10 Best Xbox One Exclusives, Ranked

by Goran Damnjanovic, Gaming Columnist


Published in Gaming on 28th August, 2019


While not nearly as strong as on the PS4, Xbox One exclusives lineup is pretty solid and has some really cool games. Check out the 10 best ones.

Xbox One and Microsoft are unanimous losers of this console generation. Microsoft pulled a slew of bad moves before and during the reveal of the Xbox One, focusing on everything except games which ultimately led users to lose faith in the brand and buy PlayStation 4 instead of Xbox.

xbox games exclusives

High price, limited availability of digital services, unnecessary Kinect bundles, illogical used games reselling policy, and lack of first-party exclusives all contributed to the poor launch and poor sales in general.

Phil Spencer did what he could after he became head of Microsoft's Xbox division but it was too late for the console to close the lead PS4 had over it.

Xbox One garnered much fewer sales than its main competitor and the main reason for this result in the long run is the lack of quality exclusives.

While Xbox One doesn't have library of exclusives as impressive as PlayStation 4, the console does sport some amazing games and the shift towards games and services instead of imposing hardware exclusivity means that most of those exclusives can also be played on PC.

Creating the list of best Xbox One exclusives was much easier than it was the case with the PS4 but we still had to cut some titles from it.

These can be found below the main portion of the list, in the honorable mentions sections. And while those six titles didn't found their way onto the best-of list every single one of those games is a must-play title for every Xbox One owner.

Without further ado let's check out the 10 best Xbox Exclusives list and discover which Xbox One game ended up as the best of this generation. And be aware that every game on the list except Forza Motorsport 7 is available on the Xbox Game Pass.

10. Halo Wars 2

A proper RTS game that is available on a console and that's actually fun to play? Yes, it is possible and with Halo Wars 2 that means excellent campaign, solid visuals, simplified (but not dumbed down) control system perfect for playing with a controller, and interesting missions.

Halo Wars 2 is set after the events of Halo 5: Guardians and expands the story told in that game.

Playing a real-time strategy game on a console might sound weird but this one works and plays excellent.

halo wars 2

It's easy to learn and get the hang of it but some missions require advanced strategy that asks for a bit more tactical approach that simply hoarding your units and attacking the enemy base with everything you got.

A highly unique title for a console exclusive and more than solid RTS game.

9. ASHEN

Ashen is a silent indie gem that's beautiful, welcoming, and hard as hell. The game revolves around a complex combat system that massively borrows from Dark Souls games and Bloodborne but it keeps its own twist on the formula keeping its combat fresh and exciting.

The minimalistic storytelling is present but it isn't as obscure and hard to grasp as in From Software titles. Instead, in Ashen you will connect the dots relatively easy and find out much more info about the game's stunning world.

The unique, cartoonish visual style is inviting and exploring the world here won't make you shiver in fear and anticipation like in Souls titles.

Instead, you'll want to defeat enemies just to be able to explore further and see what next awaits in Ashen's beautiful world. Everything looks cute and lovely and it's a jot to traverse this world.

The game offers NPCs that can help you in fights and those can sometimes be replaced with real players, creating an exciting co-op experience that's hard to put down.

Another (subjective) advantage is the fact that Ashen will take only 20-25 hours to complete, much less than the average Souls game that usually requires 50 hours of grueling combat until end credits are shown.

8. Halo 5: Guardians

Guardians continued the story of Master Chief and his adventures and while that story didn't reach heights of its predecessors it is solid enough to keep you interested until end credits.

But the gameplay, on the other side, is still amazing as it was in previous games so even if you have zero interest in the story you will still have a blast playing Halo 5.

halo 5

Visuals aren't the best in class but are shiny enough to please those who put them in front of gameplay and level design is superb and filled with near-perfect shifts between adrenaline-pumping firefights and relaxed moments when you discover what the hell is going on.

And once you finish the campaign you can waste thousands of hours on multiplayer, like with every other Halo game.

7. Gears of War 4

Gears of War lived through its glory days during the years when Xbox 360 dominated the market but Gears 4 is a pretty solid shooter.

The game doesn't offer huge, open-world levels filled with busywork that soon gets boring and repetitive. Instead, Gears 4 offers old school level design with small areas filled with enemies that turn every combat encounter into bloodshed of epic proportions.

