Best Xbox One Games 2021: Our top must-play titles for Microsoft’s console
The Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S might have ushered us into a new console generation, but the heavy presence of backward compatibility means that older consoles and their libraries remain more important than ever.
Since its release in 2013, the Xbox One has produced a fantastic selection of games which now run better than ever on the new consoles, and chances are you can pick them up for a fraction of the original price, too.
So, without further ado, why not dive in and discover the Trusted Reviews edit of all the best games available on Microsoft’s Xbox One and Xbox One X? We’ll be regularly updating our selection, too, so make sure you keep this page bookmarked!
1. Monster Hunter World: Iceborne
- A rewarding gameplay loop
- New monsters are a sight to behold
- Easily accessible after the main story
- Significant difficulty spikes
- Mechanics can feel overwhelming
Monster Hunter World has defied all the odds to become Capcom’s best-selling game ever, exceeding all expectations for a franchise that had previously become increasingly entrenched in niche, impenetrable circles with each passing entry. Now, it has risen to mainstream prominence and attracted new players in their millions. A year after its initial release came Iceborne, its first and last expansion.
A fully-fledged game in itself, this massive expansion introduces a new region and dozens of new monsters, and there is much new loot to obtain. It’s also accessible for those who have completed the main game, who can slide into the new area with relative ease. Whether you’re playing alone or with friends, Iceborne is a wonderfully satisfying experience that will keep on giving with future updates and beyond.
Read our full Monster Hunter: Iceborne Review
2. Gears 5
- A long, varied and ambitious campaign
- Characters have some narrative depth
- Plenty of variety in gunplay and other mechanics
- The world feels massive and full of potential
- Campaign’s biggest moments are somewhat underwhelming
- The camera still feels too isolating at times
Gears of War 4 was generally considered to be underwhelming and overly pedestrian, so it’s understandable that a lot of pressure would fall on The Coalition to deliver something genuinely groundbreaking with Gears 5. Treading water with yet another familiar shooter simply wouldn’t cut it. So, does it achieve what fans were hoping for?
Fortunately for us, the answer is a resounding yes. Inspired by the likes of Uncharted and God of War, The Coalition has created one of the series’ finest entries to date. The solo campaign is a mixture of linear, action-packed levels and semi-open world environments where Kait, JD and Del are given room to grow as characters, showcasing that this world has a story worth telling.
When you combine the solid campaign with a robust selection of new and returning multiplayer options, you get a long-lasting package that every Xbox One owner should have in their library.
Read our full Gears 5 review
3. Resident Evil 2
- Tense and terrifying
- Heavy and responsive gunplay
- An unpredictable challenge across both campaigns
- Plenty of great unlockables
- We would have loved to see more of Raccoon City
- Could have been a little longer
Translating the 1998 survival horror classic onto modern hardware and offering one of the genre’s finest experiences in years, Capcom’s Resident Evil 2 has set a new benchmark for the gaming remake. The debut from Leon Kennedy and Claire Redfield is utterly terrifying, taking us through Raccoon City as it is overrun with hordes of the undead.
Adopting the over-the-shoulder perspective of Resident Evil 4 and the slow-burning horror of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, this remake feels like the perfect culmination of everything we love about the modern formula. Every corner reveals a new, awful threat that we are powerless to avoid and must deal with as best we can. This is an essential must-play for anyone looking to spook themselves silly.
Read our full Resident Evil 2 review
4. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
- Huge, coherent and immersive game world
- Game systems and storyline both engage
- Beautifully rendered characters and scenery
- Crammed with interesting quests, side-quests and activities
- Geralt a more mature and sympathetic lead
- Long loading times
- Occassional framerate drop
CD Projekt Red has proven itself to be a master in the world of RPGs, culminating with the fantastic The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, an experience which has cemented itself as one of this generation’s high watermarks – and for good reason. Geralt’s swansong is a sprawling epic spanning hundreds of hours, taking players from the bustling streets of Novigrad to the snow-drenched peaks of Skellige. It’s a marvellous adventure with excellent characters and an inviting narrative.
Its two major expansions – Hearts of Stone and Blood and Wine – also add so much to the world in the form of new regions, quests and dungeons to uncover. As far as RPGs go, you really can’t get much better than this, with the formula going on to influence a number of games, some of which you’ll find in this very list. If Cyberpunk 2077 is even half as wonderful, we’re in for an absolute treat.
