can drive the car of your dreams, choosing from more than 700 sweet rides.
There’s a campaign mode, in which you skirt around different tracks worldwide, or you can play in multiplayer and/or split screen. The tracks are just gorgeous, too: we enjoyed the variable weather and sheer thrill of zipping along in lush environments. Gear heads will especially enjoy tweaking and upgrading all those shiny, shiny cars.
Buy now £29.99, Game.co.uk
Best: Role-playing game
Pros: Highly rewarding farming simulation. Loads to see and do. Easy to drop in and out of.
Cons: No cross-platform multiplayer.
If you’ve ever wanted to leave the city behind and run your own glorious little farm, this is the game for you. As is typical of the simulator genre, it’s a very relaxing title and we found its world heartwarming and a cheerful respite of sorts. That said, building up your farm is very satisfying, and working your way to cute little animals, plump fruit trees and infernal machines is rewarding in itself.
Essentially, you inherit a farm, clear it up, plant crops and build upgrades. As you go, you can also build relationships with folks in the nearby town, explore strange caves and even rebuild the town back to its former self. With all the best aspects of the fantasy country life, Stardew Valley is just delightful and we couldn’t get enough of it.
Buy now £11.99, Microsoft.com
‘Assassin’s Creed Odyssey’
Best: Open world game
Pros: Vast world to explore. Complex naval battles. Compelling loot system.
Cons: Repetitive side quests.
An action game of mythic proportions, Odyssey is set in ancient Greece – complete with mythical beasts and political intrigue. Meanwhile, its downloadable content can take you as far afield as the Greek afterlife. You play as either Alexios or Kassandra – both mercenaries – and while uncovering your own origins, you’ll also shape the fate of Greece itself.
Packed full of frenetic action (you battle an army in the opening) Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is also incredibly vast. Its world is generous: we’ve sunk well over 25 hours into it. There’s quite a few main story arcs to uncover and you’ll find yourself on the lam from mercenaries, and swerving the allegiance of entire nations towards the end. It goes without saying that the Aegean sun-soaked plains of the setting are beautiful, too. A real wild ride to the ancient world.
Buy now £12.99, Amazon.co.uk
‘Ori and the Blind Forest’
Pros: Classic level design. Great story. Beautiful soundtrack.
Cons: Some big difficulty spikes.
A visually stunning platformer, the acclaimedOri and the Blind Forest is a wholesome yet heartbreaking tale of saving nature. You play a bouncing feline-esque beast named Ori, who sets out to save a dying wood. It’ll totally play on your heartstrings – its sweeping orchestral score and hand-painted visuals helping along with that.
Although it’s simple enough to pick up, Ori and the Blind Forest is a tough game, drawing from the brutal retro platformers of old, such as the Metroid series. It’s not so much about killing, as it is evading and also moving through an immersive open world. It’s tougher than it looks but totally worth it for the sheer beauty of it all. Bring some tissues for the tears.
Buy now £3.99, Microsoft.com
Best: Third-person shooter
Pros: Set in a supernatural, Lynchian universe. Frenetic gunplay.
Cons: Overly challenging boss fights.
A dystopian sci-fi mystery, the widely acclaimed Control is an intriguing action-adventure game. You’ll find yourself unravelling an eerie supernatural struggle and also wielding telekinetic powers. It’s one weird game too, with parts designed to be unsettling.
You play the director of a shady agency, seeking to wrest back control after some alarming events. You need answers and, in the world of Control, there are an awful lot of weird experiments and terrible secrets to uncover.
Surreal, beautiful and bloody – there’s nothing quite like Control out there. It’s also delightfully destructive, with a wreckable environment filled with supernatural terrors – made all the better with your mind powers. Prepare for a living, shape-shifting gun and creeping, mysterious horror. We couldn’t get enough of getting our minds warped by this one.
Buy now £24.99, Microsoft.com
‘Divinity: Original Sin 2'
Best: Co-op game
Pros: A rich, classical fantasy world to explore. Choices affect the storyline. Hundreds of hours of adventuring.
Cons: Combat systems take a while to master.
Much in the vein of open-ended tabletop RPGs such as Dungeons & Dragons, Divinity: Original Sin 2 takes you to a vast fantasy world where your decisions really count. It’s not only great to play by yourself, with an epic fantasy story of world-ending proportions to discover, but can also be enjoyed in co-op with friends remotely – if you fancy putting together a fully fledged adventuring party.
With detailed character customisation options, a fun, fantasy narrative (where you can choose to be as dreadful as you like), a treasure trove of lively dialogue options and thrilling turn-based combat, we fell in love with Divinity: Original Sin 2 and all the unique stories it creates. Plus it’s sometimes just a lot of fun to play a real villain of a protagonist: so many opportunities for terrible decisions.
Buy now £41.50, Microsoft.com
Best: Action adventure
Pros: Spectacular set-pieces. Dynamic branching storyline. Live-action cutscenes.
Cons: Some dubious acting.
A cinematic action game, Quantum Break throws in plenty of time-travel and blockbuster-esque flourishes for an intense action game that’ll likely be beloved by folks into gleaming thrillers. You play Jack Joyce, who gains time-travel abilities after an accident (as you do) and now needs to save the world from the machinations of an evil corporation. Luckily, you’ve got plenty of guns and a somewhat Matrix-style time skill to fight them off with.
The game plays out like a TV series, with different “episodes” and film actors playing the different characters with pulp relish. Just don’t expect too much on the story and dialogue front – it’s mindless fun, and that’s what we enjoyed about it.
Buy now £29.99, Microsoft.com
How to choose the best Xbox One games for you
Finding the best Xbox One games for you is a matter of personal preference. In our list we’ve tried to include a diverse selection of genres and different styles of play, but there are countless excellent games to be discovered, from little-known indie titles to obscure classics.
Xbox Game Pass is a great way to try out new games without committing to buying them outright. From £7.99 per month, Microsoft’s Netflix-style subscription service offers access to a growing catalogue of games, as well as other membership perks such as remote play on Android devices through the cloud.
The verdict: Xbox One games
We really can’t get over how much of an absolute blast Sea of Thieves is and we got totally captivated reigning the ferocious high seas with friends online.
Meanwhile, Control is quite the masterpiece: an eerie thriller that pans out like a Lynchian nightmare, with wild, destructive physics and so very many horrors. On the other end of the spectrum, the beautiful Stardew Valley provided us with an adorable reprieve from reality, with compelling gameplay and all the satisfaction of building up your own beautifully rendered working farm. It really drew us in.
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