December 3, 2021

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Best Xbox Series X, S, and Xbox One Games to play right now!

Whether you’ve just picked up a precious Xbox Series X/S, or you’re an Xbox One gamer who wants to know what to play next, we’ve got you covered. We’ve listed out the 23 games you must play if you’re an Xbox console owner.

The Xbox Series X is one of the most powerful consoles ever created, and the Xbox Series S is no slouch either. They promise updated graphics and low loading times. That said, there are no next-generation exclusives on Xbox Series X. Not only can (almost) all Xbox One games be played on the Series consoles, thanks to backward compatibility, but every game on this list is also playable on the Xbox One. There may be next-generation exclusives in the future, but at the moment Xbox appears to be keeping game releases as inclusive as possible.

Also, for the sake of brevity, we’re not going to be including backward-compatible games or games available through Xbox Game Pass. We’re only including games you can purchase for your Xbox One or Series X/S now.

So, in no particular order, here are the 23 best Xbox games you can buy right now for your Xbox One or Xbox Series X/S console.

Halo: The Master Chief Collection

Accept no substitutes: When you want to play the best Microsoft has to offer, an experience you won’t get on a PlayStation or Nintendo console, you start with Halo. The Master Chief Collection includes Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, Halo 2: Anniversary, Halo 3, Halo 3: ODST, Halo Reach, and Halo 4. Each game has updated graphics and audio, meaning you’re getting the best version of each game. The collection gets regular updates, with Halo Reach having been added in 2019, a full five years after the MCC was originally released. As a bonus, Halo 5: Guardians, the only mainline Halo game that’s not currently included in the MCC, is currently available for Xbox One as well, so you can play the whole series before the next game, Halo Infinite is released.

    Halo: The Master Chief Collection
    A compilation of classic Halo games available for the Xbox One and Series X/S consoles, in which you follow the long journey of Master Chief.

Gears 5

The Gears of War series has been another Microsoft staple — not as recognizable as Halo, but pretty close. While the original trilogy starring Marcus Fenix will always be the gold standard, Gears has fully transitioned to a new generation with Gears 5. In this game, you play as Kait Diaz and her squad (which includes Marcus’s son JD) attempting to discover the origins of the Locust. Gears is a series with a very particular style of combat that hasn’t changed very much over the years, and it’s done to perfection in this installment. Like any good Gears game, it has an enjoyable multiplayer component in addition to its story campaign, but you may find yourself spending more time on the latter than you think, considering the series has now gone open world.

    Gears 5
    The latest game in the Gears of War series, with an excellent single-player campaign and multiplayer combat.

Sea of Thieves

If you want a game you can play with your buddies, or if you’ve ever dreamed of adventure on the high seas, Sea of Thieves is the Xbox game to get. Created by veteran studio Rare, Sea of Thieves lets you put together a crew of scallywag pirates to loot and pillage your way across a vast ocean full of treasure. The game has improved significantly since its launch when it was a little lean on booty. Now, after multiple content updates, there’s enough on the high seas to keep you and your crew sailing for quite some time.

    Sea of Thieves
    A multiplayer pirate adventure game that lets you gallivant over the high seas with your own crew.

Ori & the Blind Forest / Ori and the Will of the Wisps

I’m including both games in the Ori series for Xbox, because if you want to play a game that will make you gasp at the beauty of what you’re seeing, you can’t do better than these jewel-colored fantasy platformers. You play as Ori, a tiny forest sprite who must purge the forests around it of creeping darkness, protecting the friends it makes along the way. Blind Forest is a shorter game than Will of the Wisps, so I do recommend players try it first, but if you only have the time for one game you can definitely start with Will of the Wisps and not be completely in the dark. These are among the more visually appealing games you can play on the Xbox One, and they look stunning on Series X/S.

    Ori and the Will of the Wisps
    One of the Xbox’s most beautiful platform adventures.

