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The 20 best Xbox Series X/S games you should play right now


Halo Infinite co-op with two players

Thanks to the new consoles still being in their relative infancy, many of the best Xbox Series X games (and Series S games) are cross-generation ones. But the new ones are beginning to trickle through, and thanks to that full backwards compatibility – and the huge range of next-gen-optimised games that Xbox has assembled – theres plenty of choice.

If you want that full backlog taken into consideration, take a look at our best Xbox One games list, which has some lovely picks, from major classics to hidden gems, and the latest Xbox Game Pass games.

For this list, like our best PS5 games list, were focusing purely on actual Xbox Series X/S games. What does that mean? Well, weve defined that here as games that are either: exclusive to the consoles (of which there are only a couple at present), new cross-gen games that arrived on Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S simultaneously, or earlier Xbox One games that have been updated with significant Xbox Series X/S patches, which Microsoft handily labels as “optimised for Xbox Series X/S”.


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Eurogamer newscast: what Xboxs Bethesda exclusives mean for the future

Tunic

What we said in our
Tunic review:
I reckon that the success of a game like Tunic, in particular – one that follows in the footsteps of games like Zelda and Dark Souls – hinges on the correct deployment of what I shall briefly have to call the pleasures of Distant Supermarket Thinking. In the best of these games, filled with action and adventure and wholesome excitement, we are perpetually wide-eyed, perpetually alert for delights that we know we cannot anticipate. Old ideas delivered in unfamiliar ways; things that seem familiar but are not what they initially appear to be.


Elden Ring

What we said in our Elden Ring review: Elden Ring remains a glorious game, one that established fans are going to savour for some time to come, and one that may just welcome new fans into the FromSoft fold. Sumptuous visual design, dark and detailed lore and a vast-but-intricate open world are reason enough to venture out into the Lands Between. Add to that FromSoftwares unforgiving and unforgettable gameplay loop and this is something truly special.


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  • Buy now from Argos in the UK, and from Amazon in the US.

OlliOlli World

What we said in our OlliOlli World review: OlliOlli World is the latest and wildest entry in a sublime series of 2D skateboarding games. The basics have remained unchanged for obvious reasons. Back in 2014, Roll7 devised a stick-flicking system that seemed to capture skateboarding in the very joints – in the knees and ankles, and in the moment at which the human body becomes a lively species of car jack or shock absorber.

You hold and then release the stick in order to trick: choose a direction and see what happens. Can you land it? Can you link it together with other tricks? Can you incorporate a grab?… I love this game because its about learning and trying things out. And maybe learning never has to end, and maybe we can try new things out forever.


Halo Infinite

What we said in our
Halo Infinite review:
On a few occasions, amid the hoovering up of map icons, I stumbled across unmarked areas of interest: caves and Forerunner rooms that warranted a closer look. 343 has dabbled in environmental storytelling in some of these spaces, and they made me wonder what else the ring might have to offer… Somewhere between those map icons is tantalising mystery, and thats what Silent Cartographer was all about, wasnt it? Being on an alien world, not knowing the whys or the hows or the whos. Working things out while finishing the fight.

Halo Infinite, underneath it all, is about just that. And, if nothing else, you can always rely on that golden triangle – Master Chief and his gun, grenade and Gravity Hammer – this time on your own terms, the best its been in a decade.


Halo Infinite co-op with two players

Forza Horizon 5

What we said in our Forza Horizon 5 review: In five games and nine years, Forza Horizon has undergone rapid expansion and complication but little fundamental change, for the best possible reason: because Playground Games knocked the concept out of the park on its first go. The studios job is now to keep things on track while enforcing some semblance of order on this sprawling celebration of freedom. Its not always glamorous work, despite the shiny cars and picture-postcard destinations, and it shouldnt surprise or even disappoint you that Forza Horizon 5 cant offer the perfection of 3 or the bold new emphasis of 4. It is familiar in the best sense of the word: comforting, personable, tailored to you, welcoming to all. Its a dependable joy.



Deaths Door

What we said in our Deaths Door review: The two Miyazakis are everywhere, as much as its painful to keep referencing them in games, subtly in the plinky plonk keystrokes of sad pianos and worlds in mournful transition (Hayao) and the hands-off, unseen guidance through challenge (Hidetaka). And also overtly – which makes me feel much better about the reference – in crotchety old grandma witches in their enchanted castles with mechanical bowels, and sharp-toothed chests that gobble you up. And the little guy with a big sword.

What a pair to reference, though. What a phenomenal pedigree for Acid Nerve to build upon, not just from their own brilliant debut but from Zelda, via 16-bit adventure, to this, without a shred of baggage picked up along the way. What a beautifully concise, measured, exacting, deliberate thing Deaths Door is. How warm and funny and sad. How textured. And how fun! It is absolutely unmissable.


