Thanks to a recent Xbox One price cut (in the UK) and a tantalising Titanfall bundle, it's likely that a lot more gamers will soon be new owners of Microsoft's next-gen system - and they'll be after the best Xbox One games.
While we're sure you'll be Smart Pistolling and Titan stomping around in mechs in Titanfall's multiplayer for many months to come, there's also a decent collection of other great Xbox One games to play on Microsoft's console.
Admittedly, the next gen Xbox's software library isn't exactly vast, but there's enough variety in the quality of content out there that you should be discerning in what you spend your cash on.
So, to make sure you don't end up with a dud (*ahem* Fighter Within *ahem*), we've put together a list of our picks for the ten best X1 games currently available. The games were chosen in retrospect by CVG's editorial staff. They tend to reflect the review scores CVG has awarded to each game, though not as a rule.
We'll be keeping this list up-to-date as new games are released at retail and digitally. As always, feel free to give us your own recommendations or put together your own list in the comments below.
- Added Kinect Sports Rivals (6/5/2014)
Kinect Sports Rivals
It's felt like Rare's heart has always been in the right place with its Kinect Sports titles but the limitation of the Xbox 360's Kinect meant gameplay never quite realised their vision for a fun and thrilling full-body motion game.
But thanks to the Xbox One's significantly improved Kinect camera, in Kinect Sports Rivals Rare has finally managed to make a game that is both accurate in capturing movements and translating them to on-screen actions, as well as fun and deep to play.
Unlike the previous Kinect Sports, Rivals isn't as focused on the casual gamer market, and is a better because of it. It features much-loved modern gameplay hooks such as XP, level upgrades, using cash earned to buy for virtual accessories, power-ups to give the player an edge over in-game or real-life competitors. Each of these is designed to invest the player in their on-screen avatars and make the game fell less like a throwaway novelty overall.
But Rivals greatest strength is that it has real depth to its gameplay mechanics. You can really get stuck into learning the subtitles of spinning a bowling ball; using leaning to shave seconds of a time in Wake Racing; or perfecting the right kicking angle to plant the ball in the top corner in soccer.
However, it must be noted that Kinect Sports Rivals requires quite a lot of room to play. The sports require players to make leap around while making large, sweeping motions, so you'll end up wrecking a tightly packed room. But find the space and you'll have a lot of fun playing it.
From CVG's Kinect Sports Rivals review
Rare has overcome nearly all preconceptions of motion control - Rivals is responsive, accurate, deep, reliable and well integrated. It just needs the space ... If you want to experience Rivals at its best, you'll need to be prepared to move furniture. If you do, the game's few inconsistencies will subside, and this masterful and surprisingly deep sports package will truly begin to shine. If you don't have the space, it's probably not worth the full price.- Andy Robinson
Try it if:
- You like your limb-flails to be meaningful
- You've got a kartwheels worth of space to play in
- Taus: "Me, personally, would go for the familiar but Rivals is still interesting. I want a game that I can play with mates or the family, one that will appeal to kids as well as my Mum and Dad and Rivals is a step in the right direction, an improvement over Wii Sports"
- GigerMan70: "Rare score an 8 with a Kinect game, not bad at all. Love to see what they could do now with a more traditional title. Pretty please Mr Spencer?"
- Lukeh1975: "The demo was seriously rubbish. I'm skeptical..."
Peggle 2, a game in which you fire a ball at coloured pegs to remove the orange ones and rack up high-scores, is probably the least "next-gen" of the games included in this list.
This isn't the game you'll stick on to show off your hot new gaming console when friends and family congregate. But when you need some downtime form battling hordes of zombies, or clashing steel with Celtic barbarians, or dodging a hail of bullets, Peggle 2 will put a smile on your face with its undeniable charm.
For those who've not played Peggle before (seriously? you people exist?) the game is a creative twist on Pachinko mixed with pinball. The challenge of the sequel is daunting because the original was almost impossible to improve upon, so understandably Peggle 2 very much sticks to the same experience. But there is still something so immensely captivating about launching the ball into a cluster of pegs and watching it ricochet around.
