The holiday season is now fully upon us. That means, not only do you have to start buying gifts for family, friends and coworkers, you also have to let others know what's on your wish list. So, if you or the person you're buying for owns the latest Xbox console and is uncertain of what to request, we have got you covered. What you'll find below is a guide to some of our highest recommended Xbox One games, mostly from the second half of 2014. Be sure to have yourself a thorough look, and if you have any questions or other suggestions, please, do share them in the comments section.
Happy Holidays, everyone!
Xbox One Essentials
What we think: "Was it not for what feels like an overly-long period of hand-holding when you first start out and some other noted minor issues, a perfect ten would have been on the cards here. Forza Horizon 2 is easily the Xbox One’s best driving game and also easily one of the finest, expansive, and most enjoyable racing games of all time. Before writing that sentence, we did indeed consider all of the great games that fall into the category. Whether your favourite is Stunt Car Racer, Out Run, Ridge Racer, Burnout, Project Gotham Racing, Blur, any Need for Speed game, Gran Turismo, or good old Metropolis Street Racer, there’s something for you here. In terms of excitement, fun, style, and a sheer wealth of things to do, Forza Horizon 2 can stand proudly up against any of the games in that list, despite the trifling imperfections that we’ve noted." Click here for full review
Who's it for? Anyone and everyone that enjoys racing games, period.
What we think: "Want to know how to make a truly great game? Provide players with a liberating and energetic method of traversal, create an eye-popping urban environment that serves as a massive playground, and do everything you can to promote uninhibited fun within that space. That’s the essence of Sunset Overdrive, and it’s why we think this is arguably the best new IP so far this console generation. If you own an Xbox One, this is a must-have game." Click here for full review
Who's it for? Fans of Tony Hawk Pro Skater, the Dreamcast, and fun.
What we think: "For those new to the universe of Halo, a vast array of single and multiplayer content awaits, all revolving around one of the greater ongoing stories available in gaming, and featuring the franchise's hallmark genre-defining arena combat. For the more initiated, a chance to go back and relive many fond moments from a whole new perspective is also a boon. With Spartan-Ops content on the way, the Halo Championship Series, Nightfall, and the Guardians Beta included in the package, we can safely say that there is some aspect of this collection that should appeal to all." Click here for full review
Who's it for? Halo fans, FPS addicts, and anyone that fancies beefy co-op campaigns.
What we think: "Rockstar North has gone above and beyond to transplant Grand Theft Auto V from the Xbox 360 to the Xbox One, and their efforts pay off in a big way. Thanks to a long list of additions and improvements, what was already a genre-defining masterpiece has been lifted to all new heights, proving that such an epic vision feels more at parity with the current wave of hardware than it did with the last. It doesn't matter if it's your first time visiting Los Santos or if you're thinking of booking a return flight, we give GTA V our highest recommendation. This is simply a marvelous game." Click here for full review
Who's it for? Those who love a massive open world and can handle extremely mature themes.
What we think: "The Evil Within feels like an old-school survival game made for the new-school generation. It doesn’t ignore what modern horror games brought to the genre, but it scales it down and puts the focus back on actually surviving. It’s an intense, pulse-pounding horror adventure that rarely lets up, but it’s also enjoyable to play and has some of most memorable enemy encounters this year in any game. It may not be for the faint of heart, but if you’re looking for a hardcore and pure survival horror experience then look no further than The Evil Within." Click here for full review
Who's it for? Fans of Resident Evil and those that get their kicks from the horror genre.
What we think: "Diablo III: Ultimate Evil Edition improves on its predecessor in many ways, offering a new class and an entire new act (or 25% more levels, if you prefer.) The structure of the new adventure mode, overly easy leveling and accessibility of overpowered weapons have removed some of the sense of wonder and exploration from the game, but the Ultimate Evil edition is undoubtably an improvement on Diablo III and earns a well deserved bump in score. Highly recommended." Click here for full review
Who's it for? The kind of folks that like dungeon crawling with friends, locally or online.
Other Xbox One Recommendations:
What we think: "With Geometry Wars 3, Lucid Games have taken the pure and unsullied Geometry Wars mix and added nothing but good things to it. No corners have been cut here and the game is almost a love-letter to everything that was great about the series in the first place. The Adventure mode is an absolute success, taking an almost arcade-like experience and adding depth and replayability (like the latter was needed!) along with newly-shaped playfields that are interesting and fun. With the addition of customisable weaponry, a new level of tactical nuance has been added, too. It all just works, and we absolutely cannot recommend Geometry Wars 3 highly enough. Outstanding." Click here for full review
Who's it for? Anyone that thrives on twitch-based gameplay and likes twin-stick shooters.
