What a year it's been for Xbox, eh? Well, what a six months-or-so in particular. It's been capped off today with the reviews for Halo Infinite, the vast majority of which have been highly positive, and yet somehow it still isn't topping the Metacritic ratings for Xbox in 2021 — a testament to how strong the showing has been this year.
That said, we had to wait until July to get our first major release from Xbox Game Studios of 2021, and it wasn't actually a new release per se, with Microsoft Flight Simulator making the jump from PC to Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S. It subsequently went on to achieve a 90 Metacritic rating - just slightly short of the 91 on PC.
Next was Psychonauts 2, and we all know how good Psychonauts 2 is! We ended up giving it a rare 10/10 score here at Pure Xbox, although the Metacritic rating settled a bit lower at 89 (PC). Head of Xbox Phil Spencer also went on to state that Double Fine's latest title was his Game of the Year for 2021 — high praise indeed!
If you want to include Deathloop, we can. This was a PlayStation 5 timed console exclusive back at launch in September (and it stays that way for an entire year), but due to Microsoft's acquisition of Bethesda, it bizarrely ended up falling under the Xbox Game Studios banner. Xbox can't take credit for it, but the 88 Metascore looks good on paper!
October gave us a PC exclusive in the form of Age of Empires IV, which might have gone somewhat under the radar due to its absence from consoles, but nevertheless drew critical acclaim, landing another impressive Metacritic rating of 81. Here at Pure Xbox, we said it "reminds us why we fell in love with the RTS genre".
Microsoft arguably saved the biggest two for last in November and December, with the former giving us Forza Horizon 5. To no surprise, the latest entry went on to achieve massively positive review scores — in fact, according to Metacritic, it was the highest-rated Xbox Game Studios title of 2021 with a whopping 92 rating on Series X.
And that brings us to Halo Infinite. Master Chief's latest adventure begins this Wednesday (with the multiplayer already available in beta form), and based on 69 reviews so far, it's sitting on another impressive 87 Metascore for Xbox Series X. It's been a long wait, but 343 Industries has definitely rewarded our patience.
What a year for Xbox. What a year for Game Pass. And the best bit — there's so much more to look forward to in 2022. Phil Spencer and his team will surely be doing everything they can to surpass this year's accomplishments, but for the time being, we think everyone involved in Xbox Game Studios deserves a big pat on the back this Christmas.
How would you grade Xbox Game Studios' output in 2021? Let us know down in the poll below.