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Best Xbox 360 games: The must-play backwards-compatible Xbox 360 games

Rediscover some gems with our guide to the best Xbox 360 games you can buy

The Xbox One definitely has some excellent games out there, but even the best Xbox One games can’t stack up against our favourite Xbox 360 games.

The Xbox 360 was Microsoft’s gaming division at its absolute best. The console may have looked a bit weird and been christened with a stupid name, but it definitely had a games library that everyone wanted to play. Now, with the Xbox One’s backwards compatibility, and the impressive improvements to emulation the Xbox One X brings, there’s never been a better time to dive back in and rediscover – or just simply discover – the excellent games available on the Xbox 360.

There are, however, a couple of things you need to remember before diving into playing the best Xbox 360 games on your Xbox One.

Not all Xbox 360 games can be played on the Xbox One

While plenty of games from the Xbox 360 are playable on Xbox One, there are a few strange omissions, so it’s worth checking the list of backwards-compatible titles before buying a game willy-nilly. All the games on our list are 100% backwards-compatible, so at least you don’t have to worry about that.

Backwards-compatible Xbox 360 game may be missing features

Because these games are all old titles, you may find that some features no longer work. Kinect support is patchy, with almost all Kinect-only games not featuring on the list of supported games at all. Online play is also flakey, so don’t rely on online-only, or multiplayer-heavy games working all that well – in fact, in some instances you may discover that online play is no longer supported at all. Games needing special peripherals – like DJ Hero or Rock Band – aren’t supported, and likely never will be.

READ NEXT: The best games for showing off your Xbox One X

Previous Xbox 360 purchases do carry over

If you’ve already bought a set of Xbox 360 games, be the digitally or in physical form, you can use them on your Xbox One. However, even if you install an Xbox 360 disc to your Xbox One, you’ll still need the disc to validate it. You also won’t be able to download a digital version of a game you have on disc unless you pay for it first. Downloading games you’ve previously bought may also not be completely straightforward, in many instances you’ll have to head to the Microsoft Store, log in and then redownload past purchases via push downloads to your Xbox One.

The best Xbox 360 games

1. Lost Odyssey

If anyone ever tells you there’s a better RPG out there on the Xbox 360 than Lost Odyssey, they’re lying. Aside from Final Fantasy in its heyday and the Persona series of games, Lost Odyssey is one of the best JRPGs ever made. Its story is written by Final Fantasy series creator Hironobu Sakaguchi, with series composer Nobuo Uematsu also joining to score this brilliant adventure.

In terms of story, it’s your typical tale of a corrupt empire lauding its power, while a small resistance struggles to overthrow it. At the centre of it all is an amnesiac immortal named Kaim who, along with other immortals you discover on your journey, mount an opposition during the age of a magical industrial revolution.

Split over four discs, Lost Odyssey is an absolutely mammoth game with a huge open world to explore. Even though it introduces some brilliant 360-degree battles and active battle mechanics, it’s as close to a classic JRPG as you’ll get in 2018. Even when it was released ten years ago, it was still the best example of the genre you could find.

Buy Lost Odyssey now from the Microsoft Store


Grand Theft Auto V may still be one of the best-selling titles on Xbox One, PS4 and PC every week thanks to GTA Online, but GTA IV on the Xbox 360 is still very much worth revisiting. While not as expansive as GTA V’s multi-character story, Rockstar’s tale of Serbian immigrant and war veteran Niko Bellic trying to find himself a new life in the land of opportunity is a wonderful take on the American dream. As with all entries into the GTA series, it’s big, bold and violent as hell, but it’s also immersive and hilarious, pulling no punches while poking fun at the absurdity of American culture.

Picking up the Complete Edition also gives you both excellent story expansions The Lost and Damned and The Ballad of Gay Tony.

Buy GTA IV now from the Microsoft Store

3. The Orange Box

Valve has been away from the game making process for some time (though that may be changing), and if you want to know why that’s such a bad thing, The Orange Box is a great place to start. In one package you get Team Fortress 2, Portal, Half-Life 2, Half-Life 2: Episode One and Half-Life 2: Episode Two. Okay, so there’s a tinge of disappointment there that the Half-Life series ends on a cliffhanger at the end of Episode Two, but you can’t fault just how fantastic Valve’s creations are.

