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Best Xbox Series X games: essential titles you need to play right now

Best Xbox Series X games: master Chief on a green background
(Image credit: Future/Microsoft)

Looking for the best Xbox Series X games available right now? You'll find them right here. If you've managed to get your hands on an Xbox Series X or Xbox Series S then you'll likely want to fill your gaming library with unmissable Xbox Series X|S games that make the most of Microsoft's latest hardware  – and we're here to tell you what those titles are.

From incredible first-party Xbox exclusives, like Halo Infinite, to third-party blockbusters and indie gems, like Elden Ring and Death's Door, you'll be hard-pressed to find an Xbox Series X game that doesn't suit your tastes. But with so much choice out there, not to mention quality, it can be difficult to determine which Xbox Series X games are must-plays. That's where we come in. 

Below, we've rounded up the best Xbox Series X games available right now, with our list covering everything from racing games that will rev your engine to spine-tingling horrors. All of these games will work on both the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S console (though some titles won't perform as well on the Series S), so whether you're on the hunt for Xbox One games that benefit from Xbox Series X Optimization or brand new titles that showcase the latest Xbox consoles' power, there will be something on our list for you.

What's more, many of these games are available as part of an Xbox Game Pass or Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription (we've highlighted which). If you don’t have a Game Pass subscription already, we strongly advise getting one as they are excellent value for money and will help you make the most of your console.

You'll want to keep this page bookmarked, then, especially as we'll be regularly updating this list as more hotly-anticipated Xbox games release, with the likes of Starfield and Gotham Knights among the new Xbox Series X games we expect could join our list this year.

Ready for your next Xbox adventure? Read on for our list of the best Xbox Series X games, and head over to our roundup of cheap Xbox Series X game deals for big savings.

Best Xbox Series X games

Assassin's Creed Valhalla's Eivor looking ahead with the northern lights in the background

Assassin's Creed Valhalla (Image credit: Ubisoft)
A Viking adventure

Reasons to buy

+
Funniest game in the series
+
Eivor is brilliant protagonist
+
Every hub bursts with life

Reasons to avoid

-
Huge open-world can feel sparse
-
Plot never gets you invested
-
Combat can feel messy

Xbox Series X/S Optimized

Whether you're sailing onto the shore or ransacking a village, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla recreates the Viking age with aplomb. If you’re a fan of Nordic folklore or simply enjoy plunging an axe into the chest of another man, Valhalla promises to deliver. 

Taking full advantage of the Xbox Series X's power, Valhalla offers a native 4K resolution and 60fps frame rate – a first for any Assassin's Creed game on console. While ray tracing is not among the next-gen version's enhancements, the game still looks gorgeous even without the much-hyped tech, so it easily earns its place on our best Xbox Series X games list. If that wasn't enough, there are drinking competitions where you literally try to drink your opponent under the table. Skåll!

Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War character shooting a pistol out of a moving car

Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War (Image credit: Activision)
Back in black

Reasons to buy

+
Visuals take full advantage of next-gen power
+
Addictive and immersive gunplay
+
Multiplayer and Zombies is fantastic

Reasons to avoid

-
A clumsy campaign that retreads old ground
-
A few performance issues around launch

Xbox Series X/S Optimized

Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War may not be the most recent entry in the CoD series, that title belongs to Call of Duty: Vanguard, but it's certainly our favorite Call of Duty game on Microsoft's latest console thanks to its addictive and immersive gameplay.

What's more, Cold War looks incredible on Xbox Series X, simultaneously offering 60fps gameplay, ray tracing and a resolution that targets 4K. That means you won't have to sacrifice any one thing to get an absolutely gorgeous and smooth experience on console. 

Those who enjoy Call of Duty's multiplayer offerings will be pleased to know they can play online at 120fps (with this entry being the first in the series to allow so on console). Combine this with the return of Zombies mode and you'll be cutting through the undead like a hot knife through butter.

Control's Jesse using her supernatural powers

Control (Image credit: 505 Games)
Free your mind

Reasons to buy

+
Stunning particle effects
+
Inspired art direction
+
Crunchy gunplay 
+
Includes DLC plus main game

Reasons to avoid

-
Starts quite slow
-
A few structural compromises

Xbox Series X Optimized

The dark horse of 2019, Remedy Entertainment's Control is an action adventure with a difference. And if you thought it was good on Xbox, wait till you try it on Xbox Series X.

Control sees you stepping into the shoes of Jessie Faden, the newest director of the clandestine Federal Bureau of Control (FBC) - a Government agency that researches, and ultimately aims to control paranormal activity. But Jessie’s new role has a few issues not exactly laid out in the job description, including the uprising of a paranormal force known only as the Hiss.

