What are the best Xbox games? Microsoft has undeniably had a rather hard time securing big-ticket exclusive games on its Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One consoles, with several anticipated games falling flat. But worry not, there are still mountains of great games to play, and that’s why we’ve put together a comprehensive list of the best Xbox games you need to experience right away.
Many of the games on this list are among the best games of all time, so they’re certainly worth checking out. Even better, however, is that many are also included in Microsoft’s stellar subscription service, ranking among the best Xbox Game Pass games as well, meaning you might not have to spend a dime extra to play some of the biggest and best Xbox games on this list. It’s also worth pointing out right away that many of these games are available natively on both Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One consoles, and any older games are playable via backwards capability on current-gen anyhow.
The best Xbox games are:
1. Destiny 2
You might think lightning can’t strike twice, but the pioneers of competitive FPS action with Halo, Bungie, did just that with Destiny. While there’s less of a focus on PvP arena battles as there is in Halo, Destiny 2 has established itself as the ruler of live-service narrative games.
There’s a rich universe to uncover in Destiny, with different alien races spread across several planets and destinations, menacing masterminds, and an ever-growing group of intriguing characters to get to know. Plenty of live service games keep you coming back for the gameplay, but Destiny 2 keeps you coming back for the story as well.
If you’re a fan of cooperative play, then Destiny 2 offers a large array of activities to play with friends and random players. From casual Strikes all the way up to challenging three-player Dungeons and six-player Raids, Destiny has more than enough content to sink your teeth into at all difficulty levels. There’s even a suite of competitive PvP modes, from unranked quickplay to intense 3v3 battles in Trials of Osiris.
No matter what you choose to do, you’ll get to engage in deep build mechanics while hunting for the best Destiny 2 weapons and armor. If you’re looking to dive in, check out our Destiny 2 Titan build, Hunter build, and Warlock build so you know which class is the right one for you. And don’t miss our Destiny 2 Lightfall review to see if the latest expansion is worth picking up, as the game is technically free-to-play, although the free offerings are slim.
Starfield is easily Bethesda’s most ambitious game to date, taking its beloved formula behind the likes of Oblivion, Skyrim, and Fallout 4, and applying it to a whole galaxy. Our Starfield review digs deep into just what makes this game worthy of being one of the best RPG games, and certainly one of the best Xbox RPG games to date.
From the incredibly vast and varied open world (or should we say open galaxy, as there are over 1,000 planets to explore) to its deep gameplay mechanics, Starfield gives you dozens of hours of fun. It also improves and expands upon the excellent base building from Fallout 4 with the advanced Starfield outposts system and even Starfield ship building. If you’re up for a galaxy-trotting adventure with various factions to join, planets to explore, and quests to complete – in much the same vein as Bethesda’s previous work – then Starfield is the game for you. It’s even better then that Starfield is available on Xbox Game Pass at no extra cost – a whole galaxy at your fingertips!
3. Red Dead Redemption 2
Rockstar Games is well-known at this point for its incredible talent in creating rich worlds to explore, but Red Dead Redemption 2 knocks everything else out of the water. RDR2 isn’t for everyone: it’s a slow burn that asks you to immerse yourself in its world first and foremost. However, if you’re willing to tag along for the ride, you’re in for one of the most gripping stories in all of gaming.
Though you might assume you need to play the first game before diving in, Red Dead Redemption 2 is actually a prequel. Whether your experience will be heightened by knowing how the events ultimately conclude is largely up to personal preference, but you can certainly start with RDR2 and enjoy an epic and oftentimes unfortunate tale that will have you laughing, crying, and shouting at the screen at certain moments.
Pair the unforgettable narrative with slick gunplay – especially for fans of Westerns – and a sprawling yet highly detailed world to explore, and it’s hard not to be amazed by what’s on offer in Red Dead Redemption 2 and there’s no doubt that it’s one of the, if not the best open-world game ever.
4. Forza Horizon 5
In a drastic twist, Forza Horizon 5 is an open-world racing game all about having fun. Don’t expect a gripping story or entertaining characters here, just bombastic racing across sand dunes, through jungles, and over a volcano. Yes, even a volcano – and that’s not even the coolest part.
The Horizon line of Forza titles features similarly satisfying and arguably best-in-class arcade-sim hybrid racing but ups the chaos over Forza’s more serious Motorsport series. You won’t be trying to master each and every corner to shave a second of your time and claim first. No, instead you’ll be focused on how best to fling your car around a corner at max speed and keeping your eyes out for shortcuts, smashing through barns and fences to get ahead.
