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Best Xbox Games of All Time: Our top picks as of 2021

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Best
Xbox One Games
Windows Central
2021

What are the best Xbox games of all time? That’s a great question. Since the original Xbox launched all the way back in 2001, Microsoft and its partners have published thousands of games across the four major generations of the system. From the original Xbox, to the Xbox 360, to the Xbox One X and Xbox One S, and now, the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S. As of 2021, there are hundreds of incredible games you can experience from all four console generations on the Xbox Series X and S thanks to Microsoft’s heavy investment in backward compatibility. With that in mind, here are our current picks for best of the best Xbox games currently available on the latest-gen Xbox platforms, as well as a look at some of the best classics of all time on the Xbox 360.

Contents show

Best Xbox One, Xbox Series X, and Series S Games 2021

Xbox Series X, Xbox Series SSource: Matt Brown | Windows Central

We’ve bundled our picks for best Xbox One and best Xbox Series X, Series S games into a single list for the time being since the lineup of next-gen exclusive games is still very small. We expect that in the next couple of years, the amount of games exclusive to the more powerful Xbox Series X and Series S will swell, justifying a separate list entirely. Until then, though, know that all of the best Xbox One games are fully playable on Xbox Series X and Series S thanks to pervasive backward compatibility. There’s also a list of backward compatible Xbox 360 and original Xbox games that work on the new systems too. We’ve collated our picks for best Xbox 360 games further below.

These games were chosen for their quality, universal praise, and popularity among the Windows Central editorial team. These are the games from the biggest genres that represent the upper echelons of what it truly means to be a “best Xbox game,” which isn’t always necessarily “most expensive Xbox game.” Even smaller-budgeted games can dig deep and reach high in terms of fun, with Minecraft as a very clear example. We’ve also added some editor’s picks further below for games that are either from smaller genres or deserved an honorable mention. These are our top picks for best Xbox games you can play today.

The Witcher 3

Best Xbox Game Overall

The Witcher 3

Source: CD Projekt RED

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is a legendary action RPG set in a dense and meticulously crafted open world. You play as Geralt of Rivia, from a sect of warrior monks known as Witchers.

The world of The Witcher is teeming with beasts, evil spirits, curses, and dark magic owing to an event called the Conjunction of the Spheres, which allowed demonic entities to slip between dimensions. As a result, it’s up to Geralt and his kin to travel the land, dispatching everything from undead creatures to draconic beasts to protect human civilization. Witchers don’t work for free, though.

The Witcher 3 takes place in the midst of a large war between the Nilfgaardian Empire from the south, and the Northern Realms. Geralt’s unique position as a master swordsman, accomplished alchemist, and expert occultist sees him keep all sorts of strange company, from simple townsfolk to kings and archwizards. Geralt is naturally caught in the political crossfire between the disparate nations of the North and the Nilfgaardian invaders, all while tracking his missing adopted daughter, Ciri, who seems caught up in some deadly intrigue of her own.

Pros:

  • Brutal and satisfying strategic combat
  • Deep story with rich characters
  • Stunning visuals in a dense open world

Cons:

  • RPG progression systems lack depth

The Witcher 3’s open world is densely constructed with love and care, with rich quests dotted all over the landscape. Some of The Witcher 3’s main quests are among the most memorable experiences in recent gaming memory, which can stretch out for dozens upon dozens of hours.

The Witcher 3’s combat revolves around a combination of graceful swordsmanship and self-enhancing potions. As a Witcher, Geralt is uniquely resistant to toxins and poisons that would kill a regular human. Geralt can utilize these concoctions to enhance his prowess in battle, and enhance you must if you are to overcome some of the game’s more powerful enemies and bosses.

Witcher 3

Source: Windows Central

Your decisions can affect the path Geralt takes throughout the story, and ultimately shape the fate of the kingdom. What role does Geralt’s former lover Yennefer have in the war? What is the ghostly Wild Hunt, and what do they want? Why does Ciri flee? The answers to all of these mysteries and more are revealed as you weave through the game’s intricate plot.

The Witcher 3 is easily among the best Xbox games of all time, if not the best Xbox game of all time.

Best Xbox Game Overall


The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt box art

The Witcher 3

The Witcher 3 is a masterpiece and a landmark gaming experience that everyone has to play at least once. The Witcher 3 will last you dozens of hours in a single play-through. All of these things coalesce to make this one of the best Xbox games ever made.

DOOM Eternal

Best Xbox Shooter

Doom Eternal Baron of Hell

Source: Bethesda

DOOM Eternal is a relentless smorgasbord of demon-shredding violence, and we’re here for every meaty second. Set in a near-future world where Mars has been colonized and advanced tech is commonplace, you play as the Doom Slayer, an inter-dimensional warrior whose only motivation is to end the encroaching forces of hell from taking over the universe.

Building on DOOM’s classic legacy, DOOM Eternal is a fast-paced first-person shooter where every action counts. The wide variety of enemies, environments, and weaponry invites playstyle creativity, as you rip and tear your way across the cosmos.

Pros:

  • Exciting fast-paced FPS combat
  • Gorgeous visuals with great performance
  • Challenge modes and modifiers add replayability

Cons:

  • Multiplayer “Battlemode” is weak
  • Platforming aspects could be better

DOOM Eternal has a linear level-based structure but comes with post-game modifiers and challenge modes that add variety and replayability. The game even has a multiplayer feature called Battlemode, pitting two demon players against a single DOOMguy, which may be worth exploring for some players. DOOM Eternal also has a beefy campaign DLC dubbed “The Ancient Gods,” with a second part launching in 2021. DOOM Eternal is in a competitive genre, but easily makes the grade as one of the best Xbox games of all time.

Best Xbox Shooter


The Art Of Doom Eternal

DOOM Eternal

DOOM Eternal delivers a meaty FPS challenge for fans of old-school first-person shooter combat. Take the fight to hell across a besieged Earth and into the stars, battling all manner of demonic abominations with a wide arsenal of classic and advanced DOOM weaponry.

Wasteland 3

Best Xbox RPG

Wasteland 3 Kodiak

Source: inXile Entertainment

Wasteland 3 is a genre-defining post-apocalyptic RPG that stands as a love letter to the old school while packing in modernity and improved features for a contemporary audience.

