Top 10 Best Xbox Series X and Series S Games to Play in 2021

Tags: #XboxSeriesX ,   #XboxSeriesS ,   #ForzaHorizon ,   #FlightSimulator

Michael Wendom

Michael Wendom

Last updated:  2021-09-17 14:07:27

It's true – Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S don't have a single exclusive game, as they are all also published for Windows. However, despite this, there are still plenty of reasons to get these consoles. As the GPU prices are so insane, even PC gamers are very interested in Microsoft's more affordable consoles. Despite lacking some best PS5 titles, there are still tons of quality games for these systems (not include backward compatibility) that you can't miss. As the new software keeps coming, we'll make sure to often update this top 10 list, keeping it fresh. 

10. F1 2021

F1 2021 has tons of content that will keep you occupied until the next release

Codemasters has been refining its F1 series, turning it into a fun simulation with plenty of content to keep you occupied. Yet, while the 2021 version is the first for the current generation of consoles, it's not revolutionary. Instead of changing the engine and risking a disaster like on the previous console generation, they decided to keep building on what they have. Still, there are visual upgrades, as this is one of rare Xbox Series X games locked at 4K at 60 fps. Furthermore, it supports ray tracing, although it's limited to pre-race ceremonies.

F1 2021 features an excellent career mode where you can build your team from scratch, hiring drivers (including Senna) and other team members. Also, you'll have to carefully manage your resources and use them to improve your cars. Another thing you can't miss is Breaking Point story mode, which is a fun diversion, taking you deeper into Formula 1 world. With excellent controls, gorgeous tracks, and robust online support (including co-op career), F1 2021 is the best motorsport title on the system. Luckily, even though Codemasters is now under Electronic Arts, their involvement is minimal. 

9. Yakuza: Like a Dragon

Yakuza: Like a Dragon doesn't take itself too seriously!

After seven official games, Sega decided to finish the saga of Kazuma Kiryu and move on with a new character. However, they also decided to make some massive gameplay changes which was ultimately the right choice. The most visible was making battles turned-based affairs instead of real-time. This also means that you can form your party to help you in battles like in traditional RPGs.

Thankfully, what hasn't changed is the open-world nature of the game, as it lets you explore districts in Yokohama, Tokyo, and Osaka. You can easily get lost in these environments, as you enjoy numerous fun activities, including new kart racing. Even if you don't explore the whole game, Like a Dragon still provides 100 hours of gameplay. As for the visual upgrades from the previous console generation, they are all about the frame rate and resolution. You can either choose 60 fps in 1440p or 30 fps in 4K, so there's something for everyone.

8. Crash Bandicoot 4

It looks fun, but Crash Bandicoot 4 is very challenging

Crash Bandicoot N.Sane Trilogy was a very unexpected success for Activision. As it turned out, gamers are hungry for challenging action platformers, so the company gave them some more! Crash Bandicoot 4 keeps the traditional gameplay of the previous releases, but it also innovates. Hence, now you can control some other familiar characters for the first time! All of them have unique controls and levels, which keep the game fresh. One thing that wasn't changed was the difficulty, so consider playing with unlimited lives!

Crash Bandicoot 4 looks stunning and can be compared to animated feature films. The game uses Unreal Engine 4 in the best possible way, as it features terrific animation and colorful levels. Even if you are often dying, you'll always come back for more! Finally, while the game is available on PS4/Xbox One, this version supports 4K at 60 fps mode, making it a must. Thanks to its design and traditional gameplay, Crash Bandicoot 4 will become a truly timeless classic.

7. Mortal Kombat 11 Ultimate

The best version of the best Mortal Kombat game!

While Mortal Kombat 12 is in development, we probably won't see it anytime soon. However, that gives us more time to enjoy Mortal Kombat 11 as possibly the greatest game in the franchise. After the Mortal Kombat reboot, the series has only improved, taking back the throne it lost. What makes this the best fighting game is the perfect mix of favorite characters and both complex and easy-to-understand controls. While Mortal Kombat was never too technical, it offers plenty to differentiate pro players from the rest. However, a more casual crowd will still easily initiate combos and special moves for some attractive matches.

The story mode in Mortal Kombat games was always much better than what others offered. This is especially the case with MK 11, where it makes the full circle, allowing the developers a fresh start with MK 12. This Ultimate edition doesn't represent a substantial visual upgrade, but it massively improves load times, brings better textures and all the DLC content. This includes plenty of fun stuff, such as an additional story mode. Furthermore, it also adds fun pop culture characters, including the Terminator, Robocop, or Rambo! With so much content, it will take years before you discover it all! Buy it soon, as this game will vanish from digital stores.

6. Sea of Thieves

Sea of Thieves expansions feature some famous faces!

Sea of Thieves looked like it would be quickly forgotten after suffering from one of the worst launch disasters. The game felt so empty that players would soon lose interest. That is if you even managed to get into the game, as servers were barely functioning. Yet, by the time of the Xbox Series X/S release, the developers made it a much more stable and fun experience. As important were numerous expansions, modes, and quests, all released for free.

