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Which Xbox One Games Should I Pre-order?

As the launch of Xbox One draws ever closer, we take one last, long look at the launch games roster, and make recommendations about which ones are worth investing in.

If you've pre-ordered an Xbox One, you've very likely pondered the question: which games should I pre-order? We've been thinking the same thing at USgamer - so we decided to turn our thoughts into a feature. We've all looked at the Xbox One launch game list, and each member of the team has assigned one of three ratings to games that they think are the most notable. Those ratings are:

BUY - a game that we think is very likely going to be a winner

SAFE - a game that looks to be a solid choice and is unlikely to disappoint

HOLD - this game might be great - or it might be a disappointment. We just don't know enough about it yet, so we recommend holding off purchasing until we've had the chance to review it.

So without further ado, here are our recommendations

Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag

Jaz Rignall: BUY

We've already seen and played the current generation AC4, and it's terrific - so unless Ubisoft have somehow, against all the odds figured out a way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, I think it's safe to say that Assassin's Creed IV is a great game to preorder. Assuming you haven't already got it, of course.

Mike Williams: BUY

I'm about to put up a review for Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag and I say BUY! It doesn't change the series' formula drastically, but it comes together in a much more cohesive whole than Assassin's Creed III did. And from the demos I've seen, next-gen Assassin's Creed looks amazing!

Jeremy Parish: SAFE

I'm playing Assassin's Creed IV right now, and I played the PS4 version at Tokyo Game Show. As such, I'm a bit less bullish on it than Jaz. This is very much Assassin's Creed, and the water effects are very pretty on next-gen hardware, but it does a lot of the same dumb, annoying things as previous entries in the series. If you're OK with that, well, go for it. Otherwise, the fancier graphics won't change your mind about this one.

Pete Davison: SAFE

It's Assassin's Creed. If you haven't already played the latest installment on current-gen hardware and you're a fan of previous entries in the prolific series, this is probably a safe bet. If, however, like me, you've got so far behind on the series that it's nigh-impossible to catch up with, this probably won't change your mind much.

Cassandra Khaw: SAFE

Like Pete said, it's Assassin's Creed. Which should really tell you everything. The game looks lovely, but I've been hearing some conflicting reports on the overall experience. I think it's safe to say that if you're a fan, it's unlikely that you're going to be incredibly disappointed. Even if you're not, however, it's definitely one of the more secure picks from the launch line-ups.

Battlefield 4

Jaz Rignall: BUY

Battlefield 4’s single-player campaign isn’t particularly compelling, but its multiplayer mode is enormously fun. So if firing shells, bullets, missiles, grenades and bombs at other players is your thing, this game should definitely be on your day one list.

Pete Davison: BUY

Assuming you're a multiplayer-centric player, Battlefield 4 on Xbox One is a sure-fire purchase, no pun intended. If you're buying it for the single-player campaign, though, you'll probably want to hold off for now.

Call of Duty: Ghosts

Jaz Rignall: BUY

While it is similar in many respects to Battlefield 4, Call of Duty: Ghosts offers more focused multiplayer combat that’s much more up close and personal. While the single-player mode does look entertaining, it’s the multiplayer mode that’ll keep you playing – and that’s why I think it’s a buy.

Pete Davison: BUY

While I'm not a Call of Duty fan myself, Ghosts looks to be an excellent new installment for those who enjoy that sort of thing. There's plenty to do for all types of player -- and the recently revealed Extinction mode looks like a lot of fun, as clichéd as it is.

Cassandra Khaw: SAFE

Ah! Aliens! Ah! Doggies! Ah! Playable female characters!While the franchise is often the target of a lot of criticism, it's hard to deny that Call of Duty is very good at being exactly what it is: a competitive multiplayer shooter. I'm skeptical about the single-player mode being terribly awesome but that's not why you're buying this anyway, right?

Crimson Dragon

Jaz Rignall: HOLD

This is one of my most-anticipated launch games for Xbox One – so why am I putting it on my watch list? That’s because while it looks absolutely great, I need to play it before I can endorse it. I do have a few concerns that this on-rails shooter might feel somewhat restricted and be limited in its scope – but those are concerns that I hope will be blown away when I finally get to play it.

Pete Davison: HOLD

I'm with Jaz. While this looks great, we need to know more about it before we can recommend it wholeheartedly.

