After the PlayStation 4 launched to a ground swell of positivity, the spotlight now moves over to Microsoft as they prepare to launch the second eighth generation giant, the Xbox One. It’s been exactly eight years to the day since the Xbox 360 launched and what an amazing eight years it was, but now is not the time to look back and marvel in the glory that once was– now is the time to look forward to the glory that is to come as with Conslayer’s Definitive Guide to the Xbox One Launch Titles!
Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag
Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag is one of many cross generation and cross platform games coming to the Xbox One at launch. The PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360 versions have already been released to an influx of positivity and the next generation port of Ubisoft’s take on the Golden Age of Piracy aims to raise the already lofty bar to an even higher level of awesome! In case you missed the wave of Assassin’s Creed related media, players will take on the role of Edward Kenway, the grandfather to the protagonist in Assassin’s Creed III, Ratonhnhaké:ton, who is of course better known by his adopted name Connor. Players will set sail across the massive expanse of the Caribbean searching for buried treasure, navigating uncharted waters and just generally exploring a world so rich with life that it practically bursts out of the screen. If you already purchased Black Flag on current generation hardware then convincing you to make the move might be quite a hard sell, but if you waited for the next gen upgrade then Black Flag is simply a must-buy game and should absolutely be a part of your own personal launch line-up.
At this stage in the game we pretty much have to accept that Kinect is here to stay; some people love it and some people hate it, but the way I look at it is the same way I look at all new pieces of technology: does this device actually enrich my life, or more specifically in reference to the Kinect, does this device enrich my gaming experience? With the new Battlefield, Kinect will play an important role in how players actually interact with the game because DICE have decided to make use of the Kinect’s head tracking functionality to implement a dynamic cover system that aims to bring a new level of immersion to your game playing experience. Battlefield 4 is pretty much the ultimate incarnation of the Battlefield series, as DICE has taken everything they’ve done in the past and just given it the next gen treatment. More refined gameplay, perfectly balanced weapon systems, constantly evolving multiplayer maps that change dynamically based on a player’s actions and finally 64 player servers will all come together to create one of the most authentic shooting experiences available on a console.
Call of Duty: Ghosts
Not wanting to spark another resolution debate let’s just point out the facts. Yes the PlayStation 4 version of Call of Duty: Ghosts will support native 1080p while the Xbox One version is running at 720p which is then upscaled to 1080p, we know this. We also know that both games will run at 60 frames per second which the developer Infinity Ward cited as being more important to them than supporting matching resolution; these are the facts. It’s also a fact that Microsoft have had a long-standing arrangement with both developers of the Call of Duty franchises and this allows them to secure each piece of DLC as timed exclusive which is going to be a major selling point for some undecided players. I do personally feel that the whole resolutiongate scandal has been blown way out of proportion especially when the news leaked that the PlayStation version requires a day one patch to support native 1080p in the single player campaign, so really they do output at the same res and who’s to say this patch won’t one day make its way over to Xbox? Either way for our in-depth analysis of the new Call of Duty be sure to check out the review, but in reality Call of Duty is going to be one of the most successful games coming to Microsoft’s new platform and for the online modes alone it should really be something you’re looking into.
Crimson Dragon has been dubbed the spiritual successor to the Panzer Dragoon series mainly because Yukio Futatsugi’s has returned and claimed the director’s seat, but also because of the similarities in their gameplay and combat mechanics. Crimson Dragon is an on-the-rails shooter with a twist. It uses a hybrid control scheme which combines the traditional gamepad-based input with cutting edge motion controls and the physicality of the Kinect. Originally Crimson Dragon was built with the hope that players would solely interface with the game via the Kinect, but developers Grounding Inc. were forced to go back in and add controller support based on player feedback. By adding controller support you can now experience the game’s compelling shooting mechanics with both the unique level of engagement offered from playing Kinect titles and the familiarity of tactile feedback which only a controller can provide. Available at launch as a digital download, Crimson Dragon would be a fantastic introductory game for anyone who has never used the Kinect and wants to test the waters by experiencing a slightly more hardcore game, but with a fairly casual approach.
