The Best Xbox One Games December 2019

The best on the box...
Recent Updates: Less than 6 months
In preparation for the holiday break, we've updated our list of the best Xbox One games. We're now at 16 titles and counting, with newcomer The Outer Worlds and platforming throwback Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair joining the ranks.
More than 6 months
We've updated our list of the best Xbox One games with two new additions for October: Trials Rising and Borderlands 3. Read on to find out why they made the cut.
Best XBOX ONE Games reviews

16 of the best Xbox One games, including Xbox exclusives, kids games, free titles and co-op multiplayer.

In its nearly six years on the market the Xbox One has amassed a wealth of great games, from life-consuming RPGs to charming platformers and impossibly gorgeous racers. But, if you’re jumping in now, at this late stage in the console cycle, what are the must-play titles to pick up? This round-up of the 16 best Xbox One games available in 2019 is intended to give you not only quality but variety.

1. Titanfall 2

Titanfall is based on the absurd premise that dropping giant robots at terminal velocity from space onto a battlefield would be somehow helpful to the soldiers on the ground, and not, in fact, a grievous workplace safety violation. Still, it’s one hell of a gimmick.

Unlike the multiplayer-only original, Titanfall 2′s beating heart is a spectacularly creative 6-8 hour solo story campaign, which sees you befriend one of the aforementioned giant robots, travel through time and space, all while running along walls and shooting slightly-less-giant robots in the face.

The fluidity of traversal makes this one of the best feeling shooters ever made, and it has the level design chops to match; the “Effect and Cause” mission is an all-time classic, elevating Titanfall 2‘s campaign to the giddy heights of Half-Life 2 and Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare.

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Also try: Overwatch

If competitive multiplayer is more your jam, it’s hard to go wrong with Blizzard’s 2016 hero shooter, Overwatch.

A colourful cast and an emphasis on teamplay and simplicity make this a less daunting shooter to jump into than most.

2. Forza Horizon 4

Forza Horizon 4 isn’t a racing game – it’s a driving game. That may sound like splitting hairs, but the distinction is crucial to understanding the appeal.

Yes, racing can take up the bulk of your time… if you want it to. You’re just as well served screeching around a stunningly recreated United Kingdom, from Edinburgh Castle to the Lake District, ploughing through historic dry stone walls and launching your Lamborghini off the countless rolling hills that pepper the landscape – a landscape that changes dramatically with the ever-shifting seasonal weather.

Not only is Forza Horizon 4 the best driving game on the platform, it’s also the best Xbox One console exclusive.

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Also try: Forza Horizon 3

The Forza Horizon series’ stiffest competition is itself, such is its quality. If you want to trade miserable ol’ UK for the sandy beaches of Australia, 2016’s Forza Horizon 3 is still spectacular.

A colourful cast and an emphasis on teamplay and simplicity make this a less daunting shooter to jump into than most.

3. Ori and the Blind Forest

Don’t be fooled by the whimsy and Disney-esque art style: Ori and the Blind Forest can be a brutally difficult platformer when it wants to be.

Doing away with traditional boss fights, the game instead throws intense, checkpoint-free platforming gauntlets at you, testing all the skills and abilities you’ve acquired in the lead-up. It’s thrilling, sometimes-infuriating stuff, but Ori is so much more than just a challenge.

With each new traversal ability, previously inaccessible areas of the labyrinthine map open up to you, giving you a compelling reason to explore and backtrack looking for myriad secrets.

The fact that it’s one of the most gorgeous games on the Xbox One doesn’t hurt either.

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Also try: Hollow Knight

Hollow Knight is a brilliant Metroidvania that takes inspiration from the meticulous combat, obtuse storytelling, and ominous tone of Dark Souls. If you’re after something darker than Ori, Hollow Knight is a no-brainer.
A colourful cast and an emphasis on teamplay and simplicity make this a less daunting shooter to jump into than most.

4. The Witcher III: Wild Hunt

Released in 2015, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt remains the most impressive role-playing game ever made. If you’re looking for a fantasy realm to absorb your every waking moment, full of beasts and warring kingdoms, cursed souls and apocalyptic spectres, mystery, tragedy and love, this is it.

