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Best Xbox Series X games to experience on Microsoft's latest console

Psychonauts 2
(Image credit: Xbox Game Studios)

The best Xbox Series X games are the ones that are absolute must-plays for Microsoft's latest console. This year has been lucrative for this list already, with FromSoftware's Elden Ring skyrocketing into the top 10. 

Covering a variety of genres and playstyles, you're sure to find something you'll enjoy as you explore your way through this checklist, which includes Xbox exclusives and third-party blockbusters. Plus a good chunk of these are also listed among the best games on Xbox Games Pass. They will also help you get the most out of your new machine while you wait for all those upcoming Xbox Series X games that are due in 2021 and beyond. This list of titles will also give you a good indication of what the best Xbox Series S games are too, with that target 4K resolution for Xbox Series X swapped out for 1080p.  

15. Ori and the Will of the Wisps

Title screen for Ori and the Will of the Wisps on Xbox

(Image credit: Moon Studios)

It may have been released on the Xbox One originally, but the Xbox Series X patch takes this stunning adventure to a whole new level of pretty. Running at 120fps at 4K and with HDR, the Xbox Series X is the ultimate way to experience the game. For those who haven't taken a trip to the forest with Ori yet, it's an amazing action-platformer with some metroidvania elements. You play as the titular Ori and although this is the second game in the series, you don't *really* need to have played the original to enjoy this latest adventure. However, both titles have had the Xbox Series X upgrade and are available via Game Pass - we'd just say that Ori and the Will of the Wisps is the superior experience.

14. Unpacking

Unpacking

(Image credit: Witch Beam)

Genuine story innovation comes along so rarely, but Unpacking has done just that. You move through a woman's life unpacking her belongings from cardboard boxes, starting out in a childhood bedroom, and then moving through different stages of her life. There's no dialogue to speak of, just items that carry through from room to room, and through these, you learn about her and what's happening to her. It's beautiful, simple, and utterly powerful. A one-sitting adventure and it's wonderful.

13. The Forgotten City

The Forgotten City

(Image credit: Modern Storyteller)

The Forgotten City started life as a Skyrim mod has become a fully-fledged game, and it's here to offer you a deep dive into Roman mythology with a time-looping mystery. You find yourself in a strange Roman society where residents live in constant fear of breaking the Golden Rule. So it's up to you to unpick what's happening here, by jumping in and out of a portal to restart the time loop. Every time you do, you'll - hopefully - be armed with more info and items than you were before, thanks to conversations you have and the exploring you've done. It's an excellent story that you won't regret trying to untangle.

12. Yakuza: Like a Dragon

Yakuza: Like a Dragon

(Image credit: Sega)

A surprise launch exclusive for Xbox Series X, Yakuza: Like a Dragon is a wonderful entry-point to the long-running series. It arrives with a brand new character, a new turn-based combat system, and further investment in easy-to-grasp (but surprisingly deep) RPG systems. It's a ridiculous game with a specific sense of humour which helps to transform what could have been a dour story of crime and corruption throughout a fictional recreation of Kabukichō, called Kamurocho here, into something truly standalone. While the game comes equipped with a bevvy of performance modes to let you dial the experience in against your priorities, it's truly wonderful to see it run at a smooth 60 frames per second with hyper quick load times. Don't sleep on Yakuza: Like a Dragon. 

11. Halo: The Master Chief Collection

Halo: Combat Evolved

(Image credit: Xbox Game Studios)

Regardless of whether you're a returning fan of the series or new in, this is a must-play anthology. Halo: The Master Chief Collection includes the anniversary editions of Halo: Combat Evolved and Halo 2, along with Halo 3, ODST, Halo Reach, and Halo 4. On November 17, the entire collection will receive optimisation for Xbox Series X that will bolster the games to dynamic 4K and 120 frames per second in both campaign and multiplayer – a frankly ridiculous decision that will deliver smoother and more responsive play than ever before. Oh, and if five incredible shooters weren't enough, Halo: The Master Chief Collection is also available through Xbox Game Pass.

10. Tetris Effect: Connected

Tetris Effect Connected Xbox Series X

(Image credit: Enhance Games)

Wondering where the Xbox Series X's equivalent of Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved is? In Tetris Effect: Connected, you've found it! Tetris might be one of the video game industry's oldest and most successful franchises, but you've never seen it look quite like this. It's a hyper chill rendition of the core play, drawing you into an all-encompassing, psychedelic realm of falling Tetriminos, pulsing colours, and slick beats. Tetris Effect: Connected also supports competitive and cooperative play, which will let you and some friends take in the experience together. Better still, this Xbox Game Pass release arrives with a really small install size, making it the perfect first game to download and play while you wait for larger games to install. 