The affinity with which Remedy has courted multiple difficult genres both in film and in games with Control and still managed to deliver a mind-bending story evocative of True Detective and Twin Peaks is absolutely remarkable.

The Control Ultimate Edition sees you getting both the main base game and both expansions, AWE and The Foundation, packaged in too. What's more, Control Ultimate Edition also benefits from a next-gen upgrade on Xbox Series X/S. On Xbox Series X, players have a choice of two modes: Performance Mode, targeting 60fps performance with 1440p render resolution and 4K output, and Graphics Mode, targeting 30fps with ray tracing (transparency and reflections) at 1440p render resolution and 4K output. On Xbox Series S, you can experience Performance mode that’s targeting 60fps, at 900p render resolution and 1080p output.

Control isn't only one of the best Xbox Series X games, but one of the best games of recent years.

Death's Door gameplay from above, showing a crow walking down a path

Death's Door (Image credit: Devolver Digital)

Death's Door

Beautifully bleak

Reasons to buy

+
Bizarre array of characters
+
Tongue-in-cheek humor
+
Quirky, beautifully bleak world

Reasons to avoid

-
Can be repetitive

Xbox Series X/S Optimized

Death's Door is definitely a dark horse of this best Xbox Series X games list. This fantasy action-adventure is set in a world where crows (yes, you read that right) are in charge of collecting the souls of the dead. But when your crow's assigned soul gets stolen, it's up to you to track it down. But your chase for the thief takes you to a  realm untouched by death, where creatures have grown greedy and powerful.

Death's Door's world is a quirky and somewhat bleak one, but it's undeniably beautiful. Combine that with a vast array of creatures to battle, that range from demigods to beasts, and an arsenal of magic, weapons and arrows to upgrade and you get a must-play adventure game. 

Three guardians stand under the shadow of the Witch Queen

(Image credit: Bungie)

Destiny 2: The Witch Queen

Pure, unadulterated fun

Reasons to buy

+
Fantastic narrative
+
Clever systems
+
Plenty of new gear and story quests

Reasons to avoid

-
Can be daunting for new players

Destiny 2 has reached the pinnacle of what Bungie set out to accomplish with its looter shooter and Witch Queen only emphasizes that.

The Witch Queen is the definitive Destiny 2 campaign, boasting a fantastic narrative with plenty of story quests, new gear, and clever systems. Those who have been long-time Destiny fans will find that the story pulls together threads that have been weaved through the series' narrative for years, adding even more to the game's rich lore. 

What's more, while Destiny can seem somewhat daunting for new players, The Witch Queen expansion offers a great starting point for those who do want to jump into the series for the first time, with plenty of things to do as you get to grips with the game.

Destiny 2: The Witch Queen is the game at its best, easily making it one of the best Xbox Series X games to play right now. Make sure to check out our guide to buying Destiny 2, for everything you need to know about jumping into The Witch Queen.

Devil May Cry 5's Dante fighting a creature

Devil May Cry 5 (Image credit: Capcom)
Dante want to live forever

Reasons to buy

+
Great character variety
+
Beautiful visuals
+
Exceptional soundtrack
+
Embraces its absurdity

Reasons to avoid

-
Story has some moments of poor pacing
-
New players will feel a little lost

Xbox Series X/S Optimized

Devil May Cry 5 is a magnificently over-the-top action game that serves as a good reminder of just how important showing off is.

Each fight is a genuine joy to get stuck into and seeing your rank climb and hearing the music swell never gets old. It does absolutely everything right for long-time fans when it comes to the story. Yet, the self-contained story is easy enough to follow for newcomers. The gameplay is the best it has ever been by a long shot too.

The Xbox Series X Special Edition includes new playable character Vergil, the Legendary Dark Knight mode and Turbo mode, as well as ray-tracing support and a high frame-rate mode.

Dying Light 2 first-person view of the player character fighting an enemy with a machete

Dying Light 2: Stay Human (Image credit: Techland)
One of the most ambitious zombie games ever made

Reasons to buy

+
Satisfying combat and parkour
+
Complex RPG mechanics
+
Beautifully designed world
+
Decent, branching storyline

Reasons to avoid

-
Occasionally dodgy voice acting and dialogue

Xbox Series X/S Optimized

Without a doubt, Dying Light 2 is one of the most ambitious zombie games ever made – a full-blown action RPG that marries a decent storyline with irresistible parkour and melee action, plus an open world stuffed with zombie-dicing delights. 

Set 20 years after the first game, Dying Light 2 sees you playing as Aiden Caldwell, an infected survivor, as he tries to unearth the secrets of his past and locate his sister amidst a ruthless, decaying world. Aiden’s search leads him to The City (the last remaining human settlement), where it’s then up to the player whether our protagonist focuses on his own goal or decides to help the remaining survivors by rebuilding the settlement. Dying Light 2 has a focus on choice and consequence, with your decisions affecting the environment around you - as well as the story itself. 

