Now entering the third year of its existence, the Xbox One is slowly but surely starting to build up a stellar library of games, with something for everyone. While it does skew towards an older age group, with little for the youngest of players, there's still plenty for kids and adults alike to get their teeth stuck into. With Christmas fast approaching, we thought it'd be a good idea to put together a handy guide to this year's top picks on the Xbox One, with a selection of titles for each age group (3-5, 6-10, 11+), along with a few choice games for the adults, and one for the family to get stuck into (no easy task on a console that seems to be shunning local multiplayer games in favour of online). So, without further ado, let's get to it!
Frozen Free Fall
While there isn't really all that much on the Xbox One that's suitable for little ones, Frozen Free Fall fits the bill nicely. A free to play download, this is a game that can't be gifted, but if you're getting an Xbox One for Christmas, and have a young child who's going to want to get stuck in, this could be a great game to download ready for the big day. A simple, easy to pick-up-and-play match three title starring all your favourite characters from Frozen, all you have to do is shuffle the tiles around on the grid to make matches of three or more of the same colour - at which point they explode, and you earn points. With a two-player, same console competitive mode, more than one player can join in with the fun, making this a good pick for Christmas morning. As a free to play game, there are micro-transactions available here, but they're mostly used to recharge your lives after a few failed levels, rather than waiting for them to recharge on their own.
The series that made "toys to life" games popular, Skylanders SuperChargers returns with the same two-player, same-console co-op fun we've come to know and love - only this time, there's a twist. SuperChargers is the firs Skylanders game to add vehicles to the mix, letting you take part in both vehicle-based levels, and the game's brand new Mario Kart style racing mode. Mixing real life figures with a great co-op experience, the starter pack comes with everything you need to play through the main story, bundling two characters, a vehicle, and a play set base, with plenty more vehicles and Skylanders available if you want to play more. It is worth noting that some of the race levels are locked off unless you buy an add-on pack.
Skylanders SuperChargers Review
Parental Review: Skylanders SuperChargers
Buy Skylanders SuperChargers from Amazon.co.uk
Buy Skylanders SuperChargers from Amazon.com
Disney Infinity 3.0
A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away, Disney Infinity added Star Wars to its cast of Disney/Pixar and Marvel characters - and the rest, as they say, is history. A "toys to life" game like Skylanders, this follows a similar idea - coming bundled with a base, two characters (Anakin Skywalker and Ahsoka Tano), and a "Play Set piece" that lets you access the Twilight of the Republic adventure - the Disney Infinity 3.0 starter pack comes with everything you need for hours and hours of fun. The bundled Play Set, Twilight of the Republic is set during the events of the first three films, and sees you infiltrating a droid factory on Geonosis, Pod racing on Tatooine, and facing off against Darth Maul in a dual of the fates, with loads of story missions, and dozens of side quests to complete. If you're more of a free form thinker, you can always dip into the Toy Box mode, which gives you a blank canvas to create your own levels, and lets you use all your Disney Infinity toys together (the Play Sets only let you use toys from that specific franchise). Various add-ons are also available, including Play Sets themed around Marvel and Inside Out, and loads of new characters.
Disney Infinity 3.0 Review
Parental Review: Disney Infinity 3.0
Buy Disney Infinity 3.0 from Amazon.co.uk
Buy Disney Infinity 3.0 from Amazon.com
LEGO Jurassic World
If there's one thing kids can't get enough of, it's LEGO games - and luckily for us, the series is showing no signs of slowing down any time soon. One of the latest games, LEGO Jurassic World takes you on a LEGOy recreation of all four Jurassic Park films, including the recently released Jurassic World, blending the same winning same console co-op gameplay with LEGO dinosaurs! Letting you bash bad guys, smash LEGO, and solve puzzles as you work your way through key moments from the films (and even get the chance to create your own dinosaurs), this is a game that'll have your kids - and big kids - hooked from start to finish, with dozens of hours of fun to keep them coming back for more - especially if they want to try and 100% it.
LEGO Jurassic World Review
Parental Review: LEGO Jurassic World
Buy LEGO Jurassic World from Amazon.co.uk
Buy LEGO Jurassic World from Amazon.com
The third "toys to life" game to be released this year is also a bit of a special one, as LEGO enters the fray. Taking the same "place physical toys on a toy pad base in order to play as them in game" concept, LEGO Dimensions takes things one step further by first, mixing over a dozen huge franchises together, and secondly, by being LEGO. The story here follows the evil Lord Vortech, who's decided he should rule the entire LEGO Multiverse, and has opened portals between each of the worlds, causing chaos as he goes. What follows is a journey that takes you from the Lord of the Rings to Doctor Who, from the Simpsons to Back to the Future, from Scooby Doo to the Ghostbusters, taking in many more franchises along the way in a LEGO themed mash-up that many could only have dreamt of. The starter pack comes with all you need to get going, bundling three figures - DC's Batman, the LEGO Movie's Wyldstyle and Lord of the Ring's Gandalf - along with the toy pad base, and a huge bag of LEGO bricks you'll need to use to build the portal. Mixing real life LEGO building fun with a fantastic game, this is the present we'd want to wake up to on Christmas morning. Keep in mind that an internet connection is required to download the latest updates before you can play using certain characters, or in certain adventure worlds beyond the main story, though!