Try it if:
- You like chilling out
- Ode To Joy puts a smile on your face
- You're drawn to bright colours
- MutilateTheDead: "Yeyyyyyyyyyyyy!!!!!!!! For all of those that don't know what peggle is..... Buy it now! Seriously, now!"
- dangermou5e:: "Peggle consumed my Life when I bought a ipod nano such a great game, not sure how I will find playing it on a home console though?"
- Peggle 2 videos reveal new Peggle masters
- Peggle 2 update adds multiplayer duel mode
- Peggle 2 coming to Xbox 360 on May 7
EA might have been the one boasting about its next-gen graphics engine, but it's Take-Two's NBA 2K14 that convincingly takes the gold for best-looking sports game on Xbox.
By far the most gorgeously realistic portrayal of basketball in a game to date, NBA 2K14's looks are backed up by solid gameplay that's easy enough to learn but has tremendous depth waiting for those willing to learn its intricacies. On top of all this, its fantastic career more, with cut-scenes and even its own fake social network feed, shows how all single-player campaigns in sports games should be done.
Try it if:
- You know your Raptors from your Rockets
- Want to live beyond the uncanny valley
- You love career modes
- Bottle Bank : "Love the 2K Basketball games, i'll be picking this up although probably not at launch. I'd love it if we got a free copy of this for Xbox One instead of FIFA. I'm English and love both football and basketball, but the 2K series is way ahead of FIFA in my opinion."
- Lsnake:: "I'm not a basketball fan, but I have to admit, that did look good. More than good actually."
- NBA 2K14 best-selling sports game on PS4 and Xbox One, NPD says
- NBA 2K14 next-gen runs at 1080p and 60fps
- NBA 2K14 developer diary discusses 'revolutionised' controls
Killer Instinct is a game that has no business being as good at it is. At this point, it's an accepted truth that any classic gaming properties that are resurrected for a modern remake will leave you heartbroken.
But developer Double Helix has been bucking that trend recently. As well as successfully bringing back Strider, it also managed to create a Killer Instinct game that ignites nostalgia for fans of Rare's combo-heavy fighting game, while at the same time introducing a whole new generation of to the joy of hammering buttons for insane combos.
Killer Instinct serves as an excellent entry point for newcomers thanks to a comprehensive training mode that start with the basics and delves deep into the intricacies. It sounds like a strange thing to praise, but having spent years with sub-par training modes, it's refreshing to finally get one that is as thoughtfully constructed as this.
On top of al that newbie-friendly content, Killer Instinct is layered with deep mechanics for seasoned fighting game players to sink their teeth into.
Although characters have been monetised, the core Killer Instinct game is available and fully playable for free on Xbox Live. And, for those that like eye-candy from their games, it's got some of the prettiest visual effects of any game on Xbox. Trying it really is a no-brainer.
From CVG's Killer Instinct review
Killer Instinct's revival is a surprise success. Long-time fighting game players should feel confident about picking up the complete package on the Xbox Live Marketplace, and can look forward to having a accomplished game that's easy to play, but has a high skill-ceiling to strive towards.- Tamoor Hussain
Try it if:
- You have no money
- You love Street Fighter
- You have two controllers
- born2play: "Totally agree with the score,never get bored of hearing the announcer shout ULTRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA"
- Black Mantis: "Really stunned by this game, as I never really had great memories of the arcade original. It seriously is one of the most fun fighters I've played recently."
- Jon Ahmad: "Definitely a solid game but CapCom, Sega and Namco certainly won't be losing any sleep. Still, I loved the arcade original and always did prefer this to the MK games."
Ryse: Son of Rome
Ryse: Son of Rome is one of those showpiece games that prioritises good looks and ridiculous set-pieces above all else. Coming from the studio that previously developed the eye-wateringly beautiful Crysis series, Ryse is - unsurprisingly - absolutely stunning to look at.
Although Ryse is set in ancient Rome, it gives accurate history as much attention as an elephant does an ant. At every opportunity, Ryse kicks facts down a deep well so it can stitch together a an epic set-piece that you gawping at the sheer scale in amazement. History be damned.
