Illustration by Sam Woolley

You’re heading to the store to get an Xbox One right now, and need to know which games to get. Or you’re at work or in school, daydreaming about what you want to play next. Or maybe you’re suiting up for a battle in the console war, cinching on your armor and trying to remember which games will best help you make the argument for Microsoft’s new console. We’re here to help.

These days there are more good Xbox One games than ever, with new contenders arriving all the time. In the list below, we’ve listed the games we recommend for Microsoft’s machine. We will, of course, continue to update the list regularly as more games are released for the Xbox One.

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We’ve capped the list at 12, and will continue to remove old games to make way for new, better entries. Here goes...

Rise of the Tomb Raider does much of what its predecessor did: It gives us a relatable, less superhuman Lara Croft and sets her loose in a hostile environment with only her wits and a pickaxe to stay alive. While the story may not be ultimately as gripping or cathartic as the first game, the full experience is knit together very effectively, with a good mix of puzzle solving, exploration, sneaking and fighting. Things get more interesting with the game’s downloadable add-ons, too, which have Lara taking on zombies and swamp witches along with a repeatable survival mode that’s so good it could be the foundation of a standalone game. All that and the game is so beautiful it’ll often have you pausing just to take in the view.

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A Good Match For: Fans of Crystal Dynamics’ 2013 Tomb Raider reboot, bow and arrow enthusiasts, anyone who really hates bears.

Not A Good Match For: Folks looking for a deep or nuanced story, people who hate collectibles.

Read our review.

Watch the game in action.

Purchase From: Amazon | Wal-Mart | Best Buy | Gamestop

Cuphead doesn’t look or sound like any other video game—take one look at the gorgeous backdrops, 1930s-inspired art style, or take one listen to the Ellington-infused big band soundtrack. It plays more familiarly, a side-scrolling shoot-em-up that turns players into perfectionists. Each boss requires precision, planning, and perfect timing to defeat, and the rush of victory is like nothing else. Come for the beautiful art and music, stay because you can’t stop playing until you finally beat this next boss.

A Good Match For: People who like mastering brutally difficult games, anyone who wants a video game that looks unlike any other.

Not A Good Match For: The easily frustrated, those who don’t love old-school side-scrolling shoot-em-up games.

Read our review.

Watch it in action.

Purchase From: Available digitally from the Xbox Store.

In Hitman, a simple setup paves the way for an unusually complex game. You enter a level with a target. You can eliminate that target in any way you see fit. Maybe you’re in a Paris fashion show, maybe you’re in the market outside a Moroccan embassy. Maybe you’re in a sprawling Italian villa, maybe a posh Bangkok hotel. Wherever you are, you’ll likely be impressed by Hitman’s painstakingly detailed clockwork communities as they tick along, inviting you to explore and exploit them. The main story assassinations are the tip of the iceberg here, as repeatable escalations, player-made challenges, and miss-and-you-fail elusive targets round out a supremely satisfying collection of sneaking, costumery, and espionage challenges. Yes, Blood Money was great, but this new Hitman represents a pinnacle for the series.

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A Good Match For: Fans of classic spy movies, people who like playing dress-up, meticulous folks who love hatching a plan.

Not A Good Match For: People hoping for a good straight-up action or straight-up stealth game—Hitman has elements of both but is kind of its own thing.

Read our review.

Watch it in action.

Purchase From: Amazon | Walmart | Best Buy | Gamestop

Inside is the rare game that’s so good we don’t want to tell you anything else about it. It takes the framework of a 2D puzzle-platformer and wrings it for three hours’ worth of gobsmacking surprises. Horrifying, engrossing, brilliantly constructed and perfectly paced, Inside is one of the best games in recent memory, for the Xbox One or any other system. Just go play it.

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A Good Match For: Anyone who liked the developer’s last game Limbo, those looking for something they can finish over the course of an evening but which will stick with them for much longer.

Not A Good Match For: Those who need their games to be lengthy affairs; anyone freaked out by the monstrous and the deadly.

Read our review.

Watch it in action.

Purchase From: Available from the Microsoft Store.

You’re alone on an island, surrounded by puzzles. That’s The Witness, an extremely complicated game that is really very simple. Some of the puzzles are obvious: They’re on screens right in front of you, stacked in orderly rows. Other puzzles are much less easy to find. All of them will stymie and confound you, but over time you’ll gradually dismantle them until the game’s grand design is laid out in front of you like the workings of a finely crafted watch. Some games make you level up your character to access new areas; this one makes you level up yourself. There are few more satisfying feelings in gaming than when you finally realize the solution to a puzzle in The Witness. With a click, a new door opens.

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A Good Match For: Puzzle fiends, people who like a challenge, anyone who liked Myst and wants to see what a modern evolution would be like.

Not A Good Match For: Anyone wanting action, the easily frustrated, people who don’t like puzzles in games and generally just go look up the answers.

Read our review.

Watch it in action.

Study our tips for the game.

Purchase From: Available from the Microsoft store.

