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Nominees for Destructoid's Best Xbox Game of 2021

Brainpower, horsepower, and the power of love

2021 saw quite a few delays and dates move around, and Microsoft weren’t strangers to that. Yet the year for Xbox, both in terms of first-party offerings and in the Game Pass lineup, turned out pretty dang good.

Let’s start with the one question I know everyone in the comments, replies, and more will be asking: where is Halo? While we’ve been enjoying our time with Halo Infinite here, we draw the line for GOTY consideration at December 1, and Halo Infinite missed the cutoff. Much like Super Smash Bros. Ultimate before it, we’ll see Halo from the other side of the new year. I’m sure that will only strengthen its case, as campaign co-op and Forge are both expected to arrive sometime in 2022.

As for the Best Xbox Game of 2021 nominees, let’s start with the exclusives. Forza Horizon 5 practically needs no introduction. It sped onto the scene as the latest in the ever-increasingly popular Horizon line of racing games, and wow, did it impress. Cruising through the different climates of Mexico was a blast, as were the constant challenges and exciting races to compete in. It’s a drop-in, drop-out racing game that fits oh-so-well with the Game Pass model.

On the other side, Psychonauts 2 was a sequel years in the making. And somehow, the folks at Double Fine delivered. It builds on what made the original platformer shine in the first place, while building up its own story with Raz and his Psychonaut pals. Console exclusives Phantasy Star Online 2: New Genesis and Death’s Door also shone on the Xbox.

It Takes Two stands out as an exceptional co-op experience and Game Awards GOTY winner, with the deal made sweeter by its Game Pass Ultimate inclusion. Scarlet Nexus was a surprise debut for a franchise from Bandai Namco, one I’m eager to see more of in the future and that also found a second wind on Game Pass. And finally, Tales of Arise was the breath of life the long-running Tales of series needed.

Here are the nominees for Destructoid’s Best Xbox Game of 2021:

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