Gameplay, while functional, isn't going to leave an impression on you, but the game moves at such a clip that, before you can moan about the combat you're already neck-deep in the next sensory assaulting battle.
As a full price launch title Ryse was a hard sell, but with retailers discounting the physical and digital versions of the game, it's much easier to recommend. Don't go in expecting to Gladiator and you'll enjoy it as raucous six hour romp.
From CVG's Ryse: Son of Rome review
So Ryse isn't a killer app and it's not an unmissable launch title. But it's possibly worth a look for its sheer ambition, its bonkers story and its utterly gorgeous production values. One day you may come across Ryse in a cut-out bin for under a tenner. On that day, if you can get over a couple of rather large hurdles, you might end up having some fun with it.- Nick Cowen
Try it if:
- You want to see beautiful visuals
- And epic set-pieces
- And are ok with dumb fun
- nathanm95: "The graphics are truly next gen and the gameplay is fun and addictive be it a little to easy. i dont understand why checkpointing is a negative point it has a near perfect checkpointing system every time i died i was put straight back into the fight i just lost."
- rmorgan779: "Poor review scores all around but I have to say I enjoyed it"
- brookie_2001: "I think CVG are being generous because it looks so nice. Plays like a bag of cats though."
Forza Motorsport 5
What Forza 5 lacks in quantity (it offers less cars and fewer tracks than its Xbox 360 predecessor) it's certainly packing in quality. Each of its vehicles has a previously unseen level of detail, right down to the leather and wood finishes of certain interiors. Its interesting Drivatar feature, which learns how you play and sculpts a reasonably realistic AI version of you over time, is also a unique way of playing against your friends even when they aren't online. The limited number of tracks mean you can expect some grinding, but what's there is gorgeous.
Be warned though that, if you're the kind of person that takes their driving games serious, Forza 5 might leave you somewhat underwhelmed with its driving experience. Other games, such as the latest entry in the F1 series, will likely prove a better fit, but they're not available on Xbox One and won't look anywhere near as pretty.
From CVG's Forza 5 review
Forza 5 is not a racing game. Not really. It's a driving simulation that features races. Despite all the quality of the production, these chases aren't as thrilling as those of Forza 4, let alone GRID or F1 2013. So unless you're convinced the remarkable graphics and attention to automotive detail are absolutely worth your money, there are other racing games that play much better.- Justin Towell
Try it if:
- You like absurdly attractive visuals
- Wish you owned a Lamborghini Aventador
- Can tolerate Jeremy Clarkson
- vulcanraven01: "Forza is a racing sim. If you find the handling punishing, then maybe play an arcade racer."
- ashadian : "Its just a prettier Forza 4 with less tracks and Cars. They've got rid of some of the best features of its predecessor too. The DLC is a joke. Its a full price game with Microtransactions."
- The_KFD_Case: "The potential for micro-transactions to "triple" the cost of the game (a AAA big-franchise game that isn't selling at discount prices) is the embodiment of why I maintain a very guarded stance towards any games that actively employ such a money mechanism."
Dead Rising 3
Dead Rising 3's biggest strength is the sheer amount of of content that it offers. As an open-world sandbox for players to poke, prod, slice and dice the walking dead, it is the biggest, rich edition in the series yet.
In Los Perdidos having fun and killing zombies in the most creative, amusing ways possible is the name of the game. Every object can be picked up and weaponised, though your mileage with each varies. While some items feel intuitive and are super-effective for thinning out the shambling horde, others are completely useless and are likely to get you bitten if you're not careful. It's all about experimentation.
Poke around the world and you'll find blueprints to craft absurd weapons that are as empowering as they are hilarious. You'll always find something new to use and, unless you dedicated a significant amount of time to exploring, you probably won't craft everything in the first run through.
Dead Rising 3 has its fair share of problems, namely occasional visual hiccups, clunky vehicles, and some shoddy Kinect integration, but these are more forgiveable when weighed up against the joy of killing zombies with mad weapons.