Dead Rising 3
Perhaps the most highly anticipated of all the Xbox One exclusives, Dead Rising 3 looks set to raise the bar of an already fairly prestigious franchise and take players to previously unseen levels of zombie killing madness. Jump into the shoes of new protagonist Nick Ramos as you explore the vast open world of Los Perdidos, a city that is reported to be larger than the worlds of both Dead Rising and Dead Rising 2 combined! Dead Rising 3 developers, CAPCOM Vancouver, have confirmed that the crafting system has received a bit of a makeover and so players can now craft on the fly without the need to stop and find a work bench, and as if that wasn’t cool enough, due to the animalistic power of the Xbox One Dead Rising 3 is actually capable of rendering three times as many on screen zombies as its predecessor Dead Rising 2; it’s going to be insane! In closing, expect the limbs to fly once this powerhouse third instalment hits the shelves November 22nd and just as a side note, if you’re not already convinced that Dead Rising 3 is the next gen title you need for your shiny new Xbox then Google Roller Hawg…. It’s marvellous.
It’s been a little under two months since EA released FIFA’s annual update, but before you just blow off the next gen release as an eighth generation port, may I draw your attention to the following fact. FIFA 14 is one of three next gen sports games that will be running EA’s brand new Ignite Engine and currently this new engine is exclusive to next generation consoles. What does a new engine actually mean to the end user I hear you cry? Well Ignite equals a heightened sense of realism and a more streamlined experience for the player. EA has said that in game avatars will now have four times the decision making ability when compared with previous versions of the game, so that means players will actually react to different situations in a much more realistic way. One example that EA keeps going back to is that a player’s sense of urgency will increase if the match is drawing to a close and one vital goal is still required. Players will rush to take a corner, throw-ins and free kicks as well as express their distress through their animations which EA have claimed has improved “ten-fold”. The increased power of the next generation has also allowed EA to implement 3D crowds which is something fans of the series have been calling for for many a year. If you weren’t considering it, next gen FIFA is definitely something you should have on your radar because while a lot of players, myself included, felt that FIFA 14 was just a minor evolution based off last year’s near perfect edition, the next gen release looks set to be a complete revolution of the franchise and that’s something worth looking in on.
It seems that Microsoft wants to push developers to include some form of Kinect functionality in almost every game that’s coming to the platform. In some games, namely Battlefield, the Kinect integration seems like a logical step in enriching your experience, but sadly in others it just seems like a gimmick. Fighter Within is one of two totally awesome fighting games coming to Xbox One on launch, but of the two it’s the only one designed to be played with Kinect. At this stage it’s impossible to tell if this will be the long-awaited motion controlled fighting game that we feel we are owed or just another misfire in the world of fighting sims. Some of you may have played the 2010 PlayStation Move enabled The Fight: Lights Out developed by ColdWood Interactive or even AMA Studios Fighters Uncaged which was universally panned at the time of release, but while both of these games laid the ground work, no matter how hard they tried they could not live up to the hype of being of a motion controlled fighting game. Ubisoft have said that Fighter Within will serve as the sort-of-sequel to Fighters Uncaged, but whether they actually learnt anything from their past transgressions remains to be seen. For all the negativity that seems to surround this game I personally felt that after seeing the recently released “Inside the Game Trailer” there was still hope; behind all the jokes is a well put together, fairly solid looking next gen fighting game. Fighter Within looks really good so I beg you Xbox fans don’t disregard it just because of the Kinect, embrace the Kinect and embrace… The fighter within!
