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Best Xbox 360 Games to Play on Xbox One

The Xbox 360 has been officially discontinued (opens in new tab) after 10-plus years, but many of its best games live on through the Xbox One. Over 100 Xbox 360 titles are playable on Microsoft's new console, including such all-time favorites as Dark Souls, Mass Effect and the entire Gears of War series.

If you're new to the Xbox family and are wondering which 360 classics you missed, here are our favorite backwards-compatible titles for Xbox One. You can find most of these gems for less than $20, and they'll work on your Xbox One whether you buy them digitally or pop a physical copy into your system.

Editor's Note: For a full roundup of every backwards-compatible Xbox 360 game, checkout our ongoing list.

Mass Effect

The title that kick-started one of gaming's most beloved franchises, Mass Effect is an epic sci-fi role-playing adventure that pits you against a galaxy-threatening species known as the Reapers. Even in the midst of all the stunning planetary exploration and frenetic third-person shooting, Mass Effect stands out by letting you control the story. Every dialogue choice you make matters, as you'll build a legend that carries on throughout the entirety of the Mass Effect trilogy. Mass Effect hasn't aged quite as well as its two sequels, but it's an absolute must-play for anyone looking to get lost in a spectacular science-fiction story.

Dark Souls

Dark Souls throws you into a brooding and unpredictable fantasy world with little explanation, leaving you to explore its gorgeously bleak environments -- and figure out how to take down its terrifying bosses -- all on your own. This beloved action-RPG is notorious for its difficulty curve, but as series fans will attest, the feeling of adapting to and overcoming its unrelenting enemies is as satisfying as games get.  If you want to go back to the series' roots before or after playing Dark Souls III, here's a great place to start.

South Park: The Stick of Truth

The terms "South Park" and "role-playing game" don't seem to belong together, but Obsidian made a delightfully lewd combination out of the two with The Stick of Truth. This RPG blends old-school turn-based combat with an art style that's so true to the South Park cartoon, you might just think you're watching an episode once the cut scenes come on. Filled with plenty of dirty in-jokes for both gamers and South Park diehards alike, The Stick of Truth will probably make you laugh more than every other game on this list combined.

MORE: South Park: The Stick of Truth Review 

Gears of War 3

The pinnacle of Microsoft's beloved third-person shooter series, Gears of War 3 is one of the meatiest, most action-packed experiences in the entire genre. GoW 3 refines Epic Games' patented cover-based shooting to near perfection, has tons of multiplayer modes with a still-active player base and includes a four-player co-op campaign that manages to squeeze genuine emotion out of the game's beefy bro-soldiers. Xbox newbies should really try out the entire series, but if you're only going to play one, make it No. 3.


Braid is deceptively simple on the surface. This puzzle platformer from famed developer Jonathan Blow casts you as a young man on a quest to save a princess, something we've all been doing since the early days of the NES. However, this indie hit unravels into something far more special, as you'll find yourself manipulating time to solve complex puzzles as you take in the game's stunning art style and uncover its somber plot. Braid played a huge part in bringing indie games to the masses back in 2008, and its legacy is the reason so many people are buzzing about Blow's newest release, The Witness.

Halo: Reach

Halo: Reach doesn't star Master Chief or Cortana, but it still might tell the best story of any game in Microsoft's long-running shooter franchise. Set before the time period of the original Halo game, Reach casts you as a member of a colorful squad of Spartans tasked with taking on the evil Covenant long before they invaded Earth. Aside from offering a highly likeable cast and an emotional story, Reach pushed the Halo formula forward by introducing new abilities that let players thrust, sprint and float around in jetpacks. If you've just joined the series with 2015's Halo 5, you'll see a lot of design influence from this 2010 classic in the newer game.

Alan Wake

Blending third-person action with psychological horror, Remedy Entertainment's Alan Wake is one of the most celebrated pieces of narrative in gaming. Cast as an award-winning thriller novelist whose fiction comes to life, you'll unravel the mystery behind your wife's disappearance across six TV-inspired "episodes." Its unique approach to storytelling is complemented by its combat, which has you take down scary, shadowy enemies using a mix of guns as well as your trusty flashlight. Remedy's strong storytelling chops live on in Quantum Break, the studio's time-bending video game/TV show hybrid that includes a free copy of Alan Wake.


If you enjoy fighting games, you need to try Skullgirls — period. This frenetic brawler will likely lure you in with its gorgeous hand-drawn art style, but it'll keep you hooked with a deep and satisfying combat system that borrows from such beloved games as Marvel vs. Capcom and BlazBlue. Skullgirls is oozing with in-jokes for diehard fighting-game fans, but is also incredibly accessible, thanks to its robust training mode and familiar-feeling controls. The Xbox One has been hurting for good fighting games, which makes Skullgirls' arrival on the platform an extra-big win.

Mirror's Edge

Mirror's Edge redefined what a first-person action game could be after launching in 2008, trading typical running-and-gunning for an innovative parkour system that lets players gracefully sprint, jump and slide from building to building. The game pits protagonist Faith against an oppressive totalitarian government, giving players the perfect excuse to run like crazy and duke it out with security thugs who are equally skilled in free running. With long-awaited sequel Mirror's Edge Catalyst launching in the summer of 2016, now's the perfect time to see what the series' revered running-action is all about.

MORE: Most Anticipated Games 

Dead Space

One of last generation's most celebrated survival horror games, Dead Space challenges you to wade your way through an alien-infested spaceship or die trying. Dead Space's jump scares and overall sense of creepy atmosphere make it a standout, but it's third-person action gameplay is no slouch, either. The game's "strategic dismemberment" system encourages you to shoot individual limbs off of your alien enemies, something that never quite gets old thanks to Dead Space's satisfying weapons and tight shooting.

Assassin's Creed II

Ubisoft has made approximately 1 billion Assassin's Creed games, but the second installment still stands out as one of the very best in the series. Set in 15th-century Italy, Assassin's Creed II refines the series' signature stealth-exploration game play, providing a ton of ways to blend into the background, slay unsuspecting enemies or simply take in the beautiful architecture. Assassin's Creed II kicked off an entire subtrilogy of Assassin's games, cementing protagonist Ezio Auditore as one of the most iconic heroes in modern gaming.

Castlevania: Symphony of the Night

You'll find Castlevania: Symphony of the Night near the top of just about every "Best Games of All Time" list out there, and for good reason. This adventure-platformer took the Castlevania series in a bold new direction, trading linear stages for a more open game world that encourages players to explore new areas as they gain new abilities. Symphony of the Night's tight combat, deep leveling system and multiple endings set a new standard for action games, and helped inspire today's thriving crop of "Metroidvania" platformers.

Castlevania: Symphony of the Night

Mike Andronico is Senior Writer at CNNUnderscored. He was formerly Managing Editor at Tom's Guide, where he wrote extensively on gaming, as well as running the show on the news front. When not at work, you can usually catch him playing Street Fighter, devouring Twitch streams and trying to convince people that Hawkeye is the best Avenger.