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
Forza Horizon 2: A meticulously crafted, marvelous-looking and superbly designed racer that dishes up an absolute feast of automotive madness and mayhem. Sheer brilliance through and through.
Watch Dogs: Watch Dogs combines an astonishingly detailed world, a gripping storyline, creative game mechanics, a myriad of missions and activities, and improvisational tactical sandbox gameplay to create a truly next-generation open world game. Phenomenal. No other word for it.
Diablo III: Reaper of Souls - Ultimate Evil Edition: Perhaps the definitive version of Diablo III, Reaper of Souls Ultimate Evil Edition is streamlined, buttoned-down and an absolute joy to play - especially so when you start adding friends.
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. (PS4 review: 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. (PS4 review: Xbox One version is the same)
Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor: Shadow of Mordor is a great first step into the open-world action-adventure genre for Monolith. It up-ends what's come before with the Nemesis System, which brings the player closer to the game with personalized foes. The game isn't perfect - resurrecting foes can be frustrating - but those issues won't hold you back from enjoying yourself. (PS4 review: Xbox One version is largely the same)
Alien Isolation: While it has a few rough patches and may prove too slow and drawn-out for some players, Isolation does an amazing job of capturing the essence of a classic film and recasting it as a video game. It can be a little too easy to see the man behind the curtain at times, but this is nevertheless one of the finest film-to-game adaptations ever... and a fantastic stealth adventure in its own right. (PS4 review: 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. (PS4 review: 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 2K15: NBA 2K15's scope and ambition as a sports sim is admirable; and though its execution doesn't always match its vision, it's still an altogether polished and impressive package. Even if you don't care much about basketball, it's worth checking out for its highly entertaining MyPlayer mode alone. Once again, Visual Concepts has nailed what makes the NBA so appealing to a wide swath of people. (PS4 review: Xbox One version is basically the same)
FIFA 15: FIFA 15's improvements don't jump out right away, but they rapidly manifest themselves in smarter teammates, livelier stadiums, and more tactical gameplay. Beyond that, FIFA 15 is still a remarkably polished and complete experience, boasting excellent career modes and a variety of touches like Seasons mode and Match Day Live that remain unmatched by other sports sims. NBA 2K may yet challenge it for supremacy, but for now, FIFA remains the best all-around sports sim on the market. (PS4 review: Xbox One version is basically the same)
Guacamelee Super Turbo Champion Edition: As fun in this beefed-up incarnation as in its original release, Guacamelee Super Turbo Champion Edition offers one of the best-designed and most original takes on the well-worn metroidvania phenomenon you'll ever find. The new material may not quite bring enough to the table to warrant a second purchase, and the game doesn't exactly push PS4 or Xbox One to the ragged edge of their capabilities, but once again excellent game design has less to do with technical specs and more to do with creativity and thoughtfulness: Features Guacamelee possesses in spades. (PS4 review: Xbox One version is the same)
Recommended - Rated 4 Stars
Wolfenstein: A New Order: A sprawling epic that sometimes doesn't quite hit the ridiculously high bar it sets for itself, but nevertheless delivers an absolutely spectacular, supremely gory, utterly compelling experience. (PS4 review: Xbox One version is the same)
Skylanders: Trap Team: While not without its questionable qualities — expect to pay $120 to get something approaching an optimal play experience — Skylanders: Trap Team continues the series' tradition of catering to kids by treating them with respect. And the new trapping gimmick more than justifies itself through the flexibility it offers... not to mention the amusing and diverse role it gives the game's villains.
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.
Costume Quest 2: Lightweight but inventive, Costume Quest 2 feels like a Pixar adventure masquerading as an RPG. It goes out of its way to keep things simple... perhaps too simple at times. But its simplicity is redeemed by its terrific art and wry sense of humor, and most importantly, the sheer fun of its premise. (PC review: Xbox One version features same gameplay and graphics)
D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die: Once again, SWERY injects a detective story with his patented brand of weirdness, though this time he's finally free of the technical limitations that hampered his past work. D4 isn't a flawless experience, but, as with Deadly Premonition, it offers a world and set of characters you won't want to leave behind.