Wasteland 3 shares a common lineage with the Fallout universe, set in an America ravaged and struggling to survive after a global nuclear war. Humanity is on the brink, as rogue war machines wander the plains and mutant beasts stalk the shadows. It’s only the Desert Rangers, descended from the U.S. military, who seek to restore some semblance of justice and order in among the chaos.

Pros:

  • Rewarding turn-based tactical combat
  • Great cast of quirky characters
  • Story decisions vastly affect the outcome of quests

Cons:

  • It’s still a bit buggy in places

Wasteland 3 takes place in a reimagining of Colorado, complete with devastating nuclear winters and a parade of deranged factions and outlaws. The central power in the region is a man known as The Patriarch, and your squad travels to Colorado to set up a trade route. Things go south pretty quickly, as a cannibalistic tribe attacks your convoy, leaving you for dead.

Reestablishing your team and completing the mission forms the basis of the game, weaving diplomacy between the various Colorado groups and participating in clever turn-based tactical combat that draws on traditions set by the original Wasteland and early Fallout games. Wasteland 3 is a rich and deep game that sits not only among the best Xbox RPGs of all time, but best Xbox games of all time in general.

Best Xbox RPG


Wasteland 3

Wasteland 3

Wasteland 3 is a rewarding and meaty turn-based tactical RPG set in the midst of a nuclear apocalypse. This RPG emphasizes choice and consequences in a vicious and hostile world, as you battle to restore some semblance of justice to the Mad Maxian society.

Monster Hunter: World

Best Xbox Co-op Game

Monster Hunter World: Iceborne Banbaro

Source: Capcom

Monster Hunter: World is a massive action RPG that revolves entirely around monster hunting, as you may have guessed. Set in a land known as the “New World,” the Research Commission is exploring uncharted territory, charged with examining creatures that may be a threat to humanity or even the world itself. As a Hunter, your job is to defend the science effort from encroaching monsters, and dispatch mega-beasts that are powerful enough to potentially disrupt the entire ecosystem.

The Monster Hunter franchise is legendary for its iconic weapons, monsters, and unique combat. With over a dozen weapon classes and absurd amounts of playstyle customization, it’s up to you how you undertake each monster hunt, which can be completed in teams of up to four players. The depth and sheer volume of activities easily makes World and its DLC, Iceborne, one of the best Xbox games on the market right now.

Pros:

  • Amazingly satisfying combat
  • Deep playstyle customization and progression
  • Epic monsters with iconic designs

Cons:

  • Co-op systems are convoluted
  • The learning curve is steep

Monster Hunter World’s co-op systems are a bit convoluted to begin with (each player must experience story cutscenes solo before being able to join a hunt in co-op), and the learning curve can be steep. But if you’re willing to learn and look up some guides on YouTube (or even use our own Monster Hunter World beginner’s guide), you’ll be hard-pressed to find a co-op game that is more rewarding.

Best Xbox Co-op Game


Monster Hunter World: Iceborne

Monster Hunter: World

Monster Hunter: World is a vast action RPG set in a vibrant world filled with gigantic beasts. Battle across jungles, mountains, deserts, and volcanic caverns to protect the Research Commission as they explore a deadly new world.

Forza Horizon 4

Best Xbox Racing Game

Forza Horizon 4

Source: Microsoft

Forza Horizon has always been the racing game that everybody can enjoy, but for the fourth outing in the series, it kicked everything up a notch. It’s the most ambitious entry yet with a vast shared world experience paired with weekly content updates to keep players entertained week in and week out.

It’s a technical triumph, offering 4K HDR with a 60 FPS frame rate and an almost entirely destructible environment. Plus, thanks to Microsoft initiatives like Game Pass and Play Anywhere, Forza Horizon 4 is accessible to more players than ever before.

Pros:

  • Massive open shared world gameplay
  • One of the best looking games on any platform
  • Constant content updates

Cons:

  • Abundant loading screens
  • Ranked multiplayer matchmaking is slow

Forza Horizon 4 takes players to a vast and meticulous re-imagining of the British countryside, complete with rolling meadows, thick forests, and quaint villages. Those winding country lanes make a great setting for high-octane racing, just make sure you’re driving on the correct side of the road, yeah?

Best Xbox Racing Game


Forza Horizon 4 Reco Image

Forza Horizon 4

With tons of gameplay modes, persistent updates, collectible cars, and more, Forza Horizon 4 is the quintessential racing experience on Xbox.

Red Dead Redemption 2

Best Xbox Open World Game

Red Dead Redemption 2

Source: Rockstar Games

Red Dead Redemption 2 is an utterly essential open-world action game set in the twilight years of the Wild West. You play as Arthur Morgan, a member of one of the last remaining outlaw gangs, as he evades capture and sets forth on building an honest life.

Red Dead Redemption 2 sets the standard for open-world gameplay and design, with a truly meticulous sandbox featuring dynamic weather, living urban areas, thick forests, and vast mountains.

Outside of the main story, Red Dead Redemption 2 has tons of side stories to experience, alongside various additional activities like fishing, hunting, and much more. Red Dead Redemption 2 will last you dozens of hours of play, and even more through the game’s online sandbox mode.

Pros:

  • Meticulous hand-crafted open-world sandbox
  • Tons of activities, missions, and story beats to experience
  • Satisfying gunplay

Cons:

  • Movement handling could be smoother

What makes Red Dead Redemption 2 special above everything else is its industry-leading story delivery, with incredible character performances and engaging Hollywood-grade writing. This is one of those games that I would deem utterly essential for all new and veteran Xbox fans alike, given that it may arguably be the best Xbox game of all time, depending on who you ask.

Best Xbox Open World Game


Red Dead Redemption 2 Reco Image

Red Dead Redemption 2

Set in a vast open-world full of exploration opportunities and side objectives, Red Dead Redemption 2 has a deep story and a satisfying gameplay loop that will keep you invested for dozens of hours.

Resident Evil 2

Best Xbox Horror Game

Resident Evil 2

Source: Capcom

Resident Evil 2 was a landmark experience when it launched on PS1 back in the 90s, and it’s a landmark experience all over again with its recent remake. Capcom rebuilt Resident Evil 2 from the ground up, paying homage to the bloodstained zombie-infested police station of the past while revitalizing the experience with modernized features. Resident Evil 2 was one of the best games back in the day, and now it’s one of the best Xbox games all over again.