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Aoife and Ian venture beyond Deaths Door.

It Takes Two

What we said in our It Takes Two review: This is a game that constantly finds new ways to keep you entertained, sometimes to its detriment, but more often its a marvel to behold. The base game is a 3D platformer, but levels can change suddenly to become something else entirely instead. Ive had endless runners, Diablo-like hack-and-slashers (complete with two character classes), side-on platform games: it never lets up. Nor does its imagination for a set-piece. Ive had rides on spirit whales on the inside of trees, been on wooden-railed coaster rides through an impossibly large castle I apparently built for my daughter; and been to space. Its a wild ride, only loosely tethered to reality, and I have “wowed” more over the course of this adventure than I can remember.


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It Takes Two – Official Gameplay Trailer

Genesis Noir

What we said in our Genesis Noir review: The biggest compliment I can give this game is that its truly like nothing else Ive played before, and its incredibly focused and dedicated to its creative vision and its theme. If youre looking for something different, a gentle form of experimentation in a beautiful package, I cant recommend Genesis Noir more.


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The stunning Genesis Noir in motion

Hitman 3

What we said in our Hitman 3 review: Hitman 3 is the final act in Agent 47s struggle against his nemeses at Providence, the illuminati-style collective of crooked politicians, crimelords and corpos introduced at the start of the World of Assassination trilogy back in 2016. I dont care much about that story, with its paint-by-numbers betrayals and toneless briefing sequences: its only virtue is to keep you moving around the globe, from one extravagant playground to another. But much to my surprise, I do care rather a lot about Agent 47, about the strange figure he cuts against the contents of his own world and the wider landscape of videogames.


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Digital Foundrys Hitman 3 PS5 vs Xbox Series X/S Comparison: An Xbox Advantage At 4K

Tetris Effect: Connected

What we said in our Tetris Effect: Connected review: Its almost unfair, really, to take a game that was already so fearsome and sort of find a bunch of ways to make it even more interesting and dynamic and maddening and beautiful. Whenever I think of Tetris Effect – and Tetris Effect: Connected, which again, I should reiterate, contains the original game as well as the multiplayer stuff – I think of Laniakea, which serves as a map to the campaign screen and is also the supercluster that is home to the Milky Way, the Great Attractor, and so many other billions of glittering wonders and fancies. Load up Tetris Effect and it always shows you where we live. And in playing it, it continues to show us a little something about who we are.


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Tetris Effect: Connected Gameplay Deepdive

Hades

What we said in our Hades review: All of which is to say: Hades is a proper lark. I love it. But there is something else here, something that I have always felt about games but never been able to put into words. There is something about polished, smartly conceived Hades, about so many of Supergiants games which, the joyous brilliance of Pyre aside perhaps, are always too rigorous, too responsibly conceived not to know exactly what spot theyre going to fit into on the shelf, which pillars theyre going to present to the press – there is something about these games that are so assuredly products that reminds me that games are never ever just products. Games are always a way of being.

To play Hades, Roguelite aside, economy aside, loop aside, is to be furious and vengeful, to be driven by bitterness, self-hate, ennui, to be pulverisingly powerful and yet horribly efficient. This is the truth of it down to the controls, which encourage you to grip the pad by the facebuttons and squeeze and squeeze and squeeze like youre one stress ball away from telling your boss to shove it. This game comes from Hell, and it takes you back there, and its brilliant. Get in.


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Some beginner tips for starting Hades.

Tony Hawks Pro Skater 1 + 2

Cor, Tony Hawk has always felt like a bit of a tech-pusher to me. Back then I couldnt believe a game could feel this human, have this much gravity kicking around inside it. With the remakes/remodels/remasters, its that same joy in animation and texture, environment and surface detailing and the sheer simple pleasures of what youre up to.

Play this because its one of the best games about moving ever made – an absolute delight in the matter of getting from A to B and what you choose to do in between. Its progression system encourages curiosity and experimentation and its tricks are absolutely stellar. What an absolute treat: in 2021, the sheer design of the thing still feels like it has stuff to teach us.


