Xbox has some major games on the way for 2024, but this year is looking pretty back-loaded so far – the year’s first-party games begin in May with Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2 on May 21, and from there we’re expecting big things from the likes of Indiana Jones and the Great Circle, Avowed, a new iteration of Microsoft Flight Simulator, and more. However, until then there’s still quite a bit to play, owing ot the fact that 2023 was Xbox’s biggest year in some time. Here’s our list of our staff’s 25 favorite games on the Xbox Series X|S.

You’ll find a mix of multiplatform and console exclusives, indie and triple-A games, all playable on both the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S. So, without further ado, below is IGN’s list of best games to play on Xbox right now. You can see also see our list of the top-reviewed games of 2023 for more top picks from last year.

Most recent game updates were made on December 13, 2023.

More on the best of Xbox:

25. It Takes Two

Admittedly, It Takes Two won’t exactly melt your GPU with its graphical intensity. Is it a nice-looking game with a whimsical, fairy-tale tone and graphics to match? Yes, most certainly. But you need to play It Takes Two (with a friend or loved one either on the couch or via online play, of course, since It Takes Two cannot be played alone) because it is simply one of the best and most unique multiplayer experiences you can find these days.

Writer-director Josef Fares – yes, he of “F*** the Oscars!” fame – follows up the equally excellent A Way Out with this story about a failing marriage that might just be able to be saved thanks to the couple being turned into children’s dolls and forced to work together to find their way back to their human forms. Play it, and we promise you’ll smile.

24. Lies of P

The best non-FromSoftware SoulsBorne game in a long while, Lies of P reimagines the story of Pinnochio by way of Bloodborne. With excellent combat, a fun and dark steampunk universe to explore, and great boss battles, Lies of P takes the sting out of waiting for Bloodborne 2, if it ever comes out.

23. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt – Complete Edition

One of the greatest RPGs of all time is better than ever thanks to the graphics overhaul from The Witcher 3 Complete Edition. While fans of 4K graphics can now play the game in higher fidelity, the performance mode might be the way to go as it smoothes over all the rough frame-rate patches in this massive game, making this 100+ hour adventure as smooth as butter.

22. Forza Motorsport (2023)

It was a long wait between last-gen’s Forza Motorsport 7 and the new-gen Forza Motorsport, but oh was the wait worth it. The new Motorsport promises to be a platform that will evolve and grow over time, and it’s already off to a tremendous start. A focus on tuning – with an in-game economy built to reflect that – encourages you to tweak builds of existing cars, really getting under the hood with them, rather than simply lusting for the next shiny new car. Though there’s still plenty of that, too.

To top it off, Forza Motorsport delivers the bleeding-edge graphical realism we’ve come to expect from this franchise, with multiple graphical and performance settings allowing you to favor framerate or fully maxed-out raytraced visuals. The updates are already flowing out of developer Turn 10, and both the present and future of Forza Motorsport are bright.

21. Dead Space

EA took a page out of Capcom’s playbook to remake its own iconic horror game, Dead Space. Taking advantage of the latest technology, the remake somehow makes the original’s setting, the USS Ishimura, meaner than ever with Frostbite powering the scares and taking them to a whole new level. The new physics engine also means ripping through Necromorphs is gnarlier than ever, making this the definitive version of this all-time horror favorite.

20. Control Ultimate Edition

Remedy’s second entry on our best Xbox Series X games, Control was IGN’s Game of the Year winner in 2019, and for good reason. The beginning of a new interconnected universe for the Finnish game studio, Control combined excellent supernatural gunplay with a head-turning paranormal mystery story that evokes both Twin Peaks and X-Files but is also wholly its own thing. If you want to find out what happened to Alan Wake in AW2, it might not be a bad idea to first tag along for Jesse Faden’s big adventure.

19. Outer Wilds

For those of you looking for an adventure that’ll put your exploration skills to the test, Outer Wilds is waiting with a beautiful mystery about life and death ready to unfold. Outer Wilds will challenge you to discover why an ancient civilization suddenly disappeared and, more importantly, why the universe keeps ending every 22 minutes. That end of the universe does mean your progress resets after the time expires, but the time loop makes space for interesting puzzles and even cooler planet designs.

Better yet, you can explore Outer Wilds’ solar system in whatever order you want. You can drop a thread or pick it back up whenever inspiration strikes you, or you can just hang out with other explorers on their planet, listen to music, and roast marshmallows. Outer Wilds uniquely manages to be cozy in its exploration while also challenging and sometimes rather spooky with its puzzles. If you’re craving more after you’ve discovered the secrets of Outer Wilds’ universe, one more mystery remains with the Echoes of the Eye DLC.

