Ever since Microsoft announced that backward compatibility was coming to Xbox One, the company hasn’t stopped adding new titles on a regular basis. There are hundreds of games to choose from as part of this program and if you have a collection of either physical or digital Xbox 360 games, you’ll be glad to hear that most of them are playable on the Xbox One. You can always go to Microsoft’s official blog and see which games are available, but if you’re interested in those games that are absolutely essential, here’s a list for you.
For philosophy majors: BioShock
For those who haven’t played it yet, BioShock might seem like a traditional first-person shooter, but the more you explore the underwater utopia of Rapture, the more layers of complexity the game reveals. The story, for example, is based on ideas of objectivism first introduced by Ayn Rand (author of Atlas Shrugged) and there are several references to the works of George Orwell (Animal Farm, 1984,) but BioShock also works well as a first-person shooter. BioShock Infinite is also a must-have title.
For those who want to play with others: Call of Duty: Black Ops
There’s a reason why Black Ops is one of the best-selling games of all time: the time and tested gameplay, thrilling single-player campaign, variety of multiplayer modes (including split-screen play) and fantastic zombies mode make this one of the most fully featured games in the series and one everyone should play. Although there’s an engrossing single-player campaign, Black Ops’ best part is playing online with others, so make sure you have a Gold membership.
For masochists: Dark Souls
Dark Souls has one of the deepest combats in an action role-playing game. But its intricate world design, obscure lore and punishing gameplay make it the modern masterpiece that it is. Some people call Dark Souls unnecessarily unforgiving, but I think From Software crafted a title that offers both a dreadful experience and an incredibly rewarding one. Like life, Dark Souls eloquently shows that sometimes, success means that you have to fail over and over.
For those who want to travel around the galaxy: Mass Effect
Mass Effect is not a perfect game (the combat and vehicle navigation being the primary complaints,) but its interactive story, cinematic flair, fantastic presentation and evocative soundtrack make this a space opera that’s extremely well crafted. If you ever wanted to play a space opera that feels as intricate and deep as something like Star Wars, Mass Effect is as close as you’re going to get.
For open-world fans: Red Dead Redemption
Set during the decline of the American Frontier in 1911, this third-person open-world adventure puts you in the shoes of John Marston, an outlaw who’s trying to save his wife and son who have been kidnapped. The story’s fantastic and so is traveling around this fictionalized version of the Western United States and parts of Mexico. Rockstar Games really knows how to make open-world games and Red Dead Redemption is proof of that.
For those who want to explore a big world: Fallout 3
Fallout 3 is set in a post-apocalyptic United States and you need to explore this bleak setting and protect other members of your vault from the imminent nuclear fallout. Fallout 3 became one of the best games of its generation thanks to a flexible combat system, ambitious open world, open-ended nature and realistic world. It may suffer from bugs and glitches, but this role-playing game offers an experience like no other.
For speed junkies: Burnout Paradise
Burnout Paradise took the concepts established in previous games of the series to create one of the best racing games ever. There’s an open world to explore, several types of races to participate in, free updates that add motorcycles and a time of the day cycle and new gameplay mechanics. The whole experience might seem overwhelming at first, since there’s so much to do, but Burnout Paradise is a game that encourages you to hit the gas and never slow down.
For those who want more band for their buck: The Orange Box
The Orange Box is, simply put, one of the best video game compilations ever made. The collection comes with Half-Life 2, Episode One, Episode Two, Team Fortress 2 and first-person puzzler, Portal. If you haven’t played those games or if you want to play them all over again, this collection is one of the best deals you can get. It’s a shame that the Half-Life 2 story has never received a proper ending, but even if Episode Two ends in a cliffhanger, the franchise offers some of the best first-person shooting experiences ever.
For those looking to have adventures: Assassin’s Creed II
If you ever wanted to travel to Renaissance Italy, Assassin’s Creed Ii provides just that (Florence, Venice, Rome are some of the Italian cities you can explore as part of the game.) But even if you don’t, the game will convince you and it might make you a history buff. The level of detail, terrific narrative, big world to explore and the improvements over its flawed predecessor make the second entry in the Assassin’s Creed series a must play.
For those feeling nostalgic: Pac-Man: Championship Edition DX+
This downloadable arcade game improves upon the ideas of Championship Edition and the “+” at the end adds so much to the game that you wouldn’t believe it (there are new modes, leaderboard functionality and access to more DLC.) But the best improvements come in the form of gameplay changes that make DX+ one of the best Pac-Man games ever made. Believe me when I tell you that there’s nothing quite like having dozens of ghosts behind you and eating all of them after getting a power pellet. There’s something therapeutic about the experience and everyone who likes Pac-Man shouldn’t miss it for the world.