The Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S launched in late 2020 to much praise, and a steady stream of high-quality console experiences have been showcasing the power of the hardware ever since. As we look deeper into 2021 and beyond into 2022, we’re on the hunt for games with the potential to sit up there with the best Xbox games and best PC games of all time, and these are the titles we think that may fit the bill, and deserve your undivided attention.
If you’re a game developer or publisher and would like to see your game listed here, get in touch with me via email: jez at windowscentral.com!
12 Minutes (Aug. 19, 2021)
12 Minutes is an upcoming thriller that takes place over the course of 12 minutes, in a deadly time loop. Set in a single apartment, you’ll experience a star-studded cast that includes Daisy Ridley and Willem Dafoe, experiencing the same 12 minutes over and over as a hitman enters your apartment. This intriguing thriller remains shrouded in mystery but looks to be one of the more unique games hitting Xbox in 2021.
Source: Annapurna Interactive
Psychonauts 2 (Aug. 25, 2021)
Psychonauts 2 is an upcoming 3D puzzle platformer from Double Fine, set in Tim Burton-esque nightmarish mindscapes.
Players control Raz, a psychonaut whose job is to navigate the minds of various deranged (and not so deranged?) characters. Raz has a variety of psychic powers that he can use to manipulate the environment to help players progress. The game is slated to launch on Aug. 25, 2021.
Song of Iron (Aug. 31, 2021)
Song of Iron is an upcoming side-scrolling adventure game coming to Xbox via ID@Xbox. This indie game already looks like it punches far above its weight in terms of quality, and you should keep your eye on it.
Aragami 2 (Sept. 17, 2021)
Aragami 2 is a stealth action game drawing upon the ghosts of Tenchu. In Aragami 2, you play as Kurai, drawn into a massive inter-clan conflict that will decide the fate of the entire region. Aragami 2 will also launch straight into Xbox Game Pass.
Elite Dangerous: Odyssey (Autumn 2021)
Elite Dangerous: Odyssey is the next expansion for Elite Dangerous, and while it isn’t a standalone title, the expansion is massive and represents Frontier’s most ambitious project to date. Odyssey will finally give you the ability to exit your starship and take on FPS missions across a variety of environments. Sadly, the game was delayed from early 2021 all the way to Autumn 2021, owing to pressures from the pandemic.
Frontier will release more details in the coming months, but if you’re a fan of Elite Dangerous, keep your eye on this one.
Later in 2021
Tales of Arise (Sept. 10, 2021)
This upcoming action game was announced at E3 2019 and looks like one to watch for fans of JRPGs.
Part of the famed Tales series, Tales of Arise is being built by a team of series veterans and newcomers to revitalize the franchise and attempt to appeal to new audiences with a darker aesthetic.
Back 4 Blood (Oct. 12, 2021)
Back 4 Blood is a spiritual successor to Left 4 Dead, from the studio behind the cult-hit zombie thriller. Team up with three friends in 4-player co-op and battle through a gauntlet of zombies and other mutants in a variety of online modes. Back 4 Blood will also launch directly into Xbox Game Pass.
Battlefield 2042 (Oct. 22, 2021)
EA revealed at an investor meeting that a new Battlefield will drop this year, and rumors are rampant about what kind of game it could turn out to be. The game is now revealed to be Battlefield 2042, set in a near-future modern warfare setting.
Halo Infinite (2021)
We know little about how Halo Infinite will play besides the fact it’s the next big entry in Microsoft’s flagship shooter saga. Taking place after the events of Halo 5 and Halo Wars 2, Halo Infinite will continue the story that left the galaxy in peril at the hands of the all-powerful Guardians. Halo Infinite was delayed out of 2020 after negative reactions to the game’s visual quality.
Age of Empires IV (Oct. 28, 2021)
Age of Empires IV is the long-awaited next installment in the blockbuster RTS franchise, built in partnership between Microsoft’s World’s Edge studio and Relic Entertainment. While it has only been announced for PC so far, like Flight Simulator, we do expect it will eventually come to Xbox as well.
Forza Horizon 5 (Nov. 9, 2021)
Forza Horizon 5 was revealed at E3 2021, this time set in Mexico. With the biggest map Playground Games has ever built, with some of the most impressive video game visuals we’ve ever seen, Forza Horizon 5 is going to be a blockbuster event for racing game fans everywhere.
Call of Duty: Vanguard (2021)
With the inevitable 2021 version of Call of Duty always on the docket, we now know a bit more about what it is this year. It seems like Call of Duty: Vanguard will head back to WW2 (again), but exactly how it plans to create a new experience on this overdone theatre of war remains to be seen.
Moonglow Bay (2021)
Moonglow Bay is an upcoming life sim set in a vibrant 1980s Canadian fishing town. Grow your relationships and community, alongside your fishing, cooking gear, and skills, to rebuild a fractured community.
Pragmata is an upcoming title from Capcom set in an extraordinary futuristic setting. Almost nothing is known about the game, besides the fact it’s coming to next-gen systems and looks incredibly sleek.
