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The Biggest Upcoming Xbox Exclusives
These games will only be available on Xbox and PC, meaning they are technically console exclusives.
The Xbox Series X|S is one of the most exciting console generations we've seen from Microsoft, combining powerful hardware and ease-of-use through the addition of cloud gaming options and an Xbox Game Pass subscription. Since partway through the Xbox One's lifespan, Microsoft no longer releases true exclusives for the system--they all come to PC, as well--but the console-exclusive games Microsoft and other third-party companies have in the works are still very impressive, particularly if you're a fan of genres like first-person shooter, role-playing, and racing. These are the biggest upcoming Xbox exclusives, listed in alphabetical order.
Obsidian Entertainment had the chance to make its own Fallout game, but it has never had a shot at a fantasy first-person game like The Elder Scrolls. It's finally getting its shot with Avowed, an RPG set in the world of Eora--first featured in the Pillars of Eternity games. It looks to be very early in development, but seeing as the game is coming to Xbox Series X|S and PC only, it won't have to compromise in order for it to run properly on last-gen hardware. It's also far more likely we'll see it before The Elder Scrolls VI, but more on that in a little bit. Avowed is coming to Xbox Series X|S and PC.
CrossfireX is the Xbox version of a PC-based shooter that found huge success in China and South Korea, with a variety of free online multiplayer modes--including asymmetrical options--and high levels of customization. However, what really makes CrossfireX exciting is its campaign mode, which was developed by Remedy Entertainment of Max Payne and Control fame. The cinematic storytelling and sci-fi wrinkles should make it much more interesting than it appears at first glance, and it could become just as big a hit in the North America as it was in Asia. But first impressions are everything, so we'll just have to wait and see when it comes to Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One later this year.
What is Everwild? We don't really know, and it doesn't appear Rare does, either, despite the studio being its developer--an early trailer showed a whimsical forest filled with magic, but the studio reportedly had trouble nailing down core design elements early on. These included a mandate to feature no combat, and it's going to be at least a few years before it releases. At the time of its announcement, it was primarily a third-person adventure game "with god game elements," according to VGC, and it appears Rare doesn't want to rush into showing off more until it nails down exactly how to move forward on the project.
The Fable series has been on ice for a number of years, with a multiplayer spin-off getting canceled after its beta period last generation and the panned Fable: The Journey releasing for Kinect on Xbox 360 before that. However, the newest game, which is apparently a reboot touted as a "new beginning" for the series, is developed by the open-world masters at Playground Games. Thus far, the studio's output has been limited to the Forza Horizon games, so it remains to be seen how it will handle a fantasy RPG, but with a growing team and the increased power of the Xbox Series X, Fable will hopefully better realize the vision Peter Molyneux put forth so many years ago.
Forza Horizon 5
Speaking of Playground Games, the studio continues to work on Forza, and Forza Horizon 5 looks like it could be the most impressive game in the series since it began more than 15 years ago. Set in Mexico and featuring 11 biomes with changing weather, the world is substantially larger than Forza Horizon 4 and the development team sourced work from local Mexican artists for a more authentic representation of the country. As with the previous games, you can expect a variety of racing types and activities, making it a great choice for those who aren't usually interested in cars--and even the Forza Motorsport games. It's out on November 9 for Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and PC.
The other half of the Forza franchise, Forza Motorsport appears to be getting a reboot of sorts with the simply titled, well, Forza Motorsport. Developed by longtime Forza studio Turn 10, the game will only be available on Xbox Series X|S and PC, meaning it should be able to better leverage the consoles' hardware than had it also been developed for Xbox One. The game doesn't yet have a release window or many gameplay details, but an in-engine teaser trailer is so stunningly realistic that it's difficult to tell it's actually a video game and not real life. Whether the rest of the game can match that staggering achievement remains to be seen.
Halo is still Microsoft's biggest franchise, but there are some question marks surrounding it after the disappointing Halo 5: Guardians and the subsequent six-year gap between new games. Halo Infinite looks like it's ready to finally prove 343 Industries is up to the task, and Microsoft was willing to delay the game an entire year to ensure that. We've seen major improvements to the visuals since its demo in Summer 2020, and early multiplayer tests have yielded almost universally positive results, as well. Halo Infinite puts players back in Master Chief famous Mjolnir armor on December 8, and it'll be available with cross-play on Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and PC.
