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The 15 Best Xbox Puzzle Games You Should Be Playing Right Now

Complexity doesn’t have to require hundreds of hours within a game. Beautiful visuals don’t have to mean the latest graphics engine with the largest development team. And engaging gameplay doesn’t necessitate online multiplayer with constant updates. Sometimes you can get all of that in a smaller package that still packs a punch.

Puzzle games exist that meet all of those criteria and they’re a blast to play. Xbox One currently has access to some of the best puzzle games in the genre. Our favorites are ones that you can easily pick up but can only put down with difficulty.

Updated by Madison Lennon on April 4, 2020: For those who enjoy playing puzzle-solving games, this list should be perfect for you. We updated it with five new puzzle-based video games you can play right now on your Xbox.

If you’re feeling an itch to scratch that can only be solved by playing something that puts your logic-solving skills to the test, then you should be able to find the perfect game to alleviate that desire in the list below. All you need is time and energy to play these games since some of them are quite challenging.

15 ChromaGun

ChromaGun is a puzzle-solving video game available on Xbox One that revolves around solving color-based puzzles. To play the game, players will use a large ChromaGun to shoot colors at the walls and at various Worker Droids floating around the room.

When a droid is colored, it will gravitate toward the part of the wall matching them in color. Players will need to arrange the droids in the right patterns to unlock the room. Primary colors can also be blended together to create new colors and add further complications to the game.

14 Q.U.B.E.

As the name suggests Q.U.B.E. is a puzzle-solving game that involves the player interacting with various cubes and shapes within the walls inside of their room. The player wakes up inside a strange room after a mysterious incident. They wear a pair of gloves that can interact with specific shapes hidden inside of the walls.

The goal of the game is for the player to unlock each room by solving the puzzle so they can progress forward until they reach the exit. Each block does something different, depending on the color and the rooms become increasingly difficult as you go.

13 The Turing Test

The Turing Test is a first-person puzzle-solving game created by Square Enix where players control an International Space Agent named Ava Turing who is working on one of Jupiter’s moons, Europa. Ava is part of a research team but awakens from cryogenic slumber and has to help save her teammates when a problem starts with the power system.

To save it, she has to complete tests which include redirecting energy to unlock doors and other machinery. More elements and objectives are added to the puzzles as players progress through the story. The game received mostly positive reviews from critics.

12 Unmechanical: Extended

Unmechanical is a relatively simple and straightforward 2.5D puzzle video game. You will likely want to play the extended version rather than the original. Players will try and solve a student project by assembling pieces together.

There is a variety of different puzzles for gamers to solve that should definitely keep you occupied for several hours. It received mostly positive reviews from critics. It is a lesser-known game but if you’ve already played everything else on this list you should definitely give it a chance, it might surprise you.

11 Asemblance

Asemblance is a trippy first-person psychological thriller game but it also involves a lot of puzzle-solving. The mind-bending game takes inspiration from popular shows like The X-Files and Black Mirror.

When your player awakes, they’re trapped inside of a strange machine and forced to piece together memories to figure out what happened to them and the world around them. However, you will have to deduce which memories are real and which are part of the simulation. The only guiding force is a disembodied A.I. voice that tells you what to do.

10 The Witness

From the creator of Braid, this superb puzzling experience jettisons the player on an island with nothing but puzzles around. Some are easily visible and simple enough to solve. Some require more dexterity and patience. But one thing is certain: The Witness is fantastic.

There are hundreds of puzzles to solve and as you progress they will become increasingly complex to the point where you might leave it partially complete before leaving to find inspiration. There isn’t much of a story, but that doesn’t detract from the exciting challenges that await you on the island.

9 Limbo

One of a pair from the studio Playdead, Limbo is a 2D puzzle-platformer, and the atmosphere is soaked in tension and mystery. The indie title has received about as many awards and glowing reviews as an indie game can.

You have to experience it for yourself, though. The dark and grey world will pull you in and leave you breathless. The visuals alone deserve commendation, but the gameplay is also satisfying. Interesting puzzles block your path, and you have to navigate through and around them.

8 Inside

Inside proved that Playdead’s first attempt at the 2D puzzle-platformer was not a fluke. Their mastery of the genre was on full display with their follow-up, and it was just as warmly welcomed as the first game, if not more. The story centers around a boy who becomes enmeshed in a scary world from which he must escape.

The narrative will suck you in, though, and it will only spit you back out once you’ve invested in the life of this unfortunate boy. There’s so much that goes right with Inside. It deserves your time and attention.

7 Portal

From Valve (the guys behind Steam) comes one of the greatest puzzle games of all time and one of the most influential video games across any genre. This is where we met GLaDOS. This is where we learned that the cake is a lie. The pop-culture references alone demand that you play Portal.

That doesn’t take away from the addictive gameplay, however. Who doesn’t want to make portals that you can jump through? One blue. One orange. And physics is never the same. Discovering how to solve the puzzles in Portal is so satisfying. Just take good care of your companion cube.

6 Portal 2

More of a good thing is a good thing. Which is why Portal 2 makes the list of best puzzle games that you can play right now. The Perpetual Testing Initiative is back, except it’s better than ever. Portal 2 introduced new puzzles and new ideas that made more challenging obstacles courses.

It also introduced the ability to play with a friend and to design puzzles all on your own. Really, anything that gets us back to the gun that shoots the orange and blue portals is fine. Also, GLaDOS is a potato. One of the smartest machines alive embedded into a potato. Priceless.

5 Human: Fall Flat

No Brakes Games developed Human: Fall Flat, which is a surreal physics-based puzzle game where players explore a wacky landscape with humans that look molded from clay. The open-ended nature of the world is intoxicating, and you’ll have to make your way out by solving puzzles. As expected, physics plays a part.

You can play by yourself or with some of your friends, and the physics-based part is a really fun experience. The silliness in Human: Fall Flat is not frequently present in the puzzle genre, so it’s a refreshing change from some of the darker or somber games that you might play.

4 Unravel 2

Puzzles are challenging. Puzzles are fun. But they can also be fun with a friend. Combining the intellectual and strategic prowess of two minds helps to break down the challenges in a puzzle game. Unravel 2 incorporates successful elements from the first game, but it introduces a new character so that two players can navigate the world in cooperative mode.

That option is enjoyable when you’re wanting to relax with a friend and maneuver past obstacles together. There is something beautiful in playing as two Yarnys who are connected by a single thread.

3 The Talos Principle

A first-person puzzle game, The Talos Principle relies on philosophical science fiction to create a unique world. As a robot, your creator has built with a singular purpose: To overcome puzzling challenges and prove your technological worth. But existential questions arise as you delve deeper into the world.

You’ll start asking questions about your identity and purpose outside of the restrictions your creator intended. That’s some heavy stuff. Most puzzle games won’t wade into the pool of philosophy, but The Talos Principle is not most games. It’s a journey that will linger in your mind long after you finish playing.

2 Life Is Strange

Episodic adventures are relatively new to the video game industry, but Dontnod Entertainment has the formula figured out. This series was so successful that it’s almost finished with the second game already. The puzzles in Life Is Strange are fewer in number than in most games, but the adventure is still worth mentioning. There are mysteries that must be solved, and some of them are traditional obstacles past which players have to move.

In the game, you follow Max Caulfield, a senior in high school who discovers she can rewind time. That revelation alone would consume most teenagers’ focus, but Max must also find a way to save her best friend Chloe. That’s all we want to give away. The rest you have to find out for yourself.

1 Valiant Hearts: The Great War

Ubisoft is not the first studio you’d envision when thinking of an artistic puzzle game. The studio’s devotion to history, though, is always present in Valiant Hearts: The Great War. World War I does not attract the same amount of attention in the entertainment industry as the second global conflict, but this puzzle game strives to correct that.

It’s a story of intertwined destinies in a place where love and happiness are hard to find. The protagonists who feature in Valiant Hearts are caught in the midst of trench warfare. A ghastly affair, indeed. Thankfully they have faithful dogs to accompany them through the horrible war-torn landscape. Get the box of tissues ready. You may not have dry eyes when this is done.

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Tech

Xbox One X Bundles And Controllers Get Huge Discounts In Microsoft Spring Sale

Microsoft recently kicked off an Xbox One digital games sale, and now it’s discounting a number of its Xbox One X console bundles and controllers. If you’re looking to pass the time while you’re stuck at home, then the Xbox One X is an excellent console to help you do exactly that. It’s the most powerful console on the market right now, capable of greater performance and resolutions than the standard Xbox One. Each bundle comes with an awesome game, and if you need an extra controller, then there are plenty of deals on those as well.