As part of the large world to explore, Forza Horizon 5 also features a diverse set of competitions, so there’s something for everyone. From classic street racing to off-road, it’s hard not to be having fun while speeding through FH5’s Mexico. The fact that it’s still being regularly supported with seasonal content and paid expansions also tells you how popular the game remains today. Forza Horizon 5 is hands-down one of the best racing games ever made.
Like all Xbox exclusives, this incredible game is also available on Game Pass at no extra cost, so what are you waiting for? You can also check out our Forza Horizon 5 review to learn more.
5. Elden Ring
Elden Ring took the gaming world by storm when it launched in 2022, taking everything FromSoftware were already considered masters at and applying it to a much larger world.
From the moment you boot up Elden Ring, you’ll be invited into an incredibly rich universe with intriguing lore in each and every corner of the world. It’s not always easy to understand, but you can’t help but be pulled in. Likewise, FromSoftware is second to none when it comes to design worlds and levels absolutely oozing with atmosphere and, despite the almost overwhelmingly large open world, that remains the same in Elden Ring. From the grand atriums and twisting corridors of Liurnia Academy to the open plains of the Limgrave and the Altus Plateau, and even the haunting depths of the Ainsel River, it’s almost impossible to imagine how this world was even put together.
When you’re not in awe of your surroundings, however, you’ll be engaged in nail-biting combat against all kinds of beasties and picking the perfect Elden Ring boss order to take down the game’s toughest enemies. Like FromSoftware’s other games, Elden Ring is a soulslike game, so expect a challenging experience that demands your attention and willingness to improve after every death. The difficulty will no doubt put many off, but if you’re open to learning the ins and outs of the game, and making use of the open-world structure to level up, then there’s a gem waiting for you. Our Elden Ring review digs even deeper to explain why it got a rare 10/10 from us at The Loadout.
If you are planning to dive in, don’t forget to check out the best Elden Ring weapons. With an ever-increasing challenge ahead of you, they will certainly come in handy.
6. It Takes Two
It Takes Two is one of the best co-op games ever made, and we can’t see it being beaten anytime soon. Playing as a husband and wife that have been turned into a pair of dolls, you’ll be thrown into unique situations that require teamwork and communication to solve. Most importantly, the gameplay is almost ever-changing, even blending different genres together so there’s never a dull moment. From 3D platforming and puzzling to top-down action, racing, and even third-person shooting, It Takes Two is a little bit of everything, developing each mechanic just enough before ditching it for something new.
It’s not all about the gameplay though, as It Takes Two also boasts an intimate narrative weaved into every moment of action. It Takes Two is a story about reconciliation and working together against all odds, as the main characters are looking to get divorced before their distraught daughter accidentally turns them into dolls. While it’s rather predictable and often played for laughs, it does a good job of pulling everything together.
7. Resident Evil 4 Remake
To this day, Resident Evil 4 is regarded by many as the best horror game ever made, even nearly two decades later, something which we discuss in our Resident Evil 4 Remake review. The RE 4 Remake somehow improved the already impeccable game with mouth-watering graphics and modern gameplay mechanics that make it an absolute must for any horror aficionado.
It still boasts the highly satisfying and punchy gunplay with a range of unique weapons, and the survival mechanics that make every fight an engrossing experience, weighing up every shot spent and resource used. The many iconic boss fights and set-piece moments are intact and better than ever thanks to completely remastered visuals.
However, we recommend giving the Resident Evil 4 Remake a go even if you’re not typically a fan of horror. Thanks to a surprisingly generous ammo economy and often hilarious writing – particularly main man Leon himself – it’s hard not to be entertained. Most thrills come from having to deal with tricky cultists coming after you while managing your limited healing and grenades, rather than cheap jump-scares.
8. Doom Eternal
The original Doom laid much of the groundwork for modern first-person shooters, so it’s no surprise that Doom Eternal would come along and improve even that groundwork once again to create one of the best FPS games ever.
While there is a story, and a much more involved one than Doom (2018), in fact, Doom Eternal’s focus is all about providing silky-smooth demon-slaying action, and it does just that in spades. Thanks to a host of new weaponry, upgrades, and even new movement mechanics, Doom Eternal is an absolute blast. Every second is filled with either eviscerating hordes of demons in masterfully designed arenas, or using the new platforming mechanics to solve environmental puzzles and find new upgrades.
