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The Best Xbox One Games of 2016

A fine year for shooters.

The Xbox One enjoyed a strong third year on the market in 2016 thanks to an expanding backwards compatibility catalog, Xbox Play Anywhere support, and a nice system revision. Its software lineup was no slouch either, with some strong exclusives and an even stronger array of multiplatform games.

Forza Horizon 3 is one such game. Building on the foundations of the previous two Horizon titles, it offers a tremendous amount of variety for a racer. Its Australian setting provides a wide array of diverse locations to explore, letting you seamlessly drive between the outback, jungles, beaches, and countryside. And there are numerous things to do throughout Horizon 3's open world: you might take part in a traditional race, sure, but you might also wander off the beaten path to search for a hidden car; participate in an impromptu street race; smash a hard-to-reach billboard; race against a helicopter; set a new high-speed or drift record; participate in a bucket list challenge where you live out some fantasy scenario; or simply stop to take in the sights. And you might find yourself doing that last one a lot--Horizon 3 is one of the best-looking games of the year on any platform, especially for those fortunate enough to play on an HDR display.

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Dishonored 2 builds on the foundation of its predecessor as well, with a more believable world, intelligent AI, and a choice of two playable characters, each with their own distinct skills. What it lacks in terms of interesting storytelling, it makes up with some brilliantly conceived levels and opportunities for experimentation. Prior to release, director Harvey Smith described how play testers had combined powers in ways the developers hadn't considered. It's easy to spend hours playing around with the myriad possibilities that exist; in his review, GameSpot's Scott Butterworth even described Dishonored 2 as being "as much a toy box as it is a game." It's also one of those games that sticks with you--you'll reminisce your perfectly executed assassinations and contemplate the alternative approaches you could have taken well after you're done playing for the day.

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The first Titanfall was frequently criticized for lacking a real single-player component. Titanfall 2 more than answers the call, providing us with a well-paced story and some of the most memorable moments and levels of the year. It also manages to make you genuinely care about your Titan counterpart, even if the writing isn't as strong as it could be. The added single-player component didn't come at the expense of the strong multiplayer that Titanfall is known for, either. Titanfall 2 introduces new progression systems that give you ample reasons to keep coming back. There are also distinct new Titans, including one that can wield a sword and another that rains explosive fire down on your enemies. Whether in single-player or multiplayer, Titanfall 2 can boast about having arguably the smoothest, most natural movement and controls in any shooter on the market. In a game where you can walk around in a huge mech annihilating your foes, the fact that running--or wall-running--on foot is still so much fun is a testament to developer Respawn's design work.

Battlefield 1 is another shooter that surprised everyone by including a strong single-player component alongside its quality multiplayer mode. Single-player content has never been developer DICE's strong suit, but by dividing Battlefield 1's campaign into five disparate stories, it was able to make each one only as long as it needed to be. Each one tells a real, human story that stays grounded by not turning characters into superheroes, and they don't all have happy endings where your efforts put an end to the war. Battlefield 1's campaign does a far better job of conveying the horrors of war than any previous game in the series. Its multiplayer doesn't aspire to do the same thing, instead taking the established Battlefield formula and evolving it--and that's not a bad thing. Battlefield 1 offers the most dynamic matches the series has ever seen thanks to map-dominating Behemoth vehicles and weather effects that force you to alter your tactics.

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Overwatch represents Blizzard's first foray into shooters. As the developer did with MMOs, collectible card games, and everything else, with Overwatch it offers a unique take on the genre that streamlines a concept--but not at the expense of depth. The interplay between its 23 characters remains as interesting as it did on launch day. Matches can change on the fly, not just because of players using their Ultimates, but because of the ability to switch between characters after a death. This adds an additional layer of strategy to what would still be an enjoyable shooter without it. One scenario that never gets old: keying in on a weakness of either your team or the enemy's team and then moving into a role that swings the match in your favor. Additional characters and maps, seasonal events, and wise design changes have also ensured the game doesn't get stale, and Blizzard's track record suggests that level of support won't fall off anytime soon.

GAMESPOT'S BEST XBOX ONE GAMES OF 2016

Forza Horizon 3

Dishonored 2

Titanfall 2

Battlefield 1

Overwatch

GameSpot will be unveiling its picks for the best games of the year throughout all of December. Click here to see more.

