There is no question about it; there will be an Xbox Series X or Xbox Series S, wrapped up, underneath Christmas trees across the globe this week (if Santa can get his mitts on them).
If you’re one of those lucky enough to get a new Xbox this Christmas, or you’ve already got one but simply can’t bear parting with your beloved console during the festive period, then you’ll likely be wondering which top Xbox Series X/S games to play on the big day that the whole family can get on board with. Christmas is the perfect time to show off your majestic new toy and surely grandma can’t be mad at you when she sees how smooth Gears 5’s multiplayer is, right? Before you know it, she’ll be racing through Mexico in Forza Horizon 5, forgetting all about how icy it is outside.
From cinematic experiences to party fun, there are plenty of ways to utilize the Series X this Christmas to impress and entertain everyone. We’ve compiled a fool-proof list below.
(Image credit: Microsoft)
We’ll get this out the way right off the bat. It’s Xbox’s biggest name, it revitalized the FPS for the 2000s, and, well, it’s just one of the most iconic franchises of all time. Halo is shooting perfection and the latest installment proves that, 20 years after the first game, it’s still got it. Halo Infinite will be the toast of the party, we guarantee that.
Master Chief returns with a new mission, luscious new locations, a new enemy (the Banished) and new allies. Despite the new story, though, Halo fans will find themselves on familiar ground; bringing down aliens with an assortment of weapons. How else would you want to spend Christmas?
It’s worth noting that, right now, the campaign is single-player only, with split-screen couch co-op arriving at a later date. If there’s a group of you, however, there are more options than just the campaign. The standalone multiplayer has a great selection of detailed and spacious maps, that can host up to 24 players – though you will need to play online.
Even if you’re on your own this Christmas, you can still party with the gang like it’s 2001.
Forza Horizon 5
(Image credit: Microsoft)
Ain’t no party like a Forza party.
From the opening scene, when your car drops from a plane with a parachute, you know you’re in for something great. There are few games quite as beautiful as Forza Horizon 5, which has moved from the previous game’s UK setting to a luscious Mexico.
The cinematic set pieces include escaping an erupting volcano, and plenty more nail-biting near-misses. And the scenery is so beautiful that you’ll want to stop driving to admire the sunset.
You won’t be able to take your eyes off it. Just don’t let the Christmas spread go cold. Seriously, if you want to showcase the Series X’s power to your loved ones this Christmas, you won’t do better than Forza.
Like Halo Infinite, Forza Horizon 5 has online multiplayer (but no split-screen couch co-op). You’ll need to complete the first section of the game to unlock it though, so do this before the party if you want to let your friends or relatives loose on online players. Multiplayer has plenty of modes, including Arcade, Tour and Eliminator. You won’t get bored.
(Image credit: The Coalition)
Not one to play with the little ones around, but you can’t go wrong with Gears at a party. In the later hours, maybe.
Set just months after Gears 4, Gears 5 focuses on Kait Diaz (voiced by the incredible Laura Bailey), as she further investigates the Myrah, the Horde, and her own history.
Gears 5 was originally released for Xbox One in 2019, but the Series X optimization makes for a stunning game. The multiplayer, too, running at 120fps and 4K, on Xbox Series X is a sight to behold. Either through split-screen or online co-op, tearing through the Locust Horde has never been more fun.
What’s great about Gears 5’s arcade multiplayer, is that you’re awarded a skull whenever you die. So, if you’re that casual gamer at the Christmas party who keeps dying, at least you’ll have a morbid reminder of that.
It Takes Two
(Image credit: Electronic Arts)
Now for a more family-friendly co-op.
This colorful platformer tells the story of a young girl trying to save her parents’ marriage. After accidentally turning her folks into dolls, the player takes control of the couple. They traverse their (now giant) house, coming across old memories brought magically to life.
It’s a light-hearted Christmas treat. So if you’ve just finished watching Nativity with the kids, and don’t know where to go next – It Takes Two is a great shout.
What makes this a great party game, is that it’s only playable via two-player couch co-op – so you have to work together. If you’re playing with a group, you can pass the controllers around to give everyone a go, or perhaps it’s just two of you this Christmas. In which case, it’s perfect.
(Image credit: Annapurna Interactive)
We’re finishing with something a little different. Twelve Minutes isn’t exactly cinematic multiplayer action of the previous entries, but we’ve found that it’s great to play together.
If your group enjoys playing Cluedo, or watching murder mysteries, then this is the game to play this Christmas.
Twelve Minutes, a top-down point-and-click, is set inside a small apartment suite. A crime has taken place, and the player must solve it. Taking control of one of the characters, you must explore the apartment to find clues. One hitch though; there is a time loop. You have to repeatedly play through the same ten minutes, over and over.
It’s an original and ingenious concept, and with the voices of James McAvoy, Daisey Ridley, and Willem Dafoe, it’s hard to go wrong.
- Best Xbox Series X games: essential titles you need to play