If you're planning to buy an Xbox Series S or Xbox Series X, or if you have one already, you'll definitely want to take advantage of its hardware. After all, the Xbox Series X is widely considered the most powerful gaming console today. Meanwhile, the cheaper and disc-less Xbox Series S is still a step-up compared to the Xbox One X.
However, at the moment, the Xbox Series X doesn't really have a lot of next-gen exclusives nor does it seem like Microsoft intends to push exclusive titles for its next-gen console.
Worry not though, it's not all bad news. Indeed, Microsoft is not as fully invested in terms of next-gen exclusives as Sony is. At the same time though, Microsoft is working hard on enhancing and optimizing titles to make sure that they can take better advantage of the technical advantages of the Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X.
With that said, if you're unsure about which games to pick up for your Xbox Series S or Xbox Series X, we recommend that you scroll down below to learn more about our picks for the best Xbox Series X games.
Sea of Thieves
Rare's multiplayer action-adventure game didn't really make waves when it was first released back in 2018. Although no one denied just how beautiful Sea of Thieves was, many felt like the novelty of the game's vibrant and stunning colors washed away quickly due to the relative lack of content and things to do for the first few months.
Fast forward to 2021 and Sea of Thieves' beauty remains true. Played on the Xbox Series X with a 4K HDR-capable TV display, there are very few games that can rival the feeling of taking the high seas in Sea of Thieves. The best part here is that now that Rare's had time to refine Sea of Thieves, there's never been a better time to make your maiden voyage and go back and see what adventures you might have missed out on since you stopped playing Sea of Thieves.
On the Xbox Series X, Sea of Thieves can run at a maximum of 4K resolution with up to 60 frames per second. The improvement is massive considering that Rare previously capped Sea of Thieves at 30 frames per second.
Sailing across rough waters and braving storms feel far more enjoyable now that the game is more fluid and responsive. Plus, thanks to the SSD on the Xbox Series X, what would have taken minutes to load previously now finishes in mere seconds. You'll also get a chance to play Sea of Thieves on the go via xCloud on your smartphone.
Control: Ultimate Edition
Remedy Entertainment's 2019 action-adventure shooter, Control, was one of the dark horses for that year's Game of the Year race. In the eyes of some, it was very well the winner. The game effectively combined an outlandish supernatural story with some equally out-of-this-world telekinesis to create an experience that's quite unlike any other.
In 2021, Remedy Entertainment found a way to one-up themselves with Control: Ultimate Edition.
The re-release of Control combined the game's two DLCs and expansions under one roof. More importantly, the Ultimate Edition added new modes that let the game take better advantage of the Xbox Series S/X. Case in point, players can now choose Performance Mode if they want a staple 60 frames per second but at the cost of rending the game at just 1440p resolution. Meanwhile, gamers who prefer better graphics can play the game at 4K output with ray tracing but at the expense of the game running at just 30 frames per second.
Regardless of which of the two modes you end up playing Control: Ultimate Edition in, you'll find that the game now runs much more smoothly with better graphics. In case you weren't able to find the time to play Control: Edition back in 2019, now's as good of a time as any to play one of the more innovative AAA titles on the market.
Devil May Cry 5: Special Edition
Devil May Cry 5: Special Edition is another title that benefits a lot from Capcom supporting next-gen hardware. Sure, the game has always looked sleek and amazing. However, with ray tracing enabled on the Xbox Series S/X, every drop of blood, water, and demonic ooze looks even more awesome if a little bit gross. Also, with access to higher frame rates, those high-octane battles in Devil May Cry 5 become easier on the eyes to follow and play.
As a bonus, the Special Edition adds one more playable character. In addition to Nero, V, and Dante, you can also play the entire campaign as Vergil, giving you a different perspective of the events of the game.
Forza Horizon 4
Forza Horizon 4 is the best racing game today. Period. At least, until Sony responds in earnest with the next Gran Turismo game. Although by then, Forza Horizon 5, or whatever the title of the next Forza Horizon game, might have already released, so yeah.
In any case, arguing about what if's and hypotheticals is useless. What's important is what's available now and that's Forza Horizon 4. Similar to previous games in the series, Forza Horizon 4 spoils players with an open world filled with mesmerizing locales and views complete with a plethora of exotic cars to drive whenever they want.
With a structured campaign mode giving Forza Horizon 4 a bit of a direction, Forza Horizon 4 has plenty to offer for anyone looking to burn rubber.
Rightfully, Gears 5 is one of the best-looking games when played on the Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X. In fact, Gears 5 was an extensive part of Microsoft's Xbox campaign. It was the go-to game whenever Microsoft wanted to show off the capabilities of the Xbox Series X. Not that we're complaining though. Gears 5 is best enjoyed with the entire game, including the cutscenes, running at 60 frames per second at 4K resolution with ray tracing enabled.