The core gameplay, bolstered by perfectly fitting metal music, is so engrossing that it’s able to hold your attention for its full runtime, which is rather rare for single-player FPS games. You’ll be glad to learn that Doom Eternal is also free on Game Pass, so you can dive in right away without having to spend extra.
9. The Witcher 3
Ever since its release in 2015, The Witcher 3 has been held as the gold standard for modern RPG games, even providing much of the inspiration for the RPG trilogy of Assassin’s Creed games. This is largely due to the incredible world on offer in TW3, which is packed to the brim with detail and character that will immerse you, unlike most other games. With political intrigue, religions, and the general hatred (yet necessity) of the titular Witchers, there’s a rich world waiting to be explored.
The narrative is also nothing to scoff at. While it is a rather stale setup of having to find your (surrogate) daughter, the quality of the writing and voice acting is unmatched by nearly anything other than Red Dead Redemption 2. With so many interesting characters to meet along the way as well, the many side stories are often more entertaining than the main one.
Overall, The Witcher 3’s most crowning achievement is just how well it immerses you into its world and life as a Witcher, reinforced through a strong narrative and gameplay activities. Its superb expansions – Hearts of Stone and Blood and Wine – are arguably even better than the base game.
10. Psychonauts 2
After over 16 years of waiting, Psychonauts 2 was worth every second. This action-adventure platformer is one of the most unique of its genre, blending the traditional platforming gameplay you’d expect with the mind-bending and often introspective theme of hopping into people’s psyches.
You play Razputin Aquato, a young acrobat and psychic who, in the sequel, has now joined the psychic espionage group known as the Psychonauts. By hopping to people’s minds, you’ll have to solve an emerging mystery in the organization before it’s too late. Best of all though is the witty humor that will keep you on your toes at all times and, as you might have guessed, there are a lot of jokes about physics.
Thanks to the unique premise of venturing into people’s minds, each level is also incredibly diverse – arguably even the best in the genre. In fact, not only are they very fun to play through – especially with the many amusing psychic powers at your disposal – but they are also ripe with environmental storytelling. After all, the environment is quite literally the psyche of a prime suspect.
Luckily for you, Psychonauts 2 is available at no extra cost on Game Pass. And if we haven’t convinced you yet, check out our Psychonauts 2 review to learn more.
11. Halo Infinite
The Halo franchise has stood the test of time, with Bungie pioneering online play and FPS stories with the epic original trilogy, and its spin off titles. Halo Infinite doesn’t quite live up to its predecessors, but it does evolve the series in a number of ways, as our Halo Infinite review discusses.
For the first time in the series, Halo Infinite expands the single-player to offer a sprawling open world that lets you make full use out of the superb sandbox you can expect from Halo. Complete with a diverse range of weapons and vehicles, including a number of new ones, you can explore this new environment like never before. You’ll also get to see a nice side of the iconic Master Chief and Cortana as they find themselves stranded, though this narrative it’s quite as tightly-knit as the original entries in the series.
As for the multiplayer, Halo Infinite excels. Blending the traditional Halo arena gameplay with the faster-paced gameplay of Halo 4 and 5, Infinite is the perfect modern Halo game. With slick movement and great-feeling weapons, every second spent in the competitive multiplayer is a blast, whether you’re new to the series or a long-time veteran. While it got off to a rocky start, Halo Infinite’s seasonal structure continues to bring new features and content to the multiplayer offering.
While multiplayer is free to everyone on Xbox, the campaign is sold separately. Thankfully, you can get the complete package at no additional cost through Game Pass.
12. Grand Theft Auto 5
Rockstar strikes again with Grand Theft Auto 5. While it’s not nearly as mind-blowing as the more recent Red Dead Redemption 2, there’s a reason why GTA 5 is one of the best selling games of all time. Not only is there a stellar single-player story to playthrough, packed with humor and commentary on capitalism and modern America, there’s also GTA Online.
Starting off with GTA 5’s single-player, you can expect a similarly high-quality story, with a wide cast of characters that are all equally entertaining. While a lot of the story is first and foremost designed to entertain, however, several moments will pull you in for a much more intimate and reflecting tale than you might have expected in a story about a group of aging thieves. Perhaps the most exciting part overall though are the numerous heists you’ll conduct. From picking your crew, to gathering all the supplies and getaway vehicles you need, through to the thrilling (and lucrative) heist itself, this is where the story mode really sings.
