Want to know which Xbox One games you should buy and which ones you should avoid? This is what this article is all about. We've created a comprehensive list of Xbox One releases that sorts out the hits from the misses. Additionally, the USgamer team members have also posted their personal recommendations, and explain why those games are their favorites.
The Best - 5 Star Rated
Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare: Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare's bright colors, cartoon graphics and humorous approach are the antithesis of most first-person shooters. But don't be fooled. It's as good as any out there - and very likely an awful lot more fun.
Need for Speed: Rivals: Need for Speed: Rivals takes some of the best features from prior franchise entries and combines them with a seamless single-multiplayer mode to create an absolutely terrific, utterly bonkers race-and-chase game that looks and sounds as good as it drives. (Link is to PS4 review, but the Xbox One version is the same)
Highly Recommended - Rated 4.5 Stars
Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag: It's still not perfect because it carries the same gameplay and story missteps as its predecessor, but the graphics are much improved over the original, the storyline is more interesting, and there's a lot more depth to its locations. (Link is to PS4 review, but the Xbox One version is the same)
Forza Motorsport 5: Forza Motorsport makes its next-gen debut in stunning style, with great gameplay and superb visuals that show off the Xbox One's capabilities in impressive fashion.
LEGO Marvel Super Heroes: Still trying to get someone into the Marvel Universe? If they have an open mind and an Xbox One, Traveller's Tales Lego Marvel Superheroes is the perfect introduction. For families or individuals that love Marvel comics, movies, or cartoons, Lego Marvel Superheroes is the perfect pick-up. (Link is to PS4 review, but the Xbox One version is the same)
Tomb Raider Definitive Edition: Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition is an excellent port for Xbox One, with some great graphical improvements. You can tell Crystal Dynamics pulled out all of the stops to make this the best version of Tomb Raider. If you've played it before, it may worth a rent. If you haven't, the Definitive Edition is great purchase that outclasses the PC edition. Unfortunately, the potential price gulf between this version and the PC version can make it a hard sell.
NBA 2K14: Xbox One launched with not one, but two basketball games. The choice between the two was made very easy thanks to the fact that there's absolutely no contest between the excellent NBA 2K14 and its comparatively weak arch-rival, NBA Live. From graphics to gameplay, NBA 2K14 comprehensively trounces it on almost every level.
Recommended - Rated 4 Stars
Titanfall: Titanfall isn't the most innovative first-person shooter ever, but it is well-developed and quite fun. Respawn Entertainment brings back some of the high-flying shooting play that once graced titles like Unreal Tournament and Quake III Arena, and marries it to the huge, lumbering mechs called Titans. Even more surprising, the game is still balanced no matter how you choose to play. It's multiplayer-only, so strict single-player gamers need not apply, but if you're open Titanfall has a lot to offer.
Just Dance 2014: This highly entertaining party dance game takes full advantage of Kinect. Just remember that if a bunch of you playing at the same time, make sure you're doing so on a concrete floor. You really don't want to be literally bringing down the house.
Call of Duty: Ghosts: If you can't get enough of Call of Duty's multiplayer action, Ghosts certainly delivers the goods. The more casual players might be disappointed at its incremental refinement and spectacular, but all-too-short single-player campaign. Squads and Extinction, however, are a breath of fresh air offer a tantalizing taste of where the series may go. (Link is to PS4 review, but the Xbox One version is the same)
Dead Rising 3: The graphics don't provide as much of a next-generation leap as we'd hoped, but the atmosphere and huge number of zombies more than make up for any other visual shortcomings. The weapon and vehicle customization options and the addition of Nightmare Mode give Dead Rising 3 the legs it needs to stay in constant rotation on your Xbox One.
FIFA 14: This represents a placeholder entry into the FIFA series. It does everything you want it to, and offers plenty of high-quality footballing action. But the problem is that it's a port of the previous generation version, and not a made-for-next-gen game. So unless you really must have a soccer game, we'd recommend waiting until the next version.
Killer Instinct: Killer Instinct's fighting mechanics are top notch. You can't argue with how easy the game is to pick up and play, and you'll have a ton of fun in the process.
Zumba Fitness: World Party: If you want to dance your way to fitness but feel all self-conscious at the prospect of shaking your booty down your local Casa de Zumba, this is a good substitute. It has some good songs and routines, and makes the whole thing rather fun.
