Best Xbox games to play in 2023 from open world epics to indie classics (2023)


ith its current pairing of consoles, the Xbox One Series X and Xbox One Series S, Microsoft is taking a unique approach to this console generation.

They both run the same games, but while the Series X is a towering black monolith with powerful processors and 4K output (even 8K is possible) that gives the PlayStation 5 a run for its money, the Series S takes a more laid-back approach, providing less processing power and resolution but targeting a different market. The Series S is cheaper, smaller, lighter and perfect for anyone who doesn’t own a 4K TV or plays mainly retro or indie titles, though it can hold its own with the big boys if it needs to.

There’s also considerable crossover with the PC’s games catalogue, as you’d expect from a console made by Microsoft. Multi-platform games are the norm now, with console-exclusive titles mainly limited to those from firstparty games studios - that is, the ones owned by the console manufacturer. Even then, many Xbox-exclusive titles tend to end up on PC.

This console generation is an exciting one, as alongside the consolidation of 4K and HDR in consoles, we’ve seen the addition of fast solid-state storage inside them, replacing the spinning hard drives Xbox introduced in 2001. This extra speed means loading times have plummeted, and the size of the drives (1TB for Series X, 512GB for Series S, both expandable) means downloadable games are more common than ever.

Between the military firstperson shooters, racing, sci-fi exploration and 2D puzzle titles available, the range of games available on Xbox is wider than ever. You don’t buy a console for its hardware, you buy it for the experiences it can give you.

Here are some of the best games available on Xbox consoles today.

Halo Infinite

Also available for PC, but this is the closest you’re going to get to a big-name Xbox exclusive shooter. The series has always looked great, its sci-fi setting, colourful alien enemies and extravagant weapons making a nice change from bald men in army uniforms with machine-guns - and the extra power of the latest Xbox consoles just makes it look even better.

There’s a singleplayer campaign, which moves away from the linear levels of previous releases to an open-world with bases to capture and missions to carry out, contains the same mix of on-foot and vehicle combat as previous Halo games It continues the series tradition of short bursts of action, capturing an enemy observation post, for example, followed by a period of relative peace in which you reload your weapons, allow your energy shield to recharge, and choose where to go next.

New additions include a grappling hook to make climbing the mountainous terrain of the world - and the outside of buildings - easier, and a scattering of ‘high value targets’ to eliminate taking the place of boss monsters.

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Multiplayer is a major part of the Halo games, and Halo Infinite’s multiplayer modes are completely free to play, and doesn’t even require membership of a subscription service like Xbox Live. It mixes classic last-player-standing deathmatch modes such as Slayer with King of the Hill, Capture the Flag, and Oddball, in which teams compete to carry a skull around for the longest time, while shooting each other.

Infinite is a modernisation of Halo, but if you want to replay the classic games, they’re also available as The Master Chief Collection.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt - Next-Gen Update

A game from 2015 updated for 2023, The Witcher 3 was hailed as a classic at the time but shines on the latest Xbox consoles. The Next-Gen update (we’re not sure why the current consoles are constantly referred to as ‘next-gen’ when they’ve been available for two years) is free, and downloads like a patch to enhance existing copies of the game.

The update doesn’t just bring graphical updates, though ray-traced lighting and shadows, 4K textures, and nicer looking water are nice to have, but also includes quality-of-life improvements such as the ability to pause during cutscenes, an increase in speed for the use of magic and the collection of herbs and plenty of bug-fixes.

The game itself is an epic role-playing game set in the world created by Polish fantasy author Andrzej Sapkowski. As Geralt, a monster-slayer for hire, you’re tasked with not just battling the surprising variety of mythical creatures that inhabit the mythology-inspired world, but facing down a war between factions and searching for your adopted daughter too.

Red Dead Redemption 2

A free-roaming, heavily fictionalised version of the American west circa 1899, this western is filled with slow-motion gunfights, train robberies, kidnappings and impressive hats.

There is a central plot, a yarn about a criminal gang trying to evade the law so they can make enough money to retire, but much of the fun is found in the incidental details and side-quests you find by just wandering around. From digging up dinosaur bones to capturing something that might be a zebra, to chasing down a magician to reunite a theatre act, and exploring a city based on New Orleans, there’s a lot going on. You can even just sit and watch the wildlife.

There’s cowboy-themed multiplayer too, known as Red Dead Online, and while it’s certainly possible to have a violent old time prowling the old west looking for trouble, players also use it for fishing trips, treasure hunts, or just to sit around a campfire having a chat. The ways players discover to use games in ways you might not expect continue to astonish.

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A more pure firstperson action game, Deathloop casts you as an assassin directed to take out eight targets on an island. The trouble is, if you die, or make it to nightfall without making all the kills, time resets and you’re returned to the beach where you started. As you play the same day over and over, you build up the knowledge you need to move between the island’s four districts, and carry out your task before nightfall.

The game isn’t strictly timed, and it’s moving between districts that advances the clock, but a complication exists in the form of a target character who’s immune to the time loop, taunting and hunting the player throughout the game, and who can be optionally controlled by another human player.

It’s high-concept stuff even before you take into account the alternate-history 1960s setting and multiple routes through the meticulously designed island community, where a never-ending party takes place, with no consequences thanks to the time loop.

Elden Ring

Elden Ring’s developer, From Software, has a reputation for creating robust fantasy games that take a firm but fair approach to difficulty. Its Souls series - Demon’s Souls, the three Dark Souls games, and Bloodborne - are notoriously hard, but it’s always possible to complete them, and some players have done so with especially weak characters.

