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The best Xbox games for 2023

Microsoft found itself in a challenging position early on, slipping to second place even before the release of the Xbox One due to a series of missteps. However, with the introduction of the Xbox Series X and S, Microsoft has regained a strong competitive stance. These well-priced and well-specced consoles boast an extensive game library that spans two decades.

Microsoft has crafted a distinctive console strategy where someone owning a 7-year-old Xbox One enjoys access to an almost-identical game library as the owner of a brand-new Xbox Series X. This uniformity in game libraries across consoles poses a challenge in maintaining distinct lists. Despite the scarcity of next-gen exclusives, especially with the PS4 outselling the Xbox One at a reported two-to-one ratio, there exists a sizable group of gamers who haven’t explored Microsoft’s offerings since the mid-’10s.

Approaching this list with that perspective, we present the best games recommended for someone picking up an Xbox today, whether it’s the best Xbox One games or top picks for a Series X, Series S, or One S, following an extended break from Microsoft’s consoles.

This curated list features a blend of games exclusive to Microsoft’s consoles and cross-platform gems that shine brightest on Xbox. Where applicable, we’ve outlined the advantages offered by Microsoft’s systems. Additionally, for those open to subscription services, Game Pass Ultimate is worth considering, providing access to many games on this list for a monthly fee.


In Deathloop, crafted by the studio behind the Dishonored series, the premise is straightforward: you find yourself ensnared in a repeating day. Upon death, you rewind to the morning, compelled to relive the day anew. Even if you endure until day’s end, the cycle restarts. Your protagonist, Colt, endeavors to “break the loop” by efficiently eliminating seven key characters, strategically scattered and elusive. The game boasts a stylish, accessible, and enjoyable experience.

While navigating this temporal anomaly for an escape, you contend with Julianna, a fellow resident with the ability to retain memories across loops. Julianna can impede your escape, locking you out of areas and thwarting your plans. The online multiplayer component reverses the roles, allowing you to embody Julianna, hunting down Colt and disrupting his murderous schemes.

Throughout the iterative exploration of areas, you acquire slabs with supernatural powers, along with more potent weapons and trinkets for both guns and personal use. This customization enables you to tailor your playstyle, optimizing your arsenal to confront Julianna and execute precise assassinations. Each revisited time period and location yields rewards for thorough exploration, unveiling secret weapons, engaging in concealed NPC conversations, and unraveling immersive world-building lore.

Initially a timed PlayStation exclusive, Deathloop became available on Xbox in September 2022.

Overwatch 2

While Blizzard has enhanced the onboarding process for new players in Overwatch 2, mastering the game still presents a formidable challenge. Persevere, and you’ll find yourself immersed in one of the premier team shooters available. Overwatch 2 centers around a seemingly simple objective—occupy or defend a point to secure victory. However, the execution is far more intricate. Despite the appearance of colorful chaos to the untrained eye, the game requires teams to strategically stand on or near an objective, thwarting the opposing team long enough to win.

Blizzard has reduced team sizes from six to five players, coupled with universal character adjustments, resulting in a faster-paced and more enjoyable gameplay experience than the original Overwatch. While individual impact is emphasized, collaboration with teammates remains essential for success.

With an expansive roster featuring over 30 heroes, each boasting unique abilities and playstyles, Overwatch 2 offers a diverse range of characters to resonate with. The initial batch of new heroes adds excitement to the gameplay, complemented by a variety of attractive (albeit often costly) skins. The game’s visual and auditory aspects are top-notch, reflecting Blizzard’s trademark polish. Until you grasp the nuances of Overwatch 2, you can appreciate its impressive aesthetics.

Elden Ring

Including Elden Ring is a no-brainer. FromSoftware’s latest action-RPG boasts numerous strengths, with its most remarkable feature being the handcrafted feel it maintains despite its expansive scale. Elden Ring’s size never gives the impression of wasting your time; on the contrary, FromSoftware has crafted a vast open world brimming with surprises, delights, and downright terrifying encounters at every turn. Unforgettable moments, such as stumbling upon a chest that transports your character to a cave teeming with Eldritch monsters, are plentiful in Elden Ring.

Concerned about Elden Ring’s reputed difficulty curve? Fear not. While it can be challenging, it stands out as From’s most accessible game to date. If combat proves too punishing, opt for a mage build and unleash ranged attacks on your foes, engage in side quests, and more. Moreover, should all else fail, exploring Elden Ring’s world rewards you with experience that can be used to bolster your character’s strength.


