Xbox has delivered on their promise of backwards compatibility, and when the Xbox Series X / S arrive this November thousands of games from across four generations will be playable at launch. The following is a roundup of Xbox Console exclusive games from over the years that are worth revisiting with your brand new next-gen console – probably with no load times. Nice!
10. Halo Wars 2 (Xbox One)
Halo Wars 2 improved upon its 2009 predecessor with better graphics, better gameplay and even larger-scale battles. Setting a real-time strategy game in the world of Halo almost seems obvious in retrospect, and necessary to capture the true scope of some of the legendary battles referred to in the main series. If you’re looking for something a big more cerebral and tactical, look no further.
9. Crackdown (Xbox 360)
This open world third-person shooter franchise has never been as strong as its first entry back on the 360. Crackdown lets players explore a cyberpunk world with boundless movement, honing in on the idea of increasing your movement abilities with powerups. It’s all about running, jumping and flying better so you can take out the enemy, everything from future soldiers to cyber monks. Honestly, the game is just fun. Doesn’t require a lot of thinking. Just start blastin’.
8. Lost Odyssey (Xbox 360)
Lost Odyssey is famous for boasting one of the most intriguing JRPG stories ever, and that hasn’t changed with time. Set in a world stuck somewhere between Final Fantasy VII and Xenoblade Chronicles, you’ll gather a party of heroes in what were astoundingly good graphics at the time (they’ve held up okay). The biggest issue back at launch was the horrible load times, but hopefully the Series X will make those pesky load screens a thing of the past.
7. Ninja Gaiden: Black (Original Xbox)
If you’re not familiar with Ninja Gaiden, it’s a little bit Prince of Persia and a little bit Bayonetta. High octane action accompanied by environmental puzzles, solid world building and grotesque enemies made this game a perfect introduction to the long-running Japanese franchise for western audiences. And the graphics have held up way better than they have any right to. Playing this in 60 FPS on a 16:9 ratio is going to be incredible on next-gen hardware.
6. Gears 5 (Xbox One)
Pretty much any of the games in the Gears of War franchise are worth revisiting (particularly Gears 2 if you’re looking for a classic one), but Gears 5 really nailed the tone, setting and gameplay that fans were looking for. The story is pretty solid, but the world and monsters are leagues more impressive than its predecessors. Jump in for some co-op third person shooting action. It’s on Game Pass! Now your friends have no excuse not to squad up with you.
5. Fable II (Xbox 360)
Fable has an admittedly weird history. The first game was pretty universally beloved, while the second was lauded for gameplay but criticized due to the weak story. The third game was largely panned for oversimplification of mechanics and gameplay, so if you’re looking to dip into the franchise before the reboot on Series X / S , Fable II is the way to go. The gameplay holds up quite well even if the story meanders a bit, and it’s worth diving into this third person fantasy action game to see what all the fuss is about.
4. Alan Wake (Xbox 360)
If you haven’t heard of Alan Wake, it is essentially Remedy Games’ fanfic of “what if Stephen King went to Twin Peaks and all the stuff he wrote about became real?” It’s trippy, it’s weird and it’s a stone cold cult classic. Although I’m not a fan of the third-person shooting mechanics in Alan Wake, the story was intriguing enough to pull me through the whole thing. It’s legitimately scary at times. Remedy would later go on to make Control, so that should sell you on this game if nothing else.
3. Jade Empire (Original Xbox)
I personally love Bioware’s lost gem Jade Empire, which is also available on PC right now. This action RPG is set in a faithfully-constructed world of Chinese mythology, with martial arts and magic at the forefront. I’ll be honest, the graphics haven’t aged well, but the RPG mechanics, combat, story and characters are still just as charming. We don’t get a lot of exposure to Chinese mythology in western games, so Jade Empire is sure to be a treat.
2. Sunset Overdrive (Xbox One)
Sunset Overdrive became my go-to destress game at the beginning of the pandemic this year. There is no better way to unwind than mindlessly parkouring off of buildings, grinding rails and kick flipping through the streets of an over-stylized post-sodapocalypse world full of big juice zombies just waiting to get popped. The colors, story and weaponry just get more outrageous as it goes, and to top it all off, Sunset Overdrive was made by Insomniac, of Spyro the Dragon, Ratchet & Clank and Spider-Man fame.
1. Halo 2
I shouldn’t need to be out here advertising Halo 2. A game which provided possibly the best local multiplayer of the entire generation and an epic sci-fi first person shooter campaign that defined a console pretty much sells itself. Well, it’s on Game Pass. So gather up some buds and get to it. Let the tea bagging begin!
There are a ton more games you’ll be able to experience day one on the Series X / S. Did we miss your favorite? Let us know in the comments below!