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10 Xbox Series X Exclusive Games To Be Excited For In 2021

Though they’ve long contended for second place in the so-called console wars when it comes to exclusive games and have never been able to bridge the gap between PlayStation and themselves. They’ve literally written a lot of cheques to get back within firing range but now that they are, it’s time to let the software finally do the talking. Of course, Game Pass offers incredible value but so much of that value comes from the subscription offering brand-new first-party titles day and date.

Until now, there’s been little to crow about. There have been pleasant surprises such as Grounded and Microsoft Flight Simulator for Game Pass on PC, and Sea of Thieves has managed to lock in a devoted little fanbase, but the service, and platform in general, have long suffered from an unfortunate lack of heavy-hitting software.

After placing their money into smart studios and after several surprising acquisitions in recent years, I can’t think of a better time for Xbox to stamp their claim on this generation and, while we’re not expecting to see the likes of Forza Motorsport, Fable or Everwild this year, I think they might still have the games to do it.

The Medium

Release: January 28
Platform: Xbox Series X/S, PC

Bloober Team are no strangers to horror. In fact, their back catalogue speaks to a history of creating creepy, disturbing psychological horror titles to wreak havoc on human perception. So when the distinguished developer says that their new game, The Medium, is so ambitious it’s only possible on the new generation of consoles, I think that’s something to be excited about.

An eerie, interdimensional drifting adventure, The Medium lets the player roam two separate instances of an abandoned hotel at once in an effort to uncover the mysteries of what happened there. With a dual soundtrack, composed in tandem with Silent Hill alum Akira Yamaoka, my hopes are certainly high for The Medium.

Echo Generation

Release: 2021
Platform: Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, PC

It almost feels as though pixel art has made way for voxel art in the past year, with titles like Riverbond, Cloudpunk and The Touryst proving a lot of gorgeous, breathtaking worlds could be forged with a unique art style. Echo Generation takes the stripped-back, lite-role-playing aspects of the South Park games, both Stick of Truth and The Fractured But Whole, and mashes it together with a Stranger Things-inspired aesthetic that must toe the line of copyright infringement.

The main character is a spitting image for Dustin, if you ask me.

Echo Generation doesn’t shy from its roots and inspirations, giving off considerable Earthbound vibes, it certainly looks as though it’ll be one of the year’s surprisingly wholesome gems.

Scorn

Release: 2021
Platform: Xbox Series X/S, PC

As one who is fascinated by the artwork of H.R. Giger, whose work most notably inspired the design and direction of the Alien films, Scorn’s approach to its organic world where everything, from the walls to the guns themselves, writhe in a disconcerting fashion is setting this sci-fi shooter up to be an atmospheric romp through a nightmarish dreamscape.

Full of puzzles and unsettling imagery, I expect Scorn to be a difficult title to stomach for those unprepared for Giger’s particular brand of biomechanical flair.

The Ascent

Release: 2021
Platform: Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One PC

The Ascent is the debut title from Neon Giant, a small indie team made up of Bulletstorm, Gears of War, Wolfenstein and Doom alumni. They were the recipient of an Epic Games developer grant to craft their first title, which is set to be an action RPG set in a brand new cyberpunk world.

It’s a twin stick shooter at heart and it’s got everything you’d expect from a game within the genre: it’s got loot, customisable characters, as well as cybernetic augmentations to play with and carve out an experience unique to you.

CrossfireX

Release: 2021
Platform: Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One

Although Crossfire is a pre-existing multiplayer shooter from Chinese developer Smilegate, this particular iteration packages in a single-player campaign, crafted by Alan Wake and Control developer Remedy Entertainment. It depicts a futuristic conflict between warring factions Black List and Global Risk.

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It looks completely bonkers and clearly has a bit of Remedy flavour to it, elevating it from a fairly run of the mill military shooter to a quirky, sci-fi adventure. We got a first-hand look at the game’s campaign a while back, so click here to read that.

CrossfireX Campaign Preview – Remedy’s Signature Style Shines In A First-Person Shooter

Microsoft Flight Simulator

Release: 2021
Platform: Xbox Series X/S

Microsoft Flight Simulator proved to be a perfect means of escapism in a year where travel and tourism was literally grounded. In his review, Shannon received it very favourably and we’re excited to see how the game translates over to the Xbox Series X.

Said to be coming in America’s “Summer”, we’re obviously expecting the game somewhere in the first half of the year, so with any luck we’re not waiting too long before we can take to the skies once again and, to use a Steve Miller Band-ism, fly like an eagle.

Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II

Release: TBC
Platform: Xbox Series X/S, PC

Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice helped cement Ninja Theory as a powerhouse of indie development. Not only was the game a tight, action-adventure and its story a powerful, gripping tale which placed a spotlight over mental health and how it’s perceived by the general public, but Ninja Theory’s efficient approach to performance capture placed them on everybody’s radar.

Following their acquisition by Microsoft, we’re hopeful that Ninja Theory now have an even greater well of funding to pull from and make the follow-up to Senua’s Sacrifice an even more ambitious experience. Although it’s impossible to know how far away it is, we’re hopeful for a late 2021 release.

The Gunk

Release: September 2021
Platform: Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One and PC

From the creators of Steamworld comes The Gunk, a third-person action-adventure game which places you in the boots of a duo of space explorers who happen upon a gorgeously alien planet, rich with life, foreign flora and resources to gather up and take with them.

It’s when they discover the planet is being corrupted by parasitic gunk that the decision is made to save the world. It looks like a bit of fun and is likely to be yet another of Microsoft’s first-party stables that drifts under the radar, but if The Gunk is half as fun and original as Steamworld, we’re in for a treat.

S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2

Release: 2021
Platform: Xbox Series X/S, PC

Although it’s only a console launch exclusive and is therefore bound for other consoles eventually, S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2’s development has been so drawn out and exhaustive, I’d expect people will snatch up consoles to get their hands on it day one; especially with it being available on Game Pass.

Much like its predecessor, the game promises an ominous atmosphere as well as a sense of doom that hangs over every step through this ravaged land. It’s well documented that the Metro games spun-off from S.T.A.L.K.E.R. when the original developer dissolved, but you’re looking at the follow-up to Metro’s grandfather here and it looks damn good.

Halo Infinite

Release: 2021
Platform: Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, PC

One of the biggest blows to the Xbox Series X launch had to be the delay of Halo Infinite, although it’ll likely prove for the best. Had it been pushed out unfinished and as rough around the edges as we’d seen, it could have dealt a blow that even Master Chief couldn’t recover from.

There’s a lot of romance in Halo’s delay, however. It led to the return of Joseph Staten to the franchise to help get it to the finish line and it means that this spiritual rebirth for Halo will now launch in an anniversary year for Combat Evolved, the game where it all began.

With the likes of Perfect Dark and Fable still over the horizon and the other games on this list not having the same gravity, Halo Infinite is the big tentpole win that Microsoft has been needing.

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