After an uneven console cycle with the Xbox One, Microsoft’s latest consoles are aimed at getting the ship back on course. The Xbox Series X is a next-generation powerhouse that rivals gaming PCs, while the Xbox Series S is an affordable stopgap for those who are curious about trying new games.
There’s no shortage of games to play on either console thanks to Xbox Game Pass, which gives players immediate access to a library of titles old and new. That built-in catalog is an extra value on top of all the new games available on the system that take advantage of its impressive technical specs.
With the Series X and Series S finally out in the world, we’ve combed through the current batch of new Xbox games to put together a running list of titles that new console owners shouldn’t miss.
Over the past few years, IO Interactive has been knocking it out of the park with its Hitman series. The stealth action game got a huge boost of adrenaline in 2016 with the first game in a sort of rebooted trilogy called World of Assassination. Hitman introduced an ingenious puzzle element to the long-running series, allowing players to find creative and outrageous ways to take out targets. The series has only stayed consistent since, and now Hitman 3 offers a perfect capper to the trilogy.
Hitman 3 doesn’t shake the formula up in many ways, instead opting to double down on what’s made the previous games so enjoyable. The levels are better than ever, offering sprawling sandboxes filled with challenges and surprises. The game’s murder mystery Dartmoor level is especially noteworthy, bringing a classic whodunnit movie setup to the game. Hitman 3 essentially acts as a house for all three games as players can import progress and levels from Hitman and Hitman 2, making it a must-own “complete edition” of the series.
Control: Ultimate Edition
Control was a massive fan favorite when it originally launched in 2019. Remedy Entertainment’s off-kilter action game offered some mind-bending telekinesis and a bizarre story straight out of Twin Peaks. The game even landed a coveted Game of the Year nomination at the 2019 Game Awards. Now, next-gen console owners can get an Ultimate Edition of the game, which contains all of its DLC in one package.
Control: Ultimate Edition frankly makes the game even better. While the original Control suffered from some tech hiccups and an unstable framerate, the next-gen version runs much more smoothly. New tech means that the game looks better than ever too thanks to ray-tracing. For players who missed out the first time around, the next-gen version is a perfect excuse to jump back into one of the more inventive AAA games to launch in the past few years.
Tetris Effect Connected
After all these decades, Tetris is still a perfect puzzle game. Clearing four rows of blocks with one straight tetromino piece is still the most satisfying experience in gaming. While several games have found clever ways to play with the formula (see Tetris 99 or Puyo Puyo Tetris), Tetris Effect is hands down the most gorgeous way to experience the game.
Originally released on PlayStation 4 with an excellent VR mode, the Xbox version brings the game’s trippy visuals to the Series X. Players essentially play through rounds filled with aesthetically pleasing visuals and music, making it the perfect chillout game. The Xbox version features new multiplayer options (hence the Connected moniker), bringing co-op and competitive play to the game. While it lacks the VR component that made the original release a hit, it’s still a pleasing puzzler filled with good vibes.
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla
The next generation of consoles started out as big as possible thanks to Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. The Series X|S launch title is an open-world behemoth that amps up everything the Assassin’s Creed franchise has to offer with a Viking twist. With a main story that’ll keep players occupied for over 60 hours and a seemingly endless list of activities to complete, it’s the kind of game that can be played for months on end.
There’s a lot to enjoy in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla due to its wealth of systems. Whether it’s building a settlement, discovering organic quests throughout the world, or crafting the ultimate raiding machine, the game offers a lot for players to sink their teeth into. Not every mechanic totally hits its mark, but few really miss either. The result is a sprawling epic built for the kind of players who just want to lose themselves in a game world.
Read our full Assassin’s Creed Valhalla review
Yakuza: Like a Dragon
Sega’s Yakuza series has been on the rise for quite some time. The niche franchise gained steady popularity in recent years just in time for Yakuza: Like a Dragon to usher in next-generation consoles. What once was a weird oddity is now an ace in the hole for Microsoft thanks to high critical praise that made it one of the next generation’s most-talked-about launch games.
Unlike previous Yakuza games, Like a Dragon trades in beat-’em-up action for turn-based combat. Players put together a party of four characters who brawl together in battle and can use the environment to their advantage. While that core concept is a departure for the franchise, it still retains its signature wackiness with unpredictable missions and sidequests. For players who have never played a Yakuza game before, Like a Dragon is a perfect jumping-off point that starts a fresh chapter for the franchise.
The Gears of War franchise has always been known for its fast-paced action and larger-than-life gunplay. So it might be surprising to hear that Gears Tactics, a spinoff of the popular shooter series, is a turn-based strategy game where players methodically plot out attacks.
Surprisingly, the genre flip isn’t as drastic as it might sound. This is still very much a Gears of War game, complete with cover-based shooting, oversized weapons, and hordes of aliens. Compared to other strategy games, Gears Tactics is much heavier on action. Enemies spawn frequently and players can do much more in one turn than just move and fire one shot. For those who love the Gears universe, it’s a fresh take on the franchise that reimagines the pace of a strategy game.
Read our full Gears Tactics review
Immortals Fenyx Rising
Ubisoft has become synonymous with “open-world games” over the past decade. Franchises like Assassin’s Creed continually set the bar higher and higher for the genre with gigantic worlds chock-full of content. While there is no shortage of options to choose from when it comes to Ubisoft’s vast catalog, Immortals Fenyx Rising shouldn’t be overlooked. While its name isn’t as well-known as some of the studio’s more established games, the new IP could be the company’s most exciting new franchise in years.
Immortals Fenyx Rising is Assassin’s Creed meets The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Building on Zelda’s free-roaming mobility, the game is all about offering players more fluid and rewarding exploration. That means that the game is less about following a checklist of map activities and more about seeking out and discovering the world’s secrets. It’s a vibrant, funny game that playfully uses Greek mythology to create an entertaining open-world experience that gives Breath of the Wild fans something new to try.
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