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Digital Foundry on the game changer next-gen update for Tony Hawk

Microsoft Flight Simulator

What we said in our Microsoft Flight Simulator review: Like many players wholl be drawn to this most attractive of games, I cant claim to be an expert in the discipline of flying, nor in the simulation of it. But Microsoft Flight Simulator is the kind of thing that can make an enthusiast of you, or rekindle a passion thats been lying dormant. Ive started to work over my own checklists, and map out my own flight plans. I now cant bring myself to spawn on a runway, and instead enjoy getting lost in the rhythm of procedures as you set off from your stand


Grounded

What we said in our Grounded impressions: Everything old is new again… A bit of exploration, a bit of crafting, some clumsy first-person combat. A world of interesting things to investigate that gradually expands in every direction. This is hardly new. But that world! Huge blades of grass rising overhead. Pausing beneath a canopy of clover. A building on the horizon, a sheer white wall, and when you approach its a thing of Tic-Tacs dropped in the earth. The sell for Grounded is so simple: its Honey I Shrunk the Kids, a bunch of you in the backyard suddenly no bigger than ants. But that simple sell is also completely transformative. The world of Grounded is magical.


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Grounded gameplay: making spiders cuter with arachnophobia mode

Buy now from the Microsoft Store or play on Game Pass.

Control: Ultimate Edition

What we said in our Control review: When it all comes together, Controls hallways and board rooms echo with wretched joy. There is something about the chaos of throwing big things about combined with the precision of the powers targeting system that elevates the action. There is a special halo in nailing someone with a humidor through a distant railing, watching the bars go skewiff and the body crumble. Pillars shed their concrete under gunfire filling the environment with dust and grit. This game is the famous thick-air scene from the Matrix. It takes pains in depicting the way that things fall apart.


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Digital Foundry runs the rule over the enhanced Control: Ultimate Edition

Sea of Thieves

What we said in our Sea of Thieves review: And what keeps me going once Im drunk on gold and battered by the undead is that splinter of defiance in the heart – that part of Sea of Thieves that is unwilling to devolve into helpful shorthand and UI tricks. The map you hold in your hands as you wade ashore is an actual map, and it works as a map works in the real world. It is a tool for finding your way, but it is not a complete solution. As a result Ive been walking around all week thinking about east and west and how to tell the difference between the two when I havent got a compass to hand. I have been thinking about reckoning. This allows the games fiction to create compelling moments – I have been genuinely lost in Sea of Thieves at times. But it also allows it to do what every game like this truly hopes to do – to cross over, to seep into your everyday life.



Destiny 2

There have been so many Destiny imitators over the years that sometimes its refreshing to go back to the source. Like its predecessor, Destiny 2 hasnt been short of problems, but like its predecessor its overcome them to become a shooter of remarkable scope. Its a shooter with remarkable shooting, too, as youd probably expect from the gunsmiths behind Halo, and of course the next-gen update helps in that regard too.

If youre intimately familiar with Bungies console past, as Im sure most of us are, theres something almost sacrilegious about playing one of them at 60fps, but after a period of adjustment theres no denying the weight and momentum of these firearms has only been helped in the process. Oh, and the best skyboxes in all of video games have never looked better, either.


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Digital Foundry on the tangible advantage of Destiny 2 on next-gen

Fortnite

Fortnite is a treat on Series X/S, smooth and tangible with truly lovely lighting effects. But in truth, Fortnite is a treat on anything, a game that looked decent running on a phone and still has a certain charm on the Switch.

This is a Series X standard for me – the game I play most often, I suspect. And you know what, Fortnites actually wonderful. A shooter and Battle Royale, yes, but also a weird blend of Animal Crossing and RPG and make-your-own-game software. Its surprisingly deep, endlessly generous, and far more charming than a mega-hit of this size should be. Even if youve been keeping away from it, maybe give it a cheeky go now.


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Team Eurogamer plays Fortnite Primal Chapter 2 Season 6

Rainbow Six Siege

What we said in our Rainbow Six Siege re-review: History suggests that games like Rainbow Six Siege do not last especially long. This is the sort of tactical shooter that modders used to craft out of bits of Quake or Half-Life, a paean to depth for depths sake that seems destined to be adored in hindsight by the passionate minority that actually played it at the time. Yet here we are: Siege is one of the worlds most popular shooters. Its success can, in some ways, be seen as a forerunner of the dazzling rise of PUBG and Fortnite: in rejecting Call of Dutys Skinner box simplicity, Ubisoft has found an audience hungry for games where failure is unforgiving and success means more.


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Rainbow Six Siege – Next Gen Trailer

Halo: The Master Chief Collection

What we said in our Halo: The Master Chief Collection review: The Collection is an instantaneous embrace of past and present that combines gamings powerful sense of nostalgia with its perpetual arms race of processing and graphical power. It is part of a growing appreciation of the past in a medium which until recently was resolutely forward-looking. Proust would bloody love it.




For more curated best-of lists like this, meanwhile, feel free to argue in the comments section of the following, too:

Weve also got the latest updates on Xbox Series X stock and where to buy it, if youre still hunting down a next-gen upgrade!


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