Best Xbox One Games Windows Central 2020
Source: Windows Central
Best Overall: Red Dead Redemption 2
Unprecedented environmental detail, dynamic ecosystems, storytelling worthy of Hollywood, and uncannily realistic character presentation coalesces to make Red Dead Redemption 2 the ultimate Xbox One experience. Set in the closing days of the classic “Wild West” era, one of the region’s last surviving criminal gangs attempts to rebuild their fortunes after a disastrous run-in with an increasingly powerful federal law system.
Red Dead Redemption 2 is first and foremost a story-driven game, where you’ll guide Arthur Morgan and the Van der Lin Gang across a risky parade of daring heists, train robberies, and gang wars. Spanning five fictional US states across a wide variety of terrain, with all sorts of compelling missions and side objectives, Red Dead Redemption 2 is a must-have title for any library.
- Engrossing story
- Great character acting
- Incredible visuals
- Huge amount of content
- Satisfying combat
- Online systems aren’t great
- The opening is a bit slow
The quintessential Xbox One masterpiece, Red Dead Redemption 2, sets the standard for gameplay, visuals, and storytelling.
Editor’s Pick: The Outer Worlds
Built by Obsidian Entertainment, The Outer Worlds sports all of the same wit, charm, and consequences as Fallout New Vegas, against a backdrop of stunning sci-fi scenery and tight RPG shooting gameplay. The Outer Worlds is an absolute must-buy for RPG fans everywhere, especially those who miss the good ol’ days of Fallout 3, New Vegas, and Mass Effect.
- Gorgeous sci-fi worlds
- Satisfying and responsive combat
- Excellent character depth and writing
- Choices that actually matter
- Available in Xbox Game Pass
- Companion A.I. isn’t the best
- UI could use some improvements
Most-exciting new IP in years
Best RPG: The Witcher 3
Source: CD Projekt RED
The Witcher 3 is packed with dozens of hours of content, which will push to well over 100 hours if you pick up the stellar expansion packs along with it. Exceptional methodical combat, stunning visuals, and harrowing monsters.
- Stunning visuals
- Incredible writing and cinematics
- A massive cast of memorable characters
- Satisfying, violent combat
- Consequence-heavy story decisions
- RPG progression systems lack depth
An essential RPG
The Witcher 3 is an excellent RPG full of romance, political intrigue, and of course, monster-slaying.
Best Competitive Shooter: Rainbow Six Siege
With Operator and map knowledge essential, there’s a sharp learning curve for new Siege recruits. However, upon grasping those underlying mechanics, map flow, and gadget synergies, Rainbow Six Siege’s perfected formula comes to light.
- Precise, smooth gunplay
- A diverse lineup of Operators and gadgets
- Competitive, refined multiplayer maps
- Free updates all year round
- Sharp learning curve for new players
Best Competitive Shooter
Relentless tactical shooting
Rainbow Six Siege is an aggressively strategic shooter from Ubisoft, taking place in claustrophobic urban levels complete with environmental destruction, tons of tactical gadgets, and an emphasis on team play.
Best Campaign Shooter: Prey
With an emphasis on puzzle-solving, passive world-building narrative, and exploration, Prey is an underrated gem that fans of games like Dead Space and Bioshock must not miss.
- Huge areas to explore
- Tons of playstyle customization
- Subversive story
- Satisfying combat mechanics
- Frequent loading screens, particularly towards the end
Best Campaign Shooter
Atmospheric sci-fi shooting
Prey is an incredible (and underrated) atmospheric shooter that combines the best of Dead Space tension and Bioshock-like evocative world-building.
Best Co-Op: Monster Hunter World: Iceborne
With dozens of weapon types for all sorts of playstyles, a load of armor types, upgrades, and on-going content updates, Monster Hunter World: Iceborne is a leading co-op action game.
- Exciting monster battles
- Piles of loot to obtain and craft
- Satisfying combat
- Steep learning curve
- Needlessly complex connectivity systems
Hunt monsters with your friends
Monster Hunter World: Iceborne is an incredible co-op RPG where you and up to three friends can hunt down gigantic monsters and craft astonishing gear.
Best Racing: Forza Horizon 4
It’s a technical triumph, offering 4K HDR visuals on Xbox One X, a performance mode with a 60 FPS frame rate, and an almost entirely destructible environment. And thanks to Microsoft initiatives like Game Pass and Play Anywhere, Forza Horizon 4 is accessible to more players than ever before.
