The A to X of Xbox One
It’s hard to completely appreciate the impact Xbox Live Achievements have had on our gaming lives, since their launch in 2005. The unrelenting pursuit of Gamerscore glory has transformed the simple act of playing games into a highly competitive meta-game, where your success and failure in the digital realm is laid out for all to see. Achievement addiction will only grow with Xbox One, as ‘cheevos can be added to games at any time by developers. The thousand-G cap has been removed; and titles will dynamically update to reflect in-game promotions, events and competitions. Microsoft is saying it will allow developers to prolong engagement with consumers – we think it’s an easy way to keep us chipping away at the ever elusive ‘100 per cent complete’ marker.
B is for Bungie
Towards the end of its time with Microsoft, it was clear Bungie was becoming creatively stifled by Master Chief and his ongoing plight to save humanity. Under the wing of Activision, however, we’ve seen the studio approach next-gen with all the fervour that ran through the veins of Halo: Combat Evolved back in 2001. Bungie is looking to defy FPS conventions with Destiny, ushering in the first wave of ‘shared world shooters’ in an effort to redefine what it means to be an emergent shooter in the 21st century.
C is for Clans
Are you super popular and tired of having to turn people away from your friends-list like a bouncer at a swanky club? Good news, you popular bastard, Microsoft is lifting the 100-person restriction and expanding it into the thousands – it now has more in common with Twitter than the previous iteration of your friends list. You’ll even be able to group people together and jump seamlessly into multiplayer matches across titles.
D is for DRM
Quite possibly the biggest backtrack in gaming history. The Xbox One no longer requires a 24-hour Internet check-in (it means you can continue to use your console should you live in the woods) and yes, it will play secondhand games. Everything will function like it does on 360, just don’t complain when Online Passes return and digital game sharing never resurfaces. Remember – the community made it happen.
E is for Exclusives
At launch we had Forza Motorsport 5, Ryse: Son Of Rome, Dead Rising 3, Zoo Tycoon, Killer Instinct and more, but the best is yet to come from Xbox One exclusives. They include Titanfall, the return of Master Chief in Halo, Fable Legends, D4, Sunset Overdrive and Quantum Break to name those we know about so far. As ever, the Xbox One will be delivering an amazing array of exclusives in the coming years. These are just a taster of things to come.
F is for FTP
Microsoft is wading very slowly into the waters of free-to-play gaming, with the Xbox 360 being used as a proving ground. World Of Tanks and Warface are coming early 2014, while Ascend and Spartacus Legends are on the XBLA waiting for your time and microtransactions. We expect Xbox One to jump into bed with the F2P movement eventually, though much of it hinges on the success of Killer Instinct.
G is for Gears Of War
It’s impossible to understate the impact of Gears Of War. Arriving a full year after the Xbox 360 released, it came to define the early years of the generation – with an innovative cover system and incredible graphical prowess. Yet, with Gears creator Cliff Bleszinski no longer with Epic, the franchise seems to be flat-lining. The studio is reportedly working on a big new unannounced shooter, though we hope to see Marcus Fenix resurface sooner rather than later.
H is for On The Horizon
Look towards 2014, what do you see? A pretty boss line-up no doubt, but nothing has us suiting up for intergalactic war faster than a return of Master Chief and the almighty Halo series. 343 Studios unleashed one of the best Halo games to date with 4, so expectations are running high as the studio approaches the second installment into the Reclaimer Trilogy. Info is pretty light at this point, though a recent leak suggests Halo 5 will see Chief in possession ‘of a mysterious data chip’ as he ‘confronts a new battery of challenges and tests in a Herculean effort to stay alive in a galaxy where sentient life is mercilessly hunted’. Sounds like 117 is up a certain creek without a paddle, and with guardian angel Cortana now seemingly out of the picture, this will undoubtedly be a particularly difficult mission for the galaxy’s favourite Spartan.
Respawn Entertainment’s debut is shaping up to be the inventive and appealing system seller the Xbox One is desperately in need of. This frantic FPS is going to redefine Modern Warfare for a new generation.
• THE DIVISION
Shared world shooters and persistent online worlds are next-gen hot topics right now, and The Division is easily the most attention-grabbing. Sexy graphics meet awesome squad and tablet mechanics in this wonderful third-person shooter from Ubisoft.
• FABLE LEGENDS
We’ve been burnt by Fable in the past – several times – but, with Peter Molyneux out of the picture, this is an opportunity for Lionhead to prove itself. This co-op dependent adventure is taking the Xbox exclusive RPG to new frontiers.
• The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
Geralt is making his final stand in The Witcher 3, though that won’t stop him from leaving a lasting impression on us.
Touting a sizable open world that’ll make even the heartiest dragonborn embarrassed, Wild Hunt will be a must-buy when it hits in Q2 2014.
I is for Indie Games
Hooray, the Xbox One now supports indie developers and games! The ID@Xbox program means would-be developers can now register and receive two development kits (free of charge) and will have access to the full power and features of the Xbox One – expect indie games to experiment with Kinect, SmartGlass, Gamerscore, Achievements, Xbox Live and the cloud services, as the self-publishing devout seek to deliver new experiences in the next-gen age.
J is for Japan
Xbox has never been particularly big in Japan, so it is no surprise that Microsoft has been mute on the subject of the One heading east. A Microsoft rep has recently confirmed however, that the console will reach the territory in 2014, and that new, unannounced IPs from Japanese studios are in development awaiting the consoles release. Rumour has it they aren’t RPGs, which makes us sadface, but we’re excited either way.