The Xbox One X bundles are all currently $300 and include Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, Forza Horizon 4 (with the Lego Speed Champions DLC), NBA 2K20, and Gears 5. There are two options for NBA 2K20: the standard black console and a gorgeous paint-splattered Hyperspace-edition Xbox One X. The Gears 5 bundles also let you choose between the standard console and a special edition with a unique design–both bundles also come with the entire mainline Gears of War series.

A number of Xbox One controllers are also discounted. Standard controllers, such as the White, Grey/Green, and Grey/Blue variations, are on sale as are some special edition controllers like the Midnight Forces II, Armed Forces II, and Night Ops Camo pads. And if you want to design your own, Xbox Design Lab controllers and NFL Design Lab controllers are $5 off.

There’s also a great deal if you’re looking for some more games to play. Xbox Game Pass Ultimate is currently $1 for new subscribers’ first month. Ultimate comes with huge game libraries on Xbox One and PC as well as all of the benefits from Xbox Live Gold. You can see the full spring sale at Microsoft, but if you’re interested in more great offers, be sure to check out all of the free games you can claim right now and keep forever.

Xbox One X bundle deals

  • Xbox One X 1TB with Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order — $299 ($399)
  • Xbox One X 1TB with Forza Horizon 4 Lego Speed Champions — $299 ($399)
  • Xbox One X 1TB with NBA 2K20 Hyperspace Edition — $299 ($399)
  • Xbox One X 1TB with NBA 2K20 Standard Edition — $299 ($399)
  • Xbox One X 1TB with Gears 5 Limited Edition — $299 ($399)
  • Xbox One X 1TB with Gears 5 Standard Edition — $299 ($399)

Xbox One controller deals

  • Xbox One White controller — $50 ($60)
  • Xbox One Grey/Green controller — $50 ($65)
  • Xbox One Grey/Blue controller — $55 ($65)
  • Xbox One Red controller — $55 ($65)
  • Xbox One Night Ops Camo controller — $60 ($70)
  • Xbox One Midnight Forces II controller — $50 ($60)
  • Xbox One Armed Forces II controller — $55 ($65)
  • Xbox Design Lab controller — $65 ($70)
  • Xbox NFL Design Lab controller — $80 ($85)
  • Hyperkin Duke wired controller — $52.49 ($70)

Xbox Game Pass deals

  • Xbox Game Pass Ultimate at $1 for your first month — regularly $15/month

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PC

Xbox One's Big Spring Sale Kicks Off With Deals On The Console's Best Games

This weekend kicks off an absolute assault of spring sales, and if you’re looking to save money on some games, then there hasn’t been a better time in quite a while. The Xbox One store just revealed its slate of spring deals, all of which are available to snag now. Hundreds of games are on sale, including this year’s Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot as well as some of the best games of recent years like Red Dead Redemption 2, Resident Evil 2, and Mortal Kombat 11.

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, The Sims 4, and EA’s latest sports titles–FIFA 20, NHL 20, and Madden NFL 20–are discounted. There’s also a great deal on last year’s Need For Speed Heat. And if you’re looking for some basketball, then you’ll be happy to hear that 2K’s NBA 2K20 is featured as well.

Ubisoft also has a number of its titles discounted. The Division 2 just saw the release of its Warlords of New York expansion and can currently be picked up for $10.49. Ghost Recon Breakpoint is also on sale and recently got a huge free update that added a new Immersive mode.

You can see the full sale over at the Xbox One Store, but be sure to check out our selection of the best deals below. If you’re looking to get a huge library of games you can play without any limits, then Xbox Game Pass Ultimate is only $1 for new subscribers’ first month. It grants you access to game libraries for Xbox One and PC as well as all of the benefits from Xbox Live Gold, including the free Games With Gold for April 2020.

If you’re interested in more spring sales, be sure to check out the PS4’s current sale as well as the Nintendo Switch Eshop’s slate of deals. There are also a lot of free games you can claim right now and keep forever.

Best Xbox One game deals

  • Borderlands 3 — $30 ($60)
  • Cuphead — $15 ($20)
  • The Division 2 — $10.49 ($30)
  • Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot — $40.19 ($60)
  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition — $20 ($40)
  • FIFA 20 — $24 ($60)
  • Forza Horizon 4 — $30 ($60)
  • Gears 5 — $30 ($60)
  • Ghost Recon Breakpoint — $19.79 ($60)
  • Madden NFL 20 — $19.79 ($60)
  • Mortal Kombat 11 — $24 ($60)
  • NBA 2K20 — $19.79 ($60)
  • Need For Speed Heat — $30 ($60)
  • NHL 20 — $19.79 ($60)
  • Red Dead Redemption 2 — $30 ($60)
  • Resident Evil 2 — $20 ($40)
  • Rocket League — $10 ($20)
  • The Sims 4 — $10 ($40)
  • Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition — $4.49 ($30)
  • Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order — $36 ($60)

Best Deals This Week

  • Free Games To Claim This Week: Rayman Legends, World War Z, And More
  • Amazon Just Launched A Big Sale On PS4, Switch, And Xbox One Games
  • PS Plus Drops To $40 In Limited-Time PS4 Deal
  • Where To Buy A Nintendo Switch Right Now
  • Fantastic Sale On Steam Games Includes Pre-Order Discounts On Resident Evil 3, Trials Of Mana

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PC

Xbox Series X: Phil Spencer Talks Price, Feels "Really Good" After PS5 Reveal

Xbox boss Phil Spencer has commented broadly and non-specifically about the price of the Xbox Series X. Speaking to IGN, Spencer said he feels confident about the price point, adding that he believes Microsoft has a “winning plan” for the next-generation console as it competes with the PlayStation 5.

“I feel good about the price we’re going to be able to get to,” Spencer said. “I feel good about the price and the performance capabilities that we have for Series X. I feel incredibly strong about the overall package.”

The Xbox Series X price isn’t set yet, it seems. Spencer said he is “eyes wide open” in regards to the final price of the console, adding that Microsoft will be looking at what Sony does in terms of pricing for the PlayStation 5. No matter what, however, Spencer said Microsoft believes it has a “winning plan” for the console.

“I believe we have a plan that can win; now we have to go execute,” he said.

Spencer went on to say that the overall goal with the Xbox Series X price is to “stay agile” and set a price that meets or surpasses the expectations of fans. He added that the value of the Xbox Series X is beyond the console alone, also factoring in the appeal of services like Xbox Game Pass and backwards compatibility. He also mentioned that the “Smart Delivery” feature is an offering that players might find value in to help them feel comfortable buying into the Xbox platform.

For comparison, the Xbox One and Xbox One X each launched at a $500 USD price point, before being discounted later in their lifecycles. The Xbox Series X is the fastest, most powerful Xbox console ever made, so it will presumably carry a premium price tag. Another interesting factor at play here is how Xbox Series X might not be the only next-gen console that Microsoft releases. The company is also rumored to release a less expensive, less powerful next-gen console, too.

Spencer has repeatedly said that he does not like the idea of console wars, but of course, Microsoft wants to do better for the upcoming console generation after the PS4 outsold the Xbox One by a large margin.

Also in the interview, Spencer said he feels “really good” after seeing the PlayStation 5 reveal in March.

“I feel really good about how Xbox Series X lines up [with the PlayStation 5],” Spencer said. The executive praised PlayStation system architect Mark Cerny for some of the innovations included with the PS5, including the SSD and some of its audio technology.

“It’s impressive, we like that; we saw the work that they did [with the PS5],” Spencer said.

“But we took a holistic view on our platform from CPU to GPU to RAM; the Velocity architecture; latency, back compat. It took us years to get to this point,” Spencer said of Microsoft’s approach with the Xbox Series X.

“When we finally saw the public disclosure [of the PlayStation 5], I felt even better about the choices we made on our platform,” Spencer said. “I expected that I would.”

The full interview with Spencer is incredibly in-depth and fascinating, as Spencer speaks candidly about a number of high-profile topics, including the impact of COVID-19 on Microsoft’s next-gen plans.

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Xbox

Xbox Games with Gold for April offers Project CARS 2, Fable Anniversary

Xbox Live Gold subscribers and Xbox Game Pass Ultimate members will get four free games in April as part of the Xbox Games with Gold program. Next month’s games will roll out on April 1 with Project CARS 2 for Xbox One and Fable Anniversary for Xbox 360 and Xbox One.

