The best Xbox Series X optimized games aren’t just impressive; they’re a vital part of a launch lineup that is lacking in traditional next-gen exclusives.
While I typically don’t expect much from third-party games that are released for both next-gen and current-gen consoles, the Xbox Series X’ optimization abilities make it uniquely equipped to breathe new life into existing titles.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at the most impressive Xbox Series X optimized games to see what sets them apart.
With its MASSIVE file size (over 100GB) you’d certainly expect NBA 2K21 to deliver true next-gen performance. Thankfully, that’s about what it offers.
You really feel the 60 fps advantage in NBA 2K21 while the title’s cinematic presentation makes it easier to appreciate the improved character models and reflections. NBA 2K22 will be the first game to really take advantage of next-gen technology, but this is an exciting preview of things to come.
Ori and the Will of the Wisps
I never thought Ori and the Will of the Wisps would end up being one of the most visually impressive Xbox Series X launch titles, but here we are.
With the right display, it’s possible to run Ori at 120 fps in 4K. That benchmark will be just out of the reach of many users, but it’s a testament to the Series X’s ability to practically remaster older titles.
Gears Tactics was never the most visually impressive game on the market, and you shouldn’t expect the Xbox Series X to greatly enhance the quality of its visuals.
From a performance perspective, though, the optimized edition of Gears Tactics does impress. The game’s native 4K resolution is nice, but it’s that combination of 4K resolution and 60fps gameplay that really helps you appreciate the finer details in this game as well as the fluidity of its strategic action sequences.
Forza Horizon 4
If you were expecting one of the Xbox One’s best-looking games to look even better on the Xbox Series X, then please step up and claim your prize.
Along with the expected bumps in resolution and frame rate, Forza Horizon 4 benefits from noticeably improved draw distances which actually make Horizon 4 much more enjoyable to play. Honestly, this might be the most visually impressive Xbox Series X game so far.
Sea of Thieves
Sea of Thieves was far from a technical disaster on the Xbox One, but it did occasionally suffer from slower load times.
Well, Xbox Series X addresses those load times while offering a 4K resolution bump that is much more noticeable than I was anticipating. Sea of Thieves remains a great multiplayer game and the Xbox Series X simply offers the best way to experience it.
Those who played the PC version of Gears 5 on a 4K monitor know how beautiful the game is when you run it at Ultra settings. Well, the Xbox Series X version of Gears 5 will be able to replicate that experience on consoles.
Gears 5 immediately benefits from a framerate bump while the optimized version of the title features enhanced shadows and textures that really showcase just how beautiful this game always was.
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla
Some are speculating that Assassin’s Creed Valhalla doesn’t actually feature the native 4K visuals that Ubisoft seemingly promised. In my experience, you tend not to notice the difference.
I would have loved to have seen what a true next-gen version of Valhalla looks like, but you really do notice the difference when you play the game on a next-gen console vs. a current-gen platform. The lighting in the Xbox Series X optimized edition is a particular highlight.
Watch Dogs: Legion
Much like Valhalla, it’s not a huge surprise that Legion is one of the better looking Xbox Series S optimized games. The production values of Ubisoft games are generally high and even the company’s cross-gen titles are typically better than average.
Yet, it’s hard not to be especially impressed with Legion. In fact, many outlets and testers are already turning to Legion to test the Xbox Series X’ ray tracing abilities. I didn’t expect a cross-gen game to feature more impressive ray tracing than a next-gen title, but that’s exactly what we get here.