Resident Evil 2 takes place in the midst of a massive bio-catastrophe in the fictional town of Raccoon City as a deadly man-made virus spreads throughout the population, turning the deceased into flesh-craving zombies. You play as rookie cop Leon Kennedy, partnering up with Claire Redfield. To survive, you have to navigate the destroyed city, solving puzzles, and scavenging ammo, all while evading the city’s legions of undead.

Pros:

  • Great visuals and atmospherics
  • Intriguing story with updated lore elements
  • Satisfying gunplay

Cons:

  • Brief experience, at around 4-6 hours
  • Limited replayability

Resident Evil 2 isn’t the meatiest experience out there, clocking in at around 6 hours max (although you can make it a tad longer by playing through the game as Claire). Regardless, it’s great overall and worth experiencing for both veterans and horror newcomers.

Best Xbox Horror Game


Resident Evil 2 Box Art

Resident Evil 2

Resident Evil 2 put the franchise back on the map. Set in the fictional town of Raccoon City, rookie cop Leon Kennedy and unfortunate local Claire Redfield navigate zombie-infested urban areas in a bid to survive, and ultimately escape.

Ori and the Will of Wisps

Best Xbox Platformer

Ori And The Will Of The Wisps Review Pics

Source: Windows Central

Ori and the Will of the Wisps is a truly stunning game in every respect. From the game’s enchanting music score to the stunning visual treatment, every part of Ori is dripping with love and state-of-the-art craftsmanship, making it quite easily one of the best Xbox games out there.

Ori and the Will of the Wisps is a platformer at heart, although this new entry in the franchise evolves the game’s combat mechanics in interesting ways, giving Ori a broader toolset to work with. Ori is a cat-like spirit you guide through the game on a quest to restore the purity and sanctity of an enchanted forest that is gradually being corrupted by some unseen force. Be warned, Ori and the Will of the Wisps is a bit of a tear-jerker owing to intensely clever and deeply emotional story delivery, which stands as a testament to Moon Studios’ skill and thoughtfulness.

Pros:

  • Precise platforming gameplay
  • Fun combat
  • Truly stunning visuals and music

Cons:

  • You won’t want it to end
  • Might be too emotionally heavy for some

Ori and the Will of the Wisps launched in a bit of a rough state on Xbox, but as of this writing, it has been meticulously patched and polished to a mirror sheen finish. Ori is a masterpiece in the truest sense of the word, and a must-play game for every Xbox and PC owner.

Best Xbox Platformer


Ori and the Will of the Wisps

Ori and the Will of the Wisps

Ori and the Will of the Wisps is an incredible experience with exciting bosses, gorgeous locations, and tight platforming gameplay. Be warned, you may find yourself moved to tears more than once.

INSIDE

Best Xbox Puzzle Game

INSIDE game

Source: PlayDead

INSIDE is a truly remarkable game with striking art, dark ambient storytelling, and thoughtful platform-puzzle gameplay. This a must-play title even for those who aren’t traditionally fans of the puzzle-style gameplay.

Set in a nightmarish dystopia, you guide an unnamed boy through a world where something is clearly very, very wrong. The story unravels in the background and environment as you guide your character through all sorts of obstacles, as unknown assailants try to halt your advance at every opportunity.

INSIDE tests your wits with a range of logic-oriented puzzles that stand between you and progression, but still interweave nicely with the game’s twisted setting and characters. Many of the puzzles have story implications and hints, and it all ends in a truly bewildering conclusion that remains burned on my mind years after the fact.

Pros:

  • Evocative audiovisual treatment
  • Thoughtful puzzle gameplay design
  • Truly memorable experience

Cons:

  • No replayability
  • Relatively brief

INSIDE isn’t the longest experience out there but it is memorable and very affordable. INSIDE is a masterclass in puzzle design and ambient story-telling and remains a must-play experience for everyone on Xbox.

Best Xbox Puzzle Game


Inside Game Se

INSIDE

INSIDE is a supreme puzzle-platform experience set in a dark dystopia. Guide an unnamed boy through a nightmarish land where an unknown authority takes every opportunity to halt your advance and end your life.

Surviving Mars

Best Xbox Strategy and Simulation Game

Surviving Mars

Source: Paradox

Surviving Mars is an addictive and satisfying strategy simulation game set on the famous red planet. Players must fund, chart, and develop a colonization effort on the Martian surface, conquering all the logistical and environmental challenges therein. Based on real-world proposed scientific solutions (and some high-tech sci-fi ones), Surviving Mars is a well-optimized simulation that can be played both with a controller and a mouse and keyboard on Xbox consoles.

After landing your initial probes, a swarm of drones will aid you with the construction of habitation pods for the eventual arrival of human colonists. Farming crops, managing supplies, and building trade routes with Earth are core to colonial success on the red planet but be warned: many many things can go wrong.

Pros:

  • Complex and engaging sim
  • Great visuals with good performance
  • Dozens of hours of fun

Cons:

  • Not much room for creativity and personalization

Surviving Mars could do more to improve creativity within the designs of colonies, but Paradox announced in early 2021 that Surviving Mars will be getting more features and DLC after partnering with a new developer. The news that Surviving Mars will continue to receive new content makes this leading survival sim an even greater contender in our list of best Xbox games of all time.

Best Xbox Strategy and Simulation Game


Surviving Mars

Surviving Mars

Become Matt Damon in your very own Martian colony. Harvest and manufacture materials, grow crops, and ultimately terraform the red planet in this engaging survival simulation game.

Killer Instinct

Best Xbox Fighting Game

Killer Instinct

Source: Microsoft

Killer Instinct is a legendary franchise that got something of a reboot back in 2013. Although it doesn’t enjoy the mindshare of other fighting games like Super Smash Bros or Street Fighter, we love it for its unique emphasis on combo mind games, awesome netcode, and its wide array of eclectic characters.

In Killer Instinct, the meta revolves around outsmarting your opponent with clever combo-breaker and counter-breaker play. Learning character animations and which combo breakers to use forms the basis of the game’s learning curve, which is accessible to play but difficult to master.

