Xbox Series X|S: Every optimised day one release

By Luke Albigés,
Looking for something to show off your new console? Here's a rundown of every 'Optimised for Series X|S' title available as of today, along with a quick note on what to expect in terms of performance. We've also highlighted which are available through Game Pass, and which utilise Smart Delivery. Note that the 'Wow Factor' ratings are just a loose guideline and a bit of fun, and are not indicative of a game's overall quality, rather how good a showcase these titles will be for the new hardware. With that, let's get stuck in!

ARK: Survival Evolved ~ SuperHeroArt

Ark: Survival Evolved

Xbox Game Pass: YES
Smart Delivery: YES
You have to hand it to the team behind Ark. The game has come a hell of a long way since the choppy, muddy early console versions, and the optimised version is by far the best non-PC iteration to date. It’s not all good news, though, as while it looks better than ever, technical issues are still rife (the screen tearing is the worst we’ve encountered on Series so far), the character creator will still give you nightmares, and Ark is still awful.
Wow Factor: 2/5

Assassin's Creed: Valhalla

Assassin’s Creed Valhalla

Xbox Game Pass: NO
Smart Delivery: YES
Assassin's Creed Valhalla looks fantastic on the Xbox Series X. The improvement over the Xbox One version is astounding. Details are crisp and sharp — practically every strand of Eivor's hair is visible glistening in the sunlight. This clarity is even more impressive given the massive size of the map, as even after sending your raven high into the air, faraway mountains and landmarks are still as clear as ever. And with the boosted power of the Xbox Series X, there's almost no loading time between leaving the raven and returning to Eivor's point of view. Assassin's Creed Valhalla on the Xbox Series X definitely feels like a true next-gen experience.
Wow Factor: 5/5

February patch

Borderlands 3

Xbox Game Pass: NO
Smart Delivery: YES
Art styles like this really benefit from clarity, so the upgrade to 4K60 on Series X certainly does Borderlands 3 a few favours. That said, it’s not that much of a step up, really — the game already offered either 1800p or a targeted 60fps on One X — but it’s nice not to have to choose and instead get slight upgrades on both fronts. You’ll also notice better performance in local multiplayer, which now supports up to four players on one console.
Wow Factor: 3/5

Bright Memory Xbox Series X launch title

Bright Memory

Xbox Game Pass: NO
Smart Delivery: NO
The Falconeer isn’t the only one-man project to launch on Series X|S today, although it is the only one that’s actually finished. Bright Memory is effectively the prologue to Bright Memory Infinite, which is due next year. It’s a pretty slapdash PC port (replete with PC-centric menus, options, and controls) but still looks pretty nice in places, and the fast-paced fusion of FPS and character action games like Devil May Cry is certainly novel. Worth a punt for eight bucks, but don’t expect to be blown away.
Wow Factor: 3/5

Concept Destruction Achievements

Concept Destruction

Xbox Game Pass: NO
Smart Delivery: YES
Well, here’s the first Series X|S optimised quick completion, courtesy of… you guessed it, Ratalaika. Concept Destruction is a game about cardboard cars and that means there’s not much room for detail in the first place, so don’t expect it to look much better than it did on Xbox One. Not one to show off the new hardware, then, but we know all too well that people tend to buy Ratalaika games for a very different reason...
Wow Factor: 1/5

CrossCode

CrossCode

Xbox Game Pass: YES
Smart Delivery: YES
Not every game is going to showcase what Series X|S can do. Although this 16-bit-style action-RPG does get bumped up to 120fps on compatible displays and has its (already minimal) load times slashed, CrossCode's 2D visuals were already pixel-perfect on Xbox One, and performance was never an issue. It’s a decent little game, but most players honestly won’t be able to tell the difference between this and the last-gen version.
Wow Factor: 1/5

Ash Williams in Dead By Daylight

Dead by Daylight

Xbox Game Pass: YES
Smart Delivery: YES
Behaviour Interactive struck gold with this multiplayer horror game after it took off on Twitch, and the views keep pouring in. Said streams are only going to look better from today, with Dead by Daylight's promised revamped visuals now live via the Series X|S version. Things are a lot clearer and smoother, plus being able to get a better grasp of surroundings and threats is welcome indeed. It’s still not exactly a looker but some of that jank works in its favour, kinda like the classic tacky horror movies it riffs on so well.
Wow Factor: 3/5