The original Dying Light took the parkour of Mirror’s Edge, blended it with a zombie shoot-‘em-up, and added a day-and-night variation system to boot. Dying Light 2 turns this up to 11, with a larger emphasis on stealth, parkour, and tweaked equipment to traverse the environment (like gliders, pulleys, and new swinging hooks). With a map four times as big as the first, littered with NPCs, side quests and challenges, Dying Light 2 perfect for those who love open-world survival horrors. 

Elden Ring character fighting a giant enemy wielding a double-sided axe

Elden Ring (Image credit: FromSoftware Inc.)
Not for the faint hearted

Reasons to buy

+
Outrageously rich open world
+
Combat to die for 
+
Endlessly inventive

Reasons to avoid

-
Difficult to learn
-
Performances issues
-
Unhelpful players

Developer FromSoftware continues its run of notoriously difficult action RPGs – or Souls-likes, as ubiquitous as the term is now – with Elden Ring. Set in the fantasy realm of the Lands Between, players hack, slash, dodge, and perfectly time their way through the realm with the hopes of becoming the Elden Lord. 

If that sounds like dull and standard fantasy fare, fear not. George R.R. Martin, the modern-day bard himself, has co-written the story. The collaboration between FromSoftware and Martin results in a rich, vast open world that's dripping in mysteries to unravel - a world that begs to be explored.

Veterans of FromSoftware will find themselves at home in Elden Ring quickly. The combat fundamentals are as strong as ever. There is a wealth of options for specializing your character, with many weapons and spells to support your play style.

However, a word of warning for those who are perhaps less seasoned gamers: Elden Ring isn’t easy. FromSoftware’s titles are notoriously challenging and, for some, that simply isn’t to their tastes - and that’s ok. But that challenge means that every enemy you do takedown, and every inch that you progress, is exceptionally rewarding (perhaps more so than in any other game). 

F1 2021 Red Bull car racing along a track

F1 2021 (Image credit: EA / Codemasters)

F1 2021

The best overall racing package in years

Reasons to buy

+
Brilliant story mode
+
Stunning graphics
+
1-2 player career mode

Reasons to avoid

-
Some tracks are missing

Xbox Series X/S Optimized

Even if you aren't particularly a fan of F1 racing, EA and Codemasters' F1 2021 is a great entry point into the high-end motorsport, offering precision racing that anyone can jump into, regardless of skill level.

Unlike many other races, which don't penalize you for bouncing off guard rails with reckless abandon, F1 2021 forces players to race with a sense of discipline and manages to do so without sucking the fun out of the whole endeavor. Before long, you'll feel a great sense of accomplishment at performing a perfect pass or racing well enough to land on the podium.

Like with previous F1 games, Codemasters offers an excellent and in-depth career mode, however, this year not only offers an increased level of customizability but also the ability to experience the whole thing with a friend.

Additionally, F1 2021 offers a brand new story mode called Braking Point, which takes you behind the scenes of a racing team as its two racers, Aiden Jackson and Casper Akkerman, attempt to climb the ladder while dealing with a great deal of drama on and off the track. It's a fantastic way to deliver a campaign in a racer, adding a great deal of personality to what would have been a very dry single-player experience otherwise. 

Xbox Series X players get the option to play the game in Quality Mode at 4K/60fps with ray tracing, or in Performance Mode at 1440p/120fps, while Series S players are capped at 1080p/60fps. Either way, F1 2021 looks incredible and plays even better. Highly recommended.

Forza Horizon 5supercar racing along a palm tree lined street

Forza Horizon 5 (Image credit: Microsoft)
Speeding your way through stunning Mexico

Reasons to buy

+
Amazing range of customization
+
Well-integrated user-generated content
+
Gorgeous and varied open world

Reasons to avoid

-
Bland storytelling
-
Limited music tracks
-
Excessive purchasable add-ons

Xbox Series X/S Optimized and Xbox Game Pass

Want to put your Xbox Series X/S through its paces with some high-speed races through the jungles, fields and streets of Mexico? Then Forza Horizon 5 could be for you.

We've come to expect Forza Horizon games to be visually impressive, and the latest entry doesn't disappoint, offering a stunningly realized depiction of Mexico. Racing-game fanatics will love Forza Horizon 5’s gorgeous open world, and the unlimited gameplay opportunities provided by the customization options, while those less bothered about the actual racing part of it all will simply enjoy exploring. 

Whichever Xbox console you're playing on, you'll be blown away by Forza Horizon 5, which runs at 4K 30fps on Xbox Series X, and 1080p 30fps on Xbox Series S. But if you would rather prioritize frame rate, then there's a performance mode option that will run the game at 60fps (but at a lower resolution). 

