• Microsoft’s catalog of games for the Xbox Series X and S includes some incredibly challenging titles that push players to their limits.
  • Games like Psychonauts 2, Sea of Thieves, Ori and the Will of the Wisps, Gears Tactics, and Halo Infinite offer difficult gameplay and bosses.
  • Grounded stands out as the most brutal title, with intense survival mechanics and a gradually increasing difficulty system.

After acquiring a bulk of video game studios during the eighth generation of consoles, Microsoft has been able to publish some amazing titles during the current era of the Xbox Series X and S, spanning across a plethora of different genres. With such a massive catalog of games in their arsenal, though, it’s only inevitable that at least a few are going to end up being extremely difficult, and for many titles, it’s this unforgiving challenge that has made them so beloved by fans.


The 29 Hardest FPS Games Ever Made, Ranked

First-person shooters are a tough genre to get into if someone has never played them before. Some get so hard that they are nearly impossible.

Whether it’s by design, or simply due to clunky mechanics and gameplay decisions, Microsoft has put out some pretty difficult titles so far for the Series X and S, but which is truly considered to be the most challenging of them all? Anyone who’s looking to sink their teeth into a new game that will push them to the limit of their abilities has a range of options to choose from thanks to Microsoft.

Microsoft goes by the name “Xbox Game Studios” as a publisher, so it is their games that will be counted on this list.

6 Psychonauts 2

GameFAQs Difficulty Rating: 2.91

Raz jumping over multicoloured lasers in a green world

Psychonauts 2
August 25, 2021


After a long and arduous sixteen-year wait, fans of the weird and wonderful Psychonauts finally got to jump back into Raz’s shoes once again for another psychological adventure, and thankfully, it carried over a lot of the challenge that the first game was well-known for. While Raz does have several powers that can help him out in encounters and platforming sections, players will need to make use of every single one in order to make it through the thirteen unique levels in one piece.

Psychonauts 2 also contains quite a few difficulty spikes in the form of bosses, especially Die-Brarian and the Gluttonous Goats, who were especially annoying for a lot of players. As a way to lessen the difficulty in case gamers are having a hard time, the game does feature an Invincibility Mode, which can be toggled to make some of the trickier sections a lot easier, but without this enabled, the game provides a fairly challenging but ultimately manageable experience overall.

5 Sea Of Thieves

GameFAQs Difficulty Rating: 2.96

Two pirates in Sea of Thieves with a ship in the background

Sea of Thieves
March 20, 2018


While Sea of Thieves is admittedly a lot easier when playing with friends, the solo experience can be incredibly challenging, especially because of how relentless the enemies can be. When traveling between islands, it’s all too easy to be bombarded by a Skeleton Ship or even a deadly Kraken, who can make quick work of the player’s health bar if they aren’t careful. In an attempt to be as immersive as possible, the game heavily encourages players to always keep a lookout for any oncoming ships or obstacles that might obstruct their journey, but this can be hard for a single person to manage when there are so many other duties on the ship that need attending to.

The game can also become very grind-heavy if the player wants to try and earn some valuable loot from the tougher enemies, and while this does add a nice risk and reward element to the gameplay, it can be agonizingly hard at times when trying to take down a Behemoth. Sea of Thieves is still a lot of fun when playing in co-op, but the game’s design doesn’t overly suit a single-player experience.

4 Ori And The Will Of The Wisps

GameFAQs Difficulty Rating: 3.24

Giant wolf howling with Or in the background

Ori and the Will of the Wisps
March 11, 2020

Moon Studios

Platformer , Adventure

After the extremely successful Ori and the Blind Forest blew players away with its gorgeous visuals and heartfelt story, fans were overjoyed to jump into the sequel, which dropped for the Xbox Series S and X in 2020. While the game managed to retain the endless charm that made the first so enjoyable, one stark difference a lot of people noticed was the difficulty being ramped up considerably from its predecessor, especially in the first few hours when Ori must take on multiple enemies without any skills.

Speaking of the skills, while they definitely make Ori and the Will of the Wisps a lot more manageable and fun, there are some that are clearly more powerful than others, such as the Spirit Smash, for example, and the Triple Jump. If players ignore these skills, the game’s platforming and combat sections become much more difficult, so there’s definitely no shame in getting up a handy guide to ensure nothing goes wrong during a playthrough.

3 Gears Tactics

GameFAQs Difficulty Rating: 3.29

Over the top gameplay of Gears Tactics

Gears Tactics
April 28, 2020

Turn-Based Strategy

Rather than being a fast-paced third-person shooter like every other game in the series, Gears Tactics is instead a top-down turn-based action game that provides a breath of fresh air for many longtime fans. The game doesn’t shake up the turn-based tactics genre in any meaningful ways, but it does feature some pretty brutal mechanics that make the core gameplay very difficult, especially the addition of permadeath.

Aside from the main cast of COG characters, players can also control other friendly units who will often come with their own unique skills and benefits to the team, but if any of them take too many shots, they won’t just go down; they’ll be dead for the rest of the game. Additionally, the game features some frankly absurd boss battles, with an infamous example being the Corpser in Act 2 who blocked a lot of players from progressing through the rest of the game.

2 Halo Infinite

GameFAQs Difficulty Rating: 3.37

Master Chief standing in front of a Warthog

Halo Infinite
December 8, 2021

First-Person Shooter

Halo Infinite may have been met with a lot of skepticism leading up to its release, but once fans were finally able to jump into the open world for themselves, many found it to actually be a lot of fun, especially thanks to how varied the sandbox was and the addition of the grappling hook. While Chief had a few new tricks up his sleeve, the Covenant also felt far more dangerous and clever this time around, with many of them, even the Grunts, being much more durable and aggressive in their behavior.


6 Hardest PS4 Games Published By Sony, Ranked

Sony experienced a true boom period during the PlayStation 4, publishing plenty of fun, but also very challenging titles for the console.

There were also a few small tweaks to the core gameplay that made a massive impact on the actual difficulty, one of the most noticeable being the auto-aim, which is more or less non-existent in Infinite. The much faster pace of the gunfights can also be incredibly hard to keep up with at times, with the game being a real challenge for longtime fans and a downright brutal experience for some newcomers.

1 Grounded

GameFAQs Difficulty Rating: 3.71

Small boy holding a spear with a large grasshopper in the background

September 27, 2022
Survival Horror , RPG

On the surface, Grounded can seem like a relatively casual survival game that anyone can enjoy, no matter their prior experience with the genre, but its colorful and vibrant aesthetic conceals the game’s extremely challenging and intense difficulty. After being shrunk down to the size of an ant, players must do everything they can to survive in a back garden that’s packed full of dangerous creatures, all while keeping a close eye on their health, hunger, and thirst meters, which will drop at an alarming rate.

The game also features a pretty unforgiving built-in difficulty system where the challenge gradually rises the more that the player explores, meaning that there’s never any way of becoming overpowered or even remotely strong, considering that the enemies are always one step ahead. While Grounded slipped under the radar for many people, survival buffs should still give it a shot, as it’s, without a doubt, the most brutal title Microsoft has come out with for their most recent consoles.

MORE: Hardest Xbox RPGs, Ranked


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