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The Best Exclusives on Xbox One

Forza Horizon 2

Horizon is one of the most fun, chilled-out arcade racers of recent years. If full-on simulation is more your jam, the Xbox One is host to Forza Motorsport 5 and 6, both incredible looking and technically accomplished racing games. On Christmas morning, though, with a belly full of grub and a head full of wine, there’s no better bet than cruising around Europe in Horizon.

Halo 5

You like shooting the aliens and saving the day? You want the Master Chief and his new mate Luke Cage I mean, Spartan Locke. You want arena-based shooting like the good ol’ days? You want large scale online battles that capture the human/covenant wars of Halo like nothing before? Halo’s got you covered. With mind-blowing graphics, a story that puts an interesting twist on the series and it’s origins in Iain M Banks, and that timeless Halo shooting fun, Halo 5 is well worth a punt. Plus, the Xbox is also home to the frankly enormous Master Chief Collection, if you fancied catching up.

Rise of the Tomb Raider

Look, everyone knows what you want with a new games console. You want to plug it into the big TV in the living room and show off the amazing graphics to your whole family. Nothing else this Christmas compares to the snowy peaks and candlelit tombs Lara Croft is exploring. Plus, the platforming, puzzling and shooting is fun as well. So there’s that.

Rare Replay

With 30 games, representing 30 years of the most colourful, lovable, creative games in the world, Rare Replay is an unmissable bargain. To be honest though, the snowy mountains of Banjo Kazooie’s Freezeezy Peak and the sedate wonder of Viva Pinata could make Christmas all by themselves.

Gears of War: Ultimate Edition

Forget all that brightly coloured animal nonsense for babies. This here is a real game, for real men, about a real war, with real guns. For all the reputation as machismo nonsense, no game captures that shooting feeling like Gears of War. Every puzzle is monsters, and the answer is always guns, and that’s what you want. Plus, Gears 2, 3 and Judgment can be downloaded for free with the disk as well. You’ll be shooting guns until next Christmas!

Even after all those, there’s a year’s worth of multi-console behemoths like Metal Gear, Batman, the Witcher and Life is Strange to choose from. And coming next year we have Gears 4, Fable and the master of action Hideki Kamiya’s new banger, Scalebound.

Setting up Your XBox One

Once upon a time, you bought a new games console, popped in a game and you were away. It isn’t quite as simple any more, but once you get the Xbox up and going you’re in for a world of entertainment.

The first thing you’ll want to set up is your Microsoft Account. If you’ve had an Xbox before, or even something more mundane like Hotmail, you’re partway there.

If you own a games machine in 2015, you’re presumably planning to play online. To do that with Xbox One, you need an Xbox Gold account. Worth setting up straight away, this will net you two free download games a month. Plus, by going here you can tell your Xbox to download two Xbox 360 games each time as well.

 Number Five... is alive!

Number Five... is alive!

Not every Xbox One owner will have opted to grab a Kinect as well, but if you’ve got one its well worth getting it hooked up. I’ve yet to use it in a game effectively, but the ability to tell my Xbox to go to apps, play, pause, change the channel still feels like witchcraft. Speaking of which…

OneGuide is the system that links your TV or digibox to the Xbox. Simply go through the menu to tell your machine what model and so on you have, and the console will be able to control your other devices by flashing infrared from the Kinect. Never panic to find the remote when your mum tells you to turn the volume down again!

 Orange is a somewhat less festive colour than green...

Orange is a somewhat less festive colour than green...

The Xbox runs apps like Youtube, Netflix, Twitch and the WWE Network. Getting them all linked to your accounts, you can pick shows on your phone on the way home and watch them as soon as you sit down on the sofa. With youtube, I like to search for videos I want to show my friends on my phone even as they watch another one on the TV. If that sort of thing sounds cool…

Get the Smartglass app on your phone. It’ll let you use your touchscreen to type in menus, or look at maps, or generally get involved in all that “second screen experience” stuff they keep telling us is the future.

If you have Windows 10, either because you wanted it or because your machine sneakily installed it, getting the Xbox app synched up with your console will let you stream to your PC and record footage. Before you know it, you’ll be raking in those Pewdiepie dollars!