Published Oct 26, 2015
So you've held out this long without upgrading to a next-gen console but, well, the holidays are coming up and maybe, just maybe, Santa (or his non-imaginary equivalent) might consider placing an Xbox One under your Christmas Tree (or non-religious equivalent).
Thing is, the hi-tech guts hidden under the hood are important and all, but console gamers know that hardware is nothing without software. So here's a look at some of the great gaming goodness that comes with owning an Xbox One.
Best New Exclusives
Halo 5: Guardians
Microsoft's big gun is back in the sci-fi franchise's first numbered entry since 2012. The move to Xbox One has allowed for a campaign that can be played solo or with four-player co-op while the multiplayer has been expanded to 24 players. The story's expanded, too, with the intertwining tales of two playable protagonists, Master Chief and Spartan newbie Jameson Locke, first-person shooting their way to the titular Guardians threat.
Rise of the Tomb Raider (also on Xbox 360)
The recently rebooted Lara Croft (pictured above) finally starts tomb raiding in this Xbox timed-exclusive. After raves for their 2013 origin story, Crystal Dynamics now gives us a fully-fledged Croft to play with. Gameplay features stealth focused-combat, woman-eating animals and a complex crafting system as Croft heads to Siberia in search of a lost city and the secret to immortality while fighting off big bad organization, Trinity.
Gearheads get a new model to spend their winter with as Turn 10 takes their physics-based Forza franchise around the track for the sixth time. The 2015 edition has 460 (!) customizable and, yes, damageable cars as well as 24-car multiplayer races on 26 international (and occasionally rain-soaked) tracks all in 1080p HD at 60 frames-per-second. You can also race solo against AI "Drivatar" opponents based on real gamers' racing styles.
Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime (also on Steam)
Downloadable games have allowed for experimentation and a revival of old-school gameplay. This award-winning, Bruce Cockburn-referencing title from Toronto indie outfit Asteroid Base embodies both as you fight the forces of Anti-Love and rescue poor kidnapped space bunnies. As well as offering some of the most impressive visuals in recent memory, the neon-soaked co-op shooter boasts challenging 2D gameplay and randomized levels to make the game as infinite as its outer space setting.
Best Exclusive Content For Multiplatform
The year's most anticipated game is multiplatform, but only Xbox One owners can get a special post-apocalyptic console and controller in the Fallout 4 bundle to bring back to their underground Vault. Even cooler, Bethesda games have always boasted amazing PC mods and now, for the first time in console history, the XB1 will be able to play them.
Best Exclusive Re-Releases
This jam-packed 30-game compilation retraces gaming history across the Microsoft-owned studio's three decades of output. Originally called Ultimate Play the Game, the British developer began producing games like Jetpack for the obscure ZX Spectrum personal computer before moving onto early Nintendo consoles (Battletoads, Killer Instinct Gold, Blast Corps, Perfect Dark) and then the Xbox 360 (Viva Pinata, Kameo, Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts). The old games are still mad hard, so Rare took pity and included a rewind feature to preserve our sanity.
Halo: The Master Chief Collection (pictured above)
Sure, you know about Halo (because you are alive in the world) but since the original's evolved combat came out way back in 2001, chances are you haven't played all the games. So what better way to get ready for Halo 5 than by going back to the beginning of the first-person shooter franchise with this budget-priced compilation of first four Master Chief games but with upgraded visuals and audio. Plus, spinoff Halo 3: ODST is also available as DLC.
Gears of War: Ultimate Edition
Gears of War was the game that proved the Xbox 360 had much more in store than Halo for shooter fans. Epic Games' third-person, cover-based, co-op sci-fi epic became instantly iconic as hulking soldier Marcus Fenix and friends fought off the insect-like underground antagonists, the Locust Horde. This remastered version upgrades all the graphics, includes five previously PC-only chapters, and brings multiplayer up to 60 frames per second as well as new game modes and all 19 maps.
Best Upcoming Exclusives
Gears of War 4
Not much is known yet about the fourth numbered entry in the Gears of War series, due out in late 2016, beyond that it's being developed by Vancouver studio The Coalition. But that makes sense since what they have said is that the game is "going back to something personal, dark, and mysterious." Gamers who buy the Ultimate Edition will get access to the GoW4's multiplayer beta.
This Canadian-made run-and-gun co-op game look set to be an instant cult classic thanks to its astounding art design inspired by old-timey 1930s cartoons. In fact, the graphics are actually being done with hand-drawn animation cels, watercolour backgrounds and original jazz recordings.
Scalebound (pictured above)
Japanese cult developer PlatinumGames (Bayonetta) gets its game of thrones on with third-person action-RPG about a loner and his pet AI-controlled dragon set in the realm of Draconis. The fantasy epic will be both single and multiplayer with the latter feature custom co-op quests and combat.
Toronto indie developer Capyberra Games and Toronto indie rocker Jim Guthrie have re-teamed for this intriguing follow-up to their breakthrough Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP. Albeit still mostly a mystery, the adventure game will combine environmental exploration, randomly generated rougelike dungeons, and cool music.