Those who have been able to get their hands on the Xbox Series X can truly appreciate the effort that Microsoft put into amending its past mistakes from the Xbox One era. Beyond being just as capable as the PlayStation 5 performance-wise, the Series X features a great first-party lineup made even better through Xbox Game Pass, a slew of essential third-party titles and the ability to play games dating back to the OG Xbox from 2001.
With so many incredible titles available, it can be hard to figure out where to even start. That’s why we’ve handpicked the best Xbox Series X and Series S games available right now, from blockbuster action experiences to family-friendly platformers.
$14.65 at Amazon (also on Xbox Game Pass)
Released a year before the Xbox Series X, Gears 5 is considered another great entry within the Gears of War franchise. The single-player campaign adds some interesting elements to the series’ satisfying cover-shooter gameplay through upgradable robot companion Jack alongside light open-world exploration. Meanwhile, the multiplayer is better than ever, with the tense three-player mode, Escape, joining the established cooperative Horde mode and competitive death match varieties. When running on Xbox Series X, Gears 5 has enough visual enhancements to compete with the PC version running on ultra-level graphical settings, including higher-resolution textures and particle counts as well as super-smooth frame rates.
$59.95 at Amazon
The highly anticipated collaboration between FromSoftware and “Game of Thrones” writer George R. R. Martin brings the incredibly difficult action role-playing of Dark Souls to an open-world structure. Having a huge world to explore allows for new additions to the formula, including better stealth gameplay and mounted combat. If things get too difficult, players can summon collectible spirits or friends through multiplayer. Just as importantly, Elden Ring looks amazing and runs phenomenally on Xbox Series X.
Forza Horizon 5
$59.99 $53.99 at Amazon (also on Xbox Game Pass)
Playground Games’ latest Forza Horizon entry takes place in the beautiful country of Mexico. Besides letting you drive around an open world that’s 50% larger than the previous entry, Forza Horizon 5 features a weather system that’s localized to various biomes that reflects weekly seasonal changes. An experience that always feels player-driven (no pun intended), the gameplay really feels personal, thanks to deep car customization and the ability to tweak mechanic options. Between single-player story missions and a ludicrous amount of multiplayer offerings seeing frequent updates, there’s enough content in this arcade-leaning racer to last for quite a while.
$59.99 $40.18 at Amazon (also on Xbox Game Pass)
One of our picks for the best video games of 2021, Halo Infinite finally brings the franchise back to its pioneering first-person-shooter glory. The single-player campaign featuring series protagonist Master Chief goes open world, allowing for more options to engage combat while allowing for the introduction of new tools to fight, including the mega-satisfying Grappleshot. The game’s free-to-play multiplayer portion balances features that fans love about Halo while adding modern touches like ability pickups and a season pass filled with unlockable items for customizing your Spartan.
Microsoft Flight Simulator
$59.99 $44.90 at Amazon (also on Xbox Game Pass)
The latest entry in one of Microsoft’s longest established franchises, Microsoft Flight Simulator is one of the best ways to show off the graphical capabilities of your Xbox Series X. Beyond utilizing nearly every graphical trick in the book, Flight Simulator simulates the entire globe using Microsoft Azure cloud data and Bing Maps. Outside of the leisure activity of flying anywhere on Earth, modes like Landing Challenges are a true test of flight ability. Just note that there’s a bit of a learning curve in controlling an aircraft through the Xbox Series X controller; it’s best to use a flight stick for a more immersive experience.
Resident Evil Village
$59.99 $29.99 at Amazon
The eighth core entry in Capcom’s Resident Evil series takes Resident Evil 7: Biohazard protagonist Ethan Winters from the Louisiana bayous to an Eastern European village that’s just as terrifying. This time around, Ethan has to find his kidnapped daughter taken by the mysterious Mother Miranda. Though the latest entry still utilizes the same first-person view introduced in RE7, Resident Evil Village is a lot more action-focused and plays a lot like Resident Evil 4 combat-wise. Don’t worry, though — there are still some seriously terrifying moments. Taking the action focus even further, the game also sees the return of the arcade-style Mercenaries Mode, which is available once players finish the single-player story.
Sea of Thieves
$39.99 $28.69 at Amazon (also on Xbox Game Pass)
Rare’s first-person pirate simulator, Sea of Thieves, didn’t get the warmest reception when it released in 2018, but through constant updates and revisions, the game has gotten noticeably better while maintaining a solid player base. Best played with friends, Sea of Thieves works because of how unpredictable it is riding the open sea, finding an island and looking for buried treasure while fighting various enemies. Xbox Series X owners can play the game in full 4K resolution at 60 frames per second in addition to enjoying reduced load times.