Coming later are Knights of Pen and Paper and Knights of Pen and Paper 2 for Xbox One, and Toybox Turbos for Xbox 360 and Xbox One. Here’s the full rundown of April 2020’s Games with Gold titles:

  • Project CARS 2 ($59.99 ERP): Available April 1 to 30 on Xbox One
  • Knights of Pen and Paper Bundle ($22.49 ERP): Available April 16 to May 15 on Xbox One
  • Fable Anniversary ($39.99 ERP): Available April 1 to 15 on Xbox One and Xbox 360
  • Toybox Turbos ($9.99 ERP): Available April 16 to 30 on Xbox One and Xbox 360

Three of March’s Xbox Games with Gold titles are still available to download: Batman: The Enemy Within – The Complete Season, Shantae: Half-Genie Hero, and Sonic Generations.

Xbox Game Pass Ultimate

Xbox Game Pass Ultimate combines Xbox Live Gold and Xbox Game Pass. Try a month for $1.

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Xbox

Xbox Live, Game Pass Seeing "Record Numbers" Amid COVID-19 Crisis

As more and more people stay home, either voluntarily or by government order due to the COVID-19 crisis, the Xbox Live gaming network is surging in popularity. Microsoft said in a post that Xbox Live, Xbox Game Pass, and Mixer are seeing “record numbers” as people spend more time playing games while adhering to social-distancing policies.

The message, which was first reported on by VideoGamesChronicle, also states that Microsoft is making “small adjustments” to ensure a smooth experience for users during the spike in usage. One of the adjustments is the removal of the ability to upload custom gamerpics for your profile. Not only that, but you can no longer upload pictures for club backgrounds.

This change is only temporary, so these services will return at some point in the future.

A separate post from Microsoft regarding its cloud networks states that Microsoft’s engineers are keeping a close eye on “performance and usage trends” to ensure that Xbox Live is optimized for people around the world. Microsoft is also taking steps to minimize the impact of increased bandwidth by asking its partners to hold back their “higher-bandwidth activities,” which include game updates, for off-peak hours.

It’s not just Xbox Live that’s seeing big numbers during the global lockdowns. Valve’s Steam platform continues to set and then break its own record for peak concurrent users. The service eclipsed 23.5 million peak concurrent players recently, which is an all-time high for the network.

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News

Official Xbox Magazine shut down due to decline in video game retail

The Official Xbox Magazine has sadly been shut down, with Future Publishing executives taking pay cuts to keep lay-offs to a minimum.

Although Microsoft insists that the upcoming Xbox Series X will still be released this year, the Official Xbox Magazine won’t be around to cover it.

Future Publishing has confirmed that it shut down the long-running magazine last week, with its last few staff all being let go.

Initially reported on by Eurogamer, Future cited that the decline in video game retail as the reason behind the decision, as it had impacted the magazine’s sales figures.

Official Xbox Magazine is one of six magazines that Future has closed, though it is apparently the only gaming related one among them.

A statement from Future added that, in order to keep lay-offs to a minimum, its executives have taken pay cuts.

‘Likemany organisations right now, we find ourselves being forced into makingdifficult decisions,’ it reads, obviously referring to the current coronaviruspandemic.

‘Wehave a duty of care to all our staff during this time and our focus is onprotecting the business for them and for our customers. We have introduced araft of measures to keep the numbers of lay-offs to an absolute minimum,including significant pay cuts for our Executive Team and Board.’

The Official Xbox Magazine first began publication in November 2001, alongside the launch of the original Xbox. Its closure follows that of Future’s Official Nintendo Magazine, which ended in 2014.

At the time of writing, the Official PlayStation Magazine is still running, but with the coronavirus dramatically affecting businesses and entire industries, there’s probably concerns surrounding it too.

Microsoft has yet to comment on the magazine’s closure.

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Tech

Best Xbox One Controllers (March 2020): Xbox Series X Compatible Controllers

Microsoft has consistently improved the Xbox One gaming experience since the console’s launch in 2013. Controllers have been a huge part of that; as we head into the launch of the Xbox Series X, there are tons of Xbox wireless controller options as well as wired ones, including the Xbox Adaptive Controller, multiple iterations of the Xbox Elite controller, third-party alternatives to the standard controllers, and more. Many of them also work as PC gaming controllers, and since the next-gen console will be backward-compatible, you don’t have to feel guilty about buying a great new controller to make your favorite first-person shooter, fighting game, or other favorite titles more comfortable.

When choosing the gaming controller that’s right for you, here are a few things you should consider.

Best Xbox One controllers with Xbox Series X compatibility

With the number of great Xbox controllers on the market, including high-end options, you can rest easy knowing that if you drop a large amount of money on a pad, you’ll be able to use it with Xbox Series X and the next generation of Xbox consoles, as well as a Windows device.

Of course, the basic Xbox One controller is perfectly suitable. It features excellent ergonomics, smooth triggers, and accurate analog sticks, and if you need to face someone 1-on-1 in a fighting game, its clicky D-pad will serve you well enough. However, some of the alternative options will give you customization features, a more accessible experience, or even an edge over the competition.

If you need to keep your thumbs on both sticks during a tense firefight, there are several controllers from Microsoft, Scuf, and Razer that feature remappable back paddles. If you want to relive the past with a hefty dose of nostalgia, the Xbox One has two excellent options in Hyperkin’s Duke and X91 pads. And if you’re looking to streamline the gameplay experience as, or for, someone with limited mobility, then Microsoft has an excellent, accessibility-focused controller.

Xbox Series X controller: What we know about the next-gen pad

We won’t have hands-on with the Xbox Series X controller until later this year, but we already know quite a bit about it. At the end of 2019, we spoke to Xbox head Phil Spencer for the Xbox Series X’s reveal. He said Microsoft learned a lot from the Xbox Elite controller and through fan feedback. Two significant design changes for the Xbox Series X controller came from that. The first is a new hybrid D-pad, while the second is a share button. Aside from this and some obvious cosmetic changes, not much else has been adjusted, as Spencer believes the Xbox One controller is already “pretty good.” And like every controller on this list, it’ll be compatible with the Xbox Series X and any Xbox One console.

Xbox Series X And Xbox One News

  • Xbox Series X Release Date Listed On Xbox Site, But Microsoft Says No Announcement Yet
  • Xbox Series X: Full Specs, Target Performance, And More Revealed
  • Xbox Series X: Release Date, Specs, Price, And Everything We Know
  • Why You Can't Pre-Order Xbox Series X Yet

We’ll keep this article updated as we test new controllers, leading up to the release of the Xbox Series X and throughout its lifespan. While you wait for the next-gen console, be sure to read through our list of the best Xbox One controllers that will work with the Series X. It’s important to note that the prices indicated below are each controller’s standard price and don’t reflect any discounts or fluctuations.

Quick look: The best Xbox One controllers in 2020

  • Xbox One wireless controller — starts at $50
  • Xbox Design Lab controller — starts at $70
  • Xbox Elite Series 2 controller — $180
  • Xbox Adaptive controller — $100
  • Scuf Prestige — starts at $160
  • Razer Wolverine Ultimate — $150
  • Hyperkin Duke — $41.16
  • Hyperkin X91 — $32.76
  • Razer Atrox fight stick — $200

For more gaming controller guides, check out our recommendations, check out our picks for the best PS4 controller, the best Switch controller, the best gaming keyboards, and best gaming mice.

And for more Xbox-related guides, check out our guide to buying an Xbox One, the best Xbox One games, our most anticipated Xbox One games of 2020, Xbox Game Pass,

Best value

Xbox One wireless controller | starts at $60/$70

The Good:

  • Stark improvements have made for an excellent standard controller
  • Affordable price
  • Several different editions to choose from

Of course, you can’t talk about the best Xbox One controllers without first talking about the standard on which everything else is based. The Xbox One controller has undergone a significant makeover since it was first released with the console back in 2013. For starters, the bumpers have been tuned to make them more ergonomic and easier to push, while the entire front faceplate of the controller is now one solid piece of plastic–the plastic around the Home button used to be separate from the rest of the pad. In addition to that, the controller now features a 3.5mm headphone jack and Bluetooth connectivity. Other small changes have also been adopted, making it increasingly hard to go back to any previous iteration of the Xbox One controller. Despite all the changes, it still requires two AA batteries.

