The Xbox One has caught a lot of sh*t since launch; the internet (seemingly in its entirety) has rounded on the wounded beast and attacked it mercilessly since its notoriously disastrous 2013 reveal. All the while, the PS4 has looked on from afar, decidedly pleased with the fact that the sun just so happens to shine out of its shiny black bottom.
Sure, Microsoft brought a lot of the bad press and consumer vengeance upon itself, and yes, Sony have certainly done a fine job of presenting its vision and delivering upon it with a slick, powerful and well-priced console, but come on, are we still overlooking the games? Regardless of the fact that the Xbox One still has the stronger collection of games, both on the horizon and store shelves, I’m genuinely amazed that the launch lineup hasn’t received more praise.
Seemingly lost amidst the vitriol aimed at the console, and perhaps dulled by the fact that there was no singular killer app at launch (something rarely found at the launch of any console), the Xbox One delivered one of the most solid and well-rounded launch lineups in recent memory. Beyond the solid selection of third party releases that helped to cover the majority of bases on their own, the first party offerings were, in my opinion, of a consistently high standard and have delivered the majority of my favourite gaming memories of the current-gen thus far.
I’ll start off with what has quietly turned into my favourite game of the generation thus far; Dead Rising 3. I’ve always wanted to like Capcom’s zombie brawler more than I really have. The tone was always great and artistically it has always impressed (well, perhaps not on the Wii), but despite my enjoyment of the core gameplay, I always felt that it was somewhat held back by technical issues and a handful of poor design choices. All of these however, seem to have been ironed out for the third mainline release in the series.
It may not be the most visually impressive game you’ll find on Xbox One or PS4 (although it’s certainly pretty enough), but thanks to the additional grunt afforded by the Xbox One, offers the kind of experience that I had always hoped the series would. Beyond the addition of what appears to be thousands of zombies on screen at any one time, it really is the more open nature of the world and removal of loading screens that makes Dead Rising 3 feel like a more natural, cohesive experience.
Add to that an outrageous array of combo weapons and even better combo vehicles (all of which can be modded on the go), a new streamlined approach and a continued commitment to the kind of irreverent humour that the series is famous for, and you’re left with what is, in my humble opinion, the best Dead Rising game yet and arguably the most enjoyable zombie game that I’ve played since Resident Evil 4.
Then there’s Killer Instinct, a great fighter that looks brilliant and is probably more technical than many expected. Saying that though, if you’re looking for impressive visuals, you need look no further than the brilliant Forza 5. It might not offer the same levels of content as the absurdly comprehensive Forza 4, but as a launch game and a way to show off your shiny new console, Forza 5 does the trick admirably while still the delivering the high quality gameplay we have all come to expect from the long running series.
As great as Forza 5 looks though, the real visual showstopper has to be the utterly gorgeous and painfully underrated, Ryse. It may not be to everyone’s tastes, but Ryse really is a very well made brawler, one that, despite its lack of challenge, keeps things entertaining throughout thanks to its array of gorgeous locales, surprisingly compelling story and robust combat. Killing enemies in Ryse is never difficult, but the point of the game is to kill well with rewards dished out accordingly. Sure, it doesn’t do anything particularly new, but what is here is solid, entertaining stuff, and my God is it ever pretty.
A lot has been made of the PS4 being the more technically powerful console (seemingly confirmed by an array of superior multiformat releases), but for my money, Ryse is still the best looking game of the new generation, and while I’m sure it’ll be surpassed sooner rather than later, still stands as the best showcase for the graphical potential of the new consoles.
Microsoft did a lot of things wrong when they launched the Xbox One….a lot of things wrong, but one thing they did right, and certainly better than its key competitor, is the launch lineup. None of these games will be remembered as genuine classics a few years from now, but as a versatile, entertaining and consistently enjoyable selection of games, the Xbox One’s was unquestionably better than most and certainly better than many would have you believe.