If you own an Xbox Series X, you’re likely going to want to get the most of your console by playing games that have been Optimized for Xbox Series X/S. Well, we’ve got good news. There are tonnes of games optimized to perform at their best on Microsoft’s latest console. And plenty of them are available to play as part of your Xbox Game Pass membership. But the question is: what are the best Xbox Series X optimized games on Game Pass? We’ve rounded up our favourites right here.
Just how ‘optimized’ a game is for Xbox Series X/S depends on the title. But for the most part, games simply look and play better. In many cases, you’ll experience dramatically enhanced visuals, better framerates and, if you’re playing on Xbox Series X, 4K resolutions. Of course, you’ll also get added benefits like faster loading times, too.
If you’ve just upgraded to Xbox Series X/S, there’s no better time to subscribe to Xbox Game Pass. Read on to see our picks of the best games that have been optimized for the console. But even without optimizations, there’s a tonne of games that will play better on your new console than last generation.
This list was originally published in 2021 and has been periodically updated since.
Starfield isn’t so much Xbox Series X enhanced as rather the only way to play. The latest game to come from Microsoft Studios, Starfield is not available on Xbox One. And once you dive into the giant space adventure, it’s not hard to see why. This epic intergalactic RPG needs the power of the Series X to exist.
It looks fantastic, and that’s all you really need to know here: there’s very few games that will show off the power of your Xbox Series X console better than Starfield. As you explore the world and set out your own story, you’ll visit varied planets, meet a wealth of characters and explore settlements, all created in excellent detail.
2. Everspace 2
From one space exploration game to another: Everspace 2 tackles the galaxy a little differently to Starfield, but still has you taking on the galaxy and visiting a variety of planets. Again, Everspace 2 can only be played on Xbox Series X/S, and it looks absolutely wonderful on the console.
Dashing through space is a joy thanks to smooth framerates, and high resolutions make everything look sublime. It supports variable refresh rate, too, which is a handy feature to make use of if your TV supports it, making your spacefaring journey smoother than ever.
3. A Plague Tale: Requiem
We loved A Plague Tale: Innocence. It tells a gripping, moving story about a girl, Amicia, and her younger brother Hugo as they flee their home village in the time of the plague. Its sequel, A Plague Tale: Requiem, ups the ante, making Hugo and Amicia’s tale even more fraught. Set in medieval France, this adventure sees you dealing with the plague, taking on enemies, and making use of some dark magical powers. It looks and players wonderfully too.
And on Xbox Series X/S it’s even better. This is a gorgeous-looking game, and the power of Xbox Series X really lets the game shine. You can play at 4K resolution and 60FPS, truly the best way to play.
4. DIRT 5
A launch title for the console, this Optimized for Xbox Series X title is now available via Game Pass, and if you’re a racing or rally fan, you’ll definitely want to give it a go. Colourful and a lot of fun, DIRT 5 is an excellent racer. It packs in a fully-featured single player campaign, but you can also take the action online if you rather face off against human opponents.
Perhaps most unique to the title, though, is the ability to play through the entire campaign in split screen co-op. There’s nothing quite like the thrill of bringing a friend along for the ride. With Series X Optimizations, DIRT 5 even has a 120hz mode, allowing you to play at 120FPS if your TV supports it. Even if it doesn’t, though, the game is silky smooth and a joy to look at.
5. Forza Horizon 5
Forza Horizon 5 has been optimized for Xbox Series X/S, with the game looking and playing better than ever. Not only is this one of the best games on Xbox to date, it’s also one with the best Xbox Series X optimizations.
Confirmed by the Forza Support Team, Forza Horizon 5 displays at 4K if you play at 30fps. A performance mode allows the game to run at 60fps with a lower resolution. It still looks beautiful, though, so you’re not losing out. It’s undoubtedly the best-looking Forza Horizon game yet, with a world more detailed than ever. Expect fantastic shadows, reflections and particle effects quality. And, of course, the most realistic car models to date.
6. Gears 5
Gears 5 relaunched alongside Xbox Series X/S, bringing not only better performance and visuals, but new content too (WWE’s Batista joined the ranks, and new achievements have been added).
In terms of Xbox Series X/S optimizations, Gears 5 has reduced load times, Quick Resume support, variable refresh rates (if your TV supports it), variable rate shading, and support for 120Hz in Versus mode. If you’re playing on Xbox Series X, you’ll also benefit from 4K visuals and ‘ultra-spec’ graphics that only high-end PC players will have seen before.
There’s also a reduced latency compared to the Xbox One version of the game: Dynamic Latency Input, or DLI, means that input latency is reduced by 40% in the campaign, and up to 60% in multiplayer. It means the game reacts to your button inputs faster than ever. You can read more about Gears 5’s Xbox Series X/S optimizations here.
7. No Man’s Sky
If you’re going to explore the far reaches of space, you might as well do it in style, right? And that’s why No Man’s Sky is one of the best Xbox Series X optimized games on Xbox Game Pass. It’s one that benefits from improved visuals more than almost any other. Those planets look more beautiful than ever before.
Optimized for Xbox Series X/S, No Man’s Sky boasts “bigger bases, lusher planets, more players, faster warp speeds and more”. Worlds are packed with more detail in terms of flora and fauna, making them richer to explore. The bases you build can be higher and more complex than before, too, and all of this is with better framerates and higher resolution. If you’re playing on Xbox Series X, you’ll experience 60fps at native 4K. Series S owners can choose between native resolution at 30fps, or a 60fps high performance mode.
8. Ori and the Will of the Wisps
While Ori and the Will of the Wisps was a beautiful game anyway, it’s even more beautiful now it’s been optimized for Xbox Series X. Even on Xbox Series S, Ori and the Will of the Wisps runs at 4K 60FPS, and if your TV is compatible, you can push it to 120FPS with a lower framerate! On Xbox Series X however, you can have both 4K and 120FPS for the most vibrant, smoothest platforming experience you can imagine.
Drop the 120FPS on Xbox Series X, and you can experience Ori and the Will of the Wisps in a 6K Supersampled Rendering Mode. Basically, the game runs at 6K, outputting to your TV at 4K. It’s much sharper than native 4K, if you can imagine such a thing.
Outriders from Square Enix brings third-person shooting and looting to Xbox in style. Released into Game Pass on day one, Outriders is Optimized for Xbox Series X, offering 60fps framerates and up to 4K visuals. It’s a treat, both in terms of how it looks and how it performs.
Another game that takes you to the far reaches of space, Outriders sees you land on the distant planet of Enoch in search of a new life after Earth has been ruined. Unfortunately, Enoch doesn’t quite offer the Eden that people were promised. As an Outrider, it’s your job to explore the planet, take down the threats that stand in your way and try to unravel the mysteries of the planet.
10. Tetris Effect: Connected
If you’re yet to play Tetris Effect Connected, you’re in for a treat; it’s Tetris, but like you’ve never seen it before. It’s a dazzling display of colour and sound. Sure, you’re still lining up rows of Tetriminos, but doing so while you’re in the middle of a spectacle. It’s something to behold. And this new version of the game allows you to play with others, too.
Developers have aimed to pursue ‘even prettier visuals’ for Xbox Series X, making the game look better than ever. It displays in full 4K on the X; while Xbox Series S has a lower resolution, it still looks and plays fantastic. Both consoles benefit from a higher framerate and faster loading times.