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Taken in Reviewed Testing Lab

The Best Xbox Games of 2021

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This high-speed, open-world online racer has over 500 new and classic rides to take for a spin. Horizon 5 feels like the true start of next-gen Xbox. Read More

Pros

  • Great online multiplayer features
  • Breathtaking open-world Mexico
  • Over 500 photorealistic vehicles

Cons

  • None that we could find

Bungie’s action MMO is a perennial favorite among folks who love to shoot at monsters in space, and it’s especially great with friends. Read More

Pros

  • Best-in-class first-person sci-fi action
  • Unforgettable endgame challenges
  • 6-player cross-platform fireteams

Cons

  • There’s a significant learning curve

This delightful holder from the Xbox 360 era marries blockbuster spectacle, stellar writing, and fun cover-based shooter mechanics. Read More

Pros

  • Co-op and player-versus-player modes
  • Engaging story with great characters
  • A dazzling graphics showcase

Cons

  • None that we could find

Before you take on the challenges of Halo Infinite, experience the iconic story of Xbox’s flagship sci-fi FPS from the very beginning. Read More

Pros

  • Strong characters and storytelling
  • A few all-time great soundtracks
  • Timeless arena multiplayer

Cons

  • None that we could find

Experience authentic, exhilarating dogfights across the stars. There’s a 120-fps performance mode, cross-platform multiplayer, and a fantastic story. Read More

Pros

  • Flight-stick and cross-platform support
  • Fly your favorite Star Wars fighters

Cons

  • There’s a bit of a learning curve
  • Forza Horizon 5 - Premium Edition

  • Destiny 2: Beyond Light Deluxe

  • Gears of War 5 Game of the Year Edition

  • Halo: The Master Chief Collection

  • Star Wars: Squadrons

If you or a loved one just got ahold of a new Xbox Series X or Series S, you’re ready to find your new favorite game at the dawn of an exciting new era. After two decades of hands-on experience with Xbox—and 12 months with Microsoft’s new flagship console—here are my recommendations for casual players looking to get the most out of their new investment. These are the best Xbox games you can buy right now.

Editor's Note

The recommendations in this guide are based on thorough product and market research by our team of expert product reviewers. The picks are based on examining user reviews, product specifications, and, in some limited cases, our experience with the specific products named.

Product image of Forza Horizon 5 - Premium Edition
Forza Horizon 5 - Premium Edition

This high-speed racer is set in an open-world Mexico that has to be seen to be believed. Tune into your favorite radio station—the soundtrack’s phenomenal—and take a drive in your favorite of over 500 new and classic rides. I haven’t been this hooked on a racing game since the days of Midnight Club II and Need for Speed: Underground. The Forza series has long been a fixture of Microsoft’s first-party lineup, but this new Playground Games entry is the best reason yet to check out the next generation of Xbox.

Pros

  • Great online multiplayer features

  • Breathtaking open-world Mexico

  • Over 500 photorealistic vehicles

Cons

  • None that we could find

Product image of Destiny 2: Beyond Light Deluxe
Destiny 2: Beyond Light Deluxe

If you want a fun online action game with plenty of depth and variety, Destiny 2’s still the reigning heavyweight in that arena. Squad up with your friends or clanmates, do battle with aliens and time-traveling robots, and take on challenging endgame quests once you’ve mastered your skills. It’s always rewarding to punch a robot in the eye or shotgun a spider tank in the neck. And all that rare loot’s pretty nice, too. Just know that there is a learning curve, so you’ll want a friend to guide you when you’re first starting out.

Pros

  • Best-in-class first-person sci-fi action

  • Unforgettable endgame challenges

  • 6-player cross-platform fireteams

Cons

  • There’s a significant learning curve

Product image of Gears of War 5 Game of the Year Edition
Gears of War 5 Game of the Year Edition

The Gears of War franchise is a delightful holdover from the Xbox 360 era—stunning spectacle, apocalyptic stakes, explosive set pieces. It’s always a great co-op game to play with a couple friends; the writing’s great; and you can make it as challenging or as casual as you like. Gears of War 4 was a stellar soft reboot of sorts, and Gears 5 picks up right where that story left off, helped along by smooth next-gen performance and unbelievable visuals.

Pros

  • Co-op and player-versus-player modes

  • Engaging story with great characters

  • A dazzling graphics showcase

Cons

  • None that we could find

Product image of Halo: The Master Chief Collection
Halo: The Master Chief Collection

Play the iconic series of first-person shooters that put Xbox on the map in this definitive, beautifully curated anthology. With the Xbox Series X and Series S, all of these games run at 120 frames per second, and the classic multiplayer experience has aged more gracefully than pretty much any other shooter. After you finish Halo 4 and Bungie’s original trilogy, check out Halo 2: Anniversary multiplayer or add-ons like Halo: ODST and Reach. This is the perfect way to prepare for 343’s next installment, Halo Infinite.

Pros

  • Strong characters and storytelling

  • A few all-time great soundtracks

  • Timeless arena multiplayer

Cons

  • None that we could find

Product image of Star Wars: Squadrons
Star Wars: Squadrons

On Xbox Series consoles, this instant classic offers both a 120-fps performance mode and flight-stick support, making for the most authentic and exhilarating Star Wars dogfighting sim to date. Jump in your X-wing, TIE fighter, or Y-wing bomber and take on the whole galaxy as both rebel and Imperial aces—each customized with your chosen name, voice, appearance, and loadouts. If you’re looking to scratch the Star Wars itch, this ought to do it.

Pros

  • Flight-stick and cross-platform support

  • Fly your favorite Star Wars fighters

Cons

  • There’s a bit of a learning curve

Meet the tester

Alex Kane

Alex Kane

Editor, Search & Updates

@alexjkane

Alex Kane is an editor at USA Today’s Reviewed.

See all of Alex Kane's reviews

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