Brendan Sinclair: SAFE

First off, preorders for software are silly, and I wouldn't advise anyone put their money down before they're able to make an informed purchasing decision. That said, consider all my contributions here just generic predictions of how I think the games will turn out (/wet blanket). While there are a few questions remaining about this one, I have faith that the creator of Panzer Dragoon can make a prettier version of the same game when given years to do it, as he has had with Crimson Dragon. Now, you may not like Panzer Dragoon, but that's a different problem.

Dead Rising 3

Jaz Rignall: HOLD

I love a good zombie game, and I’m hoping that this will be a great one. Certainly has plenty of potential, and so far early reports are positive. But again, I can’t quite get fully behind it until I’ve played the final version.

Jeremy Parish: BUY

Stupid second screen gimmicks notwithstanding, Dead Rising 3 has earned a lot of praise from people I trust. Honestly, of all the system's launch titles, this looks most appealing to me -- and I hate zombie games! It's pretty rare to find a fully realized action game at any system's launch, especially an open-world one.

Pete Davison: SAFE

I think this is probably a safe purchase, but I'm still a bit concerned at its apparent shift away from the bright colors of previous installments. That said, past Dead Rising games were a blast, and its open-world nature is likely to make it a good showcase for the new console.

FIFA 14

Jaz Rignall: SAFE

This year’s FIFA was more of an incremental upgrade than last year, and the next-gen versions are likely to be an incremental upgrade again. That makes it a safe place to put your money – and I’d upgrade that to a buy if you’re a soccer fan who hasn’t already played the game on a current generation console.

Pete Davison: SAFE

I am British and thus am supposedly obliged to like soccer. Unfortunately, I detest soccer, but by all accounts this is supposed to be a good digital adaptation of the supposedly "beautiful game," so if you're into that, this should be a safe purchase.

Forza Motorsport 5

Jaz Rignall: BUY

This is my launch game of choice. I've already played it, and I had to hose the drool off the Xbox One joypad afterwards. It’s looking every inch a winner, and I’d happily place a big fat bet right now that this will be the king of all race games when it rolls out of the pit lane on release day.

Pete Davison: BUY

This seems to be the "flagship" game for the new console, and deservedly so -- it's looking like both an excellent showcase for the Xbox One and a great game in its own right. I haven't played a full-on driving sim for quite some time now, but Forza 5 has me seriously tempted.

Brendan Sinclair: SAFE

Racing games and console launches go together like peanut butter and jelly. They're always great for showing off the power of the new hardware, and (apparently) an easier genre to do properly in the relatively short development period afforded launch titles. Combine that with the unimpeachable pedigree of developer Turn 10 and Forza 5 is as safe a bet as you're likely to find.

Just Dance 2014

Jaz Rignall: SAFE

The guilty pleasure of millions, even though nobody admits to playing it, Just Dance 2014 works a treat with Kinect. I’m not placing it as a buy, simply because it’s game you either love or hate. But if you do want to take the plunge and cavort and gyrate in front of your shiny new Xbox One, this is as safe a purchase as any.

Pete Davison: SAFE

While Just Dance is hardly a technological marvel, it's a great party game and thus a solid investment if you have reasonably extroverted (or drunk) people over a lot -- plus I always felt this was one game that made a lot more sense with Kinect than a motion controller.

Cassandra Khaw: SAFE

Now, while I'd be the last person to insist that Just Dance is going to teach you how to actually dance, Just Dance 2014 may well be good for something else - giving you the desire to dance. Which is, I think, about as important as the ability to do so. Either way, Just Dance is a great little party game that will get you and your friends moving in rhythm.

Killer Instinct

Jaz Rignall: HOLD

It’s great to see this franchise back in the limelight again, but I must confess that I was not much of a fan of it the first time around, much preferring the likes of Street Fighter II. From what little I’ve seen of the game, it does look impressive and is fairly fun to play. But buying in on day one seems like a risk to me. Let’s wait and see how it plays before taking the plunge.

Cassandra Khaw: SAFE

Do you like fighting games? Because you might like Killer Instinct. Asides from being an attractive revitalization of an old series, Killer Instinct has earned a fair number of approving nods from the fighting game community - notably the luminous Justin Wong. If you're willing to put up with its odd quasi-free-to-play model and just plain enjoy the genre, you can consider it a decently safe bet.

