Microsoft is planning to launch the next-generation Xbox Series X in late 2020. With the launch of a new console comes the release of new games made from the ground up to take advantage of its power, and we already know of a handful of games that will be releasing on the system: Halo Infinite, Fortnite, Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2, and others. Despite this, a majority of its lineup remains a mystery, and if Microsoft is going to catch back up with Sony and outperform the PlayStation 5, it’s going to have to support plenty of impressive titles spanning various genres. We’ve been doing some thinking about the types of games we want to see on the system, divided into categories based on genre and ports.
We’ll find out more about the system’s lineup in just a couple weeks during the Xbox Games Showcase, which will air on July 23, 2020. We’re expecting the company to show off the big guns, but sources point to Microsoft holding back some of its bigger titles for a later time. Following the formation of The Initiative, a team that will supposedly be developing a game of AAAA quality, fans were hoping to see a hint of what to expect from it. Sadly, it doesn’t seem like we’ll get to see what the studio’s been working on quite yet.
Still, there’s lots to be excited about and lots of speculation to be had about the games we might get to play on Microsoft’s new box. These are the games we need to see on Xbox Series X.
Xbox One ports and remasters
When it originally launched in 2014, Halo: The Master Chief Collection came with four games: Halo: Combat Evolved, Halo 2, Halo 3, and Halo 4. Halo 3: ODST and Halo: Reach were released as post-launch games. Combining all of these games with Halo 5: Guardians — all with an 8K coat of paint and HDR — would be the perfect treat for Xbox Series X players to enjoy. They wouldn’t have to wait for Halo Infinite, as it’s launching with the console, but those who have never played any Halo games before would be able to do so in the best possible fashion.
Arguably a bigger property for Microsoft than even Halo, Minecraft is available on practically every console imaginable, including competitors like Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4. Mojang has the opportunity to take things to the next level by putting it on Xbox Series X. Better draw distance and lighting, even more detail in objects and environments, and enormous multiplayer sessions would all be possible with the system’s upgraded internals and power of the Azure cloud servers. Minecraft on Xbox Series X could be the definitive version of the game, and would undoubtedly still support cross-play with other systems.
Ori and the Blind Forest was a critical darling for the Xbox One at a time when the system desperately needed a win, and somehow its sequel, Ori and the Will of the Wisps, managed to strike gold a second time. Bundling them both together with additional content, such as difficulty options and new areas, could help make both games essential for Xbox Series X players. They’re currently available on Xbox One, and the system will be backward compatible, but why settle for an older version when a flashier game is possible?
One of the most iconic franchises of all-time, Killer Instinct was released with a peculiar free-to-play model alongside the Xbox One in 2013 and subsequently offered new characters through microtransactions and a seasonal structure. If ported to Xbox Series X, Microsoft needs to ditch this and instead offer the game in its entirety for a set price. Having an exclusive fighting game will make the system more appealing, particularly if it’s given hefty technical improvements over the Xbox One version. It wasn’t exactly a looker, and could definitely use the extra attention to add better textures while keeping the action at a smooth 60 frames per second. Who needs Street Fighter V, anyway?
This one is a bit of a crazy dream considering Sony now owns Insomniac Games, along with the right to the series IP, but an Xbox Series X follow-up to the massively underrated Sunset Overdrive would be, nonetheless, welcome. An action-packed third-person shooter with smooth and wacky traversal mechanics, the original game felt like a blend of Ratchet & Clank and Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, and it had plenty of booming tunes and a satirical story that poked fun at video games themselves. The possibilities for a sequel are endless, as are the goofy new weapons that you could use to destroy energy-drink-crazed mutants. It probably won’t happen, but we can dream, can’t we?
Remedy Entertainment has certainly attracted plenty of praise for its latest third-person action game Control, but it was Quantum Break that really established the studio’s contemporary formula. With a time-traveling plot and several time-manipulating powers for combat, the original game was inventive and even wove in large live-action segments focusing on the villains, but it was brought down by lackluster shooting and an overly brief story. A sequel that incorporates lessons learned from Control could make it one of Xbox Series X’s best exclusives, and more Lance Reddick in our video games is never a bad thing.