Pros:

  • Large range of characters and customization
  • Stunning performance with great netcode
  • Free to play

Cons:

  • The game is no longer receiving updates

As great as Killer Instinct is, the game is sadly no longer receiving any updates from Microsoft. The game remains popular with a community of fans, however, who recently took the game to the top of the Twitch charts with a fan-built tournament.

Best Xbox Fighting Game


Killer Instinct Cover Art

Killer Instinct

Killer Instinct is a legendary franchise that remains the best exclusive fighting game on Microsoft’s platforms. Easy to play but difficult to master, Killer Instinct enjoys a passionate fanbase and a thriving competitive community.

Rocket League

Best Xbox Sports Game

Rocket League

Source: Psyonix LLC

Rocket League is what happens when you combine soccer and jet-powered RC racers in confined sci-fi stages. Here, your goal is to bash the ball into the opposing team’s net, scoring points on the way to victory.

Heavily physics-based, Rocket League rewards those who take the care to master its nuances. The best players are those that master the game’s more advanced moves, gliding through the air and wall riding. Rocket League enjoys a stable and dedicated player base, and quite easily sits among the best Xbox games of all time.

Pros:

  • Smooth performance
  • Lots of arenas and gameplay modes
  • Short gameplay rounds

Cons:

  • Matchmaking algorithms aren’t great for competitive matches

With tons of free updates, cross-platform play, and lots to unlock, Rocket League has kept millions hooked for years.

Best Xbox Sports Game


Rocket League Box Art

Rocket League

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.

Minecraft Dungeons

Best Xbox Game for Kids

Minecraft Dungeons Nether Zone

Source: Windows Central

Minecraft Dungeons is an accessible four-player co-op title with infectious combat that will keep kids occupied for hours on end. It’s also a great entry-point into gaming in general, with highly customizable difficulty settings making it suitable for gamers of all ages. While it was a bit slim at launch, the game has grown in content and replayability, making it easily one of the best Xbox games of its time.

Set in the famous blocky world of Minecraft, Minecraft Dungeons ditches the scavenging and crafting of the base game for something entirely combat-oriented. Battle huge hordes of Minecraft enemies while seeking out a massive array of unique items and loot as you grow your personal power.

Pros:

  • Great combat and design
  • Piles of content and replayability
  • Features cross-play between Xbox, PC, Nintendo Switch, and PlayStation
  • Local co-op

Cons:

  • Promised cross-save systems are still missing

Minecraft Dungeons’ vast array of levels, new and improved end-game systems, and piles of playstyle customization makes Minecraft Dungeons a great action RPG in its own right. Throw in cross-play between Xbox and other systems, and it becomes a great game that everyone in the family can enjoy regardless of their favorite gaming device.

Best Xbox Game for Kids


Minecraft Dungeons Reco Box

Minecraft Dungeons

Minecraft Dungeons is a rewarding and addictive action RPG suitable for gamers of all ages. Gear up with a massive array of weapons and artifact powers and loot your way through various maps to gain ever-increasing power.

Call of Duty: Warzone

Best Free Xbox Game

Call Of Duty Warzone

Source: Activision

Warzone isn’t the first attempt at a Call of Duty battle royale, but it’s a big step forward and has quickly evolved into one of the biggest and best free to play titles of any genre on any platform. Unlike the previous Blackout mode attached to Call of Duty Black Ops 4, Warzone is independent of the main games, having already spanned the Modern Warfare and Black Ops Cold War releases. It also doesn’t require either of these games to play. It’s totally free and independent, which is good because the Call of Duty games are enormous downloads.

The idea is simple and the map is gigantic. You and your squad drop into Verdansk, loot for the best weapons and gear you can find, take out opponents, and survive long enough to be crowned the winner. It’s battle royale 101. Warzone does have some unique touches though, such as a cash-based mode with respawns, as well as bounties while you’re on the hunt.

Pros

  • Massive map with great gunplay
  • No pay wall
  • Cross-platform play

Cons

  • Cross-play also means encountering PC-based cheaters
  • MASSIVE download

Warzone also supports cross-play covering Xbox, PlayStation and PC, and this is both good and bad. The bad part is that on PC, Warzone has a real problem with cheaters, and that in turn spoils the good time on console where such hacks are virtually impossible. That aside, it’s hard to believe that an experience this comprehensive is actually free to play.

Best Free Xbox Game


Warzone

Call of Duty: Warzone

Call of Duty: Warzone is an explosivee battle royale that muscled in on the competitive genre with panache. Drop into Verdansk and lay waste to your enemies across various modes, with an impressive array of weaponry.

Best Xbox 360 Games 2021

Xbox 360 Vertical

Source: Windows Central

The Xbox 360 is no longer on sale, but the platform remains alive thanks to Xbox One, Xbox Series X, and Xbox Series S backward compatibility. The full list of Xbox 360 backward compatible games on Xbox One and Xbox Series X and Series S consoles details what games run on Xbox 360, as well as the more modern Xbox consoles.

The Xbox 360 launched in 2005 to positive critical reception and propelled Xbox into the forefront of the console market. The console enjoyed a successful run alongside its PS3 counterpart, spawning some of the best games of all time. We’ve rounded up our favorites below, and many of them are backward compatible and playable on the Xbox One, Xbox Series X, and Xbox Series S even today.

Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Best Xbox 360 Game Overall

Skyrim

Source: Bethesda

Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is a legend that speaks for itself, as thousands of players still return to it time after time even though an entire decade has passed since its release. The Nords’ corner of Tamriel is filled with interesting characters to meet, unique stories to experience, dungeons and castles to conquer, and more.

Whether you want to roleplay as a tanky melee warrior, a sneaky backstabbing rogue, a master of the magic arts, or a mixture of everything, Skyrim gives you all the freedom you could ever want. Thanks to backwards compatibility and the Skyrim Special Edition, this great Xbox 360 game is not just among the best Xbox 360 games of all time, but now best Xbox One and best Xbox Series S, and X games too. It’s also available with an Xbox Game Pass subscription thanks to the recent ZeniMax acquisition.

Pros:

  • Huge open world
  • Tons of player freedom
  • Hundreds of quests
  • Compatible on Xbox 360, Xbox One, Xbox Series S, and Series X

Cons:

  • Dialogue system is barebones
  • Main story could be better

Skyrim is extended further on Xbox with player-made mods, that add new features, tweak visuals, and even add story content. Skyrim is, without a doubt, one of the best games ever made — and there’s no reason you shouldn’t be playing it.