Gears 5 characters running from a creeping green gas

Gears 5 (Image credit: The Coalition)
Still as slick

Reasons to buy

+
Visually intoxicating
+
Plenty of multiplayer modes
+
New mechanics make it feel fresh

Reasons to avoid

-
Open-world elements feel off
-
Doesn't flesh out narrative

Xbox Series X/S Optimized and Xbox Game Pass

Gears 5 is yet another Xbox One title that’s been optimized for the Xbox Series X. Thanks to Xbox Series X optimization, Gears 5’s campaign has significantly reduced loading times, both gameplay and cutscenes run at 4K at 60fps, while ray-traced screen space global illumination massively improves the campaign’s visual fidelity. 

Perhaps the biggest benefit for Gears 5 fans is that multiplayer now runs at up to 120fps at 4K - making the game more responsive than ever. We find that 120fps paired with the Xbox Series X’s Dolby Atmos audio support makes for an extremely immersive and smooth gameplay experience.

Gears Tactics giant enemy with weapon mounted on its back

Gears Tactics (Image credit: Xbox Game Studios)

Gears Tactics

Turn-based tactics

Reasons to buy

+
Feels like a classic Gears game
+
4K Ultra HD and 60fps

Reasons to avoid

-
Some mission structure issues

Xbox Series X/S Optimized and Xbox Game Pass

Gears Tactics, as the name suggests, is a tactical turn-based shooter set in the Gears of World universe. So instead of running in guns blazing, players need to be more strategic about how they approach combat. 

Gears Tactics is yet another Xbox game that had previously been released on Xbox One and PC, but it also served as a launch title for the Xbox Series X/S thanks to some excellent next-gen enhancements. Those playing on Xbox Series X will benefit from gameplay in 4K Ultra HD and 60fps, with enhanced textures, increased world detail and a choice of 60 or 30 frames per second for cinematics. But those on Xbox Series S benefit too, with Gears Tactics running at 60fps and 1440p on the smaller console.

Tactics is a great spin-off for those who love the Gears of War franchise, but want to try something a bit different, making it one of the best Xbox Series X games around.

A look at Hades green-glowing underworld on Nintendo Switch

Hades (Image credit: Supergiant Games)

Hades

Mythologically-infused, stylish fun

Reasons to buy

+
Comic-like art style
+
Meaty combat
+
You can pet the two-headed dog

Reasons to avoid

-
Requires patience to master
-
Can overwhelm with difficulty

Xbox Series X/S Optimized and Xbox Game Pass

A bit of a dark horse hit from the makers of Bastion and Transistor, Hades isn't just one of the best Xbox Series X games out there, but a genuine contender to rank among the best games of all time.

Hades is rogue-like, meaning all of its mythology-inspired levels are procedurally generated, and no single area will be the same each time you enter it, keeping the map fresh and exciting, and enemies a surprising challenge.

With a killer soundtrack, hack-n-slash combat, interesting story and stellar RPG systems, Hades is extremely fun to play and will stave off any pangs of boredom.

Suffice it to say, if you have an interest in Greek mythology, you'll be pleasantly surprised by how much research Supergiant has put into this one, offering a truly exceptional experience for those wanting to see the soap-opera-like drama of the ancient gods play out.

Sometimes there's far too much going on while you're playing which does make it all a bit hectic, but if you can get past the chaos you'll have hours of fun playing this game, as it's easily one of the best rogue-likes around.

  • Hades is the most addicted I’ve ever been to a video game

Master Chief and The Weapon

Halo infinite (Image credit: Microsoft)
A masterful return

Reasons to buy

+
Liberating and expansive gameplay
+
An evocative and enthralling story
+
Impeccable sound design

Reasons to avoid

-
Can only equip one piece of equipment
-
Reload animations and cutscenes can stutter

Xbox Series X/S Optimized and Xbox Game Pass

Halo Infinite is easily one of the top dogs on this list of excellent Xbox Series X games - but is that really a surprise given it's the latest entry in Xbox's most iconic franchise?

Consisting of a free-to-play multiplayer and a campaign mode (purchased separately), Halo Infinite truly revitalizes the series. From the campaign's captivating story, vast map and liberating gameplay, to a multiplayer offering that's hard to put down, developer 343 Industries has created a game that will resonate with veteran Halo fans and inspire a new generation of players.

Halo's Master Chief looking to the sky

Halo: The Master Chief Collection (Image credit: Microsoft)

Halo: The Master Chief Collection

A collection of greats

Reasons to buy

+
Six Halo games in one
+
4K at 120 fps on Xbox Series X
+
FOV slider
+
Improves split-screen

Reasons to avoid

-
Doesn't include Halo 5

Xbox Series X/S Optimized and Xbox Game Pass

Halo: The Master Chief Collection was already one of our favorite Xbox One games and now, thanks to Xbox Series X/S optimizations, it's even better than ever. 

