Best Xbox exclusives you need to own

The best Xbox exclusives are found only inside Microsoft’s gaming ecosystem. That means Xbox Series X, the Xbox One family, PC, and Xbox Series S platforms. What’s additionally great is that many (if not most) are also available for free as part of Xbox Game Pass and PC Game Pass, and go on to become some of the best PC games too. 

If you’re looking for more recommendations that include multi-platform releases, check out our list of the best Xbox One games and the best games on Xbox Game Pass. If you’re short on hard drive space or in need of add-ons, have a gander at our roundup of the best Xbox One external hard drives and the best Xbox One accessories. If you just want the best Xbox exclusives, read on for 10 unmissable classics.

15. Ooblets

Ooblets

(Image credit: Glumberland)

Developer: Glumberland
Genre: Sim

Ooblets is a beautiful blend of Stardew Valley and Pokemon, where you grow and collect the titular Ooblets. You’ll compete in dance battles, get to know the people of the town and beyond, and because it’s still in Early Access it’s evolving all the time. Seasonal events, fun drops and updates, and more, Ooblets is well worth getting involved with. 

14. Tunic

The fox in Tunic against some green monsters

(Image credit: Finji)

Developer: Rare
Genre: Compilation

Tunic is basically a Soulslike title, with plenty of Zelda influences too, and it also happens to be totally adorable. You play as a tiny fox, who’s found itself in a strange world filled with puzzles and monsters. You start with nothing, and then work out where to find a stick and then a sword, a shield and then magic, and slowly you can start unravelling the layers the world has to offer. It’s brilliant, and beautiful, with a clever game manual system that’ll have you frantically scribbling notes into the wee hours

13. Rare Replay

Xbox exclusives - Rare Replay

(Image credit: Rare)

Developer: Rare
Genre: Compilation

Rare Replay is one of those brilliant compilations that collects together a studio’s best work. They’re, ahem, rare though, which is why Rare Replay is worth celebrating. Released to mark Rare’s 30th anniversary, Rare Replay brings together the studio’s iconic characters from its earliest 2D titles to Xbox 360 releases. You’ll be able to experience:

  • Atic Atac
  • Banjo-Kazooie
  • Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts
  • Banjo-Tooie
  • Battletoads
  • Battletoads Arcade
  • Blast Corps
  • Cobra Triangle
  • Conker’s Bad Fur Day
  • Digger T. Rock
  • Grabbed by the Ghoulies
  • Gunfright
  • Jet Force Gemini
  • Jetpac
  • Jetpac Refuelled
  • Kameo: Elements of Power
  • Killer Instinct Gold
  • Knight Lore
  • Lunar Jetman
  • Perfect Dark
  • Perfect Dark Zero
  • R. C. Pro-Am
  • R. C. Pro-Am 2
  • Sabre Wulf
  • Slalom
  • Snake Rattle N Roll
  • Solar Jetman
  • Underwurlde
  • Viva Pinata
  • Viva Pinata: Trouble in Paradise

Plus, it’s already on Game Pass – so fill your boots!

12. Microsoft Flight Simulator 

Microsoft Flight Simulator

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Developer: Asobo Studio
Genre: Flight

Sometimes, you just want to see what your house looks from the seat of a Boeing-747, and Microsoft Flight Simulator is more than happy to oblige that insatiable curiosity. The beloved franchise flew back into our hearts by giving you all the options you’d expect from a flight simulator – immaculately crafted planes and stunning vistas to soar over – as well as the sort of tranquil experience you’d want when 50’000 feet up in the air. Well, tranquil until you have to land the plane again…

11. Sable

Sable

(Image credit: Shedworks)

Developer: Shedworks
Genre: Adventure

This distinctive indie is one of the more meditative best Xbox exclusives on this list, putting you in the middle of an arid and pastel world which you’ll want to explore every inch of. With a gorgeous soundtrack by Japanese Breakfast that scores the steps you take across this mysterious world, this is a perfect game to download from Game Pass if you’re looking for a chill hit in amongst the FPS and racers on this list. 

10. Halo: The Master Chief Collection

Xbox exclusives - Halo: The Master Chief Collection

Developer: 343 Industires
Genre: Shooter

You can’t really say you’ve owned an Xbox unless you’ve played at least one Halo game. It’s the series that cemented the console’s gaming credentials, and for that reason Halo: The Master Chief Collection (opens in new tab) is pretty damn near essential. Not only does it include Halo 1 (opens in new tab), Halo 2 (opens in new tab), Halo 3 (opens in new tab) and Halo 4 (opens in new tab), but also optionally remasters the earlier games so you can enjoy them as they were originally created, or in a spruced up high fidelity version. There’s even multiplayer although that had a rocky start and, a few years down the line, isn’t as busy as it used to be. No, the main draw here is the chance to play through four of the Xbox’s most formative games in their best possible versions – the early games are remade with improved graphics, there are frame rate boosts, re-done hi-res cutscenes and more. Everything’s brought up to a modern standard, remastering and reinvigorating the classics. 

9. Quantum Break

Xbox exclusives - Quantum Break

Developer: Remedy Entertainment
Genre: Action

It might’ve overextended a bit with its experimental TV tie-in elements, but Quantum Break (opens in new tab) from Remedy Entertainment (makers of Max Payne and Alan Wake) has moments where its mix of third-person shooting and temporal powers really soars. As Jack Joyce (played by Shawn Ashmore, the lead in a relatively star-studded cast), you’ve stumbled into time-manipulating godhood and must use your newfound superpowers to wipe out waves of armed goons and prevent the cataclysmic End of Time. It’s worth playing Quantum Break just for those moments when you’ve trapped enemies in a prism-like stasis bubble, peppered them with soon-to-be-unfrozen bullets, then warp-dashed over to another baddie for a melee takedown, all in the span of a few seconds.