Different editions of the controller boast unique properties, such as extra texture on the hand grips or triggers. If you want a unique design for your controller, Microsoft offers Xbox Design Lab, which gives you the ability to change the colour of almost every single part of the pad–you can also add an engraved message. No matter what direction you go with a standard Xbox One controller, you’re going to get a great pad that works well with every game on the console. | Mat Paget

Best overall Xbox One controller

Xbox One Elite Series 2 controller | $180

The Good:

  • Newly added grips keep controller firmly in your hands
  • Trigger stops automatically adjust sensitivity
  • Three profiles for controller customization
  • Adjustable analog-stick tension
  • New thumb-stick heads emulate Xbox 360 controller
  • 40 hours of battery life

The Bad:

  • Uncomfortable with all four paddles attached

The Xbox One Elite Series 2 controller is hard to beat. With its textured hand and trigger grips, refined trigger stops, and adjustable stick tension, it’s quite the step up from the original Elite controller. It features all of the same customization options as well, but instead of only two profiles, there are four–one of which returns the controller to its default settings. It also boasts a built-in battery that can last up to 40 hours and Bluetooth connectivity, which was introduced to the Xbox One’s controllers after the release of the Elite Series 1 controller. It also features charging via a USB-C cable rather than micro-USB, which is an improvement.

There is a downside, though. Microsoft’s layout for the Elite controllers’ back paddles is a bit uncomfortable, and while it’s not terribly difficult to get used to, I do find it hard to get my hands into a comfortable position with all four paddles attached. Thankfully, I don’t feel the need to have all four paddles attached–I’m perfectly content with two paddles for crouching and jumping in my shooters of choice. However, when companies like Scuf make controllers with a comfortable layout for all four paddles, it is slightly disappointing by comparison.

Despite this setback, the Elite Series 2 is a delight to use. The extra hand and trigger grip feels nice, and being able to adjust the stick tension is a huge positive. The tighter analog sticks feel great, and when paired with the larger thumb stick heads, it emulates the Xbox 360 controller except with the more comfortable ergonomics of the Xbox One pad. On top of that, there are now two trigger stop positions as opposed to one, and by default, the controller adjusts trigger sensitivity on its own–previously, you’d have to do this in the Xbox Accessories app on Xbox One or PC. The clicky home button also has a more premium feel when compared to the mushy-ness of the basic Xbox One controller. All of this makes the Elite Series 2 feel like a next-gen controller, perfect for using with the Xbox Series X. | Mat Paget

Best Xbox One controller for accessibility

Xbox adaptive controller | $100

The Good:

  • Works with a wide range of assistive devices
  • Extremely flexible customization
  • Officially compatible with Xbox One and PC
  • Works on Nintendo Switch with Bluetooth adapter

The Xbox Adaptive controller is much different than the rest of the control options in this round-up. It’s intended first and foremost as a device that helps those with limited mobility play games. It works with a wide range of assistive devices that users can plug in and assign to specific controller inputs to give them the ability to play any game on the two platforms.

It features 20 ports for you to plug joysticks, switches, buttons, and any other assistive device into–19 of those are 3.5 mm ports, while the other two are USB 2.0 ports. There’s also a 3.5mm audio output port for headphones or a headset. It’s compatible with both Xbox One and PC, and there’s quite the dedicated community behind it, discovering new ways to use the adaptive controller–you can even utilize a Bluetooth adapter to get it working with the Nintendo Switch.

The Adaptive controller may not be for everyone, but thanks to its ability to effectively bridge the gap between gamers with limited mobility and the games they want to play, there’s no doubt in my mind that it’s the most important controller on this list. And with a little savvy, you can make it compatible with Switch. | Mat Paget

Best back paddles

Scuf Prestige | starts at $160

The Good:

  • Extremely comfortable back paddles
  • 30-hour rechargeable battery life
  • Rubberized grip feels great
  • Interchangeable analog sticks

Scuf has been making Elite-style controllers for years (you can check out our review of the Scuf PS4 controller), and it shows. The company’s controllers are some of the most comfortable you can find, and the Scuf Prestige controller is a great example of this. The Scuf Prestige is very similar to a standard Xbox One pad, though it definitely feels different. The plastic is much smoother on the Scuf controller, and the backside features subtle, yet effective rubberized grip. It also features an interchangeable faceplate and a built-in rechargeable battery with 30 hours of life.

The Prestige excels most in its four back paddles, which are the most comfortable we’ve tested, thanks to their vertical alignment and distinct textures, shapes, and sizes. Remapping the extra buttons is also quite simple, though you’ll need to make sure to hang on to a small accessory to do so–the EMR (Electro-Magnetic Remapping) key. All you do is place the magnetic key on the back of the controller, then hold a specific paddle and specific button for at least one second. Once you’re done remapping your paddles, just remove the EMR key and you’re good to go.

The Prestige also comes with two interchangeable thumbsticks and adjustable built-in trigger stops. Like all Scuf controllers, you can customize and build your own exactly to your liking on Scuf’s website. It starts at $160, and you can choose the colour of each and every part, as well as remove the rumble motors if you want to go that route. Even for the price, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better third-party Xbox wireless controller that’s also great as a wired controller. | Mat Paget

Best buttons

Razer Wolverine Ultimate | $160

The Good:

  • Excellent, clicky face buttons
  • Six programmable buttons
  • Interchangeable D-pad

The Bad:

  • Only usable with a wired connection

The Xbox One Elite and Elite 2 controllers are regarded as some of the best high-end, pro-style gamepads out there. But Razer has its own take on that design with the Wolverine Ultimate. It may not sound like a game-changer, but the best thing about the Wolverine is how great its buttons feel. The face buttons mimic the tactile nature of mouse clicks and feel more responsive as a result, and the analog sticks are buttery smooth and frictionless (which makes minuscule movements and precision easier).

Another key feature of the Wolverine is its six programmable buttons–four are on the back and two are near the shoulder buttons. Of course, this means you can map face button functions to these additional inputs and keep your thumbs on the sticks at all times. Those buttons are effortless to press down as well. You can also customize the D-pad to be used in a traditional four-way or rounded eight-way layout.

There are a few drawbacks with the Wolverine Ultimate, one being that it can only be used through a wired USB connection. It usually retails around $160 USD, which puts it up in the territory of an Elite controller, too. But if you’re looking for an Elite-style controller and can find it on sale, the Razer Wolverine Ultimate would be a great option. | Michael Higham

Best retro-style Xbox One controllers

Hyperkin Duke | $70

The Good:

  • Recreates classic Xbox feel
  • Includes modern touches like shoulder buttons
  • Feels great to use with big hands

The Bad:

  • Can be quite cumbersome for smaller hands
  • Only useable with a wired connection

The Hyperkin Duke was made purely out of nostalgia for the original launch Xbox controller from way back in 2001–it was this hulking gamepad with oddly shaped and offset face buttons. So there wasn’t much surprise when it was quickly surpassed by the Controller S, which became the standard design moving forward. But if you have larger hands, the Duke might be a better fit.

Hyperkin has made a name for itself by recreating retro gaming experiences through its wide range of hardware, and its Duke controller very much resembles the original Xbox controller in terms of size and button layout, but with a few modern touches. While original Xbox controllers had black/white buttons instead of left/right bumpers, Hyperkin incorporated small bumpers so the Duke would make sense for playing today’s games. The huge logo on the center of the controller is a screen that also acts as the home button–when you power on, the screen displays the old Xbox splash screen. Otherwise, it’s a faithful recreation of the Duke that now works through USB for Xbox One and PCs. | Michael Higham

Hyperkin X91 | $30

The Good:

  • Retro form factor
  • Features every button a regular Xbox One controller does
  • Great for retro-style or D-pad-focused games

The Bad:

  • Mushy triggers
  • Only usable with a wired connection

In addition to Hyperkin’s wide array of retro gaming hardware that lets you play old games easily, it has a few retro-inspired accessories. One of those is the Hyperkin X91, an Xbox One controller that’s scrunched down into a SNES-like form factor. Despite the small size, everything you need in a controller is there and it all works surprisingly well. From the analog sticks to the face buttons, the X91 recreates the full controller feel almost perfectly. One downside is that the triggers can feel a bit squishy as opposed to the smooth feel of the triggers on a DualShock or regular Xbox One controller.