As husky-voiced silver-fox and professional monster slayer Geralt of Rivia, you’ll hunt your quarry across a feudal kingdom at war, your decisions and actions shaping the land and the fate of its inhabitants to an unprecedented degree.

Developed by Poland’s CD Projekt RED, The Witcher 3 lacks none of the bleakness typical of Eastern European fairy tales, but the charming, well-rounded characters are written with just the right amount of humour to balance out the tone. A Masterpiece.

The Witcher III: Wild Hunt also appears in our list of best open world games on PlayStation 4

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Also try: Dragon Age Inquisition

Though the world of Thedas feels less alive and more segmented than The Witcher 3’s, Dragon Age: Inquisition is nonetheless a charming RPG with a heavy focus on relationship building and choice-driven narrativeA colourful cast and an emphasis on teamplay and simplicity make this a less daunting shooter to jump into than most.

5. Minecraft

The digital equivalent of spilling a crate of Lego on the floor and letting your imagination run wild (just without the excruciating pain of treading on a brick), Minecraft is one of the best kids games ever made.

In fact, it’s almost better to think of Minecraft as its own creative medium rather than a mere game – from working circuit boards to accurate recreations of the USS Enterprise and Game of Thrones‘ King’s Landing, practically anything can be built using Minecraft‘s pixelated building tools.

If you’re after a game that encourages creativity in your little ones, you can’t do better.

Minecraft screenshot
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Also try: Rayman Legends

A fairly traditional platformer, Rayman Legends oozes charm. The auto-scrolling music-themed levels are a highlight.

6. Red Dead Redemption 2

It’s the quiet moments that make Red Dead Redemption 2 so memorable: from lone horseback rides through the most realistic digital forests ever modelled, to sitting around a campfire and celebrating all-too-rare good news with your outlaw gang. The story is propelled forward by complex, flawed characters running from both the law and the ever-encroaching modern world – a world that doesn’t have a place for outlaws (of their variety, anyway).

It’s slow, plodding, long, cumbersome and occasionally unpleasant – but deliberately so, because all the best westerns are.

Rockstar’s magnum opus is not only the new standard for video game open-worlds but a remarkable western in its own right, a genre not exactly short of masterpieces.

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Also try: Watch Dogs 2

Underrated, largely because the original was so lacklustre, Watch Dogs 2′s San Francisco is the perfect sandbox for hacking hijinks (or “cyber crime” if you’re a cop).

With a Silicon Valley tech mogul as the main antagonist and the dangers of an overly zealous surveillance state a key theme, Watch Dogs 2 actually has something to say. Welcome to the resistance, video games

7. Gears of War 4

Leaping forward both a console generation and an in-story generation, Gears of War 4 places you in the appropriately chunky shoes of JD Fenix, son of original trilogy protagonist Marcus.

With the time leap comes new robotic foes, the DeeBees, which complement the more traditional beasts you’re used to chainsawing in half, adding a nice wrinkle to the crunchy cover-based shooting.

The world is ravaged by unpredictable weather systems now, most often taking the form of electrical superstorms.

Best of all: Gears of War 4 features all-too-rare couch splitscreen (and online) multiplayer for its generous campaign, making it the best co-op game available on Xbox One.

Once you’re done with the story, the wave-based Horde 3.0 offers endless co-op replayability.

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Also try: Sea of Thieves

If you’re after quirkier, less violent co-op shenanigans, Sea of Thieves, an open-world pirate sandbox, is worthy of plundering. After a somewhat disappointing launch, developer Rare has continued to update the game, bringing it closer to its swashbuckling potential

8. Batman: Arkham Knight

It’d be easy to make a compelling case for the tight Metroidvania trappings of the original Arkham Asylum, but if you’re looking for sheer superhero spectacle, Arkham Knight stands unopposed.

It excels in both its biffo, with an often-imitated-but-never-bettered counter-heaver combat system, and its narrative, with a clever twist that comic readers might see coming but will enjoy anyway.

Arkham Knight expands upon its predecessor’s open-world traversal with the addition of the Batmobile, which can be seamlessly incorporated into your gliding, and called to your location in just a few seconds. The rain-slicked, crime-riddled streets of Gotham have never looked better.