The Master Chief Collection includes six Halo games in total, including every single multiplayer mode. That means you get Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, Halo 2: Anniversary, Halo 3, Halo 4, Halo: ODST and Halo Reach.

Xbox Series X/S Optimization means that all games in the collection are now playable at 120fps, and at a maximum resolution of 4K on Series X and 1080p on Series S. Other enhancements include improved split-screen play for couch multiplayer and co-op, along with the introduction of an FOV (field of view) slider.

If you've finished Halo Infinite, or want a refresher course before jumping into it, then the Master Chief Collection offers more Halo fun than you can shake a stick at. 

Hitman 3's Agent 47 disguised as a detective in a fedora and glasses

Hitman 3 (Image credit: IO Interactive)
Perfectly executed

Reasons to buy

+
Great living and breathing locations
+
Looks fantastic on next-gen
+
Tweaks to the expected formula

Reasons to avoid

-
Cutscenes don’t look the best
-
Could be more replayable
-
New camera tool doesn’t add much

Xbox Series X/S Optimized

Hitman 3 is the dramatic conclusion to the acclaimed stealth series - and what a conclusion it is. While the third entry in the Hitman series doesn't stray too far from what made the 2016 reboot (and its sequel) great, it adds some brilliant little twists to the formula to keep you on your toes.

While the way you assassinate your targets hasn't changed much, the new locations - such as Dubai, China and Argentina - are some of the most memorable of the series. Add to that more experimental objectives and a gripping story (plus native 4K at 60fps on the Xbox Series X) and Hitman 3 rightly deserves its place on our best Xbox Series X games list.

It Takes Two's Book of Love holding a therapy session for dolls Cody and May

It Takes Two (Image credit: EA / Hazelight Studios)

It Takes Two

Team work makes the dream work

Reasons to buy

+
Family friendly
+
Takes elements from lots of genres
+
Fun for gamers and non-gamers
+
Friend's Pass available

Reasons to avoid

-
Can only be played co-op

Xbox Series X/S Optimized

If you're looking for one of the best co-op games on Xbox Series X then look no further. It Takes Two is a fun, tongue-in-cheek adventure that will provide hours of entertainment for both gamers and non-gamers alike. Taking elements from a variety of different games and intertwining them a rom-com-like narrative, It Takes Two has something for everyone - even kids. 

It's worth noting that this game can only be played in co-op (either online or couch), but comes with a Friend's Pass allowing you to invite an online friend to join your adventure, even if they don't own the full game. 

It Takes Two is an excellent Xbox game and easily one of the best co-op games available on Microsoft's platform.

Knockout City characters playing dodgeball

Knockout City (Image credit: EA)

Knockout City

A genuinely innovative multiplayer experience

Reasons to buy

+
Unique competitive multiplayer
+
KO's feel oh-so satisfying
+
Deceptively deep gameplay

Reasons to avoid

-
Controls take some getting used to

Xbox Series X/S Optimized and Xbox Game Pass

Knockout City is more than its awkward debut trailer would have you believe, and ends up offering something truly unique in the competitive multiplayer space. Drawing comparisons to other oddball multiplayer fests like Rocket League and Splatoon, Knockout City carves its own niche through blisteringly fast dodgeball that we hope stays popular for years to come.

While the game's controls do take some getting accustomed to, once you've got them down, you'll be knocking out opponents left, right and center across a multitude of madcap maps. Getting KO's feels fantastic, too, with developer Velan Studios seemingly picking the most dopamine-inducing sound effects for when your ball connects to your opponent's jaw.

One of Knockout City's best features? It's available to play for free for Xbox Game Pass and Game Pass Ultimate subscribers at no extra cost, meaning there's absolutely no reason to grab a few friends for some futuristic dodging, ducking, dipping, diving and dodging action.

  • Knockout City is the competitive dodgeball game you never knew you wanted

Mass Effect Legendary Edition promotional poster

Mass Effect Legendary Edition (Image credit: EA)

Mass Effect Legendary Edition

A beautifully remastered collection of classic games

Reasons to buy

+
Improved controls
+
4K resolution mode
+
120fps performance mode

Reasons to avoid

-
Lacks multiplayer modes

Xbox Series X/S Optimized

The Mass Effect trilogy that released during the Xbox 360 era is beloved by gamers the world over thanks to its immersive role-playing gameplay and deep science fiction lore. While the original Xbox 360 trilogy is currently available on Xbox Game Pass, it has aged considerably over the last decade or so, making the trilogy ripe for a remaster. 

