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The best Xbox Series X games in 2022

Master Chief stands against an alien planet's landscape in one of the best Xbox Series X games
(Image credit: Microsoft)

The best Xbox Series X games push Microsoft's console to its limits and offer a fresh new gaming experience for solo and multiple players. Xbox Series X is the most powerful of Microsoft's new consoles (the Series S has diminished processing power and lacks a disc drive) and as such you'll want to play the best games on it.

There’s never been a better time to get in the Xbox zone either. With their recent Activision buy-out announced it’s going to be the console for exclusives over the next few years. If you don't yet have Microsoft's powerful console, then take a look at the best Xbox Series X deals for the best Xbox prices around. We've also listed the best monitors for Xbox Series X so you can play how the developers intend.

Our list of the best Xbox Series X games is the definitive list whether you're buying a game or seeking something to play on Xbox Game Pass – Microsoft's Netflix-like subscription service. Whether it's the fantasy of Elden Ring or the racing of Forza Horizon 5, this list will keep you busy.

Vertex Week 2022, all you need to know

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Want to know more about game art and development? Don’t miss Vertex Week 2022, the ultimate virtual event for the digital art community. Spider's Jehanne Rousseau will be discussing the use of historic references in new game SteelRising, plus talks and tutorials from leading concept artists working in video games.

The best Xbox Series X games available now

A screen from Elden Ring, one of the best Xbox Series X games

(Image credit: From Software)

01. Elden Ring

The best Xbox Series X game for fantasy RPG gamers

Specifications

Publisher: Bandai Namco
Developer: From Software
Players: 1-4

Reasons to buy

+
Original and beautiful art direction
+
A reinvention of open world design
+
Lore created by George R.R. Martin

Reasons to avoid

-
It's incredibly difficult

Elden Ring has been written by Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin and designed by Dark Souls' Hidetaka Miyazaki (one of video games' greatest game directors), and it's something special. The classic risk-and-reward gameplay of Miyazaki-san's Dark Souls series in which one misstep sees you die, lose all you've earned, and try again, is being adapted to open world design.

This is a vast and involved action-roleplaying game that picks from the bones of Elder Scrolls, Shadow of the Colossus, Breath of the Wild and Miyazaki-san's own back catalogue (from Demons' Souls to Bloodborne). Elden Ring is a challenging game, but perhaps its open world enables players to take their own routes in a way previous Miyazaki games haven't.

Behind the gameplay is a startling visual design. The dark, spiky gothic design of Elden Ring's world and its characters and creatures always surprises. It's aided by Elden Ring's UX design, which is sparse and demands you explore its world. Like all the best fantasy, the world of the Lands Between is both haunting and beautiful, a place that will demand you keep exploring.

A screenshot from Halo Infinite, one of Xbox Series X best games

(Image credit: Microsoft)

02. Halo Infinite

The best Xbox Series X game for legacy players

Specifications

Publisher: Xbox Game Studios
Developer: 343 Industries
Number of players: 1-24

Reasons to buy

+
Multiplayer is free for everyone
+
The open world is well designed

Reasons to avoid

-
Lacks some of the set-piece flair of the Bungie originals

Halo Infinite is the latest instalment in the famous sci-fi shooter series. Now built for Xbox Series X this latest entry takes the action open world; run, shoot, drive, fly and swing anywhere you wish within the game's well-designed maps. The same snappy gunplay of old games remains, only now protagonist Master Chief can grapple from ledges making him more mobile than ever.

This sense of freedom this new gameplay offers is incredible even if occasionally the story doesn't match the advances made in game design. Good news for all Xbox Series X players is Halo Infinite is free to play online. It's live service structure has had some teething problems, but Microsoft is getting into its stride with this one. In terms of pure fun, Halo Infinite has the shooter goods.