There Is No Light (Fall 2021)
There Is No Light is a Kickstarter success story coming to Xbox and PC later in 2021. This self-proclaimed “brutal” action game sports a gothic retro-pixel art style and looks to have tight (and gory) combat. Escape a deadly cult, and kill hordes of enemies while doing so.
Among Us (2021)
Indie smash hit Among Us is coming to Xbox sometime in 2021, alongside an all-new Airship map. Among Us is an asynchronous multiplayer experience where players have to deduce which crewmate is actively murdering other players, and sabotaging the ship’s facilities. A game of subtlety and suspicion, Among Us will hit Xbox with cross-play features when it eventually hits the system, sometime this year.
Rainbow Six Extraction (January 2022)
Rainbow Six Extraction is an upcoming sci-fi horror take on Rainbow Six Siege, pitting players in a tactical scenario against infected, mutated humans. Besides fragments of leaked info, not a great deal is known about the game, although its planned release date has slipped to 2022.
War Hospital (2022)
War Hospital is an evocative strategy game that puts you in command of a hospital in World War 1. You’ll be tasked with healing the wounded in dire conditions, in a game that seems to draw inspiration from the likes of Frostpunk.
Source: Brave Lamb
Microsoft grabbed Starfield with its ground-shaking purchase of Bethesda in 2020. Starfield is a single-player sci-fi RPG set in space, although almost nothing is known about the game so far. We know that Starfield will launch in 2022.
Warhammer 40,000: Darktide (2022)
From the developers of Vermintide, Warhammer 40,000: Darktide is an upcoming 4-player co-op shooter that shares familiarity with the likes of Left4Dead. Set in the harrowing universe of Warhammer 40K, players battle a heretical cult known as the Admonition, hellbent on taking over the planet Atoma Prime. Battle all sorts of Chaos monstrosities in this class-based evolving shooter, which also arrives first on Xbox Series X/S consoles as a timed exclusive.
A Plague Tale: Requiem (2022)
A Plague Tale: Requiem is the next installment in the Plague Tale franchise, and it’s launching directly into Xbox Game Pass in 2022. A Plague Tale: Requiem is a next-gen only affair, following Amicia and Hugo on an all new quest, in a plagued, infested world.
Release date TBC
Scorn is an upcoming horror title that leans heavily into H.R. Giger’s art styles to create its grotesque world. Not a huge amount is known about the game besides the fact that it is firmly survival horror, set in a first-person, and is exclusive to Xbox Series X and PC.
Source: Ebb Software
The Last Night
The Last Night is an upcoming “2D open-world” title from Odd Tales Games. The neon-blasted cyberpunk title features action-infiltration-oriented gameplay, complete with a branching narrative and stunning art that combines retro-2D sprites and modern lighting with 3D elements.
There’s no launch date listed at the time of writing, but The Last Night is seeking investment due to some developmental issues.
Source: Odd Tales
Dying Light 2
Dying Light 2 was revealed at E3 2018 and looks set to build upon everything that made the original so awesome.
Set long after the first game’s zombie-apocalyptic events, Dying Light 2 is set in a Mad Max-like world where humanity is trying to rebuild. Undead mutants still lurk in the dark underbelly of the city. But the biggest threat is now violent human factions, which you can work with, or against, in a new dynamic narrative system.
There’s no set launch date as of yet, but according to a recent video. it looks like it’s still aiming for a 2021 release.
The next title from Rare was revealed in late 2019, showing us another gorgeous and colorful world from the British studio. Very little is known about Everwild, but the trailer seems to indicate that it’s some form of multiplayer experience, complete with stealth mechanics and uniquely gorgeous creatures.
Disco Elysium is an award-winning isometric RPG where you play as a detective.
Disco Elysium hinges primarily on player choice, with gameplay that revolves largely around dialogue choices, skill checks, and exploration. Your decisions ultimately decide what kind of cop you’ll turn out to be and all the consequences that come along with it.
The game is already available on PC and will hit Xbox sometime in 2021.
Not a great deal is known about what you do in Weird West, but the developer pedigree and slick trailer alone makes it quite interesting.
Built by the co-developers of Prey and Dishonored, Weird West is self-described as an action RPG fantasy western where werewolves, cultists, and other occult beings lurk in the shadows of the frontiers. It has no known launch window yet, but it seems well worth keeping an eye on.
Announced at BlizzCon 2019, Overwatch 2 finally adds a story mode to the colorful hero shooter, filling in some of the gaps in the game’s lore.
While Overwatch 2 will be a separate game with its own content, Blizzard won’t be splitting up the player base between the first and second games, instead of uniting both in the same multiplayer pool with the same heroes. There’s no known launch window at this point, but we’ll be sure to update you when there is.
Diablo 4 was revealed at BlizzCon 2019, and what a reveal it was.
Ditching the previous game’s cartoony, colorful aesthetic, Diablo 4 goes all-in on a haunting, gothic realism and brutal violence. Blizzard notes that Diablo II has been the template for the franchise’s fourth installment, both in tone and in the game’s more methodical pacing.