That's exactly what we've gotten with Mass Effect Legendary Edition – a collection that significantly cleans up all three classic games with a number of visual, audio and gameplay enhancements, bringing the series into the modern age while keeping our rose-colored memories of it completely intact.

Along with improved controls (especially when it comes to aiming in the first Mass Effect), this Legendary Edition also brings two graphical modes: a resolution mode that allows you to play at 4K/60fps, and a performance mode that runs at 1440p/120fps. Additionally, you get full HDR support, improved lighting and textures, and enhanced audio resolution across the whole trilogy. 

A propeller plane flies over elephants in Microsoft Flight Simulator

Microsoft Flight Simulator (Image credit: Microsoft)
We have lift off

Reasons to buy

+
Incredible graphics
+
Superb attention to detail
+
Great peripheral support

Reasons to avoid

-
Difficult for beginners
-
Range of editions is confusing
-
Not all airports are created equal

Xbox Series X/S Optimized and Xbox Game Pass

Want to fly over Machu Picchu? Maybe take in the breathtaking view of the Northern Lights in Norway? Maybe you just want to see how your neighborhood looks from a plane? Then Microsoft Flight Simulator is probably for you as it allows you to soar the skies of the entire world - complete with real-time weather and traffic.

Microsoft Flight Simulator is clearly a labor of love, with realism and attention to detail that will make this an essential purchase for flight sim fans. Using cutting-edge technology and graphics for the ultimate immersive experience, this isn’t a game that’s going to be for everyone, but if you’re its core demographic, you’re going to love it.

Ori flies on the back of an owl

Ori and the Will of the Wisps (Image credit: Microsoft)

Ori and the Will of the Wisps

A magical masterpiece

Reasons to buy

+
Stunning visuals
+
Great platformer
+
Emotive story

Reasons to avoid

-
Not as challenging as some platformers

Xbox Series X/S Optimized and Xbox Game Pass

For years, Ori and the Blind Forest was one of our favorite Metroidvania 2D dungeon crawlers on Xbox - it was heartfelt, beautiful and challenging, and the world simply oozed personality and intrigue. The release of Ori and the Will of the Wisps has seen the prequel replaced (though you should definitely still play it) as we embark on a new adventure that sees Ori and his makeshift family separated in an all-new environment.

The sequel adds some new combat elements like a shard system that allows for more customization of Ori's abilities, while big boss battles help to make it more memorable and break up the puzzle-solving. 

Just like The Touryst, Ori and the Will of the Wisps has received next-gen enhancements that make full use of the Xbox Series X's immense power, such as native 4K resolution at 120fps for those with HDMI 2.1 compliant TVs. 

Additionally, players can opt to render the game in a 6K "supersampled" mode, which is then displayed at 4K resolution and 60fps. It's said that the benefit of this mode is an even higher level of visual fidelity, which outshines even that of the standard 4K mode.

Psychonauts 2's Raz

Psychonauts 2 (Image credit: Xbox Game Studios/Double Fine)

Psychonauts 2

A mindful adventure

Reasons to buy

+
Unique levels and characters
+
Tongue-in-cheek humor
+
Plenty to collect

Reasons to avoid

-
Combat is a bit clunky

Xbox Series X/S Optimized and Xbox Game Pass

Psychonauts 2 is a psychedelic journey that you won't forget. The sequel to 2005's Psychonauts, and following directly on from Rhombus of Ruin, Psychonauts 2 once again follows Raz, a young psychic attempting to join the Psychonauts, an international group of psychic secret agents. 

Psychonauts 2 is a hilarious, heartfelt adventure that embraces a humourous take on mental health while offering unique (and often bizarre) worlds for players to explore. It's easily one of the best Xbox Series X titles around and - what's more - it's available on Game Pass alongside the original.

Resident Evil Village's creepy old lady

Resident Evil Village (Image credit: Capcom)
Lycan it a lot

Reasons to buy

+
Well-paced story (mostly)
+
Inventory management improved
+
Memorable characters

Reasons to avoid

-
Boss fights can feel anticlimactic
-
Less focus on scares
-
Story spoon-fed at the end

Xbox Series X/S Optimized

Resident Evil Village is a worthy successor to the critically acclaimed Resident Evil 7 - but while that game managed to revive the survival horror roots of the series, Village builds on it with an experience that draws from all the highlights of the series. What results is a Resi game that promises to thrill veteran fans of Resident Evil and delight newcomers.

Resident Evil Village follows on from the events of Resident Evil 7 - taking place a few years later. Village sees protagonist Ethan exploring an Eastern European village in hopes of finding his kidnapped daughter - but the village residents are.... less than welcoming.

