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

The best Xbox Series X games
(Image credit: Xbox Game Studios)

These best Xbox Series X games are the titles that you need to download and play first if you’ve invested in Microsoft’s latest console. They’re the games that we can guarantee will look, play, and perform best on the Xbox Series X, even if they’re not all Xbox exclusives quite yet.

There is plenty to enjoy and it will 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 4K resolution target swapped out for 1080p.

10. Destiny 2: Beyond Light

Destiny 2: Beyond Light

(Image credit: Bungie)

Regardless of whether you're a returning Guardian, been MIA for a little while, or a player in search of a new adventure, Bungie has effectively hit the reset button on Destiny 2 as we transition into the next generation. Destiny 2: Beyond Light has launched alongside the Xbox Series X and, with it, the studio has re-engineered the live-service shooter to make it easier than ever before to onboard new and returning players. The launch day experience looks and feels fantastic, boasting faster load times, smoother performance, and cross-gen support, although Destiny 2 will receive a free optimisation patch on December 8 that unlocks 4K resolution and a locked 60 frames per second, as well as fancy new performance options such as a field of view slider – a first for consoles. Destiny 2 is still a fantastic shooter from the creators of Halo, so why not give it a shot on Xbox Series X. 

9. Gears Tactics

Gears Tactics Xbox Series X

(Image credit: Xbox Game Studios)

Okay, so a turn-based tactics game isn't going to be for everybody, but there's a comfortable rhythm to the cadence of Gears Tactics' combat that makes it easy to recommend – particularly if you're trying the genre out for the first time. Gears Tactics is available through an Xbox Game Pass subscription and as a standalone purchase, optimised to run on Xbox Series X at 4K resolution and 60 frames per second. It looks beautiful, runs smoothly, and plays surprisingly well with a controller – although the option to plug in a mouse and keyboard is there if you want it. Gears Tactics sets a benchmark for how turn-based tactics games can play on next-generation consoles, should more developers choose to bring the genre over from PC.

8. Watch Dogs Legion

Watch Dogs Legion

(Image credit: Ubisoft / Nvidia)

Watch Dogs Legion is one of the only games at launch to demonstrate how integral ray-tracing is going to be for improving immersion in next-generation games. The faster load times are certainly appreciated, letting you explore this rendition of London under siege from an authoritarian regime with as little friction as Ubisoft could manage, but it's that ray-tracing support that makes the new adventures of DedSec really sing. The improved lighting, reflections, and shadow detailing are out of this world, helping to make every hackathon and drawn-out firefight in the streets of London look unlike anything you've ever seen on console – should your TV come equipped with support for the feature, of course. 

7. 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. 

6. Halo: The Master Chief Collection

Halo: Combat Evolved

(Image credit: Xbox Game Studios)

The Master Chief may have missed the Xbox Series X launch party, with Halo Infinite slipping deep into 2021, but you should treat that as an excuse to return to some of the finest first-person shooters of all time. 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.

5. 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. 

4. 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. 

3. 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.

2. 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. 

1. Forza Horizon 4

Forza Horizon 4

(Image credit: Xbox Game Studios)

Forza Horizon 4 may have launched in 2018, but developer Playground Games has done such a good job optimising its open-world racing game that it is a must-own for Xbox Series X. Available to purchase outright or through Xbox Game Pass, Forza Horizon 4 arrives in native 4K and now at 60 frames per second – the game looks and plays better than ever on Xbox. Forza Horizon 4 was already the best racing game of the Xbox One era and now, with its faster performance, higher fidelity graphics, and increased shadow, reflection, and particle effects quality, it has been transformed for Xbox Series X. Forza Horizon 4 sets the benchmark for racing games of this new generation.