A screen of Forza Horizon 5, one of the best Xbox Series X games

(Image credit: Microsoft)

03. Forza Horizon 5

The best Xbox Series X game for racing fans

Specifications

Publisher: Xbox Game Studios
Developer: Playground Games
Number of players: 1-6

Reasons to buy

+
Visually stunning, even at great speed
+
Seamlessly and easy mission structure
+
Always something to do in the huge world

Reasons to avoid

-
Music could be a little more varied

Forza Horizon 5 is the latest game in Microsoft's blazing fast arcade racer series, and it doesn’t just open up by having you drive out of a moving plane… it does so multiple times in a row. This is a racing game for the Fast and Furious generation. This bombastic introduction to the game's new setting of Mexico leads into a racing festival that will enable you to speed through sleepy villages and over mountain ranges.

This is no racing simulation. Though tweaks can offer in-depth options to design your car to suit your style, the aim of Forza Horizon 5 is to be fun from the get-go; pick up a controller and start racing across multiple event types and tracks that even take in volcanoes.

Forza Horizon 5 offers a vast open world that rewards exploration with tons of flashy cars and novelty outfits for your 'drivatar' (your data will appear in your friends’ races too). The only downside is it pushes live service aspects a bit too much, but otherwise this is a world you can just cruise in all day.

A screen of Sea of Thieves, one of the best Xbox Series X games

(Image credit: Microsoft)

04. Sea Of Thieves

The best Xbox Series X game for multiplayer

Specifications

Publisher: Xbox Game Studios
Developer: Rare
Number of players: 1-4

Reasons to buy

+
Real sense of co-op adventure
+
Potentially endless adventuring
+
Loads of stories that feel your own

Reasons to avoid

-
Need friends to get the most out of it

Despite a lack of content at launch, Sea Of Thieves has grown from a neat proof of concept to a real high-seas epic much in the same way as whispered pirate legends have taken on mythic proportions over the reality. 

The idea is simple: you and your friends can sail your own pirate ship on adventures, earning treasure to haul back to your stash. But, you can also steal that treasure from other groups of pirates, sinking their ship. But then maybe someone tries to steal it from you, then the sea parts, and now there’s a massive kraken in the middle.

It’s the sort of wild, immersive multiplayer that births its own stories that you and friends will be talking about for years, which makes it one of the best Xbox Series X games for co-op out there. The main problem being, of course, it’s a little bit less fun if you can’t rustle up a group of your own crew.

A screen from Gears 5, one of the best Xbox Series X games

(Image credit: Microsoft)

05. Gears 5

The best Xbox Series X games for brutal shootouts

Specifications

Publisher: Xbox Game Studios
Developer: The Coalition
Number of players: 1-3

Reasons to buy

+
Open areas work surprisingly well
+
Best Gears story in years

Reasons to avoid

-
It doesn't innovate too much

Gears 5, like Halo Infinite, is the latest entry in one of Microsoft's most successful franchises. Brutal, bloody and frantic, Gears 5 is the best entry in this classic series for many years. It's chainsaw-stab at perfecting the cover-shooter style of play this series had a hand in creating.

Proving this chunky third-person shooter still has room to grow, Gears 5 introduces small open world maps to explore and manages to refresh its approach to world design – there's always a tactical option to explore in a fight. Plus, Gears 5 looks simply fantastic on the new hardware, making it visually one of the best Xbox Series X games.

Actor Laura Bailey’s Kait Diaz is a great centrepiece for the new campaign, which nods back to the original storyline. But, through Kait, we get a new perspective at those tales of old, which will appeal to fans. The game's multiplayer is back and as good as ever, if falling victim to some of the same live service pitfalls as many others in the genre – progression can feel overwhelming. Still, every Xbox Series X owner should try this shooter.

A screen from Hitman 3, one of the best Xbox Series X games

(Image credit: IO Interactive)

06. Hitman 3

The best Xbox Series X games for murder-puzzles

Specifications

Publisher: IO Interactive
Developer: IO Interactive
Number of players: 1 (online leaderboards)

Reasons to buy

+
Hitman and Hitman 2’s levels return
+
Many ways to replay every mission

Reasons to avoid

-
Online required for tracking experience

Part murder simulator, part puzzle box, each Hitman 3 level is a masterpiece of game design. Filled with non-player characters going about their business, and multiple areas of differing security, it’s up to Agent 47 to infiltrate, kill his villainous target, and slip out undetected. Well, ideally, that is. You can also go in loud, take them out with a sniper rifle from distance, or just throw a fish at them. 

