Best Xbox Exclusives Of All Time

Highlights

  • Xbox has historically struggled with exclusive titles, but they have released some standout games over the years, including Morrowind and Halo 2.
  • Call of Duty 2, a 2005 Xbox exclusive, showcased the potential for the franchise to be exclusive to Xbox in the future.
  • Lost Odyssey and Ninja Gaiden 2 are hidden gems that offer unique and immersive gameplay experiences exclusive to Xbox consoles.

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Xbox has had problems regarding exclusive titles. Many don’t consider the console to possess system sellers in the way God of War is for PlayStation. However, over the years, Xbox home consoles have amassed exclusive gems.

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From back in the 360 days to the release of Starfield on the Xbox Series X|S, Xbox has indeed launched games that can move units. We’ve collected some of the best here, but it’s important to note that in order for an exclusive to be included, it has to be an Xbox console exclusive and still be one. Games that have gone to other consoles like Switch or PlayStation, such as Dead Rising, won’t count.

A Swampy landscape in Morrowind

Xbox was an important system historically due to its many console ports that could replicate the PC experience. There were still compromises, but a lot of amazing PC titles like Deus Ex: Invisible War, Thief: Deadly Shadows, and Doom 3 were Xbox console exclusives. The first big game-changing one, though, was Morrowind.

A stellar game in its own right, this 2002 Xbox port paved the way for PC-to-console conversions going forward. It’s definitely aged by today’s standards in terms of its graphics and obtuse console controls. However, due to its importance and still being a fantastic RPG, it’s one of the best original Xbox exclusives.

9 Halo 2

Master Chief ready to battle with a Rocket Launcher in Halo 2.

Halo was phenomenal and changed the game for console FPS titles like GoldenEye 007 did four years earlier. Halo 2, on the other hand, blew everything else out of the water, including the original. It still has one of the best FPS campaigns in terms of its story, level design, fun factor, and even music. Bungie introduced a secondary protagonist in the Arbiter, who’s a great character.

Often, fans will reject a secondary protagonist to the one they’re used to, but Bungie nailed the Arbiter. Halo 2 also had online multiplayer for the first time in the series. The online play here was incredibly game-changing, and its impact can still be seen today. Halo 2, for many, is what they immediately think of when the original Xbox comes to mind, and it’s not hard to see why.

8 Call Of Duty 2

Call Of Duty 2 Screenshot Of Squad In Cover

Here’s a game you likely didn’t know was an Xbox exclusive. With Microsoft’s imminent acquisition of Activision Blizzard, many are wondering about Call of Duty being a potential Xbox exclusive down the road. Well, there’s already an Xbox-exclusive COD game, and that’s Call of Duty 2 from 2005. Being an Xbox 360 launch title, COD2 doesn’t have a phenomenal or game-changing multiplayer like future entries, but the campaign more than makes up for it.

This title is still one of the best WW2 experiences and is still effective at immersing you right into the war. There’s a Russian, British, and American campaign, and all of them are great with memorable moments. Not to mention, COD2 was the game to really popularize regenerating health for most FPS games going forward.

7 Lost Odyssey

Lost Odyssey Kaim Charging into battle

When Lost Odyssey released in 2007, most assumed that the next mainline Final Fantasy would be a PlayStation exclusive. It was actually surprising for many when it was revealed that FF13 would be multi-platform. This context is important because Lost Odyssey was essentially pitched as Xbox’s Final Fantasy, with even certain FF developers like creator Hironobu Sakaguchi and composer Nobuo Uematsu working on the project.

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Lost Odyssey is a real RPG hidden gem that not many people talk about anymore. It’s more of an old-school RPG, but an amazing one that easily outdoes FF13 and even many of its follow-ups. Despite being published by Xbox Game Studios, the title isn’t on Game Pass. However, Lost Odyssey does go on sale quite often, and that’s a great chance to pick up this fantastic RPG.

6 Ninja Gaiden 2

Ryu Hayabusa charging up a Tonfa Ultimate Technique in Ninja Gaiden 2.

It’s funny that most action game fans will choose Ninja Gaiden Black as the objectively better entry of the two, but a lot will say that their favorite is Ninja Gaiden 2. There’s still no other action game like it, with its fast, brutal, and wild carnage on display.

The game takes so many risks, it’s hard not to love it. NG2 does have its issues with bugs and poor boss fights, but it might have the best combination of raw combat, variety of enemies, and level design in all of action gaming.

5 Left 4 Dead 2

Ellis, Coach, Rochelle, and Nick In Left 4 Dead 2

If you only owned a PlayStation 3 back in the day, one of the games you wanted on Xbox 360 was Left 4 Dead. Face it, Left 4 Dead 2 was, for many, one of the big exclusive games people wanted a 360 for if they didn’t have a modern gaming PC.

The title was another game-changer, this time for multiplayer cooperative shooters. It’s still extremely fun and, shockingly, has an active Xbox 360 playerbase. You can jump into the game now and still find people rather quickly. Left 4 Dead 2 remains the king of zombie games, and it’s hard to see that changing anytime soon.

4 The Witcher 2: Assassins Of Kings

Geralt stripped of his gear in The Witcher 2.

This is another title you likely didn’t know was an Xbox exclusive. The entire Witcher trilogy is fantastic, and although many have only played the third instalment, the first two are great as well.

Witcher 2, being the middle chapter, sets up a lot of what’s to come in Witcher 3, and it flows amazingly if you play one right after the other. While not as massive as Witcher 3, the game still delivers a meaty adventure split into three distinct chapters. With solid quests and that signature CD Projekt Red quality writing, it’s a must-play RPG.

3 Forza Horizon 5

A cinematic view of a rally race in Forza Horizon 5.

Exclusives for newer Xbox consoles are rare in the all-time great department, but Forza Horizon 5 definitely fits that bill. One of the greatest and best-looking racing games of all time, it actually outdid the newest Gran Turismo, which came a year later.

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Ten years prior, Gran Turismo was firmly ahead in the racing genre, but Forza has since taken the spot for best racing game on the market today. It’s unfortunate Forza isn’t really a system seller, but regardless, Horizon 5 is an all-time great racing game. It even won IGN’s Game of the Year award for 2021, which is incredibly impressive.

2 Hi-Fi Rush

Hi-Fi Rush Key Art

One of 2023’s most surprising gems has to be Hi-Fi Rush. Being announced and released on the same day, it’s a rhythm-based hack-and-slash title with nice cel-shaded visuals. If you’re an action game veteran, the game can feel odd because exploration and combat arenas are very much separate.

You’re not going to get those two elements at one time, but once you’re used to it, it’s a blast. The game has a lot of heart, and the characters do grow on you over time. Hi-Fi Rush is Tango Gamework’s best game yet, and it also offers some stellar DLC to boot.

1 Starfield

Starfield Frontiers ship grav jumping in space

Starfield was the big Xbox exclusive everyone was waiting for, and it did not disappoint. Going back to Bethesda’s roots, being very much a spiritual successor to Daggerfall, Starfield takes the action RPG format to space. You can actually fly to planets in real life, taking a ridiculous amount of hours, just like travel in Daggerfall.

Exploration, RPG mechanics, customization, and its massive size are all impressively done and well-handled. It’s also the most bug-free Bethesda game yet, which is especially nice. Years from now, when developers get asked about what titles inspired them to create games, Starfield will be one of them. It’s that good and exactly the exclusive Xbox needed.

NEXT: Best Sci-Fi RPGs, Ranked

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