Darksiders 3 was studio Gunfire Games’ first attempt to make its own entry in the series, having previously ported Darksiders 2 to current-generation consoles. The third game had engaging combat and fun puzzles, but it was extremely short and lacked the scope of the two previous games. We’ve heard that the development team of Darksiders 2 originally planned to have all four horsemen playable in a sequel via cooperative mode, and this vision could still be realized in the fourth game. After introducing Strife in Darksiders Genesis, the series would be able to have him fight alongside his siblings in a more traditional Darksiders adventure.
Grand Theft Auto V continues to place on the monthly top 10 sales charts more than seven years after its release, even as hardcore Rockstar Games fans have shifted to playing Red Dead Redemption 2. We have no clue where Rockstar plans on taking the series with a sequel, but it’s undoubtedly in the works, and we’re hoping for a setting that we haven’t seen before. Los Santos and Liberty City are certainly nice, but there is an entire fictionalized United States left to carjack, and we’re sure there are plenty of colorful characters to encounter along the way. With the last two games taking place in the modern era, why not shift things decades in the past? Though, let’s face it, we’ll be playing GTA V again when it comes to Xbox Series X in 2021.
Capcom’s return to the original timeline with Devil May Cry 5 was met with critical praise and high sales figures, meaning that a Devil May Cry 6 is certainly on the way. However, the Ninja Theory game DmC: Devil May Cry was an excellent alternate-universe take on the series’ classic characters, and with the studio now under the Microsoft umbrella, it’s possible that a sequel could release as an Xbox Series X exclusive. Capcom is no stranger to working this way with Microsoft in the past, having done deals for both Dead Rising 3 and Dead Rising 4.
This console generation, Ubisoft’s Tom Clancy franchises have seen a resurgence in popularity, with Rainbow Six Siege and the recent two Ghost Recon games attracting huge attention, and The Division and its sequels blending role-playing elements with tactical combat. One game series we haven’t seen return yet is Splinter Cell, and with recent signs pointing to a game in the early stages of development, we have our fingers crossed for it to hit Xbox Series X. Unlike some of Ubisoft’s other properties, it doesn’t need to reinvent the wheel, as the formula established by Splinter Cell Blacklist offered stealth-action for a variety of playstyles. What it does need, however, is Michael Ironside back as Sam Fisher. Every year at E3, fans speculate that “this will be the year,” and every time, we’re left disappointed. Come on, Ubisoft!
Lara Croft arguably ended her origin story and become the true Tomb Raider during the events of 2018’s Shadow of the Tomb Raider, but why stop her when she’s reached peak badass? Crystal Dynamics and Eidos Montreal have created excellent action-adventure games that take the right elements from classic Tomb Raider titles and mix them with a dose of Uncharted, and they can give Nathan Drake’s own games a run for their money. Rise of the Tomb Raider was originally an Xbox exclusive, and if Microsoft were to buy the rights from Square Enix, future games could stay that way for good. We’ll probably see Lara Croft again at some point, but since Crystal Dynamics is currently working on Marvel’s Avengers, there’s no telling when Tomb Raider will return.
Rare had been tasked with creating Kinect adventures and other fairly uninteresting content for years after being purchased by Microsoft, but it was given a chance to show its old-school charm with Sea of Thieves. The online pirate game certainly had plenty of character and terrific naval combat, but its skeleton didn’t hold that much meat and it was easy to bounce off the game after just a few hours. A potential sequel would have to offer a more structured story and progression system so that players feel like they have a reason to keep completing quests and discovering buried treasure.
Another inventive game that fell short of its potential, State of Decay 2 combined open-world zombie action with a strategic system for building up bases and delegating responsibilities to survivors. It felt like Dead Rising by way of The Sims, and the ability to shape your own story based on who lived and died made it unique, at the very least. Bugs and a general lack of polish, however, could make it frustrating to play, and it was clearly not intended as a full-scale AAA release. Now that developer Undead Labs is part of the Microsoft family, a third game could get the resources it needs to stand toe-to-toe with other open-world zombie games.
