Skip to main content

Upcoming Xbox Series X games — 2021 release dates and what we can’t wait to play

halo infinite
(Image credit: Xbox)

Unlike the PS5, the Xbox Series X doesn't have a real flagship title just yet, but that could change over the next year or so. Developers have a number of ambitious Xbox games planned for 2021 and beyond. There's the obvious stuff, like Halo Infinite and Fable, but even some smaller fare like The Gunk and Twelve Minutes could be absolutely captivating to the right audience.

The Tom's Guide staff has catalogued some of our most anticipated Xbox Series X games, from big-budget shooters to indie puzzlers and beyond. We don't have precise release dates for most of these games, but we do have general windows, and we'll update this story as we  learn more specific information. For the moment, check out our list of upcoming Xbox Series X games, and start planning out your gaming schedule.

microsoft flight simulator

(Image credit: Xbox)

Microsoft Flight Simulator (Summer 2021) 

Microsoft Flight Simulator has been out on the PC for quite a while, and it quickly became a smash hit among fans and critics alike. Using real-world satellite images, this game lets you fly across an incredibly realistic facsimile of the planet. You can go absolutely anywhere, from the airports of New York, London and Tokyo, to the far reaches of the Arctic Circle or the Pacific Ocean. With support for a variety of different control styles, your experience can be as chill or as technical as you like. Considering how many people have been cooped up during the public health crisis, Microsoft Flight Simulator will be a good stopgap until we can explore the world in person again. — Marshall Honorof 

chorus

(Image credit: Deep Silver)

Chorus (2021) 

As a game about a pilot and her sentient AI starfighter on a mission to destroy the cult that created her, Chorus seems like a weird game. And I’m into it. It's looking very much like a space combat sim set in a dark galaxy (both literally and figuratively), punctuated by moody planets, gas clouds and nebulas. But there appear to be planetside dogfights as well, adding a burst of brightness to the game. Going by the trailer, Chorus looks like a strange blend of Star Wars: Squadrons and Control. I’m hoping that translates into some frenetic aerial battles, mixed with a creepy-but-absorbing story. Add in ray tracing and 60 fps action, and this could be a sleeper hit for the Xbox Series X. — Roland Moore-Colyer  

the gunk

(Image credit: Thunderful Group)

The Gunk (2021) 

The Gunk is a third-person action game from the creators of the SteamWorld series. And, like the SteamWorld series, The Gunk looks stylish, weird and unique. You play as two intergalactic explorers who happen upon a planet infested with — you guessed it — a black gunk that infests everything it touches. The planet holds great riches as well as great dangers. You’ll have to brave dangerous landscapes and confront deadly fauna in your quest for resources. Aside from the colorful, offbeat art style, The Gunk also promises solid gameplay, which will combine shooting, exploration and platforming. Other games have had similar premises before, but sometimes a great execution is all you need. — Marshall Honorof

Halo Infinite

(Image credit: 343 Industries)

Halo Infinite (2021) 

The first next-gen installment in Xbox’s flagship franchise, Halo Infinite has had a pretty rocky ride so far. Originally touted as a launch day release, the tepid reaction to Halo Infinite's unveiling led to a year-long delay. Nevertheless, franchise fans hope that Halo will return to its former glory. If 343 Industries learns from the mistakes of the middling Halo 5: Guardians, Infinite could well be the Xbox Series X’s first killer exclusive. The open-world elements in the campaign seem very reminiscent of the original Halo, and the multiplayer will surely be as addictive as ever. At least some of Halo Infinite's online modes will also be free to play, which should offer a great chance to try before you buy. — Rory Mellon  

psychonauts 2

(Image credit: Double Fine)

Psychonauts 2 (2021) 

We’ve been waiting for a Psychonauts sequel since 2005, but it seems like Psychonauts 2 will finally arrive later this year. This humorous platformer picks up where the first game (and the VR spinoff, Rhombus of Ruin) left off, with protagonist Raz as a member of the titular team. As in the first game, Raz will jump into the minds of various characters, and explore the dark, subconscious corridors therein. Along the way, he’ll learn a variety of platforming and combat skills. The real draw here, though, is the oddball character design and surreal humor that creator Tim Schafer brings to this cult-classic series. — Marshall Honorof

twelve minutes

(Image credit: Annapurna Interactive)

Twelve Minutes (2021) 

An interactive thriller featuring the voice talent of James McAvoy, Daisy Ridley and Willem Dafoe, Twelve Minutes has been gestating for a while now, but is set to finally launch this year. Focused on a man who must relive a traumatic experience over and over again in a time loop, Twelve Minutes is likely to be light on gameplay, but heavy on emotional resonance. Distributed by Annapurna Interactive and launching on Xbox Game Pass, don’t let this unique game get drowned out by the more flashy AAA titles on this list. It could shape up to be one of the year’s most underrated titles. — Rory Mellon 

avowed

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Avowed (TBD) 

If we listed every single thing we know about Avowed, it wouldn’t fill up an entire paragraph. And yet, it’s one of the Xbox Series X’s most anticipated games — and with good reason. This first-person RPG comes from Obsidian Entertainment, the company behind beloved RPGs like Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II and Fallout: New Vegas. More recently, Obsidian developed the Pillars of Eternity series, of which Avowed is either the next entry or a related spinoff. We know that, like Pillars, the game takes place in the fantasy world of Eora, and that players will be able to customize a character with both mundane weapons and magic. Since the first two Pillars games were great, that’s enough to get excited. — Marshall Honorof 

fable

(Image credit: Xbox)

We know virtually nothing about the upcoming Fable. Even so, it’s easily one of the most anticipated Xbox releases at the moment. What we do know is that the game won’t be produced by Lionheart Studios, the company that gave us the first three Fable games, since that company ceased to exist in 2016. Instead, publisher Xbox Games Studios has confirmed that the Playground Games, the creators behind the Forza franchise, will take point. The biggest mystery is whether Fable will be a sequel to 2010’s Fable 3, or a reboot altogether. However, it seems fairly safe to assume that the upcoming release will continue to take place in the lighthearted medieval world of Albion. We can also expect the game to continue the tradition of letting players shape the story through their interactions with the game world. — Denise Primbet 

hellblade 2

(Image credit: Xbox)

Senua's Saga: Hellblade II (TBD) 

Oddly, while Senua's Saga: Hellblade II was one of the first games announced for the Xbox Series X, we have no idea when it will come out. (Tom's Guide initially pegged this as a likely launch title, but time and console launches make fools of us all.) We know surprisingly little about the game overall. We'll once again follow Celtic warrior Senua, this time as she makes her way across a fantasized Iceland. If we had to hazard a guess, she'll probably fight against both mundane and mythological foes, while grappling with the demons inside her own head. At any rate, we're eager to learn more about this one. — Marshall Honorof 

Starfield

(Image credit: Bethesda)

Starfield (TBD) 

Xbox players will soon see the fruits of Microsoft’s $7 billion purchase of Bethesda. Starfield is likely to be the first Xbox Series X-exclusive Bethesda title (on consoles, at least). The first new IP from the legendary RPG maker in over a decade, Starfield is a sci-fi role-playing game that Bethesda first announced in 2018. Since the first teaser aired at that year’s E3, we’ve learned basically nothing else about the game. All we really know is that it’ll be set in space. The void of new information has served only to ignite further hype among gamers, especially those keen to wash away the taste of Bethesda's disappointing Fallout '76. It seems unlikely that Starfield’s release date is just around the corner, but if Bethesda can recapture the magic of Skyrim and Fallout 3, this might be the massive single-player experience that Xbox’s exclusive lineup has been sorely lacking — Rory Mellon