194 Comments  RefreshSorted By 
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Avatar image for simplytheebest
SimplyTheeBest

Call of Duty 4 Re-Masterpiece over Battlefield 1 or Titanfall 2

Avatar image for blackace
blackace

I would have taken Gears 4 over Battlefield 1. Otherwise, it's a decent list.

Avatar image for wookietim
wookietim

I was not impressed by Titanfall 2. It's nice and everything but... it seems hollow somehow. Maybe this is just me being spoiled by Overwatch and it's not fair to compare those two games since they are so incredibly different, but Overwatch does the FPS thing better. OW feels more "Lived in" and it does it's controls better. Titanfall 2 just ends up feeling like a throwback to Halo (Which is not entirely a bad thing) rather than what I wanted now. Not a bad game, per se, but just not one that I was quite as interested in anymore.

Avatar image for lamprey263
lamprey263

No Gears 4; guess GameStop hates fun.

Avatar image for illegal_peanut
illegal_peanut

Overwatch, Dishonored, and battlefield 1 showing up on most of the lists. for game of the year?

just like what fallout 4, the witcher 3, and metal gear 5 did last year. =D

Avatar image for wookietim
wookietim

@illegal_peanut: Overwatch, I think, has the GOTY locked. It just popped up and was excellent right out of the gate. The others are great, don't get me wrong, but Overwatch was the game that seems to have it all together.

Avatar image for StayFrosty
StayFrosty

How can you have game of year with games that are multplatform? At least pick the best version and find other titles that are great on that system. Geez

Avatar image for mulder_000
mulder_000

I've barely touched my Xbone or PS4 in the last few months. Guess, it's just me, there seem to many critically acclaimed games like Dishonored 2 but I have no interest in em. I still have 500 Steam games.

Avatar image for Daveof89
Daveof89

@mulder_000: I sold my xbox one (though, I'm thinking of buying an S since there are crazy good holiday deals right now) because I have so many steam games I still haven't touched yet, and I get new ones every month via humble monthly and sometimes humble bundles, though they aren't always aaa titles. That's why I'm considering an S, but my gtx 1080 blows consoles out of the water!

Avatar image for notchedbandit
notchedbandit

@mulder_000: Enjoy your hundreds of crappy <insert animal here> simulators and horrible console ports on Steam.

Avatar image for rcoffey
rcoffey

I find all the chatter about X1/PS4/PC exclusives completely meaningless. When did gaming become something other than enjoying the experience of playing video games? Uncharted your thing or curious about the Last of Us? Great...get yourself the PS of your choice. Like Forza or interested in GoW? Great...get whatever Xbox you want. Wanna play on PC? Sure, no problem, you can do that too. Leave each other alone and enjoy the experience for what it is...

Avatar image for Daveof89
Daveof89

@rcoffey: This. So much this.

Avatar image for howthegodzkill
howthegodzkill

@rcoffey: If the best and only games a platform has to offer are available on almost every other platform, you have to question if that platform is really worth the aggressive obsession fanboys are putting into it.

Avatar image for siarhei
siarhei

@howthegodzkill: no platform is worth an obsession. It's just a platform.

Avatar image for howthegodzkill
howthegodzkill

Those were all PC titles. Where were the Xbox exclusive? There weren't any? Oh..

Avatar image for siarhei
siarhei

@howthegodzkill: incorrect statement. Those were all pc win 10/xbox titles. In console world that makes them xbox exclusives. In global world that makes them MS exclusives.

Avatar image for Cbordi
Cbordi

@howthegodzkill: the xbox console will never have any more exclusives, it's all Windows 10 now...

Avatar image for sch_twitch
SCH_Twitch

@Cbordi: They need to rename the title to "The Best Microsoft Games of 2016" xD

Avatar image for rcoffey
rcoffey

@howthegodzkill: Are you 10 years old? Please act like an adult and let gamers enjoy gaming.

Avatar image for howthegodzkill
howthegodzkill

@rcoffey: Well, if me playing Captain Obvious on the internet is negatively effecting your gaming I would have to say you're doing it wrong.

Avatar image for bbq_R0ADK1LL
bbq_R0ADK1LL

@howthegodzkill: Forza was an Xbone game that had a sub-par port to PC, only due to the MS cross-buy scheme. With MS's current direction, there are unlikely to be any Xbone exclusives that don't exist on PC in some form.

Avatar image for howthegodzkill
howthegodzkill

@maggieshandles: I get it, fans hate being told the obvious. If the very best of what their console of choice has to offer is available elsewhere I can see their feeling of hostility towards people with all the better options.

