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PS5 and Xbox Series X — the first games we'll buy on next-gen consoles

PS5 and Xbox Series X — the first games we'll buy on next-gen consoles
(Image credit: Insomniac)

With the PS5 and Xbox Series X on the horizon, next-gen games are going to flood into the world before we can even catch up to our backlogs. But which ones should you buy on the day of and which should you wait on? 

We compiled a list of the first games that we’re going to buy on the PS5 and Xbox Series X. Some of these games are launching in 2021, but they’re key pillars that’ll showcase the capabilities of the next-gen consoles.

These are the first games we’ll buy on PS5 and Xbox Series X.

Cyberpunk 2077

PS5 and Xbox Series X — the first games we'll buy on next-gen consoles

(Image credit: CD Projekt Red)

Cyberpunk 2077 has been overhyped and showcased at almost every major gaming event this year, but that still doesn’t change that this will be one of the best games of the year. CD Projekt RED has proven time and time again that it can develop an incredibly immersive RPG. I spent over 130 hours in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, and I feel like I barely scratched the surface with how many side-quests and activities I left unfinished.

Cyberpunk 2077’s gameplay doesn’t look the most promising, but the role-playing aspect is bound to be impressive. As for the platform, I plan on snagging Cyberpunk 2077 for Xbox Series X to soak up those beautiful ray-traced graphics on arguably the most powerful console launching this holiday season.

— Rami Tabari, staff writer

Halo Infinite

PS5 and Xbox Series X — the first games we'll buy on next-gen consoles

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Yes, Halo Infinite is coming out sometime in 2021, and no, I won’t technically be buying it because it’s coming to Xbox Game Pass, but it is the game I am most excited for that’s launching on the Xbox Series X. We’re finally getting the highly anticipated sequel to the Halo franchise, which will hopefully answer a ton of questions about the state of the universe as well as the state of multiple characters, including Cortana, which we haven’t seen yet.

While Halo Infinite’s trailer was poorly received due to some wonky-looking graphics, the actual gameplay looked fun. The addition of the grappling hook as well as the open-world environment is incredibly exciting. I hope that 343 Industries does the story some justice, as the previous installment, Halo 5: Guardians, felt like a filler episode.

— Rami Tabari, staff writer

Hitman 3

PS5 and Xbox Series X — the first games we'll buy on next-gen consoles

(Image credit: Future)

I’m a huge fan of games with stealth mechanics such as the Dishonored series and A Plague Tale: Innocence. But the stealth game of all stealth games is Hitman, which taps into my inner assassin to take out some of the most notorious, high-profile fictional characters that pose a threat to Agent 47’s sinister clientele. What I love the most about the Hitman series is that it allows gamers to approach one’s objective — ahem, murder — using a number of different tactics, whether you choose to poison your target’s drink or push him over a balcony while no one else is looking. And I am pumped that I get to do all that — and more — with Hitman VR!

My heart already beats out of control a few seconds before surreptitiously taking out my target, so I can’t imagine how much of an adrenaline rush I’d get stepping inside Agent 47’s shoes in the virtual-reality realm. Hitman 3 in VR is expected to hit store shelves in January of 2021. I can’t wait!

— Kimberly Gedeon, staff writer

Little Nightmares 2

PS5 and Xbox Series X — the first games we'll buy on next-gen consoles

(Image credit: Tarsier Studios)

Little Nightmares is an eerie, bizarre game that follows a little hungry girl named Six in a bright yellow raincoat as she navigates her way out of a creepy ship. As Six dodges rotund gluttonous monsters that feast on everything they can get their hands on, including little children, you start to notice the game’s parallels with the popular 2001 Japanese film Spirited Away. 

The unsettling game is suspenseful — and with each step you take, you get closer and closer to the big picture of why Six is attempting to escape this rusty, sinister vessel. Thankfully, Little Nightmares 2 is poised to set sail on February 21. After Hitman, Little Nightmares 2 is the next stealth-like game that I can’t wait to play on next-gen consoles.

— Kimberly Gedeon, staff writer

Bugsnax

PS5 and Xbox Series X — the first games we'll buy on next-gen consoles

(Image credit: Young Horses)

This is not a joke although this game certainly seems like one. I am genuinely excited about playing Bugsnax. But then, who wouldn't be? Your goal in Bugsnax is to catch adorable food animals. They're half bug, they're half snax. 

I would be more skeptical if this didn't come from the creative minds behind the cult classic Octodad, a game in which you play as a clumsy cephalopod convincing the humans around him that he is one of them (although he is very obviously not). This kooky, offbeat humor is the same reason I loved Untitled Goose Game, and I can't help but think that Bugsnax is what we all need at a time when everything (both in gaming and real life) is dark and dreary. 

But also, this song is an absolute banger.

— Phillip Tracy, editor

Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart

PS5 and Xbox Series X — the first games we'll buy on next-gen consoles

(Image credit: Insomniac Games)

Where Bugsnax is a silly, lighthearted indie game, Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart is a frenetic, action-packed flurry of cartoony colors from giants Insomniac Games. I haven't played any of these games before, but what I've seen from the expansive gameplay trailers makes this a Day 1 buy for me. 

Of the next-gen games we've seen so far, Ratchet & Clank looks the most complete. It's also the first (and only) game to properly demonstrate the capabilities of the PS5; In the lengthy 7-minute gameplay trailer, we saw how you could jump from one scene to the next with imperceivable load times. After slogging through The Last of Us 2 (a game I thoroughly enjoyed), the relentless action shown in this clip is exactly what I need next.

