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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 (July 27, 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 (December 3, 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 (December 16, 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 (December 8, 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 (August 25, 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 (August 19, 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 

Marshall Honorof is a senior editor for Tom's Guide, overseeing the site's coverage of gaming hardware and software. He comes from a science writing background, having studied paleomammalogy, biological anthropology, and the history of science and technology. After hours, you can find him practicing taekwondo or doing deep dives on classic sci-fi.