Devil May Cry 5 Special Edition Achievements

Devil May Cry 5: Special Edition

Xbox Game Pass: NO
Smart Delivery: NO
Considering ray tracing is a big feature of the new hardware, it’s surprising that more games aren’t implementing it. But here, we see why. Turning on ray tracing in this updated version of the sublime DMC5 effectively halves the maximum frame rate, with the best looking mode coming in at 4K30 with it enabled, and the speediest hitting 120fps at a dynamic resolution without it. Impressive as ray tracing can be, responsiveness is king in games like this, so the 4K60 mode with ray tracing off is a pretty nice sweet spot between visuals and performance.
Wow Factor: 4/5

Dirt 5

DIRT 5

Xbox Game Pass: NO
Smart Delivery: YES
There’s no denying that Dirt 5 looks fantastic, but it’s the customisation element that really sets a new benchmark. You’re able to toggle between performance and fidelity modes, or — display permitting — take a resolution hit to crank the game up to 120fps. Responsiveness in this mode will make it the go-to for serious time trial players, although the otherwise superb visuals do lose a lot of their lustre in exchange for fluidity. Good thing you can switch between these modes from the menu whenever you like...
Wow Factor: 4/5

Screenshots

Enlisted

Xbox Game Pass: NO
Smart Delivery: NO
This squad-based WWII MMO shooter from the creators of War Thunder has been causing a bit of a stir on PC for a while and today, Enlisted enters closed beta on PC and Game Preview on Xbox Series X|S. As an early access title, it’ll likely not be your tidiest experience on the new hardware, but it certainly looks the part running at 4K60, and feedback from this wave of testing will help improve the final release.
Wow Factor: 3/5

Evergate Achievements

Evergate

Xbox Game Pass: NO
Smart Delivery: NO
Evergate isn’t actually as close to Ori as you might think from looking at it, although Moon’s game is hands down the stronger of the two when it comes to showing off the digital horsepower of Series X|S. This is cute and enjoyable in its own right, and definitely worth a look, but if you just want to see how good a 2D game can look on the new consoles, simply fire up the Game Pass list and stick Ori and the Will of the Wisps on. Nothing else comes close.
Wow Factor: 2/5

The Falconeer Xbox Series X review

The Falconeer

Xbox Game Pass: NO
Smart Delivery: YES
The Falconeer is an impressive undertaking for a one-man-band developer. Visually, it’s hard to fault the stylised world of The Great Ursee, and it looks fantastic running on the Xbox Series X|S. The third-person aerial combat game features both a 4K 60fps Native mode and an 1800p 120fps Performance mode, although the latter isn’t needed as the game feels fantastic playing at 60fps. As one of the budget Xbox Series X|S launch titles, The Falconeer is definitely one to check out.
Wow Factor: 4/5

Fortnite Xbox Series X|SA

Fortnite

Xbox Game Pass: NO
Smart Delivery: NO
Xbox One X already ran Fortnite at 4K60, so unless you’re upgrading from an earlier model, you’re not going to see much of a difference. That said, if you are coming from Xbox One or One S (or indeed another console, or never having played Fortnite at all… which seems unlikely), you’ll see that Fortnite does look great this sharp and smooth. Load times are a good bit snappier too, so you’ll be able to get back on the Battle Bus that much faster.
Wow Factor: 2/5