Read our full The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt review
5. Forza Horizon 4
- Great map
- A great variety of cars
- Honestly, it’s all good here. Sound, graphics, driving
- Driving to the individual races grates after a while
Forza Horizon 4 is a positively stunning driving experience, and among the best racing games we’ve played in an exceedingly long time. Playground Games brings the series to the United Kingdom, and translates our unpredictable weather through a new feature known as Seasons.
All four of the seasons are represented here, and there is a distinct difference in the look of the environments and the way vehicles are controlled. It’s wonderful, complemented by over 400 cars that are so much fun to drive. You take part in a series of events across a vast open world, which can be played against AI opponents or real players in the same instance.
Compared to previous entries, Forza Horizon 4 simply feels more alive than ever before, with every little thing you do adding to how you explore the world or the way in which your character progresses, with better vehicles, clothes and more. As far as Xbox exclusives go, you can’t get much better than this.
Read our full Forza Horizon 4 review
6. Dishonored 2
- Incredible freeform stealth gameplay
- Absolutely gorgeous world from start to finish
- Inventive, fabulously well-designed missions
- More varied than the original and no less deep
- PC performance is frequently a mess
Improving on the original in almost every way, Dishonored 2 is a fabulously immersive stealth experience. It never abandons the core traits of the first iteration that made it so immersive and fun. Instead, it refines them with some truly impressive level design with immense depth and creativity.
It is set in the city of Karnaca and you play as either Emily Kaldwin or Corvo Attano – each has their own unique arsenal of devastating powers and equipment. The usual suspects are back with some nifty improvements perfect for dispatching the world’s many guards.
Fans of Thief and Deus Ex will have an absolute blast with this fantastical adventure. And the best part is that when you’re done with Dishonored 2, there’s Death of the Outsider to enjoy next.
Read our full Dishonored 2 review
- Incredible ’30s-style cartoon visuals
- Challenging boss battles and imaginative boss design
- Different combos of arms and charms help you improve your odds
- Every bit as addictive as it is tough
- Arguably crosses the line into stupidly difficult
- Can be hard to pull off key parry move
Cuphead is an incredibly challenging but rewarding 2D platformer with a beautiful art style that’s seldom used in modern video games. Reminiscent of classic cartoons from days gone by, the visuals are simply stunning and complemented by wonderfully responsive controls.
Be prepared, however, for an incredibly tough run of bosses, and simply surviving becomes as difficult as overcoming the enemy. But for those who stick around and triumph, the reward is well worth it.
Read our full Cuphead review
8. Sea of Thieves
- Hugely imaginative and expansive pirate world
- Rewards creative gameplay
- Countless customisation options
- Tougher for solo players
- Can be tough to put crews together
- Current server issues
If you’ve always longed to sail the oceans with a pirate crew of friends, hunting for bounty and completing epic quests, then Sea of Thieves is the game for you.
The best part about Sea of Thieves is the stories you get to create with your friends. There will be tales of hilarity as you drink too much booze and fall into the hull of your ship, proving useless to your crew during a battle. And you can reminisce about the time you took on hordes of undead to get that treasure chest, or when you swam across vast distances to survive and escape from a chasing enemy. Here, all of these scenarios are possible.
Thanks to Xbox Game Pass, you can also have the game for under £10 per month. Click the link to find out more about Microsoft’s great subscription service and save yourself some money.
Read our full Sea of Thieves review
9. Halo 5: Guardians
- Classic Halo combat
- New co-op and movement mechanics blend in well
- Amazing set-pieces and alien worlds
- The Xbox One’s most awesome visuals
- Brilliant and addictive Arena and Warzone modes
- Some really clumsy sequences
- Story will be divisive
The second entry in 343 Industries’ Reclaimer Trilogy, Halo 5: Guardians is an excellent first-person shooter that brings Master Chief to Xbox One in spectacular style. The campaign is thrilling, well-told and opens the doors for an excellent conclusion.
Multiplayer is equally as impressive, making brave changes to the formula while staying true to what veterans adore about the Halo experience. It also looks gorgeous with 4K and HDR enabled on Xbox One X, if you’ve got the kit to support it.