18. Armored Core 6: Fires of Rubicon

FromSoftware took a break from the SoulsBorne genre to revisit its long-running mech action series. Armored Core 6: Fires of Rubicon stands distinct from games like Dark Souls and Elden Ring in that players must customize personal mechs to pilot and send on specific missions. One area Armored Core seems to have borrowed from its sister series is incredibly large boss fights, bigger than anything we’ve seen yet from FromSoftware. Along with a streamlined customization process and story-driven single-player mode, Armored Core 6 is the best way to jump into the dark sci-fi world of FromSoft.

17. Sea of Thieves

Sea of Thieves may have launched to lukewarm reviews, but what has happened since is nothing short of extraordinary. The game has built a community of 30 million players and has seen continued support. With free seasonal content like the Pirates of the Caribbean “A Pirates Life” DLC that brought none other than Jack Sparrow to this world of high-sea adventure, it’s no wonder so many are diving in every day.

Sea of Thieves Season 11 is available now. The game itself is now available on PS5.

16. Tunic

Tunic’s most surface influence is obvious: It’s an exploration-based open-world game with dungeons, tool upgrades, and skill meter expansions that closely resemble top-down Zelda games, especially A Link to the Past. But Tunic has also drawn from other great, modern games: Its complex rolling and stabbing combat, especially the show-stopping boss fights, are Souls-like in their delightful difficulty, and its punishment for death is also lifted right from Dark Souls; the late-game puzzles develop a language you’ll need to learn that closely resembles FEZ or The Witness. This combination of influences is the foundation of a fantastic game, but Tunic’s greatest element is its most unique: Hidden throughout the world are pages of an NES-like paper game manual. Each page contains something crucial – a puzzle clue, an essential map, a secret entrance – and quite often the pages reveal something hidden in plain sight, teaching you how the game’s secrets work, so you can discover more on your own. It’s a brilliant and often adorable companion (the gorgeous, hand-drawn art in the manual is accompanied by an anonymous player’s scrawls and notes). Because of this, Tunic constantly reminds you you’re in a video game, and it plays up that theme in numerous clever ways, smashing through fourth walls like so many bombable cracks in a Hyrulian mountainside.

15. Mass Effect Legendary Edition

Mass Effect Legendary Edition includes Mass Effect 1-3 and almost every single piece of DLC ever made for the games, including armor, story missions, characters, and more. As a matter of fact, the only content not included was Pinnacle Station for the original Mass Effect, and that’s only because BioWare somehow lost the code.

All together, it really is the best edition of some of the best RPGs ever created. Follow Commander Shepard on a space journey spanning three massive games as they build their team and protect the galaxy from the ultimate destroyer known as the Reapers. Unmissable.

BioWare is now “hard at work” on the next Mass Effect alongside its next Dragon Age game, Dragon Age: Dreadwolf.

14. Star Wars Jedi: Survivor

Respawn’s sequel to the hit Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order continues the journey of Cal Kestis as he makes his way through the galaxy and fights the Empire. Star Wars Jedi: Survivor improves on almost every element of the first, refining the level design and combat to its sharpest point yet. It is also one of the best avenues to explore the Star Wars universe in its latest era. See our list of the best Star Wars games to see where it ranks.

13. Halo: The Master Chief Collection

Halo: The Master Chief Collection now collects six Halo games all under one digital roof – everything except Halo 5: Guardians. It’s been torn down to the studs and rebuilt in grand fashion, and even better, it’s been upgraded AGAIN for Xbox Series X with support for 120fps gameplay. Crazy to think that these games were 480i/30fps the first time we played them…

See our guide on how to play the Halo games in order before diving into the collection.

12. Resident Evil 4

A remake of a horror masterpiece that somehow one-ups the original. Capcom’s winning streak of Resident Evil remakes continued with possibly the biggest challenge of all. The tone is a bit more serious this time around, but as the old saying goes, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. Resident Evil 4’s upgrades remain largely centered around the technology, with the game’s near-perfect story and pacing left intact.

See our guide to the Resident Evil games in order.

11. Hi-Fi Rush

A new action-rhythm game from the horror masters at Tango Gameworks, Hi-Fi Rush was the surprise hit of 2023 thanks to an innovative combat mechanic where every attack needs to be timed to the beat of the music for bonus damage.