LEGO Dimensions Review
Parental Review: LEGO Dimensions
Buy LEGO Dimensions from Amazon.co.uk
Buy LEGO Dimensions from Amazon.com
Minecraft: Story Mode
Offering a bit of a different take on the traditional Minecraft game, Minecraft Story Mode is a slower paced, story driven adventure set in the incredibly popular blocky universe. When all hell breaks loose as a wither monster is released into the world, it's up to you, and your plucky gang of adventuring friends, to set off on a quest to find the four heroes of legend, in an attempt to re-unite them and save the world. With a lot of conversations to be had, this plays out kind of similarly to a choose your own adventure novel, with the answers you give and the options you choose taking you down different paths in the game. While it is worth noting you'll need an internet connection to play this, as it'll need to download the later episodes from the internet, this is a must buy for the Minecraft fan in your life.
Minecraft: Story Mode Review
Parental Review: Minecraft: Story Mode
Buy Minecraft: Story Mode from Amazon.co.uk
Buy Minecraft: Story Mode from Amazon.com
From the creators of RollerCoaster Tycoon 3, Screamride is a sorely overlooked Xbox One game that packs in more fun than you'd think from the name. Essentially divided up into three modes, you get to build, ride, and, er, destroy your own roller coasters across a huge variety of levels - with many more user-created ones available to download for free. Riding your coasters is fairly simple - in total control of the car, all you have to do is get it round the track as quickly as possible, tilting up onto two wheels and giving it handy boosts as you go. Making your coasters is a little bit trickier, as not only do you have to ensure your cars get round the whole track, but you have to make it exciting enough that those on board will love what they ride too. But destruction is where the game comes into its own - whether you're simply using one of those giant whirly arm rides to fire a pod of willing volunteers at a building in an attempt to make it collapse, or trying to come up with the perfect coaster design to send the car crashing into a city (and don't worry - the people all get up just fine and brush themselves down, having loved the experience), this is a huge amount of fun, and is well worth picking up.
Parental Review: Screamride
Buy Screamride from Amazon.co.uk
Buy Screamride from Amazon.com
They say in space, no-one can hear you scream - but in a galaxy populated by thousands of other people, that may not be true. Elite Dangerous is an intergalactic adventure set in a galaxy of infinite possibilities. Starting out in control of just a small ship, it's up to you to get ahead however you can, whether you mine asteroids and trade resources, become a pirate, or bounty-hunt, as you start to build your empire. With 400 billion star systems to explore, and giant space stations to dock with, this is a game that ticks every sci-fi box going - although as it has yet to have a boxed release, we've included a link for some Xbox Credit instead.
Buy Xbox Credit from Amazon.co.uk
Buy Xbox Credit from Amazon.com
Game of Thrones
Now that winter is less coming and more here, what better way to take your mind off the freezing cold temperatures outside than with a good story-driven sit down? Set in the fantasy world of Westeros, a la George R.R. Martin's Game of Thrones series, this branching point and click game puts you into the shoes of House Forrester, loyal to the recently disbanded House Stark. Starring all the same characters you know and love from the TV series and books, this is a "choose your own adventure" style game of intrigue and betrayal, as the choices you make will influence how the story plays out. Less action based, and more focussed around dialogue options, being on the wrong side in a war for the throne is a risky business, and you'll have to make many an awkward decision along the way - to kill or not to kill, to trust or not to trust - make the wrong one and it could come back to haunt you later on down the line. Because when you play the game of thrones, you win or you die.
Buy Game of Thrones from Amazon.co.uk
Buy Game of Thrones from Amazon.com
Divinity: Original Sin
Divinity: Original Sin is as unique as it is incredible. Not only is it a top-down role playing game that lets you play in split-screen co-op - but it's also about as far from a hack and slash game as you can get, with accessible turn-based battles and an incredibly original combat system ruling over the proceedings. With hundreds of quests to complete, a wicked sense of humour, and the ability to talk to animals, horde chairs and barricade innocent members of the public into buildings (thanks to the ability to move anything that isn't nailed down around in the game world), this offers endless amounts of fun, and will keep you going until well into next year - especially if you have a buddy to play along.
Buy Divinity: Original Sin Enhanced Edition from Amazon.co.uk
Buy Divinity: Original Sin Enhanced Edition from Amazon.com
While it's not technically a family game in the traditional sense, coming as it does with only the one plastic guitar controller, there's plenty of ways for the family to get involved here. The triumphant return of the rhythm action game, Guitar Hero Live brings back the same "hold the right button and strum as the note passes the line" gameplay we've come to know and love, only this time with a funky first person perspective. If you buy the double guitar bundle, two players can face off against each other, while plugging a microphone in will let a third player join the fun on vocals. With a killer line up of tunes, from Queen to Tenacious D, there's a song for everyone - although parents will want to exercise some sort of caution if playing with younger kids, as some songs do have references to sex and drugs.
Buy Guitar Hero Live from Amazon.co.uk
Buy Guitar Hero Live from Amazon.com