The successor to the Xbox 360 was another strong entry into the gaming market from Microsoft. Their third home video game console and part of the eighth generation of gaming was direct competition to the PlayStation 4, Nintendo Wii U, and eventually, the Nintendo Switch.
Released in North America on November 22, 2013, the Xbox One saw three different iterations in total with the graphically more powerful Xbox One S in 2016 and the Xbox One X, with upgraded hardware and 4K rendering for games in 2017.
While the PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch both outsold the Xbox One, that doesn’t tell the full story. Regardless of sales numbers, the Xbox One offered a strong multimedia offering, an extremely comfortable controller, and more reliable hardware than the Xbox 360.
Games for the Xbox One also improved dramatically as they became more lifelike, including action games which are among the best the Xbox One platform has to offer. Let’s dive into the best action games the Xbox One has to offer.
What is an Action Game?
When it comes to action games, there are a few different definitions that attempt to define the genre properly. That said, there are some agreed-upon beliefs of what qualifies as an action game, including titles that require strong hand and eye coordination, intense gameplay, and a fast pace.
This could include games like beat ‘em ups, fighting games, and platformers. Even a hack-and-slash game will qualify as an action game under certain conditions, which speaks to the point that this genre is very broadly defined.
Was the Xbox One Known for Action Games?
The Xbox One, like most home consoles, was known for a variety of games to cater to different groups of video game fans. However, action games were strongly represented on the Xbox One, and that shows, as some of the highest-rated games on the platform, per Metacritic, will appear on the list below.
More to the point, out of the eleven best-selling Xbox One games, seven of those titles involve the action genre. Whether it’s action role-playing or action-adventure, it’s proof that the Xbox One was home to some excellent action titles.
#7: Dead Cells
This rogue-like 2D Metroidvania game can be described in one word: fantastic. Available on just about every platform including Xbox One, there’s just something so simple and wonderful about Dead Cells that makes it a joy to play.
Players take on the role of the central character nicknamed the “Prisoner,” and attempt to fight their way off an island level by level, evil henchmen by evil henchmen. To assist you in your fight, you’ll have plenty of weapons and power-ups along the way with just one crucial caveat.
Dead Cells is an action game to be certain, but it is also a game that utilizes something known as the “permadeath” system. Essentially, if you die (and you will die at least once) you go right back to the beginning of the game without any power-ups or items you’ve accrued along the way.
Along with the permadeath system, another highlight of Dead Cells is its procedurally generated levels, so no two playthroughs are the exact same. This exponentially increases the replay value of and helped drive Dead Cells to a 91 Metascore.
- Experience the extraordinary
- Play as heroes, not classes
- Fight for the future... together;The world is your battlefield
- Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) Content Description: Blood, violence, use of tobacco
- 10 Bonus Loot Boxes with cosmetic goodies for your Overwatch heroes
emOverwatch/em is one of the rare first-person multiplayer shooter games that continue to get better over time.
While it might be said that emOverwatch/em is just another arena shooter, that really wouldn’t be doing the game justice. At the time of its release, arena-based multiplayer shooters were just gaining steam and emOverwatch/em felt, and still feels, incredibly refreshing.
First released in 2016 and now supported by a major esports campaign, emOverwatch/em is set some 60 years into the future on an alternate Earth timeline. To summarize, there are more than 30 characters that create teams and run-and-gun your opponents, but just as important as vanquishing your enemies is healing your teammates.
There are multiple game modes available, including Assault, where players must capture two points, or Control, where you have to fight to dominate a neutral central point. Between the various game modes, character selection, and abilities, emOverwatch/em has earned a well-deserved 91 Metascore.
- 4-Player Co-op Gameplay: up to 4 players can play at once. At any time if someone wants to leave or join in, the game will continue without interruption.
- Auto-Murfy mode: A specific button on the controller allowing you to give orders to Murfy as you continue playing with your classic characters (Rayman or any of his friends).
- Online Challenges: Connect with your friends through a variety of challenges that will test your skill and speed. Check the leaderboards to see where you rank around the world.
- Rayman Rocks!: Jump to the beat of a drum, punch to the bass line, even zip-line during a guitar sustain. Timing and rhythm are the key to beat these maps set to music. See if you have what it takes...
- 3D Boss Battles: The bosses have a big advantage over Rayman’s gang… an extra dimension! Dragons and other epic creatures can attack from all angles, so you’ll have to be on top of your game to...
A true platformer game, Rayman Legends is 120 levels of just pure, unbridled fun of trying to help Rayman and his friends jump, collect, and move around toward their goals.
There are any number of challenges available plus 40 remastered levels from the previous Rayman game, Rayman Origins. The game just looks so good on the Xbox One, running at 60 FPS thanks to its bright colors. There’s something here for players of all ages, including a single-player campaign that allows you to control multiple main characters.
What it lacks in online multiplayer it more than makes up for by being just a fun time for the whole family. On the Xbox One, in particular, the fun was helped by the console, eliminating loading time and throwing in bonus costumes from the original Xbox 360 versions of the game.