Yakuza: Like a Dragon

like a dragon - ichiban

Credit: Sega

The Yakuza series was originally a PlayStation exclusive. However, thanks to Xbox Game Pass, practically the whole series has come to the Xbox. That said, if you’re a newcomer, it’s the latest game in the series where you’ll find the easiest point of entry. Like a Dragon casts the player as Ichiban Kasuga, a new hero taking the reins from the various protagonists of the previous titles, who starts the game having no connection to the previous story arcs. Ichiban’s offbeat and silly personality and the fact that he visualizes his street brawls as turn-based RPG combat is so weird that it has to be played to be believed. The game is tied to the previous seven games in the series, but not so much that you won’t know what’s going on. If you want a fun Xbox title, this is one you have to experience.

    Yakuza: Like A Dragon
    A zany action game with turn-based combat, set on the streets of Yokohama.

The Outer Worlds

outer worlds - planets

Credit: Private Division

If you’re a fan of the Fallout games or space shooters in general, Obsidian’s RPG The Outer Worlds might be right up your alley. It’s a game set in the future, and you play a random interstellar traveler who has to settle a space colony and figure out where they fit in the vast landscape of corporate conspiracy. This game is ideal for those who want to both enjoy an RPG and play a first-person shooter. The art design and good humor put Outer Worlds above the rest of the pack, and it’s worth sinking your teeth into. It’s also received two story DLCs since launch, so it has enough content to keep you occupied for a while.

    The Outer Worlds
    A first-person RPG set in space where you play a gunslinger out to topple a corporate conspiracy.

Return of the Obra Dinn

obra dinn - ship

If you’re a fan of mysteries, Lucas Pope’s Return of the Obra Dinn is one of the best games of the generation. You play an insurance investigator trying to discover why the titular ship has arrived at port with none of its passengers or crew aboard. There’s no action to speak of — in fact, you investigate the boat’s history through the use of a mysterious pocket watch that lets you see still images of the past. This is a very slow-paced and methodical game, but if you’re interested in something that doesn’t involve shooting guns or swinging swords — or even if you just want a break from that — Obra Dinn is a good indie title to buy.

    Return of the Obra Dinn
    A monochrome mystery title where you must discover the true story of a ghost ship.

Forza Horizon 4

The Forza series has been an Xbox console exclusive since 2005, and Forza Horizon 4 is the most recent game in the mainstream series. It’s widely considered to be the best in the series, if not the best racing game on the Xbox One full-stop. It’s got a variety of fun game modes, cars, and challenges to keep you busy for days, especially if you get a racing wheel to use with it. Set in the United Kingdom, Horizon 4 lets you race around a dynamic, changing open world with changing weather and seasons. Even if racing games aren’t your thing, Horizon 4 is still worth trying out for the exploratory element alone. It’s also one of the most beautiful games you can play on an Xbox console.

    Forza Horizon 4
    The best and most beautiful game in Xbox’s signature racing game series.

Doom Eternal

doom eternal - slayer

Credit: Bethesda

Doom is a gaming franchise as old as dirt, and yet it’s still surviving and thriving on current consoles. The latest in the series, Doom Eternal, is one of the best action shooters available on current consoles. You play as the Doom Slayer, who’s going to fix the demonic invasion of Earth even if it means ripping and tearing through every hellspawn personally. If the exciting gameplay isn’t enough for you, Eternal actually has a good story to go along with the action — though not a particularly serious one. It’s mostly a fun romp, following the Doom Slayer’s murderous journey, with a rare moment of pathos as a bonus.

    Doom Eternal
    A gloriously violent action game in which you must eradicate a demon invasion personally.

The Tomb Raider Reboot Trilogy

This one is a bit of a cheat since it’s three games in one, but the story of the latest iteration of Lara Croft deserves to be experienced in its complete form. At the time of this writing, all three games are available to purchase in the Definitive Survivor Trilogy from the Xbox Store, so we’re treating this as a single game. You play as a younger, less-experienced, and more accident-prone Lara Croft, surviving her first treasure-hunting expeditions. Lara Croft’s adventures are always great fun, and the reboot trilogy takes several of its cues from Uncharted. Considering the latter is a PlayStation franchise, Tomb Raider can be the equivalent experience for Xbox gamers.

    Tomb Raider: Definitive Survivor Trilogy
    The three games in the Tomb Raider reboot trilogy, following a young Lara Croft’s adventures.

