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The best Xbox Series X exclusives

Microsoft’s latest console, the Xbox Series X, is a powerhouse, oftentimes matching or outperforming the PlayStation 5 in multiplatform releases. But how are the exclusives? The Xbox Series X had a thin lineup at launch, but over the years has amassed a more than impressive catalogue of titles.

We will only include Xbox One games if they’ve been optimized for Series X and S (like Gears 5). Also, we’re ignoring PCs entirely. If you factor in PC releases, Microsoft hasn’t had a console-exclusive game in years. While many exciting games are still to come, such as Fable and Hellblade 2, there are more than enough to keep you satisfied until then.

Halo Infinite

Halo Infinite
85%
4/5
T
Platforms
PC (Microsoft Windows), Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S
Genre
Shooter
Developer
343 Industries
Publisher
Xbox Game Studios
Release
November 15, 2021
Of all the franchises out there, Microsoft is most closely tied with the Halo series. It essentially was the reason to buy the original Xbox when it first launched and pioneered not only the first-person genre on consoles, but revolutionized online multiplayer too. Xbox owes a lot to this franchise, so it makes sense that they would want to keep it alive. Despite being delayed for two years after the Series X and S launched, we finally got our first taste of a brand new Halo game on these upgraded machines in the form of Halo: Infinite.  Split between the free-to-play multiplayer and campaign, this Halo is a little light on content but promises to continue to grow over time. At the core, though, the gameplay is more than enough reason to jump in. This throwback to the classic arena-style shooter is a breath of fresh air in a genre filled with specialists, loadouts, complex abilities, and overpowered builds.

Hi-Fi Rush

Hi-Fi Rush
92%
T
Platforms
PC (Microsoft Windows), Xbox Series X|S
Genre
Music, Platform, Hack and slash/Beat 'em up, Adventure
Developer
Tango Gameworks
Publisher
Bethesda Softworks
Release
January 25, 2023

Announced and released on the same day, Hi-Fi Rush was one of the best surprises to kick off 2023. Made by Tango Gameworks, whose previous titles all revolved around horror, this game is anything but horrific. The bright, vibrant art style is matched only by the game’s sense of style and commitment to its core concept of rhythm. Everything in the game happens to the music, which is a mix of new and cover songs that all make combat much more engaging. Thankfully, the game doesn’t punish you for being off the beat, but instead gives you bonuses for when you do attack the rhythm.

Hi-Fi Rush - Reveal Trailer | Xbox & Bethesda Dev Direct 2023

Immortality

Immortality
85%
M
Platforms
PC (Microsoft Windows), Android, iOS, Xbox Series X|S
Genre
Point-and-click, Simulator, Indie
Developer
Half Mermaid, Sam Barlow
Publisher
Half Mermaid
Release
August 30, 2022
A game like Immortality could only come from the mindthat created a game like Her Story. This is another full-motion video-style game, but it represents the peak of pushing that genre to the limits. You’re once again scrubbing through real video footage trying to unravel a mystery, but instead of seeing clips and searching keywords like Her Story, this time you swap between scenes by selecting people or objects to find other scenes they appeared in. It doesn’t sound like it should work, but trust us, it does. This is one of the most satisfying stories to unravel, made all the more interesting in how each player will uncover clues at different times, in different orders, and through different paths.
Immortality Announcement Trailer - New game from Sam Barlow - Future Games Show E3 2021

Sea of Thieves: Season 5

Sea of Thieves: Season 5
4/5
Platforms
PC (Microsoft Windows), Xbox One
Genre
Adventure
Developer
Rare
Publisher
Xbox Game Studios
Release
December 02, 2021
Although criticized upon launch for a lack of content, Sea of Thieves has still become one of Microsoft’s largest exclusives, and it’ll likely stay that way throughout the Series X’s life. Unlike Destiny 2 and similar games-as-a-service titles, Sea of Thieves isn’t concerned with guiding players down one particular path. Instead, Sea of Thieves is a fluid experience. You can throw up a quest on your ship’s map to find new loot, engage in naval battles, or spend some time far out on the high seas, landing on a random island in a distant land. It’s that freedom that makes Sea of Thieves such a compelling experience, offering just enough content to quality as a “game” while never forcing players to actually undertake that content. Freedom is Sea of Thieves’ biggest strength, but it’s the game’s biggest weakness, too. A group of seafaring friends is essential in Sea of Thieves, so if you fancy yourself a solo player, it’s best to choose one of the other Series X exclusives on this list.

Psychonauts 2

Psychonauts 2
90%
4/5
T
Platforms
PC (Microsoft Windows), PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S
Genre
Platform, Adventure
Developer
Double Fine Productions
Publisher
Xbox Game Studios
Release
August 25, 2021
If you’re an old school fan of DoubleFine games, then you’ve probably been eagerly awaiting the sequel to the cult hit Psychonauts for a decade or more now. Thanks to some help from Microsoft after purchasing the studio, the team was able to expand their original vision for Psychonauts 2 and include more content and polish to this creative and daring game that likely never would have happened otherwise. Playing as Raz once again, you traverse through some of the most creative, subtle, and thought-provoking levels of any 3D platformer ever developed. The story is as bizarre as you would expect, but also full of heart and strong messages about mental health. This is a modern take on the genre that we unfortunately don’t see enough of.