Chances are Team Fortress 2’s servers no longer work on Xbox 360, but you’ll still have hours of enjoyment playing the fantastic 3D puzzle game Portal and experiencing some of the finest gameplay a shooter has to offer in Half-Life 2. Do yourself a favour and pick this up ASAP.

Buy The Orange Box now from the Microsoft Store

4. The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion

While not as vast as Skyrim nor with as large a fan following as Morrowind, Oblivion still has a very special place in many player’s hearts as the first Elder Scrolls game they played. Set in the nation of Cyrodiil, Oblivion tasks you with stopping the fanatical Mythic Dawn cult as they open gates to a demonic realm known as Oblivion.

After Morrowind, series developers Bethesda opted for a tighter, more story-driven, experience – something they stepped back from again in Skyrim. Because of this, Oblivion certainly feels more linear, but you can still venture out into Cyrodiil and encounter a wide array of bizarre sidequests and stumble upon incredibly odd occurrences out in the wild.

Picking up the Game of the Year edition of Oblivion also gives you access to its Knights of the Nine and Shivering Isles expansions as well as a smattering of extra in-game content that was released as DLC.

Buy Oblivion now from the Microsoft Store

5. Fallout 3

As another absolutely epic RPG from Bethesda, Fallout 3 represents the first time the Fallout franchise had gone to a first-person perspective with a completely open-world to explore. This momentous shift for the series paid off and led to a truly fantastic outing with Fallout 3. Many prefer the more bizarre and challenging Fallout: New Vegas, and Fallout 4 has garnered a lot of attention due to a whole set of new gameplay mechanics, but Fallout 3 is where this new chapter of Fallout all started, and it’s definitely worth going back. Plus, Liam Neeson plays your father, so what more could you want?

If you can get your hands on the Game of the Year edition, you’ll also get access to its five expansion packs. This means you can extend the story by playing through Operation: Anchorage, The Pitt, Broken Steel, Point Lookout and Mothership Zeta.

Buy Fallout 3 now from the Microsoft Store

6. Red Dead Redemption

With Red Dead Redemption 2 on the way later this year, there’s never been a more perfect time to visit – or revisit – the original. Following the tale of former outlaw John Marston as he attempts to clear his debt to society by working with the federal government as a gun for hire, Red Dead Redemption is the video game version of the absolute perfect and iconic western film.

Set in the decline of the American frontier, it focuses on the issues that Rockstar does so well – the American dream. This time, though, it’s not the hyped-up media vision of what the land of opportunity can do, but instead a muted view of how a lack of law, the temptation of riches and the world at your feet can corrupt even the best of men. It’s an absolute must-play and, if you opt for the Game of the Year edition you’ll pick up the brilliant zombie-packed Undead Nightmare in one package.

Buy Red Dead Redemption now from the Microsoft Store

7. Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2

There is no arcade experience as good as Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2. If you love chasing high scores, the adrenaline rush of near-misses and pulse-pounding electronic music, Retro Evolved 2 is for you. It’s challenging but incredibly rewarding as you dodge different geometric shapes and blast them out of existence while fighting for a place on the leaderboard. There are a handful of different single-player modes and some four-player multiplayer ones too, but the best feeling is simply playing with friends as you pass the pad trying to better each other’s efforts. You’ll be hooked in seconds.

Buy Geometry Wars Retro Evolved 2 now from the Microsoft Store

8. Spelunky

Think you’re good at platform games? Spelunky’ll set you right. A roguelike platformer, meaning it randomly generates levels with each playthrough, a hilarious death is always around the corner, whether you fall on spikes, get bitten by a vampire or get shot by an angry shopkeeper. Gradually you learn the techniques to keep you alive that bit longer, and finally beating Olmec to win the game is truly a euphoric moment. It’s even better when you do a Hell run to beat Yama, but that’s another story.

There’s an achievement for completing the game in under eight minutes. That’s doable for a pro player, but for everyone else, the achievement for getting over 1,000 deaths is a far more attainable goal.

Buy Spelunky on the Microsoft Store

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