Devil May Cry V

devil may cry 5 - heroes

Credit: Capcom

Devil May Cry is one of the best action game franchises of all time, and Devil May Cry V is arguably the best of the franchise. You play as three different demon hunters clearing a ruined city, each with their own agenda and secrets. It’s a good entry point into the series for newcomers, as the first character you play is Nero, who has no connection to the ongoing storyline. The combat is the real meat-and-potatoes of the game, and it’s great for both beginners and action game veterans. You can play it hacky-slashy-button-mashy if you’re new and don’t know any better, and that’s completely viable. But if you know what you’re doing, you’ll discover a wealth of strategies to get your scores as high as possible.

    Devil May Cry 5
    The magnum opus in the Devil May Cry action series, stuffed with great combat and fanservice.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

witcher 3 - geralt

Credit: CD Projekt Red

The Witcher 3 has accrued every accolade you can imagine and has been called one of the best fantasy RPGs ever made, and it deserves all of that praise. Playing as Geralt the Witcher in his journey to find his daughter Ciri is an experience no gamer should miss, and the game looks especially gorgeous on the Series X graphics. Now, with the next-generation update, you can play the complete game with all of its DLC, with each of the latter almost being small games onto themselves. If you’re looking for a good fantasy game to play on Xbox and for some reason you haven’t played Witcher 3 already, it’s a must-buy.

    The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
    One of the greatest RPG adventures and fantasy games available on this generation of consoles.

Cuphead

Cuphead was one of the most interesting indie games when it was originally announced. An indie platformer designed to look like an old-school cartoon, it was visually distinct from any other game that debuted at the same show. You play as Cuphead — or, if you’re a co-op partner, Mugman — beating a series of wacky bosses to settle your debt to the devil. If you want a challenge, Cuphead is a title that will work for you. It’s a tough game, both in the boss arenas and in the platforming levels. It’s also very satisfying to beat, especially if you’re playing with a co-op partner.

    Cuphead
    Xbox’s quirky and challenging cartoon platformer is one of the most fun games to look at.

Minecraft

What can one say about Minecraft that hasn’t been said before? The game in which you create your own world and space is still a must-play ten years after it was originally released. It’s a staple that belongs on every console, and you should definitely play it if you’ve avoided it thus far. Minecraft remains one of the biggest and most influential games of the last decade, and it’s inspired multiple spin-off games. If vanilla Minecraft isn’t your thing, you can also try out the dungeon-crawler Minecraft Dungeons, also available on Xbox.

    Minecraft Master Collection
    One of the most influential sandbox crafting games of all time, where gamers can build and create to their heart’s content.

Titanfall 2

titanfall 2 - titans

Credit: Electronic Arts

The original Titanfall was exclusive to Xbox, and while its sequel is not, it’s still a great game to play on Xbox. The movement system in Titanfall 2 is a combination of first-person shooter gameplay and parkour that’s a blast to play. The multiplayer scene is also still well-populated, even years after the game’s release. Titanfall 2 also has something the first game didn’t: A good story campaign. You play Jack Cooper, a soldier who becomes the de facto pilot of Titan BT-7274. Their adventure and friendship, while perhaps not the most original story, is very well-told and fun to play.

    Titanfall 2
    A great mecha action-adventure game with fun multiplayer and an enjoyable single-player campaign.

Resident Evil 2 Remake

re2 remake - leon and claire

Credit: Capcom

The Resident Evil series has produced some of the best horror games in gaming history, and the remake of Resident Evil 2 takes an already great horror game and upgrades it for a new generation. If you want a game on your Xbox that’ll spook you, you need to get this title. You play as Claire Redfield and Leon Kennedy, who have both turned up in Raccoon City at the worst possible time: The city is overrun with zombies. Seeking shelter in the police station — which isn’t much of a shelter, as it’s also crawling with nasties — the two must attempt to get to the bottom of the outbreak while not dying to the horrible monstrosities that dog their every step.

    Resident Evil 2
    A remake of one of the greatest survival horror games that is itself one of the greatest survival horror games.

Red Dead Redemption 2

Rockstar open-world games are a good inclusion to any game library. While Grand Theft Auto V has been consistently good across three console generations, it’s Red Dead Redemption 2 that we recommend for its involving story about the fall of a band of scoundrels in the Old West. The tale of Arthur Morgan and his doomed posse is good enough on its own — sad, but good. If you reach the end of the campaign and still can’t get enough of the gameplay, then you can jump into Red Dead Online, the Old West version of the chaotic craziness that is GTA Online.