While 343 Industries has struggled to match the very high-quality standards of Bungie with its two Halo games, The Coalition has been having no such issue with the Gears of War franchise. Gears 5 was particularly successful, with psychological horror elements, vehicle-based traversal, and plenty of villains to despise. Should Gears 6 be in development, The Coalition needs only to build on what made its predecessor great, albeit perhaps with a less pervasive microtransaction system and better single-player options for the new Escape mode.
4A Games has developed three excellent Metro games thus far, and the studio shows no signs of slowing down. Its adaptations of Dmitry Glukhovsky’s novels have been some of the best post-apocalyptic games of all time, ditching the satire and humor of Fallout in favor of something much grittier, grimmer, and darker. Being able to customize your weapons with scavenged components, repair your gas mask on the fly, and venture into open areas made Metro Exodus the best game in the series, and we fully expect a fourth game to be just as impressive.
Sure, Respawn Entertainment’s biggest hit thus far has been the spinoff game Apex Legends, but did we forget just how incredible Titanfall 2 was? Across both its campaign and competitive multiplayer, the mix of first-person shooting and mech combat made every moment exhilarating and reminded us of Infinity Ward during Call of Duty’s golden years. The original Titanfall only released on Xbox and PC, and if Electronic Arts isn’t willing to fund the third game on its own, then Microsoft should step in and bring Titanfall 3 to Xbox Series X. It’s tough to say if and when we’ll see Titanfall again, given the success of Respawn’s other projects, but we’d like to think it’ll be sooner rather than later.
We’ll no doubt get some sort of Call of Duty game on Xbox Series X at some point — but what’s fascinating is that this year’s CoD entry has yet to be officially announced. While that doesn’t necessarily mean we should expect the worst quite yet, it does raise alarms as to what kind of product we might receive this year. This year’s entry is said to take place during the Cold War, but nothing of the sort has been officially confirmed. Year after year, Call of Duty is one of the (if not the) bestselling games, so there’s no question the franchise will make an appearance on Microsoft’s new box. But with this year’s entry seemingly in trouble after Treyarch reportedly stepped in to take over for Sledgehammer Games, we might not get the “proper” next-generation Call of Duty experience for a while.
Originally only announced for PC before The Coalition opted to also bring it to Xbox, our bets are on Gears Tactics releasing for the Xbox Series X along with Xbox One. We’ve seen how turn-based tactical games can struggle to run at solid framerates with aging hardware — look at XCOM: Enemy Unknown on mobile devices — and Microsoft won’t compromise by cutting down the visuals to make it run on Xbox One. If it hits Xbox Series X by launch, Gears Tactics can help to keep the franchise’s fans happy while they wait for Gears 6 to release.
Halo Wars and its sequel focus on entirely different characters than those in the main Halo series, but they add a ton of context and fleshed-out lore that make the universe feel even more real. This is on top of being fully-functional real-time strategy games on consoles, complete with tons of different vehicle and troop options, intriguing campaign stories, and several competitive multiplayer options. If Microsoft wants Halo to remain the king of its franchises, then it needs to bring Halo Wars 3 to Xbox Series X.
After the demise of Lionhead Studios, it seemed like the Fable franchise was gone for good, but rumors have been swirling for the last few years that Playground Games is creating a new entry with a new second development team. Given the lukewarm response to Fable 3 and the failed Fable: The Journey, the series should only come back when it can absolutely impress role-playing game fans, and the extra power of Xbox Series X should help its development make good on the promises series creator Peter Molyneux made so many years ago.
Whether it’s Forza Horizon 5, Forza Motorsport 8, or something new, the Xbox Series X needs to launch with a Forza game. Sony has already confirmed Gran Turismo 7 will be releasing for the PS5, and Microsoft has to do the same. Racing/driving games are always a great showcase for what a system can do, and considering the quality of the Forza games with each release, we’ll undoubtedly be in for a treat with the next installment.
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