It’s been a great year to be an Xbox owner. Not only because of the growing number of classic Xbox 360 titles that have been made backwards compatible, such as Lost Odyssey, Red Dead Redemption and Call of Duty: Black Ops, but also because of the release of multiple awesome console exclusives.
Titles such as Forza Horizon 3 and Gears of War 4 truly delivered the goods, showing that the hardware is capable of wowing audiences just as much as the PS4 can under the right circumstances. And supporting them was a raft of quality third party titles too, ensuring that any keen gamer always had something to do with their hands.
As the end of the year approaches though, it’s time to look back at the Xbox One games that captivated us the most. And so, without further ado, we present our essential Xbox One games of 2016. Oh, and they’re all physical games too, just in case you’re inspired to buy them as gifts for the gamers in your life. Enjoy!
Gears of War 4
For me, and I imagine many others, the Gears of War series was reason enough to own an Xbox 360 last generation. Each successive entry pushed the hardware further and further, delivering stunning visuals and impeccable gameplay that made its well-paced campaigns spectacular and its multiplayer offerings an often grotesque treat. As the first game in the series created for Xbox One then, Gears of War 4 had a lot to live up to.
Maintaining the feel of the series whilst introducing a new cast of playable characters, new(ish) enemies and some very well handled fan service, I’m happy to say that Gears of War 4 managed to meet our lofty expectations and more. The campaign was gripping and offered more variety than its predecessors, horde mode was expanded to be a deeper co-operative experience, and its suite of versus modes meet the needs of any competitive gamer. On top of that, on Xbox One, its visuals are second to none.
Gears of War 4 has revitalised a much-loved series, and you can’t ask for much more than that. [Buy it here]
Rip and tear. Rip and tear. That was the ethos behind this year’s reboot of the Doom franchise, and while there was indeed a hell of a lot of ripping and tearing to be done, it was its fast-paced gunplay that really stole the show.
Battling Hell’s minions was an absolute blast as you ran around like Usain Bolt with his pants on fire, filling your enemies’ faces with both barrels of your shotgun. And when you ran out of ammo for that, you simply switched to another of Doom’s awesomely meaty weapons or sliced a demon in half with your chainsaw like an ammo filled piñata and carried on the fun. Need I say more?
Its multiplayer offerings may have been a little on the mundane side, but as far as first person shooters go, Doom’s single player campaign is the best in years. [Buy it here]
After the troubled launch of Battlefield 4 and the general disappointment of Battlefield: Hardline, DICE had to do something to win back its fans. Lucky for them, it seems like taking the series back to World War 1 with Battlefield 1 has more than done the trick.
Despite featuring the series’ best single player campaign in years, letting you witness the horror of war though multiple protagonists’ eyes, Battlefield 1’s real attraction is its epic multiplayer action. All the usual Battlefield modes are in there, along with a brand new Operations mode that has you battling for territory over a number of maps, but it’s the actual combat itself that makes it shine. Buildings crumble around you as missiles and bombs hit their mark, gas clouds swell, trying to infiltrate your lungs before you can reach for your gas mask, and a hail of bullets makes you reconsider your position as you move in to capture an objective. Entering a match on any of Battlefield 1’s finely crafted maps truly feels like entering a warzone, which is an experience you just can’t find anywhere else. [Buy it here]
Forza Horizon 3
Let’s face it; after Forza Horizon wowed Xbox 360 owners back in 2012, and its sequel pushed the bar even further on Xbox One in 2014, we all knew that this year’s Forza Horizon 3 was going to be good. In reality though, it turned out even better than we ever could have hoped– it was pretty much perfect.
Set in Australia, Forza Horizon 3 offers a sublime range of environments for you to drive around in like a maniac, and it is glorious. Whether you’re tumbling around the dusty dunes of the outback in an Ariel Nomad or speeding around the streets of Byron Bay in a Lamborghini Centenario, you’ll appreciate the stunning graphics and solid handling as you complete events and activities one after the other, striving to build the garage of your dreams. And with game progression driven by you being able to do exactly what you want, when you want, with whoever you want, it feels like a road trip that you never want to end.
If you own an Xbox One, you owe it to yourself to play Forza Horizon 3. You’d be a fool not to. [Buy it here]
Dark Souls 3
Difficult but fair, the Dark Souls series has served intrepid adventurers well since its introduction in 2011. By taking the best elements of the similarly designed Demon’s Souls and Bloodborne and adding them into the fold however, this year’s Dark Souls 3 was a masterpiece.