LEGO Marvel Super Heroes

Jaz Rignall: BUY

We loved this game when we reviewed it, and there’s no reason why the Xbox One version won’t be just as much fun. If you’re a hardcore gamer, please note that you might find the game a little on the easy side, so you might want to invest your money elsewhere if you’re after a challenge. But for those who love the Lego series of games, or might have some younger players in the house – this is a good bet.

Brendan Sinclair: BUY

This one's a "Buy" with a couple asterisks. First, don't pick this up expecting it to show off the power of the Xbox One. Second, expect it to be buggy. I've been playing through the PS3 version of the game and have run into a half-dozen show-stopping bugs and crashes. That said, it's a testament to how enjoyable the game is that I keep coming back despite those hassles.

Mike Williams: BUY

LEGO Marvel Superheroes ended up being far more fun that I expected. I'm sure the Xbox One version will have a few gamecrashing bugs and it might not utilize all of that next-gen power, but if you're not picking it up for Xbox 360, you might as well grab it on Xbox One.

LocoCycle

Jaz Rignall: HOLD

This is indeed as crazy as its title might suggest. Part Road Rash, part Tron and part fighting game, LocoCycle is certainly way, way out there. It’s fast, and it’s most certainly furious. But is it any good? I’m not convinced right now, and would recommend waiting to see what the general consensus is once it’s released. If you must have a racing game on day one, there are two others available that have very fine pedigrees. So unless you really like the look of it, I’d suggest trying one of those first.

Jeremy Parish: HOLD

This game has been kicking around for years, and while time may have tarted up the visuals it hasn't blunted the casual racism of the thing. Compare Guacamelee's stylish renditions of Mexican mythology versus LocoCycle's panicked accidental protagonist screaming in "hilarious" Mexican-accented English/Spanish pidgin for a handy two-point case study in how and how not to incorporate Latin American elements into your indie game.

Brendan Sinclair: HOLD

This was the only Xbox One game I actually got hands-on with at E3, and I was not impressed on any level. Well, actually, I was impressed with the Xbox One controller. But the game? Not so much.

Madden NFL 25

Jaz Rignall: SAFE

At 25 years old, the Madden franchise is still moving the ball up the field, one down at a time. This version is solid, but isn’t the greatest addition to the series, feeling a bit more like a Madden 13+ than a whole new ball game. If you want to play football on Xbox One, Madden NFL 25 delivers the goods in a solid, workmanlike way.

NBA 2K14

Jaz Rignall: SAFE

If you absolutely must have a basketball game, this is a great choice. As indeed the other one. I’m looking forward to playing “spot the difference” when they both arrive.

Mike Williams: SAFE

NBA Live 14 is a big question mark as it returns this year, while NBA 2K14 continues the same great pedigree that kept basketballs fans entertained while Live worked out its issues. If you're a big LeBron fan, this year's new mode allows you to chart his future career path, which may involve digital LeBron consuming the real LeBron one day in the future.

NBA Live 14

Jaz Rignall: SAFE

If you absolutely must have a basketball game, this is a great choice. As indeed the other one. I’m looking forward to playing “how different are they” when they both arrive.

Need for Speed: Rivals

Jaz Rignall: BUY

Confession time. I played this at E3 probably more than I should, because it was freakin’ awesome. The 16-player demo that EA set up was a total blast: 8 perps vs 8 cops in one of the craziest multiplayer racers I’ve experienced yet: it’s like Hot Pursuit with an extra gear. So anyway, before I accidentally turn this into a review – GET!

Mike Williams: BUY

Need for Speed: Rivals is one of the games that I'm hoping to skip completely on current-gen, because the next-gen version I played at E3 looked gorgeous. Rivals is a continuation of the same great gameplay found in Hot Pursuit and Most Wanted, but adds All-Drive, which brings single-player and online together in one world. I agree with Jaz, 8-on-8 was damn fun.

Pete Davison: SAFE

The last few Need for Speeds have varied from "solid" to "fantastic" and it remains to be seen which direction this one is going to go in. If it's anything like the excellent Hot Pursuit, though, it's going to be great.

Peggle 2

Jaz Rignall: SAFE

I liked the original Peggle so much, I pretty much completed everything the game had to offer - and I'm excited to play the sequel. But I think it's far better suited to a mobile phone. Or tablet. Or mobile gaming device. If you can't live without it on your Xbox One, I'm sure it's going to be excellent. But dude! This thing's the best bathroom break game ever.

