2015 has been a good year for Microsoft, at least in terms of making drastic improvements to both the Xbox One’s functionality and its library of games. Despite the gap in sales between it and Sony’s dominant PS4, this Christmas arguably saw Microsoft fielding a much stronger line-up of exclusives, with games like Halo 5, Forza Motorsport 6 and Rise of the Tomb Raider perfectly set to tempt undecided players into taking the plunge.
Looking to build on this, Xbox One has another great range of titles due to arrive in 2016, with us taking a look at the first batch right here.
Quantum Break is the brand new adventure from the acclaimed Max Payne and Alan Wake developer Remedy Entertainment. You’ll take on the role of Jack Joyce, whose time-manipulation powers see him become a target for the sinister Monarch Solutions, with those same abilities forming the basis of your arsenal, speeding up or slowing time as you try to unravel the mystery surrounding your brother’s death.
Featuring the talents of Dominic Monaghan, Shawn Ashmore, Lance Reddick and Aidan Gillen, Remedy are looking to lend this time-travelling story some serious clout, and given their previous work you’d do well to keep an eye on this one. Luckily, with the game finally set to arrive on the 5th of April, players don’t have long to wait!
The Gears franchise has felt like it was running out of steam for a while, with 2013’s Gears of War: Judgement failing to set the world on fire. However, following a well-received HD remaster of the original entry in the series, it seems like the perfect time to return to the grim and gritty world of Sera.
What we can expect then is cover-based action, some new heavily armoured protagonists, and hordes of enemies to gun – or chainsaw – down, though who those enemies are is of course up for debate. With the power of Xbox One hopes will be high visually, and with key members of Epic Games now in place at series developers The Coalition, fans of the franchise can probably rest easy that this will be a return to form for what was a staple of the last generation, and a compatriot of the Halo series.
Speaking of Halo, a sequel to the real-time-strategy flavoured Halo Wars was one of the pleasant surprises of 2015’s E3, and with the stellar team at Creative Assembly – of Total War fame – at the helm, it could genuinely be something special.
One of the few games to truly crack the console-based RTS, Halo Wars made fantastic use of the franchise’s iconic weapons and characters and was capable of creating hugely fun large-scale battles. With the promise of an all-new Halo story, and even bigger battles, this will likely be one of Microsoft’s key titles next Autumn.
Fable Legends hasn’t had the smoothest of developments, with the multiplayer title set in the Fable world originally due to arrive this year. In fact, beta tests started as early as 2014, but Lionhead have continued to tinker with the title in that time, adding characters and content, before finally deciding to make it free-to-play.
The decision has concerned some, not least those who consider Fable to be an integral Microsoft franchise, but Lionhead remain adamant that there’s nothing to be worried about. The multiple delays have been put down to the multitude of play styles, not only across the roster of heroes, but also in the role of the villain, which in essence is a wholly different game.
Fable Legends sees four heroes pitted against a villain, with the heroes taking part in third-person combat while the villain looks down on the proceedings from above, placing enemies and traps about the arenas in a fast-paced RTS-like affair. Despite the differences to the main series, Lionhead are clearly trying to retain the artistic direction of Fable, as well as its humour, which should give some hope that the finished product will find plenty of fans when it finally arrives.
Crackdown 3 has the unenviable position of being the poster child for the use of Microsoft’s Azure cloud processing in videogames. Much-lauded in the run-up to the launch of the Xbox One, it’s taken until now for a title to appear that actually makes use of the system and feels necessary. In the case of Crackdown 3, it seems it will only be put to full use in the game’s online multiplayer modes.
The system allows for some truly incredible physics modelling, which allows for extreme environmental destruction of the city around you as you bound about the futuristic sandbox. The previous two Crackdown games were a huge amount of fun, though personally it was the traversal of the city was the biggest draw, as you leapt to grab the orbs that powered your character up even further, turning you into a real superhero.
Between the impressive technology and the series’ history, Crackdown 3 should be on every Xbox One owner’s radar, especially as it may finally make the most of the console’s potential.
Of all the games in this list, Scalebound has the potential to be truly incredible. Developed by Platinum Games, whose highlights have included Vanquish and the Bayonetta series, the action game specialists are looking to work their magic on this Microsoft exclusive.
Taking control of Drew – a headphone-sporting attitude-wearing modern dude – who has found himself drawn into the fantastical world of Draconis, you find yourself inexplicably linked with the immense dragon Thuban. That link forms the basis of combat, with you able to direct your dragon companion towards enemies, either backing you up in a fight or taking out other threats on his own.
Not only will this be Platinum’s first RPG, with some potential similarities with Dragon’s Dogma, but also one of their few forays into the multiplayer arena, with four-player co-operative play confirmed that will draw immediate comparisons with Monster Hunter.
With Hideki Kamiya – Resident Evil, Devil May Cry, Bayonetta – at the helm, Scalebound has all the hallmarks of a sure-fire hit, and is likely to be one of the Xbox One’s biggest draws next Christmas.