Blend the enigmatic Twin Peaks narrative of Alan Wake with the dynamic powers and gunplay from Quantum Break, and you’ve got Control. Embarking on a quest to find her missing brother, the protagonist swiftly discovers the blurred boundary between reality and the fantastical. It serves as irresistible allure for those who have a fondness for The X-Files and supernatural elements. Control stands as a stellar example of a studio hitting its creative peak, adeptly refining and advancing the open-world formula that has dominated the gaming landscape for the past decade.

Control’s performance on the last-gen Xbox presents a mixed picture, with the One S facing some struggles, while the One X outshines the PS4 Pro in terms of fidelity and smoothness. The advent of next-gen consoles ushered in the ‘Ultimate Edition,’ introducing the ray-tracing and higher frame rates enjoyed by PC gamers to console players. While these benefits are exclusive to next-gen owners, the edition also encompasses all released DLC, making it the recommended choice for purchase, even if an immediate upgrade isn’t on the horizon.

Dead Space

The Dead Space remake envelops players in a nostalgic embrace, akin to a warm hug from a menacing necromorph – and we say that with the utmost appreciation. This 2023 rendition meticulously polishes the mechanics that bestowed the original game with its chilling allure back in 2008, steering clear of unnecessary, contemporary embellishments. The remake boasts full voice acting, introduces new puzzles and expanded storylines, and incorporates a zero-gravity ability, enabling the protagonist, Isaac Clarke, to navigate sections of the game in an exceptionally gratifying manner.

Amidst these enhancements, the game’s fundamental loop remains unaltered: stasis, shoot, stomp. Isaac acquires the power to momentarily freeze adversaries and wields an array of weapons, yet he never achieves an overpowering status; the perpetual sense of danger persists. Grotesque monsters, once human corpses, unpredictably materialize in the confined corridors of the space station, lunging at Isaac from the shadows with limbs askew, imploring to be dismembered. The original Dead Space pioneered the notion that headshots hold little significance, and the remake steadfastly adheres to this principle, yet infuses the combat rhythm with a renewed sense of vitality.

The 2023 iteration of Dead Space underscores the timeless nature of innovative game design (and the enduring appeal of plasma cutters).

Halo Infinite

Master Chief’s latest escapade might not weave a coherent narrative, but it certainly delivers an enjoyable gaming experience. Amidst the middling endeavors from 343 Industries in the past decade, Halo Infinite successfully injects new vitality into Microsoft’s flagship franchise while maintaining fidelity to cherished elements. The primary campaign introduces unprecedented openness and enhances your freedom of movement through the inclusion of the trusty grappling hook. Simultaneously, the multiplayer mode proves delightfully addictive (though 343 still needs to expedite experience progression), offering a plethora of maps and game modes to prevent monotony from setting in. The only factor preventing it from achieving greatness is its perplexing and disjointed storyline. Still, given the limited array of substantial exclusives for Xbox fans currently, it stands as a commendable choice.

Forza Horizon 5

Forza Horizon 5 skillfully navigates the delicate balance of being an intricately detailed and complex racing game accessible to virtually anyone. The game boasts an extensive roster of cars, allowing for endless customization to match your driving preferences, and it features numerous courses scattered across a stunning fictional region of Mexico. Elevating the difficulty can turn each race into a make-or-break scenario, with online competition proving equally intense.

However, for newcomers to the racing genre, Forza Horizon 5 excels in providing a seamless onboarding experience. The initial stages of the game swiftly introduce you to the four primary race types (street racing, cross-country, etc.), and user-friendly features like the rewind button enable quick corrections for mistakes, avoiding the need to restart your run. In essence, Forza Horizon 5 stands out as a visually captivating and enjoyable game suitable for varying skill levels. Whether you opt for a casual few races or dive deep into honing your skills, the game accommodates both preferences seamlessly.

Gears 5

While Gears 5 ambitiously attempts various aspects, it falls short in some areas. However, for fans of the Gears of War series, there’s much to appreciate. The cover-shooter gameplay, a hallmark of the franchise, remains satisfying, and the campaign, though not overly ambitious narratively, is well-paced and filled with spectacular set pieces to maintain your engagement. The multiplayer modes, in their current state, may not be outstanding, but the campaign alone makes Gears 5 a worthwhile experience.

