In an effort to streamline its hot mess of an interface, Microsoft will roll out the sleek New Xbox Experience on Xbox One on November 12. The massive update to the Xbox One’s operating system will enable Xbox 360 backward compatibility — allowing select titles from the last-gen console to be playable — on the Xbox One. About damn time.
At launch, 104 games will be playable, the majority of which come from the Xbox Live Arcade and HD remakes of original Xbox titles. Microsoft promises more to be added in the future, specifically naming Halo Reach, Skate 3, Call of Duty: Black Ops, and all three BioShock games.
The list of all playable Xbox 360 games can be found on the official Xbox website, but allow me to highlight the best so you can make the most of your time. Because, y’know, Fallout 4 is a thing.
Assassin’s Creed II
The first sequel is probably still the best of the entire Assassin’s Creed series. Ezio is still the most fun of the central characters and getting to play with Da Vinci’s toys was rad.
Beyond Good & Evil HD
Jade lives! The cult action-platform puzzler from the days of the Xbox (and PlayStation 2 and GameCube — it was multiplatform) had an HD remake released on the Xbox Live Arcade in March 2011.
2K Games’ answer to Fallout was Borderlands, released in 2009, a colorful romp through an apocalyptic wasteland that later spawned a franchise. There’s a movie on the way.
I never played it, but my friends swore by Castle Crashers. The four-player arcade game was a throwback to the side-scrolling 2D beat-em-ups of yesteryear but with a modern paint job. You can play the original Xbox 360 version, or you can wait on the full-fledged remastered edition for Xbox One coming soon.
A real throwback to the Sega Dreamcast and bowling alley arcades, Crazy Taxi is a solid half-hour distraction that’s like Uber turned into a rollercoaster. Sadly, the Xbox 360 edition was stripped of things that made the original cool, like the nightmarish presence of corporate brands and the amazing late-‘90s pop punk soundtrack.
Condemned: Criminal Origins
It’s a bit late for Halloween, but the first-person horror game Condemned is one of the few Xbox 360 launch titles still worth playing today.
It’s difficult to consider spending time in Fallout 3 now that Fallout 4 is here, but the previous installment is worth a trek if you’re willing. Expect a drearier color palette of gun grays and blacks, and no, you don’t have a dog.
Gears of War 1-3 and Judgment
The Xbox’s best exclusive franchise that isn’t Halo is Gears of War. Players who have Gears of War: Ultimate Edition will get to cash in tokens to redeem all four games on December 1st.
When Microsoft announced backward compatibility at E3, it was Mass Effect they showed off. While the first in BioWare’s sci-fi trilogy suffered from clunky design that its successors quickly surpassed, Mass Effect remains an amazing experience that shouldn’t be missed. I can’t wait for Mass Effect 2 and 3 to be playable.
A first-person parkour game, Mirror’s Edge sported a unique presentation of dystopia that really wanted you to not shoot guns. Thought to be the start of a series, Mirror’s Edge quietly died until the reboot/prequel Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst was announced this year at E3.
Monday Night Combat
Released on Xbox Live Arcade in 2010, Uber Entertainment’s riff on primetime sports just missed the eSports train. The game and its sequel, Super Monday Night Combat aren’t spoken of in the same breath as League of Legends or Team Fortress 2. Perhaps new life on the Xbox One will correct that.
South Park: The Stick of Truth
I’m saying it with a straight face: Ubisoft’s South Park: The Stick of Truth from 2014 was one of the best RPGs of the last console generation. It’s definitely not as deep or robust as Skyrim, but I’m hard-pressed to remember any turn-based RPG I had more fun with than Stick of Truth.