The charming art style and endearing characters made Hi-Fi Rush’s surprise announcement and same-day launch one of the most fun game reveals in 2023, and a big boon to Xbox Game Pass, where it was also immediately available.

Hi-Fi Rush is now available on PS5. Tango Gameworks was recently shuttered by Microsoft in the latest round of cuts at Bethesda, despite winning multiple awards, including Best Audio Design at The Game Awards 2023.

10. Gears 5

While it’s a bit of a backhanded compliment to say that 2019’s Gears 5 was arguably the most visually impressive game on the Series X at launch, the fact remains that the already-gorgeous Gears of War sequel has been dialed up to take advantage of Microsoft’s new console. Better lighting, raytracing, and 120fps support in Versus multiplayer – the bottom line is that if you skipped Gears 5 in 2019, the Series X is a great place to play it for the first time.

The original Gears made our list of the best Xbox exclusives of all time. The Coalition, meanwhile, is working on “multiple new projects” using Unreal Engine 5 and collaborating with Netflix on both a Gears of War movie and an adult animated series.

9. Psychonauts 2

Psychonauts 2, the sequel to the 2005 cult-hit Xbox exclusive, had already been crowdfunded when Microsoft purchased developer Double Fine Productions in 2019. But with the additional resources and time that Xbox HQ offered, Psychonauts 2 was able to fulfill its maximum potential that fans waited 15 years to finally see – and that potential was to be one of the absolute best games on the platform.

Raz’s story is emotional, layered, and funny too. Psychonauts 2’s platforming is clever and nuanced. In short, legendary game designer Tim Schafer and the team at Double Fine didn’t just deliver for the pocket of patient Psychonauts fans, they delivered for all gamers.

Dive deeper into Psychonauts 2 with our video feature on the level design of Compton’s Cookoff.

8. Microsoft Flight Simulator

One of the greatest technical achievements in video games continues to get better in massive and meaningful ways. Developer Asobo’s commitment to improving what’s already a masterpiece goes above and beyond big fixes and simple content additions. New planes, new airports, and new sights to discover and take in make this globe-trotting simulation more realistic with each new update.

On top of the eye candy and excitement of new aircraft, Asobo is constantly updating and improving the simulation aspects of what is already the most incredible simulation of all time. Whether you want to grab an Xbox controller and spend some time taking in the vastness of the globe, or you want to go full dad-energy and build a simulated cockpit in your game room, Microsoft Flight Simulator meets (and exceeds) everyone’s needs, regardless of playstyle.

7. Starfield

Bethesda has been talking up Starfield for so long it’s hard to believe it’s finally here. The NASA-inspired RPG pushes the boundaries of Bethesda’s already massive ambitions. Instead of keeping players in a single area, they’re free to explore hundreds of planets and even multiple star systems. As with all Bethesda RPGs, the real joy is uncovering the little pockets off the beaten path, whether that’s chasing a side mission across the galaxy, or spending hours building up your fleet of spaceships.

Starfield made Steam’s Best of 2023 list in all categories.

See our list of games like Starfield for similar titles.

6. Halo Infinite

They did it. Those crazy sons of guns actually did it. Halo Infinite survived its publicly tumultuous development cycle and emerged as exactly the reinvigorating breath of fresh air that the franchise desperately needed after a six-year layoff, as well as a supremely disappointing campaign the last time out in Halo 5. Infinite delivers on the promise of a go-anywhere Zeta Halo ring, offering enough activities to make sure you’ve always got something to do without bogging you down in fetch quests.

The grappleshot grappling hook is the biggest new addition to the gameplay mechanics, bringing new mobility options as well as combat choices. Meanwhile, the rest of the equipment hearkens back to Halo 3 in the best of ways, and the free-to-play multiplayer boasts stellar maps, scores of cosmetic customization, and the promise of never-ending future content support. Halo needed a home run, and Infinite bashed the (odd)ball far over the fence.

5. Alan Wake 2

It took Remedy 13 years to get the sequel of its cult-favorite thriller Alan Wake off the ground, but it was worth it. Billed as Remedy’s first true survival horror game, the studio best known for its high-concept, cinematic approach to games takes a similarly filmic view to the new genre by creating a terrifying chapter in Alan Wake’s — and new protagonist Saga Anderson’s — stories. Fans of horror will find a tense, scary experience, but those of you waiting to learn what happened to Wake all those years ago will want to check out Remedy’s sequel immediately.