Additionally, it stands out as a genuine graphical showcase, ranking among the most visually impressive console games. Microsoft has commendably optimized it for all platforms, delivering high-resolution visuals and ultra-high frame rates (up to 120fps on series consoles).

Nier: Automata

After a considerable wait, Nier: Automata finally landed on Xbox One in the summer of 2018, and the almost-18-month delay proved worthwhile. Nier combines the precise combat characteristic of a Platinum Games title with a world crafted by the renowned eccentric, Yoko Taro. While the game allows for a straightforward approach of running, gunning, and slashing your way through, repeated playthroughs reveal a truly exceptional narrative—an unparalleled experience that remains unparalleled. This uniqueness is accentuated on Xbox, a platform not historically renowned for robust support from Japanese developers.

On Xbox One X and Series X, players have access to the optimal version of Nier: Automata, rivaling even fan-patched PC versions. While the experience is not as impressive on Series S and One S, the Series S maintains consistent framerates, and the One S provides an acceptable gameplay experience.

Ori and the Blind Forest

Emerging during a period dominated by “Gears, Halo, Forza” as the focal points of Microsoft’s publishing strategy, Ori and the Blind Forest stood out as a remarkable success. Combining the precise platforming reminiscent of Super Meat Boy with the immersive, evolving landscapes typical of Metroidvania games, it offered a compelling experience. Navigating the eponymous forest involved numerous deaths, countered by skill unlocks enabling access to new areas. The game’s visuals and audio, akin to Disney’s quality, added to its allure, while the narrative, though somewhat secondary, proved intriguing. While not revolutionary within its genres, Ori excelled in executing every aspect flawlessly. Its sequel, Ori and the Will of the Wisps, amplifies this success by delivering “more of everything,” making it a worthy follow-up for fans of Blind Forest.


Pentiment unfolds as a 2D adventure blended with a visual novel, immersing players in 16th-century Bavaria. Assume the role of Andreas Maler, a young artist from a prosperous family entangled in a murder mystery while striving to complete his magnum opus. The game pivots on its captivating artwork and narrative. The visuals evoke a living medieval manuscript, while the writing strikes a balance between warmth and acerbity, always maintaining a precise message. What begins as a seemingly straightforward whodunit transforms into a profound exploration of history, power, community, and truth. Contrary to the often elusive “your choices matter” pledge in video games, Pentiment consistently defies expectations. It unexpectedly positions itself as one of Microsoft’s premier first-party Xbox games, offering a unique riff on Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose.

Hi-Fi Rush

Hi-Fi Rush stands out as a hack-and-slash action game intricately woven around its soundtrack. While offering freedom in movement and jumping, every step and attack synchronizes with the rhythm of the backing music. Precision in timing, aligned with the beat, not only enhances damage but also enables the execution of seamless combos. The entire game world pulses and moves in harmony with the music, encompassing everything from enemy assaults to background lights flashing.

Is this a groundbreaking innovation? Perhaps not. Many hack-and-slash games inherently possess a sense of performance and musicality, but Hi-Fi Rush boldly brings this subtext to the forefront. It can be likened to Devil May Cry set to a metronome. Nevertheless, it’s undeniably enjoyable. The satisfaction of tearing through a room of adversaries is a common thrill in video games, but doing so entirely in rhythm, with each dodge and final blow accentuated by a beat, elevates the experience. The engaging soundtrack and forgiving combat system, which doesn’t overly penalize panicked button mashing, contribute to the fun. The game’s tone, resembling a cel-shaded Saturday morning cartoon, features a lovable protagonist named Chai confronting a comically evil megacorp. Hi-Fi Rush does have its drawbacks – some stages can feel prolonged – but its gameplay exudes the spirit of a passion project reminiscent of the PS3/Xbox 360 era. Focused on delivering a good time, it introduces intriguing ideas and showcases a commitment to enjoyment.

Red Dead Redemption 2

Red Dead Redemption 2 emerges as a distinctive creation, a testament to Rockstar’s prowess—the same team renowned for the Grand Theft Auto series. Such ambitious endeavors are made possible by the unparalleled success of this studio, allowing them to invest millions of dollars and countless development hours. Rockstar’s portrayal of a deteriorating frontier world is captivating, providing an ideal backdrop for a surprisingly measured narrative. While the gameplay might not showcase groundbreaking advancements, the storytelling and characters in RDR2 leave a lasting impression.