In its current state, Sea of Thieves is a fun multiplayer experience you'll especially love if you are into cooperative experiences. Plus, the new content will keep coming until the end of this generation of consoles, giving you plenty of reasons to return regularly. Furthermore, Rare seems to listen to fans, as it even allows for the creation of private servers. Even the crossplay with the PC version is implemented, although optional. While there are other excellent multiplayer games for the console, Sea of Thieves has tons of free expansions, unique gameplay, and an incredibly long lifespan.

5. Gears 5

Gears 5 is a subtle improvement on Xbox Series consoles, but an excellent game overall

True, Gears 5 is originally an Xbox One game, but Microsoft improved it for the launch of Xbox Series consoles. Therefore, it got better textures, more impressive visual effects, and a stable 60 frames per second. Even more impressively, online multiplayer reaches 120 frames per second if you got the right gaming TV, of course. However, Gears 5 is much more than excellent graphics, although its gameplay hasn't changed radically. Yet, the campaign is excellent, primarily as it supports three players, both online or offline.

The game still innovates with open-world environments and RPG elements, as both make the gameplay more original. Many will find it surprising that the game has such strong characters and stories, which will often motivate you to continue until the surprising end. Once you're done with the campaign, you can jump into fun multiplayer, which benefits from many modes, including beloved Horde, Escape, or traditional versus. We should also mention the excellent single-player expansion Hivebusters, which brings back some of the favorite series characters.

4. Psychonauts 2

Psychonauts 2 is a wild adventure full of interesting characters

The original Psychonauts has been highly praised, but it sold so poorly that we never thought it'd get a sequel. Yet, here it is and is even better! While this is a platform adventure title, one look at the twisted game design will suggest that you are looking at something special. As the levels are always set in the minds of individuals, this gives the developers unlimited creativity you won't find anywhere else. Every environment is unique, and it's usually inspired by serious mental issues like PTSD or anxiety. Yet, it treats them in the right way, even helping you better understand these conditions.

As for the gameplay, only the combat and some bosses look formulaic. This isn't a deal-breaker; it's just that these elements aren't on the same level as the story, sound design, or platforming. Psychonauts 2 is one of those brilliant games that it's not for everyone, as it moves away from traditional platformers. If you can't stomach a weird design, that's perfectly fine, but this will remain a classic.

3. Forza Horizon 4

The best console version of Forza Horizon 4

Forza Horizon 5 might be around the corner, but it won't make its predecessor obsolete once it arrives. Horizon 4 brings us to the United Kingdom as we explore the sizable map rich with details. The game offers hundreds of cars from almost all relevant manufacturers, going from compacts to hypercars. You can test all these vehicles in numerous races and challenges, with plenty of them arrived long after the game launch. Additionally, you can build your races or participate in other user's creations.

One more thing that keeps the gameplay fresh is the weekly change of seasons. While the summer is pretty much dry, autumn and spring feature unpredictable showers. Finally, driving on snow and ice in winter is a massive challenge that needs a different approach. It's worth noting that the game has two expansions, taking you to a remote northern island or the colorful Lego world! While Forza Horizon 4 is not a native Xbox Series X/S title, it did receive the official upgrade, which includes more detailed cars, better effects, and 4K at 60 fps performance.

2. Halo: The Master Chief Collection

Learn more about all the upgrades made for Halo: Master Chief Collection on Xbox Series consoles

Halo is such an essential franchise for the Xbox consoles, and Microsoft is taking great care of it! In 2014, the company introduced The Master Chief Collection, brilliantly upgrading all games in the series. This is especially impressive with the first two Halo games since they are remade and look much better. Furthermore, they kept all the DLC content with enabled multiplayer. 

The Xbox Series X/S release retains it all while further improving graphics. This includes playing at 120 fps and 4K resolution. Finally, you can even refine some gameplay elements, thanks to a variable field of view. This all makes it on par with the PC release, but one could argue that the Xbox Series edition is better as it supports crossplay with Xbox One. Consequently, this makes for the larger player pool!

1. Microsoft Flight Simulator

Microsoft Flight Simulator is the definition of freedom in gaming

The Flight Simulator series looked dead for many years, but Microsoft decided to give it another chance. However, this time they made it way more fun for everyone! Don't get us wrong – this is still a hardcore sim that is very useful for training pilots. However, developers also made it more casual since you can play it using only a gamepad!

As one of the most ambitious games ever, this one is letting you explore the whole world, created using accurate maps! The results are outstanding, as the topography is precise, and many locations like Berlin already look gorgeous! The level of freedom Microsoft Flight Simulator gives you is way too exciting to miss! The company is also promising many DLCs with map updates, so this title will stay fresh for years to come. We just hope that the developers will implement more gaming elements, including a campaign.

There are plenty of other titles most will enjoy on Xbox Series X and Series consoles, and these include Resident Evil Village, Wreckfest, Hades, Gears Tactics, Hitman 3, Assassin's Creed Valhalla, and many others. Yet, do consider first the games in our top 10. As we are still early in the current-gen era and hope for better console availability, the best is yet to come!

Did you play some of the games on our list? Which are some of your favorite titles on the current Xbox consoles?

Photo: Kamil S/Unsplash

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