After 20 years Xbox has become one of the dominant gaming brands. There have been highs and lows in that time, but right now Xbox is on top form, with an amazing game library available at an affordable price thanks to Game Pass. Everything is going right for the company, and if you’ve just jumped back into the Xbox ecosystem for the first time in a while, there is a lot you have missed out on.
In this list we’ve put together the very best games you can play on an Xbox One or Xbox Series X/S console, many of them being exclusive to Xbox. Even if you don’t have a new Xbox Series console yet, you can always use cloud streaming to play the latest games at the best settings. These are the Xbox games you shouldn’t miss.
Forza Horizon 5 has been a standout hit this year, earning critical acclaim and attracting millions of players in a minuscule amount of time. It should be an obvious choice on the list of games to play on Xbox, but if you haven’t played Forza Horizon 4 yet, you shouldn’t ignore that either. Both games offer an excellent open-world experience, and if Horizon 4 is any indication of what’s to come, we should see plenty of content coming to Horizon 5 in the near future. We have a plenty of guides to help you play Forza Horizon 5.
The two Ori games are so good that you really need to play them both, no excuses. The adorable little Ori masterfully navigates a cursed forest, completing beautiful and intense platforming challenges embedded in classic Metroidvania level design. The hand-animated characters and enemies all look stunning, and Will of the Wisps really shows off what the Xbox Series X can do when paired with a new OLED TV.
If you grew up with Halo, then you have to play this collection. A complete suite of the first four numbered Halo games, Halo: Reach, and Halo 3: ODST, all with local and online co-op and competitive multiplayer. This is the ultimate collection for one of the biggest shooters of all time, and while it doesn’t include Halo 5, that’s on Game Pass anyway. The two Halo Wars games are there too if you’re looking to get the complete story in time for…
Halo Infinite is the latest big Halo game, coming more than six years after Halo 5. The wait has mostly been worthwhile. Although we’re still waiting for co-op and the Forge to be added in future updates, the current campaign and multiplayer offering is still fantastic. The grapple hook is easily the best addition Halo has made to its gameplay since Reach‘s jetpacks, and the multiplayer maps are designed to perfection. An excellent entry in a classic series.
Everyone should’ve already played this by now, but in case you haven’t, Grand Theft Auto V is still going strong, continuing to sell well. Meanwhile, the popularity of GTA Online hasn’t wavered for a second, with the latest The Contract update seeing the return of the campaign’s Franklin Clinton alongside literally Dr. Dre. If you’ve never played GTA5 before, or you haven’t in a while, now is the perfect time to return.
Hellblade is now best played on Xbox Series consoles thanks to a recent update, and this gorgeous game really looks and plays amazingly at 60fps. On the latest consoles, you can see every little detail of Hellblade. Couple it with a great pair of headphones for an immersive and dynamic experience that will see you struggling along with Senua while trying to down monsters and solve intricate puzzles.
Killer Instinct came out a long time ago now so you might’ve forgotten about it, but you shouldn’t have. Since it’s been released the game has amassed 29 fighters, including Halo‘s Arbiter, and it remains one of the fastest and most unique fighting games still being played. It has excellent netcode and a dedicated community that still holds tournaments, both online and off. Worth dipping into if you are interested in fighting games.
You may have written off Sea of Thieves already, but that was a huge mistake. Undertaking a voyage solo or with random people online isn’t going to end well very often, but partner up with some real-life friends and Sea of Thieves becomes a truly wonderful adventure. Shout at your pals as they destroy your vessel and lose loot, struggle to understand each quest and even the controls of the game itself, fight against undead pirates – it’s all very silly, but it will guarantee a few laughs as you flail about with your friends trying to find treasure.
This, arguably, isn’t even a game at all, but that makes it even more essential to try. There is nothing like flying over your hometown and pointing out your house or visiting the place you saw on vacation. Microsoft Flight Simulator really does include a recreation of the entire globe, and you can journey to any part of it. Of course, you can still actually play it as a simulator to learn the basics and essentials of flying an aircraft. The minigame-like landing challenges are a highlight for anyone who really wants to be scored on their performance.
Plenty of people say they dropped off Gears of War at some point, but Gears 5 really did mark a turning point for the series. A 60fps focus brought the action up to the level of fluidity expected from competitive shooters, and it works a treat in the campaign too. Gears 5 feels like a reboot and all fans should give it a shot. This year’s Hivebusters campaign expansion is also great.
Cuphead is beautiful in motion and absolutely harrowing to play. One of the most difficult 2D platformers in recent memory, Cuphead asks you for memorization skills and speed as you defeat more than a dozen boss monsters to finish this adventure. This one isn’t on Game Pass, but should still be considered essential.
Is it the best Western RPG of the generation? Many people say yes, and it’s hard to argue with them. The Witcher 3‘s varied environments, gorgeous visuals, and engaging plot will keep your attention from start to finish, and those points could be more than 100 hours away from one another depending on how much of this world you want to explore.
Written by Dave Aubrey on behalf of GLHF.