We may be about to wave a fond farewell to 2016, but owners of Microsoft’s latest home console can take pride in the face these, the most anticipated Xbox One games of 2016, are waiting just behind a new page on your calendar. All of the games listed here are Xbox One exclusives and will not be released on PC, PlayStation 4, or even that Gizmondo you’ve had locked in the attic for years.
Due to hit store shelves April 5th, Quantum Break comes from Remedy Entertainment who you may know as the studio responsible for birthing Alan Wake and the first two Max Payne titles. In keeping with its penchant for narrative-heavy third-person action shooters, Quantum Break will follow the developer’s signature framework to the letter. Yes, even down to the unique mechanics, which in the case of Quantum Break will be centred around the manipulation of time rather than shining a torch on things that go bump in the night or straight up leaping through a room John Woo style.
You might think that Remedy appears to be a little frozen in its ways and to be fair you wouldn’t be wrong, although that could be because the lead actor of Quantum Break, Shawn Ashmore, is best known for his rendition of Iceman in the X-Men franchise.
When Quantum Break first flashed across screens around the globe in 2013 as part of a teaser trailer, we all got excited for its arrival in 2014. However, it appears time was not on our side as Quantum Break subsequently dropped off into 2015 before finally getting a set release date in 2016. Even more exciting than finally getting the payoff after all this waiting however is that the game features a full companion series to go along with its events. Whichever way you cut it, that’s a whole lot of bang for your buck.
PlatinumGames is known for throwing curve balls, spearing from left field to smash with unerring accuracy into the hearts of gamers the world over. When a team’s resumé includes Vanquish (a personal favourite of mine) alongside the likes of Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance and the Bayonetta series, anything they produce is hard to ignore — except for The Legend of Korra but we don’t talk about that. One of their latest projects, Scalebound is coming exclusively to the fairly large black box of Microsoft’s and is undoubtedly one of the most anticipated Xbox One exclusives of 2016.
Scalebound casts you into the boots of Drew, a capable combatant who is himself flanked by the majestic beat of a dragon named Thuban. The aim of the game is simple: Intertwine the skills of Drew (controlled by you) and Thuban (controlled by A.I. with directions from you) to bring death, dismemberment and general displeasure to anyone in your path.
Perhaps Scalebound’s most intriguing feature though – other than the promise of a new fantastical world to explore – is the multiplayer component and the customisation it alludes to. During 2015’s Gamescom presentation, a piece of footage showcased four versions of Drew wading into battle with a common foe. An exciting prospect in itself but one that piques your curiosity further when you realise that each version of Thuban is completely different. A wide variety of playstyles and a bad-ass dragon at your side? Anyone who doesn’t anticipate something like that needs to get their priorities sorted out.
ReCore’s a weird one. We’re yet to see any gameplay but there’s just something to it; a unique, alluring quality glinting in the future’s dark corner. What, you ask? Well how about the fact that ReCore is coming from the mind of Keiji Inafune who’s worked on the likes of the Mega Man, Soul Sacrifice, and Onimusha to name but a few? Via a collaboration between his company Comcept and Texan team Armature, ReCore is due to roll out in the second quarter of 2016.
We don’t really know a whole lot about ReCore. The key hook of everything is a blue core which can be inserted into various constructs around the world to unlock new abilities which will in turn allow for access into unseen locales. Well, that’s what we’d expect anyway given the lineage of Recore’s famed team member.
Why ReCore is one of the most anticipated Xbox One exclusives of 2016 can only be answered in two halves. The first is that there’s so much mystery surrounding the game given its impending release that we all just want to know what the hell’s going on, and the second is that it’s likely to be a complete departure from anything else on the Xbox One platform. After a year of massive open-world games and sequels, something fresh is just what the industry needs to renew interest.
Gears of War 4
Two franchises have long been synonymous with the success of Xbox Live. The first, Halo, set the standard for what we would come to expect from online console multiplayer for years to come. As the seventh generation of consoles dawned, a new property swept across the zeitgeist, taking muscle-bound mayhem to a new level with the cover-based capers on display in Gears of War. In 2016, three years since the Xbox One was let loose on this planet we call Earth, the series’ fourth mainline installment (but fifth overall because SPINOFF MONEY) cleverly named Gears of War 4 is due to arrive.
Don’t for a minute however expect this to be yet another tread down the familiar, Locust-ridden garden paths of Sera featuring four burly and gun-toting sods going gung-ho into the enemy’s waiting maw. The Coalition, the developer that’s currently charged with creating this next installment, have come out suggesting that Gears of War 4 will take sharp left turn into the horror genre instead of lazily cruising from explosive set piece to explosive set piece.
A great idea if you’re trying to kick off a new Gears of War trilogy, but the footage we’ve seen so far appears lean in the direction of another Gears game with darker textures and monsters plucked from the depths of children’s nightmares. This shift in direction, twinned with the return of cover-based tomfooley, without a shadow of a doubt gives Gears of War 4 a distinct aroma of anticipation, although whether it’s morbid curiosity or a genuine desire for more chainsaw-bayonet fun remains to be seen.
Look at TV, movies, and indeed video games right now and one thing becomes abundantly clear: We as a species are suckers for a bit of wanton destruction. The problem is that while the silver or LCD vestiges of moving pictures are hindered only by the skill of artists and directors, gaming can’t quite equal the explosive potential of cinema because of technical limitations. Photo-realism or on-screen action must be sacrificed in some manner if you want to destroy enormous buildings across a huge map. Crackdown 3 however seems to have sidestepped that problem, making it one of the most anticipated Xbox One exclusives of 2016 for many.
Currently being developed by Reagent Games, Crackdown 3 will take a similar form to it’s Xbox 360 predecessors by dumping you in a city full of challenges to take on amidst a metric buttload of other activities to get your teeth into. Basically it’s the Crackdown you remember, but with an extra layer of shine. Oh it’s also probably one of the first Crackdown games you pick up that isn’t packaged in alongside a Halo 3 beta.
Gorgeous vistas pinpricked with highly detailed futuristic characters aside though, it’s the promise of destruction that’s going to set Crackdown 3 apart from anything else in the Xbox One library — if only due to its implementation of Microsoft’s Azure Cloud computing servers. By utilizing this technology, Crackdown 3 promises to bring the calculating power of the cloud kicking and screaming into the gaming world by allowing for the complete annihilation of buildings, which will realistically crumble or deform under fire from whichever weapon you bring to bear. Alright this feature may only be present in multiplayer but is that really a bad thing? After all if there’s anything more fun than bringing down a futuristic building with weapons only dreamt of by our science right now, it’s doing it with a gaggle of friends.