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The five big Xbox Series X games you should keep an eye on

Now that you have your Xbox Series X or Xbox Series S secured — assuming you managed to successfully navigate the pre-order process — it’s time to start loading up on games that will show it in the best light. Just one problem. They will be hard to find for a while.

The delay of Halo Infinite, the still-pending status of the Bethesda acquisition, and the development pace of other internal studios means Microsoft’s new console will be relying on third-party games and the financial appeal of Game Pass as it kicks off the next console generation.

But the midterm forecast is a lot rosier. Just as the PlayStation 5 has a robust line of upcoming games, the Xbox Series X has some doozies of its own, which won’t be available on Sony or Nintendo’s consoles.

Here are the most exciting titles headed to next-generation Xbox systems — and when you might expect them.

The Medium

The Medium - Dual Reality Trailer

This psychological horror game turned heads when it was unveiled in May, and it is one of two Xbox exclusives that will drop in the Xbox Series X/S launch window (with Tetris Effect: Connected being the second). It’s a unique game, which the developers say is only possible with the Series X’s technological advances.

You’ll explore two realities at the same time — the physical and spiritual worlds. Developed by Bloober Team and featuring a score composed by Akira Yamaoka, known for his work on Silent Hill, it’s a creepy game that shows how different things can be when seen from a new perspective.

(Release Date: December 10, 2020)

Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2

Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice fire
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Ninja Theory’s next entry in the Hellblade saga was first revealed last December during The Game Awards. And so far, the developer has kept a tight lock on the details. We know it will be set in Iceland. And we know it uses Epic’s Unreal Engine 5. But plot? Hooks? Story angles? Not a peep.

The original Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice might offer some hints, though. That title won raves for its exploration of mental illness, which Senua viewed as a curse placed on her. The original action/adventure game followed her journey to the underworld to rescue the soul of her dead lover. Don’t be surprised if the goddess Hela makes an appearance once again.

(Release date: TBD)


Fable - Official Announce Trailer

It’s been 10 years since a core Fable game has been released, and the franchise has suffered a bit as Microsoft has taken it in other directions. All we’ve seen so far of the new Fable (aka Fable 4) is a teaser that really said nothing, but confirmed the game’s humor hadn’t been abandoned.

The team behind the Forza Horizon franchise is in charge this time, though, and it’s calling this game “a new beginning for the legendary franchise.”

(Release date: TBD)

Forza Motorsport

Forza Motorsport - Official Announce Trailer

Most people expected Forza Motorsport, the eighth entry in this venerated series, to be a launch title for the Series X. It’s unknown if that was a false assumption or if the pandemic caused production delays, but the fanbase is hoping for big things for this game, the first Forza Motorsport title since 2017.

Developer Turn 10 Studios has only offered a one-minute teaser so far, showcasing the (admittedly impressive) graphics and lots of “Vroom” sound effects. Last December, Turn 10 Creative Director Chris Esaki announced on the Forza Monthly live show that “the overall product and where we’re going with it is such a vastly different and amazing experience,” implying this will be a bigger leap forward than the past few installments.

(Release date: TBD)

Halo Infinite

Halo Infinite - Official Gameplay Reveal Trailer

This, of course, is the game everyone’s waiting for. Announced initially as a launch title, then delayed to a new undisclosed date, it’s billed as the most expansive Master Chief campaign yet. Halo 5: Guardians fell flat with fans, though, and it’s looking like production on Infinite wasn’t measuring up either. The game was hardly a cinematic showcase when it had a live gameplay demo in July. And Microsoft has since bought on Joseph Staten, the former lead writer and cinematic director of the Halo series at Bungie, as the game’s campaign project lead.

The story will seemingly continue the tale that began in Halo 5 when Cortana returned with an army of Forerunner war machines called Guardians and began a quest to conquer the galaxy. The Banished faction appears to be the enemy this time around and appears to be allied with someone (or something) called the Harbinger. The action will take place, at least in part, on a Halo ring — and the game’s multiplayer portion will be released as a free-to-play game, with a framerate of 120fps on the Series X.