Best Xbox 360 Game Overall


Skyrim: Special Edition

Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is a legendary RPG and represents the best of the Xbox 360 generation. Hundreds of quests, piles of mods, and dozens of different ways to play make Skyrim a game that keeps on giving, a decade after its original launch.

Mass Effect 2

Best Xbox 360 Shooter

Mass Effect 2

Source: EA

It’s often said that sequels don’t live up to the quality of their predecessors, but Mass Effect 2 laughs in the face of that and surpasses the original Mass Effect in almost all respects. Packed to the brim with some of the best character writing and worldbuilding in all of gaming, Mass Effect 2 elevates the Mass Effect experience to an entirely new level.

Not everything is great — for example, Mass Effect 2’s cover shooter gameplay feels a little dated at points — but overall, the quality of the writing and the RPG depth on display here makes Mass Effect 2 one of the best story-driven RPGs ever made. Despite being an Xbox 360 game, thanks to backwards compatibility, this also ranks quite easily among the best Xbox games in general.

Pros:

  • Incredible character writing and worldbuilding
  • Opportunities for deep, meaningful player choice
  • Has aged relatively well visually
  • Compatible on Xbox 360, Xbox One, Xbox Series S, and Series X

Cons:

  • Cover-shooter gameplay is dated in some ways
  • Scanning for ship upgrade materials isn’t that fun

Mass Effect 2 is bolstered by some great DLC in Lair of the Shadow Broker and Overlord, and all of your major decisions can carry forward into Mass Effect 3. Few games have achieved what the Mass Effect series has achieved in this space, and years after the fact, it remains a must-play Xbox experience. Additionally, EA is gearing up to remaster the entire Mass Effect trilogy into a single package dubbed the Mass Effect Legendary Edition.

Best Xbox 360 Shooter


Mass Effect 2

Mass Effect 2

Mass Effect 2 is space opera gaming perfected. Set in a distant future where humanity has conquered the stars, an intergalactic threat known as the Reapers threatens all sentient life in the galaxy. You’re the only thing that stands in their way.

Dragon Age: Origins

Best Xbox 360 RPG

Dragon Age Origins

Source: EA

Dragon Age: Origins is an award-winning tactical RPG set in a medieval world full of mysteries and magic.

The realm of Thedas is periodically besieged by a subterranean horde known as the Darkspawn, who appear as twisted and corrupted versions of the creatures and races from the surface lands. Led by a draconic archdemon, the only thing that stands between this ancient threat and complete destruction is you and your allies. As a sworn Grey Warden, it’s your job to unite the different nations and races of Thedas to bring the fight to the Darkspawn, and ultimately slay the Arch Demon. All is, however, not as it seems.

Pros:

  • Choices dramatically impact the story
  • Large amount of playstyle customization
  • Memorable locations, stories, and characters
  • Compatible on Xbox 360, Xbox One, Xbox Series S, and Series X

Cons:

  • Combat and animations haven’t aged well

Dragon Age: Origins is legendary for the depth of its systems, its great characters, epic set piece moments, and rich story. Your decisions dramatically impact the outcomes of quests and the game’s ending, which you can carry forward into the similarly excellent Dragon Age 2 and Dragon Age Inquisition. EA and Bioware are currently working on Dragon Age 4, too.

Best Xbox 360 RPG


Dragon Age Origins Se

Dragon Age Origins

A landmark tactical RPG set in a mystical world of witches and wizards. Take the battle to the Darkspawn all over Thedas, and watch as your decisions massively influence the outcome of quests and the finale itself.

Gears of War 2

Best Xbox 360 Co-op Game

Gears Of War 2 Banner

Source: Microsoft

Gears of War is a popular franchise that takes place on the planet of Sera. A series of devastating wars has wiped out much of the world’s human population, as a subterranean race known as the Locust, and later the Swarm, bursts forth with indiscriminate murderous intent.

Leveraging a menagerie of subjugated beasts from the planet’s underground ecosystem, the Locust lay waste to entire cities, devouring them with gigantic rift worms and spreading spider-like Corpsers through the besieged population. The COG government charges its soldiers with the last defense of humanity, and it’s on you to suit up and guide Marcus Fenix and the Delta Squad through hell and back to end the Locust threat.

Pros:

  • Visceral third-person shooter combat
  • Great visuals, enhanced on Xbox Series X
  • Local and online two-player co-op
  • Compatible on Xbox 360, Xbox One, Xbox Series S, and Series X

Cons:

  • Desperately deserves the full remake treatment

Gears of War 2 arguably represents the franchise’s highest point, with great characters wrapped in a surprisingly emotional tale, buried among the macho chainsaws and muscle dudes drenched in Locust blood. Gears of War 2 proved that violent shooters can have a heart (literally, in some cases), and the game is experienced best through two-player split-screen co-op, as Marcus and his buddy Dom battle deep into the Locust hollows to end the war.

Best Xbox 360 Co-op Game


Gears Of War 2 Se

Gears of War 2

Enhanced for modern Xbox consoles, Gears of War 2 is the highpoint of the chainsaw-wielding co-op shooter adventure, owing to its emotional storytelling, violently satisfying combat, and explosive setpieces.

Project Gotham Racing 3

Best Xbox 360 Racing Game

Project Gotham Racing

Source: Microsoft

Eventually Microsoft would launch Forza Horizon on the Xbox 360, but long before that was Project Gotham Racing (PGR). PGR3 was the series’ debut on the second-gen console and while it would be easy to assume the last was the best, the third release just edges it overall. PGR3 was definitely ahead of its time, and besides laying foundations for the future of the genre, was immensely fun to play. It still is today!

Compared to the big hitters of the time, such as Sony’s Gran Turismo, PGR3 was a welcome relief to the pursuit of realism. The roster is still stacked with real life cars, and they’re all gloriously recreated, but the game isn’t about nailing the perfect line through a corner. It rewards flamboyance and encourages you to drive not with a look of determination, but a massive smile on your face.

