With a myriad of new titles already announced for 2022, Xbox fans have a lot to get excited about for an upcoming year that is shaping up to be as great as the last one. Microsoft’s Xbox division had a revenue of $3.6 billion for the quarter ending last September, according to Niko Partners’ senior analyst Daniel Ahmad, with over eight million Xbox Series S and X units sold and more than 20 million Game Pass subscribers.
Microsoft’s next generation of Xbox consoles was released just over a year ago, and its first year didn’t fall short of incredible releases, from remastered collections of popular franchises such as Yakuza and Crysis, to new titles such as Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy and new installments of classic Xbox franchises such as Halo Infinite and Microsoft Flight Simulator.
These are the best Xbox games released in 2021.
Life Is Strange: True Colors
Life Is Strange: True Colors is the latest graphic adventure game in the Life Is Strange series, which has been critically acclaimed for its narrative and characters. Developed by Deck Nine and published by Square Enix, True Colors is the fifth title in the series. It is set in a stunning fictional mountain town in Colorado called Haven Springs and focuses on a new character, Alex Chen, as she tries to solve her brother’s murder.
The game was recently nominated for several awards at the 2021 Game Awards, such as Best Narrative, Best Performer (Mori as Alex Chen), and the Games for Impact award, which the title won.
Developed by Arkane Studios and published by Bethesda, Deathloop has been one of the most popular games this year. This first-person shooter is a fresh take on the genre that sees the player take on the role of Colt, an assassin on a mission to kill eight different targets before midnight to get out of the time loop he’s in.
Players need to make use of a variety of skills, weapons, and strategy to learn the patterns around each target and complete the mission before time runs out. Every repeating day is divided into four times of day—morning, noon, afternoon, and evening—and players have to move between four different districts in the island, which causes time to speed up. This means players will need to factor in time management into their strategies.
Deathloop was recently nominated for a total of nine awards at the 2021 Game Awards, winning the awards for Best Game Direction and Best Art Direction.
Forza Horizon 5
Forza Horizon 5 is the latest instalment in the Forza Horizon series developed by Playground Games. Its incredible graphics and perfect audio design made this game one of the stars in the latest edition of the Game Awards.
Forza Horizon 5 recently won three of the four awards for which it was nominated at the 2021 Game Awards. By the end of the night, the developers of Forza Horizon 5 went home with awards for Best Sports/Racing Game, Best Audio Design, and the award for Innovation in Accessibility.
With a beautiful open world and almost 500 different cars that fans can choose from, the game had almost one million players before release and is now shaping up to become the best option for racing fans.
Halo Infinite is the most recent game on this list. This FPS was developed by 343 Industries and published by Game Studios as the sixth main entry in the Halo series. The game was initially supposed to arrive as a launch title with the Xbox Series S/X but was delayed to August 2020, and then to its final release in December 2021.
The game’s campaign has players step into the shoes of Master Chief to fight against Banished on the Forerunner ringworld Zeta Halo. For the first time in the series, the multiplayer mode of the game is free-to-play, and the open world allows players to explore the incredible universe of this franchise.
Halo Infinite is available on Xbox One and Xbox Series S/X.
It Takes Two
As the winner of this year’s coveted Game of the Year award, It Takes Two is without a doubt the best couch co-op game we’ve seen in a few years. The game also won the awards for Best Family Game and Best Multiplayer Game.
It Takes Two follows the story of Cody and May, a young couple that needs to work through their problems to avoid divorce after their daughter accidentally turns them into a pair of dolls by play-acting. Playable online and in local split-screen mode, players will have to guide the two characters through a fantastic adventure full of puzzles to fix their relationship and return them to their human form.
It Takes Two is available on Xbox One and Xbox Series S/X.
Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy
Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy‘s success was recently cemented after going home with the award for Best Narrative at the 2021 Game Awards.
In the game, players fill in the shoes of Peter Quill (Star-Lord) and experience a story that takes place after an interstellar war that gives mercenaries a great opportunity at exploiting the state of the world. Along with known characters Rocket, Groot, Gamora, and Drax, players control Peter to guide the pack to make some money during their adventures around the galaxy. Although the rest of the members aren’t playable, players can issue commands as Peter, and this mechanic will become crucial as each of the characters has a specific and unique set of abilities. The key to advancing in the game and finding success in combat will be in understanding effective chains of commands.
Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy has a strong focus on player choices which are presented throughout the narrative, and although these don’t change the final ending of the game, they will affect Peter’s relationships with the rest of the pack, as well as the success or failure of specific missions.
Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy is available on Xbox One and Xbox Series S/X.
Unpacking is by far the strangest, yet most relaxing game on this list. Developed by Witch Beam, the game is essentially all about unpacking, just as the name suggests.
Described as a “zen game,” Unpacking requires players to unpack a mountain of boxes, one room at a time. Once a home is complete, it goes into a photo album, and the move to a new (usually slightly bigger) home begins. Through very subtle storytelling, the objects players get to unpack provide small hints as to what kind of person lives in that home and what changes have happened in their life that has caused the move to a new home.
This game has no timers, no scores, and no mission to complete other than unpacking all the boxes and decorating a home. It is truly a zen game in every possible way and is available through Game Pass on Xbox One, Xbox Series S/X and PC.
Hitman 3 is the latest installment in the Hitman franchise developed and published by IO Interactive. Released on all major platforms, it’s the final entry of the World of Assassination Trilogy after 2018’s Hitman 2.
This is a single-player stealth game that follows the story of a genetically-engineered assassin as he hunts down the leaders of a secret organization controlling everything in the world. The latest installment in the series features new locations such as Dubai, Berlin, and Chongqing, among others, but maps and progress from previous titles in the franchise can be imported as well.
Hitman 3 is available on Xbox One and Xbox Series S/X.
Death’s Door is an action-adventure game from this year that is often compared to the Legend of Zelda and Dark Souls series.
This is a 3D isometric game where players fill the shoes of a crow working as the reaper, and the main mission is to collect souls for the Reaping Commission Headquarters—a bureaucratic hell, quite literally. Players get to use all kinds of melee weapons and magic skills to slay beasts and master different abilities. The game is set in a beautiful world for players to explore and wonderfully weird characters to meet.
Death’s Door is available on Xbox One and Xbox Series S/X.
The long-awaited sequel to the 2015 Psychonauts, Psychonauts 2 sees players control the familiar character Raz as he goes on a mission to take over a villain and murderer with psychic powers.
The game is set in a fictional world where psychic powers are real due to Psitanium, an element discovered through fallen meteors. The game adds a breadth of new characters apart from the returning ones from the first installment. Some of these include Otto Mentallis, the chief inventor that provides new psychic equipment; Compton Boole, pioneer of telepathy with animals; and Bob Zanotto, a character that can communicate with plants.
Many fans were disappointed by the fact that—in spite of being nominated for five different awards at this year’s Game Awards—Psychonauts 2 didn’t end up winning any of them.
Psychonauts 2 is available on Xbox One and Xbox Series S/X.