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Best Football Game: Madden NFL 19 at Amazon
"While it doesn't break the mold, it's rife with improvements that cement its status as the definitive football simulation."
Best Hockey Game: NHL 19 at Amazon
"An exemplary hockey simulation that ticks all the boxes."
Best Wrestling Game: WWE 2K19 at Amazon
"Making a comeback is 2K Showcase Mode, which allows you to experience a story-driven, single-player campaign."
Best Soccer Game: FIFA 19 at Amazon
"Quite possibly the closest thing to a real soccer sim the series has produced to date."
Best Basketball Game: NBA 2K19 at Amazon
"The biggest leap in quality for the franchise yet."
Best Fighting Game: EA Sports UFC 3 at Amazon
"By far the most accurate representation yet of what life would be like as a fighter on the front lines of the UFC."
Best Golf Game: The Golf Club 2019 at Amazon
"If full immersion was the goal of its creation, then The Golf Club 2019 is a hole in one."
Best Rally Racing Game: DiRT Rally at Amazon
"It can be one of the most satisfying and fun racing experiences you’ll ever have."
There's a reason the Madden name is instantly recognizable. The franchise is constantly elevating with each new installment, and Madden NFL 19 is no exception. While it doesn't break the mold, it's rife with improvements that cement its status as the definitive football simulation game. This particular version includes all the standard modes players have come to expect, like Franchise, Madden Ultimate Team (MUT), Exhibition, and Longshot story mode.
Each mode provides ways for players to customize their own teams, track stats, and build their own dream roster. It's full of immersive modes that reward inquisitive players for spending experience points in all the right places. The Real Player Motion (RPM) system adds realism to every move you make on the field. As it's still uncontested in its genre, Madden NFL 19 doesn't have to make a lot of changes to remain top dog. It already scores a touchdown every year.
EA knows the value of creating a quality hockey game, and NHL 19 is proof. An exemplary hockey simulation that ticks all the boxes a hardcore player could ask for – and then some — it serves up over 200 hockey greats to play with and against. And for those who like their sports games like their RPGs, World of CHEL adds character progression and customization to the mix.
The typical visual upgrades are here, too, but what really makes NHL 19 comes into its own is the introduction of the Real Player Motion (RPM) technology, which aims to streamline player control. Whether you're joining your favorite players for a quick 1-versus-1-versus-1 gauntlet or competing against Wayne Gretzky himself, you'll be thrilled to hit the ice this season in a hockey game that truly gets it.
Following some harsh feedback of the past few entries in the WWE 2K series, WWE 2K19 takes a different approach to game design. Returning back from the simulatory direction the series was taking before, developer Yuke's is now focused on critical staples of the wrestling genre, including fluid gameplay and a devoted commitment to bringing the pro wrestling experience to life.
Also making a comeback is 2K Showcase Mode, which allows you to experience a story-driven, single-player campaign in the shoes of current WWE all-star Daniel Bryan. From his start as an amateur wrestler to his early retirement and eventual return as the centerpiece of WrestleMania 34, “The Return of Daniel Bryan” brings the true-to-life, inspiring story of Bryan’s career directly to the hands of players. And if you are more interested in fighting a real human being in the ring, WWE 2K19 offers both split-screen and online multiplayer in the form of its unique “Road to Glory” mode.
FIFA is another annualized franchise you might expect to cut corners and offer minimal improvements year over year, but that can't be said for the latest entry. With a variety of augmented modes, including physics and gameplay tweaks, FIFA 19 is quite possibly the closest thing to a real soccer sim the series has produced to date.
EA Sports has gone out of its way to diversify interactions with your favorite teams, whether it's through the visually stunning and gripping The Journey, or Career Mode. Another high-stakes mode, called Timed Finishing, gives players a chance to make each shot count. Hardcore soccer fans can customize play style, with tactics you can alter on the fly. It's accessible to newbies while still catering to those itching to micromanage their own all-star team. World Cup, here you come.
Always the best bet for getting in on some video game basketball action, NBA 2K series remains the pinnacle of basketball games available on the Xbox One. Now celebrating 20 years as a franchise, the NBA 2K series has been refined to the point of near perfection, with NBA 2K19 marking the biggest leap in quality for the franchise yet.
Developer Visual Concepts, who has been with the series since the very first game was released on the Dreamcast back in 2000, introduced a variety of new innovations to celebrate the franchise’s twenty-year history. Chief among them are improvements to the game’s Neighborhood mode, which lets you freely roam a shared social space where players can interact, purchase new items for your characters, and access the game’s various modes. Combined with its always dependable gameplay mechanics and silky-smooth animations, NBA 2K19 does the last two decades of NBA 2K games proud.
Compared to established, long-running franchises like Madden or NBA 2K, EA Sports’ UFC series is the new kid on the block. Still, three games in, EA Sports UFC 3 already has a reputation for capturing the thrill and athleticism inherent in the sport of mixed martial arts. And with gameplay as tight as this, there’s no other fighting sports game that can match it on the Xbox One.
EA Sports is committed to improving the formula of UFC games each and every year. The third title is no different. In this 2018 update, an entirely new mode of play was introduced: The “G.O.A.T.” system, which allows you to make choices throughout your fighting career, dramatically altering your path to the big time. Once again endorsed by famed UFC fighter Conor McGregor, EA Sports UFC 3 is by far the most accurate representation yet of what life would be like as a fighter on the front lines of the UFC.
Picking up the slack of the now-defunct Tiger Woods PGA games is The Golf Club, the most robust and fully featured golf game available on the Xbox One. Developed by HB Studios (who itself has been leading developers in the world of sports games for nearly two decades), The Golf Club 2019 is the highly awaited follow-up to 2017’s The Golf Club 2.
But HB Studios really upped the ante with The Golf Club 2019. Its graphics are of the pristine, lifelike sort, and the improved core golf mechanics make it the best golf game you can buy right now. In it, you can participate in tournaments, such as The PGA Tour and The FedEx Cup, and even create and modify your own courses and golfers. If full immersion was the goal of its creation, then The Golf Club 2019 is a hole in one.
There is little question that the best rally racing game on Xbox One, and maybe ever, is DiRT Rally. With gorgeous and stunningly realistic graphics, great engine sound effects, and a fantastic lineup of real rally cars, it is one of the most authentic rally games ever. It is unrelentingly challenging thanks to an extremely realistic physics and handling model and brutally difficult A.I., but it can be one of the most satisfying and fun racing experiences you’ll ever have. It requires patience, practice, and skill to be successful, but if you’re dedicated enough DiRT Rally is truly something special.