Microsoft is focusing on different areas to Sony, but it’s still come up with an absolute beast of a next-gen console. The Xbox Series X is immensely powerful, rocking four times the power under the hood of the Xbox One X. Conversely, the Series S provides a budget-friendly, affordable next-gen model for anyone who can’t quite stretch to a Series X or who doesn’t intend to game on a 4K display (which is still quite a few gamers). Whichever of the two systems you picked up, you’re onto a winner. Here are the 10 best games you can pick up on Xbox Series X or Series S right now. Some of these may not be Series X games, but the consoles can both play Xbox One games, too, as well as a huge range of old-school backward compatible titles.
It’s worth noting that there currently aren’t any games that you can only play on Xbox Series X (nor will there be, as Microsoft is committing to PC as well as its Xbox platforms). That leaves some truly excellent last-gen games to boost on your Series X, and Forza Horizon 4 is one of those games. It’s an already-gorgeous racing sim that emphasises the wind-in-your-hair feeling over obsessive tuning-up, but it does offer a deep, rewarding, and compelling open-world driving game as well.
If you want the best possible experience for Ubisoft’s new open-world semi-RPG, the Series X is the place to play it. Valhalla looks utterly gorgeous on Microsoft’s new hardware, snow falling from Viking longhouses and grass shimmering in the English sun. Gameplay-wise, it’s a continuation of 2018’s Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, but it’s had some of the problems rounded off, so it’s altogether a more player-friendly and compelling experience than that game was.
While you won’t be able to see the Xbox Series X or Series S’ power on display here, Ori and the Will of the Wisps is a breathtakingly beautiful Metroidvania with fluid, addictive movement and combat. The narrative is fairly straightforward – you won’t find any complex plotting or deep characterisation here – but Will of the Wisps is a superb platformer with plenty of secrets to find. If you love it, then its predecessor Ori and the Blind Forest is also well worth a look.
It wouldn’t be a best-of-Xbox list without everyone’s favourite stalwart soldier in green. Halo: The Master Chief Collection is a remarkable box set featuring all of Master Chief’s adventures, upscaled and remastered for modern platforms. All of Halo’s diverse, open-ended shooting action is here, but the undeniable highlights are Halo 2, Halo: Reach, and the iconic Halo: ODST. There are countless hours of fun to be had here, so if you haven’t revisited the franchise that defined a generation, you should do so ASAP.
Since it received its first content season this year, Sea of Thieves has gone from strength to strength. Early complaints that there wasn’t enough to do in this open-world pirate action game are now wholly unfounded. Gather a group of friends together, become the crew of the most feared pirate vessel on the high seas, and enjoy exploring Sea of Thieves’ expansive world. You won’t regret it, and with new content updates coming regularly, you’ll find plenty to entice you back, too.
We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention The Medium, the first true Xbox Series X/S console exclusive (although it’s also available on PC). When you load up The Medium for the first time, it’s easy to see why it’s a Series exclusive; the world is beautifully detailed, but more importantly, the way in which the game renders dual worlds means it could never have gotten by on the Xbox One’s relatively underpowered hardware. Helpfully, The Medium is also a great horror game, especially if you’re tired of jumpscares.
Black Ops Cold War may not be the sterling return to form demanded by some after the Call of Duty series’ perceived decline, but it is an excellent shooter. The multiplayer is as robust as ever, and while the campaign isn’t amazing, it’s a solid single-player experience. Black Ops Cold War also carries progress over to battle royale stalwart Warzone and vice versa, so there’s really no excuse for hardened shooter vets not to be checking this one out on Xbox Series X/S consoles.
This isn’t the Yakuza series’ first foray onto Xbox, but it’s certainly one of the most exciting. Kazuma Kiryu has finally hung up his bloodstained white suit, and in his place, new protagonist Ichiban Kasuga has arrived to live out a whole new tale of Japanese crime intrigue. The combat is turn-based now, but it hasn’t lost any of its frenetic energy, and the collection of side quests and minigames is just as insane as ever. Welcome home, Yakuza. We’ve missed you.
Who knew that “XCOM meets Gears of War” would be such a successful pitch? While Gears Tactics doesn’t quite reach the dizzying heights of Firaxis’ strategy offerings, it’s a darn fine approximation of the formula. The tactical gameplay here is deep, complex, and approachable all at the same time, and a number of tweaks to the formula suit the Gears series’ more fast-paced gameplay. The story isn’t much to write home about, but there are thirty-plus hours of tactical goodness to be had here.
If you played Sekiro on Xbox One, you’ll know it was locked to 30fps, which is no way to experience this blistering samurai epic. The Xbox Series X boosts the frame rate to 60fps and locks it there, so you’re getting a buttery-smooth run through Ashina and its environs. From Software’s signature dodge-and-poke combat is replaced here with an extremely technical parry-based system, but elsewhere, the typical explore-fight-explore loop is fully intact and feels better than it ever has.