Resident Evil Village is more action-focused than its predecessor - and it's visibly closer to the classic Resident Evil 4 in its moment-to-moment gameplay - but it blends this with the survival horror elements that we love about older entries. Factor in a slew of quality-of-life improvements, a roster of memorable characters, a well-paced and gripping story, and Resident Evil Village is easily one of the best Xbox Series X games around (it was even voted as our Game of the Year 2021)

Sea of Thieves first person view of a choppy sea

Sea of Thieves (Image credit: Rare)

Sea of Thieves

Yo ho ho!

Reasons to buy

+
Regular exciting updates
+
Unpredictability and chemistry of players

Reasons to avoid

-
Not as fun alone

Xbox Series X/S Optimized and Xbox Game Pass

Hooked up to a 4K HDR capable display, Sea of Thieves still remains one of the most beautiful games around thanks to its vibrant colors and stunning vistas. So how is the experience improved on Xbox Series X? Well, if you’ve yet to have your maiden voyage with Rare’s popular pirate game, now is the time.

Sea of Thieves benefits from a sizable boost to its frame rate. Previously capped at 30fps, with the occasional drop when things get particularly hectic, the game now runs at silky-smooth 4K/60fps, and the improvement is tangible. Whether you’re sailing across rough waters as a storm begins to break, or battling skeletons on the shoreline in the hunt for treasure, the game feels far more responsive and enjoyable as a result. The game also now loads incredibly fast thanks to the Xbox Series X’s SSD, taking around 35 seconds compared to the minute plus load times we were previously used to. 

It’s a fantastic upgrade over the Xbox One version, then, and one that will ultimately keep people playing as the next generation unfolds.

Tetris Effect: Connected promotional image

Tetris Effect: Connected (Image credit: Enhance)

Tetris Effect: Connected

A cosmic adventure

Reasons to buy

+
Wonderful multiplayer modes
+
A true showcase for HDR
+
It's Tetris

Reasons to avoid

-
You don't like Tetris...

Xbox Series X/S Optimized and Xbox Game Pass

It might be almost three decades old, but Tetris' addictive gameplay continues to stand the test of time. It's a terrific puzzle game that's easy to pick up and sometimes impossible to put down, and although there have been many iterations, spin-offs and homages, Tetris Effect: Connected is probably the best version of the game to date. 

A feast for the eyes and ears, Tetris Effect: Connected takes the classic game and shapes it around an audio and sensory experience. You'll journey through the cosmos, dropping tetrominoes across ever-changing backdrops and sounds, as time just slips away. Everything looks razor sharp thanks to its 4K/60fps presentation and eye-popping HDR support. 

What makes the game really stand out, though, is the new co-op and competitive online and local multiplayer mode. Tetris has always been a blast playing alone, but with friends or new foes online, it's even better.

The Forgotten City first person view of a player shooting arrows at skeletons

The Forgotten City (Image credit: Dear Villagers)

The Forgotten City

Time looping mystery

Reasons to buy

+
Multiple endings 
+
Colorful characters
+
Brilliant writing

Reasons to avoid

-
Simple combat

Xbox Series X/S exclusive and Xbox Game Pass

Deathloop may not be on Xbox Series X yet, but if you're looking for a thought-provoking time loop mystery then look no further than The Forgotten City.

The Forgotten City sees you traveling 2,000 years into the past, to an ancient open-world Roman city that was destroyed. It's up to you to exploit the time loop to figure out who was responsible for the city's destruction and to prevent it from happening once more. But with multiple endings, a cast of colorful (and often cunning) characters to question, it's not quite as easy as it seems.

The Forgotten City will keep you gripped from beginning to end as you endeavor to solve the mystery, and you'll likely often find yourself marveling at the authenticity of its world. If you've got an Xbox Game Pass subscription then this is a top Xbox Series X game you absolutely shouldn't sleep on.

A split view showing The Medium's Marianne in both the real world and the spirit world

The Medium (Image credit: Bloober Team)
The first Xbox Series X/S exclusive

Reasons to buy

+
Retro horror vibe
+
Plenty of twists
+
Score elevates atmosphere

Reasons to avoid

-
May be too linear for some

Xbox Series X/S exclusive and Xbox Game Pass

If you've been itching for a top horror game that doesn't rely solely on jump scares and clichés, The Medium is an excellent psychological horror game, and the first true Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S exclusive - that means you can't play it on Xbox One consoles.

The Medium brings classic fixed-camera horror to the modern day, but makes sure to add its own touch through the ‘split’ feature that sees the game's lead leading character, Marianne, moving between both the ‘real’ world and the spirit world. This adds a new dimension to the puzzle elements we’ve seen in similar titles such as the early entries in the Resident Evil series, and makes for quite a unique experience. 