- Massive open shared world gameplay
- One of the best looking games on any platform
- Constant content updates
- Abundant loading screens
- Ranked multiplayer matchmaking is slow
Race in a stunning British-inspired landscape
Forza Horizon 4 is an essential racing game experience, taking place across a stunning re-imagining of British landscapes.
Best Open World: Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey
Following the events of Assassin’s Creed: Origins, Odyssey follows a young Animus researcher who dives back into Ancient Greece to piece together more puzzles from the game’s overarching sci-fi story. Odyssey features full naval combat systems, playstyle tailoring through RPG mechanics, and a vast world full of unique animals to hunt, locations to plunder, and of course, baddies to assassinate.
- Gargantuan open world
- Some of the best Xbox One X visuals to date
- Satisfying melee combat
- Can feel a tad repetitive at times
Best Open World
Adventure in Ancient Greece
Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey is an essential open-world title, taking place in a colossal recreation of ancient Greece.
Best Graphic Adventure: Life is Strange
In a community filled with horrible secrets, Life is Strange’s unique time-bending game mechanic that allows you to experience different branches of your story decisions in real-time. Max teams up with her rebellious childhood friend, Chloe, in an attempt to figure out what ties together a missing girl, the town’s shady characters, and a devastating supernatural storm.
- A gripping, emotional story
- Unique time-travel mechanics
- Visuals and animations aren’t the best
Best Graphic Adventure
Twin Peaks for your Xbox
Life is Strange is a hit story-driven episodic adventure game. Controlling Max Caulfield, you’ll guide her through a small-town murder mystery with a dash of time-traveling supernatural intrigue.
Best Action Adventure: NieR: Automata
Source: Platinum Games
Its complexity and depth may be a deterrent if you simply want to sit back and relax while you game, but if you want a story that will challenge you to think critically, there’s no better game on the Xbox One.
- Challenging narrative full of twists
- Incredible soundtrack
- Explosive combat
- A lot of backtracking and re-used areas
Best Action Adventure
Become as Gods
NieR: Automata is an award-winning hack n’ slash action game with some light RPG elements, set in the ruins of apocalyptic earth. Mysterious robots have taken over the planet, and the remnants of humanity send advanced androids in attempts to retake Earth.
Best Horror: Resident Evil 2
Resident Evil 2 follows rookie cop Leon, and local Claire, searching for her brother, caught up in a massive bio-engineering disaster. Solve the puzzles in the iconic museum-turned-police station, evade the hulking Mr. X, and scavenge for supplies in zombie-infested sewers. This is a must-buy title for horror fans.
- Stunning, horrific visuals
- Terrifying atmosphere
- Satisfying gunplay
- Voice acting hasn’t evolved since the 90s
- Missing a few areas from the original, where’s my giant moth at?
The best is back
The Resident Evil franchise suffered a bit of a lull for a while but returned with spine-chilling gusto on the backs of Resident Evil 7 and the Resident Evil 2 remake. Resident Evil 2 proves the original classic from the 90s had a timeless formula.
Best Survival: The Long Dark
Source: Hinterland Games
In The Long Dark, you’ll scavenge supplies, fashion weapons, and ultimately survive, managing your hunger, third, and of course, temperature.
- Vast open-world survival
- Well-balanced systems and mechanics
- Tons of locations to explore, and hazards to overcome
- Performance isn’t always the best
- Visuals look a bit dated
Long, cold winter
The Long Dark is an incredible survival game set in northern Canada. A meteorological disaster causes your plane to crash in the wilderness, sending temperatures plummeting and driving the local wildlife insane. Your only aims are to scavenge, craft, and survive.
Best Platformer: Ori and the Will of the Wisps
With tight, acrobatic platforming, upgraded combat, Ori and the Will of the Wisps stuns with its haunting music, atmospheric locations, and challenging gameplay.
- Intense platforming action
- Beautiful worlds
- Moving narrative
- Honestly, nothing really
An stunning, emotional showcase
Ori and the Will of the Wisps is an industry-leading action platformer, with incredible hand-painted visuals and satisfying acrobatic combat. You play as a magical cat-like creature called Ori, on a quest to save the forest from corruption.
Best Puzzle: Inside
Throughout the game, you’ll be called upon to solve various logic puzzles that test your brains, and occasionally your reactions. The protagonist is being pursued by the game’s mysterious authority, whose true nature slowly reveals itself as you march through this evocative title.