Pros

  • Awesome circuits
  • Gorgeous real-life cars
  • Great soundtrack
  • Enormous fun to play
  • Kudos system rewards flamboyant racing

Cons

  • No backwards comptibility for Xbox One, Series S, or Series X
  • No longer on sale digitally

It’s a crying shame that PGR3 is unlikely to ever come to backwards compatibility, thus leaving it to a life only on the Xbox 360 console. Licenses expire, which makes keeping games like this alive very difficult. But you can never take away how good it ever was and still is to this day. And nobody can ever take away your physical copy.

Best Xbox 360 Racing Game


Project Gotham 3 Se

Project Gotham Racing 3

Project Gotham Racing 3 might not be backward compatible, but if you have an Xbox 360 console it’s worth nabbing a copy to experience this industry-leader from its time. PGR3 is an exciting and explosive racing sim that holds up.

Fallout: New Vegas

Best Xbox 360 Open World Game

Fallout New Vegas

Source: Bethesda | Obsidian Entertainment

While it may not be the prettiest or smoothest RPG in terms of graphics and gameplay, Fallout: New Vegas is still arguably the best post-apocalyptic RPG ever made due to how nuanced the game’s world, characters, and quests are.

Set in the remnants of the Mojave Desert years after nuclear bombs annihilated most of humanity, players will have to make engaging and thought-provoking choices about where they fit in amongst warring factions, opposed ideologies, and a desolate wasteland juxtaposed by the bright neon lights of New Vegas, a portion of Las Vegas saved from destruction by the mysterious Mr. House.

Pros:

  • Superb writing, worldbuilding, and quest design
  • Engaging open world filled with interesting secrets to discover
  • Exceptional dialogue system with extreme player freedom
  • Compatible on Xbox 360, Xbox One, Xbox Series S, and Series X

Cons:

  • Graphics are very outdated
  • Gunplay is stiff
  • Bugs and glitches are still rather common

Like Skyrim, New Vegas gives players complete and total freedom with how they approach everything in the game (you can even kill every single NPC if you want). Whether you want to be a charismatic smooth-talker, a savage melee-focused raider, or a crack-shot armed to the teeth with deadly firearms, New Vegas will allow you to live out your post-apocalyptic fantasy.

Best Xbox 360 Open World Game


Fallout New Vegas

Fallout: New Vegas

Fallout: New Vegas was notorious for quality issues when it launched, and even after several updates, it’s not the most polished RPG out there. However, it makes the list for its emphasis on player freedom and choice, giving you access to a spiritually more accurate Fallout experience than Fallout 3, Fallout 4, or Fallout 76.

XCOM: Enemy Within

Best Xbox 360 Strategy and Simulation Game

Xcom Enemy Within

Source: 2K

XCOM: Enemy Within is a truly legendary turn-based tactics title that easily sits among the best Xbox 360 games of all time, pushing your strategic skills to new heights in the process.

XCOM: Enemy Within is an updated version of XCOM: Enemy Unknown with new features. Its sequel, XCOM 2, is also very arguably among the best Xbox games of recent times as well.

In XCOM: Enemy Within, players must assume the role of a commander tasked with fighting back against an encroaching alien threat. As the aliens spread across the globe, you need to research their technology, upgrade humanity’s arsenal, and train soldiers to fight back against a similarly evolving alien threat.

Pros:

  • Fun and rewarding strategic combat
  • Vast array of gameplay features and options
  • Enemy Within lets you bring a robot into combat
  • Compatible on Xbox 360, Xbox One, Xbox Series S, and Series X

Cons:

  • Missing those 99% chance to hit shots is still frustrating

XCOM: Enemy Within is all about making the best of a bad situation. With odds stacked against you, you’re tasked to use every advantage at your disposal to take down a technologically superior foe. XCOM is notorious for spawning memes around its combat system, owing to its punishing randomness. Regardless, achieving victory despite the odds is relentlessly rewarding and satisfying.

Best Xbox 360 Strategy and Simulation Game


Xcom Enemy Within Se

XCOM: Enemy Within

XCOM: Enemy Within is an enhanced version of XCOM: Enemy Unknown, adding some additional gameplay features. Build up an army of elite operatives and battle against an alien threat, hellbent on taking over the Earth.

Dead Space

Best Xbox 360 Horror Game

Dead Space

Source: EA

If you love horror games, Dead Space is a must-play. Set in a derelict mining ship taken over by terrifying aliens called Necromorphs, you control Isaac Clarke, an engineer tasked with surviving against all odds. Even today, Dead Space more than holds up, and remains among the best Xbox 360 games of its time.

Whether or not you’ll survive is based on how well you can rise to the challenge of fighting Necromorphs, completing physics-based puzzles, and searching your environment for important resources.

Dead Space’s environment is also crammed with haunting atmospherics, which does a great job to make you feel vulnerable at all times. Searching the ship can also grant clues about the game’s characters and overarching mystery as you unravel exactly what went wrong.

Pros:

  • Incredible horror atmosphere
  • Necromorphs are terrifying, but fun to fight
  • Puzzles are well-designed and engaging
  • Visuals and audio are excellent
  • Compatible on Xbox 360, Xbox One, Xbox Series S, and Series X

Cons:

  • Some areas are a little repetitive

While Dead Space’s sequels have arguably deviated away from what makes the series special, the original game is a gem that any horror fan simply must play at some point. This is no mere Aliens knockoff — Dead Space is a masterpiece.

Best Xbox 360 Horror Game


Dead Space

Dead Space

Dead Space came at a time when survival horror was on the ropes, and showed us that AAA horror games do have a place in the industry. While EA itself may have abandoned the franchise, it remains in memory as one of the best horror experiences of the Xbox 360 era.

Shadow Complex

Best Xbox 360 Platformer

Shadow Complex

Source: Chair Games

Shadow Complex is an underrated and oft-overlooked cult classic, metroidvania-style platformer that revolves around a corporate conspiracy. Playing as a regular cave spelunker, you stumble upon a clandestine terrorist organization with shadowy objectives and advanced tech.

Based heavily on games like Castlevania and Super Metroid, Shadow Complex emphasizes exploration across a vast maze-like structure, with new abilities granting access to new areas. The game also picked up a remastered version in recent years, giving it a shinier coat of paint.