Set in the hauntingly picturesque Kingdom of Lothric, Dark Souls 3's interconnected world was as alluring as you’d ever want such a hostile place to be, with grotesque inhabitants that hit both fast and hard. And its bosses? Well, they were as deviously designed as ever, able to make you swear like a nun with tourette's as you died again and again until you’d learned every nuance of their movesets. That’s the joy of a game like Dark Souls 3 though; getting your ass handed to you on a silver platter until you’ve developed your stats and skills to the point where you can show anything the game can throw at you who’s the boss. You just can’t beat the cathartic feeling it brings. [Buy it here]
Starring The Following’s Shawn Ashmore and Game of Thrones’ Aiden Gillen, Quantum Break married the third-person gameplay that Remedy are known for with a dramatic TV show to great effect.
It wasn’t Alan Wake 2, the game that all Remedy fans are waiting for, but Quantum Break gave you access to whole host of time control powers that not only looked spectacular in use, but also led to some unique moments of gaming. When you weren’t turning back the clock to enable you to traverse the environment, you could have been speeding around like a speeding bullet before delivering a mighty melee attack, or even freezing time to stack up a mighty cavalcade of bullets for an unsuspecting foe. Its story was fairly dynamic too, with actions and decisions made during the gameplay sections changing the TV episodes in multiple ways to promote multiple playthroughs.
A visual tour de force backed up by a great story and interesting gameplay, Quantum Break deserves a place in your Xbox One game library. [Buy it here]
Developed by Respawn Entertainment, the company founded by the folks responsible for the creation of the Call of Duty franchise, the original Titanfall was a hit when it was released exclusively on Microsoft formats a little over two years ago. This year’s Titanfall 2 though, absolutely blows it out of the water.
It has a proper single player campaign for a start, which is nothing less than phenomenal. Sure, it may be a little on the short side, running at only five hours or so, but it crams in so much exhilarating action with its intuitive free-running gunplay and satisfyingly mighty Titans that you just won’t care. And when you’re done with the single player campaign you can jump right into its plethora of revised and expanded multiplayer modes, which will keep you engaged and entertained whether you’re a Titanfall noob or seasoned pro.
Gamers who like a pleasant surprise should definitely check Titanfall 2 out, even if only for its campaign. Those who also embrace its fast-paced competitive multiplayer modes however, complete with hulking metal brutes, will find it a much more compelling package. [Buy it here]
Watch Dogs 2
While it was released under a stormy cloud, visually downgraded from its E3 showings, Watch Dogs was still a great game. Like the leap from the innovative yet ultimately repetitive Assassins Creed to its massively improved sequel however, Watch Dogs 2 is everything the original game should have been, and then some.
Out is the sour-faced Aiden, much derided for being devoid of any personality. In his place is Marcus, a younger, hipper protagonist who isn’t afraid to crack a smile and make a few jokes. It perhaps signals the rebirth of the series; one that’s less serious in tone and places more emphasis on players simply having fun, whether it’s on their own or with their friends in co-op. In any case, it works. Watch Dogs 2 simply oozes character, and is sure to win players around who were left disappointed by its predecessor.
Whatever your thoughts were on the original Watch Dogs, throw them out of the window. Watch Dogs 2 should be considered as the new start for what is set to be a great series. [Buy it here]
If you like a good stealth game, chances are you’ve played 2012’s Dishonored. Plopping you into decent sized environments in which you were free to deal with your targets in a myriad of ways, it was a bloody good game, but the recently released Dishonored 2 is just bigger and better.
Seeing you escape Dunwall after a coup, the locales of Karnaca in which you find yourself are exquisitely designed, just begging for every nook and cranny to be explored. How you do so is up to you though. You can be anything from a ghostly pacifist, moving around in total stealth whilst finding a non-lethal way to deal with your target, to a genocidal maniac, busting in through the front door before shooting and slicing anyone that stands in your patch to pieces. However you play, your expanded arsenal of powers, weapons and abilities make it an absolute blast, and the cherry on top is that it looks glorious too. [Buy it here]
Has Blizzard ever made a rubbish game? Some snide individuals may gesture towards Diablo 3 to claim that they have, but no, they haven’t. Diablo 3 just wasn’t as good upon release as it is now. Overwatch hasn’t had any such trouble through. It’s been great from day one, and just continues to get better and better.
With no single player campaign in sight, Overwatch is focused on being the character-driven multiplayer shooter of choice; a goal that it has already got sewn up as far as I’m concerned. Its success is largely down to its cracking cast of heroes. Split into four classes, each hero has their own strengths and weaknesses, as well as oodles of personality, ensuring that everyone has their favourite that they return to again and again. And of course, as befits any game created by Blizzard, the gameplay is balanced, fun and extremely rewarding, keeping your interest even after tens or even hundreds of hours of play.
If you’re a competitive gamer who likes the virtual bodies they inhabit to have some personality, Overwatch was made just for you. [Buy it here]
What do you think, huh? Some good games there, right? If you disagree, or have some other Xbox One games from 2016 that you absolutely adore, please let us know in the comments below.