(Release date: TBD)

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Chris Morris
Chris Morris has covered consumer technology and the video game industry since 1996, offering analysis of news and trends and…
Every blockbuster reveal from the Xbox leak: new consoles, Bethesda games, and more
Xbox's logo used during the Extended Games Showcase

Unredacted documents submitted and made publicly available to view as part of the ongoing Microsoft vs. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) trial just led to what may be the biggest leak in video game history.
A flood of files have revealed deep secrets about Xbox's upcoming plans for the bulk of the decade, giving us unprecedented insight into what's on the horizon for the gaming giant. That includes information on upcoming hardware refreshes, next-gen consoles, and unannounced Bethesda titles, as well as a further peek into Microsoft's acquisition ambitions. It's a lot to trudge through, so we've rounded up five key revelations that you'll want to know.
A new Xbox Series X model is coming next year
The most shocking thing to leak as part of the trial is a new Xbox Series X model. Referred to as "Brooklin -- Xbox Series X Refresh" in the leaked documents, this is a diskless, cylindrical version of the Xbox Series X with 2TB of internal storage, a USB-C port, and smaller technical improvements to the system's Wi-Fi, PSU, standby mode, and more. An upgraded Xbox Series S code-named Ellewood may also be in the works and released before Brooklin.
If Microsoft still follows the plan laid out in this "Roadmap to 2030" document created in May 2022, it would release Brooklin in late October 2024 for $500. If Microsoft still plans to release Brooklin next year, it does contradict recent statements from Xbox chief Phil Spencer, who acted bearish on the idea of a mid-gen refresh in Gamescom interviews. It's possible Microsoft's plans have changed since these leaked documents were made, but if not, we now know what to expect in terms of Microsoft's console refreshes.
A new Xbox controller is in the works
Throughout that Brooklin leak, a new version of the Xbox Series X controller is also teased. The Xbox Series X controller is great, but lacks the unique features of controllers like the DualSense or Joy-Cons, so it makes sense Microsoft would want to change that. Referred to as "Sebile -- The New Xbox Controller," this controller can seamlessly pair and connect to the cloud.
It also will feature haptic feedback, an accelerometer gyro, quieter buttons, modular thumbsticks, a rechargeable and swappable battery, and the ability to wake just by being picked up. The same road map that lists Brooklin and Ellewood's release windows says the Sebile controller will launch sometime in late May 2024 for $70.
First details on Microsoft's next-gen console leak
It's hard to believe we're almost already three years into this console generation and that Microsoft is planning for its next major console release, but that is the case. Unfortunately for Microsoft, its current technical ambitions for the platform were included in this leak. A leaked document states that Microsoft's ultimate goal is to "develop a next-generation hybrid game platform capable of leveraging the combined power of the client and cloud to deliver deeper immersion and entirely new classes of game experiences." 
In practice, a list of technical improvements lays out that we can expect an ARM64 CPU that balances big and little cores, a GPU co-designed with AMD, and an NPU that balances "the desire for flexible, programmable ML silicon versus high-performance silicon for targeted workloads," as well as support for better ray tracing, global illumination, micropolygon rendering, and an ML-based Super Resolution. Microsoft also mentions a "thin OS" meant for cheaper consumer and handled devices, likely to play games via the cloud.
This next-gen console is currently slated for a 2028 launch.
Several upcoming Bethesda games leak

Enough about hardware -- several upcoming Bethesda games also leaked. A document from 2020 outlining Bethesda's game road map through fiscal year 2024 includes some games we don't know about. Alongside games we know of like MachineGames' Indiana Jones project, the list also includes several code-named projects, remasters of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion and Fallout 3, a GhostWire: Tokyo sequel, Doom Year Zero, and Dishonored 3.
Another document also confirmed that The Elder Scrolls VI won't launch until at least 2026. Some of these games have missed the release windows listed in the documents, so it's very possible that these dates are no longer accurate and that some may not be released at all. Still, it lays out a clear picture of what was in development at Bethesda just a few years ago and provides insight into the lineup that enticed Microsoft to purchase Bethesda in the first place. 
Microsoft considered acquiring Nintendo and Warner Bros. Interactive
A leaked email from 2020 gives some insight into Spencer's acquisition ambitions at that point. Namely, it sounds like he'd love to acquire Nintendo as it would be a "career moment" for him.
"I totally agree that Nintendo is THE prime asset for us in gaming, and today gaming is a most likely path to consumer relevance," he wrote. "I've had numerous conversations with the LT of Nintendo about tighter collaboration and feel like if any U.S. company would have a chance with Nintendo, we are probably in the best position ... At some point, getting Nintendo would be a career moment and I honestly believe a good move for both companies."
Ultimately, Spencer didn't want to do a hostile takeover of Nintendo, so he settled for playing the "long game" when it came to acquiring it. This same email also reveals that Microsoft was interested in acquiring Warner Bros. Interactive around the same time as Bethesda, although the lack of any WB IP ownership was its undoing, Spencer is also as intrigued about acquiring Valve as it was Nintendo.
It's worth noting that this email is from over three years ago, and these acquisition ambitions might have been quelled following changing economic conditions and the rocky and expensive process of acquiring Activision Blizzard. 