9. Gears 5

Xbox Series X Games

(Image credit: Xbox Game Studios)

Available as a standalone purchase and through Xbox Game Pass, Gears 5 is the game you'll want to stick on once it's safe to have friends over to your house. Gears 5 launched in 2019 and The Coalition has spent much of the last year optimising its action game for Xbox Series X, working to deliver stunning native 4K graphics and 60 frames per second performance for the game's campaign. If you've never played a Gears of War game, Gears 5 is a great place to start and undoubtedly one of the best entries into the series yet. Should your 4K TV support it, there's also 120hz performance modes for multiplayer for a faster, more responsive experience. Don't sleep on Gears 5. 

8. Assassin's Creed Valhalla

Assassin's Creed

(Image credit: Ubisoft)

Assassin's Creed Valhalla launched alongside the Xbox Series X on November 10, and it's a clear day one purchase for any of you that are after a sprawling open-world adventure to show off the capability of the new generation of consoles. Running at 4K and a stable 60 frames per second, Assassin's Creed Valhalla looks quite unlike any other game in the series that has come before it. Not only does it look stunning and feel incredibly smooth, but it also boasts wickedly quick load times that help to ensure that your journey across England's Dark Ages in the 9th Century is frictionless. Assassin's Creed is back and better than ever.

7. The Artful Escape

The Artful Escape

(Image credit: Annapurna Interactive)

The Artful Escape is one of those games that feels more like an experience than other titles. From developer Beethoven and Dinosaur, it's a platformer on paper, but it's filled with bedazzled set pieces, mad light shows, and a whole load of music. Oh, and some aliens. It comes with a star-studded cast, and might just be one of the most unique experiences yet.

6. Elden Ring

Elden Ring

(Image credit: FromSoftware)

The latest title out of FromSoftware has done it again, iterating on the Soulsborne formula by transferring it to an open-world setting. Elden Ring is the game of the moment, and looks and plays fantastically on Xbox Series X. 

5. Hitman 3

Hitman 3

(Image credit: IO Interactive)

Agent 47's latest adventure also happens to be his greatest. With his global journey now taking him to new locales like Dubai and the UK's Dartmoor, the game offers huge scope and inventiveness that bring each level to life. Everything can be used as a weapon, and in fact, everything should be used as a weapon. It's all about murderous playfulness here, and you'll be celebrated for it in Hitman 3.

4. Sea of Thieves

Sea of Thieves

(Image credit: Xbox Game Studios)

Sea of Thieves has quietly become one of the leading console exclusives for Xbox. Rare's pirate simulator is the ultimate expression of Xbox Live, letting you and your buddies (or randoms, should you have the patience for all manner of shenanigans) explore some truly gorgeous oceans and locales in search of fame and fortune. Sea of Thieves has been optimised for Xbox Series X, now running at 4K and 60 frames per second, and it remains a real delight. Despite releasing in 2017, the game continues to be updated and iterated upon, making it a flagship title of sorts for Xbox Series X – available, of course, as both a standalone purchase or through Xbox Game Pass. 

3. Psychonauts 2

Pyschonauts 2

(Image credit: Double Fine)

Psychonauts 2 is the long-awaited sequel to the 2005 cult-hit, and it is easily one of the best Xbox Series X games to date. Available on Game Pass, and also on PC, this Double Fine original is an absolute delight of a platformer, full of inventive ideas and wonderfully weird ideas. Don't worry if you've not played the original either, as it offers up a handy recap before the game begins that'll get you up to speed. Trust me, if you love quirky stories and platforming games with inventive worlds, you're going to love this one.

2. Halo Infinite

Halo Infinite

(Image credit: 343 Industries)

Halo Infinite is the best shape the series has been in for quite some time, with a confident campaign that celebrates the series' legacy. In it you'll be exploring a new ringed world, accompanied by a new AI with a familiar face and voice, with Master Chief trying to save the world again. Of course, the campaign is just one part of it though, with the multiplayer launching as a free-to-play entity. There's a Battle Pass to purchase, as you'd expect from a FTP game, but it's got plenty to enjoy in one great package.

1. Forza Horizon 5

Forza Horizon 5

(Image credit: Playground Games)

Forza Horizon 5 is a true showcase of the power of the Xbox Series X, and an absolute must for console owners. Playground Games delivers stunning graphics that show off the diverse landscapes of Mexico and the vast library of cars in impressively realistic detail. With biggest open-world yet, the latest entry in the Forza series gives you so many reasons to get behind the driver's seat time and again, with a wealth of different races, challenges, new social features, and updated modes. With impeccable audio design, smooth, responsive controls, and a beautiful world to speed your way through, Forza Horizon 5 sets benchmark for racing games of this generation.


Josh West
Josh West

Josh West is Features Editor of GamesRadar+. With over 10 years experience in both online and print journalism, Josh has written for a number of gaming, entertainment, music, and tech publications, including 3D Artist, Edge, gamesTM, iCreate, Metal Hammer, Play, Retro Gamer, and SFX. He holds a BA (Hons) in Journalism and Feature Writing, has appeared on the BBC and ITV to provide expert comment, written for Scholastic books, edited a book for Hachette, and worked as the Assistant Producer of the Future Games Show. In his spare time, Josh plays bass guitar and video games. Years ago, he was in movies and TV shows that you've definitely seen but will never be able to spot him in.