Created by new studio The Initiative and billed as a "AAAA" game, whatever that actually means, Perfect Dark is an espionage game the follows in the footsteps of Rare's original adventures starring Joanna Dark. A short teaser trailer focused on the role corporations had in the continued dystopian unraveling of mankind is all we've been shown for the game thus far, though it does confirm that Joanna herself will be featured in the game. The Initiative aims to "re-imagine" the franchise for a new generation, though it remains to be seen exactly how that will play out. The original Nintendo 64 game took heavy inspiration from Rare's previous title, GoldenEye 007.
The next game from Arkane Studios--creators of the Dishonored series and Deathloop--Redfall looks to be quite a big departure. The cooperative first-person shooter, coming Summer 2022 to Xbox Series X|S and PC, tasks you and your friends from destroying the vampire plague that has overrun the titular town. It allows for single-player gameplay, as well, and Arkane promises that it retains the studio's signature level design to help it stand out from other cooperative shooters with character customization and special abilities. Alongside vampires, human enemies dedicated to worshiping the vampires will also stand in your way, and hopefully your bullets' way.
S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2: Heart of Chernobyl
The dark, atmospheric S.T.A.L.K.E.R. was an underappreciated gem in the mid-2000s. Its influence can be found quite clearly in series like Metro, and it helped spark an interest in Chernobyl-set video games, but the series itself had been on hold for over a decade. It had also been a PC exclusive up to this point, but S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2: Heart of Chernobyl will be coming to both PC and Xbox Series X|S in April 2022. Like its predecessors, it will put a heavy focus on survival as opposed to all-out action, and the character-creation tools allowed the developers to make shockingly realistic models--right down to their teeth.
Senua's Saga: Hellblade 2
The first Hellblade was a flawed but refreshingly unique take on the hack-and-slasher, combining it with a psychological horror tale focused on the mental health of Senua as she attempts to save her dead lover's soul. Now with the backing of Microsoft, formerly independent studio Ninja Theory is revisiting Senua with Senua's Saga: Hellblade 2, sending Senua to Iceland for reasons currently unclear. Trailers showing in-engine footage--coupled with lead actor Milena Juergens' expressive physical acting--show that the power of the new systems should make for even more impactful moments when it eventually releases.
The next role-playing game from the legendary Bethesda Game Studios--and the first not involving The Elder Scrolls or Fallout--Starfield is aiming for something remarkably different from either series. Its approach to science-fiction role-playing will be grounded in reality, fitting into the "hard sci-fi" subgenre associated with films like Arrival and The Martian. Given the emphasis science-fiction games tend to put on realizing the impossible, this should certainly make Starfield stand out, and you can still expect immense scale and plenty of exploration opportunities when it hits Xbox Series X|S and PC in November 2022.
State of Decay 3
Zombie games are so common nowadays that you can barely go a week without a new one releasing, but Undead Labs' State of Decay games are unique in how they blend direct third-person action with base and resource management. The result is a story all your own, and one that often leads to unexpected outcomes. With the studio now part of Microsoft, it will hopefully receive an even larger budget in order to polish State of Decay 3 when it eventually releases, as some bugs and a few other rough edges were among the only things holding its predecessor back from greatness.
The Elder Scrolls VI
The next game Bethesda Game Studios is making after Starfield--which means it's like still at leave five years away--The Elder Scrolls VI will be the long-awaited mainline sequel to The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, finally letting us stop buying ports of the older game and move on to a brand-new experience. Given the cultural phenomenon Skyrim became, cementing Bethesda's legacy as one of the best active game developers, it's impossible to set expectations too high, though that could also mean it's even longer than expected before we get our hands on the game. Naturally, Skyrim will be there for us while we wait.
The Outer Worlds 2
Obsidian Entertainment spent years making sequels to already-established IP like Fallout and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, but in recent years, it has been able to flex its creative muscles with wholly original creations. The Outer Worlds was a short-but-sweet first-person RPG that mixed biting political satire with great characters and a unique approach to character progression that allowed you to permanently hamstring your own abilities in order to increase them in another area. The Outer Worlds 2, now made with the company as an internal Microsoft studio, looks to improve on the original, hopefully making it just a bit longer in the process.
Eagerly anticipated by several of us at GameSpot, Tunic--or "the cute fox game," as we like to call it--is a classic exploration action-adventure in the vein of Zelda, and the developer specifically took inspiration from the original game because of its lack of direction or clear objectives given to the player. This is what encourages true exploration and discovery, which is at the heart of any good adventure game, and the puzzles will also not be so "video gamey" so as to break the immersion. Tunic still doesn't have a release date, but it will be available on Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and PC.
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