Visuals are solid. They aren't best in the business but the game is pretty and features extremely detailed characters, superb gore effects (those chainsaw dismemberments are bloody and shocking as ever), nice looking environments, and lots of tiny details on each level.

The story follows J.D. Fenix (Marcus Fenix's son) and his posse while they first try to survive and then uncover secrets of the past on the planet Sera that is now even less suited for life than during the Locust wars.

And after you finish the campaign well, there're years to waste on multiplayer like in previous Gears (and Halo) games.

6. Forza Motorsport 7

This isn't the best Forza Motorsport ever but it is the best Forza Motorsport on the Xbox One. There are hundreds of cars and the single-player campaign is the best in the business.

It's huge, with greatly varied events and is much more fun to play than the campaign found in Gran Turismo Sport.

Handling resides in the perfect area between simulation and arcade and multiplayer is pretty solid (the game received many updates to its multiplayer modes since it came out) but still noticeably below Sony's staple racer.

forza motorsport 7

Drivatars are the weakest part of the game. They behave awful, like there's no one other on the track and will often push you off the track when you try to overtake them.

Visuals are solid, with okay-looking tracks and excellent car models but dynamic weather is the factor that can make any race look like you're watching a real-life video.

Rain effects are stupendously pretty and extremely realistic and the moment when the sun starts getting through clouds the game becomes simply unreal in its realism. A great racer and definitely the first choice for those who're looking for the ultimate campaign mode.

5. Sunset Overdrive

Over the top, edgy (but not too edgy for its own sake), with plenty of dark humor and a bonkers story, Sunset Overdrive is tons of fun for everyone who's looking for a unique third-person shooter.

The zombie formula is used as a basis for the story and it quickly falls into ridiculousness (but in a good way) and is there just to provide some backdrop for players to kill tons of zombies who desire just one thing; not brains, energy drinks!

The action is always in sixth gear with the unique grind-on-rails traversal mechanic that provides the basis for combat (you have to move all the time to avoid getting killed in a matter of seconds).

Going from one part of the map to another is extremely enjoyable (this is Insomniac, after all, the same studio that gave us Spider-Man for the PS4) and you'll often find yourself trying to keep grinding as long as possible without touching the ground.

Weapons are wacky and original, the action is highly explosive and traversal never gets old. If you like Jet Set Radio, Tony Hawk Pro Skater, over the top humor, zombie games, and lots of shooting you should definitely check out Sunset Overdrive.

4. Sea of Thieves

Sea of Thieves had a rough launch marred by lack of content and technical difficulties but today the game is one of the best co-op multiplayer titles around.

sea of thieves

The world is beautiful, with the best-looking water we've seen in any game. There's plenty to do thanks to many updates and multiple expansion that came since the game got released. And hey, sailing a pirate ship with friends while adventuring and fighting other players is a blast every time.

3. Ori and the Blind Forest

This is the cutest game you will ever play on Xbox One. The only game that can match Ori with its emotional impact is The Last Guardian.

The start of the game will bring tears to your eyes and from then on you will try leading Ori across the forest and will do everything in your power to return light to this beautiful world.

The game is a classic Metroidvania with slick controls (they're as responsive as in Hollow Knight), plenty of powers to unlock during your journey, and challenging combat that will put your reflexes to the test on many occasions.

Platforming sections are as challenging as the combat and the game is filled with combinations of combat and platforming that can be as hard as some bosses found in Souls games.

The story is breathtaking, emotive, and heart-wrenching. Visuals are incredible, turning the game into a living fairytale and they still hold their ground today, more than 4 years after the game got released.

The world is filled with secret areas and exploration is always encouraged because hidden areas often conceal resources needed for upgrading abilities and unlocking new ones.

This is one of the best Metroidvania of this generation, in line with Hollow Knight, Dead Cells, SteamWorld Dig 2, Bloodstained, and Metroid: Samus Returns.

2. Halo: The Master Chief Collection

This superb collection that includes remastered versions of the original game along with every other Halo game sans Halo 5 is the best game for all FPS fans who own an Xbox One.

You can get this one and forget about the world for a couple of weeks until every single campaign is completed and after that, you can fire up multiplayer of your favorite Halo game and forget about the world for the second time.

halo the master chief collection

Most games feature co-op campaign modes which offer insane levels of fun in case you have a friend who's a fan and the level of polish The Master Chief Collection received after its rocky launch is worthy of respect.

