22 Best Xbox Series X/S Exploration Games


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Not every action game or RPG features exploration, and it’s easy to take it for granted. After all linear platformers and JRPGs all have their place. But if you’re looking for a sprawling adventure on the Xbox Series X/S you’ve come to the right place. So lace up your boots and pack your gear before setting out on our list of the 20 best exploration games on the Xbox Series X/S!

#22 Wild Hearts

Platform: PC February 16, 2023
Release Date: PS5 XSX|S February 17, 2023

Steam | Playstation | Xbox

One of the things that most monster-hunting titles do is give you a vast realm to explore. Why? Because they know that not all monsters would live in the same habitat. Nor would they want to “mingle” with other species because of the fights they’d start.

In Wild Hearts, you’ll have a unique fantasy version of Japan to wander through as you look for the Kemono, monsters that have suddenly gone rabid.

You’ll encounter new Kemono and new areas to battle in as you explore. You can help warp the battlefield to suit your needs using ancient technology! So get into the fight and see where your exploration takes you!

#21 Hogwarts Legacy 

Hogwarts Legacy_20230206022958

Release Date: 10 Feb 2023 | Platform: PC PS5 Xbox Series X|S
(PS4 Xbox One April 4, 2023) Switch (July 25, 2023)
Camera: Third Person
Multiplayer: No
Co-op: (Local: No | Online: No)
Genre: Open World, RPG, Fantasy, Action RPG

Steam | PlayStation | Xbox

Who hasn’t wanted to explore Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry at some point? Whether you’re a casual or diehard fan, reading the books and watching the movies made you wonder what it was like to be a witch or wizard in that school.

Thankfully, Hogwarts Legacy will let you finally answer that question, and the answer is: it’s quite magical.

With free rein of the castle, even the more restricted sections, you’ll carve a path as you make your witch or wizard whatever you want them to be! You can even lead them to places where monsters dwell or Dark Arts can be found.

#20 Final Fantasy XV

Final Fantasy XV

Publisher: Square Enix

Developer: Square Enix Business Division 2

Platform: PC,Xbox One,Xbox Series X/S,PS4,PS5,Stadia

Release Date: November 2016

A JRPG isn’t typically what you think of when you think of a game with open-world style exploration. Sure there’s usually a lot of backtracking and secret doors, but they’re generally pretty linear. Unfortunately Final Fantasy XV only pays lip service to the idea of exploration with some fans criticizing that despite how big the world is, the actual story is confined to only a small part of it. Still, it’s a Final Fantasy game; you’ll be in for a good time, but don’t expect to lose yourself in the game’s world and for that we’ve put it at the 20th spot.

#19 Red Dead Redemption 2

Publisher: Rockstar Games

Developer: Rockstar Games

Platform: PC, Xbox One,Xbox Series X/S,PS4,PS5,Stadia

Release Date: October 2018

If you’re hankering for rootin’, tootin’, and cowboy shootin’ then Red Dead Redemption 2 has got you covered. This wild west themed game takes the open world design Rockstar Games is known for and applies it to the turn of the 20th century. Hit the road on your trusty steed, showdown with rival outlaws and live the exciting life of Arthur Morgan. Purchase of the game includes access to Red Dead Online if you want even more freedom to explore.

#18 Resident Evil 2 (2019)

Publisher: Capcom

Developer: Capcom

Platform: PC, Xbox One,Xbox Series X/S,PS4,PS5

Release Date: January 2019

Resident Evil 2 or at least its remake gets really down into the details of small-scale exploration. While the exploration in this game might not be as broad in scope, exploring contained locales in search of useful tools and clues is a type of exploration. Players will be exploring every nook and cranny of the Raccoon City police station while evading the unstoppable Tyrant. So make sure to look just about everywhere, you never know what little trinket or reagent you’ll find that could make all the difference.

#17 Resident Evil Village

Publisher: Capcom

Developer: Capcom

Platform: PC, Xbox One,Xbox Series X/S,PS4,PS5,Stadia

Release Date: May 2021

If the older design of Resident Evil 2 isn’t your style, then you’re in luck because Resident Evil Village came out just last year. Village is a direct sequel to Resident Evil 7 and the latest in the entire franchise. The gameplay is more action than exploration but you’ll still be running around dark and horrific places looking for trinkets, key items, and tidbits of lore hidden within. Just don’t get caught by the giant lady while you’re looking around.

#16 Grand Theft Auto V

Publisher: Rockstar Games

Developer: Rockstar North

Platform: PC, Xbox 360,Xbox One,Xbox Series X/S,PS3,PS4,PS5,Switch

Release Date: September 2013

Grand Theft Auto V has been out for a while, but surprisingly it’s not going to be the oldest game on this list. There’s no denying the staying power GTA5 brought to the franchise, with its huge city map and online play, you’ll find it difficult to run out of things to do. While the map is big, the game’s well-written single player campaign and fun custom game modes overshadow the open world experience of GTA5.

