With 2015 swiftly coming to an end, it’s time for us to look back at some of the titles that have had us riveted to our seats in the past year, and on Xbox One there’s been many.
As the console with perhaps the strongest line up of exclusives in the past year, as well as a plethora of fantastic multi-platform releases, condensing the list down to 10 wasn’t an easy task. With some deliberation however, we present to you our Top 10 Xbox One games of 2015…
10Mortal Kombat X
Making a worthy successor to 2011’s excellent Mortal Kombat was never going to be an easy task for Netherrealm Studios, but with Mortal Kombat X they confidently exceeded everyone’s expectations and delivered what we believe is the best beat’em up of the year.
Continuing the story from where Mortal Kombat left off – then jumping 20 years into the future – allowed Netherrealm Studios to go back to the drawing board with regards to the character roster, meaning that Mortal Kombat X features some much-needed fresh new faces alongside a handful of the series’ favourites. Meanwhile, the fantastically directed and well-paced story mode is entertaining fun from beginning to end, and gives you a nice taste of each characters’ play style. Oh, and let’s not forget the fatalities that are assuredly some of the most grotesque in the series to date.
With its interesting cast of characters and vast array of game modes to get your teeth stuck into, Mortal Kombat X offers something for all fighting game fans regardless of whether you’re a casual brawler or a high level player. For that reason, it’s one of our best games of 2015.
9Halo 5: Guardians
Halo 5’s story campaign may have been a little disappointing, but its robust gameplay and stellar online offerings still made it one of the best games to appear on the Xbox One this year.
After we were done beating the Warden Eternal for the umpteenth time and had seen all that the campaign had to offer, jumping into the plentiful online modes was a blast thanks to the new features that made the classic Halo gameplay faster and more accessible than ever. Mantling and aiming down the sights may not be new to the FPS genre, but their inclusion in Halo 5 made it feel like a totally new game, for better or worse.
For Halo stalwarts, the new match type Warzone was also introduced, bringing objective-based mass warfare to the franchise, although the divisive new micro-transaction laden Requisition system that it heavily relies upon raised a few eyebrows. Regardless, Halo 5: Guardians is a game that consumed a great deal of our time this year, and will probably continue to do so well into the new year and beyond.
One of the most anticipated games of recent years, Fallout 4 maybe isn’t quite the revelation that many of us had hoped it would be, but it’s still a mighty fine piece of open world post-apocalyptic RPG action.
Fallout 4 doesn’t waste much time in letting you loose in its fantastically realised post-apocalyptic world, and what you do from there is totally up to you. Whether you decide to crack on with the story missions to try and find your protagonists kidnapped son, or just leisurely wander the wastes, killing and looting wherever you can, you’ll find it an absorbing experience that quickly devours your time.
With its deep new crafting system, entertaining gunplay and huge amount of content, Fallout 4 cements itself as one of our favourite games of the year.
7The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
Featuring an expansive open world and first-rate storytelling The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is surely one of the most enthralling games released this year.
With a world so intimidatingly vast, what really made The Witcher 3 stand out for us is that despite its size, it’s densely populated with things to see and do. Each area has been painstakingly crafted to be unique, which goes a great way to creating the impression of a real, living world that doesn’t just revolve around you. Sure it’s got its technical problems, but they’ve never really soured our experience of playing as Geralt of Rivia in any meaningful way, probably because we were just too engrossed by adventuring and killing monsters. And trust us, there’s a lot of adventuring and killing to be done.
With its fantastic dialogue, interesting quests and deep character development, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt offers hours and hours of immersive action and adventure that you’d be a fool to miss out on.
6Ori and the Blind Forest
Released exclusively for Xbox One and PC back in March, Ori and the Blind Forest was instantly heralded as one of the greatest indie games ever released.
This metroidvania-like side scrolling adventure sets itself apart from the rest with its gorgeous fairytale like visuals, and its gut-wrenching emotional cut scenes. Whilst we found the control scheme let the game down a little, it didn’t detract from the overall experience of a beautifully-crafted game.
Fans would be wise to watch out for the enhanced Definitive Edition coming early in 2016.
Ori and the Blind Forest is available digitally on the Xbox One Store.
5Assassin’s Creed Syndicate
After Unity launched in 2014 to a unanimous outcry of disappointment, there was understandably a lot of scepticism about Assassin’s Creed Syndicate. There needn’t have been. Set in Victorian London and allowing you to play as two assassins, twins Jacob and Evie Frye, this year’s Assassin’s Creed is undoubtedly one of the best in the series.