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You don’t need an Xbox Series X to play Starfield. Here’s how
Key art for Starfield

Starfield is the highest-profile Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S game since Halo Infinite, but the game isn't locked to those two consoles. Thanks to cloud gaming and Microsoft's more open-ended mentality of making its games available on a wide variety of platforms, you don't have to own one of Microsoft's current-gen systems or have the Xbox app installed on your PC.
No, it's not on PS5 or Nintendo Switch, but if you want to play Starfield while it's at the center of the video game industry zeitgeist, here are some places where it's playable other than the Xbox Series X, Xbox Series X, and Xbox PC app.

The most obvious choice if you want to play Starfield elsewhere is to pick it up on Steam. While Microsoft does have a proprietary PC launcher of its own, Microsoft now consistently releases its own games through Valve's launcher. Bethesda joined Xbox Game Studios in 2021 and has a long history of making its games available on Steam as well, so it's not too surprising that Starfield is available on the platform.
Starfield already proving quite popular on the platform too, having peaked at 266,000 concurrent players, according to SteamDB at the time I'm writing this. If you're looking for a way to play Starfield natively on the hardware you own without using a Microsoft platform or service, this is your best option. It'll run on Steam Deck too, although that's not the only way to experience Starfield on the go.
Xbox Game Pass app on Android

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Starfield is a success. What does that mean for the future of Xbox?
A ship lands on a planet in Starfield.

Starfield was one of the most vital video game launches ever.
The last couple of years have been full of whiplash for Xbox fans, full of high highs and low lows. After a solid fall 2021 game lineup, 2022 was comparatively barren for first-party Xbox games. Microsoft then started the year on a strong note with Hi-Fi Rush’s surprise launch before crashing and burning with the disastrous release of Redfall, the first heavily marketed AAA game coming out from Bethesda after it was acquired by Microsoft. Starfield, a game that many were uneasy about due to its scope, would inadvertently become a make-or-break moment for Microsoft.
In May, I wrote that Starfield was “the most pivotal game for the future of the Xbox brand since Halo: Combat Evolved” because of what I thought was at stake if it failed. Well, Starfield just launched, and … it’s a hit. It’s not the genre-defining, industry-changing mega-RPG that some fans were lauding it as prerelease. However, it’s still an enjoyable sci-fi adventure that's receiving positive attention despite some drawbacks. And it's already earned over 1 million concurrent players across all platforms. Digital Trends gave it a three-and-a-half star review, writing, “though it can’t nearly deliver on Bethesda’s intergalactic ambitions, Starfield is an impressive space RPG filled with impactful decisions.” On Steam, over 24,000 reviews are averaging a ‘Very Positive” consensus.
While not a total stunner, Starfield hasn't derailed Xbox or caused the public to lose faith in its first-party games; in fact, it has renewed some confidence. Reassessing Xbox’s future post-Starfield, it’s clear that it’s still reliant on something it has struggled with this entire console generation: consistency.
It’s all about consistency
Despite the success of Xbox Game Pass and some excellent first-party games like Pentiment and Hi-Fi Rush, Microsoft has struggled to establish consistency across messaging, game launch cadence, and quality. That has hurt it this console generation, where it has felt like Xbox has promised more than it's delivered despite several game company acquisitions and exciting announcements. It doesn’t help that Sony and Nintendo have been at the top of their game in regard to those things in recent years.

That’s ultimately what put so much pressure on Redfall and Starfield. They needed to pay off an expensive Bethesda acquisition and usher in a steady stream of new Xbox games. Perhaps that’s why the poor quality of Redfall felt like such a slap in the face for Xbox fans. What should’ve cemented a consistent Xbox first-party output instead highlighted all of its problems. This made Xbox’s situation heading into Starfield’s launch feel dire, even more so than it actually was in reality for a branch of a megacorporation like Microsoft.
But now Starfield is here and people like it, even if it has some evident flaws. Starfield was neither the Redfall-level critical flop that would kill Xbox nor the 11/10 game some people expected. It’s just an entertaining RPG that Xbox players can lose themselves in and feel a little bit of console pride over. The vibes across the Xbox community are mostly positive right now, and Microsoft needs to maintain that feeling.
The weak first-party 2022 lineup and the rough state of Redfall left us wondering if the only thing Xbox was consistent at was disappointment, but Starfield and other recent efforts from Microsoft-owned studios indicate that this is not the case. Since Redfall, we’ve got a big Monkey Island-themed update for Sea of Thieves, an excellent remaster of Quake II, a solid Xbox Series X/S port of Age of Empires IV, and Starfield to show that Xbox’s studios are back on track. It’s up to the Xbox team to keep up that momentum after Forza Motorsport launches and the Activision Blizzard acquisition finally concludes this October.

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