Gamescom screens

Forza Horizon 4

Xbox Game Pass: YES
Smart Delivery: YES
It’s astonishing just how clean the image quality is in Horizon 4 on Series X. It’s the same great game, just that much slicker — One X managed to get the game up to 4K but seemingly with a few compromises, as the newer hardware allows for an absolutely flawless picture. Both consoles take a nice chunk out of the previously lengthy load times as well, letting you blink around Britain and get more races in. A damn fine optimisation.
Wow Factor: 5/5

gears 5 most successful xbox games studios title

Gears 5

Xbox Game Pass: YES
Smart Delivery: YES
Microsoft has been pushing the Xbox Series X|S version of Gears 5 hard lately and with good reason. Gears 5 was already a visually impressive game on Xbox One, but The Coalition has pulled off something remarkable with it on Xbox Series X|S. On Series X, the game’s campaign is playable at 4K 60fps, complete with fantastic HDR implementation and ray tracing — the game looks and feels totally different. If you’re more into the multiplayer side of Gears 5, you’re in for a treat there, too. At the cost of resolution, the game can be played at 120fps on both Series X and Series S, which makes for an overall smoother, and more enjoyable multiplayer experience. Gears 5 is arguably the best-looking game on next-gen so far.
Wow Factor: 5/5

Gears Tactics

Gears Tactics

Xbox Game Pass: YES
Smart Delivery: YES
This strategy spin-off might not have the frenetic action of the mainline games, but there’s a level of visual clout that clearly runs in the family. Gears Tactics’ in-engine cutscenes are breathtaking, and the in-game presentation isn’t far behind. Detail is absolutely amazing, and even though there’s no real gameplay benefit to having a turn-based game zip along at 60fps, it does at least help it feel more like a next-gen game. Not that there was any doubt, given how great it looks, but it’s a nice bonus.
Wow Factor: 5/5

GONNER2 Achievements

Gonner2

Xbox Game Pass: YES
Smart Delivery: YES
You didn’t buy a new Xbox to play Gonner2. Nobody ever bought anything to play Gonner2. The garish art style gains next to nothing from the power of Series X|S, and if you want to see how good a 2D game can look, Ori has you more than covered. File along with CrossCode under ‘why did they even bother?’
Wow Factor: 1/5

Grounded Flight

Grounded

Xbox Game Pass: YES
Smart Delivery: YES
The colourful art of Obsidian’s garden-based survival game really pops on Series X|S, and as simple as the visuals might be, they’re exceptionally clean. Performance is also impressive, especially for a Game Preview title. By the time the team loads this up with more content and gets it hooked up with an achievement list, Grounded could be quite the looker. It’s certainly off to a solid start...
Wow Factor: 3/5

KO

King Oddball

Xbox Game Pass: NO
Smart Delivery: YES
And the award for ‘Most Out-There Game to Optimise’ goes to King Oddball, a passable-at-best Angry Birds wannabe from six years ago. It boggles the mind that anyone bothered to update this thing, and given that it looked like a mobile game before (largely because it is one), you’re not going to see anything next-gen from this long-deposed monarch.
Wow Factor: 1/5

Maneater Achievements

Maneater

Xbox Game Pass: NO
Smart Delivery: YES
Maneater is something of a pleasant surprise on Xbox Series X|S. It gets a solid bump up to 4K60, and the stylised visuals mean there’s still room for some new lighting effects as well (with ray tracing coming later as a post-launch patch). All in all, it looks great, just like it did on high-end PCs at launch. The game itself is still as repetitive as ever, mind, but you’re unlikely to find a better-looking shark on Series X right now.
Wow Factor: 4/5

Manifold Garden

Manifold Garden

Xbox Game Pass: NO
Smart Delivery: YES
The minimalist art style of this ingenious puzzle game is unlike anything else on this list, and it benefits immensely from a vivid 4K HDR output. Surreal Escher-esque architecture whizzes around you in Manifold Garden and while it might not have quite have the same impact as seeing something as instantly relatable as a person or a car rendered perfectly, it’s a sensational experience all the same and one that puts the same power to use for very different purposes. Well, it’s still ‘great graphics,’ so not really that different.
Wow Factor: 4/5

nba2k21

NBA 2K21

Xbox Game Pass: NO
Smart Delivery: NO
Typically, games with limited scope such as sports titles are often among the first to really shine on new hardware and sure enough, NBA 2K21 looks the business. The lighting catches every minor imperfection in the court surface, and player models are pretty darn excellent. Even though all of the other sports games skipped launch and will be arriving shortly after, NBA 2K21’s impressive showing gives us hope that they’ll follow suit. Then again, it should look great, weighing in as it does at over 100GB. That’s nearly a third of your Series S’ SSD right there.
Wow Factor: 4/5