Jeremy Parish: HOLD

Hey, Peggle's fun. But who wants to play this on a next-gen console? This game was invented for killing a few minutes here and there on the bus or at the airport or whatever. If you're not playing Peggle on a device that fits comfortably in your pants pocket, you're kind of missing the point.

Pete Davison: HOLD

No no no. Peggle's popularity continues to baffle me. Sure, it's addictive and delights in tickling the reward centers of your brain, but beyond that it's a throwaway waste of time -- and not exactly something that makes good use of the Xbox One's standout features.

Powerstar Golf

Jaz Rignall: HOLD

This stylized, arcadey golf game certainly looks like fun, and follows a similar approach to the sport as the wildly successful Hot Shots Golf. If it’s on par (Agh! Sorry) with Sony’s golfing franchise, it should be an out-and-out winner. I’m certainly looking forward to it, and hope it’s as good as it looks, but since it’s a currently unproven franchise, I wouldn’t recommend jumping in on day one.

Mike Williams: HOLD

I played this at E3 because the demo unit was open and I wanted to get a feel for the Xbox One controller. So very boring, but then again golf is not my jam. Luckily, the Killer Instinct demo opened up and saved me from my pain.

Pete Davison: HOLD

Despite not being a huge fan of the real-life sport, I do enjoy a good golf game -- particularly if it's a light-hearted cartoony one in the Hot Shots mold. However, I don't know enough about this to be able to recommend it or not, unfortunately -- I do hope it's good, though.

Ryse: Son of Rome

Jaz Rignall: HOLD

I’m looking forward to playing this, but it’s not on my “must have” list at the moment. That’s because I want to see exactly how the quicktime-like finishing moves are woven into the action, and how the game plays out. I mean, it certainly looks stunning from what I’ve seen, and it comes from Crytek, who are an excellent developer. But I’m being cautious. I’m thinking it’ll probably be great, but I’m not quite throwing my money at the screen yet.

Jeremy Parish: HOLD

Unless every demo and interview about this game has been a carefully orchestrated deception, Ryse looks to be the very embodiment of everything I don't want games to be. Big, stupid, violent, and barely interactive, I can't think of a single launch game I'm less interested in.

Cassandra Khaw: HOLD

You can probably wait for this one to go on sales. Ryse: Son of Rome looks gorgeous the way only next-gen games know how to be. Unfortunately, I also loathe quick-time events and am extremely leery of the game after everything I've heard. Still, it's pretty. And it might be fun. But Ryse doesn't fall in my 'Oh my god, you need to buy this now!' category of games.

Skylanders: Swap Force

Jaz Rignall: SAFE

If your household has a collection of Skylanders figures, you’ve probably already got everything you need to enjoy them. But if you just HAVE to have the Xbox One version, you probably won’t be disappointed. You might not be totally blown away either, but that’s fine, because the younger members of your household will be playing it. Right? Right??

Jeremy Parish: SAFE

The Skylanders figures are platform-agnostic, so there's absolutely no reason for dedicated fans not to invest in the next-gen version of Swap Force to get the most out of their investment. Long-suffering gamer dads or moms looking for an angle to convince your cynical significant other that Xbox One is a great investment: Here you go!

Zoo Tycoon

Jaz Rignall: HOLD

While this franchise has been commercially successful over the past 12 years, it’s more of a kids game than a serious Zoo sim. I’m interested to see whether it continues to cater to that audience, or has been made more sophisticated for its Xbox One debut. But until we can see that first-hand, I don’t think it’s worth rushing into.

Pete Davison: HOLD

Every launch lineup needs at least one "What...?!" title, and Zoo Tycoon fits the bill nicely. Still, it's nice to see a historically PC-based type of game represented on a next-gen console -- I just hope it isn't too "Zyngafied."

Zumba Fitness: World Party

Jaz Rignall: SAFE

Zumba is a great way to get fit, but dancing around with a bunch of spangly-pant-wearing soccer Moms is kinda weird. At least it was for me. But now you can do it in the privacy of your home. Sure, Zumba Fitness isn’t a game per se, but it’s well executed, fun and it’ll get you in shape. While it’s not a must-have, if you want to get fit (or have someone else in your house who’d like to), you won’t go wrong with this.

Pete Davison: SAFE

Fitness games may not be the fanciest showcase titles in the world, but they're a great, affordable way to get fit in privacy -- plus Zumba in particular is proven to be quite effective if you stick with it as part of a healthy lifestyle.

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