Picking a list of the best Xbox One games in 2021 is no mean feat. There are plenty of games for Xbox fans to sink their teeth into thanks to the console’s extensive library, but luckily for you – we’re here to help. Whether you’re after the perfect single player game that seemingly lasts forever or a multiplayer game that’ll get your heart racing, there’s something on this list for everyone.
With the launch of the Xbox Series X and Series S, you can rest assured knowing that this full list will also be playable on your next Xbox console. Cross-generation gaming is here to stay, so there’s no need to worry about missing out on the fun.
As with all top ten lists, there are some games that just don’t make the cut. If you want to get a sneak peak at some of the games that could’ve easily been on this list, check out our best PS4 games guide and our best Xbox strategy games list.
The Gears of War series is known for its thrilling cooperative campaign and punishing multiplayer featuring the game’s signitature chainsaw executions. Gears 5 expands on all three of these, taking the series in an open-world direction with side quests and RPG elements. The protagonist even switches from Dominic ‘JD’ Fenix over to Kait Diaz, an Outsider searching for the truth about her origin.
The campaign should keep you busy for a while, but if you smash through it – or you’re looking for a break from it – the game’s new Escape mode will give you and your friends a different challenge. Escape forces players to make their way through a Locust Hive armed with nothing but a pistol and combat knife, so expect to get sweaty.
In short, The Coalition has done an excellent job at evolving the Gears of War series, making it an easy pick for our best Xbox One games list.
Red Dead Redemption 2
There are certain games that only a studio as big as Rockstar can make, and Red Dead Redemption 2 is one of them. The cowboy shoot ‘em up won multiple game of the year awards when it first dropped in 2018, making it another easy pick for our best Xbox One games list. This open-world adventure has players experience life just as Bon Jovi would have wanted you to – Wanted Dead or Alive.
As Arthur Morgan, you’ll be thrust into the Wild West’s decline in 1899, where you’ll rob, fight, and scrap your way out of town. Dealing with rival gangs is the norm here, so you’ll have plenty of experiences in this 50-hour long epic. You’ll spend so long exploring everything Red Dead Redemption 2 has to offer that completing the main quest will be the furthest thing on your mind.
For those of you looking to sink into a world full of surprises, there’s no better game for that than Red Dead Redemption 2.
Halo: The Master Chief Collection
Halo is synonymous with the Xbox brand – need we say more? The Master Chief Collection is a celebration of all things Halo, bringing together six games to tell the story of the series. If you’ve been hiding under a rock for the last few years, The Master Chief Collection features remastered versions of all six games to play in HD at 60FPS – so there’s no excuse for picking this one up.
You’ll experience low-gravity space battles as you take on a variety of alien species in Halo’s campaigns and you can even do it with a friend. All six games can be played cooperatively, both online and via local split-screen play. Given there’s a real absence of proper cooperative games these days, having six games in one big package is an easy win for any console gamer.
Forza Horizon 4
When it comes to arcade racing games, there’s nothing better than the Forza Horizon series. Forza Horizon 4 has players speeding through Great Britain’s famous countryside in some of the fastest cars on the planet. The biggest addition to Forza Horizon 4 has to be the dynamic weather system which completely changes the way players are forced to handle the track. The season changes once a week in the synchronised shared world, unlocking a brand new set of challenges for all players.
Feeling competitive? Check our best multiplayer PS4 games guide
Forza Horizon 4 lets players explore the open-world at their own pace, setting up optional challenges across the map when you want something to do. You can tackle any of the events, or build your own races using the game’s Route Creator.
Ori and the Will of the Wisps
Moon Studios created one of the best games of last year with Ori and the Will of the Wisps, so there’s no way we could miss it off our best Xbox One games list. This heartfelt sequel takes players on an emotional journey in this action-platformer. Players make their way through the mysterious world of Niwen, a region filled with treacherous biomes that desperately need the help of a Guardian Spirit like Ori.
