Gears Tactics and Assassin’s Creed Valhalla make the Xbox Series X lineup look better than it did a week ago.
Prior to this week all we knew was that the Xbox Series X was coming sometime in November. The Series S hadn’t even been officially confirmed. Now we know both will come out on November 10 and have a clearer picture of what games they’ll launch with. Neither will have the big, first-party allure of Halo Infinite, which Microsoft announced back in August would be delayed until 2021, but as far as launch lineups historically go it’s looking much more decent:
- Assassin’s Creed Valhalla
- Gears Tactics
- Tetris Effect: Connected
- Yakuza: Like a Dragon
- Destiny 2: Beyond Light
Whatever the real reason behind Assassin’s Creed Valhalla’s release date getting bumped up a week (hey Cyberpunk 2077), it now means someone picking up a Series X at launch will have a big, open world role-playing game to try out on their next-gen console. Microsoft also announced today that the excellent XCOM-like, Gears Tactics, will make its console debut on November 10 as well. It’ll be available on both Xbox One and Series X, and of course is already out on PC. Based on the dozen hours I spent with it on my not great but not terrible PC, it’ll still meaningfully benefit from the next-gen jump where it will run in 4K at 60 FPS.
Tetris Effect, while two years old at this point, is still one of the best Tetris games, and its Connected expansion adding multiplayer is debuting first on the Series X. Yakuza: Like a Dragon is the RPG-spin on the long-running series which came out earlier this year in Japan. It’ll come to PS4 and PC in November as well, but Series X will be its timed-exclusive next-gen launch, now three days ahead of its November 13 release on other platforms.
Then weirdly enough there’s Destiny 2’s next expansion, Beyond Light. Destiny expansions are big, and while not exclusive, this is possibly the closest we’ll ever get to new Xbox hardware launching alongside something new from Bungie. The expansion, normally $55, is also included for free with paid Game Pass subscriptions. And while Bungie hasn’t yet confirmed when they will arrive, the next-gen versions of Destiny 2 will run at 60 FPS, something console players have been desperate for.
This current list is on par with the over 20 games the Xbox One launched with once you include day-one next-gen upgrades for games that will already have come out like Watch Dogs: Legion, NBA 2K21, and Marvel’s Avengers. And whereas Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag had already been out for two weeks when it came to Xbox One and PS4, Series X has the benefit of launching alongside Valhalla.
There’s still no eye-catching if shallow exclusive like Ryse: Son of Rome. Xbox One also came out with a new Forza. It’s still strange that in an era where Microsoft owns more studios than ever, its new Xbox has no first-party exclusives coming out of the gate. Instead, the Series X is relying on good timing and deals with third parties to grease the launch wheels.
I wish Series X also had Spider-Man: Miles Morales but it doesn’t. The closest thing to it is the timed-console exclusive The Medium, but it was conspicuously absent from today’s Series X announcement. It’s currently slated to come out before the end of the year, but who knows what still might get delayed in the weeks and months ahead.