Avatar image for ballashotcaller
ballaShotCaller

where is Inside, Gears of War 4?

Avatar image for lostn
lostn

@ballashotcaller: Inside is overrated as ****.

Avatar image for sdzald
sdzald

"A fine year for shooters."

LOL when isn't it a fine year for shooters on any console. When was the last time a turn based strategy even released for a console?

Avatar image for siarhei
siarhei

@sdzald: xcom2

Avatar image for freeryu
FreeRyu

@sdzald: I don't think that genre would do well on console.

Avatar image for Berserk8989
Berserk8989

@sdzald: Why bring a genre (of which popularity is steadily dipping on PC even) to platforms where there's basically no interest for it?

Avatar image for sdzald
sdzald

@Berserk8989:

Oh I understand why, they make games that sell well, that is what they are in business for. That does not change the fact that it is always a good year for shooters on a console so why bother to even mention it, not only mention it but headline it?

Avatar image for bbq_R0ADK1LL
bbq_R0ADK1LL

@pasullica: I think it's more along the lines of, "if you own an Xbox One, these are the games you should buy".

Listing best exclusives isn't of much value when there are only a handful of exclusives.

Avatar image for me3639
me3639

@pasullica: Forza 3 is on PC.

Avatar image for ninja2481
ninja2481

Scrolling through the comments, why do people think MS has no exclusives and PS does?? Sony has 3 good big exclusives so far this gen. Bloodborne, Uncharted and Tlou (remastered), still no decent driving game almost 4 years later. All of Sonys exclusives are play through one and done which you could rent and finish in a weekend. One MS exclusive like Forza has way more value and replayability than all Sony exclusives put together.....

Avatar image for Leefx
Leefx

@ninja2481: project cars is better than horizon 3 I got bored of horizon as soon as I'd collected everything but that's just my opinion and our clan's racer of choice and before anyone mentions assetto corsa that's not even close to either of them

Avatar image for kyelo
Kyelo

@ninja2481: It's that the XB doesn't have as many as PS, especially now they are all pretty much available on PC...Forza being a good example of that.

...and since when is replayability the only quality in a game? Story, mechanics, graphics, multiplayer, characters, acting, setting, performance, sound, style etc etc all have a say depending on the genre and your tastes. Repetitively going around the same tracks is dull for a lot of people and isn't replayable at all.

Avatar image for kyelo
Kyelo

I'll keep saying it until I am black and blue but it is pointless giving out awards unless they separate platform exclusives and multiplatforms for awards, as such we get the same games for every platform.

As to above, no exclusives there...I do love Horizon though.

Avatar image for kyelo
Kyelo

@sellingthings: Got a list?

Avatar image for Leefx
Leefx

@kyelo: I reckon not lol

Avatar image for kyelo
Kyelo

@sellingthings: Still not sure about that, big hitters from Sony: Naughty Dog stuff, GoW, Gran Turismo? Big Hitters from MS: Halo, GoW and Forza?

Which are going to PC? Throw in the likes of Bloodborne, Ratchet&Clank, The Last Guardian and new stuff like Zero Dawn then, especially going forward, the exclusive mantel belongs to Sony on console(if you ignore Nintendo that is).

Not even mentioned Japanese or indie. I mean going forward, it's a question of what exclusives from MS they DON'T release on PC not what they will.

Avatar image for zmanbarzel
ZmanBarzel

@kyelo: "as such we get the same games for every platform."

Perhaps that should be more a hint to the platform holder that it create better exclusives, either through developers it owns or by striking deals with third parties.

Avatar image for Gravity_Slave
Gravity_Slave

So many complainers and whiners. Despite this, X1 out sold the PS4 several times this year. And wtf an over priced and impractical PC platform has to do with anything is laughable.

Avatar image for me3639
me3639

@Gravity_Slave: Outsold a system that has done nothing this year. And it actually got rolled WW so it all actuality that's even worse. No one wants an Xbox and no one wants to play their tired exclusives. They need something new and what they have coming is not impressive in any way.

Avatar image for rcoffey
rcoffey

@me3639: I like my Xbox, and I know others who do, too.

Avatar image for kyelo
Kyelo

@Gravity_Slave: The XB1 has never actually outsold the PS4, it has ONLY done it in the US and UK for some months. Worldwide it has been outsold every month since launch.

Avatar image for Leefx
Leefx

@kyelo: and that only happened because everone already has a PS4 so most of those sales are probably PS4 owners getting one 😉