With the Xbox One, Microsoft clearly tried to place themselves as that box through which you do everything in the living room. Whether it’s watching TV, phoning your mum, browsing the web or, funnily enough, playing games, Microsoft wanted to be a part of that.
Of course, it’s that last point that we’re here to talk about today, so this is a quick look at some of the highlights we can expect to see arrive exclusively on the Xbox One next year.
Where many would bemoan a lack of innovation in the last franchise Jason West and Vince Zampella created, their next effort is nothing but. You can believe the hype.
Titanfall takes inspirations from all sorts of places, but merges them into something utterly unique. You have high-speed free running married to jet packs, allowing for a ridiculous level of mobility that utterly transforms the way that players will move around on the battlefield.
It’s the titans which are the most visual selling point, with regular titanfalls giving each and every player the opportunity to get into a hulking beast of a machine, and go toe-to-toe with rivals. They’ll need to be wary of the ground troops though, as everyone can contribute to taking down a titan…
If this gameplay balance were all the game had to offer, it would still be a highly popular mix, but there are impressive features elsewhere. Backed by The Cloud, each server plays host to a bunch of AI, really helping to flesh out the battlefield with more foes, and keeping players engaged even if they aren’t good enough to compete directly with humans.
However, it’s the blending of multi-player battles with single-player story that sounds the most intriguing, and we expect to see more on that very soon, as the game heads to a release in March for Xbox One, 360 and PC.
Remedy Entertainment’s latest project is a hugely ambitious one, aiming to blend and merge TV with gaming in quite a unique fashion.
The story centres around a trio of characters, involved in a time travel experiment gone wrong. While the world around them suffers from time anomalies, as the very fabric of time twists and tears simple moments into catastrophic events. The experiment imbues each of the three characters with certain abilities to manipulate time, with one now able to see into the future and pick a different timeline, for example. He’s naturally the main antagonist!
By and large, the gameplay appears to be a third person cover shooter with time manipulation mechanics thrown in, but it’s through these powers and player choices that the plot is able branch out and split.
Each section of gameplay unlocks a new live action episode for you to watch, allowing you to play a game that is actively intertwined with a TV series, and at your leisure, blurring those lines between mediums.
While Sony and Media Molecule pioneered the Play, Create, Share genre, it’s good to see that Microsoft are having a shot at this style of game, with Project Spark coming from Team Dakota.
It is essentially a game creator, allowing players to dive in with Xbox controller, keyboard and mouse, Smartglass enabled tablet, and Kinect, to create pretty much any element in the game. These combine to let you animate models, record audio, and just thoroughly customise practically every aspect of the game you’re creating.
Though the best fit for the game will be an Xbox One, this game is also set to appear on 360 and Windows 8, making it more of a Microsoft-wide project.
If the Fable series went off the rails (ha!) a bit with The Journey, then Fable Legends will hopefully set it back on course, though still heading in a slightly different direction to the original trilogy.
There’s quite little known about the game at the moment, but it promises to take players back to a time before the first Fable game, and see you going on quests as a band of four players, with AI compatriots if you can’t rustle up a few humans to join you. A fifth player can join the action, playing as the villain via Smartglass, and making your life a bit trickier.
Though there’s no firm release date, and the full game may not appear next year, a beta phase has been announced for 2014. Interestingly, this is being pitched as more of a platform, with the regular DLC expanding the game over a 5-10 lifespan.
As part of a strategic partnership, EA and Popcap announced that Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare would be coming to the Xbox One, 360 and Windows PC as a timed exclusive. Regardless of exclusivity, this game just looks like good fun, as it liberally steals and borrows influences from elsewhere.
It’s taking the franchise over to being a 24 player online third person shooter, with players taking on the role of both plants and zombies, in a battle for victory. Popcap have not been shy about taking inspiration for the various classes from Team Fortress 2, Battlefield and other class-based multiplayer games, and these are quite apparent in the game.
Even more obvious is the Boss Mode’s inspiration, clearly inspired by Battlefield’s Commander Mode, and seeing Crazy Dave go up against the Zombie Scientist, and dropping supply crates, NPC characters and direct fire. This mode is exclusive to the Xbox One, tying in with Kinect and Smartglass.
PvZ: Garden Warfare looks like a hoot, and it’s coming out in February next year.
If you thought it was jarring that Insomniac developed Fuse as a cross-platform game, it’s even more unsettling for PlayStation fans to see them developing Sunset Overdrive as an Xbox One exclusive. Especially when it looks like a delightfully bonkers Fanta advert.
Not much has been revealed since that first showing at Microsoft’s E3 conference, but even just going from that trailer, you can see the fast paced free running navigation of what is an open world environment, the hordes of mutants that you’ll be going up against, the wide variety of nonsensical weapons, and the hefty online co-op integration.
I’m definitely looking forward to seeing more of this one, and it has now been confirmed for a release some time next year.
Come back tomorrow, where our final instalment of Ones To Watch takes a look at some of the PlayStation 4 titles you should be keeping an eye on in 2014.