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Best Zombie: State of Decay 2 at Amazon
"While the single-player gameplay is strong, it’s the inclusion of four-player co-op that really makes State of Decay 2 stand out."
Best RPG: Monster Hunter: World at Amazon
"It's a dazzling mix of engaging storylines and challenging tasks — not to mention the way in which the game utilizes a near-perfect method to introduce beginners to individual systems."
Best Shooter: Gears of War 4 at Amazon
"Few games on the Xbox One provide the type of depth that has enriched the Gears of War series."
Best Educational: Minecraft at Amazon
"It can also help players learn more complicated things like design and architecture, and even how to build electrical circuits."
Best Family-Friendly: Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare 2 at Amazon
"All of the characters are cute and funny and cartoonish plant and zombie characters, and while it is a shooter game, it is no more violent than a typical cartoon."
Best Multiplayer: Fortnite at Amazon
"The world’s most popular battle royale game."
Best Single-Player: Quantum Break at Amazon
"Quantum Break manages to craft a thrilling and coherent time travel story that keeps you on the edge of your seat right up until the final sequence."
Best Graphics: Red Dead Redemption 2 at Amazon
"Taking place in a sprawling world, this game has unrivaled attention to detail."
Best Cooperative: Diablo III: Ultimate Evil Edition at Amazon
"You wander around and eradicate countless enemies...all in the hope that they drop a new weapon or piece of armor that is better than what you’re already using."
The Xbox One might be staring down the barrel of the Xbox Series X, but that doesn't mean there aren't a lot of great games you can still play. If you're looking for the best games to play on the console, look no further. We've reviewed a number of games across all genres from single-player, multiplayer, shooters, and RPGs, evaluating how good the exclusives are, if they come with enhanced graphics or features, and if there's multiplayer support. Read on to see the games our product testers liked the most.
Challenge survival elements
Four player co-op gameplay
Unique skills and some RPG elements
Can be a bit too hard sometimes
Somewhat repetitive setting
The Walking Dead it is not, but if you’re on the hunt for your own zombie killing experience, there’s no better option for the Xbox One than State of Decay 2. Unsurprisingly billed as a survival game that takes place during yet another zombie apocalypse, players begin the game by being responsible for a pair of characters that each have their own unique skills. From there, it’s your job to move along a set map that’s lined with helpful resources and encounter new survivors whom you can even take control of.
Of course, throughout the game, there are plenty of challenges to face like a member of your survivor group getting infected leaving you to scramble for medicine or the onset of panic when a car runs out of gas. Players are tasked with taking on regular hordes of zombies in order to accomplish short- and long-term goals while your team's morale rises and falls with each mission. While the single-player gameplay is strong, it’s the inclusion of four-player co-op that really makes State of Decay 2 stand out as you can invite three friends to play and work together to survive.
Exciting combat and weapon styles
Great graphics and huge, challenging monsters
Single player and co-op
Can be grindy and repetitive
Dare we call Monster Hunter: World the best RPG ever? While that might be far-fetched to some and outrageous to others, the implausibly deep and rewarding gameplay serves as a lesson for what all future RPG games should strive to be. It's a dazzling mix of engaging storylines and challenging tasks — not to mention the way in which the game utilizes a near-perfect method to introduce beginners to individual systems.
In the beginning, new players are free to roam the beautifully rendered environments to get a feel for the lay of the land. Meanwhile, additional graphics options also allow you to metaphorically pump up the volume by adjusting frame rates and resolution to test the visual limits of the Xbox One. As worlds change from one to the next, Monster Hunter constantly feels new and exciting — especially during combat where leveling up your player isn’t the main goal. Instead, the focus is on hunting and defeating the dinosaurs, accruing more weapons, and enduring the epic battles that ensue during both the single-player and cooperative multiplayer modes.
Fun shooter gameplay
Good storyline pacing
Solid dialogue and visuals
Gameplay somewhat repetitive
Choosing the best shooting game on any platform is a bit like being asked to choose your favorite child. The depth of options makes it nearly impossible — unless you're presented with a choice like Gears of War 4, that is. More than two years after its release, few games on the Xbox One provide the type of depth that has enriched the Gears of War series as the 4th entry does the near impossible and raises the bar with two-player co-op done via split-screen or over Xbox Live.
Like its three predecessors, players control the main character and, in traditional Gears of War style, gameplay consists of taking cover and moving from place to place engaging enemies with a multitude of weapons. The storyline paces along at a nice clip and moves the series in a new direction as the previous main character’s son is now a part of a splinter group vying for control of the planet. The movie-like dialogue is well written and the game is visually intriguing but really it's all about raining down destruction and perfecting your headshot.
It is easy to call Minecraft “educational”, but it can’t be understated just how much you can learn by playing it. Everyone knows Minecraft teaches simple things like counting and building, but it can also help players learn more complicated things like design and architecture, and even how to build electrical circuits. Geology and other things in the natural real world can be learned through Minecraft as well; physics concepts such as gravity are also on constant display. Simply put, Minecraft is more than just a game about punching trees and fighting zombies at night.
Our reviewer played the game with his six-year-old son and particularly enjoyed how the open sandbox world allowed for many creative choices. There are also a number of educational scenarios you can play through, some of them created and designed by teachers.
"Teachers have customized and designed Minecraft worlds and scenarios that help deliver interactive lessons in history, science, math, and more." — Andrew Hayward, Product Tester
Cute and funny characters
Liad back community
Requires always-on connection
Xbox One has a ton of games for older teens and adults, but it has plenty of family-friendly titles as well, with our favorite being Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2. We know the name doesn't scream "family-friendly," but hear us out. All of the characters are cute and funny and cartoonish plant and zombie characters, and while it is a shooter game, it is no more violent than a typical cartoon. The online community is generally pretty laid back and not too serious or overly competitive, so you can jump in as a beginner and have fun right away.