Despite Rockstar’s delay in providing a proper upgrade for Red Dead Redemption 2 on the next-gen platforms, Series X owners can still enjoy the epitome of the last-gen experience (Xbox One X) with notable enhancements in loading times. Meanwhile, Series S users receive the One S version, albeit with a refined 30 fps lock and expedited loading.

Resident Evil Village

Resident Evil Village is a captivating experience, presenting itself as a gothic fairy tale cleverly disguised within the survival-horror genre. This fresh ambiance for the franchise proves to be a welcomed evolution. The characters and adversaries within Village possess a vibrant vitality, even in their decidedly undead states. Capcom injects a delightful twist into the traditional notions of vampires, werewolves, sea creatures, giants, and eerie dolls. The game seamlessly weaves its horror, puzzle, and action elements while bearing the unmistakable imprint of the Umbrella Corporation. It’s evident that the developers had a playful approach to this installment, and the enjoyment is sure to extend to players.

However, a word of caution precedes your rush to purchase. Resident Evil Village doesn’t perform uniformly well across all Xbox platforms. On Series X, the experience is stellar, offering the choice between activating ray-tracing with occasional frame rate hiccups or opting for a flawless 4K/60 presentation by keeping it off. The Series S, despite having a ray-tracing mode, proves nearly unplayable. Nevertheless, with ray-tracing turned off, the Series S manages decently. The One X’s 1080p/60 mode is commendable, though its quality mode exhibits noticeable stuttering. Unfortunately, for owners of the base Xbox One or One S, no mode provides an enjoyable playing experience.

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice stands out as more than just another installment in the Dark Souls series. FromSoftware’s venture into samurai adventure marks a departure from the well-established formula, trading slow, weighty combat and gothic despair for elements like stealth, grappling hooks, and swift swordplay. Notably, despite its inherent difficulty, Sekiro proves to be considerably more accessible than the Souls games—yes, you can even pause it! These alterations result in a title that retains the distinctive FromSoftware essence while carving out its unique identity, and the outcome is highly commendable.

However, it’s worth noting that this game hasn’t received much attention from its developer or publisher. Despite the capability of next-gen consoles to easily support 60 fps, the Series S is restricted to an inconsistently paced 30 fps, and the Series X doesn’t consistently hit 60 either. Nevertheless, it remains more than playable despite these technical limitations.

Lost Judgment

In private investigator Takayuki Yagami’s second adventure, a spin-off from Sega’s popular and intricate Yakuza saga, he navigates the familiar Kamurocho area. The streets remain prowled by the same yakuza gangs, occasionally intersecting with side-story characters and eccentric individuals. Unlike Yakuza’s Kazuya Kiryu, known for punching punks in the face in the name of justice or honor, Yagami wields the power of his lawyer badge, drone evidence, and, occasionally (more often than not), a good kick to the bad guys’ faces.

The sequel delves even deeper into the realm of a serialized TV drama, marked by a blend of fights, chases, and melodrama. For series veterans, it traverses familiar territory but takes on a more serious and realistic tone. The narrative centers on issues like bullying and suicide in Japanese high schools, intricately connected to plots involving the legal system, politics, and organized crime.

Yagami boasts multiple fighting styles to master, and the game offers a range of activities, including love interests, batting cages, mahjong, skate parks, and more, providing ample hours of engagement. On the PS5, Lost Judgment showcases impressive visuals, with fluid fights and meticulously recreated areas in Tokyo and Yokohama teeming with pedestrians, stores, and points of interest. While Yakuza Like a Dragon ventured into a new turn-based and more whimsical direction, Lost Judgment maintains the brawling playstyle of the Yakuza series, introducing a new hero who has undeniably won our favor over time.

Xbox Game Pass Ultimate

We’ve touched on this before, but it’s crucial to highlight the exceptional value Game Pass offers Xbox owners. For just $15 a month, you gain entry to an ever-evolving library of games. The company excels at providing insights into upcoming additions and removals, ensuring you won’t be taken by surprise when a game exits the subscription service just as you’re about to confront the final boss. Out of the 11 games discussed in this guide, seven are currently accessible with Game Pass. The extensive library covers a wide range of titles, and although Microsoft’s cloud service is still in beta, you can conveniently access many of these games on your tablet, phone, or browser through xCloud without incurring any additional fees.

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