- Gorgeous presentation and sound
- Unnerving silent narrative
- Challenging, satisfying puzzle action
- No replayability
Inside comes from the creators of Limbo, with a similarly stylish side-scrolling puzzle adventure, set in an equally sobering setting. Guide a young boy on his escape from a dystopian regime, and discover the horrors of this dark world’s society.
Best Strategy: Mutant Year Zero
With grid-style turn-based tactical combat, Mutant Year Zero is an excellent take on XCOM-style gameplay conventions, with lots of unique areas to explore.
- Satisfying and strategic combat
- Intriguing apocalyptic world
- Fun narrative and storytelling
- Performance can be iffy at times
A quirky post-apocalypse
Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden is an apocalyptic turn-based strategy game, where you aim to protect the last free human colony from various apocalyptic threats. Oh, you play as a team of mutants, by the way, including a giant duck and a boar man. For reasons.
Best Simulation: Surviving Mars
In Surviving Mars, you’ll grow your colony from a single small dome into a sprawling exoplanet city, complete with drone workers, and eventually, terraforming facilities.
- Addictive, satisfying simulation mechanics
- Gorgeous, well-optimized visuals
- Great balance between simulation and strategy
- Late-stage gameplay isn’t as engaging as it could be
Become Matt Damon, sorta
Surviving Mars is an addictive sci-fi simulator where players are tasked with the colonization of the titular Red Planet. Expand, manage oxygen levels, food, and water, while navigating dangerous hazards.
Best Stealth: Hitman 2
Source: IO Interactive
Blending in with the crowd is vital, leveraging an extensive lineup of gadgets, disguises, and tailored scenarios to eliminate targets in style. The best assassins will kill victims in plain sight and cover the tracks, making for a stealth experience like no other.
- Rich, detailed environments
- Rewarding and flexible stealth gameplay
- Highly replayable
- Light main narrative
Hitman 2 is the ultimate assassination simulator, set in huge sprawling stealth puzzles packed with all sorts of tools and weapons for getting the job done. Packed with on-going mission updates, Hitman 2 will last for dozens and dozens of hours.
Best Fighting: Killer Instinct
- Great netcode and server infrastructure
- Fun, accessible combat with tons to master
- A cast of quirky characters for various playstyles
- Piles of cosmetics to unlock
- Story content isn’t well-executed
Killer Instinct is a unique combo-heavy free-to-play fighting game from Microsoft. With over two-dozen varied combatants, tons of cosmetics to unlock, great netcode, and plenty of solo content, Killer Instinct is still easily the best fighting game on Xbox One.
Best Sports: Rocket League
Source: Epic Games
With tons of free updates, cross-platform play, and lots to unlock, Rocket League has kept millions hooked for years.
- Smooth performance
- Lots of arenas and gameplay modes
- Short gameplay rounds
- Cross-platform play
- Matchmaking algorithms aren’t great at making competitive matches
Soccer, rockets, and racing
What happens when you combine rocket-powered sports cars with soccer? You get Rocket League. Dash across a wide range of neon-washed stages and game modes in this high-octane sports game that is addictive as it is fun.
Best for Kids: Minecraft
- Endless creativity
- Large free content updates every few months
- Full cross-platform support for multiplayer
- Dedicated “Realms” servers are expensive to rent
- Promised visual upgrade packs have been delayed
Best for Kids
Best kids game ever
Not just the best kids game on Xbox One, but very possibly the best kids game of all time. Minecraft (Bedrock Edition) can bring together games from phones, tablets, VR, Nintendo Switch, PC, and Xbox, all inside a single game for some digital Lego survival goodness.
Red Dead Redemption 2 retains the top spot for its majesty, vision, and cover-to-cover excellence. Few games have begun to approach what Rockstar has achieved with Red Dead Redemption 2, which is ultimately the example by which all other open-world action games should follow.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Jez Corden is a full-time writer for Windows Central, focusing on Xbox, Surface, and Windows PC. He spends the vast majority of his time gaming or writing about gaming, with a mission to provide gamers in the Microsoft ecosystem the best and most up-to-date info possible.
Matt Brown is a staff writer at Mobile Nations for Windows Central. Following years of professional consumer technology and gaming coverage, he’s focused on the world of Xbox and Windows PCs. You can follow him on Twitter @mattjbrown.
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