The Rest - Rated 3.5 Stars or Less
Battlefield 4: Battlefield 4 is a beautiful game and if you want something to show off that next-generation power to your family, this is up there with Killzone. It's not up to the PC's level, but it's close enough. The campaign is very impressive at times, but mostly it's the same boring cover shooting you've come to expect from AAA FPS games. Multiplayer is the game's big draw, but it doesn't stand on its own until the battles get real big on the larger levels. Using server filters should keep your multiplayer game exciting. (Link is to PS4 review, but the Xbox One version is the same)
Crimson Dragon: Many of the USG team members who fondly remember the Panzer Dragoon series had high hopes for what was looking like the spiritual successor to that classic series. But they were soon dashed. Despite some nice-looking graphics, the gameplay just isn't interesting.
Lego Movie Video Game: The Lego Movie Videogame is the latest title in TT Games' long line of great family-friendly games. The developer has turned out another rock-solid gaming experience here, but how much you love it depends on how much you love the source material. I thought The Lego Movie was a great film, so I like the game, but your mileage may vary.
LocoCycle: This off-beat racing game was perhaps the biggest Xbox One launch dud. It doesn't really make much sense, and it's not much fun to play. Spend your money elsewhere.
Madden NFL 25: Outside of instant replays, Madden NFL 25 won't impress the average player on Xbox One, as the game's normal play mode doesn't always show off the next-generation graphics. Improved physics and player AI change how the game is played on a fundamental level, making it more realistic, so veteran players will need a period of adjustment. Unlike previous console launch versions of Madden, Madden NFL 25 on PS4 keeps all the extra modes you've come to expect from the series. (Link is to PS4 review, but the Xbox One version is the same)
Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes: Ground Zeroes is definitely fun while it lasts, and it offers an interesting taste of what is to come in Phantom Pain. As appetizers go, it's terrific. Just don't expect a full meal. (Link is to PS4 review, but the Xbox One version is the same)
NBA Live 14: The weaker of the two Xbox One basketball launch games, Electronic Arts' effort simply isn't as polished or rewarding to play as NBA 2K14. Buy that one instead.
Peggle 2: It's not like Peggle 2 is bad, but the question is WHY? Why do you need this on Xbox One when it's far more suited to phone or tablet gaming.
Powerstar Golf: This cheap and cheerful casual golf game can be a little frustrating to play at times, but it still manages to provide adequate entertainment for its fairly meager price tag. Just don't expect it to keep you entertained for long.
Ryse: Son of Rome: RYSE's stunning visuals, solid story and a nearly unmatched cinematic flair, are unfortunately offset by simple and repetitive combat, and gameplay that offers little challenge.
Skylanders: Swap Force: This is very much a kid's game. While you'd doubtlessly find it absolutely super if you haven't yet celebrated your 12th birthday, if you have passed that milestone, you really should be looking elsewhere for your gaming kicks.
Strider: Sadly, Strider falls somewhat short of the original. Despite its failings, though, it manages to be the best Strider game since that old coin-op. With a little more polish and creativity, this could be the start of something great.
Thief: Thief will almost certainly frustrate fans of the older trilogy, but it suffers shortcomings on a more objective level as well. Though solidly made, it never challenges the well-worn conventions of stealth action. In short, it lacks a certain spark of inspiration. It's good, yet it falls short of "future classic" status. (PS4 version reviewed. Xbox One version has almost imperceptible lighting differences, but is otherwise the same game)
Zoo Tycoon: While Zoo Tycoon is rather simple and lacks depth, younger players might well like it. Just make sure you sit down and play it with them at first, because the initial setup might be a little complicated for the littler 'uns.
Bound By Flame: Bound By Flame is a number of good ideas poorly crafted into a final product. The story itself is rather generic, with poor dialog and voice acting preventing you from getting emotionally invested in the world. The core combat is good, but once it meets with the larger game, it begins to break down. Even an excellent crafting system can't save Bound By Flame from being a budget RPG. If you can find it for $15-20, it might be worth a go for action-RPG fanatics. (Link is to PC review, but the Xbox One version is the same)
The Amazing Spider-Man 2: Beenox latest Spider-Man game is a swing and a miss. The developer has improved the web-swinging mechanic and getting around Spider-Man's Manhattan has never been better. Unfortunately, the rest of the game drags it down. A schizophrenic story, a lifeless New York, and boring villains are what you can expect for the price of entry. The game's Hero/Menace system even takes all the fun out of just randomly swinging around the city. Beenox can do better, so I'm hoping the developer's next outing results in something truly "Amazing". (Link is to PS4 review, but the Xbox One version is the same)
Lego The Hobbit: Lego The Hobbit brings the first two Hobbit films to life in TT Games' great, family-friendly style. On PlayStation 4, the game looks absolutely amazing, especially in the cutscenes and major battles when it matters most. Unfortunately, the source material lets down TT Games here; the dwarves just aren't very distinct when compared to the cast of Lego Marvel and The Lego Movie. All told, Lego The Hobbit is very good, but it doesn't reach the best of those previous titles. (Link is to PS4 review, but the Xbox One version is the same)
The preceding games are what we believe represent the best that Xbox One has to offer right now. But which ones are our own personal favorites? Over to Team USG to reveal all.
