Millions are discovering the new Windows Store for the first time this week. If you're one of the lucky new Windows 10 owners, you're about to find a whole lot of Xbox on your PC.
Windows 10 includes a dedicated Xbox app, which is your gateway to the Xbox Live ecosystem. Whether you have an Xbox One or not, the Xbox app provides a wealth of great tools for connecting gamers and sharing content. Windows 10 plays nice with other distribution platforms, allowing you to record and share clips from any game running on the OS. It allows you to join parties and voice chat with people across devices, whether it's Xbox and PC, and allows you to check out what games your friends are playing.
Microsoft has big plans to make up for Windows Vista's unpopular Games for Windows Live program, and this is only the tip of the iceberg. Down the line, Microsoft is bringing heavy hitting Xbox One exclusives to Windows 10. This includes games like Killer Instinct and Fable Legends, complete with cross-platform play, achievements and all the features you'd typically expect of an Xbox game.
Until then, there's still a wealth of Xbox enabled titles currently available on Windows 10. Most of them were designed for Windows 8, but thanks to the Xbox app, they're enjoying a renewed existence on Windows 10. I've compiled a list of some of the greatest Windows 10 store games with Xbox integration, until Microsoft are ready to begin bringing us the big guns later in the year and beyond. Bear in mind a lot of these games were designed for touch, but they also support mouse and keyboard and Xbox controllers in varying degrees.
Halo Spartan Strike / Halo Spartan Assault
Halo's Spartan Strike and Spartan Assault are similar twin-stick shooters set in the Halo universe. Both games are incredibly similar, except Spartan Strike ditched the micro-transactions for power weapons and boosters present in Spartan Assault.
They feature typical twin-stick shooter controls, and can be played using a keyboard and mouse, touch or an Xbox controller. The weapons, enemies and locations are all authentic Halo, all the way down to the sound effects and A.I. behaviour. All your favourite weapons and vehicles are present throughout story-driven campaigns, taking place in the form of combat simulations. Spartan Assault released back in 2013, and is currently still the only Xbox game that synchronizes save progress across Xbox One, PC and Windows Phone.
Minecraft: Windows 10 Beta
You can't mention Windows 10 gaming without mentioning Minecraft. Microsoft purchased the property for a cool $2.5 billion last year, and the game forms a significant pillar for their over-all strategy with the platform. Famously, Minecraft will eventually hit the augmented reality of HoloLens, but until then, we have a new Xbox enabled Windows 10 version.
The Windows 10 Edition is similar to Minecraft's mobile Pocket Edition, but will eventually pick up the more potent features of the PC and Xbox versions. For a full feature list head over to here. Those who own the original PC version of the game can register their copy on Mojang.com and pick up the Windows 10 Edition free. For everyone else, it comes in at a discounted $10 during the beta period. Mojang have asked keen miners to offer feedback via UserVoice here.
Age of Empires: Castle Siege
Age of Empires: Castle Siege is a mash-up between the classic RTS and popular mobile titles like Clash of Clans. You can invade random player's castles, laying siege with an army of your own creation. You're also tasked to build up and advance your own castle and surrounding civilisation, placing your fortifications and units strategically to fend off attackers.
The game is heavily PVP focussed and is continually updated thanks to a diligent dev team. You can purchase micro-transactions which help you gain resources at a quicker pace, but all content can be experience and unlocked if you've the patience. Age of Empires: Castle Siege also synchronizes across Windows 10 and Windows Phone/Mobile.
Asphalt 8: Airborne
Gameloft are fairly staunch supporters of Windows and its app stores, bringing several of their popular iOS and Android titles to the ecosystem. Asphalt 8: Airborne is surely among the best mobile racing games available, only this one has the added benefit of Xbox Live achievements.
Asphalt 8, 7 and Asphalt Overdrive are all available in the Windows 10 store and play very similarly to each other. Asphalt 8: Airborne supports mouse and keyboard as well as Xbox One controllers for play.
Tiny Troopers is a 3D top-down squad shooter from dedicated Xbox publisher Game Troopers. In Tiny Troopers, you command a squad of cartoony soldiers through hazardous scenarios using taps and hard determination. It's plays similar to classic games like Cannon Fodder, taking place across 30 levels.
Tiny Troopers is free to play, but it never feels like a pay to win title. You can accrue money fairly easily via regular play, but for those of you with less time (or patience) can buy power ups, weapons and boosters for reasonable prices.
Tentacles: Enter The Mind
Tentacles: Enter The Mind is probably the most deranged title on this list, and is a personal favourite. In Tentacles, you control a squid-like black blob whose task is to climb through a colourful geometric hell laden with monsters. Tentacles: Enter The Mind takes place within the mind of Dr. Phluff and is littered with references to psychiatric doctrine.
I think Tentacles: Enter The Mind is one of the most creative touch-based titles out there, but it's also fully playable with a keyboard and mouse. Tenatcles: Enter The Mind is free to play, with tons of unlockables and bonus content. Without purchasing micro-transaction boosters it can be extremely challenging, but satisfying nonetheless. It also sports cloud-syncing progress with its Windows Phone counterpart.
Project Spark is Microsoft's super-charged game-builder, available both on Windows 10 and Xbox One. The simplistic but powerful tools allow you to build virtually any sort of game. If you're not a creator, you can choose from thousands of games created by the game's community. Your creations sync across devices as well, allowing you to take your projects on the move.
Project Spark is 100% free to play, supported by purchasable asset packs. All of the game's content can be unlocked via regular play over time as well.
AlphaJAX is essentially an Xbox Live version of Scrabble. The popular word game is playable across Windows 10, 8 and Windows Phone, giving you access to thousands of other keen word-game players.
The coolest thing about AlphaJAX's multiplayer is that it's turn based. When you're offline active games persist, and you'll receive a notification on your device to tell you that it's your turn. You can even chat with your opponents, be nice though. The game syncs across Windows Phone and Windows 10 too, so you can take your addiction with you.
Modern Combat 5: Blackout
Modern Combat is a defining mobile military shooter series. Modern Combat 5 is another title from Gameloft, an eminent mobile dedicated publisher. Sporting console-level graphics and full competitive multiplayer, Modern Combat 5 pushes the boundaries of gaming on mobile devices, and is fully functional with mouse and keyboard controls and Xbox 360 controllers on Windows 10 desktops.
It lacks the depth of a full Xbox or PC shooter, but if you're using a lower-end PC or touch tablet, Modern Combat 5 is as close to Call of Duty as you can get. Oh, and it's free.
Dungeon Hunter 5
Dungeon Hunter 5 is another Gameloft outing. As the title suggests, it's a dungeon crawler with inspirations in games like Diablo 3. Dungeon Hunter 5 has very active hack-and-slash combat, complete with various types of magic and weapons, strong graphics and a decent narrative. Like all Gameloft games, Dungeon Hunter 5 was designed for mobile play, but it functions very well with a mouse and keyboard and even an Xbox One controller.
DH5 is free to play. You can purchase packs which generate random items, but it never feels necessary to make payments to enjoy the game.
Xbox for Windows 10 moving forward
As the platform grows and more cross-platform games like Fable Legends make their way to Windows 10, big-name developers could see the opportunity to release Xbox integrated titles on the app store as well. Imagine if you could play Diablo 3 with your buddies on Xbox One from your PC, and vice versa. Games for Windows Live is beginning to feel like a distant memory.
What are your favourite Xbox enabled games for Windows and Windows Phone? Hit the comments!