Whether jumping into a new adventure or revisiting an old favorite, here are our picks for the ten best games on the Xbox Series X.
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10. Red Dead Redemption 2
Whether you’re riding across the plains in story mode or wreaking havoc through the streets of Saint Denis with friends in Red Dead Online, Rockstar’s newest world still remains one of the best times you can have with an Xbox controller. It might not run at 60FPS – Arthur’s mosey is still locked to 30FPS, at least until Rockstar decides to optimize it for XSX, specifically – but gone are the framerate dips you may have experienced on last-gen hardware, along with the minute-and-a-half-long loading screens when (cowboy) booting up.
9. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
Though Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice sliced its way onto the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 in early 2019, the organic improvements you’ll see on new the Xbox Series X make this the best way to play FromSoftware’s latest offering. Sekiro on Xbox Series X runs at a locked 60 frames per second, which is a vast improvement for an experience that requires split-second counters, dodges, and parries while creating a smooth playground for you to grapple and zip through.
Whether you’re diving in for the first time or digging back into it, the improved load times and frame rates make Sekiro an excellent candidate with which to christen your new Xbox Series X.
8. Halo: The Master Chief Collection
This package now collects six Halo games all under one digital roof – everything except Halo 5. It’s been torn down to the studs and rebuilt in grand fashion, and even better, it’s been upgraded AGAIN for Xbox Series X with support for 120fps gameplay. Crazy to think that these games were 480i/30fps the first time we played them…
7. Forza Horizon 4
One of the greatest racing games ever made – and the highest-rated Microsoft exclusive on Xbox One to date – Forza Horizon 4’s Series X refresh absolutely slashes loading times, making its slightly laggy menu shuffling and car switching a thing of the past (even for players with enormous, 700+ car garages).
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The Xbox One X enhanced version’s 1080p/60fps performance mode becomes 4K/60fps here on Series X, too – although, curiously, there are a few flourishes from the Xbox One X’s 30fps quality mode that have (hopefully temporarily) gone missing. Forza Horizon 4 may be a couple of years old, but it’s never too late to get on board; new, free cars are still being injected into the game every month.
6. NBA 2K21
Don’t confuse this with the game you may have already bought on Xbox One – NBA 2K21 on Xbox Series X is a totally new, built-for-next-gen version that has different game modes, tech, visuals, and more. And it looks fantastic. In fact, this might be the most “next-gen” looking game of the Series X launch lineup. It’s a pretty good basketball sim too!
5. Black Ops: Cold War
Call of Duty makes a much better next-gen debut this time around than it did in 2013 with the forgettable (and not very next-gen-looking) Ghosts. Black Ops Cold War is a solid trip down 1980s memory lane, and it looks quite good to boot on the Xbox Series X. It’s even got 120fps support!
4. Yakuza: Like a Dragon
Yes, it’s often silly, ridiculous, and features a side mission in which you have to deliver formula to a gangster who dresses up and acts like a baby, but when you get back on the main story path, Yakuza: Like a Dragon is one of the best video game stories of 2020.
Ichiban Kasuga and his loyal party of down on their luck misfits are all lovable in their own quirky ways, and absolutely live up to the high standard set by Kiryu, Majima, and the rest of the Yakuza series mainstays. Yakuza: Like a Dragon is funny, emotional, expertly acted both in english and japanese, and is just an all-around wonderful RPG that pays homage to the genres roots.
3. Watch Dogs Legion
Watch Dogs Legion isn’t just a great technical showcase for the Series X|S’s ray-tracing effects, it’s a huge step in a bold new direction for Ubisoft’s near-future action series. The ‘Play As Anyone’ system of dynamically-generated NPCs-turned-player-characters may not always fall perfectly into place, but the variety they offer in terms of your approach to tacking objectives allow for plenty of experimentation. Couple that with some solid Black-Mirror-esque story arcs and one of the coolest new social simulations since Middle Earth’s Nemesis system and this techno-dystopian take on London a blast to explore.
2. Gears 5
While it’s a bit of a backhanded compliment to say that 2019’s Gears 5 is arguably the most visually impressive game on the Series X at launch, the fact remains that the already-gorgeous Gears of War sequel has been dialed up to take advantage of Microsoft’s new console. Better lighting, raytracing, 120fps support in Versus multiplayer — the bottom line is that if you skipped Gears 5 last year, the Series X is a great place to play it for the first time.
1. Assassin’s Creed Valhalla
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla wasn’t built exclusively for next-gen, but it’s impossible not to look at it running on the Xbox Series X and marvel at the sheer beauty and impressive detail of its open-world. It’s hard not to get stuck focusing on the stunning lighting and thick atmosphere of each environment and as you pillage, plunder, and build a kingdom in 4K resolution at 60 frames per second. Valhalla’s scope, scale, and lightning-fast load times prove the series is poised to expand its tried-and-true formula on the power of new hardware.
Those are our recommendations for the best game to play on Series X|S right now – let us know what’s on your list that didn’t make ours in the comments!