Titanfall is a new addition to my favorite games list, and it's here because it's responsible for more hours of lost sleep than I care to mention. It's without doubt my most-played game this generation - and really, that's my highest possible recommendation. With all the choice of games we have to play, Titanfall is the one I keep going back to.
Although we reviewed Titanfall at launch, after playing it for a month and putting many, many hours into the game, I decided to write a second, long-term test review.
I've been going on and on about this for months, so it's no surprise Forza 5 sits at pole position on my must-buy Xbox One launch games list.
When I played it at E3, I was very impressed. Not quite blown away, but definitely impressed. This is largely due to the narrowing technical gap between generations that we've been seeing since the 90's. While we will eventually see a clear and significant difference between the incoming generation and the outgoing one, it's going to take some time. Until then, to the untrained eye, many games will look very similar.
Forza 5 is such a game. On the face of it, it's not a huge step up from Forza 4. There are differences, however – it's just that they're in the details. The richer level of atmospheric effects, the more complex lighting, the slightly more convincing interiors, and minutiae like leaves that swirl as you drive past them. The backdrops are more sophisticated too, and draw distances have been pushed way out. It's difficult to appreciate them when you're driving down a narrow road at 125 mph trying to overtake an opponent, but they're there if you look.
The new and much-heralded AI system is a little hit-and-miss. It's supposed to be based on real people's driving, but it sometimes does some really dumb things - like braking ridiculously early, or freaking out on a straight. Perhaps that's what some people do, but sometimes it just seems a bit off. Ultimately, if you spend more time competing with other players, it's all moot anyway.
We'll have to wait and see whether Gran Turismo will catch up when it finally arrives on PS4. If its recent performance is anything to go by, it'll likely arrive around the same time we'll be expecting Forza 6. Until then, Forza 5 sits atop the podium as greatest racer out there.
Need for Speed: Rivals
Yes. Another driving game. But this one is a slightly different flavor to Forza 5. Where Turn 10's elegant automotive experience is all about driving finesse, trying not to hit other cars and shaving tenths of a second off your lap time to reach the checkered flag first, Need for Speed is a brutal, no-holds-barred, four-wheeled war zone.
It packs a ton of features that make it great, but the best of them all is AllDrive, which seamlessly integrates single- and multiplayer mode. If your friends are online, you can see exactly what they're doing and join in their fun. Or you can just drive right past them and carry on doing whatever it is you're doing. Which is inevitably driving flat-out like an idiot, either trying to catch the racer in front of you as a cop, or trying to avoid cops and challenging other players to races if you've decided to pursue a career on the wrong side of the law.
Boasting a wealth of cars, tons of missions, and a big open world that offers a full spectrum of driving opportunities, Need for Speed: Rivals is a gorgeous-looking, raucous-sounding, bonkers-playing combat race game that helps start this next generation off with a bang, followed by a huge slide, a collision with an oncoming car, and a barrel roll down the road.
Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare
This particular slot in my top three Xbox One games has been occupied by both Call of Duty: Ghosts and Battlefield 4 since the Xbox One launched last year. But now it's time for an update, and the game replacing them is something very similar - but with a far bigger sense of humor. I reviewed Pop Cap's Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare a couple of weeks ago, and I'm still playing it solidly. You can read my review if you want to find out exactly why I enjoy it so much, but if you want the cliff notes: it's stupid, it's fun, and the team multiplayer action is thoroughly enjoyable.
PvZ isn't necessarily better than either Battlefield 4 or COD: Ghosts. Each game simply offers its own unique take on the multiplayer shooter. The militarized pair are obviously more serious. COD delivers some great multiplayer modes, intelligently-designed arenas and the very best gun-oriented action. Battlefield is a huge open space filled with mayhem that gives you tons of options, from driving tanks, flying plans and using all manner of weapons. PvZ is more laid back, is more accessible and easier to play than the other two, but it still offers some intense, utterly bonkers multiplayer team battles. All three are winners, so pick whichever one suits the way you like to play.
Me? I'm going on a killing spree with a happy smiley sunflower. Prepare to die.