Titanfall 2 gave us what we were expecting—more of its trademark fleet-footed, giant robot-enhanced competitive multiplayer. It also gave us an unexpectedly fantastic singleplayer story campaign, and that’s really what sets it apart. What could’ve been a series of botmatches or boring corridor shootouts instead was an uncommonly well-designed hybrid of platforming and action movie gymnastics. The spirits of Valve and Nintendo are alive and well at Respawn Entertainment, evidently.

Read our review, and a breakdown of the best level.

Watch it in action.

Purchase From: Amazon | Wal-Mart | Best Buy | Gamestop

XCOM 2 refines or overhauls almost every little thing about 2012’s XCOM: Enemy Unknown, a game that was already good enough to win Kotaku’s 2012 Game of the Year award. The game is meaner and faster than its predecessor; most missions have timers that push you forward and force you to take risks, and the new alien types will break even your most time-tested strategies. You’ll get more attached to your team of customizable soldiers than ever, which makes it all the harder to watch them die horribly in the field. As if the original version of XCOM 2 wasn’t good enough, the brilliant 2017 expansion War of the Chosen makes the game bigger and better in almost every way.

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A Good Match For: Strategy fans, people who liked the first game, anyone who’s ever wanted to understand just how difficult it is to fight off an occupying force from the inside out.

Not A Good Match For: The easily frustrated, those looking for a simple game, anyone who rages at missing point-blank shots due to dice rolls.

Read our review, and our take on the 2017 War of the Chosen expansion.

Watch it in action.

Study our tips for playing the game.

Purchase From: Available digitally from the Microsoft Store.

Forza Horizon 3 just wants you to have fun, man. It sets you loose on a huge chunk of Australian land, gives you a bunch of really fast cars, and wishes you luck. If you like racin’ and rampin’, collecting cars and taking on your friends’ best times, this is your game. Forza Horizon 3 is all about the thrill of the drive, and it’s a larger, longer drive than ever before.

Read our impressions of the game.

Watch it in action.

Purchase From: Amazon | Wal-Mart | Best Buy | Gamestop

There’s no shortage of ambition in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. Geralt of Rivia’s latest adventure is massive, a world you can get lost in for hours and still have plenty to do. And while many games these days have sprawling landscapes, The Witcher 3 is utterly dense. Every nook and cranny is filled with memorable characters, clever writing, and rewards for curious players. The main story is as thrilling as it is emotionally draining, and the side quests are actually worth doing! Best of all? You don’t need to have played a Witcher game to enjoy the heck out of the third.

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A Good Match For: Open-world fans, especially those who enjoyed Skyrim but were disappointed by the combat. In The Witcher 3, fighting is nearly as enjoyable as exploration.

Not a Good Match For: People who value their time and social life, or those who prefer their games hyper-polished without any framerate drops or other nagging technical flaws.

Read our review, and thoughts on the game’s (excellent) free DLC.

Watch it in action.

Study our tips for the game, and catch up on The Witcher lore.

Gears of War 4 might just be more Gears of War, but hey, Gears of War kicks ass. The latest game in the series shifts focus to a new generation of Locust-stompers, 25 years after the events of Gears of War 3. Decades may have passed, but much remains the same: Humans are once again under attack by a subterranean threat. Levels are still a mix of chokepoints and cover-filled open arenas, enemies are still squishy and relentlessly flank you, and guns still have chainsaws attached to them. That fundamental gameplay remains as fun as ever, particularly in online co-op. The series’ much vaunted Horde mode is elaborate and arguably overly punishing, but still a lot of fun with the right group. Microsoft keeps releasing major free updates, too, meaning Gears 4 should continue improving for months to come.

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A Good Match For: Anyone looking to play games with a friend, anyone looking for a co-op challenge. Horde mode gets extremely difficult and will require a lot of careful planning to come out on top.

Not A Good Match For: Anyone who played earlier Gears games and didn’t like them. There isn’t much here that’ll attract anyone who wasn’t a fan of the early games.

Read our review.

Watch it in action.

Purchase From: Amazon | Walmart | Best Buy | Gamestop

It’s a fan-art generator. It’s pure cosplay fodder. It’s a meme machine, a water-cooler mainstay, and a cultural obsession. Overwatch is all of those things, but above all else it’s a finely tuned competitive video game that manages to encourage pitted competition and enthusiastic teamwork while ensuring everyone is having a good time.

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A Good Match For: Team Fortress 2 fans, people who liked banging action figures together as a kid, people who’ve wanted to try a competitive first-person shooter but haven’t yet found the right fit.

Not A Good Match For: Anyone who wants to play offline, or who is hoping for a substantial single-player story campaign. Overwatch is strictly multiplayer-only.

Watch it in action.

Study our tips for the game.

Read our review.