No Man's Sky Xbox Series X|S

No Man’s Sky

Xbox Game Pass: YES
Smart Delivery: YES
Another game that has evolved remarkably since launch, No Man’s Sky is almost unrecognisable compared to the game that originally launched on PlayStation 4. The visual jump is pretty massive when stood next to the old versions, and that has knock-on effects for gameplay, too — it’s just that much more engrossing to be exploring an infinite universe when everything looks so much brighter and more alive. How does this game just keep getting better?
Wow Factor: 3/5

Observer: System Redux Achievements

Observer: System Redux

Xbox Game Pass: NO
Smart Delivery: NO
While a lot of these are simply games getting updates for Series X|S, Observer got overhauled. This improved version reads like a next-gen feature checklist, and it’s all impressive — from ray traced lighting to reworked characters and geometry, the technical side of the game now lives up to the creative side at last. Having been remastered with the capabilities of the new consoles in mind, it stands to reason that Observer 2.0 should make for a great game to show them off.
Wow Factor: 4/5

Ori and the Will of the Wisps

Ori and the Will of the Wisps

Xbox Game Pass: YES
Smart Delivery: YES
Moon Studios has worked some kind of ancient magic here. Ori and the Will of the Wisps runs at 6K and supersamples the image to your display size, making for a picture that is sharp enough to cut yourself on. Or, if you’d rather, you can just have regular 4K running at 120fps. Between this technical wizardry and a full suite of HDR options to let you get the picture just right, this is one of the best showcases for the console right now. Sure, it’s not exactly the most demanding game out there, but it is absolutely gorgeous.
Wow Factor: 5/5

Overcooked! All You Can Eat Achievements

Overcooked! All You Can Eat

Xbox Game Pass: NO
Smart Delivery: NO
Okay, so this compilation was a nice surprise, since more Overcooked! is never a bad thing. But let’s be honest, if you’re looking for something to make the Series X flex its graphical muscles, it’s not gonna be this. Minimised loading time does mean maximised time for multiplayer mayhem, though, so this should still be on your shopping list. Just maybe let it simmer on the back burner for now, then you can make your friends throw your new controllers once you’ve broken them in a bit...
Wow Factor: 2/5

Planet Coaster

Planet Coaster

Xbox Game Pass: YES
Smart Delivery: YES
Seeing as it’s releasing today alongside the new hardware, you’d expect the console edition of Planet Coaster to serve as a pretty good litmus test, and it does. Being able to see every last detail in your painstaking white knuckle creations adds a whole new thrill to the process, and even though it’s not hurling polygons and effects around like some of the others things here, it’s hard to see how a game like this could really look or perform a whole lot better.
Wow Factor: 4/5

Heart of Fire

Sea of Thieves

Xbox Game Pass: YES
Smart Delivery: YES
Series X|S gives Rare’s seafaring silliness the love it deserves, and sailing the high seas looks fantastic at 4K60. Everything is just so crisp and clean, with rival vessels lurching onto the horizon far more noticeably thanks to the improved resolution, making them easier to avoid or target as you see fit. After numerous updates, the game itself is in a much better place than it was at launch, and this new lick of next-gen paint is the perfect excuse to revisit Sea of Thieves.
Wow Factor: 4/5

Tetris Effect: Connected Achievements

Tetris Effect: Connected

Xbox Game Pass: YES
Smart Delivery: YES
Yes, it’s possible for a Tetris game to be aesthetically impressive, as you’ll find out for yourself when you launch this new Game Pass addition. Blocks and effects change with each level’s theme, swirling particles and pulsing colours giving your TV’s HDR mode a proper workout as the backdrop and audio react to your play. It’s beautiful and mesmerising — a sensory feast in a way you’d never expect a game like this to be. The perfect puzzler has never looked better.
Wow Factor: 3/5

The Touryst

The Touryst

Xbox Game Pass: YES
Smart Delivery: YES
If you already saw this colourful cartoon caper running on Xbox One X, there’s not really a lot more to see here. The Touryst already looked great, so the enhanced power of Series X|S does little to make the chunky art style shine brighter than it did before. Image quality is undeniably fantastic, and the game is a lot of fun, but as a showcase for what the new hardware can do, this one is going to be pretty far down the list.
Wow Factor: 2/5

