The 8 Best Xbox One Fantasy Games to Buy in 2017

Shop for top fantasy Xbox One games with the best gameplay, graphics and more

The real world can be hectic and frustrating, and sometimes you just need to take a break from it and get lost in a fantasy world of dungeons, dragons and magic. If you’re in the mood for a fantasy game, the Xbox One has you covered with a wide range of titles in multiple genres, including 2D platformers, action, adventure, multiplayer and more. See below for our top picks for the best fantasy games to buy in 2017.

Taking place between “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings," Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor is the story of a ranger named Talion tasked with guarding the Black Gate. The gameplay consists of exploring an open world chunk of Middle-Earth while fighting enemies with sword combos and timely counters to dodge their attacks.

The real star of the gameplay isn’t how you fight, however, but what happens when you die. When you die, the enemy that killed you gets powered up and promoted in Sauron’s army, so the next time you see them, they’ll be even tougher. It is possible to die to the same enemy enough that you basically turn them into a boss fight, which can be pretty awesome. As the enemies get more powerful, the combat, naturally, gets more challenging and more fun.

Can a game with no dialogue really have a great story? It can when it is as well done as Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons. Brothers is the story of two siblings who set out into a fantasy world of giants, dire wolves, abominable snowmen and more to find medicine for their ailing father. The younger brother is impulsive and mischievous, while the older one tries to be calm, strong and mature, and the way they play off of each other as they explore the world is surprisingly realistic and endearing. 

There is no dialogue, only the raw emotions of the brothers demonstrated through their facial expressions and laughter or crying, but it is one of the most deeply impactful games you’ll ever play. The gameplay is also fascinating because you actually control the two brothers at the same time – one on each analogue stick – which can be confusing at first, but soon you'll have them moving together through the world to run, jump and solve puzzles.

Starring a tiny person made of yarn named – wait for it – Yarny in a world where everyday household objects seem like impassable mountains, Unravel has all of the makings of an indie darling. The 2D platforming gameplay paired with physics-based puzzles that require you to use Yarny’s limited amount of string to create ramps and pull items make Unravel a truly unique and imaginative experience. 

What really ties everything together, however, is just how great everything looks. The environments, which include a backyard, beach, mountain meadow, lake and more are all seen from the perspective of a three-inch tall yarn figure, but they look very realistic. Despite being a relatively simple game overall, Unravel is a surprising graphical powerhouse.

Sometimes fantasy games can be too violent or have themes kids aren’t ready for, but if you want to ease your kids into the genre, a good place to start is with LEGO The Hobbit. Based on Peter Jackson’s first two Hobbit films, “An Unexpected Journey” and “The Desolation of Smaug” (the third film was planned as DLC but never released), LEGO The Hobbit lets you explore an open world version of Middle-Earth while playing levels based on events in the films. 

The gameplay lets you play as the entire company of dwarves along with Bilbo and Gandalf, and in a fantastic touch, each of the dwarves has unique abilities. For example, Dori can pull things, Dwalin’s hammer pounds blocks down and Bumbur’s belly can be used as a trampoline. You use all of these abilities (along with Bilbo’s ability to turn invisible with the One Ring) to fight through armies of goblins and orcs. 

The gameplay variety is fantastic, and the presentation, with audio ripped right from the movies, is excellent. It also uses the trademark silly LEGO sense of humor that kids and parents will love.

Want to take a look at some other options? See our guide to the best XBox One kids' games

For years, gamers have been begging to play Bethesda’s medieval fantasy Elder Scrolls games with their friends, and now you can with Elder Scrolls Online. This MMO (massively-multiplayer-online) game allows you to party up with friends in order to explore an enormous, medieval open world full of monsters and demons just waiting to be taken down with your swords, axes, arrows and magic.

While you can actually play the main questline alone if you wish, Elder Scrolls Online really shines when you meet up with friends, or even join strangers you meet out in the world, so you can do quests together or just socialize and have fun. Elder Scrolls Online is also noteworthy because it is much simpler and easier to get into MMO than a game like World of Warcraft.

If you’re looking for challenging gameplay in a fantasy-themed game, Ori and the Blind Forest will more than deliver. This 2D platforming Metroidvania-style game has you running and jumping around a mystical forest realm rapidly descending into darkness. As you explore, you find new abilities like a double jump, float, butt stomp and more that allow you to reach previously inaccessible areas of the world. 

There are enemies scattered around, but they don’t pose much of a threat, as the real challenge in Ori and the Blind Forest comes from the diabolically designed platforming that requires you to put all of your accumulated skills to use in order to proceed. Boss fights in this game aren’t powerful enemies, but rather daring escape sequences where you have to precisely run, jump and climb ahead of rising water or lava as it chases you through a level. 

It sounds simple, but expect to die a good 400 to 500 times (yes, it does keep track) during your first play through, because the game is difficult. However, it is also extremely satisfying since the difficulty never seems unfair or insurmountable. Not only is the gameplay in Ori and the Blind Forest excellent, but the 2D hand-drawn visuals are incredible, and the orchestral soundtrack is one of the absolute best.

An interesting fantasy subgenre is historical fantasy, which takes real, historical figures and events, and uses them in fictional scenarios. The best example of this on Xbox One is Warriors Orochi 3: Ultimate, which stars a huge cast of 140 heroes and villains from the Three Kingdoms era of China and the Warring States period of Japan. In gameplay, it has them inexplicably joining forces (and even traveling through time) to kill a huge Hydra that is threatening the land.

Each of the 140+ characters has unique weapons and abilities, so there is a lot of replay value and variety here, which is a good thing because the core gameplay is kind of mindless on its own. Part of a gameplay genre known as “musou,” which features dozens and dozens of characters onscreen at a time, the enemies are mostly just there to be sword fodder as you slice and dice your way through them on your way to combo counts in the hundreds. It is undeniably simple, but also extremely satisfying and fun, as you can fight off an entire army with just one person. Plus, seeing Nobonaga Oda and Liu Bei team up is too cool to pass up.

Taking place in a medieval world of castles, swords, dragons, knights, fallen kings, giants and more, Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin is an easy game for fantasy fans to fall in love with. This release features the full Dark Souls II game along with three DLC expansions, which all add up to easily 75+ hours of gameplay in your first play through on your quest to link a mystical fire, and end the cycle of light and darkness in the kingdom of Drangleic.

It is also an extremely replayable game, too, as after you beat it you can start New Game+, which lets you retain all of your upgrades and items you found, and play through the game again. New Game+ isn’t just the same game all over again, though, as it is more difficult, features more enemies and makes for a new experience.

Dark Souls II isn’t a big game, either, as the melee-focused medieval gameplay is extremely satisfying and the sheer amount of potential builds – armor types, weapon types, magic users, pyromancy users, etc. – let you play the game in a huge number of different ways.

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