Best Xbox Series X, Series S games 2021
The Xbox Series X is Microsoft's latest and greatest console, with 12TF of computational power and a beefy SSD that reduces load times down to mere seconds. In our Xbox Series X review, we touted the graphical enhancements in games like Gears 5 for adding refinements that elevate it far above its Xbox One X counterpart. To that end, for those who have grabbed the Xbox Series X or Series S, we've compiled some of the best games here which showcase the power of the new console while we wait for the library to expand into 2021 and beyond. Be sure to look at our most-anticipated upcoming Xbox games too.
A classic revived
The Witcher 3 is grabbing a full next-gen enhancement patch in 2021. Still, it's already a great showcase for the Xbox Series X. Running the game in "performance mode" locks the frame rate at 60 FPS while also unlocking the resolution, giving you an experience that closely resembles The Witcher 3 running on a high-end PC.
Observer has been upgraded and remastered for Xbox Series S and X, adding in ray tracing among other improved effects, with some added side cases for the detective Daniel Lazarski to solve. Observer is a stunning and atmospheric homage to all things cyberpunk, with an edge of cybernetic horror and dystopia that will give you nightmares. In a good way.
We are Legion
Watch Dogs: Legion is perhaps the most advanced game visually on the Xbox Series X thus far, making very aggressive use of ray-tracing in a vast and detailed open world for unprecedented depth and realism. London skyscrapers covered in truly reflective glass, London streets washed in reflective rain and neon lights that cut through the dusk at night. This is an essential graphical showcase.
Tetris Effect: Connected is a pricey boy, but thankfully it's on Xbox Game Pass, crushing those prices under the weight of tons of neon-colored blocks. Tetris Effect: Connected is the quintessential Tetris experience, with dynamic music, stunning next-gen performance, and a range of addictive multiplayer modes.
Dirt 5 is a fast-paced, mud-spattered off-road racer from Codemasters, which utilizes the power of the next-gen systems well. With support for up to 120 FPS on Xbox Series X, Dirt 5 also draws upon the Xbox controller's rumble triggers to inject the terrain right into your palms, enhancing its addictive and satisfying arcade racing experience.
Gears at 120FPS
Gears 5 has had a major refresh for the Xbox Series X, grabbing support for 120 frames per second in multiplayer, if you have a TV that can handle it. If not, the enhanced campaign now runs at 4K with 60 frames per second, complete with enhanced ray-traced lighting and shadows for a more immersive experience.
Assassin's Creed: Valhalla is the latest game from Ubisoft's flagship action-adventure series, taking players across northern Europe on a bloody battle for conquest and glory. On Xbox Series X, Valhalla moves past 30 FPS on the One X all the way up to 60 FPS at 4K, bringing it closer to its high-end PC counterpart.
May the Force be with you
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order isn't necessarily enhanced, but the game was notorious for poor performance on consoles, with the performance mode falling far below its 60 FPS target and resolution mode falling further still. On Xbox Series X, Jedi: Fallen Order can finally be played how it was meant to be played, without dropping a single frame.
Forza Horizon 4 is a stunning arcade-style open-world racing game set in the idyllic British countryside. On Xbox One X, Forza Horizon 4 compromised on frame rate, but on Xbox Series X, we finally get the 4K 60 FPS experience the gaming gods intended.
Ori gets even more responsive
Ori and the Will of the Wisps was a bit rough at launch, but the game landed well in the end, getting some much-needed polish. If you were holding off on playing Will of the Wisps, the Xbox Series X version would dazzle 120hz TV owners with a 120 FPS mode for maximum platforming responsiveness.
Gears Tactics drops on November 10 with the Xbox Series X itself and comes pre-enhanced out of the box. On Xbox Series X, you'll enjoy a buttery PC-like experience with 4K resolution at 60 frames per second, with enhanced textures and maxed out lighting. This is how Gears Tactics was meant to be played.
Take to the skies
The Falconeer follows arcade flying traditions set by the likes of Panzer Dragoon and Crimson Skies, creating something majestic and beautiful in the process. Developed by a single dev, The Falconeer uses clever mathematical tricks to produce its graphics, reaching 60 FPS at 4K resolution on Xbox Series X, for a smooth high-end PC-like experience.
For the best Xbox Series X experience
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While all games get enhancements on Xbox Series X technically due to enhanced loading speeds from the SSD, the Xbox Series X CPU, and GPU power also lend themselves to graphical improvements across. Some games have to be patched up to gain updates, often because they were hard-locked to a specific resolution or frame rate. Other games, which featured unlocked frame rates like Monster Hunter: World, see naturalistic boosts to their FPS as a result.
Loading up The Witcher 3 for the first time on the Xbox Series X, I had no idea that the resolution in performance mode was actually unlocked to 4K. Seeing The Witcher 3 running at 4K 60 was perhaps the clearest "night and day" difference I've seen so far on the Xbox Series X, having played the game mostly at 30 FPS on the Xbox One and the Xbox One X.
Next up is Watch Dogs: Legion. While I haven't gone hands-on for myself yet, the videos Ubisoft put out showcasing DX12U Ray Tracing on the Xbox Series X version are nothing short of breath-taking. For me, these are the kinds of film-style enhancements to visuals that will really enhance levels of immersion and depth in our virtual worlds, giving them a cinema-like experience that hasn't been possible on consoles up to now.
Stocks of the Xbox Series X and Series S are quite light right now. There may still be time to drop an Xbox Series X order as of writing, and know that all of your best Xbox accessories and your best Xbox One headset will work thanks to backward compatibility (as well as all of your games).
The full next-generation experience.
Xbox Series X is Microsoft's new flagship, as its most powerful console with over 12TF GPU performance and a custom SSD. It boasts up to 4K resolution and 120 FPS, full backward compatibility across four generations, and ray-tracing support.
Next-gen in HD
Experience next-gen gaming for less.
Microsoft serves the next-generation for less with its budget-friendly Xbox Series S. The console packs the same high-performance CPU and SSD technology as Xbox Series X, while scaling back the GPU and removing the disc drive.
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Jez Corden a Managing Editor at Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by caffeine. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his Xbox Two podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!