The Xbox One really hasn’t had the best year. Sure, Microsoft can now claim the most powerful home console on the planet with the Xbox One X, and that leads to some of the best visual experiences out there, but they’ve continued to struggle with first party and exclusive content on their system.
While the more platform oriented focus to the last few awards we hand out this year has highlighted the slim pickings on Microsoft’s console, it’s also left one clear winner.
Britain never looked this good. Full stop. Forza Horizon 4 takes the Horizon Festival to North England and Scotland, and just makes it look absolutely stunning. The way that the seasons transform the landscape, shifting from snow-blanketed hills to the drip, drip, drop of little April showers, a very 2018 take on the British summer, through the falling leaves of autumn and round and round is just sublime.
The gameplay matches it as well, with some of the best arcade racing that we’ve seen this generation. It’s a wide open world to explore, filled with different events and disciplines to take part it, from street racing to cross-country rallying, and it’s now shared (optionally) with other live players, inviting you to take part in Forzathon challenges or co-op Adventures.
Forza Horizon 4 is a shoe in for Best Xbox One game this year, but even in a year stuffed with strong exclusives this game would be right up there.
Red Dead Redemption 2 – Runner Up
Despite wanting to champion first parties and exclusives, Red Dead Redemption 2 earns its runner up berth in this award for the One X simply being the best place to enjoy this expansive game. This is the game at native 4K, without the blurriness of the PlayStation 4 Pro version’s checkerboarded upscaling, and with better performance to boot. It’s here that all the detail, all the nuance that’s packed into the world can really shine.
Sea of Thieves – Runner Up
I don’t think there’s really anything quite like the buccaneering misadventures of Sea of Thieves out there. Rare’s multiplayer pirate game threw off the shackles of questing, or overt goals and progression in favour of something more freeform. Take on quests to hunt down treasure chests and deliver them for booty, race toward the skull clouds to tackle skeleton forts, or go all in on chasing after the other human players, the choice was yours.
Sure, it was lacking in content at launch and it felt like Rare had to figure out the game that they’d just created and how best to expand upon it, but it’s grown through the second half of the year and looks set to keep evolving through 2019.