The Touryst main character on a beach

The Touryst (Image credit: Shin'en Multimedia)

The Touryst

A much-needed holiday

Reasons to buy

+
Stunning visuals
+
Plenty to do
+
Family-friendly fun

Reasons to avoid

-
Can be a bit repetitive at times

Xbox Series X/S Optimized and Xbox Game Pass

You may be tempted to sleep on blocky, action-adventure The Touryst - but absolutely don’t. The game itself sees you playing as a tourist (go figure), who hops about various exotic islands completing tasks for island residents and fellow tourists alike, with the overall goal being to uncover the secret of the ancient monuments located on these islands - but that can wait.

The Touryst may have been released on various platforms before, but it looks and performs best on the Xbox Series X. The color and visual fidelity is captivating, which is not a huge surprise given that the game renders at 6K/4K on Series X and then downsamples to the target resolution. What results is that you get a vivid tropical experience, super-fast loading times and an overall smooth experience. 

  • The Touryst is the true dark horse of the Xbox Series X launch lineup. 

A skateboard doing a trick in Tony Hawk Pro Skater

Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 + 2 (Image credit: Activision)
A nostalgia-filled return to form

Reasons to buy

+
Great soundtrack
+
Countless challenges to beat
+
Gorgeous graphics
+
Native 4k @60FPS

Reasons to avoid

-
Sparse create-a-character options
-
Some levels haven't aged well
-
Online multiplayer is limited

Xbox Series X/S Optimized

A sublime remake that will feel like a grand homecoming for fans and an exciting revelation for newcomers, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 is a gnarly remake of two classic games. 

While Pro Skater already looked fantastic on last-gen consoles, the Xbox Series X makes Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 + 2 look stunning and run as smooth as butter, with support for 120fps @1080p or Native 4k @60fps (Xbox Series S version renders at 1440P and upscales to 4K). 

This excellent remake has us hoping that rumors of a Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3 remake are true.

Yakuza: Like a Dragon's Kazuma in a movie theatre surrounded by sheep

Yakuza: Like a Dragon (Image credit: Sega)

Yakuza: Like a Dragon

A bonkers RPG

Reasons to buy

+
Hilarious and unique
+
Side missions are just as interesting
+
Great entry to Yakuza series

Reasons to avoid

-
Some elements feel outdated

Xbox Series X/S Optimized 

The Yakuza games have always mixed mature themes with utterly bonkers shenanigans, and Yakuza: Like a Dragon really lets loose in the latter regard. While you can still expect plenty of hard-hitting plot points during the game’s lengthy and turbulent story, the entire fighting system has been re-imagined as a turn-based JRPG – and it works surprisingly well. Each character can take on various classes, such as becoming a crooning musician or cutesy J-Pop idol, and each has their own abilities in battle. It’s certainly a different approach, then, but one that really lets the series’ freak flag fly.

Yakuza: Like a Dragon takes advantage of the Xbox Series X hardware by providing two distinct display modes to choose from: ‘Normal’ targets 60fps at 1440p, while ‘High Resolution’ bumps the resolution to 4K but halves the frame rate to 30fps. While we’d personally opt for a smoother experience over a slightly higher pixel count, it’s great that users have the choice. 

FAQs

An official image of the Xbox Series X controller

(Image credit: Microsoft)

What does Optimized for Xbox Series X/S mean?

Games optimized for Xbox Series X|S are titled which have been developed to make the most of the technical capabilities of the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S consoles. Xbox Series X|S Optimized games will have faster load times, better visuals and steadier framerates (up to 120fps). Here's how to tell if a game is optimized for Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S.

What games are best improved by Xbox Series X?

There are plenty of Xbox One games on our list that have been optimized including F1 2021, Halo: The Master Chief Collection and Forza Horizon 4. Make sure to check out our full list of the best Xbox Series X Optimized games for our favorites.

What's the best looking game on Xbox Series X?

Games optimized for Xbox Series X|S are titled which have been developed to make the most of the technical capabilities of the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S consoles. unparalleled load times, heightened visuals, and steadier framerates at up to 120FPS. These include new titles built natively using the Xbox Series X|S development environment as well as previously released titles that have been rebuilt specifically for Xbox Series X|S.

What Xbox series X games should I play?

Microsoft has some fantastic Xbox exclusive series that are definitely worth checking out. Some of the most popular Xbox exclusive series' include Halo, Gears of War and Forza.

Vic Hood
Vic Hood

Vic is TechRadar Gaming's Associate Editor. An award-winning games journalist, Vic brings experience from IGN, Eurogamer and more to the TechRadar table. You may have even heard her on the radio or speaking on a panel. Not only is Vic passionate about games, but she's also an avid mental health advocate who has appeared on both panels and podcasts to discuss mental health awareness. Make sure to follow her on Twitter for more.

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