As for GTA Online, there’s an almost never-ending amount of content to play through alone, with friends, or even with random players. From the various story missions and jobs to complete, to advanced systems like starting a business and criminal enterprise, and even wacky races designed by other players, it’s hard not to find something to enjoy in GTA Online.
You’ll be pleased to know that the Xbox Series X|S version of GTA 5 and GTA Online is currently available on Game Pass.
13. Deep Rock Galactic
We wouldn’t be too surprised if you haven’t heard of Deep Rock Galactic before now, but that’s all the more reason to dig deeper. Deep Rock is a cooperative game all about mining for minerals and fighting waves of creepy crawlies. While this sounds basic on the surface, it’s the amazing attention to detail and lighthearted tone that make it shine.
Whether you’re playing with friends or even random players, Deep Rock is an absolute blast. Each of the four unique classes you can play has its own, distinct personality that you can’t help but embrace once you’ve picked your favorite. From the sprightly Scout to the heavy-duty Gunner, each class has a role to play that will help you complete the various objectives in each of the procedurally generated levels, so work together to succeed. Don’t let the procedurally generated nature of the levels fool you either, as despite them being generated by an algorithm, they feel like handcrafted environments each and every time thanks to diverse biomes and secrets to find.
Plus, Deep Rock Galactic is even on Game Pass, so you and your friends can dive in right away without fear of wasting money.
14. Outer Wilds
The Outer Wilds is famously hard to discuss without spoiling what makes it great in the first place – exploration. In Outer Wilds, you’ll be set the task of exploring a mystery solar system trapped in an endless time loop. Under this simple premise, however, is a rich experience absolutely oozing with atmosphere. You can visit a city getting swallowed by sand or a planet crumbling beneath your very feet, and so much more, with a world that changes as time passes – until it’s ultimately too late and the system resets once more.
If you like exploring in search of secrets to uncover the narrative and solve mysteries, then you really can’t do better than Outer Wilds. To go along with this atmospheric adventure is a beautiful soundtrack by Andrew Prahlow. By the end of the game, you’ll no doubt be sitting there floored by what you’ve just experienced, so you can thank us later.
15. Hot Wheels Unleashed 2: Turbocharged
While Forza Horizon 5 may have had a Hot Wheels expansion, that’s not stopped Milestone from coming back and making a sequel to 2021’s rather fantastic arcade racer, Hot Wheels Unleashed.
For those wondering if Hot Wheels Unleashed is much of the same, or a marked improvement, then the answer is ‘yes, both of those things’. As we note in our Hot Wheels Unleashed 2 review, it “is a gorgeous arcade racer all about fun that smartly expands on the best elements of its predecessor, instead of throwing a wrench in the works.”
So, strap into your micro machine – wait, wrong franchise – and get ready to enjoy one of the best Xbox games of 2023. With a plentitude of cars to race, tracks to create, and customization galore, Hot Wheels Unleashed 2 is a certified banger for the whole family.
16. Alan Wake 2
It’s been 13 years since Finnish studio Remedy Entertainment blessed our screens with the episodic marvel that is Alan Wake. After leaving us hanging for over a decade, the developer has served up one of the finest horror sequels of the modern era, as we head back to Bright Falls for Alan Wake 2.
This time around the titular character is nowhere to be seen, and we are instead introduced to FBI agent Saga Anderson who has been dispatched to the Falls to investigate a string of ritualistic murders. Of course, things start to get really spooky for the Alan Wake 2 cast real quick.
If you’ve played the original game, or are new to the series, be warned – Alan Wake 2 is a very different experience to its predecessor, materializing as a cold-blooded survival horror game rather than a psychological thriller.
But don’t let this deter you. As Sam says in our Alan Wake 2 review, Remedy has delivered “an expertly executed story that will leave you stunned by its ambition and boldness”, backed up by a “remarkable gameplay experience.”
Now you know all the best Xbox games to play on your Series X|S and Xbox One, pick one and dive in. We’ve no doubt you’ll have a blast no matter what you inevitably decide on. Before you jump in, however, make sure you’re kitted out for the journey ahead properly with one of the best Xbox controllers as well as some of the best Xbox accessories. Premium gameplay deserves premium hardware, after all.