The very realistic and gritty setting of London provides a perfect backdrop for carrying out Creed‘s usual acts of assassin debauchery, and there are plenty of new mechanics at your disposal too. Syndicate is the first Assassin’s Creed game to include vehicles (in the form of horse and carriage) – so races and vehicular combat are now part of your manifesto – and there’s also the inclusion of a new tool, the grapple, which adds a whole new level to manoeuvring through the city and scaling those tall buildings.
Assassin’s Creed Syndicate is definitely one of 2015’s best games. We can only hope we’ll get to revisit London again in future iterations of the franchise.
4Life is Strange
Featuring one of the most intriguing storylines that we’ve seen in a game as well as gloriously endearing dialogue, DontNod Entertainment’s Life is Strange quickly became one of our favourite games of 2015.
Often feeling like you’re playing out your own MTV reality show, the depth of emotion and realism this game goes into is far beyond anything we’ve ever played before, making it one of the most unique and touching games of recent years. Its story-driven “point and click” style gameplay and emphasis on choice means it’s easy to compare Life is Strange to Telltale Games’ creations, yet in our opinion the immersion and believability of Arcadia Bay and its quirky characters blows anything seen in the likes of The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones out of the water.
Whilst not everyone may be able to relate to a high school girl as the main character, the twists and turns throughout Life is Strange’s five episodes mean that you’ll be gripped from start to finish. And with each choice you’re forced to make having a meaningful impact on your game, you’ll be eager to do it all again once you’ve finished.
Life is Strange is available digitally via the Xbox One Store. You can order the physical copy now, releasing in January 2016.
3Gears of War Ultimate Edition
It might not quite have been the first, but Gears of War is the game that spawned a generation of cover shooters – and in our opinion it still remains the best.
Combining third person cover shooting action with strong horror elements, Gears of War was spectacular to gamers when released in 2006, and still remains a solid title to this day. With its tight, visceral gameplay and fantastic environmental design, the game was a joy to play both in single and multiplayer, with the latter remaining an immensely popular mode throughout other entries in the series.
Rebuilt from the ground up for the Xbox One, Gears of War Ultimate Edition took what made the original Gears of War so great whilst bringing the visuals fully up to date. Whilst this means that some of the game’s less than stellar aspects were also retained, such as your companions piss-poor AI, it still an amazing thrill ride as you tackle to locust and head for the final climactic battle with General Raam. With Gears of War 4 set to be released late in 2016, you cant go wrong wasting some time with Gears of War Ultimate Edition in preparation.
When it comes to driving sims on consoles, there’s only ever really the one option: Gran Turismo if you own a PlayStation, or Forza if you own an Xbox. Whilst Gran Turismo remains notably absent from the current generation of consoles however, the Forza series continues to put in a strong showing every year.
This years Forza 6 was one of the strongest entries in the series to date, and is easily the best racing game available on Xbox One. Running at 1080p with noticeably improved visuals over Forza 5, all the while maintaining a solid 60fps, it provided racing that is smooth, responsive and engaging, just like it should be. Yes, the career mode should have been better, and the Drivatars were still a cause for concern, but the issues were a blip on an otherwise exceptional package.
Forza 6 offered a staggering amount of beautifully created cars and tracks for you to do with as you please, and you were hard pushed to not find a mode that was able to devour a great deal of your time, whether you were a hardcore racer or not. If you own an Xbox One, you should consider Forza 6 an essential purchase.
1Rise of the Tomb Raider
Bigger, better and bolder; the only possibly negative thing we could say about Rise of the Tomb Raider is that it didn’t exactly break any new ground. Building on from the stellar gameplay of 2013’s Tomb Raider however, it doesnt really need to.
Picking up shortly after the events of its predecessor, our favourite well-spoken but often foul-mouthed heroine is still trying to piece together the supernatural events she faced on her last adventure, turning to her late father’s research for the breakthrough that she needs. Learning of the lost city of Kitezh – a place that may hold the answers she’s looking for – curiosity gets the better of her, and she once again sets off on a wild and dangerous journey.
After an impressively dramatic opening you’re thrown into an epic adventure with fantastic pacing from thereon out. Action and adventure is what Lara does best, and Rise of the Tomb Raider certainly doesn’t fail to deliver; this is a game that sets out to get your adrenaline pumping whatever the situation – and it truly succeeds.
As an evolution rather than a revolution; It feels familiar, but it’s a warm and welcoming kind of familiar, building upon the best elements of any previous adventure game to create what is quite possibly the best title currently available on Xbox One – and certainly Lara’s best adventure to date.