And if you have a gaming laptop and play on the go often, the X91 is the perfect size for travel. Unfortunately, this controller only works through wired USB. While that means you don’t have to worry about battery life, having a thick cord connected can make it a bit clunky to have around. The form factor may also make it slightly more difficult to be precise with the analog sticks since there isn’t much you can grip to keep the controller steady. However, if you need a small, fully-featured gamepad for less intense games, the X91 is a fine choice. | Michael Higham

Best Xbox One fight stick

Razer Atrox fight stick | $200

The Good:

  • Easily moddable
  • Excellent 8-way stick
  • Great buttons
  • Sanwa parts
  • Removable USB cable

The Bad:

  • No right-stick control or L3/R3 buttons
  • No official PC support

If you’re looking for an Xbox fight stick that will last, then the Razer Atrox is the one you want. Not only will it be forward-compatible with the Xbox Series X, but it’s also fully moddable, which means you can replace the joystick and buttons as you wish–and it’s as easy as pushing a button to pop the Atrox open and access its various wires and components. Despite its modding potential, it’s more than ready to go right out of the box. The Sanwa joystick and buttons feel great and are satisfying to tap combos out on. The USB cable is also completely removable, making it easy to store inside the fight stick’s compartment.

The Atrox may be the best stick I’ve used for the Xbox One so far, but it’s not quite perfect. Unlike Razer’s Panthera Evo PS4 stick, the Atrox is not officially compatible with PC and does not feature a switch that lets you swap the joystick from D-pad to either analog stick or a way to press L3 or R3. The cases in which you need these inputs in a fighting game are rare, but needing a regular controller for character customization or anything else that uses these inputs is a little disappointing.

Thankfully, the Atrox makes up for this when you get into the action. I tested it with Dragon Ball FighterZ, Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection, Tekken 7, and Dead or Alive 6 and was very happy with how it performed across different styles of fighting games. If you’re looking for a great, future-proofed Xbox One fight stick, then the Atrox is an excellent one to go with. | Mat Paget

More Tech Picks From GameSpot

  • The Best Nintendo Switch Controllers You Can Buy
  • The Best VR Headsets In 2020
  • The Best Budget Monitors Under $200
  • The Best Gaming Laptops In 2020
  • The Best Gaming Keyboards In 2020

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PC

Best Xbox One S And Xbox One X Deals (March 2020): Consoles, Games, And More

With Microsoft set to launch the Xbox Series X later this year, 2020 should be an interesting year for the company. When it releases (we don’t know the exact date yet), the new console will be the company’s flagship gaming device, but Microsoft isn’t leaving the Xbox One behind. The Series X won’t launch with exclusive games, which means your Xbox One X or S is good for at least a year, since it’ll play the latest first-party Xbox games. That makes some of the deals going around in March 2020 that much more enticing.

With the Series X months away, Xbox One consoles are discounted more than ever right now. Xbox One S bundles are dropping as low as $200, and the All-Digital Edition–which launched at $250, a price many felt was too high–is going for $160. Meanwhile, you can still snag several Xbox One X bundles at their Black Friday price.

Many of last year’s best Xbox One games are seeing some cool discounts right now, including Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and Control. You can also snag pre-orders for some of the most anticipated games of this year, like Cyberpunk 2077, for $50–$10 off.

We’ll update this article with any other notable Xbox One deals that pop up throughout the month, but in the meantime, read on for the best Xbox discounts available now.

Quick look: Best Xbox One deals

  • Call of Duty: Modern Warfare — $45 at Walmart
  • Cyberpunk 2077 — $50 at Amazon
  • Control — $30 at GameStop
  • Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot — $49 at Amazon
  • Gears 5 Limited Edition Wireless Controller — $64 at Amazon
  • Resident Evil 2 — $33.49 at Target
  • Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order — $40 at GameStop
  • Xbox One S All-Digital Edition — $160 at Walmart
  • Xbox One X Gears 5 Limited Edition bundle — $389 at Amazon
  • Xbox One X Star Wars Jedi Fallen Order bundle — $330 at Walmart

Best Xbox One X deals

Amazon is offering a fantastic deal on the Xbox One X right now. For $300, you’ll get the powerful Xbox One X and the Digital Deluxe Edition of Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order.

More Xbox One X bundles and deals

  • Xbox One X Gears 5 Limited Edition bundle — $389 ($500)
  • Xbox One X NBA 2K20 bundle — $319 ($500)

Best Xbox One S deals

More Xbox One S bundles and deals

  • Xbox One S Gears 5 bundle — $213 ($300)
  • Xbox One S NBA 2K20 bundle — $239 ($300)
  • Xbox One S Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order bundle — $240 ($300)

Best Xbox One controller deals

The brand-new Xbox One Elite Series 2 wireless controller features adjustable analog-stick tension, an extra trigger-lock position, and more configuration loadouts. You’ll be hard-pressed to find it on sale right now, but even at its standard price, the Elite Series 2 is hard to pass up.

More Xbox One controller deals

  • Blue Wireless Controller — $50 ($65)
  • Gears 5 Kait Diaz Limited Edition Wireless Controller — $64.49 ($75)
  • Gray and Blue Wireless Controller — $50 ($65)
  • Night Ops Camo Special Edition Wireless Controller — $59 ($70)
  • Phantom White Special Edition Wireless Controller — $60 ($70)
  • Red Wireless Controller — $49 ($65)

Best Xbox One game deals

A Plague Tale: Innocence, one of the best games of 2019, is currently on sale for just $20 (normally $50). It’s also available on Game Pass, but if you’re not subscribed to Microsoft’s service, this is the best deal on the game you’re likely to find right now.

More Xbox One game deals

  • A Plague Tale: Innocence — $20 ($50)
  • Battlefield V — $23.71 ($60)
  • Borderlands 3 — $20 ($60)
  • Call of Duty: Modern Warfare — $45 ($60)
  • Control — $30 ($60)
  • Dark Souls Remastered — $19.59 ($30)
  • Dark Souls III: The Fire Fades Edition — $17 ($20)
  • Devil May Cry V — $24.08 ($60)
  • Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot — $50 ($60)
  • Ghost Recon Breakpoint — $19 ($60)
  • FIFA 20 — $25 ($60)
  • Mortal Kombat 11 — $25 ($60)
  • NBA 2K20 — $30 ($60)
  • Need for Speed Heat — $37 ($60)
  • The Outer Worlds — $34 ($60)
  • Plants vs. Zombies: Battle for Neighborville — $20 ($60)
  • Red Dead Redemption 2 — $38 ($60)
  • Resident Evil 2 — $33.49 ($60)
  • Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice — $40 ($60)
  • The Walking Dead: The Definitive Series — $30 ($60)

If you’re looking for some digital deals, check out some of the sales going on over at the official Xbox One official store this week. Target is also having a nice buy two, get one free sale, so make sure to take advantage of that if you’re shopping around.

Best Xbox One pre-order deals

Cyberpunk 2077 is only $50 to pre-order at Amazon right now. If you wanted to grab CD Projekt Red’s Witcher follow-up for a little cheaper than normal, then now might be a good chance to do so. With Amazon’s pre-order price guarantee, you’ll be charged the lowest price even if it drops again between now and release day. You aren’t charged until the item actually ships.

More upcoming Xbox One games on sale

  • Watch Dogs Legion — $50

For more savings, be sure to check out our roundups of the best PS4 deals and best Nintendo Switch deals available this month.

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Xbox

The Best Xbox One Games Of All Time (March 2020)

Excitement is ramping up for the next generation of Xbox. Microsoft’s upcoming Xbox Series X is scheduled to launch sometime later this year, after all. While that should come as no surprise, it’s crazy to think that Xbox One actually launched in 2013. Time certainly has a way of flying, and with each year, there have been tons of games released. As such, it can be pretty tough to decide what to play. From exclusives to the top multi-platform games to indies, there’s a lot to choose from.

With that in mind, we’ve assembled the list of what we think are the best Xbox One games so far. We’ve excluded backward compatible games on Xbox One, which includes many original Xbox and Xbox 360 favorites, because then this list would be way too long. Xbox also has a subscription service called Game Pass which lets you download and play a selection of over 100 games that varies slightly from month to month. We’ve excluded the older games on that service as well.

For more Xbox One games, see our roundup highlighting when all the biggest new Xbox One games release dates from 2020 and next. You can also check out the best Xbox Game Pass games that you can play right now.

Which Xbox One games do you love the most? Let us know in the comments!

