Xbox One weighs in at a fairly hefty retail price of $499. The machine includes a built-in Kinect system, and has a variety of features that enable users to watch an enhanced version of TV. However, it's the games we're most interested in, and that's what we're looking at today. Each member of Team USG has looked at the roster of Xbox One launch titles and have chosen the ones they think are the best to buy.
- Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag (PS4 review, but Xbox One version is the same)
- Call of Duty: Ghosts (PS4 review, but Xbox One version is the same)
- Dead Rising 3
- FIFA 14
- Forza Motorsport 5
- Killer Instinct
- LEGO Marvel Super Heroes (PS4 review, but Xbox One version is the same
- Need for Speed: Rivals (PS4 review, but Xbox One version is the same)
- Battlefield 4 (PS4 review, but Xbox One version is the same)
- Crimson Dragon
- Just Dance 2014
- Madden NFL 25 (PS4 review, but Xbox One version is the same)
- NBA 2K14
- NBA Live 14
- Peggle 2
- Powerstar Golf
- Ryse: Son of Rome
- Skylanders: Swap Force
- Zoo Tycoon
- Zumba Fitness: World Party
So those are the games that are available on Xbox One right now. But which ones should you buy? Over to Team USG for their recommendations.
I’ve been going on and on about this for months, so it’s no surprise Forza 5 sits at pole position on my must-buy Xbox One launch games list.
When I played it at E3, I was very impressed. Not quite blown away, but definitely impressed. This is largely due to the narrowing technical gap between generations that we’ve been seeing since the 90’s. While we will eventually see a clear and significant difference between the incoming generation and the outgoing one, it’s going to take some time. Until then, to the untrained eye, many games will look very similar.
Forza 5 is such a game. On the face of it, it’s not a huge step up from Forza 4. There are differences, however – it’s just that they’re in the details. The richer level of atmospheric effects, the more complex lighting, the slightly more convincing interiors, and minutiae like leaves that swirl as you drive past them. The backdrops are more sophisticated too, and draw distances have been pushed way out. It’s difficult to appreciate them when you’re driving down a narrow road at 125 mph trying to overtake an opponent, but they’re there if you look.
The new and much-heralded AI system is a little hit-and-miss. It's supposed to be based on real people's driving, but it sometimes does some really dumb things - like braking ridiculously early, or freaking out on a straight. Perhaps that's what some people do, but sometimes it just seems a bit off. Ultimately, if you spend more time competing with other players, it's all moot anyway.
We'll have to wait and see whether Gran Turismo will catch up when it finally arrives on PS4. If its recent performance is anything to go by, it’ll likely arrive around the same time we’ll be expecting Forza 6. Until then, Forza 5 sits atop the podium as greatest racer out there.
Need for Speed: Rivals
Yes. Another driving game. But this one is a slightly different flavor to Forza 5. Where Turn 10's elegant automotive experience is all about driving finesse, trying not to hit other cars and shaving tenths of a second off your lap time to reach the checkered flag first, Need for Speed is a brutal, no-holds-barred, four-wheeled war zone.
It packs a ton of features that make it great, but the best of them all is AllDrive, which seamlessly integrates single- and multiplayer mode. If your friends are online, you can see exactly what they're doing and join in their fun. Or you can just drive right past them and carry on doing whatever it is you're doing. Which is inevitably driving flat-out like an idiot, either trying to catch the racer in front of you as a cop, or trying to avoid cops and challenging other players to races if you've decided to pursue a career on the wrong side of the law.
Boasting a wealth of cars, tons of missions, and a big open world that offers a full spectrum of driving opportunities, Need for Speed: Rivals is a gorgeous-looking, raucous-sounding, bonkers-playing combat race game that helps start this next generation off with a bang, followed by a huge slide, a collision with an oncoming car, and a barrel roll down the road.
Call of Duty: Ghosts... Or maybe Battlefield 4
I think both of these are great multiplayer games - but offer a weak single-player experience. If you're playing solo, Call of Duty gets the nod from me. It's shorter, but offers a lot more bang for the buck, delivering an almost cinematic experience during some of its spectacular set-pieces. But then again, these games are all about multiplayer, and both deliver an absolutely excellent experience here.
If you're after involving, close-up, visceral and fast-paced action, Call of Duty is definitely the game to get. It's all about the subtleties of gunplay and finessing your loadouts to best suit your own personal playstyle - and the kind of combat you're entering. Whether it's classic deathmatch gameplay, or working with others on some of the new objective-based formats, Call of Duty: Ghosts is tense and exciting.
What I particularly like this time around is the new Squads mode that lets you construct a small army of bots and take them into battle. Again, you can experiment with roles and loadouts to see what works best where, and the AI is impressive enough to give you a really fun mulitplayer experience without having to go online and wait for others. Finally Extinction mode is a really cool, but all-too-short multiplayer co-op mode where you fight off an alien invasion. It's incredibly good fun, and something I hope we'll see more of in future COD games.
But while COD is the better choice for those who want the very best gun-oriented action, Battlefield is the one to have if you want more variety. From driving tanks, flying planes and blasting the enemy with a wide variety of weapons, Battlefield is a huge open space filled with mayhem. It's not quite as authentic-feeling as COD, but it's a lot more "fun" - and certainly has lots of different things to do. Either way, I think both are a great choice. I prefer COD personally, simply because I like its format of multiplayer better, but I still always enjoy myself whenever I play Battlefield, because it's just so nuts.