Forza Motorsport 5
The fact that not one of SONY’s exclusive racing games actually made it to the console for launch means Xbox One owners should be quite excited to learn they actually have a choice when it comes to next gen racers. Players can choose from Turn 10’s exclusive Forza 5 or EA’s fast paced Need for Speed: Rivals both of which will be coming to the Xbox One at launch. For many years now Turn 10 have pretty much defined the word’s attention to detail and it’s their overall commitment to the fans that really sets them apart from the competition. Forza 5’s creative director Dan Greenawalt recently said that it takes up to six months to make a car game ready and that every single one of the games 200 drivable vehicles has been given the same level of care and attention to bring them up to the ever increasing standard set every time Turn 10 release a new Forza. It’s got the same great gameplay which has just matured over time, but then it’s got these in your face next gen visuals that really help carve a path for the future. Forza 5 looks amazing and Turn 10 has already announced a bunch of awesome DLC that will keep the game fresh as we move beyond the launch and into 2014.
Just Dance 2014
For some users the impending launch of Microsoft’s eighth generation console means more than just a new wave of next generation shooters as we will also have a brand new version of the world’s number one dance game on our hands and the upcoming 2014 edition brings with it a brand new set of dance moves, a brand new set of features and over 40 of this year’s hottest dance tracks. Just Dance is exactly the kind of game that gives credence to the Kinect’s existence, and according to the developers, the updated version of Microsoft’s motion-tracking hardware means nothing, but positively for the franchise as the improved camera now tracks up to six skeletons as well as improving the general level of accuracy with which each skeleton is tracked. In a recent conversation with the Xbox Wire, Sean Crooks, producer of the Xbox One version of the game said that Just Dance 2014 will also see online multiplayer make its series debut as players can join together in groups of eight to compete on the World Dance Floor which is just one massive rolling playlist that players can drop in and out of as they desire. Unlike the PS4 and the PlayStation Eye Camera, the Xbox One will be shipping with Kinect and that straight out of the box functionality is exactly why you should have Just Dance on your radar– it’s fun for all the family!
After 17 long years even the most devout Killer Instinct fan had probably abandoned all hope of ever seeing another entry into Rare’s iconic fighting series, but against all the odds as we move into the eighth generation developers Double Helix have teamed up with what’s left of Rare’s Leister based studio to reboot the franchise. The new Killer Instinct will be available on launch day as a free-to-play digital download and will feature six combatants with a further two coming within four months of the game’s initial release. Early previews of the gameplay seem to suggest that Killer Instinct has retained the ferocity of the first games and is still just as robust as it was in the 90’s. Once you download Killer Instinct you will have access to one single rotating fighter much like the rotating roster Riot Games pioneered with League of Legends; the currently featured fighter will be available to players in both the online competitive modes and in the offline local play, or if you prefer you can just pay $20 and buy all eight characters which you can then use at your own prerogative. Although they share no similarities beyond the genre, Killer Instinct is likely to be perceived as competing with Fighter Within and as both games are trying to bring fresh ideas to an age old genre we will have to wait and see who scores the K.O. blow!
Visually you would be forgiven for thinking Lococycle is not next gen, aesthetically its less than impressive, but at the same time Lococycle doesn’t have high visual fidelity written across the front of the box; actually Lococycle doesn’t even have a box let alone any writing across the front of it. Coming to the Xbox One as a day one downloadable title, Lococycle puts players in the wheels of I.R.I.S., a tricked out sentient motorcycle who is dragging a mechanic by the name of Pablo in her wake. Did we mention she knows karate? Developers Twisted Pixel said they wanted to make a melee-based combat brawler with a healthy mix of both racing and shooting, much like David Hasselhoff’s infamous Knight Rider or the classic Johnny Five infused Short Circuit. Should you be itching to download Lococycle on day one? Possibly not, but for a cheap downloadable title that’s just wall-to-wall, action-packed mayhem it might be a fun way to spend an afternoon.
Madden NFL 25
You might not think it, but the new Madden might be one of the games that best showcases the power of your new hardware when it launches this coming Friday. It’s all here in the new Madden; everything from the players, to the sidelines, to the crowds and it’s all been fully realized in beautiful 3D and its safe to say that it’s never looked so good! The current gen version of Madden has received some extremely positive reviews, but the next gen release aims to go even further by introducing a completely new pass blocking system that’s built around the player’s intelligence and its all exclusive to the next gen release. Developers EA Tiburon have said that their players now have a more acute awareness of their opponents and a better understanding of their surroundings thanks to the new Ignite Engine. This new found intelligence transcends the players as it also applies to any non-playable characters, so the fans are now able to react to 40 different types of play with both unique animations and specific sound effects to express how they feel. Madden NFL 25 won’t be for everyone, if you’re not a fan of football you might want to give it a miss, but if you love football as much as Emmit Smith loves rushing then this is the game for you!