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.
Sleeping Dogs Definitive Edition: Although it's slightly rough around the edges, and packs the occasional bug, Sleeping Dogs is nevertheless a gripping and thoroughly entertaining Hong Kong action movie in game form.
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.
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. (PS4 review: 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.
Outlast: A genuinely disturbing and terrifying game that'll have you jumping out of your seat in fright. It's a little short at around six or so hours, but the experience Outlast delivers is well worth the price of admission.
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.
The preceding games are what we believe represent the best that Xbox One has to offer right now. If a game seems to be missing, it's probably because we it scored less than 4 stars. If you want to find out why, use search to read the review. If you're interested in knowing which games are our personal favorites, here's 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.
Forza Horizon 2
Forza 5 has occupied this slot for almost a year, but now it's time to replace it with the second iteration of its parallel franchise, Forza Horizon 2. Because what Forza 5 does for track racing, Forza Horizon 2 does for open world competition.
Sure, it's more arcadey than sim-like, and sometimes the action feels a little too larger than life, but generally speaking, Forza Horizon 2 delivers superb racing action that's enhanced by its skill point multipier system. As you perform stunts and maneuvers, you're awarded points, and those activate a cumulative multiplier that continues to build until you either stop it (and take the points) by not performing a move within a period of time, or you make a mistake or crash, and lose everything. This balance of deciding whether to continue to mount up points or risk losing it all in a collision makes the action really entertaining.
With more than 200 cars, a terrifically well designed racing system game that lets you tackle championships with your favorite cars (rather than being forced to drive certain vehicles), and boasting without doubt the finest graphics ever seen in a racing game, Forza Horizon 2 is an absolute must for petrolheads.
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 while back, and I'm still playing it on and off. 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.
While I didn't find the game completely above reproach, Capcom's revisiting of one of my all-time favorite arcade games generally did the trick. I loved how it combined the manic action of the coin-op classic with the more adventuresome structure of the uneven NES game... and hero Hiryu even managed to pick up a few tricks from his tenure as a "Vs. Capcom" series fighting character. A little more time in the oven (no fast travel!?) would have made this platformer truly extraordinary, but even so there's a lot to love about Hiryu's high-definition action debut.
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. 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 the third entry feels... well, "polished" isn't the right word, but more seasoned. I'm not enamored with the second-screen elements (which basically amount to "use a tablet for an instant win"), but such is life in our modern world. Plus, the Capcom fan service DLC material — no, don't ask me to recite the name — released a few months ago makes a good game even better.
Guacamelee Super Turbo Champion Edition
Falling into a similar niche as Strider, Drinkbox's Guacamelee did a much better job of winning my heart with its tighter level design and glorious fighting game-inspired brawling mechanics. Excellent music and truly lush Mexican-inspired visuals round off a fun and inventive package.
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 3, 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. Either way, it's a great game to tied you over until Assassin's Creed Unity comes out this year.
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.
In addition, Season 2 is starting this Fall. If you're just getting into Killer Instinct, you can pick the Combo Breaker Pack up at retail, which includes all of the Season 1 characters - Jago, Sabrewulf, Glacius, Thunder, Sadira, Orchid, Spinal, and Fulgore - and TJ Combo from Season 2. The Combo Breaker Pack will be available on September 23 for $19.99.
Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition
Yes, the Xbox One version of Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition doesn't fare as well as its PlayStation 4 counterpart, but if this is your system it's still a great game. It features the new the origin of Lara Croft, showcasing her journey from college student to the mythic Tomb Raider.
Definitive Edition starts with the same story, great gameplay, and DLC from the original game and improve upon it with a brand-new graphics engine. Lara's enhanced hair, better textures, better lighting, and additional foliage that actually sways in the breeze; they all come together to create a great experience.