Batman: Arkham Night
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Also try: Assassin's Creed Origins

If you haven’t played an Assassin’s Creed since the early days, Origins will be all but unrecognisable. Shaking up the combat, progression, and traversal, Origins is the reboot the series needed. Ubisoft Montreal’s recreation of Ancient Egypt is simply stunning.

9. Apex Legends

Within minutes of booting up Apex Legends you’ll be asking yourself, “is this game really free?” Yes, somehow, it is. From the makers of Titanfall 2, Respawn Entertainment, Apex Legends is a hero-shooter spin on the industry-conquering battle royale genre kick-started by PUBG and sent into the stratosphere by Fortnite.

Players team up in squads of three, skydive onto an island, rummage for gear and weapons, shoot it out on an ever-shrinking map, all the while battling for the honour of being the last group standing.

Unlike nearly every free-to-play game out there, Apex Legends contains all the triple-A polish you’d expect of a full-priced blockbuster, making it the best free game on Xbox One. Better still, the business model doesn’t feel obnoxious, giving you the bulk of the hero characters gratis.

Apex Legends appears on our list of the most popular online games in Australia

Apex Legends Xbox
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Also try: Xbox Game Pass

Though not technically free, or a game for that matter, Xbox One’s game subscription service is becoming fantastic value as its library increases. At AU$10.95 a month, you’ll get access to more than 100 regularly updated games. The library currently includes Metro Exodus, Batman: Arkham Knight, Hollow Knight, Mortal Kombat X, Forza Horizon 4, Gears of War 4, Monster Hunter World, Rise of the Tomb Raider, and many, many more.

10. What Remains of Edith Finch

Playing as Edith, the last remaining member of the seemingly cursed Finch family, you return to the now-dilapidated family estate looking for answers.

Through a series of flashback sequences, Edith experiences the final moments of her doomed relatives’ lives.

The game can be completed in a single sitting and contains little challenge, but the diverse vignettes of demise are so creative, poetic, and harrowing that the story will stick with you long after the credits have rolled (seriously, I can’t look at a bathtub anymore without getting a little sad).

If you’ve got a friend that doesn’t see the storytelling or artistic worth of the medium, show them What Remains of Edith Finch.

What Remains of Edith Finch Xbox One
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Also try: Tacoma

From The Fullbright Company, pioneers of the “walking simulator” genre with their game Gone Home, Tacoma tasks you with discovering the fate of a doomed space station. It’s free if you have an Xbox Game Pass subscription.

11. Gears 5

Best co-op Xbox One game

Developers The Coalition may have ditched the ‘of War’ part from the title, but Gears 5 is very much at home in the Gears of War universe. This is the biggest Gears offering yet.

The campaign kicks off where Gears of War 4 left off, diving deeper into the increasingly interesting world of a planet that’s apparently always ravaged by war. A new game means new enemies and new ways to frag them, though, and there are lots of other little quality-of-life updates that make the gameplay best in series.

For those who don’t fancy the storyline, there’s still plenty to do. It starts with the attrition-heavy Escape mode that pits you and pals against well-armed threats. The catch is twofold: you’re not particularly well-armed and there’s a giant deadly gas cloud chasing you.

The cooperative Horde mode now supports five players and is addictive from the breeziness of wave one through to the hectic we’re-all-going-to-die madness of wave 50. If competitive is more your speed, you can try your hand against other players in Versus mode.

Nathan Lawrence

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Also try: Far Cry New Dawn

The post-apocalyptic fun of this Far Cry sandbox is made even better in co-op. Try stealthy incursions for ninja objective clearing. Then go loud for a Rambo simulator. Whichever gameplay approach you prefer, be sure to play with your prey for extra giggles.

12. Control

If you’re tired of the increasing push into always-online multiplayer games, there’s a Remedy (Entertainment) for what ails you. Control is the latest hit from Remedy, and it’s arguably the studio’s best game to date.

The mind-bending sci-fi story is nutty, even by Remedy’s standards. The presentation is the most cinematic it’s been. And the gameplay builds up from a challenging third-person shooter to power-fantasy-fulfilling superhero simulator… with a shapeshifting gun (of course).

Pour upgrade points into powers and your polymorphic weapon while exploring a truly fascinating world that can really only exist in games. Then, once the credits roll, stick around to pore over the many narrative titbits that help make sense of Remedy’s method beneath all the apparent madness.