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order — 8/10

“But especially as it wears on, Fallen Order becomes perhaps the strongest conception of what playing as a Jedi Knight ought to really be like. It’s true that Fallen Order borrows liberally from other action games, but those elements work together with Respawn’s combat and environment design, and a story that finds humanity in the Force and in its characters, to hone in on what makes the world of Star Wars worthy of revisiting again and again. Even with some rough edges, Fallen Order represents one of the most compelling game additions to the Star Wars franchise in years.” [Read the review]

— Phil Hornshaw, Editor

The Outer Worlds — 9/10

“I finished The Outer Worlds wanting more, eager to jump back into the world to see extra things. It’s not a short game, but it’s one packed with such a steady stream of wonderful characters to meet, interesting places to explore, and meaningful, multi-layered quests to solve, that it didn’t feel like there was any room to get tired of it. I wanted to rewind the clock and do everything in a completely different way. The Outer Worlds is consistently compelling throughout, and it’s a superb example of how to promote traditional RPG sensibilities in a sharp, modern experience.” [Read the review]

— Edmond Tran, Senior Editor & Producer

No Man’s Sky Beyond — 8/10

“The drastic improvements made to No Man’s Sky in its Beyond expansion are the new gold standard for how to gracefully cope with a game’s flaws post-release. The game laid the foundation with its release, but it took Beyond to elevate it into something magnificent. Successfully transitioning to VR is a creative victory on its own, but realizing just how full and vibrant and rewarding an experience this game has now become is almost poignant. Beyond represents the courage of convictions, a concept that has not only met the lofty expectations it set forth, but transcended them.” [Read the review]

— Justin Clark

Control — 8/10

“It’s not often that a game invades my thoughts the way Control has. I’m at the point where I want to consume every last thing it has to offer. And if I’m honest, it also makes me want to go back and replay Remedy’s past games, too. Sure, it’s a faulty metroidvania in some respects, but there are so many exceptional qualities afoot that Control handily deflects any momentary ire. I can’t wait to take part in discussions about the game, to see what others have figured out, and to better understand where it all fits into Jesse’s story.” [Read the review]

— Peter Brown, Managing Editor

Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night — 8/10

“It’s that sense of comfort in its own skin that makes Bloodstained such a treat. This isn’t a bold modernization of the genre or a departure from its roots. It is exactly what it set out to be: a return to the style of a bygone era, with a few modern improvements. Its perception was always going to be affected by how well it invoked the feeling of a classic Castlevania game, but Bloodstained does that and better. With more flexible combat and level design that always beckons to check just one more room, Bloodstained shows that a modern Metroidvania can stand alongside its predecessors as an equal.” [Read the review]

— Steve Watts

A Plague Tale: Innocence

“Powerfully ghoulish depictions of the plague and rats aside, Innocence is ultimately an emotive story of resilience against harrowing odds. The game’s title is an obvious nod towards the loss of innocence the endearing young cast faces throughout their journey. But more than that, it also speaks of the depths of human depravity and the agonizing cost of survival in the midst of war. Despite the unremitting horrors of Innocence’s beginnings, the game occasionally lets in a faint glimpse of hope. One of my favorite moments is when Amicia spots another wildflower in a lone trek across the city, nestled among the decay of the rats’ revolting nests. Without her brother around, she picks it up, and places it gingerly in her own hair–a personal reminder to keep trudging on amidst the hardships, and a testament to her growing strength and tenacity. Despite flashes of predictability, moments like these will bring a lump to your throat, as it did mine.” [Read the review]

— Khee Hoon Chan

Mortal Kombat 11 — 9/10

“MK11 isn’t just a sequel for series fans and NetherRealm devotees, it’s a gateway into the realm of fighting games for anyone who has a passing interest in watching ruthless warriors beat each other silly. Streamlined mechanics keep the act of fighting furiously exciting no matter what your skill level, and comprehensive tutorials encourage you to dig into the nitty-gritty. There’s a diverse roster of interesting characters and playstyles, and the story mode is an entertaining romp. The randomization of Krypt rewards and the odd issue with the game’s always-online nature can occasionally chip away at your patience, but Mortal Kombat 11 absolutely hits where it matters.” [Read the review]

— Edmond Tran, Senior Editor and Producer

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice — 9/10

“The orchestration of intense one-on-one boss encounters that truly test your mettle, and slower-paced stealth sections that let you take on battles at your own pace, is masterful. More so than in previous games, From Software has honed in on the inherent tension found in the challenging nature of its games, and uses it to incredible effect. Sekiro marries the developer’s unique brand of gameplay with stealth action to deliver an experience that is as challenging as it is gratifying.” [Read the review]

— Tamoor Hussain, Editor

Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 — 9/10

“The setting of The Division 2 is ripe for potential, and it’s a shame the game doesn’t use it to say anything. I have absolutely no clue why I’m here, what anyone’s motivations are, and I wish I had a strong narrative driver to fuel a purpose behind my endless hunger for progression. This letdown is hard to ignore for the game’s initial hours, but the strength of the systems and design that fuel The Division 2 as a game are compelling enough to keep you captivated for dozens more. The range of enemy types continues to keep combat encounters challenging, the equipment I earn and pick up continues to feel different, valuable, and asks me to consider new ways of play. The ravaged environments continue to intrigue, and sometimes they’re so stunning I find myself needing to take screenshots before I move on. It might not have much to say, but The Division 2 is a perpetual cycle of tension, relief, and reward that’s difficult to stay away from.” [Read the review]

— Edmond Tran, Senior Editor and Producer

Devil May Cry 5 — 9/10

“DMC5 thrives on the stylistic and mechanical prowess of its predecessors. It sticks to tradition above all else, pursuing a few ambitious new ideas along the way, but mostly maintaining the series’ focus on intricate fighting systems and campy bravado. Rarely does the game stumble, consistently leveraging its spectacle and mechanical depth to push aside any small frustrations. All the while, the story exudes a charismatic charm that keeps you constantly intrigued as you’re refining your skills. DMC5 proves the series can still be brilliant and imaginative without compromising its longest-held traditions.” [Read the review]

— Matt Espineli

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Apex Legends — 9/10

“Apex Legends is a mix of smart shooter ideas that makes for a competitive, team-based game that gets at all the best parts of battle royale while addressing a lot of the weaknesses. Respawn’s intense focus on team play makes Apex more than just a worthy addition to the genre; it’s an indicator of where battle royale should go in the future.” [Read the review]

— Phil Hornshaw, Editor

Download Apex Legends for free

  • Microsoft Store

Kingdom Hearts III — 8/10

“But the story of Keyblade wars, time-travelling villains, body-hopping also-rans, and world-ending darkness isn’t what I’ll remember about Kingdom Hearts 3 or the series as a whole. What sticks with me is the exciting battle against elemental titans with Hercules, taking Rapunzel out into the unfamiliar wide world for the first time, snapping selfies with Winnie the Pooh, and going toe to toe with Davy Jones. In 2002, as Sora, I left Destiny Islands to travel across the universe and make new friends. In 2019 I brought old ones home, and I had so much fun doing it.” [Read the review]

— Tamoor Hussain, Editor & Global News Editor

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Resident Evil 2 — 9/10

“Resident Evil 2 is not only a stellar remake of the original, but it’s also simply a strong horror game that delivers anxiety-inducing and grotesque situations, topping some of the series’ finest entries. But above all, the remake is an impressive game for the fact that it goes all-in on the pure survival horror experience, confidently embracing its horrifying tone and rarely letting up until the story’s conclusion. Though Resident Evil 2 has its roots firmly in the past, it reworks the familiar horrors into something that feels brand new and all its own.” [Read the review]

— Alessandro Fillari, Editor

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Ace Combat 7 — 8/10

“Good aerial combat is important for a game involving jet fighters, but it’s a given quality for Ace Combat. Skies Unknown boasts a beautiful photorealistic world, entertaining mission variety, and a reason to get excited about clouds. But most importantly, it carries renewed devotion to the history and stories of its fictional universe, and with that, it brings back the human, emotional center that makes it remarkable. Ace Combat 7 is a fantastic return for a series that is at its best when it wears its heart on its wings.” [Read the review]

— Edmond Tran, Senior Editor and Producer

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Red Dead Redemption 2 — 9/10

“While Red Dead Redemption was mostly focused on John Marston’s story, Red Dead 2 is about the entire Van der Linde gang–as a community, as an idea, and as the death rattle of the Wild West. It is about Arthur, too, but as the lens through which you view the gang, his very personal, very messy story supports a larger tale. Some frustrating systems and a predictable mission structure end up serving that story well, though it does take patience to get through them and understand why. Red Dead Redemption 2 is an excellent prequel, but it’s also an emotional, thought-provoking story in its own right, and it’s a world that is hard to leave when it’s done.” [Read the review]

— Kallie Plagge

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Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice — 8/10