What we think: "In the end, Chariot is one of the best cooperative gaming experiences we’ve ever had. It’s immensely rewarding, abundantly creative, and the sense of accomplishment that it instills within the player will lead to high-fives being thrown around the room on a regular basis. You will harbor feelings of contempt when player two unintentionally pulls you off that hard-to-reach ledge that took five minutes to reach, followed by moments of utter gratitude when they latch on at the last second and save you and the chariot from falling out of view. Both of these sensations, no matter how extreme, are crucial to a memorable cooperative experience, and when Chariot is at its best, it’s cooperative bliss. There are sections of the game where questionable design choices and convoluted environments may attempt to impede your enjoyment, though they can be overcome with a little patience or a reliable partner. Your chariot awaits... and you'd be smart to take it for a ride." Click here for full review
Who's it for? Friends, families, and couples attracted to two player couch co-op.
What we think: "Guacamelee is a fusion of intense platforming and beat-em-up combat, framed in Metroidvania conventions and topped off with a memorable cast, distinct setting, a stellar soundtrack, and zesty humor. These ingredients combine to make for a flavor that’s genuinely fresh and incredibly satisfying. If you’ve had a taste of this delicious entre before and are wondering whether Super Turbo Charged Edition spices things up enough to warrant seconds, the answer is yes. Take a bite of Guacamelee. Chances are you’ll be more than pleased with the sensation that follows." Click here for full review
Who's it for? Beat-'em-up and Metroidvania fans.
What we think: "Regardless of your age or feelings toward the genre, we can't recommend Child of Light highly enough. Ubisoft Montreal has created a concise and inviting RPG that somehow manages to retain more than enough complexities to ensure a deep, rich experience for players of all types – to say that this balance is impressive would be an understatement. With exciting mechanics, a gripping combat system, and an imaginative world that's equally ominous and elegant, Child of Light constantly fires on all cylinders, sure to leave an impression that's hard to shake. The world needs more games like this." Click here for full review
Who's it for? RPG enthusiasts and anyone fond of fairytales.
What we think: "Stick it To The Man is a total blast to play. The puzzles may not be all that challenging, but the beautiful visuals, catchy soundtrack, and wonderful humour make it stick out above other adventure games. The campaign tells a silly but charming story with many unpredictable twists and turns. And despite it’s short run time, Stick it To The Man is a truly fun and memorable experience that will have you glued to the screen." Click here for full review
Who's it for? Anyone that likes classic adventure games and oddball humor.
What we think: "Outlast won't be for everyone, but if you have even an inkling of interest in the genre, then it's absolutely worth checking out. Let it be known that Outlast is a genuinely stressful and nerve-racking experience, but that’s exactly what a true survival horror game should be, and we wouldn’t have it any other way." Click here for full review
Who's it for? The fearless.
Other Downloadable Recommendations:
For The Kids (And The Kids At Heart)
What we think: "It’s a shame that to complete Skylanders: Trap Team to 100%, you’ll need to purchase around eight extra traps at about £6 each and probably the same amount of Skylanders at £10 and up apiece. That makes for a very, very expensive game for most parents, even if you bring into account Christmas and birthday gifts from relatives and the like. However, the game itself can be more-or-less completed without additional purchases and is such a wonderfully-crafted and enjoyable experience that even without spending extra cash, it will keep kids (and adults…this reviewer is 33 and has about 25 hours logged so far with a lot more to come) busy for a good long time. Click here for full review
Who's it for? Kids that dig cool collectible toys that accompany their adventuring.
Pinball FX2: Guardians of the Galaxy (download)
What we think: "Because of the straightforward approach to play, Guardians of the Galaxy is a great table for newcomers and those that don't take their pinball too seriously. That's not to say that pinball wizards won't also find it satisfying, but there's a chance the higher level of forgiveness and the conservative design choices might not completely stimulate all types of players. There are a couple missteps that may annoy some — like an opening sequence sure to become a chore with repeat plays and a couple of questionable audio choices — but once standard play begins, the engagement is so action-packed and consistent that you'll likely forget about these flaws before you can spell 'Groot.' Long story short, the Guardians are a group worth signing up with, even if they haven't quite mastered introductions." Click here for full review
Who's it for? Anyone that's taken a liking to the Guardians of the Galaxy.
