The 9 Best Xbox One Games of 2021

Buy the top multi-player, cooperative, family-friendly games (and more)

Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.

The Rundown
"Resident Evil 2 is a remake of the 1998 game of the same name."
"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."
"The Halo: Master Chief Collection gives you six different Halo games in one package."
Best Educational:
Mojang Minecraft at Amazon
"It can also help players learn more complicated things like design and architecture, and even how to build electrical circuits."
"Cook ingredients and serve dishes to hungry customers in increasingly bizarre and hilarious settings."
Best Multiplayer:
Epic Games Fortnite at Amazon
"The world’s most popular battle royale game."
Best Single Player:
Bethesda Doom Eternal at Amazon
"Taking place in a sprawling world, this game has unrivaled attention to detail."

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.

Best Zombie: Capcom Resident Evil 2

Capcom Resident Evil 2
What We Like
  • Updated controls

  • Updated visuals

  • Several game modes

What We Don't Like
  • Puzzles can be bizarre and confusing

Resident Evil 2 is a remake of the 1998 game of the same name. Players take control of Leon S. Kenney and Claire Redfield as they try to escape Raccoon City during a zombie outbreak. The remake foregoes the original's tank controls, opting instead for an over-the-shoulder third-person view and more fluid motion; it also lets players move while using weapons and items. Depending on which character players choose, the main storyline has several subplots, accessible areas, and even items and weapons that will differ between Leon and Claire. 

Beating the game with one character unlocks the ability to play through a second time with the other. The Fourth Survivor mode has players take on the role of an Umbrella Operative as they make their way through enemy infested sewers. The Tofu Survivor is the exact same, gameplay wise, but is played with an animated piece of tofu that is only armed with knives. The remake not only introduces new game mechanics, it also enhances visuals for 4K TVs and supports video playback at 60 frames per second for smoother action. Resident Evil 2 has DLC available with four extra missions for players to tackle.

Best RPG: Capcom Monster Hunter World

What We Like
  • Exciting combat and weapon styles

  • Great graphics and huge, challenging monsters

  • Single player and co-op

What We Don't Like
  • 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.

Best Shooter: 343 Industries Halo: Master Chief Collection (Xbox One)

343 Industries Halo: Master Chief Collection
What We Like
  • 6 games in one collection

  • Updated visuals

  • Lots of extras

What We Don't Like
  • Multiplayer has connectivity issues

The Halo: Master Chief Collection gives you six different Halo games in one package, including the original Halo: Combat Evolved as well as several multiplayer modes. Each game has been given graphics and video playback upgrades to support full 1080p HD resolution and run at 60 frames per second. Halo 2 lets players choose between the original or updated graphics as well as two different gameplay modes featuring remastered maps or the original map selection. 

Along with the four core titles, you also get access to Halo 3: ODST and Halo: Reach. The collection has a bevy of extras for players to explore, such as access to the live-action Halo: Nightfall series, the Spartan Ops series, new achievements, and special avatars for gamer profiles. The single-player campaigns from each game remain the same, so players can re-live the excitement of each story. Multiplayer supports online matchmaking with classic modes like capture the flag and slayer. You can also play the story mode online with up to three other friends, depending on the game, allowing you to quickly take on large swarms of enemies or unlock special achievements.

Best Educational: Mojang Minecraft


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

Best Family-Friendly: Team 17 Overcooked! 2 (Xbox One)

What We Like
  • Free DLC

  • Local and online multiplayer

  • New mechanics

What We Don't Like
  • May be overwhelming for very young children

Overcooked 2 pits a pair of teams up to four players against each other as they try to gather and cook ingredients and serve dishes to hungry customers in increasingly bizarre and hilarious settings. Overcooked 2 features new levels, restaurant themes, costumes, and recipes to help keep gameplay fresh and fun. Multiplayer can be accessed through local play on a single console or online through the matchmaking server. 

There is both free and paid DLC available for even more wacky fun and over 80 new levels. New level mechanics include moving floors, portals, and immovable objects. The game also introduces ingredient tossing, which can be used to help your team make recipes more quickly or sabotage the other team by throwing food further away. Teams also have to work together to serve food and wash dishes in order to keep up with customer demands.

Best Multiplayer: Epic Games Fortnite


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

Best Single Player: Bethesda Doom Eternal (PC)

Doom Eternal
What We Like
  • Fast-paced gameplay

  • Great music

What We Don't Like
  • DRM issues

DOOM Eternal is a first-person shooter developed by id Software and published by Bethesda Softworks. It's the fifth main title in the series, and players once again assume the mantle of the Doom Slayer to stop the armies of Hell from taking over Earth. It focuses more on the narrative than its predecessors, but still has plenty of action-packed combat for fans and newcomers alike. Players get access to a variety of weapons including shotguns, energy swords, and rocket launchers to take out the many types of demons. 

Each type of weapon grants the player with different bonuses like armor, ammo, and health, encouraging players to switch up tactics as the game progresses. DOOM Eternal introduces a 2-v-1 multiplayer mode where one player is the Slayer and the other two are demons trying to destroy him. It also introduces a hub area called the Fortress of Doom where players can go between missions to unlock upgrades and gear. The gun battles are fast-paced, and each level is designed to allow players to zipline, jump, and launch themselves around cliff faces and off of tall points to get the advantage on enemies.

Best Graphics: Rockstar Red Dead Redemption 2 (Xbox One)

Red Dead Redemption 2
What We Like
  • Detailed and immersive world

  • Compelling story

  • Great graphics

What We Don't Like
  • 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.

Best Co-Op: 2K Games Borderlands 3

Borderlands 3
What We Like
  • Multiplayer campaign mode

  • Post-game modes

  • Good story

What We Don't Like
  • Some enemy AI is frustratingly poor

Borderlands 3 combines elements of action games, role-playing, and first-person shooters to create a fast-paced and frenetic game. The campaign can be played in multiplayer mode with up to three friends, as you choose from one of four classes; each equipped with different skills and loadouts to create a well-rounded team. Players unlock new abilities and equipment as they gain experience points to spend on skill trees. Borderlands introduces new characters to play as, each with their own special ability to give you certain advantages over enemies. The core of the game centers on defeating enemies and raiding caches for items, weapons, and other loot to trade for better items later on. 

The game introduces new mechanics like crouch-sliding, wall-climbing, and destructible cover to add more variety to gunfights. Players also get access to a spacecraft to visit other planets and access Vaults. A New Game Plus mode lets you play the campaign again with your fully leveled-up character and take on more difficult enemies and collect even better loot. Several post-game modes are available for players to take on either alone or in teams to defeat waves of enemies, take on time challenges, or deal with randomized elements of the game.

Final Verdict

If you're a fan of zombie games, the Resident Evil 2 remake is a must for your library. It features modern controls and visuals as you take down hordes of terrifying undead in Raccoon City. For RPG players, Monster Hunter World is one of the best in the genre. Players can go solo or with friends to hunt down truly gigantic creatures for armor resources or scientific research.

How We Tested

Our expert reviewers and testers take into account multiple objective and subjective factors to evaluate the quality of Xbox One games. We play through each game, judging the game based on the coherence of its plot, the quality of its graphics, and the overall enjoyment derived from its gameplay loop. We balance the subjective elements of personal likes and dislikes, with an overall view of the genre as a whole and the value proposition offered by the game in terms of length and payoff. We also compare each game to a similar rival to help us make a final evaluation. Lifewire purchases each game; we do not accept review codes. 

About Our Trusted Experts

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.

What to Look for When Buying Xbox One Games

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.

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