Grinding experience to chase level-ups and ability upgrades is an infectious gameplay loop that doesn't require a whole lot of focus, but is nevertheless satisfying. If you enjoyed the previous games, there's really no reason to skip this.
From CVG's Dead Rising 3 review
In some ways Dead Rising 3 doesn't feel like a sequel at all. It's a sloppy, loose and ugly looking game, lacking the finely tuned foundations of most games in their third iterations. Its problems, though many, are somewhat saved by all of the effortless fun had dicing up zombies with bizarre weaponry. Capcom hasn't managed to clean the blood off this flawed diamond. In some ways it may even have tarnished it further. But a diamond it remains.- Matt Gillman
Try it if:
- You've covered wars, y'know
- Like to kill zombies in ludicrous ways
- Enjoy grinding
- Skipstream: "Just about finished first play through of this and it's good fun! Highly recommend it. Technically it's sound in that it's not buggy - but sure - it could do with a better frame rate at times and higher res, and better facial animations - but for a launch game it's good."
At launch Battlefield 4 was a shaky prospect. While the core shooting experience was as finely tuned and rewarding as ever, once the game was released into the wilds it began to tear at the seams.
Fortunately, DICE and EA have continued to support the game and stitch the experience back together. While there's still some work to be done yet, the Battlefield 4 of today is a significant improvement over the original release.
The campaign is passable entertaining, but the multiplayer is the real draw. As with previous entries, it offers tense, strategic combat at long-range, and heart-pounding firefights up close. Maps like Operation Locker will pile in players into choke point after choke point to keep the blood pumping.
A mixture of classic game modes, including Conquest and Team Deathmatch, return to offer familiar objective based gameplay alongside new delivery, bomb defusal/planting modes such as Obliteration and Defuse.
As far as next-gen shooters go, Battlefield 4 is a highlight, warts and all.
From CVG's Battlefield 4 review
A bombastic start to the next generation of shooters, especially in multiplayer. - Rob Taylor
Try it if:
- You teamwork is important in multiplayer
- Like to see giant buildings toppled
- Are willing to put up with it feeling like a work-in-progress now and then
- lh75: "They're just being over ambitious with marketable features and additions, and reliability, stability, and refinement are suffering. It's commendable that they're trying to push the limits of network gaming, but they need to have a more honest internal testing setup to advise when a game is actually ready to sell."
- Evil Waterman: "As much as this games has its problems, when it works oh what a game."
- Two Pennys Worth: "The game was a mess to start with but is fine now, it's a brilliant game. Can't wait for the new maps."
- Video: Battlefield 4 jet ski jousting should be an official sport
- Battlefield 4 Netcode issues are 'top priority", says DICE
- Battlefield 4 DLC
If for some mad reason you aren't already planning to pick up Titanfall, let this serve as a wholehearted recommendation. Taking the tried, true and well worn Call of Duty formula, Respawn's first-person shooter introduces some new gameplay wrinkles in the form of giant mechs and first-person parkour mechanics.
Titanfall makes enough smart tweaks and new additions that, moreso than any other shooter, it deserves to be described as the "next step" for the first-person shooter genre. Multiplayer is finely balanced so that, in a Titan you don't feel completely overpowered, and as a soldier you never feel like you don't stand a chance.
By smartly plucking the concept of AI creeps from MoBAs like DotA and League of Legends, Titanfall gives those that might not fare as well against human opponents a way to stay engaged. By taking out computer-controlled enemies, even the most helpless of FPS players can quickly gain access to a Titan and enjoy stomping around in a mech.
Burn cards, which are one-off bonuses activated during multiplayer games, offer a unique way to integrate the perk system that is standard to modern multiplayer shooters without completely unbalancing the game.
But, in the end, Titanfall's core gameplay is so satisfying that even those with a passing interest in shooters should give it a shot.
From CVG's Titanfall review
Thrillingly chaotic and expertly tuned,Titanfall is a fairly orthodox FPS elevated to greatness by dozens of intelligent design choices. One-note? Perhaps. But what a note.
