The Xbox Series X debuted two years ago and it’s been a wild ride. At first, the system had no flagship games — which wasn’t really a problem, because the consoles were essentially impossible to find. Since then, though, the Xbox Series X has become much easier to find, and the game library has grown at a respectable clip.
While Tom’s Guide already has a list of the best Xbox Series X games, these picks don’t necessarily represent our personal favorites. To celebrate the Xbox Series X’s second anniversary, we polled the Tom’s Guide staff to see which Xbox Series X games we’ve simply adored over the last two years, from first-party exclusives, to third-party multiplatform titles. Something about these games grabbed our attention and didn’t let go.
And whether you’re buying an Xbox Series X for the first time or looking for your next big adventure on the console, maybe you’ll find something irresistible about them, too.
I’ve long enjoyed the Halo games, but after Halo 4 and Halo 5: Guardians, my interest in Master Chief and Cortana’s adventures started to wane. But then, we got Halo Infinite.
The latest Halo entry drops Master Chief and a couple of situational pals together on yet another Halo ring. This time ,though, large parts of the map are available for you to tackle in your own way. This allows Chief to pick off enemies from afar before closing in, using a satisfying grappling hook to traverse rocky cliffs. Or, he could charge in with a Scorpion tank, causing havoc until the vehicle explodes, then bowling into enemies with a thruster pack and energy sword. When the action calms down, Halo Infinite is flush with lovely vistas. There’s also a solid soundtrack to tie everything all together. Halo Infinite is very much the Halo game fans have been waiting for, and that the Xbox Series X deserves. — Roland Moore-Colyer
I’ve always respected the Soulsborne games more than I actually enjoyed playing them. But something about Elden Ring finally clicked. Within an hour of starting the game, I was hooked, and I soon spent dozens more hours exploring just about every corner of The Lands Between.
Elden Ring offers the same methodical gameplay as the Dark Souls series that came before it, not to mention a similarly brutal level of challenge. But Elden Ring’s sense of freedom truly sets the game apart. If you’re stuck on a tough boss, or feel under-leveled for an area, you can go explore somewhere else until you get stronger
The narrative breadcrumbs are a little too vague for my liking. But otherwise, it’s hard to find fault in Elden Ring. It’s not only my favorite game on the Xbox Series X, but one of the best gaming experiences I’ve ever had, period. — Rory Mellon
When you talk about prolific game designers – people like Shigeru Miyamoto, Richard Garriott, Peter Molyneux and Hideo Kojima – you have to mention Tim Schafer. In his storied career Tim’s helped write and direct classics like Grim Fandango, Day of the Tentacle and, of course, the original Psychonauts. The 16-year-wait for Psychonauts 2 was excruciating, but the game ultimately became a Game of the Year contender.
What makes the Psychonauts franchise so successful is its well-paced storytelling, its lovable characters, and its perfect mix of platforming and puzzle-solving. You’ll feel smart every time you find and crack one of the game’s secret caches.
Psychonauts 2 is also available on PS4, but Microsoft made the decision to put the game on Xbox Game Pass right at launch. This ensured that the sequel didn’t meet the same fate as its cult-classic predecessor. Finally sharing my love for the series with other gamers in real-time, right at launch, will always be a special memory. — Nick Pino
Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin
If you can get past its awkward title, Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin is one of the most creative Final Fantasy games in years. At first glance, the game is a reimagining of the original Final Fantasy on NES, starring an angry protagonist named Jack, who’s willing to kill the villainous Chaos at any cost. As Stranger of Paradise progresses, though, it draws inspiration from the whole Final Fantasy series, and provides some interesting backstory for FF1 that we never knew before.
The setting and story are strong in Stranger of Paradise, but so is the gameplay. You control Jack and two party members as you explore open-ended dungeons, find more powerful gear and level up a variety of character classes. As you master different class combinations, you’ll unlock even more powerful options, making each new mission feel worthwhile. The real-time combat also strikes an agreeable balance between “challenging” and “approachable.”
To be scrupulously fair, there’s nothing radically different about Stranger of Paradise on Xbox Series X as opposed to PC or PS5. But I played this game on both an Xbox Series X and an Xbox Series S, and the ability to sync save files seamlessly turned out to be a huge benefit. — Marshall Honorof
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2
It seems odd to say that my favorite Xbox Series X game is a Playstation game from 1999, but the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 remaster feels like a whole new entry in the series.
The soundtrack is a perfect metaphor for this game, as it combines classic punk and ska with modern offerings. In much the same way, the game itself features classic skaters, levels and tricks, along with the manuals and wallrides that arrived in later installments.
Online play is also a welcome addition to the series. You can play two-minute competitive sessions, but there’s also a superior option: a mode where you can just chill with friends and have fun. It’s like skating in real life, without the grazed knees.
The upgraded Xbox Series X edition of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 makes the game as beautiful as it was in my nostalgic childhood memories. You can also share custom levels online, which is great for players who are constantly looking for the next rail to grind. — Andy Sansom