This game is a sequel to Ori and the Blind Forest, but you won’t need to have played the original to enjoy this one. In classic Metroidvania fashion, you begin the game with no abilities and slowly build your arsenal of tools as you explore different areas of Niwen. Each region boasts a unique visual style and brand new set of mechanics, guaranteeing players a unique experience at every given turn.
Sea of Thieves
Rare’s Sea of Thieves has to be in the running for one of the most improved games of all time. Released back in 2018, Sea of Thieves’ first-person open-world pirate adventure showed clear signs of promise, but it lacked enough content to keep players entertained. Fast forward to 2021 and things really couldn’t be more different. With a group of four players, Sea of Thieves offers some of the best cooperative experiences available.
Sea of Thieves works well as a cooperative game thanks to its simple gameplay, allowing gamers of all ages to get in on the action. There are enough low-level missions to keep younger players entertained, but there are also end-game raids filled with vicious skeletons for the more experienced buccaneers.
It’s popularity on Twitch, particularly among streamers like Jaryd ‘summit1g’ Lazar, shows how entertaining this game can really be.
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
Just when you thought From Software couldn’t possibly top its magnum opus that is the Dark Souls series, it hit us with Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. If you like hard but rewarding engagements, then this is the game for you. Whether it’s an epic one-on-one fight against a fellow samurai, or a spectacular battle against a giant Guardian Ape, Sekiro features some of the best boss fights of all time making it worthy of our best Xbox One games list.
Where Dark Souls is known for its slow, methodical, and heavy-hitting combat, Sekiro takes the opposite approach by drastically ramping up the tempo. The combat you encounter in Sekiro might have you lobbing your controller at a wall, but it’ll always have you crawling back.
Grand Theft Auto V
What can we say about the second best-selling game of all time that hasn’t already been said? The Xbox One version of GTA V launched in 2014 but still looks and plays like any modern game. GTA V’s campaign has you performing bank heists, driving around in James Bond-esque cars, and hijacking cargo jets mid-air using a biplane.
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As if that wasn’t enough, GTA Online takes the mayhem up a notch by introducing up to 30 people on one multiplayer server. Did you like the bank heists and races in the campaign? GTA Online builds on this with online-exclusive heists and vehicles, as well as a host of stunt races unlike anything seen in GTA V.
Devil May Cry 5
After eleven long years, Capcom finally resurrected the Devil May Cry series (we don’t talk about Ninja Theory’s DmC). Devil May Cry 5 brings players to the depths of Hell as they take down the Demon King, Urizen. Just like any good fighting game, the combat mechanics in Devil May Cry 5 may seem tricky to understand at first but you’ll slowly build your knowledge throughout the game’s 15-hour campaign.
Finishing the campaign introduces harder difficulties, but this time you get to bring all the upgrades with you. Unlike the previous games, you now have three characters to play as: Nero, Dante, and the mysterious V. There’s so much replayability in this one game, it’s no surprise that Devil May Cry 5 makes our best Xbox One games list. You’d think fighting against the same demons would get boring, but Devil May Cry 5 constantly throws in new mechanics to ensure things never get stale.
Resident Evil 2
If you ever need to give an example of what the perfect remake looks like, Resident Evil 2 should be your go-to answer. Resident Evil 2 takes players back to a zombified Raccoon City, two months after the events of the original game. You may have access to an arsenal of weapons, but you will never feel truly safe as ammo is incredibly scarce. Zombies lurk around every corner, and it only takes one mistimed shot to have you on your last legs.
Resident Evil 2 defined the survival horror genre in 1998, and it continues that same legacy in the 2019 remake. The intense rush you get when scrambling towards a typewriter with barely any health and ammo becomes so common, yet it never gets old. To make matters worse, there’s also the relentless Mr. X to contend with just as you begin to find your bearings. Terrifying, right?
Whether you’re planning to go it alone with a deep, dark single-player game or go all guns blazing in multiplayer, the Xbox’s extensive back catalogue has got you covered. While we can’t list them all, this should give you a nudge in the right direction for picking your next game. We also have a list of all the best Xbox Series X games if you are looking to make the leap into next-gen.