Action/adventure games are now placed among the most popular video game genres, blurring the lines between slow-paced adventure experiences, and those packed with adrenaline-fueled action. Developers aren't frequently exploring the genre as of late, but a strong library of titles still stands on the Xbox One.
Adventure titles first made an appearance during the 1970s, allowing players to explore a branching narrative through a series of text-based decisions. These games laid the foundations for numerous modern storytelling techniques used in today's releases and formed a new genre interactive entertainment. Over time, violence and action have bled into the genre and since been established as a mainstream category of games. 'Adventure' for the Atari 2600 is considered to be one of the first action/adventure titles, which places the player, represented by a small square, into a world filled with monsters and puzzles. This prefaced an industry-wide resurgence, which led to the creation of classics such as Tomb Raider and Grand Theft Auto; franchises that are still alive and kicking two decades later.
With two years of releases behind the Xbox One, a varied collection of action/adventure titles is now available on the console. We've compiled a list of our top ten action/adventure titles available on the Xbox One.
1. Sunset Overdrive
Sunset Overdrive has been one of Microsoft's most acclaimed innovative first-party titles in recent years, and arguably among the best action/adventure experiences on the Xbox One. The game takes a comical stance on the increasingly popular post-apocalyptic setting, which looms over Sunset City once an addictive energy drink named 'Overcharge Delirium XT' gains popularity. After becoming a city-wide craze, it's discovered that the drink causes humans to mutate into ravenous monsters craving the beverage. In a shady cover-up, the drink's manufacturer 'FizzCo' locks down the city, trapping the mutants and remaining survivors inside a single containment zone.
The fast-paced gameplay complements Sunset Overdrive's tone, with exaggerated movement mechanics and slapstick violence using a variety of unique powers and weapons. The game offers diverse customisation of characters, clothing, weapons and powers, each with their own unique exotic flair. Packed with hours of tongue-in-cheek humor and innovative concepts, Sunset Overdrive can easily be crowned one of the best action/adventure titles on the platform.
2. Rise of the Tomb Raider
Following on from 2013's Tomb Raider reboot, Rise of the Tomb Raider continues Lara's evolution throught her quest for the source of immortality. Pitted against nefarious corporation Trinity and the dangers of the wild, Lara must utilise her combat and survival skills to pursue the leads her father left behind.
The game builds upon the mechanics of its predecessor with various new ways to explore and survive in the wilderness. A much-improved scavenging and crafting system has debuted, alongside combat improvements to better accommodate stealth approaches. The game's beautifully-crafted landscapes are packed with challenging environmental puzzles, each with unique but fair solutions.
As a result of a deal between Square Enix and Microsoft, Rise of the Tomb Raider is currently exclusive to Windows PCs and the Xbox platform. The game has already been nominated for numerous awards, with more expected once availability has spread to additional platforms.
3. Just Cause 3
While the Just Cause franchise has always been associated with corny one-liners and parodic violence, Just Cause 3 is the first title developed by Avalanche Studios that truly embraces the series' persona. Infamous outlaw Rico Rodrigez returns to the series with a new look, ready to take on the evil dictator Sebastiano Di Ravello, who reigns over the Mediterranean island of Medici. The story is far from innovative, but Avalanche Studios has proven that this isn't essential for a successful Just Cause title.
Just Cause 3's gameplay is heavily influenced by previous releases, bringing back the iconic grapple and parachute which have come to be a staple of the series. This has been paired with a newly-introduced wingsuit, for rapid traversing of the rocky islands. The map develops upon Just Cause 2's locale, with increased terrain variety, which allows for more vertical travel when using Rico's new toolset. The combat has also seen tremendous improvements, with enhanced physics and explosions, expanding on the diverse sandbox.
4. Grand Theft Auto V
Grand Theft Auto V initially launched before the Xbox One hit store shelves, but the title still sits among the best action/adventure experiences on the console. The game has broken a surplus of records since launch, making its way to current generation platforms and managing to hold its place towards the top of the video game charts into 2016.
The Grand Theft Auto franchise is infamous across the globe, having stirred up its fair share of controversy in recent years. The game isn't shy of discussing adult themes and displaying excessive violence, which has resulted in numerous incidents of public outcry. The latest title, Grand Theft Auto V, has been praised for its engaging storytelling, following three criminals who band together to execute a set of daring heists. Between the singleplayer and multiplayer modes, the game also offers access to an extensive arsenal of weapons and vehicles and the ability to take part in various activities and sports. The ever-expanding world now carries a similar personality to a living city, which can be endlessly explored through hundreds of jobs and an expansive free-roam mode. The game's active community has kept the game alive over two years later, formed around the frequent free content updates delivered by the developer, Rockstar.
