There’s no doubt that Microsoft and the Xbox One have stumbled a bit this generation. In sports there’s the concept of the rebuilding year. The current season may be lost, so it’s time work on getting things together for the future.

This year has been especially tough as some of the year’s biggest games – Spider-Man, God of War – are only available on PlayStation 4.

Yet Microsoft hasn’t sat idly by. They’ve acquired a number of big-name studios this year and are clearly invested in nurturing and developing quality first-person content. The future of the Xbox brand shines bright. In the mean time, enjoy our list of recommendations.


Younger Kids

LEGO DC Super-Villains

The LEGO games are often the best cooperative family games around, though the quality can vary from game to game. The superhero genre fits together with the LEGO style beautifully, especially when TT Games can craft an original story around it. LEGO DC Super-Villains is unique in starring your own super-powered, customizable figure as they join forces alongside a cast of comic favorites.

Also available on: PC, PlayStation 4, Switch

Overcooked 2

Even if you’re not a fan of Iron Chef or Great British Bake Off, you can find a lot to love in this delightfully charming cooperative cooking game. Each level in Overcooked 2 features a kitchen filled with zany hazards and traps as you and up to three others race to chop veggies, bake ingredients, and toss each other dishes across rivers and through portals. Easily one of the best co-op games of the year.

Also available on: PC, PlayStation 4, Switch

Sonic Mania Plus

How well do those classic 16-bit Sonic the Hedgehog games hold up today? Incredibly well, if Sonic Mania is any indicator. Released last year, Sonic Mania is a love letter to old-school 2D Sonic games that should delight fans young and old. The new Plus version includes the Encore DLC, adding two new playable characters, four player multiplayer, and a new Encore mode that remixes levels in challenging new ways.

Also available on: PlayStation 4, Switch

Spyro Reignited Trilogy

Fully 3D action games were still in their infancy during the PlayStation 1 era, but one little purple dragon made a name for himself, because, who doesn’t want to play a flying, fire-breathing dragon? Today Spyro is best known for his starring role in the Skylanders franchise but the Spyro Reignited Trilogy (developed by the Skylanders team) is a worthy trip back to Spyro’s roots, bundling all three 3D platformers in a glorious HD overhaul.

Also available on: PlayStation 4


Older Kids & Teens

Burnout Paradise Remastered

One of the best racing games of the previous generation of consoles finally got an HD remaster earlier this year. Burnout Paradise features an open-world city filled with cars, races, jumps, takedowns, and secrets. Starting up a race is as simple as revving your engine at an intersection. The remaster also includes the excellent Big Surf Island DLC which adds an entirely new area.

Also available on: PC, PlayStation 4

Dead Cells

For years indie games have filled the niche of 2D action-platformers in a variety of formats and styles. With a cool neon art style, tight controls, and clever level design, Dead Cells may be the peak of the genre (read our review).

Also available on: PC, PlayStation 4, Switch

Forza Horizon 4

The racing genre hasn’t been terribly prolific in recent years. Thankfully with the release of Forza Horizon 4, we’re pretty sure you won’t need much else. The Forza series didn’t need much fixing when it came to racing, card handling, and real-world licenses. Instead we get welcoming new features like a well-integrated online racing world and a dynamic weather system that affects road conditions.

Also available on: PC

Jurassic World Evolution

Even if you’re not a big fan of the recent Jurassic World films, Evolution is a fantastic theme park sim from the makers of the also excellent Planet Coaster (and a wonderful successor to 2003’s Operation Genesis). Splice genomes to breed dinosaurs, build proper enclosures, and keep them happy for your guests. The dinosaur AI is deep enough to be consistently entertaining and when things go wrong it’s running and screaming in all the right ways (read our review).

Also available on: PC, PlayStation 4

Mega Man 11

One of the most prolific platformers in gaming, Mega Man enjoyed a triumphant return to prominence this year with the well-received Mega Man 11. The action is colorful and fast as the Blue Bomber once again battles a series of themed robot masters, acquiring their powers along the way. Different difficulty modes ensure a wider range of players can enjoy the classically-inspired gameplay.