“Hellblade’s most notable achievement is the handling of an incredibly sensitive subject matter within an engaging and well-crafted action/adventure game. At its heart, the story is about Senua’s struggle to come to terms with her illness. In the process, she learns to find the strength within herself to endure, and to make peace with her past. And in a profound and physical way, we go through those same struggles with her, and come away with a better understanding of a piece of something that many people in the world struggle with.” [read the full review]

— Alessandro Fillari, Editor

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Valkyria Chronicles 4 — 8/10

“Ultimately, this is a return to form for the Valkyria Chronicles series as a whole. It stays so true to the franchise’s first iteration that it’ll feel as if almost no time has passed in the decade or so since the original game first came out. In revisiting the concerns and the environments of the first, it makes the most of those parallels and invites comparison in a way that highlights its strengths. Valkyria Chronicles 4 doesn’t necessarily tell a new tale, but it doesn’t have to; for all of its clichés and expected twists, there’s a charm to the game’s unwillingness to let up as it drives you and your friends forward at a rapid clip towards its bittersweet end.” [Read the review]

— Edmond Tran

Divinity: Original Sin II Definitive Edition — 10/10

“From lonely farmhouses through pitched battles with gods in far-flung dimensions, Divinity: Original Sin II is one of the most captivating role-playing games ever made in both its original and Definitive incarnations, with the latter proving that even the most complicated role-players can be ported successfully to gamepad-limited consoles. This immaculately conceived and emotion-wrought fantasy world, topped by brilliant tactical combat, make it one of the finest games of recent years, and it remains an instant classic in the pantheon of RPG greats.” [Read the review]

— Brett Todd

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PES 2019 — 9/10

“For as long as EA continues to develop FIFA and hold a monopoly over official licences, PES will be the scrappy underdog just hoping for a surprise upset, even when it’s fielding the likes of London Blue and PV White Red. The lack of licences for top-tier leagues remains a disheartening sticking point, but PES continues to make brilliant strides on the pitch, building on what was already an incredibly satisfying game of football to produce one of the greatest playing football games of all time. It might be lacking off the pitch, but put it on the field against the competition and a famous giant killing wouldn’t be all that surprising.” [Read the review]

— Richard Wakeling

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Dead Cells — 9/10

“Dead Cells is a fascinating amalgam of several of today’s most popular indie genres. It juggles elements of tough-as-nails action games and Metroid-inspired exploration platformers, with the procedurally generated levels and random item allotments found in roguelikes. It’s impressive how it all comes together without a hitch, especially given that the persistent character growth found in games like Dark Souls or Metroid squarely conflicts with the randomized resets emblematic of Rogue-inspired games.” [Read the full review]

— Daniel Starkey

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Monster Hunter: World — 8/10

“Ever since the title was first announced last year, it was clear that Capcom was gunning for something grander than Monster Hunter Generations. It has succeeded, and this is likely the biggest and best that the franchise has ever been. It’s not just the comparative depth of the narrative; it also boasts almost seamless integration between combat systems that were previously incomprehensible for amateurs. The Monster Hunter formula has definitely honed its claws, and all the above factors play their part in making Monster Hunter World a meaningful evolution for the series at large.” [read the full review]

— Ginny Woo

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Far Cry 5 — 9/10

“Despite some brief irritations and missed opportunities with its narrative, spending time in the world of Hope County remains absolutely delightful. Far Cry 5 boasts a wonderfully harmonious flow to its adventure, with its smart changes to exploration, discovery, and progression distinctly bolstering the enjoyment of creatively engaging and experimenting with its spectacular open world.” [read the full review]

— Edmond Tran, AU Editor / Senior Video Producer

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Celeste — 9/10

“It’s a testament to convincing writing and ingenious design that after playing Celeste I felt like I’d been on the same journey as Madeline. Her struggle is one made easy to empathize with, her low points painful to watch, and her high notes exhilarating to experience. Her tale is delicately told and beautifully illustrated, confidently coalescing with the satisfying, empowering game it lies within. Not bad for a game about climbing a mountain.” [read the full review]

— Oscar Dayus, Staff Writer

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Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus — 9/10

“The New Colossus never lets you forget who and why you’re fighting. Nazi brutality is on full display, from the blown-out, irradiated remains of Manhattan to each of the resistance members, who all carry mental scars if not physical ones. You’re never given a chance between cutscenes, missions, and even downtime on the U-boat to lose sight of the Reich’s cruelty. Wolfenstein’s tense gameplay elevates this further by giving you the power to truly resist–and come out of each battle ready for another fight.” [read the full review]

— Kallie Plagge, Senior Reviews Editor

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Sonic Mania — 9/10

“Sonic Mania methodically uses its sentimental appeal to great effect, but in the process, it heals the wounds inflicted by its most disappointing predecessors and surpasses the series’ best with its smart and interpretive design. An excellent 2D platformer, Sonic Mania goes beyond expectations, managing to be not only a proper evolution of the series’ iconic formula, but the best Sonic game ever made.” [read the full review]

— Matt Espineli

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Cuphead — 8/10

“Everything you’ve heard about Cuphead is true. It is a difficult side-scrolling shooter with relentless boss battles that demand rapid-fire actions and reactions. Think for too long, and you won’t stand a chance against the game’s toughest enemies. Battles may only last three minutes at most, but they feel far longer when you know that you can only absorb three hits before you have to start from scratch. When you are navigating your way around bullets, smaller enemies, and pitfalls, while simultaneously trying to damage your primary target, toppling Cuphead’s imposing bosses is both a monumental and rewarding task.” [read the full review]

— Peter Brown

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Resident Evil 7: Biohazard — 8/10

“By the end of the campaign, I was ready for the game to be over, but that’s okay. RE7 ends just as it starts to outstay its welcome, and after the fact, I felt like I’d survived a truly harrowing journey. The boss fights may be slightly inconsistent and certain sections might drag after a while, but RE7 is still a remarkable success. It has a clear vision and executes it with impressive patience and precision. By returning to horror, Resident Evil has once again become something special.” [read the full review]

— Scott Butterworth

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Overwatch — 9/10

“Overwatch is an exercise in refined chaos. There are multitudes of layers hiding beneath the hectic surface, and they emerge, one after another, the more you play. This is a shooter that knows how to surprise, one that unfolds at a frantic pace, one that takes a handful of great ideas, and combines them into something spectacular.” [read the full review]

— Mike Mahardy

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Battlefield 1 — 9/10

“EA DICE splendidly interprets the early 20th century as a world in technological transition while humanizing the war’s participants through well crafted, albeit fictional, narrative vignettes. Combined with an enthralling multiplayer component, the overall result is the studio’s best work since Battlefield: Bad Company 2.” [read the full review]

— Miguel Concepcion

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Titanfall 2 — 9/10

“Titanfall 2 demonstrates a vitality that its predecessor couldn’t. Whereas the first Titanfall kept up its breakneck pace throughout the entirety of every match, Titanfall 2 understands that sometimes, dialing things back for a few moments can make the long run much more enjoyable. In many ways, Titanfall 2 feels like the game Respawn should have made in 2013. It’s a fantastic sequel. It’s a fluid shooter. It’s a spectacular game.” [read the full review]

— Mike Mahardy

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Dishonored 2 — 8/10

“Any time I’m given a choice between stealth and action, I go stealth. I love the hold-your-breath tension of hoping a guard didn’t spot you and the hard-earned triumph of executing a perfectly timed plan. Dishonored 2 delivers that sneaky satisfaction, arming you with stealth essentials like hiding bodies, peering through keyholes, and silent takedowns. But it’s also an incredible engine for gleeful chaos, one so engrossing and amusing that I kind of accidentally beat the entire campaign raining hilarious, elaborate death on my enemies.” [read the full review]

— Scott Butterworth

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Forza Horizon 4 — 8/10

“There’s such a diverse range of activities stuffed into every corner of Horizon 4, and meaningful changes contribute to smart driving dynamics and a more consistent sense of achievement. Everything you do in Horizon feels valuable, no matter how big or small–from the basic thrills of speeding a fast car down a gorgeous mountain highway to spending time tinkering with your favorite ride to manage seasonal road conditions to just hanging out with friends and strangers online and goofing off in friendly games. The charm of the Horizon series is as palpable as ever, a winning, all-inclusive recipe that celebrates the joy of driving above all else.” [Read the review]

— Edmond Tran, Senior Editor and Producer

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Inside — 8/10

“This is a beautiful, haunting, and memorable game, a worthy follow-up to Limbo. Its puzzles, although rarely difficult, are engaging complements to the story. The real achievement of this game, though, is the way that it crafts its narrative: detailed environments convey the bizarre world that you travel through; introspective moments are filled with minimalist sound design and just the barest touches of music; and the things you must do to complete your journey force you to confront the realities of humanity, freedom, and existence.” [read the full review]

— Alex Newhouse

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Dark Souls III — 8/10

“Dark Souls III is a game of valleys and peaks, down through dungeons and up over castle walls. It’s a plummet into places we shouldn’t be–an escape from places we don’t belong.