- Chris Schilling
Try it if:
- Like epic mech fights
- And dashing into chaotic war zones
- Loved Mirror's Edge's first-person free-running
- : "I don't think I've had so much fun playing a FPS online since Halo 2."
- : "I really enjoyed it. I knew when they formed Respawn that whatever they did would be a good game, but the hype of Titanfall has me worried that it wouldn't deliver, wrong, it was ace, had the replayability of Cod 4"
- Jordon Sandoval: For people that haven't had the chance to play it yet, believe the hype! It's by far the best FPS in the last two console generations.
- Flyfletch: "Everyone should experience this game. It's absolutely fantastic, and no doubt letting everyone try it will increase sales, it's a great idea."
Max and Curse of the Brotherhood
WiiWare and iOS title Max & The Magic Marker was a decent enough platformer with an interesting but easily exploitable gameplay mechanic in which drawing on the screen summoned physics-sensitive objects.
Its sequel not only irons out all that mechanic's game-breaking faults by restricting the ways in which these objects could be used, it also ramped up the production values by an enormous degree to the extent that it's now a beautiful platformer with a sublime soundtrack.
Easily one of the best digital-only games on Xbox.
Try it if:
- You are overprotective of your siblings
- You're a fan classic side-scrolling platformers like Flashback
- If you're a sucker for good art design
- : "Getting this, looks amazing. Loved Limbo."
- Cpt Von Trapp
- : "Thanks Chris - that'll do for me. Think I'll re-prioritise some of the Christmas spending on to me for a change. Sorry kids."
- Arkslippy: "Time to get a 25 euro card, peggle 2 and this."
Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag
As the likes of Call of Duty Ghosts will attest, building cross-gen games for PS3, PlayStation 4, PC and the Xboxes puts a lot of strain on developer resources. As a result, a lot of cross-gen games are understandably reined in; safe, lacking the ambition to push the series and concerned with a safe landing on next-gen platforms.
Assassin's Creed 4, however, is a flagship Ubisoft title and one of the boldest deviations in the series' template. Swashbuckling naval battles carry a degree of scale, detail and cinematic flair that we didn't expect from the Ubisoft Montreal team - certainly not in their first attempt.
Meanwhile, the on-foot adventure is a robust as ever, although it's clear that some digression is necessary to breathe new life into the series. Still, this is a fantastic early game for next-gen consoles, and hopefully a sign of the versatility that Ubisoft can bring to its triple-A franchise.
From CVG's Assassin's Creed 4 review
The fact that ACIV is so good was by no means a foregone conclusion. There was a sense that, as the dust settled after ACIII, Ubisoft had missed a beat. Brows rightly furrowed as commentators pondered whether the series had already overshot its zenith. Much like the first Assassin's Creed, Black Flag isn't perfect. But the treasure trove of memorable experiences on offer here put all but the very best open worlds to shame. - Matt Sakuraoka-Gilman
Try it if:
- You want to be a pirate
- You want to wash the taste of AC3
- You don't know enough sea shanties
- iN5OMANiAC: "After being bored with AC since Brotherhood, I took a punt on AC4 (I thought 3 was awful) and it's by far the best of the series."
- neogreyfox: "Let this series die. I love this series, but it should have ended with AC3. If you wanted to go to different eras and settings, then you should have done that before finishing the series, and instead of having 3 games set in Ezios era. In my opinion, AC4 should have been released just as a pirate game, a new IP with a fresh faced Blackbeard or complete unknown as the protagonist would have been great. No need to remove the game mechanics from AC, incorporate them as you did with other franchises like Far Cry and Splinter Cell. Ubisoft needs to let this series go, and take the risks on new IPs that they have been known for in the past."
- SilverShane: "Love to see ubisoft make a pirate game or even a series that has nothing to do with assassins creed as they have done a fantastic job on the naval gameplay in both black flag and ac 3 and with the power of next gen now I'm sure it would be special"
Honourable mentions: Zoo Tycoon, Need For Speed Rivals, Plants Vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare
Contributors: Chris Scullion, Tamoor Hussain. List gathered by the CVG editorial team in London. Prices accurate at time of publication.