    Red Dead Redemption 2
    Rockstar’s latest open-world adventure, set in the tragedy and beauty of the Old West.

Monster Hunter World

The Monster Hunter series has always been a Nintendo franchise, so World coming to Xbox is a coup that Xbox gamers should take advantage of. In case you haven’t heard, Monster Hunter is a game in which you hunt monsters — massive monsters that can easily devour you. To combat them, you basically run with the biggest weapons imaginable strapped to your back. If you have any fondness for RPG tropes, open worlds, or giant monsters, this is a game you have to play.

    Monster Hunter World
    The open-world RPG in which you track and kill massive creatures and loot their bodies for materials.

Firewatch

Indie titles, especially the so-called “walking simulators” may not be the most exciting games to come to the console, but Firewatch is still a must-play for its beauty and its involving, if quiet story. You play as Henry, who’s searching for something even he’s not sure of, and has taken a job at a firewatch tower in a forest. There are slight elements of horror to the game, but it’s not particularly scary. If anything, it’s kind of sad — a story about lonely people and isolation. It’s also not a particularly long game, which means it’s a great title if you’re pressed for time and just want something you can finish.

    Firewatch
    A beautiful indie walking simulator in which you must confront loneliness and personal tragedy.

Hollow Knight

There are a number of games that are challenging on the Xbox consoles, but one that’s both fun to play and has great art design is Hollow Knight. You play as the titular Knight, exploring Hallownest, confronting massive bosses, and accruing new abilities that open up new areas in which to platform. The limited color palette and atmosphere of the game are what set it apart from its fellows. It’s also received a lot of updates since launch, meaning you’ll be able to keep playing it for a long time.

    Hollow Knight: Voidheart Edition
    A challenging indie platformer about battling bosses and exploring a darkly beautiful world.

Overcooked

overcooked - chefs

Credit: Team17

If you’re looking for a game to play with friends, and you don’t mind a title that’ll give you as much frustration as it does amusement, Overcooked is a good game to get. You (and up to three partners) must attempt to cook meals in the most chaotic kitchen imaginable. Overcooked is a couch co-op title, meaning you can play it with a partner next to you. While there aren’t as many couch co-op titles as there are online multiplayer games, they do exist, and Overcooked is one of the more entertaining ones on Xbox.

    Overcooked! + Overcooked! 2
    A co-op title in which you and partners have to cook under the strangest and most chaotic kitchens.

Divinity: Original Sin 2

divinity original sin 2

Credit: Larian Studios

If first-person shooters or third-person adventures aren’t your things, try a good, old-fashioned top-down RPG. Divinity: Original Sin 2 is one of the best games to come from Larian Studios. You pick your origin story, which will affect how you’re treated for the rest of the adventure. If the above-mentioned RPG games like Monster Hunter or Outer Worlds aren’t your thing, this is a little more of a pure experience. It’s also a co-op game that can be played with two players on split-screen or with up to four players online.

    Divinity: Original Sin 2 Definitive Edition
    A top-down fantasy RPG in which your origin story is one of your biggest choices.

Assassin’s Creed Valhalla

This list wouldn’t be complete without the inclusion of an Assassin’s Creed title, and the most recent game, a Viking adventure that takes the best mechanics from its two predecessors, is the title Xbox gamers should play. Valhalla is the usual Ubisoft sandbox title: You, as the Viking Eivor, explore the world, find treasure, kill targets, and sail the seas on your ship. It’s the same gameplay formula the series has had since Black Flag, but in Valhalla, it’s at its most beautiful and enjoyable. If you’re a newcomer to the series, it’s also a good place to start as it’s fairly separate from the ongoing AC story.

    Assassin's Creed Valhalla
    The latest in the Assassin’s Creed series, in which you play a Viking warrior exploring England.

Keep in mind that this is just scratching the surface. There are thousands of games available to Xbox gamers, and that’s not even getting into the games that come with an Xbox Game Pass subscription, which can give even a cheap gaming laptop a library comparable to the Xbox consoles at a single monthly price. But we think this list will be enough to get you started and hopefully help you get the most out of your Xbox console.