2015 was often touted by Xbox as the “greatest games lineup” in the company’s history, but truth be told I found very little to be excited about on the exclusive front. That’s not to say I didn’t use my Xbox One, as that’s where I spent a majority of time, I just did so with cross-platform releases.
Unfortunately 2016 appears to be no different.
There’s plenty for Xbox loyalists to be excited about, like Halo Wars 2, Fable Legends, and Cuphead, but none of that really speaks to me. I’m not big in to the RTS genre, so Halo Wars 2 is a bust. I thought Fable Legends was a total snoozefest during my time with the beta, and while Cuphead looks incredible, I’m just not a fan of masochistic platformers. I’m sure it’ll be a great game, and I’m happy for fans of that sort of thing, it’s just not for me. Neither is the expected Forza release this year.
Rare’s Sea of Thieves is intriguing, but so far we’ve seen very little outside of its E3 reveal. It’s also a game I can see sliding off in to 2017, since Microsoft will be using Gears of War as their big holiday title this year. There’s no reason to push out more than consumers can buy, after all. A game that looks like a Pixar film and plays like DayZ with pirates, though? I’m curious.
2016 will no doubt see the release of interesting indie titles, like Aurora 44’s open-world survival RPG, Ashen. Featuring muted cel-shaded graphics, an open world to explore, and a bit of a silent, random co-op mode, Ashen has a Dark Souls-meets-Journey vibe going on. It was one of my favorite reveals last year, but even the developer’s website is devoid of any new information. Like Sea of Thieves, it’s been relatively quiet since its reveal at E3 last June.
Gigantic is another Xbox One exclusive that I just couldn’t be more unexcited for. MOBAs aren’t for me, and my friends that played the beta had nothing positive to say about it aside from its decent visuals. Developer Motiga has an uphill battle to climb in the MOBA market, with Smite already capturing the Xbox One fanbase with a quality product. I wish them the best of luck (of course), but I’m not very optimistic about this one.
Capy’s Super Time Force was excellent, but their upcoming roguelike RPG Below isn’t grabbing me just yet. It looks great (visually), don’t get me wrong, I just haven’t been in the mood for a roguelike in a long while. All I know is that it’s a retro styled top-down roguelike, and the idea of starting over every time I die isn’t appealing. Perhaps the reviews will sway my opinion?
During the Xbox One’s launch window, I enjoyed my time with Killer Instinct, but found the lack of single-player content disappointing. I’m not much of a competitive gamer, so that was reason enough to avoid committing to its 2nd season when Iron Galaxy took over. I understand they’ve been adding to the game ever since, which is a plus. I reinstalled it a few times to check out some of the new roster additions (while they were free trials), I just didn’t care enough to buy in to it again.
Maybe I’ll change my mind with season 3 this Spring, since they’ll be adding in cameos from Battletoads (Joanna Dark wouldn’t be out of place either), but this isn’t one I consider a must have.
I’m really not trying to take a dump on this year’s Xbox One lineup, they’re just releasing a lot of exclusives I don’t have much interest in. There’s definitely a handful of games I’m looking forward to though, so let’s jump in to that instead.
#5 – ReCore
Release date: 2nd half of 2016
Since I haven’t seen a lick of gameplay, I was hesitant to put ReCore on the list at all. Is it a platformer? An action/adventure game? Can I control robots? I really don’t know much about it, but what I do know is that it involves developers from the Metroid Prime series–which are some of my favorite games of all time–and Keiji Inafune.
I’m hoping for good things, but Inafune’s current involvement with a handful of other projects is definitely cause for concern. ReCore is Xbox One’s wild card this year, and it’s a safe bet to expect more of a reveal this year at E3.
ReCore was originally scheduled to release in the Spring, but was recently delayed until the latter half of 2016. Along with the delay, it was also confirmed that it would be heading to PC as well. It’s being published by Microsoft Studios, so don’t expect to see it on PS4, but it’s worth noting that it’s no longer exclusive to the Xbox One.
#4 – Gears of War 4
Release date: Fall 2016
Gears of War provided some of the most enjoyable co-op experiences on the Xbox 360, but my interest lies mostly in the campaign itself. I don’t do competitive multi-player, nor did I spend a lot of time in the series’ horde modes, yet I found myself mowing through baddies on multiple occasions with friends online.
Nothing in particular stands out about Gears of War 4, other than the fact that it’s Gears of War, I like Gears of War, and it’s more Gears of War.
They’re absurdly fun, violent, and great games to kill a weekend with, and I look forward to playing through it with a couple of buddies this Fall… pending the game doesn’t slip in to 2017. And with such a late release, that’s entirely possible. However, the previously announced Christmas 2016 window was recently bumped up to Fall 2016, so maybe it’s further along than I thought. My durag is ready.
#3 – Crackdown 3
Release date: Summer 2016
I’ll be honest, I’ve never played a Crackdown game. Sure, I’ve dabbled at a friend’s house, but I’ve never fully immersed myself in one. However, I do enjoy exploring worlds, blowing shit up, and mindless fun… and that’s what Crackdown 3 seems to deliver.
Whether I’m invested in the series on not, it’s hard to say no to a game that not only checks off the important bits, but ushers in a new era of cloud computed gaming online. I rarely buy games for the sole purpose of playing with other people, but with enough interest in my circle of friends, I can see us spending a lot of time toppling buildings when we’re not involved in something else.
Although the current release window is Summer 2016, I wouldn’t expect to see a concrete date until E3. I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if it slips in to the Fall, but I’m sure Microsoft doesn’t want to contend with a stacked Q4.
#2 – Tacoma
Release date: “2016”
I’m a fan of what the internet gaming community ignorantly refers to as walking simulators–games like Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture, Nero, Lifeless Planet, and anything else heavily rooted in exploration and storytelling. I’m a sucker for a well written narrative, especially those that hit close to home, so I was definitely impressed by 2013’s Gone Home. Fullbright’s emotional tale of an everyday family experiencing everyday problems stuck with me long after the credits rolled, and still remains one of the most memorable gaming experiences in the last few years.
Taking place nearly 200,000 miles above Earth inside the Lunar Transfer Station Tacoma, I’m assuming you’ll explore the station while unraveling its mystery along the way. I’ve been purposefully avoiding spoilers (as I tend to do with story-heavy games), so that’s a terrible explanation that sells the game short. However, I have faith in the folks at Fullbright and I can’t wait to dive in to their upcoming sci-fi narrative on Xbox later this year.
Tacoma will also release on PC alongside the Xbox One.
#1 – Quantum Break
Release date: April 5th
Quantum Break has been in delay hell for a while now, but I’d rather Remedy and Microsoft release a polished game than make me regret a $60 purchase. Again. The more I see of Quantum Break, the more impressed I am though. It’s visually appealing, there’s no doubt about that, and I love the idea of using time as a weapon. Hiring TV actors is clearly improving the quality of the voice acting as well, but the TV show aspect doesn’t appeal to me at all–so I’m relying heavily on the game itself to provide a solid narrative.
At this point I’m definitely more interested in the story of Tacoma, but Quantum Break leads the pack since it’s the only game on the list with an actual release date. I can’t wait to see if it plays as well as it looks.
What about you folks? What Xbox One console exclusives are you most looking forward to this year? Scalebound would have been #1 for sure, had it not been delayed until 2017.