Undead Horde Achievements

Undead Horde

Xbox Game Pass: NO
Smart Delivery: YES
The flat-shaded art style of this RTS-cum-RPG means it was never going to make Series X|S break a sweat, but as the title implies, Undead Horde likes to throw around quite a few creatures of the less-than-living kind. Again, no problem for the new consoles, even at 4K and 120 fps. It’s hardly a demanding game, after all, but it’s still pretty impressive to see so much going on at once, so it’s got that going for it.
Wow Factor: 2/5

chaosbane

Warhammer: Chaosbane Slayer Edition

Xbox Game Pass: NO
Smart Delivery: NO
As a port of an 18-month-old Diablo-alike, it’s probably best not to expect especially impressive things from Chaosbane. It’s a middling game anyway and considering even Blizzard’s game doesn’t exactly wow with its visuals, it’d be odd for a pretender to manage where the ruler cannot. You’ll not really get a particularly exciting (or accurate) impression of the new generation from this one.
Wow Factor: 2/5

Watch Dogs: Legion

Watch Dogs: Legion

Xbox Game Pass: NO
Smart Delivery: YES
It might be a mess on Xbox One, but Watch Dogs: Legion really comes into its own on Series X|S. It’s one of the best showcases for hardware ray tracing so far, with amazing real time lighting and reflections that really ramp up the realism of the dystopian London setting. It seems way more stable than the Xbox One version too, although that’s not exactly difficult given how fond that version is of crashing. Turns out Legion’s actually pretty darn good when it works properly...
Wow Factor: 5/5

WRC 9 Achievements

WRC 9 FIA World Rally Championship

Xbox Game Pass: NO
Smart Delivery: YES
While certainly the weakest racer of the lineup on a technical level, the fact that WRC 9 is the only one that still embraces realism (with Dirt fully leaning into arcade-style gameplay) means it’s still going to find a few fans. It looks pretty good, to be fair, but it’s hard to be much more positive than that about it after you’ve seen the likes of Forza Horizon 4 and Dirt 5 hurtling along. Pick it up just to have a realistic racer to play, not to have it blow you away with its graphics.
Wow Factor: 3/5

Yakuza: Like a Dragon

Yakuza: Like a Dragon

Xbox Game Pass: NO
Smart Delivery: YES
Explore Yokohama in this over-the-top adventure with entertaining turn-based battles and a dark, twisted sense of humour. Choose between native 4K at 30fps or 1440p at 60fps on Series X — both look amazing, and you don’t lose too much in terms of image quality if you plump for performance, so that’d be our recommendation. And Sega’s, too, as it’s the default setting. Like a Dragon is comfortably one of the strongest and most impressive X|S launch titles, as we said last week in our review.
Wow Factor: 4/5

Yes, Your Grace Achievements

Yes, Your Grace

Xbox Game Pass: NO
Smart Delivery: YES
Last but not least is… actually, you know what? Yes, Your Grace is least, when it comes to impressing a new console owner on day one, anyway. The basic pixel art doesn’t need the resolution, the slow-paced gameplay doesn’t need the frame rate, and we can’t imagine this thing ever needing to load for more than a few seconds on any modern hardware. It’s meant to be a pretty good game, to be fair, but today is certainly not the day for us to find out.
Wow Factor: 1/5

COMING SOON

Call of Duty Black Ops: Cold War — November 13th
Halo: The Master Chief Collection — November 17th
Mortal Kombat 11 Ultimate — Novermber 17th
Destiny 2: Beyond Light — December 8th
Hitman 3 — January 20th, 2021
The Medium — January 28th, 2021
Cyberpunk 2077 — 2021
Marvel's Avengers — 2021
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt — 2021
Luke Albigés
Written by Luke Albigés
Hey, I'm Luke! I've been playing games since way back in the 8-bit days, and have spent the last 15+ years writing and talking about them professionally for anyone and everyone who would let me. Monster Hunter fanatic, wearer of many fine hats, and always up for a raid.