Looks like it's time to clear some space on your Xbox One hard drive! Here's our list of the must-play Xbox One titles of 2015.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
Set just after the events of The Witcher 2, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt follows the series' macho protagonist, Geralt of Rivia, as he trains fellow witcher and apprentice, Ciri - who is by the way - PLAYABLE! She's a sword-wielding boss-lady whose super awesome mythical powers caught the eye of the Wild Hunt: a group of specters seeking to take Ciri's valuable powers so they can use them for - what other than? - world domination.
Compared to The Witcher 2, this game is an entirely new beast for CD Projekt Red. The open world of Witcher 3 is massive - 35 times bigger than the world of The Witcher 2 and is "roughly 20% larger" than that of Skyrim. It's also the first to hit console. How does a developer accomplish a game so extensive and detailed with no loading screens? A fancy new graphics engine, of course. The game will feature use of the REDengine3 graphics engine which integrates Umbra 3 Visibility Solutions. It seems the days of loading screens will be coming to an end soon, as this is just one of the many games this year to accomplish this.
With over 100 hours of gameplay promised to completion, there should be no shortage of action in this open world RPG. From super-realistic AI monsters scattered throughout the countryside to the dynamic day/night system that actually affects monster and AI behavior, the world is bursting with details that bring it to life. Speaking of detail, let's not ignore Geralt's greatest new ability: beard growing. If Geralt wasn't manly enough, his beard now grows as he traverses the map. Can we have a moment to talk about how great that is? That awesome feature will only be available if you download the Beard and Hairstyle DLC ...and you should. BECAUSE IT'S FREE. Free beard-growing action for all!
Read Jaz Rignall's full preview of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, here.
Cuphead is a 1930's cartoon-styled run-and-gun game we first encountered at E3 2014 during the Indie portion of Microsoft's Conference. The plot revolves around the main character, Cuphead, and his friend who are trying to payback a deal they made with the Devil.
Developed by Canadian brothers, Chad and Jared Moldenhauer, it's an unlikely yet pleasant marriage between old-style Warner Bros. cartoon classics such as Merrie Melodies and the action and gameplay familiar to 16-bit classics like Gunstar Heroes. It's quirky, stylish, funny, but most importantly ... challenging!
The Moldenhauer brothers, who are - unsurprisingly - hardcore retro gamers didn't skimp on difficulty. There will be two modes: Normal, and New Game Plus mode which will offer arcade veterans and run and gun enthusiasts the challenge they crave.
Finally, a racing game for the real car enthusiast! Don't get me wrong, there are great racing simulators out there, and Project CARS isn't ground-breaking in any big way, but it's a contender to the standards of Gran Turismo and Forza for good reason. Slightly Mad Studios have taken details normally overlooked in racing games to another level.
There a many specs and unique difficulty options to tailor your gameplay experience. Some so specific, I admittedly have no idea what they do. Project CARS is a game built for hardcore racers and car enthusiasts and I'm sure those of you out there who know a thing or two about cars will appreciate that level of detail. Graphically, the scenery, lighting, and dynamic weather are impressive. Remember those glorious raindrops on your windshield in Forza Horizon 2? Yeah, these are just as glorious. But unlike Forza Horizon 2, Project CARS isn't a console exclusive - which is the first racing game we've seen cross-platform in a while. All-in-all Project CARS isn't perfect, but it is different in all the right ways.
Rise of the Tomb Raider
A survivor has been born. Lara Croft is back and she's no longer the naive teenage explorer we met in 2013's Tomb Raider. She's a little tougher, hardened by her experiences, and ready to take down a new type of enemy. To prove the happenings she witnessed on the island of Yamatai, Lara becomes obsessed with the supernatural. With Jonah as her companion, she embarks on a trip to Siberia in search of the ancient city of Kitezh - a city that keeps the secrets of immortality.
Although the first Tomb Raider received appraise from players and critics alike, there were a few shortcomings - ones that the developers at Crystal Studios aimed to improve. Those 'Secret Tombs' that weren't so secret are now larger and more enigmatic. In an attempt to create a more engaging relationship between the player and their environment, upgrading weapons will require materials collected from hunting. The hunting experience is also more comprehensive. Changing weather conditions will bring out varied wildlife at different times in the game. If you enjoyed the first Tomb Raider, you'll probably love this one even more.
... and who isn't looking forward to Lara's transformation into the Tomb Raider?
Ori and the Blind Forest
When I first laid my eyes on Ori and the Blind Forest at E3 2014, I believe my thoughts were the same as everyone else's, "What a beautiful game!" But it isn't just pretty - it's wonderful, it's ambient, it's majestic! It's sounds cliched, but there just aren't enough adjectives to describe what a treat for the eyes this non-linear platformer is.
It's aesthetically incredibly rich, but don't think that it's just a pretty face, either. There's a lot of substance in there. It simultaneously delivers a lovely and poignant narrative and a great game that requires patience and skill. The timing and strategy required to beat the levels in Ori and the Blind forest are precise, but once perfected, will leave you feeling very accomplished.
Halo 5: Guardians
C'mon. It's Halo. Need I say more? Well since I don't play Halo, I can't ...but Kat Bailey can! Click here to read Kat's Preview of Halo 5: Guardians.