Dead Rising 3
I've said before that I have a hard time getting stoked about launch lineups, and Xbox One really drives that fact home. It's not that the system's debut titles don't have promise -- they're just not the sort of games I normally flip out for. Those typically come later, after developers have a chance to get a feel for the machine and time to develop deeper, more consuming ventures. Plus Xbox One lacks the huge roster of indie titles that balances out PS4's flashy-but-shallow retail releases. There's plenty to be excited about further down the road for the console -- D4 looks interestingly wacky, and holy cow is Titanfall fun -- but this early slate of software leaves me cold.
Fortunately, Dead Rising 3 embodies the shining exception to my launch blues rules: At once a substantial adventure, a sequel to one of the definitive titles for Microsoft's previous system, and an ambitious open-world action thriller. The previous Dead Risings have been full of interesting ideas and systems that never quite gelled to perfection, but early buzz on the third game in the series suggests it has real potential. I'm not enamored with the second-screen elements (which basically amount to "use a tablet for an instant win") but so long as they're optional I'm happy to go about my zombie-slaying tasks with aplomb. Especially if it evokes the ridiculously un-serious fun of Saints Row. And this from someone who normally hates zombie games!
It looks like 2013 is where Double Helix breaks out of its shell of mediocrity. Killer Instinct by all rights should be horrible; fighting games are hard to make and balance. Instead, it plays well; it's fast, bright, and fun. The team has clearly looked at what works in the current fighting game market and updated the classic Killer Instinct gameplay accordingly.
The updated designs for the original cast have all been superb, even if Glacius' new look will have to grow on me. Even more surprising, is that each character has clearly been pushed in different direction to allow for different playstyles. It's impressive work, and it all comes together. The roster is a bit sparse, but this isn't a fire-and-forget release. Microsoft and Double Helix intend to support the game with more characters and a story mode coming next year. I've been wanting a new Killer Instinct since 1996, and someone finally delivered.
Just Dance 2014
On the Xbox 360, the Kinect - yes, I have one - was only great for two things: dance games and Netflix voice commands. Of the two dance games out there, Harmonix' Dance Central and Ubisoft's Just Dance, I stuck with Dance Central. Just Dance was more fun, but Dance Central was the "hardcore" version. You felt like you could actually dance after long sessions of Dance Central, while Just dance was more forgiving. Harmonix has left the Dance Central series behind in order to create the family-friendly Fantasia: Music Evolved, so Ubisoft has this year's dance card all to itself.
I was going to ignore Just Dance 2014, but having to wait at Ubisoft's E3 booth for other appointments meant I had to watch three or four Just Dance 2014 songs performed by professional dancers and random crowd members. With each song, my interest peaked a little more. It looked like a ton of fun. Is there some sort of sinister hypnotism at work?
Just Dance 2014 features an impressive list of super pop-y songs for me to shake my ass to, and all-new Kinect works just as well as the old one. Will you booty shake with me?
Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag
Yes, Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag was also on my list for PlayStation 4 and I loved it when I reviewed it on that platform, but I'm a bit of a rebel. If I was only getting one console and that was the Xbox One, ACIV would still be at the top of my list. Did the navel-gazing of Assassin's Creed III's Connor bore you at times? ACIV's protagonist - 'hero' is a bit strong - Edward Kenway is far more charismatic and in tune with exactly what he wants from the world.
Did you hate the naval combat in ACIII because it never felt tied to the main game? Good, because now it's an integral part of the experience! Did you love the naval combat in ACIII? Great, because now there's a ton more of it!
Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag is a big badass open-world and Ubisoft has had another year to hammer out the bugs in its new AnvilNext engine. While the game will still probably look good on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 4, it looks goddamn gorgeous on the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Even though it's coming to current-gen as well, it's still my next-gen title to beat.
Need for Speed: Rivals
I enjoy the Need for Speed games, but I always feel like they stop short of providing what I really want from them -- an interactive Fast and Furious movie. Several past installments have tried to incorporate story into their gameplay with varying amounts of success, but mostly have just boiled down to racing. Fun, exciting, eminently silly racing, admittedly, but still little more than the same sort of thing we've been enjoying for years now, albeit a little prettier.
Need for Speed: Rivals still doesn't really provide that experience, but it does the next best thing: gives us another Hot Pursuit. Autolog is simultaneously the best and worst thing to happen to racing games ever; competition with friends is good, but at the same time it can lead to repeatedly playing one single race over and over again in an attempt to smash that last record by a hundredth of a second rather than actually making any progress.
Hot Pursuit kept my friends and I battling it out for hundredths of a second for a significant period of time; Most Wanted unfortunately failed to recapture that magic. I'm hoping Rivals has the legs to support competition in the long term.