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Best Xbox One games 2021: ultimate Xbox picture and sound

Best Xbox One games Buying Guide: Welcome to What Hi-Fi?'s round-up of the best Xbox One games you can buy in 2021.

Every major games console has no shortage of blockbuster games to choose from, including shoot 'em ups, beat 'em ups, racing and RPG titles. But, with so many choices, it can be tricky knowing where to start.

For this list of the best Xbox One games, we've chosen those with a serious wow factor. We're talking 4K and HDR picture quality in most cases with a sprinkling of Dolby Atmos where available. Each of these titles will put the best gaming headsets and best surround sound systems through their paces.

All these games excel in the sound and vision stakes and are guaranteed to help you waste an hour or three of an evening. If you've got a 4K TV and a suitable sound system and really want to impress your mates, then these are the games for you.

And, although the next-gen Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X have both launched if you're not considering an upgrade just yet, there's still plenty of enjoyment to get out of Xbox One gaming.


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Forza Horizon 4 (4K, HDR, Dolby Atmos)

Best Xbox One games 2021

(Image credit: Microsoft Studios)

Comfortably the best game in the series, Forza Horizon 4 relocates the open-world racing action to a condensed-for-fun version of Great Britain that’s beautifully rendered in 4K on Xbox One X. The season changes each week, and each is a visual treat (not to mention a unique driving challenge), particularly when playing on a quality HDR TV. Owners of proper sound systems will be delighted by the Dolby Atmos soundtrack, too. Choose the in-car camera, crank up the volume and prepare for a visceral thrill.

Gears 5 (4K, HDR, Dolby Atmos)

Best Xbox One games 2021

(Image credit: Xbox Game Studios)

The Gears Of War franchise has been entertaining gamers for well over a decade and Gears 5 is another fine instalment. The campaign mode looks just as stunning as you’d expect, with impressive detail, texture and lighting throughout. Cutscenes and gameplay boast that trademark Gears flavour while the accompanying soundtrack mirrors the drama and explosiveness of the on-screen action. A must-have for any fans of third-person shooters.

Red Dead Redemption 2 (4K, HDR)

Best Xbox One games 2021

(Image credit: Rockstar Games)

The HDR implementation isn’t great, but switch your Xbox One’s HDR output off and revel in the real glory of this stunning open-world title. Think Grand Theft Auto in a Wild West setting, where horsepower has been replaced by actual horses (and cowboys). This first-person shooter follows the exploits of outlaw Arthur Morgan as he attempts to navigate his way through all sorts of scrapes with law enforcement, gangs and other miscreants. Expect missions, mini-games and many hours of immersive gameplay.

Assassin's Creed: Odyssey (4K, HDR)

Best Xbox One games 2021

(Image credit: Ubisoft)

The latest Assassin’s Creed adventure is a stunner as far as picture and sound are concerned. Set in Ancient Greece during the Peloponnesian war between Athens and Sparta, you control a mercenary who’s happy to work for either side – the action takes place over land and sea, and looks superb from every angle. There’s loads of detail to lap up, with just as much attention lavished on backdrops as on the main on-screen action. Unlike Assassin’s Creed: Origins, there’s no Dolby Atmos, but that 4K HDR picture running at 30fps is worth the price alone.

Star Wars Battlefront II (4K, HDR)

Best Xbox One games 2021

(Image credit: Electronic Arts)

There are more recent instalments of the Star Wars gaming franchise, but this is the one with the most polished picture and sound performance. Powered by Dice’s Frostbite game engine, the galaxy looks vibrant, punchy and immersive as battle rages across memorable locations, from Moss Eisley to the salt plains of Crait – making it feel as though you’ve been given a starring role in the Star Wars universe.

Battlefront II is a bit shallow in terms of gameplay – the campaign mode could do with more variation – but this is a great-looking game to throw yourself into for a few hours.

Halo 5: Guardians (4K)

Best Xbox One games 2021

(Image credit: Xbox Game Studios)

When it first arrived on the original Xbox One in 2015, the graphics on Halo 5 were criticised, but the move to Xbox One X and a 4K patch gave the Master Chief a new lease of life. This first-person shooter looks the business and at 60fps is super smooth with it. There’s depth, subtlety and detail to the 4K picture, complemented beautifully by a classical score created by Japanese composer Kazuma Jinnouchi – who also worked on some Metal Gear titles – and recorded at Abbey Road Studios. One to play while you wait for Halo: Infinite on the upcoming Xbox Series X.

Metro: Exodus (4K, HDR, Dolby Atmos)

Best Xbox One games 2021

(Image credit: Deep Silver)

The long-awaited third part of the much-loved Metro series is more expansive than its predecessors, with most of the action taking place above ground, in the nuclear war-ravaged remains of Russia and the Far East. It’s a visual treat, particularly on Xbox One X, which presents the game in native 4K and HDR10, and the Dolby Atmos soundtrack is thumping and atmospheric. All of which makes the intense first-person action all the more thrilling.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (4K, HDR)

Best Xbox One games 2021

(Image credit: CD Projekt)

It’s been around a while now, but The Witcher 3 remains one of the best games you can currently play – and one of the best looking. Developer CD Projekt Red released a patch in 2017 that enhances the visuals for Xbox One X, delivering mostly native 4K with a little bit of dynamic scaling to keep the frame rate respectable. It’s a huge game (and that’s before you even consider playing the excellent add-ons), but one that every gamer should play.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider (4K, HDR, Dolby Atmos)

Best Xbox One games 2021

(Image credit: Square Enix)

If you’re looking for a game with some of the most atmospheric audio out there, then take Shadow Of The Tomb Raider for a spin. The authentic South American-inspired soundtrack sounds sensational whether listening through headphones or a dedicated home cinema system. There’s ambience and subtlety in spades, and the fact the audio is mixed in Dolby Atmos takes it to a completely different level. 

That sonic experience is only intensified by what you see on screen. The use of light and shadows is superb on 4K HDR, while motion is smooth and stable too. A proper feast for the eyes and ears.

Mortal Kombat 11 (HDR)

Best Xbox One games 2021

(Image credit: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment)

With 34 playable characters to take control of, you’re unlikely to get bored with this blood-spattered beat ‘em up. Gratuitous gore is still one of this franchise’s major selling points, but there also lurks a storyline to pique your interest too. Despite running on the relatively old Unreal 3 engine, it still manages to deliver a ridiculously detailed and textured game with numerous bursts of colour (mainly blood) contrasting against dark and eerie backdrops. The in-game cutscenes are something to behold, while the game’s brutal sounds will rattle your bones.


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Andy Madden

Andy is Deputy Editor of What Hi-Fi? and a consumer electronics journalist with nearly 20 years of experience writing news, reviews and features. Over the years he's also contributed to a number of other outlets, including The Sunday Times, the BBC, Stuff, and BA High Life Magazine. Premium wireless earbuds are his passion but he's also keen on car tech and in-car audio systems and can often be found cruising the countryside testing the latest set-ups. In his spare time Andy is a keen golfer and gamer.