A series of bugs put Microsoft in second place before the Xbox One is released. Although it will probably stay there until the next generation starts, there are a lot of people out there who have never experienced what the console has to offer. Since the Xbox One X has a clear advantage over Sony’s PlayStation 4 Pro when playing on a 4k TV, there has never been a better time.
Although not all the games on this list are Xbox exclusive, at least every game on Xbox is more powerful or looks better than PlayStation, assuming you’re playing on Ice X.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
It could be the best open-world role-playing game there is. Although The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is several years old now, it’s a dense action game that acknowledges the player’s maturity with several – occasionally harrowing – storylines, decisions that have consequences, and almost too much play to wrestle with. It’s not perfect:
- The combat system is rough.
- The frustrating death comes in the form of a fall from just a few meters away.
- There are a lot of quest fillers in addition to a lot of incredibly thought-out distractions.
Take Alan Wake’s weird Twin Peaks narrative, smash it with Quantum Break’s frenetic powers and shooting game, and you’re in control. If you are a woman looking for your missing brother, you will quickly realize there is a fine line between reality and fantasy. It’s catnip for anyone who grew up with love for the X-files and the supernatural.
Red Dead Redemption 2
Red Dead Redemption 2 is the game that no one but Rockstar, the team behind the GTA series, could make. Only when a studio is so successful can it put millions of dollars and man-hours into a game. Rockstar’s simulation of a crumbling frontier world is exciting and serves as the perfect backdrop for a typically measured story.
Ori and the Blind Forest
At a time when “Gears Halo Forza” seemed to be the beginning, middle, and end of Microsoft’s release plans, Ori and the Blind Forest was a triumph. It’s a confident part of the pixel-perfect platform popularized by Super Meat Boy and the rich, unfolding worlds of Metroidvania games. You will die hundreds of times as you explore the title forest and unlock abilities that will help you reach new areas. It looks and sounds great – like Disney is great – and while its story is pretty secondary to the experience, it’s interesting.
It took us more than a while to get here, but Nier: Automata finally arrived on Xbox One in the summer of 2018. And boy, was it worth the almost 18-month wait. Taking the razor-sharp fight of a Platinum Games title, Nier puts him in a world created by everyone’s favorite maniac, Yoko Taro. Don’t worry; you can mostly just run, shoot and punch your way through the game, but when you’re done and finish and finish this game, you’ll be drawn into a really special narrative, one that has never been done before and will probably never be done again. Unmissable.
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is not just another Dark Souls game. The Samurai Adventure from Software is a departure from this established formula, replacing slow, weighty fights and Gothic despair with camouflage, grappling hooks, and short sword fighting. Although it’s still a difficult game, it’s much more accessible than soul games – you can pause it! The result of all these changes is something that is still immediately recognizable as a FromSoftware title, but it’s a separate thing, and it’s very good.
Gears 5 tries to be a lot of things and does not succeed at all. However, if you are a fan of Gears of War, there is much to love here. The cover shooter gameplay that the series pioneered feels great, and while the campaign isn’t narratively ambitious, it’s fast-paced and full of bombastic set pieces to pique your interest. The various multiplayer modes are not great as they stand, but Gears 5 is worth it for the campaign alone.
Forza Horizon 4
The Forza Horizon games have always given second fiddle to the main series, but in Forza Horizon 4, Playground games have made our favorite Forza game of all time. Horizon 4 brings the arcade gameplay and the open world of the series to the UK and explores some of the most beautiful sights of England, Scotland and Wales. All the cars you would expect are here, but perhaps the most interesting addition is the seasons. As you can see, the huge map of the game completely changes with the time of year, and with it the way the cars drive. There is a lot of play here and everything is very fun.
The Cuphead from Studio MDHR is as beautiful as it is challenging – and it is very beautiful. Half bullet hell shooter, half platformer, half classic boss rush… wait, that’s too many halves. Either way, Cuphead has attracted everyone with its charming, hand-drawn graphics that look straight out of the 1930s. It then kept them close with hard-hitting gameplay that somehow never felt unfair. It has some of the most memorable bosses fights you will ever have – Cala Maria is our favorite – but what will stick in your mind the most is the feeling of finally beating the one you are stuck on, 273 deaths later.
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