But of course, we fight our way through the darkness, and find our way out. There are a few stumbles along the way, but in the end, Dark Souls III is well worth the riveting climb.” [read the full review]

— Mike Mahardy

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The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt — 10/10

“Where the Witcher 2 sputtered to a halt, The Witcher 3 is always in a crescendo, crafting battle scenarios that constantly one-up the last, until you reach the explosive finale and recover in the glow of the game’s quiet denouement. But while the grand clashes are captivating, it is the moments between conflicts, when you drink with the local clans and bask in a trobairitz’s song, that are truly inspiring.” [read the full review]

— Kevin VanOrd

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Halo 5: Guardians — 8/10

“Halo 5: Guardians is fueled by new ideas and propelled by some of the boldest changes to this storied franchise yet. Some of these changes fail, but others succeed, and although Halo 5 falters at times, it whisks us through black holes and across war torn tropical islands at a rapid pace. We can only surrender to its velocity.” [read the full review]

— Mike Mahardy, Video Producer

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Rise of the Tomb Raider — 9/10

“Rise of the Tomb Raider’s first shot pans over the vast, foreboding landscape we’ll soon come to know. In many ways, it functions as a promise on the part of Crystal Dynamics: there are big things ahead of us. And at the end of Lara’s journey, after we’ve seen her through this adventure, and experienced everything the world has to offer, it’s clear that promise was kept.” [read the full review]

— Mike Mahardy, Video Producer

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Ori and the Blind Forest — 9/10

“It consistently surprises you with new tricks: gravitational divergences, new ways to move through its spaces, and carefully designed levels that require you to think quickly and respond. It is not as snappy as, say, a typical Mario platformer, seeking instead a broader gameplay arc stretching across a single, interconnected world. It’s a superb and thematically consistent approach that allows Ori and the Blind Forest to build joy on a bed of heartache, adding a new layer of mechanical complexity with each ray of hope.” [read the full review]

— Kevin VanOrd

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Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain — 10/10

“There has never been a game in the series with such depth to its gameplay, or so much volume in content. The best elements from the past games are here, and the new open-world gameplay adds more to love on top. When it comes to storytelling, there has never been a Metal Gear game that’s so consistent in tone, daring in subject matter, and so captivating in presentation. The Phantom Pain may be a contender for one of the best action games ever made, but is undoubtedly the best Metal Gear game there is.” [read the full review]

— Peter Brown, Reviews Editor

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Fallout 4 — 9/10

“Fallout 4 is an engrossing game that lures you in with mystery and the promise of adventure. Its wretched wasteland can be captivating, and you never know what odd person or settlement lies around the next bend. Fallout 4 uses its dark world as a canvas for exciting combat and gripping stories, and when you dig deeper into its post-nuclear-apocalypse version of Boston–defending yourself from violent scavengers and using your wits to climb social ladders–you become attached to the new you, and ultimately invested in the fate of your new world.” [read the full review]

— Peter Brown, Reviews Editor

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Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor — 8/10

“This is a great game in its own right, narratively disjointed but mechanically sound, made up of excellent parts pieced together in excellent ways. I already knew what future lay in store for Middle-earth as I played Shadow of Mordor; I’m hoping that my own future might one day bring another Lord of the Rings adventure as stirring as this one.” [read the full review]

— Kevin VanOrd

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Dragon Age: Inquisition — 9/10

“Inquisition’s characters and world recall the grand gestures of the original Dragon Age, even though the game as a whole is so structurally different to its predecessors. It offers the thrill of discovery and the passion of camaraderie. It features a glee club called The Sing-Quisition, and a dwarf with writer’s block. It establishes connections with its world in big ways and small, with the sight of a titanous temple and the smirk of an Orlesian commander in love. Dragon Age: Inquisition is a wonderful game and a lengthy pilgrimage to a magical world with vital thematic ties to one we already know.” [read the full review]

— Kevin VanOrd

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Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition — 8/10

“Lara herself is so well crafted that I grew attached to her exploits and was sad to say goodbye when the credits rolled. And the exquisite visual design is so breathtaking that I continually found myself staring at the scenery instead of pushing onward. Tomb Raider is a great reinvention of this enduring franchise that made me eager to see where Lara goes in her future.” [read the full review]

— Tom McShea

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Forza Motorsport 5 — 9/10

“All of this combined makes Forza Motorsport 5 an outstanding improvement to an already excellent racing franchise. It’s far more than just a great racing sim, or a gorgeous showcase for the types of feats the Xbox One hardware is capable of. This is a game built on the romantic thrill of motorsport in all its forms, and that love for its subject matter is all but impossible to resist.” [read the full review]

— Shaun McInnis

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Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag — 9/10

“There’s an incredible scope to what you can do in Black Flag, with a level of harmony between its component parts that encourages you to try it all, and a story that keeps you invested throughout the whole thing. If there was ever any question that Assassin’s Creed needed something ambitious to get the series back on track, Black Flag is that game and then some.” [read the full review]

— Shaun McInnis

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Assassin’s Creed Odyssey — 8/10

“Despite this, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey’s ambition is admirable, which is reflected in its rich attention to detail for the era and its approach to handling the multi-faceted narrative with strong protagonists at the lead. While its large-scale campaign–clocking in at over 50 hours–can occasionally be tiresome, and some features don’t quite make the impact they should, Odyssey makes great strides in its massive and dynamic world, and it’s a joy to venture out and leave your mark on its ever-changing setting.” [Read the review]

— Alessandro Fillari, Editor

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Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 — 8/10

“Black Ops 4 isn’t short on content, and its three main modes are substantial. Multiplayer introduces more tactical mechanics without forcing you into them, and it largely strikes a good balance. Zombies has multiple deep, secret-filled maps to explore, though its returning characters don’t hold up and prove distracting. Finally, Blackout pushes Call of Duty in an entirely new direction, making use of aspects from both multiplayer and Zombies for a take on the battle royale genre that stands on its own. Sure, there isn’t a traditional single-player campaign, but with the depth and breadth of what is there, Black Ops 4 doesn’t need it.” [Read the review]

— Kallie Plagge

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Spyro The Dragon: Reignited Trilogy — 8/10

“The Reignited Trilogy is the best kind of collection that not only brings a beloved series up to current visual standards but also proves just how well-built the original titles were. Granted, the originals were done by a little studio called Insomniac, and it’s not exactly surprising something that team did is a fine example of the genre. But the Reignited Trilogy’s developer, Toys for Bob, deserves major kudos for bringing Insomniac’s vision to life in the way we could’ve only dreamed in 1998.” [Read the review]

— Justin Clark

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Hitman 2 — 8/10

“The addition of other minor mechanical changes–like concussive weapons, a picture-in-picture enemy activity alert, and visible security camera sightlines–help to improve Hitman 2 overall as a dense and accessible stealth assassination game. But the new locations are the real stars, impressive and inventive sandboxes ripe for picking apart with exciting experiments. Hitman is about experiencing the anticipation of seeing whether a plan will work when you try it for the first time. It’s about feeling the tension of briskly walking away from a bad situation, hoping you can lose the suspicious guards. It’s the satisfaction of knowing the machinations of a level so well that when a target moves into a particular place at a particular time, you have the perfect way to intervene. Hitman 2 is a familiar experience, but in the Hitman world, familiarity is an incredible strength.” [Read the review]

— Edmond Tran, Senior Editor and Producer

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Battlefield 5 — 8/10

“The Battlefield series has a winning formula that Battlefield V doesn’t deviate far from, at least for now. Conquest and the map roster don’t mesh well together, however, Grand Operations–and the other modes within it–steal the show and foster some of the greatest moments the franchise has offered. You might be surprised by the impact of the slight changes made for this entry, especially when you’re deep into pushing or defending objectives in Frontlines alongside teammates fulfilling their roles. That’s when Battlefield V is at its best.” [Read the review]

— Michael Higham, Associate Editor

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