The Xbox Series X launched to much fanfare, due to its technical leap over the previous-gen Xbox One, promising true next-gen gaming. But the launch lineup of games was far from impressive. Years after its release, the Xbox Series X boasts a solid lineup of both old and new titles. Plus, with Game Pass, gamers can get access to the majority of these titles with an affordable monthly subscription. Let's take a look at the best Xbox Series X games in 2023. We've picked these titles to reflect must-play Xbox exclusives, other genre-defining games, and yet other titles that deserve your attention.
1. Halo Infinite
Halo has been Xbox's marquee franchise since the original Xbox launched in 2001. Halo Infinite is the latest installment in the landmark shooter series and manages to breathe new life into the Halo games after a few lackluster titles in the past. With a massive open world and gorgeous visuals, Halo Infinite is a treat to play. Both long-time fans and newbies to the series will enjoy the fast-paced varied gameplay of both the campaign and the free online multiplayer modes.
Halo Infinite, to a great extent, is the most polished and advanced Halo yet. Thanks to the Xbox Series X's powerful specs, players get to enjoy 120 FPS performance and the game's next-gen visuals in all their glory. The main campaign as well as the side missions provide ample content for fans to sink their teeth into. And there's a new grappling hook that you can use to scale large areas in an instant. That alone earns the game some brownie points.
Finally, the game is included with Game Pass and the multiplayer mode is a free-to-play, standalone title. Barring some glaring issues with the storyline, Halo Infinite delivers on a lot of fronts and provides players with a solid, satisfying Halo game in a long time.
2. Forza Horizon 5
The Forza Horizon series has enthralled fans and critics alike since its inception, and Forza Horizon 5 is undoubtedly the best in the franchise. After taking players on a grand tour of the Australian outback in Forza Horizon 3 and a gorgeous Great Britain in Forza Horizon 4, the latest entry in the "simulcade" racer series moves the Horizon festival to the beautiful locales of Mexico. Forza Horizon 5 makes full use of the Xbox Series X's power and delivers the smoothest and most stunning Horizon experience to date. The roster of cars is bigger than ever, the open world is incessantly fun to explore, and the sheer amount of content can keep you engaged for hours on end.
The Forza Horizon series is another staple of the Xbox platform. No other racing series does it quite like Forza Horizon and the latest entry in the celebrated series has perfected the delectable Horizon concoction.
You can spend hours roaming around in the gorgeous open world, compete in hundreds of varied challenges, and even design your own missions with EventLab. It even comes included with Game Pass. Forza Horizon 5 is the definitive way to experience the Horizon series.
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3. Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020
Microsoft Flight Simulator offers players the freedom to take to the skies in a realistically-rendered world powered by real-time map data. If you're looking for a visually stunning and technically excellent laid-back game on your Xbox Series X, it's tough to beat this one. The world of Flight Simulator is unmatched in terms of photorealism and accuracy. Detailed tutorials and intuitive prompts make it easy for you to learn the ropes, provided you put in the time.
While realistic sims might not be everyone's cup of tea, we urge you to have at least one test flight before deciding on this one, especially since it comes bundled with Game Pass. You might just find the experience soothing and one of a kind. With the game being well-optimized on the Xbox Series X, you don't need to put up with the demanding hardware requirements seen in the PC version of the game.
The attention to detail and the amount of love the devs have put into this game make this title worthy of every Xbox gamer's attention.
4. Elden Ring
2022's "Game of the Year," Elden Ring represents FromSoftware's perfection of the Soulsborne genre. Set in an open world that's equally breathtaking and punishing, Elden Ring manages to deliver a unique experience, even for ardent Souls fans. Elden Ring has a deep and fulfilling narrative, challenging but rewarding enemy encounters, and endless side missions to keep you engaged. With the world-building of George RR Martin and near-perfect scores, Elden Ring is one of the best games of this generation. It would be a crime for us not to include it on this list.
Elden Ring deserves all the praise it gets not just for the reasons above but for something much deeper and precious. It's rare, in modern gaming, when a game manages to capture your imagination and fully immerse you in its world and lore. Elden Ring manages to do this to a point where we found ourselves thinking about its fantastical locations and otherworldly bosses even when we were away from the game.
The infamous difficulty of Souls-like games might keep you from giving this one a shot but believe us, Elden Ring will reward you for your perseverance many times over.