Pros:

  • Great Metroidvania-style experience
  • Decent length with lots of exploration
  • Compatible on Xbox 360, Xbox One, Xbox Series S, and Series X

Cons:

  • Cliffhanger ending with no planned sequel

Shadow Complex’s story was sadly never completed, with Epic Games largely preoccupied with Fortnite. The story was continued in a separate novel instead. Regardless, Shadow Complex is a fun and rare 3D entry in an under-served genre and holds up well to this day, taking home numerous awards for the best Xbox 360 game of the year.

Best Xbox 360 Platformer


Shadow Complex Se

Shadow Complex

Shadow Complex deserved more than a single game. Alas, it remains a master class in Metroidvania-style gameplay, and holds up even today.

Braid

Best Xbox 360 Puzzle Game

Braid Gameplay

Source: Microsoft

Braid is one of the most impressive puzzle-platformers ever made, featuring beautiful art and animation and the engaging mechanic of twisting back time.

The story starts off simple — you need to save a princess from a monster — but as you progress through the game, you’ll start to unravel the nuances of the narrative. And when you pair this with the game’s creative mechanics and amazing presentation, it’s clear to see why Braid is such a beloved title.

Pros:

  • Awesome puzzle-platformer gameplay
  • Gorgeous art and animations
  • Compatible on Xbox 360, Xbox One, Xbox Series S, and Series X

Cons:

  • A few puzzles and platforming moments are grating

Some of Braid’s puzzles are a little too confusing, and some of the platforming segments can be a little aggravating. Aside from these occasional frustrations, though, Braid is truly a stellar game that fans of the genre will enjoy greatly, easily among the best Xbox 360 games of all time.

Best Xbox 360 Puzzle Game


Braid Se

Braid

Braid is a mind-warping puzzle game with unique mechanics that hold up even today. With attractive watercolor-style visuals and charming music, Braid is an adventure that will test your wits.

Street Fighter IV

Best Xbox 360 Fighting Game

Street Fighter Iv Banner

Source: Capcom

While the Street Fighter series has long been associated with fighting games, Street Fighter IV was the game responsible for the fighting game renaissance, bringing the series, as well as the genre, back into the spotlight. Sporting new characters and a brand new art style, Street Fighter IV continued the series tradition of being approachable to new players, while offering endless depth for competitive players.

If you’ve played a Street Fighter game (or any fighting game, for that matter) you’ll be in familiar territory. Street Fighter IV features one-on-one battles between a plethora of fighters from all over the world. In addition to punching, kicking, and the occasional fireball blast, Street Fighter IV introduced the Focus Attack, a move that can absorb attacks and set opponents up for counter strikes. Abuse it, however, and you’ll be sorely punished for it.

Pros:

  • Great art and animations
  • Gameplay is accessible to casual audiences as well as competitive
  • Excellent multiplayer
  • Compatible on Xbox 360, Xbox One, Xbox Series S, and Series X

Cons:

  • Not much of a single-player experience
  • Online play requires solid internet connections from both players
  • Some versions aren’t backwards compatible with Xbox One, Series X, or Series S

While the game’s core fighting is simple enough to pick up, the unending depth of character moves and matchups can potentially keep newcomers away. While Street Fighter IV did relaunch the series, Super Street Fighter IV, Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition, and Ultra Street Fighter IV followed almost annually, bringing a wave of big and small changes with it. Still, if you’re willing to plant your feet and learn to throw a punch, you’ll find that it’s the best fighting game on the Xbox 360, no matter which version of the game you pick up.

Best Xbox 360 Fighting Game


Street Fighter Iv Se

Street Fighter IV

Street Fighter IV is a legendary fighting game from the Xbox 360 era, which remains accessible while also being aggressively competitive in higher-level play.

Trials HD

Best Xbox 360 Sports Game

Trials Hd Banner

Source: Microsoft

Trials HD is an addictive side-scrolling physics racing game that challenges you to master gravity itself on a dirt bike. Various wacky challenges and obstacle courses stand between you and greatness, with a large number of levels, challenge modes, and leaderboards to keep you hooked for hours on end.

Trials HD is all about balance, as you maneuver the angle of your bike against the game’s physics engine. Failure can result in hilarious wipeouts, sending your driver rolling into explosive barrels and bouncing into the sky.

Pros:

  • Additive fast-paced gameplay
  • Tons of tracks and modes
  • Crazy physics makes losing somehow fun too
  • Compatible on Xbox 360, Xbox One, Xbox Series S, and Series X

Cons:

  • Modern versions boast far more content

Trials HD spawned modern sequels with Trials Evolution and Trials Rising, but sometimes it’s fun to take a trip down memory lane and remember where it all started. Trials HD has tons of tracks, unlocks, and plenty of replayability, with instant respawning for failed attempts so you can trial and error your way to victory.

Best Xbox 360 Sports Game


Trials Hd

Trials HD

Trials HD is as addictive as it is rewarding, as you guide a dirt bike across increasingly complex physics-based courses, balancing speed, tilt, and gravity as you ascend to victory.

Viva Piñata

Best Xbox 360 Game for Kids

Viva Pinata Banner

Source: Microsoft

The Xbox 360 era of gaming was filled with a lot of fantastic options for kids, but none of them possessed the charm and cute factor of Viva Piñata. This Rare-developed gem features a humorous cast and hordes of tiny, adorable piñata animals that all interact with each other in various ways. It’s up to players to build a beautiful garden and attract various species of piñatas to live there. Because of the synergy between piñata species, you’ll have to strategize how you design your garden and what kind of creatures you want to live there.

Viva Piñata will forever hold its place as one of the best games for kids on the Xbox 360 due to its undeniable cuteness and the deceptive simplicity of its addictive gameplay. Even adults can find plenty to love in Viva Piñata all these years later. Carefully and slowly cultivate a gorgeous paradise to be a home to countless adorable piñatas, and get to know all the quirky characters that live around you.

Pros:

  • Gorgeous visuals with vibrant colors
  • Relaxing gameplay
  • Compatible on Xbox 360, Xbox One, Xbox Series S, and Series X

Cons:

  • Has started to show its age

Viva Piñata does show its age in some of its mini-games and gameplay mechanics, and it’s a little short on content compared to many modern “AAA” titles. However, its visuals are still delightful to behold, and it remains the perfect game to relax with or to enjoy with your child. No matter where you’re playing, be it Xbox 360, Xbox One, or Xbox Series X|S, Viva Piñata can still find and justify its place on your hard drive.