It is enough to double dip if you played the PC version? Probably not, but Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition is worth every penny if it's your first time around on Xbox One.
Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag
Dismissed as a failure and a stale retread by some before it was even release, Assassin's Creed IV proved to be a surprisingly successful comeback for the series after the disappointing Assassin's Creed III. The shift in focus in pirates, not to mention the unexpected joy of captaining your very own ship, was largely what did it. It also didn't hurt that it was one of the best-looking next-generation games at launch, not to mention the fact that it did away with the rather unpopular Desmond Miles. It's a stretch to call it a comeback, but it certainly did its part in saving the series from a prolonged decline. As of right now, it's one of the handful of launch games that really does it part in showing off the power of the Xbox One. If nothing else, buy it as a showpiece and wow your friends.
Though it didn't last me quite as long as I was expecting, Titanfall is still an extremely impressive multiplayer shooter. The asymmetric nature of the mech vs human combat, the extreme speed of the battles, and the high degree of customization are all major pluses. Also, nothing can beat rodeoing a Titan and watching it go down. Hard. As of right now, Titanfall is easily the best game available on the Xbox One. That might change later this fall, but right now it's the best thing Microsoft has going over the PlayStation 4. If you like shooters even a little bit, then it's worth picking up Titanfall.
Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare
As mash-ups go, it doesn't get much weirder than Plants vs. Zombies and the competitive shooter genre. Nevertheless, it makes for a surprisingly successful mix, owing in large part to its consistently hilarious art, beginner-friendly gameplay, and wide range of customizability. Its secret are the comparatively sturdy characters, which gives newer players the breathing space to learn how to actually play the game without dying every five minutes. It all adds up to an enjoyable distraction worth having on your Xbox One's hard drive for the odd 3am session when killer plants look more appealing than giant robots.
Wolfenstein: The New Order
As multiplayer games like Titanfall and Destiny slowly take over the single-player FPS experience, it's nice to know there's still a market out there for something like Wolfenstein. MachineGames sprawling take on id's classic franchise jumps to a Nazi-occupied future, and gets a lot of milage out of exploring just how terrible that could be. The New Order excels in more areas than setting, though: Along with the expected firefights featuring inventive takes on classic killing machines, Wolfenstein offers a variety of challenges in its sprawling environments that put more than just your reflexes to the test. After the forgettable 2009 reboot, it's refreshing to see an interpretation of the series that's so damned inventive.
Dead Rising 3
The latest iteration of Capcom's open-world zombie game might not differ dramatically from what's come before, but Dead Rising 3 at least dials back on the restrictions that irritated players in the first two games. You no longer have to fully divert your attention to ringing walkie-talkies, for instance, and unlike Chuck Greene from DR2, protagonist Nick Ramos no longer has to stop at a workbench to craft his newest piece of improvised weaponry. These and a collection of other minor improvements make Dead Rising 3 the most playable game in the series to date, even if you've basically been doing the same things in each one. Still, Capcom manages to come up with a seemingly unlimited number of ways to slay the undead, and the DLC (Super Ultra Dead Rising 3 Arcade Remix Hyper Edition EX Plus Alpha) even lets you do it with Street Fighter and Breath of Fire references!
Super Time Force
If I had to guess, you probably didn't buy an Xbox One for the processing power needed to run Super Time Force—even though its chunky pixels look great, Microsoft's new console is capable of a lot more. But, even if this version remains identical to what Capybara Games released on the 360, it remains a highlight of the Xbox One's library. And if you think it's just a simple throwback to Contra and Gunstar Heroes, prepare to be pleasantly surprised: Super Time Force mixes run-and-gun side-scrolling with time manipulation pulled straight from Braid—except that guy wasn't friends with a sunglasses-wearing dinosaur. Capybara's creation offers an experience you won't find anywhere else, an achievement that's increasingly harder to come by these days.