This is the ultimate shooter collection no matter the system and the best way to waste time in case you own an Xbox One.

1. Forza Horizon 4

The ultimate arcade racer of this generation and the best arcade racer of all times. Yes, this is better than NFS Most Wanted and Hot Pursuit, better than Project Gotham Racing, better than the best Ridge Racer titles.

An immense map of Britain that changes with each season is a stunning achievement in world-building. Rich green colors and frequent rain on top of sunshine during Spring, saturated colors of flower fields and warm sunshine during Summer, mushy sunshine and falling leaves during Fall, and frozen lakes and snow all around during Winter.

Seasons change each week but you can play in any season you want in the solo adventure.

The game features more than 500 car models that encompass every class from hot hatches to hypercars such as Ferrari FXX and Rimac C Two.

Prizes are so generous that after a week or so you will receive about a hundred cars for free, just from rewards and from wheelspins and super wheelspins. And after a couple of months, you will have so many cars that picking one to drive around the map will be a near-impossible task.

Racing is fun and challenging and the difficulty can be tweaked in detail by setting up AI difficulty (drivatars behave much better than in Forza Motorsport 7) and a plethora of assists.

forza horizon 4

There are more than a hundred races and there are also hundreds of other freeroam events such as speed zones, jumps, along story events. On top of all that each week a new season arrives along with a new playlist that includes new seasonal championships.

There's enough content for the game to last you for years and the addition of seamless multiplayer makes things even better.

Visuals are best in class and cars look better than in any other racer, including the beautiful Gran Turismo Sport. Forza Horizon 4 is the ultimate reason to get an Xbox One and is the best and biggest game available on the platform.

Honorable mentions

Gears of War Ultimate Edition

The timeless classic is back, this time wearing modern robes that make it more beautiful than ever. The story and missions aren't changed a bit; this is still the best Gears of War game, just with pretty graphics.

The Ultimate Edition is available both on Xbox and PC Game Pass so you really don't have any excuse to experience the birth of a legend again.

Forza Horizon 3

Forza Horizon 3 isn't as large or packed with features as Forza Horizon 4 but the game is still a must-play title for all racing fans. It features more than 350 cars and its Australia map is prettier than Britain featured in the sequel.

To be honest, the rainforest part of the map is hands down the best-looking environment I've ever seen in any racing game, is otherworldly beautiful. Racing is slick and fun as ever and the career is huge, more robust than in Forza Horizon 4.

The lack of seasonal events is substituted by an insane number of races and championships, which require hundreds of hours of playtime to be completed.

Killer Instinct

A fighting game that arrived with some problems making many fans to simply avoid it and focus on other heavy hitters such as Mortal Kombat, Tekken, Street Fighter, and Injustice.

But regular additions of new fighters along with regular updates turned Killer Instinct into an awesome fighting title it is today. The best thing is that Definitive Edition is available for all owners of Xbox and PC Game Pass so if you have one of those you should jump right into it.

Outer Wilds

A sleeper indie hit of 2019, Outer Wilds is a thought-provoking temporal puzzle experience that takes place inside a minuscule solar system that destroys itself every 22 minutes.

outer wilds

You die and then are put back to the starting point, creating a unique gameplay premise that asks players to slowly unroll the mystery while always being aware they will return to the starting point again and again until they finally solve the mystery and end the weird time loop.

One of the most original games you'll play this year is also available on Xbox Game Pass (no luck for PC Game Pass owners, at least for now).

Quantum Break

A cinematic experience that puts storytelling in front of everything else Quantum Break is a sure choice for everyone loving linear, story-driven games. Gameplay has its faults and level design could've been better but the story is amazing and the campaign is short enough for the game to overstay its welcome.

Rare Replay

A huge collection of games developed by Rare, one of the cult studios that brought us timeless classics such as the original Killer Instinct, Battletoads, Banjo-Kazooie, Viva Pinata, Sabre Wolf, and many more. There is a total of 30 titles in this collection that spawn over 30 years of Rare's work and this is a sure pick for every retro gamer out there.

Check out the 10 best PS4 exclusives games (PS4 games ranked) here.

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