It’s fair to say that the console war between Microsoft and Sony has taken on a very different shape to how it originally looked back in the 2000s.
These days, Microsoft’s ecosystem is spreading over more than just Xbox consoles; the company is taking a hybrid approach, focusing on both PC and Xbox and attempting to achieve a degree of parity between the two.
As such, traditional Xbox-only exclusives are generally rare these days; for the most part, Xbox games also launch on PC, and so any analyst still calling for “Xbox exclusives” is lagging behind the times.
Of course, the Xbox Series X/S still needs games, and January 2024 has a few solid-looking titles to offer, even if it is characteristically thinner than the preceding months.
Here are the best Xbox Series X/S games coming in January 2024.
Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown (January 18th)
- Genre: Action-Adventure
It’s been quite some time since the last side-scrolling Prince of Persia adventure, but Ubisoft is about to rectify that with the release of Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown.
Rather than adopting the 3D style of more recent Prince of Persia entries (including the unfairly-maligned 2008 reboot), The Lost Crown is very much returning to basics, albeit retaining the same cinematic cutscene style beloved by newer titles in the series.
In addition, The Lost Crown will apparently take a Metroidvania-adjacent approach to gameplay, allowing protagonist Sargon to backtrack to rooms and puzzles he’s previously encountered in order to tackle them at a later time.
The game will also place an emphasis on combat, so you’ll have to do battle with various enemies and giant boss monsters, as well as humanoid members of a faction known as the Immortals, who constitute your former allies.
This game is being worked on by Rayman studio Ubisoft Montpellier, and if you’ve played those games, you’ll know what a marker of quality that is. It’s safe to get excited about this one, we promise.
Howl (January 23rd)
- Genre: Folktale
Howl’s premise alone should be enough to intrigue you; it concerns a “howling plague” that transforms everyone who hears it into a mindless beast.
The only reason our protagonist has been able to resist the call of the plague is that she’s deaf, which means she can traverse lands blighted by the plague without worrying about being infected.
However, that doesn’t mean she’s immune to the beasts who have succumbed to the plague, of course, and so she must engage in tactical combat in order to put them down as best she can.
As you play, you’ll acquire more abilities to help you outwit your opponents and stay one step ahead of them. It’s all presented in a gorgeous-looking ink style that should be familiar if you’ve played Pentiment (although the two games are very different tonally, of course).
This won’t be a game for those who prefer AAA-level graphics and presentation, but if you’re happy to go along with a promising-looking indie experiment, then Howl is definitely one to add to your radar.
Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney Trilogy (January 25th)
Perhaps one of the best things about Xbox’s platform-agnostic approach is that Xbox One games are often treated with just as much reverence and care as Xbox Series X/S games are.
Such seems to be the case with Capcom’s Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney Trilogy, which follows up the original Ace Attorney Trilogy with three more excellent adventures starring everyone’s favourite lawyer Phoenix Wright.
The star of the show this time around, however, is new boy Apollo Justice, who brings a fierce determination and an ability to spot minute changes in demeanour that help him to reach the truth.
The original Apollo Justice tells a fascinating story involving legendary attorney Phoenix Wright being disbarred, and while the subsequent two games can’t quite match it for narrative quality, they’re both excellent adventures in their own right as well.
If you love visual novels and you can’t get enough of courtroom melodrama, then you should already have Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney Trilogy on your list, but if it’s not, be sure to add it posthaste.
Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth (January 26th)
- Genre: Action
If you’re not already familiar with the Like a Dragon games, Infinite Wealth might make a poor entry point for the series. It might be best to start with 2020’s Yakuza: Like a Dragon, or even to go all the way back to Yakuza 0 to see where the franchise’s narrative began.
In any case, Infinite Wealth will continue the story of Ichiban Kasuga, who took up the protagonist torch from Kazuma Kiryu in Infinite Wealth (and received his blessing into the bargain).
Infinite Wealth will see Kasuga going on the hunt for his mother, who appears to be somewhere in Hawaii. However, he must also help the aforementioned Kiryu deal with a new diagnosis of cancer, which has weakened the Dragon of Dojima significantly.
Combat will once again be turn-based, but otherwise, Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth promises to offer the same mixture of madcap minigames, crazy side stories, and melodramatic narrative for which the series has become celebrated.
Tekken 8 (January 26th)
- Genre: Fighting
Tekken is arguably one of the most consistent fighting game franchises in the history of gaming. It’s hard to think of a single instalment that has been particularly badly received; each Tekken game seems just as loved as the last.
Tekken 8 seems like it will continue that trend, too, if pre-release hype is anything to go by. This fighting game will star plenty of familiar faces, alongside new characters like the Peruvian fighter Azucena.
The fighting engine in Tekken 8 looks characteristically brutal, as we’ve come to expect from Bandai Namco’s excellent series, and there are a host of additional modes and features to help keep everyone happy as well.
If you already love Tekken, you’ll likely find plenty to like here, but this one also looks like it’ll make a solid entry point into the series if you haven’t tried it before.