The Xbox Series X ended 2021 with a bang. After a quiet start to the year, the Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S and Xbox One all found themselves in possession of Halo Infinite, Forza Horizon 5, Psychonauts 2 and more exclusive games, just in time for the holidays.
Xbox Game Pass saw many enhancements, too, with a slew of additional backwards-compatible titles, alongside cloud-powered game-streaming for a variety of devices. This meant that you could access some of the best Xbox Series X games without owning the console, as well as have day-one access to new releases.
With all that said, what does 2022 look like for the Xbox Series X, and Xbox as a whole? So far, it looks pretty much the same, only better.
More Xbox exclusives
While a lot of release dates are still speculative, there’s going to be a whole lot of Xbox and Windows PC exclusive games in 2022, thanks to the suite of game developers under Xbox Game studios and Microsoft’s acquisition of Bethesda.
There's the survival/horror-tinged Scorn, the first-person shooter CrossfireX, the co-op vampire slaying/survival game Redfall, the sci-fi shooter Warhammer 40K: Darktide, the exploration and survival shooter S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2: Heart of Chernobyl, and the big one: the sci-fi epic Starfield.
And more next-gen games
While Forza Horizon 5 showed what the Xbox Series X could do with a graphically demanding game, there weren’t necessarily loads of games that really harnessed the console's power. The likes of Assassin's Creed Valhalla and Halo Infinite look better on the current-gen consoles, but are still playable on last-generation machines.
We expect that to change a bit over the next 12 months. Microsoft has said that it will support games on both current and last-gen consoles, thanks to its Smart Delivery system. However, it's likely that as the Xbox Series X matures, there will be games that simply require too much graphical power to run on older hardware. We can expect that to start happening in 2022, when games such as Elden Ring and Rainbow Six Extraction start pushing the hardware chops of the Series X and the PS5. The Xbox One X might not be left behind immediately, but expect more graphically demanding games to run at 1080p and 30 frames per second.
For more on games coming this year, check out our look at the best upcoming Xbox Series X games in 2022.
Xbox Series X restocks aren't set to get better
Finding an Xbox Series X restock isn't likely to get easier any time soon. Over the past 12 months, hunting down an Xbox Series X has been a bit of a nightmare. Even Microsoft itself struggled to source the console for a Halo Infinite event.
At best, the situation could start to improve midway through 2022. AMD, which provides the chipset for the Xbox Series X, Series S and PS5, expects stock shortages to ease up a little in the second-half of the year.
“I expect it to be from June-September of next year 2022 when, perhaps, it will be possible to go down to a video game store or a department store to buy a PlayStation 5 or an Xbox Series X without it being an impossible task,” said AMD CEO Dr. Lisa Su in October.
With gaming PC graphics cards also in short supply, it’s a tough time to hunt for hardware upgrades. But there is a solution, thanks to game-streaming with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. You can run newer games on the older Xbox One, provided that your internet connection is fast and stable enough.
Xbox Game Pass grows
We’ve already discussed how Xbox Game Pass is the best deal in gaming. And in 2022, it’s only likely to get better. That’s because first-party Xbox exclusive games have day-one launches on the subscription service, arguably making Game Pass a must-have for any Xbox user.
The fact that Game Pass included Forza Horizon 5 and Halo Infinite at launch alone makes it pretty special. But during 2021, Game Pass expanded to include a further 70-plus games dating back to the original Xbox, some of which got frame rate boosts. We wouldn't expect a whole lot more Xbox and Xbox 360 games to show up on Game Pass. But we'd place a good bet that Microsoft optimizes more Xbox One games to take advantage of the Series X and Series S hardware.
These games will likely rub shoulders with the likes of Starfield, which will come to Game Pass on November 11, the day it launches. Effectively, Game Pass is now, and will continue to be, the go-to service for people who want to play multiple generations of Xbox games.
We also expect Microsoft to add more PC Game Pass titles, as well as more games that players can stream to smartphones. These games could include retrofitted touchscreen controls, as we've seen in games such as Gears 5.
In short, if you’ve yet to take the plunge with Game Pass, then 2022 looks like the year to do it.
More Halo Infinite
Since Halo Infinite has a season pass system for its multiplayer mode, and the game’s campaign launched without co-op options, we can expect more Halo content in 2022.
Multiplayer will likely be the focus here, as Microsoft hasn't teased any future updates for the single-player campaign. But we’d are curious to see if developer 343 Industries adds any special features alongside the campaign co-op mode.
Either way, 2022 is sure to be a big year for Xbox Series X and Xbox, as both a console and a gaming ecosystem. The future of Xbox looks interesting indeed.