And if you’re nostalgic about the old Mega Man games, the Mega Man Legacy 1 + 2 Collection serves all your needs.

Also available on: PC, PlayStation 4, Switch

Monster Hunter World

The Monster Hunter series finally gets the love it deserves thanks to Monster Hunter World. The portable gaming series has been rebuilt for home consoles and the behemoths have never looked better. Add in more streamlined concepts and abilities for a new crowd and full online co-op and you have the recipe for Capcom’s best Monster Hunter game yet. A must-buy for action game fans.

Also available on: PC, PlayStation 4

SoulCalibur VI

Move over superheroes and ninjas, it’s time for the true weapons-based warriors to shine. SoulCalibur 6 is another stellar fighting game to add to the championship belt. As a reboot it also makes for an excellent jumping on point for series newcomers. It includes bonus character Geralt from the Witcher series, as well as the ability to design your own fighter.

Also available on: PC, PlayStation 4

Starlink: Battle for Atlas

The once exciting (albeit expensive) toys-to-life genre has all but died, save for Ubsoft’s very late but surprisingly competent sci-fi entry. Starlink uses toys to customize your spaceships, but they’re probably the least exciting aspect, as the game itself lets you zip around planets completing quests, dogfighting enemies, and engaging with fun characters.

Also available on: PlayStation 4, Switch

Valkyria Chronicles 4

Valkyria Chronicles presents an intriguing combination of RPG, tactical-combat, and third-person action set in an alternate Earth during World War 2. Take turns directing troops on the battlefield, line up shots in your crosshairs, then enjoy their banter in between battles. Although it’s the fourth game in the series, Valkyria Chronicles 4 is a stand-alone story featuring its own cast of young soldiers.

Also available on: PC, PlayStation 4, Switch


Mature Teens

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey builds upon last year’s Assassin Creed Origins and leans even further into the RPG genre, including dialogue choices, romance-able NPCs, and multiple endings. For a series first you can also choose to play as either a male or female sibling, both fully voiced, fully realized characters within the hand-crafted world of Ancient Greece.

Also available on: PC, PlayStation 4

Banner Saga Trilogy

The Banner Saga trilogy reached its conclusion this year with the release of Banner Saga 3. The series is known for both its intricate turn-based tactical combat and its bleak, emotional story-telling that forces you to make tough decisions while facing the end of the world in this Norse-inspired strategy game. All three games are excellent, and included in the bundle.

Also available on: PC, PlayStation 4, Switch

Dark Souls Remastered

The original Dark Souls practically invented a new subgenre of action game with obtuse, challenging, but very rewarding gameplay. Develop your preferred weaponry and playstyle as your journey through a darkly gothic world. The original has been given a graphical face-lift and includes the Artorias of the Abyss DLC.

Also available on: PC, PlayStation 4, Switch

Divinity: Original Sin 2

One of the best PC RPGs last year is one of the best console RPGs this year. Divinity: Original Sin 2 has everything you want in an RPG: great characters, a huge world with tons of choices, an intriguing story, and a deep, meaningful combat system that plays like Chess with Fireballs. Even better: it supports up to four player multiplayer co-op (online and local) and a full editor to create your own campaigns.

Also available on: PC, PlayStation 4

Red Dead Redemption II

It doesn’t get much bigger than a Rockstar Games release. Red Dead Redemption 2 is a prequel that takes place 10 years before the original, but this long-awaited sequel is light-years ahead of any other open world game, and its world-building depth and ridiculously detailed production is guaranteed to astonish. The story easily lasts over 50 hours, and the multiplayer mode Red Dead Online is coming later this year.

Also available on: PlayStation 4

This article was written by

Eric has been writing for over nine years with bylines at Dicebreaker, Pixelkin, Polygon, PC Gamer, Tabletop Gaming magazine, and more covering movies, TV shows, video games, tabletop games, and tech. He reviews and live streams D&D adventures every week on his YouTube channel. He also makes a mean tuna quesadilla.