It’s clear the developers at Ubisoft have a real passion for the platform genre, and the action here speaks to that. There’s no shortage of hand and eye coordination required with Rayman, and with a 91 Metascore, you’ll have no doubts that this is one of the best action platformers on the Xbox One.
#4: emThe Swapper/em
While some might consider emThe Swapper/em just another 2D-based action platformer, it’s so much more than that.
The graphics are downright fantastic thanks to the use of clay models to help give the in-game character a unique style of movement that works so well. Within the game, this character is a scavenger stranded above a desolate research station and finds some surprising objects. One of these objects allows her to switch her consciousness between a series of clones and, well, you’ll have to play the game to find out the rest!
There’s a little bit of Metroidvania here and that’s okay as you once again need to be quick on the controller or else you end up back at the start of a level. Thankfully, the two developers from Facepalm Games added a special power to a cloning tool you acquire early in the game that can slow down time, allowing you to better execute more difficult moves.
It’s amazing to think that a game made by two people in their spare time can be this good, but a 92 Metascore proves that it’s better than good, it’s fantastic.
- Featuring Ms. Chalice as a brand new playable character with a modified moveset and new abilities. Once acquired, Ms. Chalice is fully playable through the DLC and the original Cuphead adventure!
- Traverse a brand new Inkwell Isle and wallop the most wacky and monstrous bosses Cuphead has faced yet!
- Find new weapons and charms to aid you in overcoming brand new challenges and setting new records on old bosses!
- Help Chef Saltbaker on a brand new adventure to uncover the mystery of Legendary Chalice's secret quest!
Even if emCuphead in the Delicious Last Course/em is entirely too short for how great it is, it’s still great all the same.
The good news is that if you’re a completionist, you can expand the roughly three hours of gameplay needed to beat the game to almost nine hours.
As a 2D platformer, emCuphead in the Delicious Last Course/em adds a wonderful hand-drawn look that it’s almost worth not playing the game for a moment and just admiring the 1930s cartoon style. It’s unlike anything else on the market, making it worth its 92 Metascore.
Let’s be clear that this game is all about the action, run-and-game action, that is. Up to two players can control Cupman or his brother, Mugman, and fight through various enemies and bosses. As you fight, you will acquire additional abilities and powers and eventually find yourself battling against Saltbaker in battle.
Between the art, sound, music, and gameplay, emCuphead in the Delicious Last Course/em is a must-own for action fans.
Help Cuphead defeat Saltbaker by picking up this game from Amazon here.
- INSIDE and LIMBO combine simple gameplay mechanics with award winning artistry, expertly crafted sound design, and incredible visual storytelling.
- INSIDE: Hunted and alone, a boy finds himself drawn into the center of a dark project.
- LIMBO: Uncertain of his sister's fate, a boy enters LIMBO.
- INSIDE has sold over 1 million copies. LIMBO has sold over 6 million copies. Each have more than 100 awards/nominations.
- Both games have a 90+ Metacritic rating.
A critically acclaimed action game, emInside/em is another 2D platformer on this list that is a must-own for fans of the action-packed genre.
Released in 2016, you play an unnamed young man who explores his environment. The challenge is that the environment is very, very dark, and when matched with silence, leads to an enthralling experience that demands some of your senses to move into high alert. As you continue playing the game, you’ll find yourself in hidden rooms that, when deactivated, allow for an alternate ending which is a nice touch by developers, Playdead.
Of course, the game has some twists including zombies, some scientists, and a creature called the “Huddle.”
You’ll just have to grab your own copy of emInside/em to figure out who and what the Huddle is. The best part of emInside/em is that it’s original and stands out from a wide crop of “me too” platformers.
The 93 Metascore is almost too low for the originality of the title but it’s evident this game is another action game you need to quickly add to your back catalog of games to play.
Surprise, it’s another 2D platformer, but calling Celeste just another 2D platformer doesn’t do the game or its development team enough justice.
Earning a 94 Metascore, Celeste isn’t just the absolute best action game for the Xbox One, it’s one of the best games on the console, period. Released in 2018, Celeste is a game that requires every bit of precision movement and hand and eye coordination, two immediately recognizable characteristics of an action game.
The game itself is played as Madeline, who begins climbing up Celeste Mountain where she must use jumping and climbing skills to reach the top. It’s important to master Celeste’s mid-air dash to move quickly or you’ll find yourself stuck at the very beginning of the game. As more advanced moves come into play, the game gets both easier and harder to master.
Across the roughly eight-hour storyline, be careful of the spikes as they are your biggest danger and will end your game if you fall.
Celeste is just one of those games that draw you in and immediately grab hold of you until you figure out how to get Madeline all the way to her goal.
The Xbox One might not have been the most popular console of its era, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. The console is full of incredibly fun and engaging games, an arguably more comfortable controller than the PlayStation 4, and a better multimedia experience.
Games like Celeste, Dead Cells, and The Swapper are available for this console and that’s just one of the many reasons the Xbox One is a great console.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©iStock.com/luza studios.