Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, uncertainty hangs over the new release calendar as well as the forthcoming generation of hardware. The Last of Us Part II has been delayed indefinitely and we still don’t have dates for PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X. Odds are we won’t hear when these highly anticipated gaming avenues will arrive until the world is right again. In the meantime, most of us are self-quarantining, and games are a great way to keep us indoors and entertained.
Last week, the Game Informer staff came together with nearly a dozen game suggestions for Switch, and today we have assembled a list that recommends just as many for Xbox One. Whether you have owned an Xbox One since launch or just picked one up to help pass the time during your shelter-in-place, these games are all fantastic options and stand on their own in unique ways.
As always, we want to hear what games you would recommend people should play during the pandemic in the comments section below. We hope you are all healthy and safe, and that these lists help deliver a degree of fun over the new couple of months.
The Elder Scrolls Online
Giant, sprawling MMORPGs are an awesome choice for lockdown situations – with boatloads of content to explore by yourself or with some other homebound friends, Elder Scrolls Online is a solid choice for this time. ESO is having its sixth anniversary event right now, which means there’s cake available for all players. The cake just so happens to double your experience gain, which is great if you’re just starting out to catch up, just in time for this year’s big expansion, Greymoor. If you’ve never played ESO before, what began as a rather mediocre and mundane MMO has improved dramatically over the years, adding plenty of opportunities to tool around the world Skyrim-style stealing anything that isn’t nailed down and fencing it, getting bit by vampires and werewolves for exciting new skill trees, and scouring dungeons for every nibble of honey, apples, and decorative wax. ESO’s delves and public dungeons allow you to pair up with other players organically without having to put a group together, but if you do feel like grouping, chaining dungeons with random folks or your friends is fast and easy. A paragon-esque endgame post-leveling system allows you to continue growing and gain rewards long after you reach level cap, meaning your time spent grinding away sheltering at home can yield some juicy bonuses for whatever characters you feel like boosting. – Dan Tack
After my first hour with Cuphead, I was sure I wasn’t going to like it … I was a fool. Cuphead is well known as the game that looks like a long-lost Disney film. StudioMDHR painstakingly created every asset in the game using old-school animation techniques, which give Cuphead an incredible visual style. At the same time, Cuphead is also known for being an incredible challenge, which is the reason I almost bounced off it my first time out. Thankfully, I stuck with this amazing game, because it’s an incredible thrill ride. Aside from a handful of side-scrolling platform levels, Cuphead is primarily a series of intense boss battles where you whittle away at massive health bars using a variety of Cuphead’s shooting attacks. Is it hard? Sure, but right now might be the best time for you to hunker down and try to master a game like this. If anything, Cuphead could prove therapeutic. I found Cuphead’s visually chaotic boss battles invigorating, as a worked-out pent up frustration on these cartoon monstrosities. A lot of games can help you relax, but that’s not the only thing games are good for. If you really need a thrill right now, then look no further than Cuphead. – Ben Reeves
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey
I usually play one game before moving on to another, devoting however much time is needed to see the credits roll. That hasn’t been the case with Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. Given the enormous scale of this adventure, I’ve been picking at it like a vulture, consuming large, delicious bites whenever I jump back in. I guess you could say I’m savoring it, as it’s transformed into my go-to experience when I need to dive into something for hours and days on end. Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is the biggest entry in the series, and it’s remarkably consistent in its content, delivering fun, choice-driven quests, plenty of wall scaling, all sorts of stealthy staby staby moments, and a true sense of discovery whether you are sailing the seals or riding horseback into uncharted territory. Just hunting down the well-hidden cultists is an immensely satisfying use of time, given you get to play detective and take out a bad guy in the same breath. I can’t stress just how beautifully made this game is – both in the historical aspect of Greece and the experience that unfolds within it. As much as I want to see how this story ends, I also don’t want it to. It’s become a mainstay in my life. – Andrew Reiner
Path of Exile
Dungeon-crawlers are one of my go-to game genres. Not to completely dismiss the hard work that developers pour into their narratives, but I’ll be honest – for me, a large part of the appeal here is that you can tune out the story, turn up a podcast, and grind your way through hordes of monsters while getting ever-more-powerful loot. If that sounds good, a great place to start is Grinding Gear Games’ excellent Path of Exile. Don’t be intimidated by its massive (and I really do mean massive) skill tree; there are plenty of great guides and tutorials online for when you’re ready to min-max your hero. In the meantime, it’s just a cathartic way to kill time, either solo or with friends. Better yet, it’s free to play, so you can jump in without spending a dime. As I say every time this game comes up, you can certainly kick in a few bucks, but they’re completely optional. – Jeff Cork
The series has long been stuck behind its competition, but this year’s entry is by far the best yet. Not only does it offer a full-fledged career for the first time (complete with upgradable employees and an R&D tree), but the racing gameplay is tight and tense as well. I really like the tracks. It sounds like a secondary aspect to the driving itself, but in a rally game, if you don’t have good tracks the game is shortchanging you. Not only are the tracks at locations around the world difficult in general, but they have features like different surfaces and configurations that really test aspects of your driving. Narrow, unforgiving asphalt paths in Germany, for instance, are simply more of a challenge for my style of driving versus loose, gravely mountain courses. This, combined with the cars’ handling and horsepower, deliver a rally experience that is exhilarating. The Xbox One has well-known and solid racers like the Forza titles, but WRC 8 is definitely worth a look if you’re up for a challenge. – Matthew Kato
Blizzard’s superb first-person shooter is fun to play even when you’re not locked in your own house, but with social gatherings unable to happen for the foreseeable future, Overwatch is the perfect game to gather your buddies and catch up. Not only can you squeeze six members of your crew into one party, but with a host of diverse heroes to choose from, your friends can feel like they’re contributing something regardless of their ability levels or specialties. Add in the standout personalities, zany periphery modes, and an ever-expanding list of offerings (including a new playable character, Echo, in the next couple of weeks), and Overwatch is the perfect game to pick back up or discover for the first time. – Brian Shea
The Outer Worlds
It’s hard to go stir-crazy in your house if your mind is in a faraway star system, fascinated by a planet-hopping journey. That’s what you get with The Outer Worlds, an RPG/shooter that combines the open-world exploration and combat of Fallout with the sci-fi sensibilities of Mass Effect. Developer Obsidian Entertainment creates an amusing, outlandish setting in which planets and their citizens are completely controlled by corporations, and things are not going well. Your character presents an unplanned disruption in that system, and you make choices big and small that help determine the fate of the colony. You have your own ship, the Unreliable, and collect a crew of memorable characters – like the lovably awkward Parvati and the cleaning-obsessed automaton SAM. With tons of ways to build your character and approach situations (not all of which need to devolve into combat), you can talk, sneak, shoot, and laugh your way through this deep and rewarding adventure. – Joe Juba
Ori and the Will of the Wisps
Plenty of games manage to excel in a few areas – art, design, animation, narrative, pacing – and emerge as enjoyable plays as a result. But it’s rare indeed to encounter a game that manages to hit all the shots it takes, excellence shining through in every facet of gameplay, storytelling, and presentation. That’s the rare feat accomplished by Ori and the Will of the Wisp. While this is the second outing for the adorable little platforming spirit, I have no compunction about recommending it to players, regardless of familiarity with the earlier game. That’s because Will of the Wisps is a virtual “how-to” on stellar game-making, offering a memorable standalone adventure that is challenging, emotionally powerful, beautiful, and fun to play. In the grand tradition of Metroid, Ori’s journeys take him across a massive map filled with hidden nooks and crannies. With new combat and traversal tools unlocking all the time, additional avenues and secrets gradually reveal themselves – perfectly paced in their reveals to deliver a sense of constant discovery. Ori and the Will of the Wisps is a great joy to play, and alongside its life-affirming story, a balm to anyone who is looking for artistic escape in a troubled time. – Matt Miller
While some may look to avoid anything to do with end-of-the-world scenarios, Sunset Overdrive is the perfect form of escapism for these troubling times. Players take on a smart-mouthed survivor in the midst of a corporate-caused apocalypse to an often hilarious effect. While the story may feel too close to home for some, it’s Sunset’s world, traversal, and combat that matter most. Sunset City is teeming with colorful personality and side missions to get lost in, and why wouldn’t you when it’s so fun to get around this neon-laced hellscape? Insomniac’s game has some of the best traversal in the medium as you grind, double jump, and dash your way through the grotesque-but-silly mutant enemies. Moving around feels incredible, and the game does its best in combat scenarios to keep you on your toes with its frenetic and addicting pace. Speaking of combat, Insomniac’s knack for weapon design shines brightly here. Just as with a certain lombax and his mechanical friend, Sunset Overdrive is packed with a plethora of guns that feel special and useful in their own way. Combine all that with a goofy story and absolutely massive boss encounters, and Sunset Overdrive isn’t only one of Insomniac’s most entertaining titles, it’s also one of the best games on the Xbox One. Especially with the advent of Game Pass, there’s no excuse not to ride the rails of Sunset City until your troubles (and those mutants) melt away. – Alex Stadnik
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
The Witcher 3 is a massive beast, providing countless quests and interesting characters to explore. Thankfully, the game is extremely absorbing to keep you distracted through the long haul; expect to sink at least 50+ hours into this one – and as many as a 100 with the expansions. With his dry wit and determination, Geralt of Rivia is a likable protagonist, and his bond with Ciri lets you see a softer side to him (plus, Ciri is such a fierce character on her own). But the biggest highlight of The Witcher 3 is seeing the ripple effect from all your decisions play out across a vast open world, even in how you support Ciri, which factors into which of the multiple endings you get. In this time where we don’t feel like we have much control over the current situation, it is liberating to be able to impact a world in such great ways, even if it’s only virtual. Of course, The Witcher has made a name for itself with its difficult decisions and their shades of gray, so it won’t be an easy, mindless journey, but that’s part of the allure. It’s a harsh world, but you can find plenty of gratifying and rewarding moments within it, and even a little romance. – Kimberley Wallace