8. Ori and the Will of the Wisps

Xbox exclusives - Ori and the Will of the Wisps

(Image credit: Moon Studios)

Developer: Moon Studios
Genre: Platformer

Only one game could replace Ori and the Blind Forest on this list, and that’s its sequel, Ori and the Will of the Wisps. Both games are worth playing, but Moon Studios’ latest action-platformer improves on the original in every way, from its fluid platforming to its gorgeous world to its heart-breaking story. It’s more inventive, more challenging, and thanks to its totally revamped combat and RPG-lite customization systems, much more involved. It’s among the best-feeling 2D platformers ever made, it’s one of the finest Metroidvania games of this generation, and it’s the perfect send-off to one of the most touching stories available on Xbox One.  

7. Sunset Overdrive

Xbox exclusives - Sunset Overdrive

Developer: Insomniac Games
Genre: Action

Insomniac Games made a name for itself with the beloved Ratchet & Clank (opens in new tab) series, famous for their varied assortments of outlandish weaponry – so the studio decided to take that expertise in crafting absurd artillery, build an open-world, Jet Set Radio-style metropolis bursting with color around it, and infuse the chaotic proceedings with a healthy dose of punk rock attitude. Sunset Overdrive lets you pull off some spectacularly absurd feats of mass destruction, where you can launch bowling bowls, fireworks, explosive teddy bears, and more, mowing down hordes of mutants, robots, and bizarre gang members while you grind along telephone poles with your physics-defying sneakers. Its attempts at edgy humor constantly fall flat, but the sheer fun and freedom of grinding, flipping, and air-dashing around Sunset Overdrive’s urban playground make it well worth a go.

6. Forza Motorsport 7

Xbox exclusives - Forza Motorsport 7

Release date: 2017
Developer: Turn 10 Studios
Genre: Racing

After a questionable previous installment, Forza Motorsport 7 (opens in new tab) finally perfects its racing game. Everything is as flawless as those 4K visuals with better AI, improved handling, more substantial collisions – everything you need to make the cars all feel superb. The precision of the controls creates some great moments as you push cars to their limits – screaming around corners on the edge of the tyres grip. It all combines to deliver an experience that’s both realistic and fun, as long as you don’t mind working for it as some of the progression can be a little demanding as you try to collect cars and win events to get ever further. But, even though there’s a hint of grind, this is still one the greatest racers currently available.

5. Halo Infinite

Halo Infinite

(Image credit: Xbox Game Studios)

Release date: 2021
Developer: 343 Industries
Genre:  Shooter

Halo Infinite might have been years in the making, with some Craig-sized bumps along the way, but by the time it finally hit consoles, fans were rightly wowed by the game’s focused and compelling multiplayer alongside the vast open-world that shakes up Halo’s single-player story. Not only does this feel like the most vital Halo since 2010’s Halo Reach, but the addition of the grapple hook gives Chief a pleasing maneuverability that made firefights even more satisfyingly chaotic. After several years in the wilderness, Master Chief is finally back on top form. 

4. Forza Horizon 5

Forza Horizon 5

(Image credit: Xbox Game Studios)

Release date: 2021
Developer:
Playground Games
Genre:
Racing

The Forza Horizon series is undoubtedly the best racer going at the moment, and this latest entry’s jaunt to Mexico continues the hot streak. The South American country hosts plenty of thrilling locations to screech through, from drifting around a volcano to skidding around swamps, with the fleet of cars you race in as eye-meltingly fast as you’d hope for. And, if you want to make sure you’ve got a full set, we’ve got the Forza Horizon 5 Barn Find locations to help you test them all out. 

3. Psychonauts 2

Psychonauts 2

(Image credit: Double Fine)

Release date: 2021  
Developer: Double Fine
Genre: Adventure / Platformer

Some 16 years after the original game was released, we finally got a sequel. Thankfully though, Psychonauts 2 was more than worth the wait, delivering a fantastically whimsical tour through various minds against a soundtrack that’ll get your feet tapping. It’s a fantastic platformer with levels that are so brilliantly designed that you’ll be thinking about them for years to come. Plus, there’s a handy recap at the start of the game so you don’t have to have played the original to get stuck in.

2. Sea of Thieves

Xbox exclusives - Sea of Thieves

Release date: 2018  
Developer: Rare
Genre: Adventure

Possibly the biggest boon for Xbox One owners is the fact that Sea of Thieves is all theirs. Rare’s emergent pirate adventure sees players sailing across the big blue, finding treasure where the X marks the spot, defeating hordes of skeletons and undead sea captains, and even collecting chickens and other items to sell to travelling merchants. Of course, you’re doing all that in between swigging grog, singing sea shanties and having a laugh with your mates. Because, if you know nothing about Sea of Thieves, all you need to know is that’s it’s the best game to play with your friends. 

1. Gears 5

Xbox exclusives - Gears 5

(Image credit: Microsoft Xbox)

Release date: 2019
Developer: The Coalition
Genre: Shooter  

Following straight on from the events of Gears of War 4 (opens in new tab), Gears 5 – as it is now simply called – focuses on the story of Kait Diaz. Struggling to comes to terms with the death of her mother, Kait is now focused on finding out more about her past after in her mother’s last moments she’s passed a necklace that bears the Locust Horde icon. All the old favourites are back too of course, from Marcus Fenix to his son JD, and it’s all in for a brilliant Gears experience. It’s not just limited to single-player, or brilliant co-op, story moments though, as there’s an extensive multiplayer component to the game too, ranging from PvP frays to a glorious horde mode that literally keeps on giving. 

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