The game does require you to be connected to Xbox Live to play, but you don’t have to play with other human players online if you don’t want to as all of the modes have computer-controlled bots to play against either solo or in split screen. It is a game that anyone of any skill level can have a great time with, which is why it is not only one of the best family-friendly games on Xbox One, but one of our favorite Xbox One games overall.
The world’s most popular battle royale game landed on the Xbox One with a splash and helped establish it as the multiplayer game to beat. As 100 players are dropped onto an ever-shrinking map, the goal is to be last man standing. Fending off 99 other players often comes down to skill as much as it does dumb luck — if you’re a skilled player who spends hours learning every nook and cranny of the map, you’ll have the advantage over beginners.
The graphics are strong but the developers focused more on improving gameplay than increasing frames per second. Our reviewer found it easy to manage inventory and switch between weapons in the blink of an eye. The same developer focus went into building — with steel, wood, and stone available, creating walls, floors or stairs to reach a loot crate or be protected from sniper fire often makes the difference between winning and losing.
"If you love earning a variety of rewards, are intrigued by building mechanics, or just appreciate a casual game you can pick up and play, Fortnite’s Battle Royale is the clear winner." — Emily Isaacs, Product Tester
Unique gameplay evolves over time
The best single-player focused game on Xbox One is Remedy’s Quantum Break. Through an accident during a time travel experiment, time itself is falling apart and it is up to you to fix it and save the world from certain destruction in a story that spans seventeen years. Time travel stories are always extremely risky as plot holes and contradictions and confusion are pretty much guaranteed to happen, but Quantum Break manages to craft a thrilling and coherent time travel story that keeps you on the edge of your seat right up until the final sequence. Not only is the story masterfully done, but the gameplay – a mix of third-person-shooting and light puzzle solving using time powers – evolves over the course of the game as well and peaks at just the right times to ensure you’re fully engaged in both the gameplay and story. For a pure single-player experience, Quantum Break is tough to beat.
Detailed and immersive world
Locked at 30fps
One of the most ambitious open-world games ever, Red Dead Redemption 2 was launched to crazy-high expectations. It met and exceeded those expectations with some of the most realistic gameplay ever. You’re Arthur Morgan, a member of a 20-person outlaw gang intent on stealing its way to riches. Taking place in a sprawling world, this game has unrivaled attention to detail. Everything from snowy mountain peaks and grand plantations to dim caves is highly detailed and immersive. While the main missions urge you on throughout its 60-hour campaign, the graphics beg you to endlessly explore.
There are hundreds of people to interact with and tons of wildlife to discover. If you spook a horse, it will defend itself with a kick that’ll send you back a dozen feet. It’s a small but welcome addition that shows the care and detail the developers put into the game. Overall gameplay is locked at 30fps, but it doesn’t matter since the level of detail is second-to-none. The way Arthur strolls into dimly-lit buildings or walks back out into a blinding sun adds a deep sense of realism.
Laid back gaming
Addictive setting and gameplay loop
Playing competitive multiplayer is fun and all, but sometimes you just want to kick back and play cooperatively with your friends instead. Our favorite Xbox One co-op game is Diablo III: Ultimate Evil Edition. Diablo III is a dark medieval fantasy action RPG where you wander around and eradicate countless enemies – demons, spiders and other horrors – all in the hope that they drop a new weapon or piece of armor that is better than what you’re already using. It is an addictive formula that gets even better when you add more people because additional players not only make the game more challenging and fun, but also increases the amount and quality of loot you can pick up. Working cooperatively with your friends is always a blast, and Diablo III pairs that with an addictive loot system that will keep you hooked.
The Xbox One has some life left in it yet, and if you still have a One or One X, there are plenty of games to pick from. For lovers of zombies, you'll enjoy State of Decay 2. It combines challenging survival elements with a classic genre, to create a compelling setting. For a more character-driven game, Monster Hunter World is a great semi-open world RPG focused around fighting monsters. Finally, Fortnite is a really fun competitive shooter, and best of all, it's completely free to play.
Alex Williams has been writing about games and tech for the past five years. With a background as a front end web developer and UX designer he's previously been published on TechRadar, WebPro news, and others, giving him special insight into some of the games on this list.
Andrew Hayward has been a gamer all his life and been writing about them since 2006. Published on TechRadar, Polygon, and others, he played Minecraft with his six-year-old son and owns a number of gaming consoles.
Emily Isaacs is a lifelong gamer. She's been writing about games and tech for Lifewire since 2019 and personally owns an Alienware gaming computer, along with several gaming consoles. As a huge fan of Fortnite, she's put hundreds of hours into the game and considers it an addictive and compelling entry into the battle royale category.
Xbox exclusives - The Xbox One has a lot of great exclusive games, including first person shooters, driving games, platformers, and more. If you want to get the most out of your Xbox One, you need to check these out. Many are also available on PC if you have a gaming rig, but you won’t find them on the other consoles.
Multiplayer - If you subscribe to Xbox Live Gold, then look for games that support online multiplayer. If you don’t, but you do have you have friends you like to game with, focus on games that support local multiplayer. Some games support both modes, but it isn’t a given.
Xbox One X enhanced - You need to check out games that are enhanced for the Xbox One X if you’ve upgraded your console and have a 4K television with HDR. It’s worth it just for the graphics boost alone, but some games even have smoother frame rates and other improvements.