The current gen release of NBA 2K14 has been receiving fantastic reviews. Being generously praised for its impeccable presentation, super tight gameplay and overall tenacity to deliver one of the most authentic console based basketball experiences to date, this is digital basketball at its finest. The fact that this game is on its way to the next gen should scare you! Glorious 1080p at a smooth 60 fps… Flawless. Even if basketball is not your thing NBA looks so good on next gen consoles you won’t be able to resist picking up the pad and just shooting a few little free throws. Visuals aside the game plays exactly like its current gen cousin and while some players may be pining for something a little different you can’t really complain that it plays like one of the finest sport simulations the world has ever seen. Overall it’s been revamped; next gen’d if you will. The different modes of play have been refined and so Instead of the Jordan Challenge introduced in NBA 2K11 or the LeBron’s Path to Greatness Mode in current gen 2K14 next gen 2K14 features a good old fashioned Career Mode, but this is the next gen and with the next gen we go big or we go home! Career Mode has you create a player and then build him up through a pre-draft showcase and then onto being drafted before getting in off the bench and then finally to becoming a fully bonafide NBA all-star! If you already own 2K14 on a current gen console then it might be hard to convince you to make the move, but the next gen release just goes so far beyond what the current gen release is that if you’re a fan of the series upgrading, should really be a priority.
At this stage it’s hard to tell if this is the triumphant return of a giant or that guy at a party that just won’t leave the conversation. Quite simply there’s a reason EA stopped developing the NBA Live franchise back in 2010, and it doesn’t take a genius to realise there’s not enough room for two yearly basketball games. The good is that it’s EA, and EA make some of the finest sport simulations the world has ever seen, but surely they must know that when they stopped developing NBA Live most of their fan base moved over to the 2K series? I know I did… Side by side comparisons seem to suggest that 2K has the edge visually and while I do love the idea of having all my sports under the same roof I feel that players will need more than that to convince them that NBA Live is going to the finals. Either way NBA Live is definitely the underdog here, but it’s not all bad and it’s not to say that they don’t stand a chance, because the game was developed from the ground up with next gen in mind. NBA Live is not coming to current gen consoles and so that exclusivity might draw in some currently undecided players, but then again missing out on that massive install base might affect potential profit margins and have a negative impact on the series going forward. At this stage of the game, all we know is that there is going to be two NBA games coming to the Xbox One at launch, and as a massive fan of the movies, Rocky has taught me never to count out the underdog and that anything’s possible in the crazy, crazy world we live in.
Need for Speed: Rivals
As I mentioned earlier with no Gran Turismo, no Ridge Racer and now no Drive Club until May, racing fans who bought a PlayStation might be feeling a little blue right now if it wasn’t for Need for Speed: Rivals, but what about the Xbox fans? Well for anyone itching to get a taste of the high speed insanity that only Need for Speed can offer I have good news for you… Another cross platform, cross generation title Need for Speed is also coming to Xbox One for launch and this time around it has the all new AllDrive feature which allows you to seamlessly join a world in which your friends are already racing and just race right alongside them. Gone are the days of joining a lobby or waiting around in a queue, pfft, this is the next gen user and in the next gen we blend together the regular single player with the online multiplayer to create an entirely new way to play! Need for Speed Rivals is the ultimate in cops and robbers and you get the best of both worlds as you can move between the teams gaining access to turbo boosts, signal jammers and electromagnetic pulses as a racer or be prepared for some aggressive busts with deployable shockwaves, police roadblocks and helicopter support as the cops. Need for Speed is intense and instead of picking between this and Forza take our advice and buy them both, you won’t regret it!
