Top Xbox Series X and Series S games 2020 and 2021: Superb next-gen titles

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(Pocket-lint) – The Xbox Series X and Series S are here at last – Microsoft’s two answers to the next-gen question, bringing 4K gaming in the case of the bigger box and lower-res value from the smaller option. 

They’re both great in their own ways but, of course, a games console isn’t anything without games to play on it. We’ve gathered together the very best titles for the next-gen Xboxes right here, a tight and carefully-curated list of your very best options.

Many of these are also available on the Xbox One in its many incarnations, but they’ll all play at their best on the new hardware. 

Gears 5

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The Xbox team has been making a big hoopla about the upgrade it’s brought to Gears 5 for next-gen, and it’s fair to say the results are super impressive. You get 120 FPS action on both consoles (if your TV can handle it), which makes for hyper-smooth gameplay in competitive modes. 

The visuals are also pin-sharp and the upgrade compared to the Xbox One version is noticeable throughout. Best of all, you’ll get this great shooter included on Game Pass, meaning you can get into it for no additional cost. It’s well worth checking out, especially if you’re new to the series. 

Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey

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We’re liable to replace this with the next entry in the series, Valhalla, any day now, but, for now, the last big Assassin’s Creed game still looks excellent on the new hardware we’ve got. The game’s sprawling ancient Greek map is superb fun to explore, while the SSDs in the Series S and X make for much-improved loading times. 

The game already looked great, but the increase in performance is noticeable and very welcome. Playing as either Alexios or Cassandra (and the latter would be our pick), you’ll embark on a truly epic quest and meet some seriously memorable characters.

Dirt 5

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The first racing game to release with next-gen consoles in mind during its development, Dirt 5 does a great job of summoning the energy that made the series so popular. It’s raucous fun with an emphasis on accessibility, although you can make its driving pretty in-depth if you fancy.

It looks super sharp on the new hardware and runs at blistering frame rates to give you total control and to slim reaction times down to almost nothing, while lighting and reflections also look sumptuous. It’s a great way to scratch that racing itch. 

FIFA 21

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As far as sports games go, there’s only one for us – FIFA does the same trick every year, and sometimes we’d like a bit more revolution than evolution, but it’s still a tried-and-tested game at this point, iterating carefully to add even more precision. There’ll be a free next-gen upgrade for it very soon, but even before then you can take advantage of quicker load times and smoother performance on your new hardware, so it’s definitely a superior experience. 

Watch Dogs: Legion

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Another game that’s clearly been built with next-gen in mind from an earlier point is Watch Dogs: Legion, which is absolutely gorgeous on the Series X, with ray-tracing enabling lighting and reflections that are a massive upgrade on the current-gen versions. It makes night scenes in particular pop absolutely gorgeously. 

You play as the entirety of Ded Sec this time round, recruiting literally anyone you like to join the fight, making for a really fun, randomised sense of chaos that encourages risk-taking and hare-brained approaches to tasks and missions.  

Call of Duty: Warzone

The battle royale of the moment is Warzone, a behemoth that finally makes the Call of Duty franchise a proper player in the genre. It’s totally free to play, and while it might hog plenty of space on your hard drive, it’s well worth it for a brutal, addictive formula.

On next-gen, you’ll notice smoother frame rates and much-improved loading times, and there’s loads more content to come down the line, so there’s no wrong time to pick it up and try it out. 

Red Dead Redemption 2

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Another game that benefits massively from the SSD in the new consoles is Red Dead Redemption 2, which has some absolutely agonizing loading times on older hardware. This is shortened hugely by the new tech, a worthy improvement on its own, but that’s also added to better visual performance.

It makes it a superb way to play one of the defining games of recent years, a huge sprawling cowboy epic set in what might be the most lushly-detailed open world ever created in a game. It’s a stunning monument to developer Rockstar’s abilities. 

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

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Another sprawling epic that used to have load times that could be tiresome, depending on who you ask The Witcher 3 might just be the best RPG ever made. It’s a huge, bustling, vibrant story that’s loads of fun to explore and sink into, and runs smoother than ever on the new Xboxes.

In fact, it’s going to get a next-gen upgrade down the line to enhance its visuals even further, so if you’ve never stepped into the shoes of Geralt of Rivia, this is a perfect game for your new Xbox. 

Halo: The Master Chief Collection

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Of course, when you think Xbox you think Halo, and while Infinite has been delayed and won’t appear for a little while, we can still enjoy all that came before. The Master Chief Collection is a curated and upgraded selection of historic Halo titles and plays like a dream on the Series S and X.

You can play through classics like Halo: Reach or the original trilogy with high frame rates and resolutions, and even enjoy their more vintage multiplayer offerings. It’s a must-download for anyone with a Game Pass membership. 

Fortnite

Fortnite is impossible to ignore, and maintains a huge place in our wider culture – it’s just so enduringly popular, with good reason. Its battle royale options are as fast-paced and fun as ever, and upgraded resolution and visuals make the Series X version particularly attractive, with new physics and 60 FPS gameplay making for smooth and gorgeous fun.

With an ever-deepening tie to the Marvel universe bearing fruit, there’s no sign of the content letting up, either, so you should definitely give it a try if you’ve never sampled its unique delights. 

Forza Horizon 4

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Our final pick goes to a stellar racing game from the last console generation, the excellent and Xbox-exclusive Forza Horizon 4, which still looks completely beautiful and plays like a dream on the two new consoles. It’s a superb arcade racer with a delightful rendering of the UK in compact open-world format.

You’ll take part in all sorts of races across many terrain types, and you can dial up the difficulty, or make it more accessible, in countless thoughtful ways. Online racing makes it even more long-lasting as a pleasurable virtual space in which to spend some time. 

Writing by Max Freeman-Mills. Editing by Dan Grabham.


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