There’s no known launch window as of yet. We’ll probably be waiting a long time for this one.
Tunic is an upcoming old-school dungeon crawler in the vein of the OG Zelda games.
Taking control of a cutesy fox warrior, it’s on you to brave ancient ruins, battle swarms of spooky dudes, and get piles of loot. There’s no known launch date for Tunic as of yet, but it looks rather intriguing.
Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II
Another huge surprise announcement recently was that of Hellblade II, built from the ground up for the next-gen Xbox Series X. The in-engine trailer showcases the insane visuals Ninja Theory will achieve when the game hits the Xbox Series X.
Little is known about the game, but Senua is a Pict warrior who navigates the horrors of Helheim to rescue the soul of a loved one. The game pushed extremely incredible visuals for its time, with stunning atmospherics, but was a bit limited in scope due to the studio’s independent nature. Now, as part of Microsoft, Hellblade II may push further into more action-oriented territory.
Source: Ninja Theory
Echo Generation is a nostalgic horror strategy game with vibrant, unique 3D-pixel-style art and turn-based combat. Set in the early ’90s, you and a group of kids embark on an adventure to hunt down and investigate a mysterious series of supernatural events. Echo Generation should launch sometime in 2021 for Xbox One, Series X, and Steam.
Avowed was revealed at Microsoft’s July Xbox showcase and is a next-gen Xbox Series X RPG experience from Obsidian, set in the Pillars of Eternity universe. Not a huge amount is known about the game, save for the fact it will have first-person gameplay Elder Scrolls-style and has a slick cinematic trailer to keep us appetized.
Forza Motorsport 8
Microsoft and Turn 10 are rebuilding the Forza engine from the ground up, aiming to launch as an Xbox Series X exclusive in the future. Forza Motorsport 8 may be something of a reboot of sorts, dropping the numbered entries. Not a huge amount is known about the game, but we may be waiting until 2022 before we get our steering wheels on this one.
State of Decay 3
State of Decay 3 is also a bit of an enigma, offering us a cinematic trailer and not much else. Set in a more wintry environment, there are possibilities that you’ll have to manage your internal temperature in addition to other survival needs, as the plague seems to have now spread to animals and not just humans.
Microsoft finally revealed Fable after years of rumors and speculation. Fable is being built for Xbox Series X and PC and will showcase the talents of Playground Games, who have grown into a huge studio over the past few years.
The Gunk is an upcoming action-adventure puzzle game with sci-fi leanings and unique mechanics. In The Gunk, you arrive on an alien world ensnared in oil-like slime, known as the titular Gunk. Armed with a vacuum gauntlet, you’ll navigate a colorful alien landscape while battling encrusted mutants while solving gunk-laden puzzles.
Microsoft also unveiled STALKER 2 at their July showcase as a timed exclusive for Xbox Series X and PC. STALKER is an open-world shooter with survival elements, tasking players to navigate a radiated Chernobyl filled with physics anomalies and other threats lurking in the dark.
Source: GSC Game World
Elder Scrolls VI
Like Starfield, Elder Scrolls VI is now part of Microsoft’s Xbox Game Studios, alongside Bethesda’s acquisition. And just like Starfield, almost nothing is known about the game. It will be single-player and a traditional Elder Scrolls-style open RPG, but we may be waiting a long while to see this game materialize.
At the 2020 Game Awards, Microsoft unveiled the long-rumored project of The Initiative — a full reboot of Rare’s classic sci-fi spy adventure Perfect Dark. Details are scant on exactly how Perfect Dark will look and play, but we’ve heard it will take cues from the gadgetry of Perfect Dark Zero and may draw comparisons to the likes of Splinter Cell: Conviction for stylish stealth-action gameplay.
Randomly and out of the blue, Microsoft and ZeniMax’s Machine Games revealed that the studio known for Wolfenstein’s popular reboot is building an Indiana Jones games, in partnership with Disney’s revived LucasFilms Games division. There are practically no details about this whatsoever so far, but we’re already hyped. I wouldn’t expect to see this game any time soon, though.
Ubisoft Massive’s Star Wars game
At the same time Machine Games dropped Indiana Jones, Ubisoft revealed that its Massive studio, known for The Division, is working on an open-world game set in the Star Wars universe. Similar to Indiana Jones, very little is known about this one, and I wouldn’t expect to see it emerge anytime soon. It’s easy to speculate, though, given Massive Games’ previous efforts, that this could be similar to The Division, albeit set in the Star Wars universe. We’ll have to wait and see.
What are you hyped for?
We’ve already seen reams of great games recently hit Xbox One, Xbox Series X, and Series S, and the backlog looks as though it’ll just keep growing. The future of Xbox definitely looks stunning, particularly when you factor in what developers will be able to achieve with new-gen systems like the Xbox Series X. But what games are you looking forward to the most? Let us know in the comments, and maybe we’ll add them here in a future update.