Microsoft

The Xbox One launch lineup is revealed: Ben and Andrew dig through the list to find their favorites

The Xbox One launch lineup is revealed: Ben and Andrew dig through the list to find their favorites

Microsoft has announced that 23 games will be available for the launch of the Xbox One, and you can read the full list on Microsoft’s official page. It’s hard to compare this launch lineup to that of the Xbox 360, the industry has changed in countless ways during this generation, but a couple of things stand out here.

First off, many of these games will also be available on current generation systems. Is there a reason to get the Xbox One version of LEGO Marvel Super Heroes or Skylanders: Swap Force? Games like Battlefield 4 will benefit from the extra power of the Xbox One, but Just Dance 2014? You can argue that the new Kinect will be more precise, and you’ll benefit from some of the console’s social features and interface overhauls, but you’re still looking at a list of games that contain very few true exclusives.

We’ve gotten to the point where it’s impossible to ignore the current generation while also moving into the next, and this leads to things like the ability to move your Call of Duty: Ghosts progress from the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 version of the game over to the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 versions, respectively, when you decide to upgrade.

There are also interesting experiments like Killer Instinct. The game will be free-to-play with a single character, with extra characters costing $5 each. Or you can pay $20 to get the first eight characters, or $40 for the eight characters, the accessory packs, costumes, and the original arcade game. Will this model take off for fighting games? Who knows, but it will be fun to watch, and I’m looking forward to trying the game with the free character before throwing down more money. I also had a chance to play Crimson Dragon, which is a spiritual successor to Panzer Dragoon, at E3, and I loved it. So that’s another launch game I’m going to get right off the bat.

Andrew, what are your thoughts on the spread? Any trends? What three games will you for sure pick up?

Andrew's reaction

I think the line-up of games here is pretty underwhelming. There are a number of games that I'm interested in, but few that I'm really excited for, and nothing that I'm dying to play. 

The three games that leap out to me as being the most exciting are Crimson Dragon, Lococycle, and Killer Instinct. Like you already said, Crimson Dragon looks really great so that's a no-brainer for me. Lococycle is made by Twisted Pixel, and they've earned my automatic purchase at this point.

Killer Instinct on the other hand isn't even really a game that I'm specifically excited for. I'm just interested to see how it plays out, and I'm excited about a game that really seems modern. Most games on that list feel very 2010, but Killer Instinct stands out to me as a game that has a great deal of potential.

Potential is what this list is lacking. There are plenty of good games on this list, but nothing to inspire awe. We already know what 90% of these games will be like, and how good they will be. A launch line-up needs games that are new and exciting, and this severely lacks both. I mean, even 2 out of the 3 games I'm excited for are reboots of old franchises.

I'm not very interested in the big, blockbuster single-player games like Watch Dogs or Dead Rising 3, but even if I was I'm not sure what would compel me to buy an Xbox One to play it on that console.

What's your gut reaction here? Your opening statement was very grounded in facts about what is and isn't in the lineup, but I'm curious about what you think from a consumer standpoint. 

Ben's response

I think the main problem is that there aren't many surprises here, and none of these games are likely to break through and launch new franchises. You have sequels, well-known properties, big-name developers… it's all pretty rote. That's not a bad thing, I can easily count out four or five games that I'm looking forward to getting, but yeah. I'm not overwhelmed.

Still, you can also look at it and see that most genres are covered, many different demographics will be addressed, and the games are a pretty high quality overall. Watch Dogs is going to look much better on next-generation systems, and Peggle 2, which is a personal favorite, is a timed exclusive for the Xbox One. Plus, we don't know how quickly things are going to take off the with new self-publishing features of the system. It's very possible we're going to get buried in smaller, more interesting games faster than we think.

Still, the problem is that Microsoft has to get people interested in the system, and for that it needs to show us experiences we can't have on previous systems. The problem is that most of these games would work perfectly fine on the current systems, albeit with a little less visual polish. Players should be gushing about the games they can only get on a next-generation system, and that should compel them to get out the wallet and throw the $500 price of the system at their newest retailer. Right now I'm looking at a list of games that you'll be able to play without an Xbox One, they just won't look as good.

We'll be able to put this in perspective after Sony's press conference, though. Which is very soon. So let's put on our thinking caps, how does Sony fight this selection of games?

Andrew's strategy

Well they could start by having any compelling, big-budget first party games at all. Microsoft brought Forza 5 to the table, which is good, but it's not going to inspire the masses. They also have Lococycle, which is great, but it's not a system seller.

Forza 5 is the only game on this list developed in-house by a Microsoft studio that is meant to be a set piece for the system. In a way, it typifies Microsoft's mass market approach to the console. The racing genre is one of the very few types of games that transcends cultures. Every country in the world likes a good racing game.

So with that in mind, I'd say that Sony fights back against Microsoft by sticking with their core gamer focus. We're getting to a point where gaming is big enough that these two companies don't need to battle so much anymore. Microsoft can go after the mass consumer while Sony goes after the hardcore gamer, and I think both can be happy with that arrangement.

If I was in Sony's shoes, I'd double-down on enthusiastic gamers, locked down the core audience, and let their evangelism spread the word about PS4. They can do that by announcing the more exciting, more experimental games.

They should do essentially the opposite of Microsoft's play-it-safe approach to their line up. I mean, they can have the usual suite of sports games and shooters, but buzz matters a lot in a console launch and I think a hefty dose of edgy, experimental games will go a long way.

I'd like to see Sony return to the one-two punch of Uncharted and Heavenly Sword that kept the PS3 alive in the early days. Not necessarily those two series, but those types of games. The games that are both interesting to the hardcore gamer, and serve as a beautiful set piece for the system.

Ben's List

It's crazy to think that Microsoft is going more casual, and Sony is going more hardcore, but here we are. Okay, let's pick the five games we're going to get with our Xbox One. Here are the games I'll be grabbing at launch:

  • Crimson Dragon
  • Call of Duty: Ghosts
  • Killer Instinct
  • Watch Dogs
  • Peggle 2

What are yours?

Andrew's List

Normally your tastes and mine diverge pretty drastically, so I think it says something that we have very similar lists.

  • Crimson Dragon
  • Killer Instinct
  • Lococycle
  • Peggle 2
  • Call of Duty: Ghosts