5. Gears 5
Ask any Xbox fan about Gears of War, and it's highly likely they'd count the series as one of their favorites. When Gears 5 came out in 2019, it was regarded as not just an impressive return to form for the franchise but also one of the best games of the year. It looks stunning, especially with the remaster for the Xbox Series X, features characters you can care about, and takes place across multiple, fleshed-out open worlds. It might be an old title at this point, but if you like the Gears series or action games in general, we reckon this Xbox Series X (and PC) exclusive won't let you down.
Despite the Gears series seemingly dormant at this point, we strongly urge Xbox Series X gamers to experience its latest entry in the form of Gears 5. It combines a satisfying campaign with fresh new modes to appeal to a wider audience. You can enjoy it in 4K 60 FPS on the Xbox Series X and it's included with Game Pass. Sure, there are a few drawbacks like microtransactions but overall, Gears 5 is one of our favorite games on the Xbox platform.
FYI: if you still prefer PC gaming, make sure you haven't missed some important titles in 2022, and check out these underrated games.
6. Ori and the Will of the Wisps
Following the massive success of the 2D platformer Ori and the Blind Forest, Moon Studios improved on their formula in the form of Ori and the Will of the Wisps. It can best be described as a deliciously rewarding journey through a stunning, intricately detailed world filled with exciting quests, enemies, and a soul-stirring soundtrack. Combine that with a story that's even better than the last time around, and you have an instant masterpiece on your hands.
Ori and the Will of the Wisps might not be a save-the-world shooter or fantasy but it's an excellent side-scroller and a brilliant work of art. The abilities and fluid controls make you feel like a powerful wanderer exploring the depths of its mysterious world. There are a few sections of the game with breathtaking, fast-paced, and precise sequences that allow you to execute insanely cool maneuvers.
The ultra-smooth, 120 FPS performance on the Xbox Series X competently keeps up with the action. And with the game included with Game Pass, you simply have no excuse not to try this one.
7. Assassin's Creed Valhalla
Assassin's Creed Valhalla might be a polarizing entry in Ubisoft's long-running historic stealth action-adventure series, but what isn't debatable is its place on this list. Valhalla takes players to 9th-century England, allowing them to live out a Viking warrior fantasy. It has all the staples of recent AC games, such as generous RPG elements, an expansive open world, and breathtaking visuals. What Valhalla does differently are the incredibly polished combat and rewarding exploration. Series fans and RPG enthusiasts alike will find Valhalla one of the most satisfying RPGs on the Xbox Series X.
Assassin's Creed Valhalla's inclusion on this list isn't only to fill the customary "open world RPG" category. It's also due to its overall AAA quality. The might of Ubisoft's coffers shows in every aspect of the game, even if some players might be starting to get AC fatigue. Perhaps this played into Ubisoft's decision not to release an Assassin's Creed game in 2021 or 2022 and instead work on multiple titles which they'll launch starting in 2023.
That said, Assassin's Creed Valhalla packs enough content, fleshed-out characters, and combat choices to keep you hooked till then.
8. Resident Evil Village
2017's Resident Evil 7: Biohazard reinvigorated the RE franchise by respecting its roots while also taking it in some new directions. The follow-up, Resident Evil Village, continues the story forward while building on top of the fresh new direction the series has taken. The game combines the eerie horror that's reminiscent of the older RE titles with a focus on combat-heavy gameplay. The result is a scary, action-filled shooter that's sure to delight both RE fans and horror fans.
If you've been looking for a AAA horror game to play on your couch, Resident Evil Village is a solid contender. In fact, we suggest you play Resident Evil 7: Biohazard before Village. Not only is it an equally or perhaps better entry but you'll also gain additional background on the narrative that's sure to enhance your Village playthrough. Resident Evil Village looks stunning, runs smoothly, and is filled with some genuinely scary moments. It truly feels like a high point in the RE franchise.
9. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
With a new Call of Duty game launching every year, it may feel like the series is getting stale. But 2022's Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is a testament to how even a 20-year-old franchise can feel fresh if handled correctly. While it doesn't bring any radical changes to the series, CoD: MW 2 manages to deliver a solid single-player FPS experience that's both varied and action-packed. The graphics and audio design are great, and the new leveling system is smartly implemented.
If you were hoping for MW 2's multiplayer experience to top that of the previous installment, you're likely to be disappointed. Barring that, however, MW 2 rarely lacks anything you expect from a big-budget, high-intensity, military shooter. The impressive arsenal of weapons, standout action sequences, and a decent collection of maps are sure to keep you entertained for quick FPS sessions on your Xbox Series X.
Tip: if you loved Cyberpunk 2077, this list offers the best games that share gameplay, themes, and progression mechanics.