4. Forza Horizon 5

Forza Horizon 5 isn’t just the best game of 2021 (as IGN’s 2021 Game of the Year winner), it’s also the best car game, period, of at least the last decade. The difference between Horizon 5 and other racing games (not named Forza Horizon) is that it is, in fact, a driving game. And yes, there’s a difference between a driving game and a racing game. Driving can include racing – and FH5 most certainly does – but perhaps the greatest of its many triumphs is successfully tapping into someone’s love for cars. You don’t need to be a gearhead with a nose for adjusting tire temperatures and maximizing downforce, as you do in simulation racers.

Here, there’s quite literally fun around every corner, whether it’s trying to best your buddy’s photo radar speed, busting through one of the countless billboards scattered around Horizon’s gorgeous fictionalized Mexico, entering proper Horizon Festival events, or just doing goofy multiplayer events. Forza Horizon 5 is as chill and casual or as serious and hardcore as you want it to be, and that’s a near-impossible feat for any car game.

3. Cyberpunk 2077

Cyberpunk 2077 stumbled out of the gate at launch on consoles specifically. While the RPG has always been a state-of-the-art marvel on PC, it took CD Projekt Red a few years to optimize the game for consoles like the Xbox Series X|S. After cutting out the last-gen systems and a series of free updates, Cyberpunk 2077 and the newly released expansion, Phantom Liberty, finally shine bright on Xbox. With best-in-class presentation, a deep and rewarding RPG system, and one of the best stories CD Projekt ever created, now is finally the time to hack into Cyberpunk 2077.

2. Elden Ring

Whether you’re a longtime fan of FromSoftware’s notoriously challenging games or intrigued by the constant buzz, Elden Ring is a fantastic starting point for seeing what the SoulsBorne genre is all about, thanks to its streamlined onboarding of new players, versatility in accommodating playstyle, and open-world design that alleviates the brick wall dilemma of getting stuck on a difficult boss. Stuck? Make a note on the jaw-droppingly large in-game map using a handful of a variety of pins and simply go somewhere else.

It’s that elasticity that makes this FromSoftware adventure a (slightly) friendlier one full of godlike bosses looking to snuff out your life, threateningly large map(s), and intriguing NPCs rife with charm, mystery, and tragedy.

Elden Ring offers the same journey and main quest for all who pick up the controller. But its open design in how it allows the player to approach that journey is what makes everyone’s quest through The Lands Between personal and memorable.

1. Baldur’s Gate 3

Baldur’s Gate 3 is easily the best computer RPG of any generation thanks to its robust storytelling and nearly limitless player freedom. Whether that’s romancing a Mind Flayer or convincing a squirrel to go into battle, the ability to play through the world of Baldur’s Gate on your own terms is the reason why Larian Studios’ latest RPG has captivated so many players.

The cast of characters, in particular, shines in this party-based RPG. Your companions in this game are some of the most fun, fully-realized characters in any RPG and although Baldur’s Gate 3 is already hundreds of hours long, you’ll want to re-roll new characters to try and mine as much as you can from this deeply rich fantasy world.

Winner of multiple Game of the Year awards, Larian Studios has single-handedly revitalized the computer RPG genre and showcased that ingenuity and smart game design can triumph over the mightiest graphics.

Under Consideration

These well-reviewed 2024 games are too fresh to be ranked in this current list, but we have our eye on them and will factor them into the voting for the next refresh.

Another Crab’s Treasure

MLB The Show 24

Dragon’s Dogma 2


Unicorn Overlord

WWE 2K24

The Thaumaturge

Persona 3 Reload


Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth

Tekken 8

Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown

The Finals

Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora

Upcoming Xbox Series X Games

Paper Trail, Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2, System Shock, and XDefiant release on May 21, followed by Crown Wars: The Black Prince on May 23, MultiVersus on May 28, and F1 24 on May 31.

What Games are Available on Xbox Game Pass in May?

Microsoft has officially announced the May lineup of Xbox Game Pass games, at least the second wave of this month. Some of the most notable additions include Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2, Lords of the Fallen, EA Sports NHL 24, Chants of Sennaar, Moving Out 2, and Immortals of Aveum. For more details about a subscription, check out our guide to Xbox Game Pass plans and prices.

December 2023 updates:

Added: Baldur’s Gate 3, Cyberpunk 2077, Alan Wake 2, Starfield, Hi-Fi Rush, Resident Evil 4, Star Wars Jedi: Survivor, Armored Core 6, Control Ultimate Edition, Dead Space, Forza Motorsport (2023), The Witcher 3 Complete Edition, Lies of P.

Removed: Ori and the Will of the Wisps, Hitman 3, Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy.

With contributions from Cristina Alexander

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