Best Xbox One games Buying Guide: Welcome to What Hi-Fi?'s round-up of the best Xbox One games you can buy in 2022.
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 HDR 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 nice TV, 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.
Why you can trust What Hi-Fi? Our expert team reviews products in dedicated test rooms, to help you make the best choice for your budget. Find out more about how we test.
How you find games with the best picture and sound
A video game is like any other work of art in the sense that beauty is relative. One game that's beautiful to you may be ugly to someone else. However, games are also technical creations; they're products of programming and engineering.
As a result of this fact, there are many ways in which one game can sound or look better than another in a technical sense. This says nothing about the artistry on display and is simply a reflection of the technical state of the game.
Which games will look and sound best for you? That depends not just on your personal preferences, like whether you want image quality over framerate or vice-versa, but on what TV you have and what kind of speakers or headphones you use. A game might have an excellent 4K HDR mode, but you might have a 1080p SDR TV, so while it may be an excellent mode, you won't be able to enjoy it.
For us at What Hi-Fi? we suggest you start with your TV. What resolution is it, and what refresh rate does it have? Then, look up the performance of the game you're considering playing on the console you have. You'll want to play at your display's native resolution and the highest framerate supported by your TV, but this won't always be possible.
Last, you'll want to consider tech like HDR or VRR alongside tech like Dolby Atmos or DTS:X and find out whether or not your TV and your audio system can support these features, and if they do, if you want to use them. For example, a great HDR implementation in a game may not be worth experiencing if your TV's HDR doesn't look very good.
Before you make any final decisions, make sure you look up gameplay for whichever game you're thinking about online first. This won't give you a perfect idea of the game will look and sound running locally on your own hardware, but it will give you a basic idea of the AV experience you have ahead of you.
Below is a round-up of the very best games on Xbox One and Xbox One X that offer the ultimate in picture and sound...
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
How we find the ultimate games for the best sound and picture and how we test
At What Hi-Fi? we don't actually review games, which is why you won't find star ratings for games in our buying guides. We do regularly play games in the context of our testing TVs, projectors, headphones, and speakers, especially with spatial audio. Some on the team have worked in games media before, too.
For our gaming buying guides, we look for the most impressive looking and sounding games, but we also make sure we pick good games that are fun to play and won't waste your time. Beyond what AV features a game supports, we look for games that have awesome AV experiences in general.
When we play games at What Hi-Fi? they're most often played in our testing facilities in London, Reading, or Bath where our reviewers test the majority of the AV kit we get our hands on. We pit products not just against one another but against their best-in-class versions for the most informative possible reviews.
We spend a lot of energy making sure reviews at What Hi-Fi? are impartial. We only review products as a team so that individual bias is kept to a minimum in all regards. Plus, this is a good way for us to double-check our work and get a second opinion on anything a member of the team thinks.
For our buying guides, especially with games, they're also often a product of collaboration such that we can make sure our guides include beautiful looking and sounding games from a healthy variety of genres. Regardless of what kind of gamer you are, we want our guides to point you toward the best games.
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