Purchase From: Amazon | Wal-Mart | Best Buy | Gamestop

The seventh proper Resident Evil game boldly reinvents the 20-year-old horror series by… well, by returning to what made Resident Evil good in the first place. Again there’s a house, filled with mystery and menace. Again you can never guess what horrors might lurk around the corner. Again there are special keys, and terrifying bosses, and hidden secrets. Again you always wish you had just a few more shotgun shells. But while RE7 succeeds by channeling the first game in the series, its creators have also clearly learned from the best recent contributions to the horror genre they helped create. Resident Evil 7 a striking mix of old and new, and a hell of a good horror game. Most importantly, it will scare your pants off.

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A Good Match For: Horror fans, those who’d grown sick of Resident Evil’s increasing action focus, people who like watching grindhouse horror films and exploring spooky basements.

Not A Good Match For: The easily frightened. Seriously. This game is very scary, particularly in its first couple hours. It’s also exceptionally gory. While there are ways of alleviating that scariness somewhat, this probably just isn’t the best game for the faint of heart.

Read our review.

Study our tips for playing the game.

Watch it in action.

Purchase From: Amazon | Wal-Mart | Best Buy | Gamestop

How has this list changed? Read back through our update history:

Update 10/20/2017: We’ve added Cuphead and XCOM 2 and taken off Dark Souls 3 and Grand Theft Auto V.

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Update 6/7/2017: We’ve added Gears of War 4 and taken off Destiny, which Bungie has been winding down in anticipation of the sequel later this year.

Update 2/24/2017: We’ve added Resident Evil 7 and taken off Diablo 3.

Update 12/21/2016: We’ve added Titanfall 2 and Hitman while cutting Ori and the Blind Forest and Metal Gear Solid V. 

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Update: 10/28/2016: We’ve cut Sunset Overdrive and Assassin’s Creed Syndicate and added Forza Horizon 3 and The Witness.

Update 7/21/2016: Goodbye to Batman: Arkham Knight and Forza Horizon 2; hello to Overwatch and Inside.

Update 2/27/2016: Fallout 4 and Dying Light come off the list, while Dark Souls 3 and Rise of the Tomb Raider make it on.

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Update 11/26/2015: Fallout 4 and Assassin’s Creed Syndicate make their way onto the list, edging out Dragon Age: Inquisition and Assassin’s Creed IV. We’re still keeping an eye on Halo 5’s to see if it’ll earn it a spot on the strength of its multiplayer.

Update: 10/15/2015: We’ve added Metal Gear Solid V to the list and taken off Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin. We’ve also updated our entry for Destiny to account for the Taken King expansion and cleared out old comments to make room for new ones.

Update 7/16/2015: These swaps are getting harder. After much deliberation we cut Wolfenstein: The New Order, despite our affection for the surprisingly good story-driven first-person shooter. We’re also saying goodbye to another over-achiever, Shadows of Mordor, whose best trick, the Nemesis System, isn’t enough to keep it on our ever more competitive top 12.

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Update 5/5/2015: We’ve taken off Super Time Force, The LEGO Movie Videogame, and Rayman Legends to make room for Dying Light, Ori and the Blind Forest, and Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin. Nearly half of the games on this list now begin with “D.” Mission accomplished.

Update 11/25/2014: Three new games make their way onto the list: Dragon Age: Inquisition, Grand Theft Auto V and Sunset Overdrive edge out Ryse: Son of Rome, Dead Rising 3 and Titanfall.

Update 10/17/2014: We’ve cleared out Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition, Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare, and Need For Speed: Rivals to make room for Destiny, Forza Horizon 2, and Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor.

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Update 8/29/14: Strider hops out of the way to clear space for Diablo III: Ultimate Evil Edition.

Update 6/17/2014: The list continues to mature, as Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes and Peggle 2 leave to make room for Wolfenstein: The New Order and Super Time Force.

Update 4/17/2014: Three games enter, two games leave. Our list hits its limit of 12 games, with Titanfall, The LEGO Movie Videogame and Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes walking on while Powerstar Golf and LEGO Marvel Superheroes exit.

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Update 3/10/2014: Four games walk on to the list: Rayman Legends, Strider, Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare and the newly multiplayer’d Peggle 2 bring our grand total of games up to eleven. One more and we’ll be at twelve, and will have to start cutting games to make additions.

Update 2/14/2014: Our first addition to the Xbox One Bests list is the lovely-looking Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition. Go, Lara, Go.

Want more of the best games on each system? Check out our complete directory:

The Best PC GamesThe Best PS4 GamesThe Best Xbox One GamesThe Best Nintendo Switch GamesThe Best Wii U GamesThe Best 3DS GamesThe Best PS Vita GamesThe Best Xbox 360 GamesThe Best PS3 GamesThe Best Wii GamesThe Best iPhone GamesThe Best iPad GamesThe Best Android GamesThe Best PSP GamesThe Best Facebook GamesThe Best DS GamesThe Best Mac Games

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Note: While some games on this list are download-only, all of them can be purchased on the Xbox One’s online store. If you buy any of these games through the retail links in this post, our parent company may get a small share of the sale through the retailers’ affiliates program.