Powerstar Golf is an interesting new golfing franchise coming exclusively to the Xbox One as a digital download. Not a fan of golf, its fine keep reading because Powerstar Golf is so much more than just a golf game. Developers Zoë Mode have built a deceptively complex customisation system into Powerstar Golf and so beyond the different abilities each character possesses there are over 400 different items you can equip to adjust your base stats as well as a range of boosters that can make all the difference when it comes to that one pivotal shot. At its core Powerstar is of course still your traditional golfing experience; you select your club and then carefully aim the ball tactically considering the terrain, the wind, the elevation any potential hazards that will impede you from reaching the green. Overall the slightly cartoony style really compliments the gameplay– it’s bright, vibrant and it’s energetic, and the game’s overall presentation sits up there with the best of them in regards to the next gen releases. To fully understand the depth and the variation of all the RPG elements that have been built into this game, you really need to play it quite extensively which fortunately you will have plenty of time to do because of the social integration that allows you to play against friends even when they’re not online! Hours and hours of replayability equals hours and hours of masterful procrastination and its all thanks to Zoë Mode for making Powerstar Golf.
Ryse: Son of Rome
Without a doubt Ryse: Son of Rome is going to be one of the games that defines the launch of the next generation. Coming exclusively to Xbox One, Crytek are doing some really cutting edge stuff which includes smart glass integration, expertly implemented social networking features and developing a robust combat system that Crytek have described as the perfect combination of emotion, mastery and flow. Early gameplay videos and specifically the demo shown at E3 2013 seemed to place a massive emphasis on button prompts and quick time events which are two things that generally don’t resonate within the gaming community, but subsequent videos detailing the combat system show a more mature approach that has very clearly been fine tuned based on player feedback and the public perception. Originally envisioned as a Kinect brawler, Ryse has grown up a lot since it debuted at E3 2011; the current gen hardware has been dropped in favour of the power of next gen and the Kinect functionality has been dropped in the wake of the criticism it received. Ryse is a game you should absolutely be buying on day one because its a game that will showcase the power and the possibilities of your new system.
Zoo Tycoon originally made its debut on Windows PC way back in 2001 and since then it’s a series that has gone from strength to strength. So far any news on the console launch has been a little disappointing, but Zoo Tycoon is receiving a massive day one update which adds all sorts of extra content as well as streamlining the current content so as to improve the overall player experience. The patch will add smart glass integration, community challenges and online multiplayer as well improve the game’s frame rate by 20%. Is Zoo Tycoon going to be a game for the hardcore market? No probably not, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth your time, in fact the casual drop-in drop-out nature of the gameplay is exactly why you should consider buying it. You can build entire zoos with minimal effort, you can fill said zoo with whatever animals you desire and then through the power of Kinect you can get right in there and assume the role of a zoo keeper by hosing down the elephants and clowning around with the monkeys. Frontier have realistically focused Zoo Tycoon more toward the causal market and within that market primarily they have targeted children. Zoo Tycoon walks a fine line between being a tool for educating kids about animals while still being very much grounded as a video game based experience. This hybrid of combining the quest for knowledge within the medium of video games is something I think the kids will really respond to and beyond that the little monkeys are just so cute that you really need to take a look for yourself.
Zumba Fitness: World Party
What do you get if you combine intense aerobic exercise with a wide variety of different dance styles? You get Zumba! In 2013 it seems the whole damn world has gone Zumba mad and it is currently estimated that just over 14 million people take part in a Zumba Class every single week. So far there have been four Zumba-based video games which were all actually developed primarily for use with the Nintendo Wii following the massive success of the Wii Fit and the Wii Fit Plus, but Zumba Fitness: World Party is a Kinect title and it’s coming to the Xbox One for launch. Much like Just Dance 2014, Zumba Fitness wants you to get up and get moving with over 40 tracks that are all certain to get your blood pumping. Why not game your way to health and happiness with Zoë Mode’s intense Zumba Fitness: World Party!
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