#15 Minecraft

Publisher: Mojang Studios

Developer: Mojang Studios

Platform: PC,Xbox One,Xbox Series X/S,PS3,PS4,PS5,PlayStation Vita,Switch,Android,iOS

Release Date: November 2011

Sharing a release month with Skyrim, Minecraft is all about exploration. In fact on its release that was about all you could do and it continues to be the game’s simplest but most rewarding feature. Minecraft throws you into a world and gives you almost no direction. Your sole job is to harvest, craft, and build at your leisure. Sure there’s enemies and a plot (kind of), but why bother with that when you can build an amazing snow-covered castle or jungle treehouse?

#14 The Witcher 3

Publisher: CD Projekt

Developer: CD Projekt Red

Platform: PC,Xbox One,Xbox Series X/S,PS4,PS5,Switch

Release Date: May 2015

Now technically speaking The Witcher 3 isn’t out yet for the Xbox Series X/S, but a next gen port is expected to release sometime soon. Of course CD Projekt Red has been saying that for a while and after multiple delays it’s presumptuous to give any kind of speculation on when it will come out. But nevertheless when it does, The Witcher 3 will scratch that open-world action combat itch the way no other game can (except maybe Elden Ring). Take on the mantle of Geralt of Rivia and put monsters and magical beasties to the sword, all the while exploring an open fantasy world laden with secrets and lore.

#13 Monster Hunter: World

Publisher: Capcom

Developer: Capcom

Platform: PC,Xbox One,Xbox Series X/S,PS4,PS5

Release Date: January 2018

Monster Hunter: World might be stretching the definition of an “exploration game”; but there’s no denying there’s a lot to see. Maps are pre-defined and contained, there’s no real open world exploring here. But you’re free to roam around and look for hidden niches and crevices where you may find some rare materials. Even though the exploration factor of this game is limited, it gets a spot on this list for its immersive environs and gathering locations.

#12 Fallout 4

Publisher: Bethesda Softworks

Developer: Bethesda Game Studios

Platform: PC,Xbox One,Xbox Series X/S,PS4,PS5

Release Date: November 2015

If you liked Skyrim you’ll probably like Fallout 4 since both franchises are owned by Bethesda and are developed with a similar design philosophy. Take to the irradiated streets around and in the city of Boston, meet a colorful cast of voiced NPCs with quests. Feel free to get lost in the side quests, like any Bethesda game worthy of the name there are plenty of exploratory diversions for you. Just don’t forget to come back to the main storyline before you’re too over-geared.

#11 Far Cry 6

Publisher: Ubisoft

Developer: Ubisoft Toronto

Platform: PC,Xbox One,Xbox Series X/S,PS4,PS5,Stadia

Release Date: October 2021

Take a vacation to the fictional Carribean state of Yara. There’s plenty of time to enjoy the sights when you’re not being shot at. While a fictionalized nation that’s otherwise in the real world is far from the most fantastical of locales on this list, Far Cry 6 is one of the few games on it to be a First Person Shooter (FPS). So not only will you get free reign of the game’s open world map, but you’ll get it from the immersive first person perspective. Take on the mantle of Dani, a revolutionary soldier fighting the evil regime of “El Presidente” Castillo.

#10 Assassin’s Creed Odyssey

Publisher: Ubisoft

Developer: Ubisoft Quebec

Platform: PC,Xbox One,Xbox Series X/S,PS4,PS5,Switch,Stadia

Release Date: October 2018

Let’s go ahead and knockout two Ubisoft games in a row. If a Carribean dictatorship in decline isn’t your fancy, then how about ancient Greece? Explore the meadows and hills of Greece, collect materials to upgrade your gear, and take the fight to the Cult of Kosmos in this thrilling entry to the Assassin’s Creed franchise.

#9 Tom Clancy’s The Division 2

The Division 2

Publisher: Ubisoft

Developer: Massive Entertainment

Platform: PC,Xbox One,Xbox Series X/S,PS4,PS5,Stadia

Release Date: March 2019

Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 thrusts players into a hostile Washington D.C. in the wake of a deadly attack. Players take on the role of Division members, sleeper agents who have been activated after the attack on the U.S. capitol. Explore D.C. as it burns and try and bring some manner of stability to the country. There’s hidden bosses, loot, and other players to go out and find.

#8 Exo One

Publisher: Future Friends Games

Developer: Expleative

Platform: PC, Xbox One,Xbox Series X/S,PS4,PS5

Release Date: November 2021

Exo One is a game that might have slipped through your radar. Though that might be the point. The entire game is played through the perspective of a disc-like alien space craft and you’re set about to explore the cosmos on a “gravity-defying journey through space and time”. This is one of the more relaxed and atmospheric titles on the list. If taking the helm of a space craft and taking it easy isn’t your idea of a good time then maybe something more action-packed is your speed.