From disguises, to bombs, to setting up Rube Goldberg-esque accidents, everything’s fair game in Hitman 3. Mastery over levels accrues over time, making diving back in for a new approach tantalising. So dense is each stage, that you can pass plenty of time just exploring the detail in each map, uncovering tiny aspects of world design that make the stage come alive.

If you own the previous Hitman games, you can bring across the old levels to this new version, which come with all the bells and whistles you’d expect from one of the best Xbox Series X games – all the old levels have been given a fresh coat of paint, new textures, and improved frame rates. 

A screen of Assassin's Creed Valhalla, one of the best Xbox Series X games

(Image credit: Ubisoft)

07. Assassin's Creed Valhalla

The best Xbox Series X game for history buffs

Specifications

Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Number of players: 1

Reasons to buy

+
A large but manageable open world
+
Doing viking things is incredibly fun
+
A vast and expanding set of missions

Reasons to avoid

-
Stealth gameplay doesn’t work well

Despite being a stealth game at heart, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla takes us to the Dark Ages for some England-set viking fun. Assassin’s Creed Valhalla manages to merge the agile assassin gameplay of its predecessors with the joy of blowing on your big horn to raid some poor churches with your viking crew. Departing from Norway, you’re aiming to start a new home in England, but that's just the start. 

From the snowy mountains of your homeland to the foggy fields across the sea, AC Valhalla's world is a constantly enchanting place to look at on Xbox Series X. A new approach to open world activities in ‘discoveries’ makes this entry in the series feel less like a checklist of repetitive content, and more like little things you’re actually stumbling across. It's a smart world design.

This might be the third game in the new Assassin’s Creed’s open world style of play (following on from Assassin’s Creed Origins and Assassin’s Creed Odyssey), but Valhalla feels like the best yet in terms of technical achievement. Thanks to a bespoke next-gen version, this is one of the best Xbox Series X games to try first, especially as you can upgrade from Xbox One.

A screen from Resident Evil Village, one of the best Xbox Series X games

(Image credit: Capcom)

08. Resident Evil Village

The best Xbox Series X game for horror fans

Specifications

Publisher: Capcom
Developer: Capcom
Number of players: 1

Reasons to buy

+
Constantly beautiful to look at
+
Villains are over-the-top, yet compelling
+
The village itself is great to explore

Reasons to avoid

-
Areas feel like they’re over too quickly

Resident Evil Village picks up Ethan’s story a few years after his escape from the Baker family household at the end of previous game Resident Evil VII: Biohazard. The same first-person gameplay returns, a departure from the Resident Evil series' third-person gameplay. 

In Resident Evil VII events and characters felt much more grounded, but here – with his wife shot in front of him and his baby kidnapped – things get fantastical and supernatural. The strange village Ethan finds himself in is plagued by werewolf monsters, and ruled by beings with peculiar powers, such as the extremely tall vampire lady who became a meme when this game was released in 2021. 

Despite its Hammer Horror leaning, Resident Evil Village manages to be incredibly tense and horrifying as you’re pushed through wildly inventive areas of the village and its surroundings. The snowy setting, which can sometimes be incredibly dark, is both beautiful and cloying, and the monsters get so in your face you almost smell them.

A screen from Psychonauts 2, one of the best Xbox Series X games

(Image credit: Microsoft)

09. Psychonauts 2

The best Xbox Series X game for platform gamers

Specifications

Publisher: Xbox Game Studios
Developer: Double Fine
Number of players: Gameplay assists, customisable subtitles, control options

Reasons to buy

+
Every level is incredibly inventive
+
Balances hilarity and emotion remarkably
+
Superbly inventive visual design

Reasons to avoid

-
Some characters feel underused

Psychonauts 2 developer Double Fine was bought by Microsoft in 2019 and speculation was this game may lose its quirky nature. Not so. In fact the added support managed Double Fine to do the impossible: make a great sequel to a niche early noughties platformer.