Dead Rising 3
I've said before that I have a hard time getting stoked about launch lineups, and Xbox One really drives that fact home. It's not that the system's debut titles don't have promise -- they're just not the sort of games I normally flip out for. Those typically come later, after developers have a chance to get a feel for the machine and time to develop deeper, more consuming ventures. Plus Xbox One lacks the huge roster of indie titles that balances out PS4's flashy-but-shallow retail releases. There's plenty to be excited about further down the road for the console -- D4 looks interestingly wacky, and holy cow is Titanfall fun -- but this early slate of software leaves me cold.
Fortunately, Dead Rising 3 embodies the shining exception to my launch blues rules: At once a substantial adventure, a sequel to one of the definitive titles for Microsoft's previous system, and an ambitious open-world action thriller. The previous Dead Risings have been full of interesting ideas and systems that never quite gelled to perfection, but early buzz on the third game in the series suggests it has real potential. I'm not enamored with the second-screen elements (which basically amount to "use a tablet for an instant win") but so long as they're optional I'm happy to go about my zombie-slaying tasks with aplomb. Especially if it evokes the ridiculously un-serious fun of Saints Row. And this from someone who normally hates zombie games!
It looks like 2013 is where Double Helix breaks out of its shell of mediocrity. Killer Instinct by all rights should be horrible; fighting games are hard to make and balance. Instead, it plays well; it's fast, bright, and fun. The team has clearly looked at what works in the current fighting game market and updated the classic Killer Instinct gameplay accordingly.
The updated designs for the original cast have all been superb, even if Glacius' new look will have to grow on me. Even more surprising, is that each character has clearly been pushed in different direction to allow for different playstyles. It's impressive work, and it all comes together. The roster is a bit sparse, but this isn't a fire-and-forget release. Microsoft and Double Helix intend to support the game with more characters and a story mode coming next year. I've been wanting a new Killer Instinct since 1996, and someone finally delivered.
Just Dance 2014
On the Xbox 360, the Kinect - yes, I have one - was only great for two things: dance games and Netflix voice commands. Of the two dance games out there, Harmonix' Dance Central and Ubisoft's Just Dance, I stuck with Dance Central. Just Dance was more fun, but Dance Central was the "hardcore" version. You felt like you could actually dance after long sessions of Dance Central, while Just dance was more forgiving. Harmonix has left the Dance Central series behind in order to create the family-friendly Fantasia: Music Evolved, so Ubisoft has this year's dance card all to itself.
I was going to ignore Just Dance 2014, but having to wait at Ubisoft's E3 booth for other appointments meant I had to watch three or four Just Dance 2014 songs performed by professional dancers and random crowd members. With each song, my interest peaked a little more. It looked like a ton of fun. Is there some sort of sinister hypnotism at work?
Just Dance 2014 features an impressive list of super pop-y songs for me to shake my ass to, and all-new Kinect works just as well as the old one. Will you booty shake with me?
Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag
Yes, Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag was also on my list for PlayStation 4 and I loved it when I reviewed it on that platform, but I'm a bit of a rebel. If I was only getting one console and that was the Xbox One, ACIV would still be at the top of my list. Did the navel-gazing of Assassin's Creed III's Connor bore you at times? ACIV's protagonist - 'hero' is a bit strong - Edward Kenway is far more charismatic and in tune with exactly what he wants from the world.
Did you hate the naval combat in ACIII because it never felt tied to the main game? Good, because now it's an integral part of the experience! Did you love the naval combat in ACIII? Great, because now there's a ton more of it!
Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag is a big badass open-world and Ubisoft has had another year to hammer out the bugs in its new AnvilNext engine. While the game will still probably look good on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 4, it looks goddamn gorgeous on the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Even though it's coming to current-gen as well, it's still my next-gen title to beat.
Need for Speed: Rivals
I enjoy the Need for Speed games, but I always feel like they stop short of providing what I really want from them -- an interactive Fast and Furious movie. Several past installments have tried to incorporate story into their gameplay with varying amounts of success, but mostly have just boiled down to racing. Fun, exciting, eminently silly racing, admittedly, but still little more than the same sort of thing we've been enjoying for years now, albeit a little prettier.
Need for Speed: Rivals still doesn't really provide that experience, but it does the next best thing: gives us another Hot Pursuit. Autolog is simultaneously the best and worst thing to happen to racing games ever; competition with friends is good, but at the same time it can lead to repeatedly playing one single race over and over again in an attempt to smash that last record by a hundredth of a second rather than actually making any progress.
Hot Pursuit kept my friends and I battling it out for hundredths of a second for a significant period of time; Most Wanted unfortunately failed to recapture that magic. I'm hoping Rivals has the legs to support competition in the long term.
Most of the games that I enjoy tend to run towards the hardcore. Dota 2, for example, is my drug of my choice. However, Zoo Tycoon has me both charmed and rather curious. It's being marketed as this zoo-building simulator of unparalleled beauty and accessibility. Why stop at making artfully realistic enclosures for the animals? Go in. Go wild! Stop by the elephant range and scrub down the entire family. I'm skeptical as to how realistic Zoo Tycoon will be. The less pleasant logistics associated with animal husbandry are most likely going to be glossed over.
Still, this is going to be something that I will be able to introduce to my mother and my sister, neither of whom are terribly comfortable around electronic devices. The notion of Zoo Tycoon possibly functioning as a gateway drug tickles me. If something as tactile as Zoo Tycoon is advertised to be cannot beguile the family into joining me in the Dark Side, nothing can. Plus, there's also the appeal of checking out my first Zoo Tycoon game in god knows how long. It'll be interesting to see how it fares on the next-gen console, especially with Frontier behind the wheels. Kinectimals was an adorable diversion but too shallow to engage me in the long-term. Will Zoo Tycoon take what was good about its spiritual predecessor and make it palatable to adults? Only time will tell.
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