Oh, and need I remind you, Marvel's Spider-Man was the most recent AAA release from Insomniac Games.

— Phillip Tracy, editor

Psychonauts 2

PS5 and Xbox Series X — the first games we'll buy on next-gen consoles

(Image credit: Double Fine)

*Old Rose voice* It’s been 84 years. OK, it hasn’t been that long, but it’s been more than 15 years since Double Fine’s cult classic, Psychonauts captivated a younger me. And I been waiting patiently ever since for a true sequel. And now, it seems like I’m finally going to get it. 

Like it’s predecessor, Psychonauts 2 is a third-person platformer that will put us in the shoes of of Raz, now graduated into the role of a titular Psychonaut. Using his psionic powers, he’ll delve into the psyches of others to fight a new evil. I’m hoping that the sequel to Raz’s story is every bit as inventive and charming as the original.

— Sherri L. Smith, editor-in-chief

Horizon Forbidden West

PS5 and Xbox Series X — the first games we'll buy on next-gen consoles

(Image credit: Sony)

When I reviewed Horizon: Zero Dawn for our sister site Tom’s Guide, I was blown away by the story, the world and the gameplay. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the breathtaking graphics as Zero Dawn was the first game to introduce the PS4 Pro in all its 4K goodness. 

That stated, the bar is incredibly high for Aloy in her sophomore effort Horizon Forbidden West. There are so many story beads to pick up. Who exactly is Sylens? What are his motives? And what new secrets and discoveries will our heroine’s journey bring as she travels to what was once the western United States? And more importantly, what new robotic animals will she have to tame?

— Sherri L. Smith, editor-in-chief

Demon’s Souls

PS5 and Xbox Series X — the first games we'll buy on next-gen consoles

(Image credit: Sony Interactive Entertainment)

Demon’s Souls may not have an official release date, but it has essentially guaranteed my purchase of the PS5. Bluepoint Games has the daunting task of re-imagining the seedling which would sprout into the most influential game series of the next decade. But I have complete faith in their ability to do justice to the original. And beyond just being incredibly important to the medium, Demon’s Souls is a masterpiece and easily one of my favorite games of all time.

I’m also highly anticipating the possibility of Bluepoint Games restoring its cut area, The Northern Limit. An incredible YouTube video by Lance McDonald goes over every bit of the mysterious land remaining within the final version of Demon’s Souls, which includes two areas, a new enemy and mysterious assets with currently unknown meaning. In the original, The Northern Limit was inaccessible due to the Archstone that would teleport the player there being broken. I’d love nothing more than for Bluepoint Games to finish FromSoftware’s work.

— Mohammad Tabari, intern

Sackboy: A Big Adventure

PS5 and Xbox Series X — the first games we'll buy on next-gen consoles

(Image credit: Sumo Digital)

I make it no secret that LittleBigPlanet is my favorite game of all time. Not only is it absolutely adorable, but the concept of players having the freedom and tools to express their creativity within a world of cute plushies and Sackthings makes my heart flutter. Sackboy: A Big Adventure doesn’t seem to be influenced by user creativity, but it returns players to the LittleBigPlanet world with a focus on platforming and exploration.

With up to four players, we’ll be able to run, jump and swing around crafted environments which reminds me quite a bit of Super Mario 3D World and Tearaway. Sony utilizing one of their most iconic characters to create an adventure game which could greatly appeal to a younger audience is a fantastic idea, especially since most of their catalog is intended for mature audiences. However, I do wonder why both Sony and Sumo Digital are calling the game “Sackboy,” as Media Molecule intentionally started referring to the character as “Sackthing” in LittleBigPlanet 2 to be more inclusive.

— Mohammad Tabari, intern

Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales

PS5 and Xbox Series X — the first games we'll buy on next-gen consoles

(Image credit: Insomniac Games)

Yes, I know it’s not a full sequel and that’s irritating. But quite frankly I just want more Spider-Man web swinging goodness in my life and a full story arc with Miles Morales makes it all the more appealing. Marvel’s Spider-Man for the PS4 was finally a return to form for the series delivering gameplay that looked and felt fantastic. Plus, I’m just imagining what Insomniac can do with both the power available on the PS5 along with the haptic controls of the PS5 DualSense and the focus on audio enhancements for this generation. 

It may not be as long an experience as I would like it to be, but Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales is the game that perhaps more than any other shown off so far has me sold on how it could possibly deliver on the promise of next-gen consoles, now here’s hoping it delivers.

— Sean Riley, freelance writer

Assassin’s Creed Valhalla

PS5 and Xbox Series X — the first games we'll buy on next-gen consoles

(Image credit: Ubisoft)

I blame this one entirely on my current binging of The Last Kingdom on Netflix, but I am in for a viking-based take on Assassin’s Creed. It helps that I sat out the last installment in the series, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, but with the always on-point visuals of this series, I can only imagine how satisfying the traversal and fighting will look in 4K and hopefully at least close to that 60fps target.

While I have no doubt that I will ultimately run into the same problem I often do with the series and fall victim to the repetition of it all, that doesn’t invalidate the dozens of hours of fun I have before hitting that point. The new setting, new weapons and some interesting looking new minigames have me really looking forward to dipping my toes back into this universe with Assassin’s Creed Valhalla.

— Sean Riley, freelance writer