Protagonist Raz returns for more psychic escapades through the brain worlds of those around him, uncovering emotional tales as he does, and also getting into hilarious hijinks. Studio lead Tim Schafer’s DNA is all over this game. He also created the likes of Monkey Island, Grim Fandango and Full Throttle, so expect that kind of adult cartoon zaniness.

Each mind you explore is unique, meaning lots of gameplay variation, and also visual direction that manages to skip all over the place and remain consistent thanks to a strong art direction that riffs on Tim Burton. Whether it's exploring the spooky striped lighthouses of a barber’s nightmare, or a trippy, psychedelic take on Woodstock with a band made out of facial features, every moment in Psychonauts 2 is a joy.

A screen from It Takes Two, one of the best Xbox Series X games

(Image credit: EA)

10. It Takes Two

One of the best Xbox Series X games for co-op

Specifications

Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: Hazelight Studios
Number of players: 2

Reasons to buy

+
Both characters’ gameplay feels substantially different
+
Banter between characters is fun
+
Inventive use of the ‘shrunken down’ cliche

Reasons to avoid

-
Some areas go on a bit too long

It Takes Two is unique in that it only works with two players. About to undergo a messy divorce, two parents are shrunken down into doll-replicas of themselves thanks to the wishes of their daughter that they would just make up. By working together you can beat the game and solve the crisis facing this marriage.

Played in co-op with a friend each character has different abilities that need to be used together, which changes throughout each level. Having to work together to solve their problems – both emotionally and physically – the on-screen pair try to return to their real bodies.

Somehow, the story manages to avoid feeling saccharine and has a wicked sense of humour to boot as the adults run rampant through a twee world of childhood wonder, stomping their way through workshops and toy forts alike. Given its two-player focus, only one of you needs to own the game for both to play even online.

A screen from Ori And The Will Of The Wisps, one of the best Xbox Series X games

(Image credit: Moon Studios)

11. Ori And the Will of the Wisps

The best Xbox Series X games for animation fans

Specifications

Publisher: Xbox Game Studios
Developer: Moon Studios
Number of players: 1

Reasons to buy

+
Absolutely stunning at direction
+
A Metroidvania that feels fun to explore
+
A great and rewarding story

Reasons to avoid

-
Game design isn't as original as its art

Ori And the Will of the Wisps is the most beautiful 2D indie Metroidvania you’ll ever see. Metroidvania is a subgenre of action-adventure games that places an emphasis on exploration, with newly acquired skills and items enabling new areas of a map to be opened.

With Xbox’s backing Ori And the Will of the Wisps proves you don’t always need a blockbuster game or franchise to create a console-defining moment. With a story that evokes classic animated movies like FernGully, you play as Ori, a little forest spirit on their second adventure to save their world and fulfil a destiny.

Specifically upgraded for Microsoft's new console, this is one of the best Xbox Series X games at showing just how beautiful games can look. The power of this new console really brings the hand-painted artwork to life. Plus, it’s a joy to play too, with tight platforming that rewards exploration, all mixed together with a story that’s touching.

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Oscar Taylor-Kent
Editor, Play Magazine

PLAY editor Oscar Taylor-Kent first joined Official PlayStation Magazine in 2018, and was involved with the long-standing mag’s rebrand into PLAY before becoming editor. Despite being a PlayStation expert (and noted PS Vita apologist), he’s got fingers on many buttons, having also written for GamesRadar, SFX, PC Gamer, Kotaku, Waypoint, Official Xbox Magazine, GamesMaster, PCGamesN, and Xbox to name but a few. When not knee deep in character action games, JRPGs, and visual novels, he’s often found reading books, manga, or binging anime. His current favourite games include Devil May Cry, Persona, Ace Attorney, and Hakuoki.

With contributions from