Nathan Lawrence

Control Review
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Also try: Alan Wake

Though not as tight on the gameplay front as Control, Alan Wake is still worth a bash once you’re done with Remedy Entertainment’s latest. It’s got a weird-and-wonderful story. A solid gameplay loop. And there may be other rewards for playing both.

13. Trials Rising

Never before has a game been more aptly named. For those unaware, Trials is a 2.5D series where you ride a dirt bike from start to finish. Sounds easy, right? The catch is the tracks get incredibly tricky the more you play. With a robust physics engine, the titular trials feel fair, but when it takes you 100 attempts to get past one section, you feel godlike.

Those trials in Trials Rising are at peak fiend levels. Thankfully, Trials Rising’s learning curve isn’t as steep as some of its challenges. It also includes a training mode, which is appropriately spaced out with the things you need to know for the courses you’re about to face. Even if you’re not particularly skilled, it’s a hoot alone and positively hilarious in multiplayer. Play cooperatively on the tandem bike for bigger laughs.

Nathan Lawrence

Trials Rising Review
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Also try: Cuphead

While there isn’t a dirt bike to be seen in Cuphead, this devilish 2D platformer will test your patience with its challenging levels and boss fights. The gorgeous hand-drawn art and toe-tapping music will draw you in to the pain. Bring a buddy to share the burden.

14. Borderlands 3

Let’s address the loot-laden elephant in the room upfront. Borderlands 3 is very much a Borderlands game, which is to say there’s not a whole lot here in terms of wholly new features. That said, Borderlands 3 is the best version of the shooter-looter formula to date.

Whether you get into the zany story and larger-than-life characters is very much of secondary importance to the never-ending loot pursuit that is the moment-to-moment gameplay of Borderlands 3. Clear entire towns in pursuit of higher-tier swag, and definitely don’t get too attached to what you feel is your fave newfound weapon five minutes ago. This really is a game that’s best played in co-op, too, with great level scaling that means greenhorns can play next to legendary-orange-stacked veterans.

Nathan Lawrence

Borderlands 3 Review
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Also try: Destiny 2

If you’re addicted to Destiny 2, you already know this. If you never played or tried it at launch and left, well, there are a lot of great reasons (like the recently released Shadowkeep DLC) to return to orbit in post-Activision Destiny 2. Come for the tight shooting. Stay for the stacks of loot envy.

15. The Outer Worlds

This is shamelessly (and beautifully) one of those glory-days RPGs that absolutely deserves attention even if you’re only a casual fan of the genre. Think Skyrim or New Vegas (see below), except with a whole lot more polish and prettier graphics out of the gate. You play as a marooned space-farer whose job it is to navigate the many requests and conflicting politics of different factions. Play with tact, dropping points into your conversational skills to talk your way out of anything. Or quite literally murder everyone. There’s an immersive universe to explore, as well as a fantastic sense of humour helped along by the witty dialogue that’s delivered by great voice actors.

Nathan Lawrence

The Outer Worlds - Best Xbox One Games
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Also try: Fallout New Vegas

Made by the same developers as The Outer Worlds (not to mention the same ones who made the original Fallout), this backwards-compatible title still stands as arguably the best Fallout game made to date. When you’re done with The Outer Worlds, this should be your next sci-fi destination.

16. Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair

Another recent entry, another game that’s built with a lot of old-school charm. Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair is the dimensionally surprising 2.5D sequel to the charming 3D action-platformer Yooka-Laylee. It’s got something for all fans of this style of game. You can play it casually and have a hoot. Completionists can agonise over the devilish requirements of 100-percenting it. For those after a pure gameplay fix, the mix of isometric overworld and regular 2.5D platforming make for a compelling gameplay loop. Beat a level, then crack an overworld puzzle to shake it up in a creative way for clever replayability. And for fans of true punishment, jump straight to the titular Impossible Lair and try to survive more than five minutes.

Nathan Lawrence

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Also try: Dead Cells

For a truly punishing action-platform experience, Dead Cells is the go-to game. This indie darling is the unholy union of Dark Souls and Metroidvania design logic. The result: a punishing but satisfying action-heavy game that’s impossible to put down. You’ll die a lot, but that’s all part of the fun.