5. Mad Max
Accompanying the theatrical release of Mad Max: Fury Road in 2015, Mad Max offers a comprehensive action/adventure experience in the annihilated remains of human civilization. The game released shortly after the latest movie hit cinemas and while not officially tagged as a movie tie-in, it delivers a package of much higher quality than the most games based on feature films.
While some aspects of the game have their flaws, it delivers an immersive experience in the vast, desolate wasteland. The game's portrayal of the sterile environment doesn't diverge from the average post-apocalyptic shooter, but a majority of today's successful titles were influenced by the original Mad Max film. Concerning staying true to the movie series, Mad Max nicely matches the aesthetic of the cult classics.
Travel across the desert requires the use of the fully-customizable Magnum Opus; a vehicle which can be upgraded in various ways to yield enhanced performance in combat. Emphasis is placed on vehicular combat and exploration, but players can also adopt a range of playstyles when on foot. To encourage exploration of the environment, survival traits have been imposed, such as the requirement of resources to accomplish numerous tasks, and collection of 'guzzolene' to utilize vehicles.
6. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
At its core, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is one of last year's best action titles, but it also offers an established sandbox which provides sundry scenarios to promote covert warfare. The game comes from legendary developer Hideo Kojima and marks his last entry to the Metal Gear franchise. As a result of complications with his employer, future titles will be worked on by an entirely new team, which leaves The Phantom Pain as a final farewell to Kojima's 28-year-old legacy.
The Metal Gear franchise has a strongly-established storyline, accessible for newcomers without affecting the experience of long-time fans. The title offers large play spaces to explore and while not a fully open-world, it still provides the opportunity to experiment with positioning and approach. Enemies are often given predictable patrol routes, allowing the player to plan out their attacks, providing they engage with foes at a reasonable rate. Advanced stealth mechanics such as enemy interrogation, movable corpses and the ability to create distractions adds to the overall depth of the game's stealth sandbox.
If you're yet to play a game from the Metal Gear franchise, but wish to pick up Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, it's recommended you played the game's short prolog, Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes, to have a basic knowledge of the game's backstory.
Minecraft needs little in the way of introduction, and after becoming a worldwide phenomenon, it safely sits among the top action/adventure games in existence. While the game doesn't strictly fall into the action/adventure genre, the open-ended sandbox allows for experiences which belong to this category.
The block-building title is now available for a majority of gaming platforms, including the Xbox One and Xbox 360. Since Mojang, the company behind Minecraft was acquired by Microsoft, the game has also arrived on Windows Phone, Windows 10, and even has a future release scheduled for HoloLens.
8. Castle Crashers Remastered
Castle Crashers first released on the Xbox 360 back in 2008 and soon came to be one of the most popular Xbox Live Arcade games in the history of the service. Since this success, the game's developer 'The Behemoth' has delivered more titles but has yet to top the impact Castle Crashers imposed on the Xbox Live indie scene.
Seven years after its initial release, the game has made its way to Xbox One with updated visuals tailored for the next generation. The game runs in high definition at sixty frames-per-second, delivering an improved edition of the indie classic. The 2D arcade game bears a unique presentation, with a cartoon-inspired art style seen in numerous releases from The Behemoth. Like in many popular RPGs, Castle Crashers offers various upgrade paths as the player's level and skill increases. The game is playable with up to three friends, who can hop in through Xbox Live or locally with additional controllers.
9. Batman: Arkham Knight
When Batman: Arkham Knight released last summer, a majority of the game's successfully executed elements were overshadowed by a plethora of technical deficiencies on the version for Windows. Both console versions operated with few issues, but the game's public perception was tainted due to the shortcomings of the PC release.
The title follows on from the previous Batman games from Rocksteady and puts a focus on the Batmobile, in addition to the series' traditional third-person combat. Many of gadgets and gimmicks from previous Batman games make a return here; some upgraded to provide new gameplay scenarios to the player. On the consoles, it should be noted how successfully Gotham City has been portrayed, with advanced lighting and weather effects for lower-end hardware.
10. Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor
Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor takes place before the Lord of the Rings movies, in an open-world digital representation of Tolkien's fictional world. The game follows an undead revenant in the region of Mordor, who encounters various inhabitants and events that build on the universe's overarching lore.
The game places a unique spin on the traditional role-playing system, presenting the player with decisions that can affect the surrounding environment. Aside from choices in approach to encounters, the 'Nemesis' system is what differentiates the experience from the crowd, giving enemies personalities influenced by the actions of the player. Enemies encounters feel more immersive and personal as a result of this system, with each opponent bearing its own name, background, and memories. Conversations and enemy fighting styles will also change as a result of these player choices.
The Nemesis system is what makes Shadow of Mordor feel unique, but a sturdy combat system influenced by the Rocksteady's Batman Arkham games tightly integrates alongside this. Despite delivering a slightly underwhelming storyline, the game expands on Tolkien's universe and is a great experience for any fans of the RPG genre.