Unfortunately for Sony, the PlayStation 4 lacks a system-selling game at launch. Killzone: Shadow Fall and Resogun are both worthwhile experiences in their own right, but they alone aren’t worth the $400 investment of the console. As for the rest of the PS4’s opening lineup, the vast majority of the games are appearing on the Xbox One as well.
Microsoft has taken a different path for its launch. By my count, there are nine Xbox One exclusives available right now (ten if you count Xbox Fitness), a staggering number compared to the three exclusive titles that launched with the PS4. Has Microsoft gone for quantity over quality, or are some of these games worth picking up?
Forza Motorsport 5
The Forza series, much like Gran Turismo on PlayStation, is extremely reliable. Last year’s Forza Horizon was primarily developed by a new studio and competed with Need for Speed: Most Wanted for the best open-world racer of the year. This time around, Turn 10 Studios is back in the driver’s seat, and it looks to have released the most complete launch title available on either system.
Although Forza 5 has significantly trimmed down the amount of cars and tracks available to players, the additions to the game might balance out the package, most notably the Drivatar system. Once you have completed a few races, the game will start to learn how you drive your car. Once the game builds a profile of your driving habits, it creates a Drivatar that is then unleashed upon other online players, so your friends will start to see you in their races.
Driver AI is always a make-or-break component to a racing game, but Turn 10 might have finally figured out the perfect solution. With plenty of downloadable content on the way, Forza is shaping up to be the must-have game of the Xbox One launch lineup.
Dead Rising 3
When Dead Rising 3 was first shown off at E3, it looked like Capcom had sapped the goofy spirit from the series all together. Frank West carried the original Dead Rising with his witty repartee and stylish outfits, but Nick Ramos, the new protagonist, seemed lifeless by comparison. Dead Rising 3 was starting to look more like a next-gen showcase for how many zombies the developers could fit on the screen than a full-fledged game. Thankfully, most of those fears have been eliminated by some very positive pre-release coverage.
Nick is given a huge open world to explore, full of vehicles to drive, weapons to pick up and survivors to rescue. Weapons can also be combined to create some of the most ridiculous zombie-repellents you’ve ever seen, and Nick is the first character in the series to have an RPG-style stat tree. If you’re in the market for a zombie playground, you could do a lot worse than Dead Rising 3.
Ryse: Son of Rome
Where the PS4 has Knack, a cute, colorful platformer, the Xbox One has Ryse, a violent, bloody third-person hack-and-slash. It might not be the most apt comparison, but considering the fact that there are no adorable platformers on the Xbox One, it’s the closest parallel I could come up with. Ryse is an action-adventure title where you take control of a general and viciously murder other warriors.
Complete with quick-time events and swarms of deadly foes, Ryse could scratch a certain itch that nothing else on either console is offering. The review scores haven’t been stellar, but Crytek, the development studio behind the game, doesn’t usually put out clunkers, as shown by the Crysis series. This one is worth keeping an eye on.
The biggest surprise of the Xbox One launch is undoubtedly the return of the cult classic fighting game, Killer Instinct. An even bigger surprise is that it’s a free-to-play downloadable game. After you download Killer Instinct, you will have access to one playable fighter. You can pay individually for each additional fighter you want to unlock, or just buy the full package for a flat fee. Considering the pedigree of the series, critics haven’t been exceptionally kind to the game, but there’s no risk in trying it out to see if this sequel is for you.
There are six other Xbox-only titles at launch, but the reception has been much less consistent for most of them. LocoCycle is a motorcycle racing game in which the motorcycle is a sentient robot that not only speeds through levels, but also fights with enemies along the way as if it were human. Crimson Dragon, an on-rails shooter featuring a fireball-spitting dragon, has been pegged as the spiritual successor to Panzer Dragoon. Zoo Tycoon is a follow-up to the classic zoo simulator series on PC and Mac. Fighter Within is Ubisoft’s Kinect boxing game, making full use of the skeleton tracking of the new Kinect. Powerstar Golf is a cartoony golf game, and finally, Xbox Fitness is Microsoft’s answer to Wii Fit.
Now your problem isn’t going to be finding a game to play on your brand new Xbox One this weekend, it’s which one (or ones) you want to pick up. BGR will have a full review of the Xbox One next week, and game reviews are on the way as well.