What we think: "In a world where platform games are seemingly easier to make than ever, they appear to grow more and more stagnant as format holders and publishers feel comfortable in creating the same games that they were making a decade ago. Rayman Legends represents a real evolution for the genre. The game is varied, expansive, challenging, entertaining, funny, beautiful to look at, and is as close to platforming perfection as we’ve seen in a very, very long time. After many attempts and a multitude of below average spinoff titles on every format known to man, the series has finally fulfilled the promise that we saw in the first game way back on the original PlayStation." Click here for full review
Who's it for? Anyone that likes 2D platforming (like Mario) and/or four player local multiplayer.
Max: The Curse of Brotherhood (download)
What we think: "Max: The Curse of Brotherhood, while looking like a kids game, is anything but. The cartoon graphics may be enticing enough for kids to try, but the steep difficulty curve may be too much for them. However, underneath the cutesy disguise is a clever and surprisingly entertaining little game. Curse of Brotherhood leaves you to your devices with nary a hint to help you through its puzzles (which is a good thing), but it's frustrating and unintuitive controls often get in the way of making it something truly special." Click here for full review
Who's it for? The older kids that can handle a challenging platformer with Kinect integration.
What we think: "LEGO Batman 3 offers a lot of entertainment and is a pleasant experience overall – from the dialogue, to the little winks at pop culture, to the actual gameplay. Almost everything feels balanced and the game runs smoothly; the story and its characters offer plenty of giggles. However, it's not everyone's cup of tea to almost be forced into going back and replay sections in order to "complete" the game. It's one of the things that TT still need to figure out and balance – finishing the main story with less than 30% completion is somewhat disheartening. And it's definitely up for discussion whether or not LEGO games in general are good enough to be played repeatedly. That said, this is a very good game and it's definitely showing another side of the franchise that isn't just a tired, cloned cash-cow in a new dress. Click here for full review
Other Family Friendly Recommendations:
Bargain Bin Stocking Stuffers
What we think: Minecraft is like virtual LEGOs... and it's awesome! Creating your own world however you like by harvesting and mining resources is an incredibly satisfying experience. If there's anything negative we can say about Minecraft, it's that building something substantial takes a whole heck of a lot of time. Luckily this is the type of game that's so accessible, charming, and relaxing (especially with the help of other players) that those with a drive to express themselves creatively should gobble it right up.
Who's it for? Creative types looking to do creative things.
What we think: Killer Instinct is back and in a big way. This is a fighting game that commands you to fully learn its combo system before really getting the most out of it — although it's possible to button mash your way to victory on the easiest setting. If you're looking for a deep and rewarding tournament fighter to master, Killer Instinct surely is no slouch.
Who's it for? Those who take their fighting games seriously.
What we think: "Trials Fusion takes a few steps back in it's track design and variety, but the same great physics-based platforming is intact and tighter than ever, lessening the blow of the potential disappointments. First timers looking to get initiated should find this to be the most accessible Trials yet, while veterans will stay plenty busy chasing the newly added challenges tacked onto each course, even if they are utterly vague at times. With the lack of online multiplayer at launch being an absolute shame, we can only hope that the deep track creator will produce enough entertainment to keep adrenaline junkies busy until the DLC begins to trickle out over the next year. This engine may not roar as loudly as it did in Trials Evolution, but it's a solid entry in the series, nonetheless." Click here for full review
Who's it for? High score-aholics and those that live for precision platforming.
What we think: "Addictive tower defence game turned third person shooter, Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare offers a bright, colourful and incredibly competitive addition to the Xbox One's gaming roster. Inevitably, the release of Titanfall will mean that this little gem doesn't get played as much as it deserves. We would have liked to see some traditional PvZ gameplay thrown into the mix to allow players to earn extra sticker packs or coins, but as this isn't a full price title, the omission of this feature is entirely forgiveable. Less acceptable is the infuriating matchmaking system which means that, like many Xbox One games, playing with members of your party or friends happens more by luck than design. Although it isn't perfect, the well thought out player progression, multiplayer modes and well balanced gameplay make this an essential game for lovers of the franchise and fans of shooters alike." Click here for full review
Who's it for? If you like competitive third-person shooting and don't scoff at over-the-top wackiness.