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

Psychonauts 2
(Image credit: Double Fine)

Our best Xbox Series X games list has had a bit of a shake-up with Obsidian's Pentiment slotting straight in here with its tale of murder and mystery. And we have a feeling it's going to change again a few times before the end of the year thanks to upcoming Xbox Series X games like High on Life.

In our pick of the best Xbox Series X games, you'll find a range of third-party delights and Xbox exclusives, you're sure to find something here that speaks to you. For those who have an Ultimate subscription on Xbox, it's also worth noting that many of these gems can be found in our selection of best games on Xbox Game Pass. So, if you're looking for something to tuck into on the latest Xbox console, read on below to discover our list of the best Xbox Series X games you can play right now. 

15. Ori and the Will of the Wisps

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

(Image credit: Moon Studios)

Release Date: March 11, 2020
Developer: Moon Studios
Publisher: Xbox Game Studios

Our Ori and the Will of the Wisps review

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. Grounded


(Image credit: Obsidian)

Release Date: September 27, 2022 (Early Access from July '20)
Developer: Obsidian Entertainment
Publisher: Xbox Game Studios

Our Grounded review

Grounded has really established itself as one of the best Xbox Series X games over the course of its couple of years in Early Access. In September 2022, the title launched in full, rounding out its story and adding even more content. This isn't the end for the Obsidian title though, with more content planned to continue the game's success in the future. It's a brilliant survival game, where you play as kids trying to exist in the wilderness that is the back garden, Honey I Shrunk The Kids-style. So think blades of grass as huge forests, sandpits for deserts, and really, really big bugs.

13. Pentiment

Pentiment screenshot

(Image credit: Xbox Game Studios)

Release Date: November 15, 2022
Developer: Obsidian Entertainment
Publisher: Xbox Game Studios

Our Pentiment review

Pentiment is unlike any of the other games on our best Xbox Series X games list and all the better for it. It's essentially a triple murder investigation, but one that takes place over the course of 25 years in the 16th Century. You'll immerse yourself in town, which looks like an ancient comic book, and learn all about its inhabitants as you try to solve the mystery of what's happened. It's all about the dialogue, both in what they say and how it's presented, with different fonts used amazingly well to demarcate dialect, education, and other elements. There's a lot to dive into, and love the course of its three acts you'll discover Pentiment is one of the best mystery games around right now. Whodunnit? Well, that's all down to you to find out.

12. Yakuza: Like a Dragon

Yakuza: Like a Dragon

(Image credit: Sega)

Release Date: November 10, 2020
Developer: Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio
Publisher: Sega

Our Yakuza: Like a Dragon review

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)

Release Date: November 11, 2014
Developer: 343 Industries
Publisher: Xbox Game Studios

Our Halo: The Master Chief Collection review

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)

Release Date: November 10, 2020
Developer: Reonsair / Monstars / Stage Games
Publisher: Enhance

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)

Release Date: September 10, 2019
Developer: The Coalition
Publisher: Xbox Game Studios

Our Gears 5 review

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 optimizing 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 are 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)

Release Date: November 10, 2020
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Publisher: Ubisoft

Our Assassin's Creed Valhalla review

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)

Release Date: September 9, 2021
Developer: Beethoven and Dinosaur
Publisher: Annapurna Interactive

Our The Artful Escape review

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)

Release Date: February 25, 2022
Developer: FromSoftware
Publisher: Bandai Namco

Our Elden Ring review

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)

Release Date: January 20, 2021
Developer: IO Interactive
Publisher: IO Interactive

Our Hitman 3 review

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)

Release Date: March 20, 20218
Developer: Rare
Publisher: Microsoft Studios

Our Sea of Thieves review

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 optimized 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)

Release Date: August 25, 2021
Developer: Double Fine
Publisher: Xbox Game Studios

Our Psychonauts 2 review

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)

Release Date: December 8, 2021
Developer: 343 Industries
Publisher: Xbox Game Studios

Our Halo Infinite review
Halo Infinite guide

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)

Release Date: November 9, 2021
Developer: Playground Games
Publisher: Xbox Game Studios

Our Forza Horizon 5 review

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.

What Xbox Series X games are coming out soon?

The upcoming Xbox Series X games that could impact this list before the end of the year are probably The Callisto Protocol, Marvel's Midnight Suns, and also the Xbox exclusive High on Life. The former are dropping December 2, but High on Life isn't out until December 13.

Which of the best Xbox Series X games are also on Game Pass?

If you're an Xbox Game Pass subscriber, the majority of the games on our best Xbox Series X games list are available for play for free as part of your subscription. 

These are:
Ori and the Will of the Wisps, Grounded, Pentiment, Yakuza: Like a Dragon, Halo: The Master Chief Collection, Tetris Effect: Connected, Gears 5, Hitman 3 as part of the Hitman Trilogy, Sea of Thieves, Psychonauts 2, Halo Infinite, and Forza Horizon 5. 

The only games currently unavailable on Game Pass from this list are:
Assassin's Creed Valhalla, The Artful Escape, and Elden Ring.

Josh West
UK Managing Editor, GamesRadar+

Josh West is the UK Managing Editor of GamesRadar+. He has over 10 years experience in online and print journalism, and holds a BA (Hons) in Journalism and Feature Writing. Prior to starting his current position, Josh has served as GR+'s Features Editor and Deputy Editor of games™ magazine, and has freelanced for numerous publications including 3D Artist, Edge magazine, iCreate, Metal Hammer, Play, Retro Gamer, and SFX. Additionally, he 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 likes to play bass guitar and video games. Years ago, he was in a few movies and TV shows that you've definitely seen but will never be able to spot him in.

With contributions from