Best Xbox 360 Game for Kids


Viva Pinata Se

Viva Piñata

Viva Piñata holds up as one of the greatest examples of Rare’s creativity. This relaxing life sim is still worth playing even today, owing to its vibrant characters and chill gameplay.

Editor’s Picks: More of the Best Xbox Games

Xbox Series X Controller

Source: Matt Brown | Windows Central

The above list are our top picks across every major genre, but there are dozens of subgenres and other titles that more than deserve a mention on any list that rounds up the best Xbox 360, best Xbox One, and best Xbox Series S and Series X games. To that end, I spoke to the editors and writers across Windows Central for some of their picks on the top Xbox games you should definitely explore if you’re looking for something fresh and new, beyond the big-name games you may have already heard of. Here are more of our picks for the best Xbox games of all time.


Prey

Alone in space:
Prey


Pick by Jez Corden

Prey is an incredible immersive sim set aboard an abandoned space station known as Talos I. Studying an unknown alien species, the Transtar corporation left the facility abandoned after a containment breach left dozens dead. You wake up admist the chaos to discover everything is not as it seems, and resolve to ultimately survive and uncover the truth. Prey offers a mountain of playstyle customization in a sprawling and atmospheric sci-fi playground where danger lurks behind every corner (and potentially, in every object.)

$30 at Microsoft (Digital)


The Long Dark

Brave the cold:
The Long Dark


Pick by Jez Corden

The Long Dark is an incredible survival experience that is quintessential to the genre. Set in the bitter climbs of the Canadian Rockies, The Long Dark sports both an on-going story mode and an endless sandbox mode, challenging you to manage your temperature, your thirst, and your hunger in a lonely apocalyptic wilderness filled with animals driven mad by a climatological catastrophe. The Long Dark’s dynamic systems and emergent gameplay make for some of my most memorable gameplay experiences of recent times.

$30 at Microsoft (Digital)


Halo: MCC

Experience the saga:
Halo: Master Chief Collection


Pick by Zachary Boddy

Halo: The Master Chief Collection, or Halo: MCC for short, struggled mightily when it initially launched and was plagued with a myriad of issues. After years of constant support and love from 343 Industries, the addition of Halo 3: ODST and Halo: Reach, and its launch on PC, Halo: MCC has evolved into one of the best shooters on Xbox consoles. Experience six fantastic Halo games at their absolute best, with new features and revamped multiplayer, in one surprisingly affordable package.

$40 at Microsoft (Digital)


Left 4 Dead

Zombie Apocalypse:
Left 4 Dead 2


Pick by Zackery Cuevas

At the dawn of the zombie obsession that infected pop culture in the late aughts came Left 4 Dead 2, a perfect sequel that improved on just about everything from the first game. Left 4 Dead 2 was a showcase for how versatile Valve’s Source Engine is and captured everything from the PC version and laid it out perfectly on the Xbox 360. The replay value of Left 4 Dead 2 is something developers chase with every new live service game, but Valve knocked it out of the park on their second try. If only they could count to three …

$20 at Microsoft (Digital)


Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter

Tactical Team Deathmatch:
Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter


Pick by Zackery Cuevas

Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter (or GRAW, as it was known) was my first real taste of Xbox Live and the defining title of my teens. The 16-player team death matches were unmatched at the time, and the single-player campaign was exciting, tactical, and not held down by the cinematic set pieces that bog down many of today’s action games. While recent Ghost Recon titles continue to disappoint, my heart will always have a soft spot for this early 360 classic.

$20 at Microsoft (Digital)


Dishonored

Defend your honor:
Dishonored


Pick by Jen Locke

Arkane has become the master of the immersive sim, and you can arguably trace that back to Dishonored’s success when it launched on the Xbox 360. The plague-ridden world is full of mystery and wonder, jumpstarting a franchise beloved by many. Once you dive into Dunwall, it’s hard to turn back. With countless ways to replay the game, you can always keep coming back for more.

$20 at Microsoft (Digital)


Dark Souls 3

Praise The Sun:
Dark Souls III


Pick by Miles Dompier

Dark Souls III is an absolute masterpiece and stands firmly as one of the greatest action-RPGs of all time. Meticulously crafted environments and unforgettable enemy encounters command the player’s attention at every possible moment. With seemingly endless amounts of character customization and replayability, it’s a game I find myself coming back to almost every year. There are many reasons From Software has garnered such a ravenous, cult following in recent years, but Dark Souls III is probably the project most deserving of genuine fanaticism.

$60 at Microsoft (Digital)


Wolfenstein The New Order

Kill Nazis:
Wolfenstein: The New Order


Pick by Carli Velocci

There was a lot of hesitation going into Wolfenstein: The New Order, a reboot of the classic shooter series, but it’s unfounded. The New Order is a total refresh, keeping the fast-paced, ultra-violent, gonzo sci-fi world and gameplay of the originals while making the story of B.J. Blazkowicz more meaningful. This isn’t just a game about killing Nazis anymore, although that’s certainly the main draw. How is MachineGames able to successfully balance a character-driven story with some of the most bonkers shooting gameplay? You’ll have to download it to find out.

$20 at Microsoft (Digital)


Kentucky Route Zero gas station

American Gothic:
Kentucky Route Zero


Pick by Carli Velocci

It took nearly a decade for all five chapters of Kentucky Route Zero to come out, but the wait has been worth it. Not only is this surrealist journey through a dying American town somehow more relevant in the new decade than it was in 2013, but it forced the player to sit with it and play it over and over again. The ending might not be uplifting, and the game itself might be somber, but it conveys an important, decaying, and beautiful world that can only be appreciated by experiencing it yourself.

$25 at Microsoft (Digital)


Nier Automata

2B or not 2B:
Nier Automata


Pick by Carli Velocci

This PlatinumGames black sheep was already a critical hit when it hit the Xbox One back in 2018. It’s sort of an anomaly; a sequel to a successful but divisive 2010 game and a spinoff to the more well-known Drakengard series. Yet, Nier: Automata manages to be one of the most unique gaming experience on Xbox. Its hack-and-slash gameplay balances well with a profound story about the nature of existence, some wild sequences, and one of the most incredible video game soundtracks ever made.

$40 at Microsoft (Digital)

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This post was written by Jez Corden and was first posted to WindowsCentral



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