$37 $27.94 at Amazon (also on Xbox Game Pass)
The last game released by Codemasters before being acquired by Electronic Arts, Dirt 5 is currently one of the few triple-A arcade racers available for Xbox Series X. Focusing on various dirt vehicle disciplines from rally to truck, this entry in the Dirt series introduces dynamic weather during races. When it comes to current-gen visuals, the racer is a blast to play in the extra-smooth 120Hz mode for those with televisions that support the feature. Those who like to hop on the couch with friends will also enjoy Dirt 5’s four-player split-screen multiplayer.
Control Ultimate Edition
$33.12 at Amazon
With Control, Finnish developer Remedy Entertainment manages to reinvent itself as a premier maker of third-person shooters yet again. Players step in the shoes of Jesse Faden, who is looking for her missing brother by exploring the Oldest House, a building run by paranormal agency the Federal Bureau of Control. Fighting a mysterious enemy called the Hiss, Jesse utilizes a transforming gun called the Service Weapon and various upgradable powers as players try to grasp what exactly is going on. Control Ultimate Edition features visual enhancements for Xbox Series X (including ray tracing for extra-realistic reflections) alongside The Foundation and AWE expansion packs.
$59.99 $53.99 at Amazon (also on Xbox Game Pass)
Tim Schafer and the fine team at Double Fine Productions took a while to get around to it, but Psychonauts 2 managed to be well worth the wait. The writing is as strong and comical as ever, with series protagonist Raz fighting against mysterious new foes the Deluginists who are looking to resurrect the mysterious villain Maligula. Though the 3D platforming gameplay based around psychic abilities doesn’t reinvent the wheel, it’s still a blast to play and watch the story unfold.
Devil May Cry 5 Special Edition
$32.57 $29.99 at Amazon
Capcom’s Devil May Cry series has earned a reputation as being one of the most stylish action games available today. For the fifth entry in the series, series hero Dante joins Devil May Cry 4 protagonist Nero and the mysterious V for even more over-the-top fun. The current-gen Special Edition adds Dante’s brother, Virgil, as a playable character while including visual upgrades such as ray tracing, higher-resolution textures and higher frame rates.
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla
$59.99 $19.99 at Amazon
The most recent entry in Ubisoft’s ongoing Assassin’s Creed franchise, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla takes place during the Viking expansion into the British Isles around 872 AD. Players take on the role of Eivor Varinsdottir (available in both male and female variants) as he or she takes on the Templar Order using brute dual-wielding ax combat or the series’ trademark stealth abilities. Like previous entries in the series, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla allows players to take guided tours of the British Isles to learn about the time period.
Ori and the Will of the Wisps
$29.88 at Amazon (also on Xbox Game Pass)
The original Ori and the Blind Forest was a slick Metroidvania-style platformer with a beautiful 2D look and some clever gameplay that made it a critical darling in 2015. Ori and the Will of the Wisps takes everything great about the original to another level as it follows Ori in the new Niwen region. Not only does it deliver even more visual splendor, but it also adds some much-appreciated enhancements to gameplay, including autosaving and a “shard” system for upgrading your abilities.
$39.99 $16.48 at Amazon (also on Xbox Game Pass)
Co-developed by Splash Damage and The Coalition, Gears Tactics does a splendid job adapting Gears of War’s cover-based shooting into a turn-based tactics game. Similar to other games within the genre like XCOM, there are a handful of customizable classes to take on the Horde — from Retro Lancer-toting Vanguards to Gnasher-wielding Scouts. Players will need to use these classes carefully in various combat scenarios that’ll test both wit and foresight.
$19.99 $17.99 at Amazon (also on Xbox Game Pass)
Encompassing the 30-year history of storied British developer Rare, Rare Replay isn’t just a great collection of games — it’s also a history lesson in gaming. From Nintendo-era classics like Battletoads and Banjo-Kazooie to modern titles like Viva Piñata and Kameo, there’s so much to enjoy with this package. Players looking to really delve deep into the history of Rare will also appreciate the bonus feature section Rare Revealed that gives a behind-the-scenes look at the developer’s classic games alongside projects that’ll possibly never see the light of day.