The latest game breaks with a lot of traditions, and sends the player out into an open world filled with things to kill (though they will certainly fight back) and a storyline written with the aid of Game of Thrones author George R R Martin that draws you through the world until you earn the chance to rule or destroy it.

With over 17 million copies sold and multiple Game of the Year awards under its belt, Elden Ring succeeds in bringing the Souls style of game to an open world, but many players dislike the difficulty level and the vague, low-key way the overall plot is applied to it. It remains a triumph, however.

Hitman Trilogy

The three Hitman games released since 2016 combined in one package, casting you as grim baldie Agent 47 who travels the world, offing bad people in creative ways.

Each self-contained level is a sandbox filled with people, poisons, sharp edges and even the occasional gun. Drop Agent 47 in, learn your target’s routine, discover secret passages, put on disguises, maybe pop some poison in his tea or hide a bomb under his bed, then get out unobserved as the whole place descends into chaos.

Done well, it’s a lot of fun and can leave you feeling like James Bond if he discovered sneaking, but some of the best times are to be had when you’re discovered too soon and have to run for your life, switching disguises in a broom cupboard before drugging a security guard and hiding him in a toilet cubicle.

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Assassin's Creed Valhalla

Ubisoft’s long-running series used to be a bit like Hitman - you had a target, perhaps the Pope, and you had to sneak in to stab him before escaping. These days, it’s a free-roaming open-world game with extra stabbing, and this latest instalment casts you as a viking, invading Britain on your longship and setting up home.

Alongside the fighting, of which there’s quite a lot, you’ll build a village, discover mystical ruins, and take part in the series overarching meta plot, which makes no sense any more and should probably be dropped.

Despite this, the bulk of the game sees you viking around ancient Britain, wresting control from native tribes, uncovering ancient relics, and even riding a giant lynx. It’s the best-looking Assassin’s Creed game yet, and while it diverges quite a bit from the series’ origins, it’s no less enjoyable for it.


Something a little bit different. Immortality is a game about sifting through movie scenes, hunting for clues that eventually reveal a non-linear narrative that must be pieced together to understand the overall story. Is it a game or an interactive movie? And is there really a difference?

The video footage is all performed by real actors, occasionally wearing unconvincing wigs, and the game centres on model turned actress Marissa Marcel, a minor movie star who has gone missing. By watching clips from her movies, TV interviews, and behind-the-scenes recordings, you eventually spot items and patterns that lead you on to other clips, which open up more clips, and so on.

Eventually, you’ll have pieced together the mystery, which goes places you certainly wouldn’t expect when you start the game. It’s the third game from developer Sam Barlow, all of which have used this unusual format and are well worth playing, but is certainly the most ambitious yet.

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Forza Horizon 5

Racing games are second only to shooters when it comes to the best Xbox games, and this one, from a firstparty developer, leads the pack.

The Forza Horizon games are set in an imaginary motoring festival that takes over an entire country for a year. The fourth game was set in the UK, and allowed you to destroy dry-stone walls and red telephone boxes by driving powerful cars into them, but this latest release relocates the action to Mexico.

In the enormously expensive sports car of your choice, you can take part in races, PR stunts and other events, or switch your vehicle for a specialist car to attempt off-road racing, long jump challenges, or just explore the map - it’s all unlocked when you begin. Team events and multiplayer races round out the package.

Stardew Valley

The indie game that took the world by storm in 2016 and went on to sell 20 million copies and counting, Stardew Valley may be available on every platform, but deserves its place on this list.

Its pixel-art graphics may look a little old-fashioned, but the core loop of growing, harvesting, crafting, mining and fishing, plus befriending the villagers and gradually improving your farm, remains as compelling as it ever was.

The Xbox version comes with splitscreen co-op multiplayer, making it the ideal game to play on the couch with a friend or partner, but online multiplayer is available too. Whether playing with one farmer or four, the game essentially goes on for ever as seasons come and go, crops are grown, wine made and the strange creatures that lurk in the mines are battled to gain valuable metals. It looks simple, but draws you in with its complexity.


It’s a great time to own an Xbox. Whether you go for the ultra-powerful Series X or the smaller, cheaper Series S (which is no slouch either) the games available are varied, fun, and look great. While the games themselves can be expensive, there are regular online sales that make downloadable games more palatable, and the Game Pass subscription gives you access to a vast catalogue of titles for a monthly fee.

(Video) Top 30 Xbox Game Pass Games That You Should Play Right Now | 2022 & 2023

The games on this list only scratch the surface of what’s available, but whether you’re into military shooters or strategy games, you’ll find something to scratch your gaming itch.


What is the most popular game in 2023? ›

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom

Probably the most hyped game of 2023, Tears of the Kingdom comes six years after Switch's peerless launch game, Breath of the Wild.

What is the number 1 Xbox game right now? ›

What Xbox Games Are People Playing Right Now?
Game TitleChange
2.Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II/Warzone 2.01
3.High on Life
4.Grand Theft Auto V1
16 more rows

What games are getting remastered 2023? ›

Big-name games like The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom and Diablo IV are coming in 2023, as are several high-profile remakes of classic games.

What is the most realistic open-world game in the world? ›

Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain

The sense of realism is above and beyond. Love it or hate it, The Phantom Pain is one of the most realistic open-world games of all time.

What is the rarest Xbox game? ›

The 18 Rarest Original Xbox Games
  • OutRun 2006 Coast 2 Coast.
  • Call of Cthulhu Dark Corners of the Earth.
  • Def Jam: Fight for NY.
  • Spikeout: Battle Street.
  • Futurama.
  • Teen Titans.
  • Jet Set Radio Future.
  • Stubbs the Zombie in Rebel Without a Pulse.


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