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Xbox Series S: 5 Essential Day One Games

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So, you've managed to beat the odds, wade through the hoards of scalper bots, and grasp an actual living, breathing, ventilated Xbox Series S? Well, congratulations — you've officially made it into the few percent that have. So what do you do now? You've got all this hardware sitting on your shelf, and you're not entirely sure how to test its capabilities before settling for those Xbox 360 games you had saved in your library four years ago.

Why, you boot up some of the console's highest performing games, of course. You know, games that truly test those features Microsoft promised way back when. That stunning 4K resolution everyone wanted to gawp at; the 120 FPS that kept popping up in pre-launch showcases. It's only natural to exhibit the best of the best when you're gearing up for a new generation, and in our honest opinion — this is exactly where you should start your journey. So, pick up your shiny white, black or embroidered pad, and get to work on installing these absolute marvels. A new era awaits.

5. Assassin's Creed: Valhalla

New 60fps mode for Assassin's Creed Valhalla on Xbox Series S

If you're looking for a quick dip in the Xbox Series S gene pool, then Assassin's Creed: Valhalla probably isn't the best route to take. It's long, it's pretty demanding, and it half expects you to walk the length of England over a fifty or sixty hour campaign. But boy, it sure does look beautiful when running off the latest gen specs. And, it annoyingly captivates you so darn well, that you'll end up merrily plodding that map just for the sake of seeing all there is to see. And then back again.

It doesn't matter if your ransacking a monastery for supplies or trickling down a river in your longboat, because the point is, everything you do looks incredible. And, with that sweet 1080P/60 FPS balance, the game really does sparkle on the Series S, without so much as a kink to glide over. So, if you aren't all that bothered about sinking into its lengthy story, then consider joining Eivor just for the tour of one of Ubisoft's most elegant maps of the last decade.


4. Gears 5

Gears 5 Xbox Series X|S Update

Gears of War has been dazzling us with its next-level graphics ever since its debuted back in 2006 on Xbox 360. Since then, nothing has really changed. It still astounds us to see how well Epic Games can truly push the boat out and always conjure top-notch visuals with equally as compelling gameplay scenarios. And honestly, Gears 5 is no different from its past however many entries and spin-offs.

Well, that's actually a lie. Technically, it's far more superior than its predecessors, thanks to a little thing called the raw power of the Xbox Series S. With an impressive 1440P/120 FPS bolstering its already phenomenal package, Gears 5 just about envelopes every nook and cranny of the Series S in the sweetest way imaginable.


3. A Plague Tale: Innocence

A Plague Tale: Innocence - Now optimized for Xbox Series X|S

Asobo's hidden gem, A Plague Tale: Innocence, sadly flew south of the radar after its 2019 launch. And that's heartbreaking, considering it had one of the most compelling narratives of the year, and some pretty mesmerising visuals to back it. But with the likes of Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, Devil May Cry 5, The Division 2 and Kingdom Hearts 3 releasing just shy of its own launch, it sadly missed the moment in the spotlight.

Luckily, its popularity soared after its sequel, A Plague Tale: Requiem, was announced during the E3 2021 showcase, effectively giving it the well-deserved player base at long last. And now, being on Xbox Series S and X with all the visual and technical improvements, as well as being a free title on Game Pass, it's definitely worth slipping into all over again.


2. Microsoft Flight Simulator

Microsoft Flight Simulator - Xbox Series X vs Xbox Series S Graphics Comparison

Microsoft Flight Simulator is hands down one of the most beautiful video games ever created, with oceans of next-level detail poured into its every nook and cranny. And so, you can sort of see why we're happy to nudge it into the limelight as an Xbox Series essential. But just bear in mind that before you master the rules of aviation, you'll first have to wrap your head around the basics. Like, how to release the parking brake, for example.

Once your training is well and truly over the wing, you'll have access to the whole world from the cockpit, with a hangar full of aircrafts and flight paths to guide you. And so, if you're wanting to glide over your house and barrel role over your neighbor's driveway, then be sure to pick this one up. Like I said, it's beautiful. You know, once you get the hang of things.


1. Forza Horizon 5

Forza Horizon 5 - Xbox Series S Gameplay HDR

Forza certainly has made a name for itself over the years — especially in recent months with the stunning Mexican open-world that is Horizon 5. And of course, the franchise has been made even more popular, thanks to the groundbreaking improvements that came bundled with the Series X and S editions.

Running at a stellar 1080P/30 FPS, the latest entry to the Forza domain churns out one of the highest performing racing experiences to date. And while it doesn't quite match the Series X with its true 4K and 60 FPS, it does put up an admirable fight. Plus, the fact it's a freebie on Game Pass just sort of makes it.


So, what did we miss? What games would you ideally play on day one? Let us know over on our socials here or down in the comments below.


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Jord is acting Team Leader at If he isn't blabbering on in his daily listicles, then he's probably out writing fantasy novels or scraping Game Pass of all its slept on indies.