While the campaign has its inconsistencies, the multiplayer on offer here is one of the best experiences not only for Halo, but on the Xbox One. This is an essential purchase for all Xbox One owners.
Read our full Halo 5 review
10. Assassin’s Creed Odyssey
- Ancient Greece is a big, bold and beautiful setting
- Combat and exploration frequently encourage experimentation
- Kassandra and Alexios are a great duo of protagonists
- You can be a cool gay warrior lady
- Dialogue choices and performances are inconsistent
- Romantic relationship options feel forced and unnecessary
- Core narrative is underwhelming at times
Building on the excellent blueprint established by 2017’s Origins, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey has more characters, a larger world and more ambitious narrative set across Ancient Greece. An undeniable and triumphant achievement for the franchise, this is the arguably the biggest game Ubisoft has ever created.
Playing as either Alexios or Kassandra, you’re a descendant of the legendary Leonidas, and must set off on an adventure to discover your past and fight against a mysterious plot that threatens the entire world. So, it’s more or less another day at the office for Assassin’s Creed.
It’s really something, and Ancient Greece looks positively incredible on Xbox One X with 4K/HDR support. As open-world outings go, this isn’t to be missed.
Read our full Assassin’s Creed Odyssey review
11. Ori and the Blind Forest
- Beautiful graphics
- Classic Metroidvania gameplay
- Inventive powers and puzzles
- Seriously challenging
- Fiendish difficulty spikes
- Occasional slowdown
One of the most exhilarating and absorbing games on Microsoft’s platform, Ori and the Blind Forest is just lovely. It’s also quite unforgiving, presenting a vast Metroidvania experience where you play as Ori, a young creature looking for a place to call home in a vast, uncompromising world.
Boasting a beautiful visual aesthetic, gameplay is equally as gorgeous with razor-sharp platforming, absorbing level design and plentiful abilities to learn and upgrade as you progress. A sequel is in the works, so here’s hoping it’s just as brilliant.
Read our full Ori and the Blind Forest review
12. Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order
- Quality Jedi sim
- Large-scale cinematic fights
- Breathtaking traversal sequences
- Pulse-raising boss fights
- Underpopulated worlds
- Frustrating first few hours
- Baffling performance issues
Respawn Entertainment has delivered what is arguably the best Star Wars gaming experience in decades, surpassing a benchmark many passionate fans were afraid the franchise would never reach again. Turns out, all it needed was the creators of Titanfall and Apex Legends to waltz in and show Electronic Arts how it’s done.
Taking place between the events of Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, you play as Cal Kestis. This young Jedi is on the run from The Empire, forced to hide his powers and live a life of solitude in order to survive. Soon enough, events force him to come out of hiding and confront the menace determined to silence his kind once and for all.
These circumstances take you on a deadly, galaxy-spanning adventure across various planets where you’ll do battle with hideous monsters, solve puzzles and get to the bottom of a central mystery – all while The Empire is right on your tail. Fans of the franchise or action blockbusters in general will find so much to love with The Fallen Order.
Read our full Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order review
13. Yakuza 0
- So much variety
- Snappy, genuinely funny writing
- Great sidequests
- Good story and main characters
- Basic combat
- Can be a bit cringey
After years as a PlayStation exclusive franchise, SEGA’s Yakuza series is finally coming to Xbox, and is starting with what is arguably the best of the best in the form of Yakuza 0. Acting as a prequel to the first game, Yakuza 0 follows Kazuma Kiryu as a rookie Yakuza in a neon-drenched 1980’s vision of Tokyo. Framed for a murder he didn’t commit, Kiryu must delve into a crooked underworld of criminal dealings where nobody is safe, especially those closest to him.
Yakuza 0 is absolutely brilliant, boasting a deep, impactful combat system with a world that’s a joy to explore. It’s an accurate recreation of 1980’s Tokyo, filled with visitable storefronts, amusements and other surprises you can spend so many hours getting lost in. When you’re not partaking in a spot of virtual tourism, the main narrative is a fiercely gripping thriller with so many twists and turns that it’s impossible to tell where it’s going. We’re so happy Xbox fans can finally get their hands on this stunning game.
Read our full Yakuza 0 review
Think we’ve missed a biggie from this list? Let us know on Twitter @TrustedReviews