Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2 (Xbox 360)

The first Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved was an important title for Xbox Live Arcade back in the day, giving hardcore gamers something a little more intense to sink their teeth into on a service that had little in the way of properly challenging, fast-paced experiences to offer at the time. However, Bizarre Creations' twin-stick beauty was also a hugely approachable game for casuals, serving up hugely addictive arcade action, and Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2 only improved upon the formula by offering up new modes and offline multiplayer to boot.

The gameplay here is wonderfully slick stuff and blasting around tiny rectangular levels as you rack up huge combos in spectacular neon rushes of action is just as terrifyingly addictive now as it was all the way back in 2008! A classic Xbox 360 exclusive for the ages then, and a game we like to keep tucked away on our console storage for quick blasts here and there.

  • Xbox Game Pass? No

Halo Infinite (Xbox Series X|S)

Halo Infinite was the big Xbox exclusive we'd all been waiting impatiently for, and 343 Industries sure didn't let us down at launch, taking the series' spectacular combat and honing it to perfection - successfully fusing the narrative-driven gameplay we knew and loved with a brand-new open world setting that gave players a great big playground in which to indulge their Halo fantasies. As we said in our review:

"Halo Infinite feels like a big step forward for the franchise, a slick shift into the open world arena that manages to strike a fine balance between the traditional narrative-driven Halo of old and all-new levels of freedom and emergent gameplay."

The multiplayer side of things got off to a difficult start initially, but has vastly improved in recent years with the addition of Forge, Firefight and various other features, making Halo Infinite a great experience across the board in 2024.

  • Xbox Game Pass? Yes

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Gears Tactics (Xbox Series X|S)

Gears Tactics takes the series' trademark high-intensity action and successfully transplants it to a turn-based tactical format. By stripping out a lot of the expected resource management and downtime inherent in the tactics genre - focusing instead on keeping you on the ground and in the face of the Locust as much as possible - it gives itself a uniquely high-tempo flavour whilst managing to imbue encounters with much of the non-stop brutal and bloody action fans of the franchise know and love.

It may bog itself down here and there with mandatory side missions and the Locust are a generally straightforward enemy with which to mix things up but, overall, this is a supremely confident, highly polished effort that successfully remoulds Gears of War into a thrilling and engaging new format.

  • Xbox Game Pass? Yes

Killer Instinct (Xbox One)

Killer Instinct is an incredibly fast paced and technical fighter that's ideal for those looking for a combo-centric challenge to master whilst remaining accessible enough for those of us who just want to batter stuff.

It may have launched in a bit of a lacklustre mess back in 2013 but now, in its Definitive Edition form, it's a great big feature-packed beast of a fighter that's jam-packed full of content. Killer Instinct's still got it where it counts.

  • Xbox Game Pass? Yes

Halo: The Master Chief Collection (Xbox One)

Six Halo games crammed into one great big beautiful package and every one of them fully playable in local and online co-op? Count us in! Halo: The Master Chief Collection is an absolute dreamland for FPS fans, whether you want to play through the whole epic saga solo or hook up with friends to take the fight to the Covenant.

Each and every campaign here is fully playable in solo or co-op and, alongside the series’ expansive suite of amazing multiplayer offerings - all presented in glorious 4K and running at up to 120fps on Series X – this one amounts to an essential collection that’s an absolute must-play for co-op shooter fans. If you've ever been curious about Halo, or just want to relive the whole thing all over again, the MCC has got you well and truly covered.

  • Xbox Game Pass? Yes

Battletoads (Xbox One)

Rare's Battletoads made its long-awaited reappearance on Xbox One, Series X and Series S back in 2020 (developed by Dlala Studios), and it ended up proving a hilarious and highly enjoyable Xbox exclusive that lived up to our expectations. In our review, we praised it as "a hugely entertaining experience and well worth your time."

The good news for newcomers to the series is that it's far more accessible than the Battletoads in the Rare Replay collection, so players of all skill levels will feel right at home here. If you like a good side-scrolling beat ‘em up game, it's definitely worth giving it a try and the best bit is that it's included with Xbox Game Pass at no extra charge.

  • Xbox Game Pass? Yes

Grounded (Xbox One)

After a couple of years in early access, Obsidian's Grounded finally celebrated its official launch towards the end of 2022. Although the game only has a small team working on it, Obsidian has done outstanding work to make this one of the best Xbox exclusives of recent years, and a game that's still being enjoyed by a large community of players.

The premise is that you've been shrunk to the size of an ant, and therefore have to survive alongside all the creepy crawly terrors of the backyard. Don't worry if you've got a fear of spiders though, as Grounded has implemented an arachnophobia mode that allows you to turn those nasties into much cuter looking creatures instead.

Note: Will remain an Xbox exclusive until April 16th, 2024

  • Xbox Game Pass? Yes

Dead Rising 3 (Xbox One)

More than a decade since its Xbox One launch day release, Dead Rising 3 remains an Xbox console exclusive - which is still odd to think about to this day! Capcom's open world zombie-slaying franchise has taken a break since Dead Rising 4, and we reckon the third entry is still up there with the best this franchise has to offer.

Sticking with the series' unique timer mechanic but opening things up significantly, Dead Rising 3 introduced the world of Los Perdidos to Xbox fans back in 2013, and it's still an absolute romp. Make no mistake this isn't a post-apocalyptic game that takes itself seriously - Dead Rising 3 is big, bombastic and downright silly, and we still think crafting crazy machines to take down hordes of the undead is incredibly fun in 2024.

  • Xbox Game Pass? No

Gears of War 3 (Xbox 360)

We've already got a few Gears games in this list but Gears of War 3 is arguably the best of the bunch, especially if you're playing on Xbox Series X|S. Epic's finale to the original Gears trilogy runs at 1440p / 60FPS on modern Xbox consoles - and it still feels like a contemporary game in 2024.

Of course, it goes without saying that the entire original trilogy is still super fun from a campaign perspective, but Gears 3 holds up from top-to-bottom. Campaign, Horde, Beast, multiplayer - all of the game's core modes are fantastic fun and the multiplayer remains populated more than a decade later. The Coalition has done a great job with the series since, but this is still the best Gears game and more-than earns its spot on our best Xbox exclusives list.

  • Xbox Game Pass: Yes

And that's it for our list of the very best Xbox exclusives. Have we missed your favourite, or is there a particular game you think should have been included that isn't? Make sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments!