Action games are one of the most popular genres for console gamers and Xbox One has an excellent selection. From Ancient Greece, to the far flung future of mankind there is a game out there for everyone. Out of all of them, Red Dead Redemption 2 delivers the one experience that you definitely don't want to miss out on.
Best Overall: Red Dead Redemption 2
Red Dead Redemption 2
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
When it comes to games that are beautiful, deliver a compelling plot, and have enough to explore with combat mechanics that leave you satisfied, there aren't many options. Games tend to do one or two things well, but finding one that puts together the whole package flawlessly is rare. Red Dead Redemption 2 manages to pull it off. The game acts as a prequel to the original game, and transports you to the Wild West for an experience you aren't going to want to put down.
To begin with, this isn't a short storyline by any stretch of the imagination. There are roughly 60 hours of gameplay to complete, and every moment grabs you by the eyes and doesn't let go. That 60 hour mark only applies to the main story; if you decide to pick up every optional quest you come across, you can easily break the 80 hour mark or more.
The game kicks off in 1899 as civilization stretches out through the West turning bandits into an endangered species. You play as Arthur Morgan, an outlaw working with a gang on the run after a heist gone wrong. If you played Red Dead Redemption, you'll recognize Dutch, the leader of the gang as the man that must be hunted down 12 years later, and the game does an excellent job of linking the two games without shoving it down your throat. They end up working in tandem to deliver a taut, gripping story.
As the story progresses, there are a variety of missions that both unfold Arthur's story and unveil the various side hustles he can take advantage of, from playing poker to stealing (and then selling) horses. You'll find hesists, shootouts, and chases that take you across gorgeous landscapes and that's just the tip of the iceberg. While the pace may seem slow at times, it's visually stunning.
Between the graphics and the voice acting, you're drawn into the world. The attention to detail is apparent from the dark swamps where gators lay in wait, to snowy peaks, and open plateaus. Each new area is as gorgeously rendered as the one that came before it, and it's all available to be explored. The details are down to simple things like the way clothing sits on a character, or the sun rising over the mountains. There's so much to explore, so many people to meet, and things to discover.
When it's time to fight, Rockstar has also put serious care into every aspect. There are bare knuckled fights, shootouts that require you to duck behind cover and prepare your weapon before firing, and even combat while you ride your horse. Depending on the weapon you're using, you'll need to cock your gun before taking aim and firing. It adds a layer of realism to combat.
There are also some excellent new additions. The first is horse bonding. Only horses that trust Arthur are going to be any good in a fight, otherwise you may find yourself kicked in the face at an inopportune time. You build trust by riding, brushing, and feeding your horse, and it is possible to keep the same equine companion throughout the whole game. If something terrible should befall your faithful steed, however, you may have to deal with the heartbreaking choice to euthanize them.
An honor system has also been added. It works similar to an honor system in other games. The more altruistic you are, the less you need to worry about bounty hunters and lawmen. While assuming the form of a vicious outlaw means you won't have access to as many discounts in shops, and may constantly be ducking the law.
All together, Red Dead Redemption 2 delivers an experience that is rich and full of things to explore, experience, and of course, shoot. Rockstar has taken everything good about the first game and enhanced it, along with delivering new characters, new features, and new things to fall in love with out west.
Best Open World: Assassin's Creed Odyssey
Assassin's Creed Odyssey
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
Assassin's Creed Origins breathes new life into the franchise, seamlessly blending combat, story, and more options than the series has ever offered before. Whether you play as Kassandra or Alexios, you're given an experience that twists and turns as you decide what kind of Assassin you want to be.
To begin with, the choices you have with Odyssey are far more diverse than they've ever been in Assassin's Creed. It starts with letting you choose between two different protagonists. From there, the variety continues with dialog options that allow you to react to the events that unfold, and even control who you begin to lust after. It has taken the new start we saw in Assassin's Creed Origins and streamlined it to deliver a better experience than ever before.
You'll still be playing the game franchise you know and love, but it's better in every way. The graphics have taken a step up, and it's easy to be distracted by every little detail. It's also bigger than any other game in the franchise with a main storyline that continues for well over 50 hours, with tons of optional missions you can take advantage of.
The way you choose to play also translates into your weapon choices and the abilities follow that model. There is a full weapon and armor upgrade tree, and playerd will have access to a variety of different weapons in the same vein. This means a variety of bows, knives, and more so you can customize the way you engage in combat. There are also three trees of abilities you can tweak and upgrade to make yourself better at Ranged, Combat and Stealth aspects of gameplay.
Best Horror: Resident Evil 2
Resident Evil 2
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
It's been a month since Raccoon City was overrun by the zombies spawned by Umbrella's T-Virus and now two protagnist, Leon and Claire, are trying to fight their way out of this hellscape. Resident Evil 2 is a remake of the original game released way back in 1998. Whether you've been hooked on the franchise since then, or this is your first trip to Raccoon City, the game delivers an awesome experience.
Resident Evil 2 is a full remake. That means everything was rebuilt from the ground up and the first place where this is very evident are the graphics. Zombies are terrifying whether they're chomping at the bit right in front of you, or shambling in your direction in a horde. The environment uses fantastic thematic lighting to add tension to every moment of gameplay, and you'll still flinch when you hear a beastie breathing in the next room.
One of the major updates to the game are the controls. They're now far more fluid and easier to handle. It's much easier to weave through large groups of zombies and shooting is far more accurate than the original.
Capcom has also changed a few things to update the gameplay for 2019. Save spots are no longer few and far between; you don't have to panic quite as much when you're low on ammo and run into a room of zombies you can't clear. Maps also now update automatically with whether the room has been fully cleared of items. This is particularly handy since there are secret compartments with gear you'll want or need, hidden all over the place.
Capcom does an excellent job of updating the things that don't work for a modern game, while still staying true to the original story and feel of Resident Evil. If you want a horror game that delivers chills and lets you blow the face off of some zombies, this is the one.
Best Combat: Nier Automata
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
In the far future, there are no humans on Earth. They have all escaped to the moon after an alien invasion, leaving behind Androids to battle against the many machines extraterrestrials have spawned. It's a world that is empty of organic lifeforms, but alive in lush green landscapes and crumbling buildings. The story follows android 2B and her team as they try to destroy the deadlock between humans and extra terrestrials, but there is more to this war than meets the eye.
Everywhere you look there are massive hulks of buildings and machinery, and they give you a sense of scale which can't be overstated. Each environment looks massive. The colors are vivid and combined with a beautiful music score, it adds a lot to the atmosphere of gameplay. While a significant portion of the game has you fighting through shady forests or the ruins of cities, there are also more off-the-wall locations like on top of a roller coaster.
The real shining gem of Nier Automata is the seamless combat that goes from simple to completely bonkers in a few hours. It delivers gameplay that includes hack-and-slash mechanics, blowing up machinery from a distance, and the ability to leap and dodge out of the way of the murderous robots you're trying to kill. Switching between different weapons is as easy as hitting the D-pad and then continuing along your way. The combat mechanics are fluid and easy to master, which is important because eventually you're going to be faced off against mobs of enemies. You'll need to frantically chop through them to survive.
Combat is also helped by the customization system. During gameplay, you'll add and remove various chips which let you adjust different stats. Searching the environment will let you snag bolts and other components to upgrade your weapons and AI battle pods. During challenging fights, you can quickly pause to swap out gear for a better selection that gives you better odds of surviving a fight.
Best Story: Devil May Cry 5
Devil May Cry 5
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
When it comes to action games, Devil May Cry is one of the most enduring games in the genre. With a compelling story, updated graphics, and button-mashing, air flipping fun-as-heck combat mechanics, Devil May Cry manages to bring the franchise to a new high with the latest installment.
This time Dante is joined by Nero and a new character named V. The game kicks off in what feels like end game content, with Dante staying behind to try and dispatch a demon king. He fails, and the rest of the game takes place several months later, jumping between all three characters to tell a story that pulls threads from previous games along with delivering twists and turns. While the story is only about 12 hours long, it's filled with enough sharp turns that we don't want to spoil a single second for you. It fills in plot holes from previous installments in the series and poses some new questions for fans to answer.
As usual, it's the combat that makes Devil May Cry so much fun. Each character has their own set of weapons and skills for you to master. All combat is built off of three buttons: melee, ranged, and special. It's how you use them while you bounce from enemy to enemy that really matters, though. The combat system is fluid, and when you unleash special moves, no matter which character you're controlling, you'll get a real show.
This go around, the level design has also been tweaked so that they are more straight forward and less puzzle based. The combat has upped the ante, and it's all pulled together by beautiful graphics. Whether you're using Dante's motorcycle to ram into enemies or one of V's familiar to maul an entire group, the scenes playing out are sharp and in focus.
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While every game on our list does a great job of showing off the variety of the adventure game genre, no one does it nearly as well as Red Dead Redemption 2 It offers amazing graphics, a huge well built world, fun mechanics, and a story that shouldn't be missed.
Red Dead Redemption 2 shows off what a game can look like when time and effort are the goals. Every aspect of gameplay is gorgeous and well thought out. Your surroundings look and feel real when you see them, and the attention to detail is insane. With a new honor system, updated combat mechanics, a new horse bonding feature, and a truly open world to explore, this is the best Action game on Xbox One by a long shot.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Jen Karner has been a gamer since she got her first console, a Sega Genesis. Since then she's been taking out templars, shooting zombies, and always on the lookout for the next great game. You can follow her on Twitter.
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