10. Hogwarts Legacy
One of the most anticipated games on this list, Hogwarts Legacy, promised to finally provide fans with the definitive Harry Potter game they deserved. And for the most part, Hogwarts Legacy delivered on that promise. After years of generic and largely half-baked Harry Potter games, Hogwarts Legacy dared to build an RPG experience that truly realized the wonder and mystery of the wizarding world. A brilliantly-crafted Hogwarts castle, a fresh new time period and characters, fun combat, and an overall well-executed Hogwarts student fantasy make Hogwarts Legacy a rare triumph.
If you're a Potterhead, then we don't really need to sell you on Hogwarts Legacy. You're probably soaring over the castle on a Hippogriff right now. But if you aren't, the RPG nerd inside you should consider giving Hogwarts Legacy a shot. The fleshed-out world ready for exploration and an exciting combat system work great as an Xbox Series X game, thanks to the flexibility of opting for a laid-back experience. Moreover, the game simply runs better on the Xbox Series X than on the PC.
11. Star Wars Jedi: Survivor
Star Wars Jedi: Survivor is the newest title on this list, but we're already confident that it deserves to be on your list of must-play Xbox Series X games. A brilliant sequel to Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, it perfects everything the original game introduced. The story is still solid, there are multiple immersive locations to explore, and the lightsaber combat is better than ever. Respawn Entertainment manages to deliver a Star Wars sequel worthy of the success of Fallen Order.
Jedi Survivor isn't just for Star Wars fans. Its gorgeous visuals, mysterious locations, and fluid traversal mechanics make it a great option for anyone looking for a solid action-adventure game. Some parts of the game might be tough for some players but that doesn't take away from the insane entertainment value the game offers. And the smooth performance on the Xbox Series X ensures that your experience isn't marred by performance issues.
12. The Medium
The Medium was one of Xbox Series X's first titles, slated to herald the age of next-gen gaming on the console. While it's a unique horror adventure with some truly path-breaking ideas, it didn't become the grand console seller some people thought it would. Nevertheless, it is an experience worth having, thanks to its standout writing and thematic elements. The visual and sound design elevates the horror experience further as you navigate multiple realities, trying to unravel the mysterious if slightly cryptic narrative. Fans of the genre will find The Medium especially rewarding.
The Medium archives a few things other horror games find hard to do - a genuinely intimidating antagonist and a sympathetic protagonist. If you're looking for a break from conventional horror games, The Medium might just be the answer. And thanks to the level of care put into it by the devs, it doesn't compromise on the overall quality befitting a big-budget release. Even if you aren't one for horror games that give you chills, the game is worth a try on the Xbox Series X just for the singular experience it promises.
13. It Takes Two
For a list of the best games for Xbox Series X, it makes sense to have a couch co-op adventure that you can play with a loved one. It Takes Two "takes" a bold stab at providing players with a relentless, clever, and endlessly charming co-op experience that's unlike anything else on this list. When you're not in the mood for bombastic shooters or bone-chilling horror journeys, It Takes Two can be a fun escape, especially due to its unique two-player gameplay that exploits the chemistry between a bickering couple. You'll get to solve puzzles with oodles of creativity, and the playfulness of the characters will keep you hooked.
Make no mistake - It Takes Two isn't just an offbeat co-op adventure. It has genuinely impressive level design, puzzle-solving, and other gameplay mechanics that blend together beautifully. This is a game made for the Xbox Series X, as you can relax with it any time you want without getting too concerned with progression and missions.
The Friends Pass allows you to share it with a friend, further increasing the value the game offers. Alternatively, you can subscribe to Game Pass and enjoy the game for free as part of EA Play. Some themes that the game tackles might be too mature for some players, though. But, regardless, it's incredibly fun for any age group.
Good to know: if you have a Steam Deck, this list includes the best games that are available for the device.
Making the Most of Your Xbox Series X
These games cover a wide variety of genres and gameplay styles and include both big-budget titles and more casual entries. In addition to these games, there are many honorable mentions like Hitman 3, Hi-Fi RUSH, Sea of Thieves, and High on Life that are worth checking out.
2023 also has some exciting upcoming titles like:
- Street Fighter 6
- Diablo 4
- Aliens: Dark Descent
- Alan Wake 2
- Hollow Knight Silksong
- Forza Motorsport
- Assassin's Creed Mirage
- The Day Before
Even if delays cause some of these titles to launch later than we'd like, the year looks to be packed with a treasure trove of games coming to the Xbox Series X. If you're experiencing any troubles with your consoles, try to reset the Xbox Series X. Perhaps you'd also be interested to know how to stream Xbox Series X games to Android and iOS.
Image credit: Unsplash
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