Starfield

Starfield
63%
3.5/5
M
Platforms
PC (Microsoft Windows), Xbox Series X|S
Genre
Shooter, Role-playing (RPG), Adventure
Developer
Bethesda Game Studios
Publisher
Bethesda Softworks
Release
September 06, 2023
It might not be for everyone, but those who get into Starfield will really get into it. The latest Bethesda RPG, this time your adventure goes to the stars and beyond. The basics are classic Bethesda, including leveling up various stats, interacting with hundreds of characters, thousands of quests, and picking up everything that isn’t nailed down. This time, ship combat, base building, and other sci-fi spices are sprinkled over to give the game a unique taste from its other works. So long as you don’t mind the more truncated exploration, you can dump hundreds or more hours into this universe, with or without mods.
Starfield – Official Announcement Teaser

Microsoft Flight Simulator

Microsoft Flight Simulator
91%
E
Platforms
PC (Microsoft Windows), Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S
Genre
Simulator
Developer
Asobo Studio
Publisher
Xbox Game Studios
Release
August 17, 2020
Even if you’re not a hardcore simulation fan, Microsoft Flight Simulator is worth a look just to, well, look at it. The game is one of the most technically impressive achievements ever packed onto a console. You have the entire world to fly around, and somehow it all looks stunningly lifelike. For those who do like to get into the weeds of simulators, the range of planes and attention to detail on them will make it a dream come true. This is a perfect game to throw on for a casual day in, letting you unwind and just relax to the calm hum of your plane engine and vast open skies ahead of you.
Microsoft Flight Simulator - E3 2019 - Announce Trailer

Pentiment

Pentiment
89%
M
Platforms
PC (Microsoft Windows), Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S
Genre
Role-playing (RPG), Adventure
Developer
Obsidian Entertainment
Publisher
Xbox Game Studios
Release
November 15, 2022
A smaller project from Obsidian, which is usually known for massive RPGs, Pentiment is a murder mystery with a striking art style. Set in 16th-century Germany, this adventure title is simple yet effective, thanks to strong writing and a gripping mystery to unravel. Just about every part of this game is unique, and if you’re up for a more narrative type of adventure that will test your deductive skills, you can’t go wrong with this passion project.
Behind the Scenes of Pentiment - Xbox Games Showcase Extended 2022

Forza Horizon 5

Forza Horizon 5
86%
4/5
E
Platforms
PC (Microsoft Windows), Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S
Genre
Racing, Sport
Developer
Playground Games
Publisher
Xbox Game Studios
Release
November 09, 2021
Without question, Forza Horizon 5 is one of the best racing games there is, not just on Xbox. The Series X enhanced version runs excellently, too. You’re getting a locked 60 fps during events and when driving around the open world, as well as vastly improved load times compared to the Xbox One version. Racing games always strive for high-quality graphics, and Forza Horizon 5 is the best-looking (and best-sounding) racer yet. Even in performance mode, you might have to do a double-take to realize you’re not looking at actual racing footage. The new locals are all breathtaking, and there’s never a shortage of things to do. Forza Horizon 5 is friendly to both racing enthusiasts and those who prefer a less simulation-style experience.

Forza Motorsport

Forza Motorsport
79%
E
Platforms
PC (Microsoft Windows), Xbox Series X|S
Genre
Racing, Simulator, Sport
Developer
Turn 10 Studios
Publisher
Xbox Game Studios
Release
October 10, 2023
If you prefer your racers more sim than arcadey, Forza Motorsport is the entry for you. This game lets you really get under the hood of your car, finely tuning each and every aspect to your heart’s content. Or, if you’re not comfortable getting your hands greasy, you can use a handy toggle to auto-tune your car. It won’t be optimal, but lets you compete without feeling overwhelmed. The singleplayer offering is strangely addicting, while being more race-based than Horizon’s open world, and lets you build a relationship with your car as you level it up across multiple events.
Forza Motorsport - Official Announce Trailer

Ori and the Will of the Wisps

Ori and the Will of the Wisps
88%
E
Platforms
PC (Microsoft Windows), Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Xbox Series X|S
Genre
Platform, Adventure
Developer
Moon Studios
Publisher
Xbox Game Studios, iam8bit
Release
March 10, 2020
Even among Gears 5 and Forza Horizon 4, Ori and the Will of the Wisps may be the best showcase of the Xbox Series X’s power. On Xbox One X, Ori and the Will of the Wisps ran at 4K60, though not without problems. The experienced frequent frame drops below its target on Microsoft’s last-gen hardware, though stayed impressive in the resolution department. The Xbox Series X solves all of those issues. 4K is still the target resolution, though now with a locked 120 fps. The game even includes supersampling to run at 6K at 60 FPS. Simply put, Ori and the Will of the Wisps is a visual treat, especially with HDR enabled. It’s a great game on its own, too. Moon Studios matches the somber, dream-like atmosphere of the original game while adding plenty of new content (including boss battles). Ori and the Will of the Wisps is one of the best Metroidvania games around, and although it’s technically available on Nintendo Switch, the game feels most at home on Series X.

Editors' Recommendations

Jacob Roach
Lead Reporter, PC Hardware
Jacob Roach is the lead reporter for PC hardware at Digital Trends. In addition to covering the latest PC components, from…
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