#7 Forza Horizon 5

Publisher: Xbox Game Studios

Developer: Playground Games

Platform: PC, Xbox One,Xbox Series X/S

Release Date: November 2021

Let’s be honest, who was expecting a racing game here? Normally you’re confined to a menu, or at best there’s a little hub to scoot around (Diddy Kong Racing anyone?). But Forza Horizon 5 takes it to the next level and at the same time forces you to realize just how much sense it makes. The speed, the jumps, why wasn’t there a racing game with such an open world before? The closest we’ve ever really come was goofing around in Grand Theft Auto but now it seems like Forza’s gotten the hint.

#6 No Man’s Sky

Publisher: Xbox Game Studios

Developer: Playground Games

Platform: PC, Xbox One,Xbox Series X/S,PS4,PS5,Switch

Release Date: August 2016

No Man’s Sky has a come a long way and has basically touted itself as “the” exploration focused game. A procedurally generated shared universe with endless possibilities. But on launch, it turns out Playground Games had made promises it couldn’t keep. But they managed to pull off one of the rare success stories where developers say they’ll go back and fix a game, and then actually do it! No Man’s Sky is now one of the most immersive and expansive exploration games out there today.

#5 The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Publisher: Bethesda Softworks

Developer: Bethesda Game Studios

Platform: PC, Xbox 360,Xbox One,Xbox Series X/S,PS3,PS4,PS5,Switch

Release Date: November 2011

Special Edition, Anniversary Edition, VR, or just plain old Skyrim. Todd Howard has been taking our money for the same game for over a decade and we’ve been happy to oblige thus far. Take to the wilderness of Skyrim as the Dovahkiin and bring peace (or what passes for peace in Tamriel) to the land. In this open world adventure the sky’s the limit and The Elder Scrolls franchise is notorious for allowing players to get off track with its sidequests, NPCs, and sheer amount of caves and bandit camps to frolic through. Though if you’re not wanting to buy an 11 year old game, take heart because the sixth installment of the franchise should be coming.

#4 Outer Wilds

Publisher: Annapurna Interactive

Developer: Mobius Digital

Platform: PC, Xbox One,Xbox Series X/S,PS4,PS5

Release Date: May 2019

I hope you like exploring because the fate of the planet, nay the solar system depends on it. In Outer Wilds you’re an unnamed alien astronaut who thanks to a special artifact (not an ocarina) is able to relive the last 22 minutes before the sun goes supernova. Exploring, talking to NPCs, and reading clues only to relive your life and put your new knowledge to use is the entire gameplay loop of Outer Wilds, so rest assured plenty of thought was put into keeping players engaged in the world and finding everything there is to find.

#3 Subnautica: Below Zero

Publisher: Unknown Worlds Entertainment

Developer: Unknown Worlds Entertainment

Platform: PC, Xbox One,Xbox Series X/S,PS4,PS5

Release Date: May 2021

Thalassophobia is a fear of deep bodies of water and what might lurk within, so in good conscience we should preface with saying this game should be avoided by those who experience it. But, if having an entire ocean as your exploratory playground is what you’re after, then you’re in the right place. Subnautica takes the survival game formula and lets you build a Sealab style base in the ocean. All the while you need to watch out for sharks, whales, and other nautical leviathans who will swallow you whole. The ocean is a scary place, and only the braves should seek to chart it.

#2 Sea of Thieves

Publisher: Xbox Games Studio

Developer: Rare

Platform: PC, Xbox One,Xbox Series X/S,

Release Date: March 2018

The map in Sea of Thieves might not seem impressive at a first glance, but almost every island has secrets to uncover and more is being added all the time. Pick up a Tall Tale and journey beneath the Devil’s Roar to discover the secrets of Captain Flameheart, or learn the ins and out of every island to solve treasure maps from the Gold Hoarders, or maybe you’re confident in your sea legs and deep-sea treasure is what you’re after? Say no more as there’s shrines on the ocean floor protected by merfolk. You’re never without something to do on Sea of Thieves and every island you explore can be a new adventure.

#1 Elden Ring

Publisher: BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment

Developer: FromSoftware

Platform: PC, Xbox One,Xbox Series X/S,PS4,PS5

Release Date: February 2022

We’d be remiss not to include Elden Ring on this list. While Dark Souls games are known for their exploration and relatively non-linear map design, Elden Ring takes this design philosophy and turns it to 11 by completely embracing an open world format. There’s dozens of dungeons, caves, mines, and tombs to explore. So many that players may not even see half of them before they finish the game. Roam “The Lands Between” astride the spectral steed Torrent and go where your heart desires. If you do end up somewhere you’re not quite geared enough for… well the game will let you know in true Dark Souls fashion when you get gibbed by a giant raven or other baddie.



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