Even better, Gears 5 runs at 4K resolution at up to 120 frames per second in multiplayer. Paired with the Dolby Atmos audio support mode, and Gears 5 is as immersive as ever.
Hitman 3 is somewhat of a stark departure compared to the first two Hitman games. Of course, the main premise remains the same. The game is still very much focused on giving you free reigns on how you want to use Agent 47 to commit murder and take out its targets.
The main difference is that IO Interactive seems to have taken the story much more seriously this time around. In fact, there are rumors that the Hitman 3 ending alludes to the game being a prequel to the original Hitman game, Hitman: Codename 47, which was released in 2000.
Either way, this isn't necessarily a bad thing. Hitman 3 remains a fitting conclusion to the Hitman trilogy of games. It's just a bonus that IO Interactive has continued and will continue providing extensive support for Hitman 3 throughout 2021.
Immortals Fenyx Rising
In the video game industry, there are only a few developers that are synonymous with a particular genre. Ubisoft is among those few, with its penchant for releasing open-world titles. However, while most have come to associate Ubisoft with the likes of the Assassin's Creed and Rainbow Six Siege, among others, Ubisoft has released games with gigantic worlds that are not as well-known.
A good example of this is Immortals Fenyx Rising.
In a way, if you described Immortals Fenyx Rising as Assassin's Creed: Odyssey with the aesthetics of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, we wouldn't blame you. But, make no mistake. Even though Immortals Fenyx Rising isn't a unique game, it's not without its strengths either. In fact, the way that Immortals Fenyx Rising gives players a lot of freedom to explore the world's numerous secrets is something that very few games have successfully pulled off.
With the base game alone worth dozens of worths of gameplay and with three more must-play expansions, there are worse games for you to play than Immortals Fenyx Rising.
It Takes Two
Good co-op games are hard to find. Great ones are even rarer. This is why the best of them, It Takes Two, is one of a kind.
Hazelight Studios' It Takes Two is a game that's built entirely with co-op in mind. The game forces players to cooperate and communicate to solve puzzles and traverse platforms. All in all, it's a 12-hour adventure filled with unique levels with a narrative that will tug at your heartstrings that some might even find relatable.
TLDR; whereas other co-op games destroy friendships and relationships, It Takes Two is built to save them.
The standard horror game formula revolves around using jump scares and common tropes to keep you up at night. Granted, these tactics do work. At least, for most people. But, for those looking for a different kind of horror game, the first exclusive on the Xbox Series X delivers.
The Medium is a psychological horror game that uses the same fixed-camera perspective that most expected to have died done years already. But, at the same time, the game adds a twist to this classic horror staple by letting players move between both the spirit world and what we see as the real world. This effectively adds a whole new element to the gameplay that hasn't really been utilized as much before, if ever.
With an ending that will leave your jaws dropped all the way down the floor once you understand what it all means, The Medium is a must-play for fans of the horror genre.
Assassin's Creed: Valhalla
It's clear now that Ubisoft has pivoted away from the stealth gameplay of the original Assassin's Creed game. Valhalla is a good example. The latest mainline installment in the Assassin's Creed franchise is more of a role-playing game with hints of stealth. This doesn't mean to say that it's a bad thing though. In fact, it's arguably one of the best in the series yet.
Taking players all the way from the Peloponnesian War in Odyssey to the Viking invasion of Britain, Valhalla tells the story of Eivor, a Viking leader who finds themselves gifted with an assassin's blade. However, unlike the assassins that preceded and succeeded him, Eivor prefers not to hide their weapon of choice. Rather, Eivor proudly wears the blade atop of their cloak out of choice and their desire to see the dying faces of fallen enemies.
Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1+2
As far as remakes go, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1+2 is arguably the best there is. Vicarious Visions definitely took their time handcrafting the remakes of arguably the two best skateboarding games ever released and making them run just as well if not better on modern consoles with the aesthetics to match.
With support for 120 frames per second at 1080p or 60 frames per second at 4K resolution, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1+2 is a gnarly game for skateboarding fans.
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
FromSoftware's Souls series games are great if not iconic. So much so that any game that dares players not to die is usually referred to as a Souls-like. However, two games from FromSoftware's lineup stand out as unique experiences while still retaining the studio's signature difficulty. One of them, Bloodborne, is exclusive to the PlayStation 4. The other, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, is a welcome consolation.
2019's Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice tells the painfully rewarding journey of a young royalty and a bodyguard where every death will make you feel like you have no business touching a control but every battle won will make you feel like a legend. In this game, there's no in-between. You're either a fool or a god.
It's just unfortunate that FromSoftware never really bothered to release an official Xbox Series X version. Even so, the game does run at a fixed 60 frames per second on Microsoft's newest flagship console (up from around 30-ish frames per second on the Xbox One) at a native 4K resolution, which is a massive improvement in a game that requires you to dodge, parry, counter and launch attacks within a split-second of each other.