Microsoft's ID@Xbox has been a gateway for some of the Xbox One's best titles to date, providing a streamlined avenue for independent studios to ship their games. Coming off a commendable library of prior successes, a new wave of titles is set to hit the console as a part of the program's 2018 lineup.
As a new season of releases approaches, we had the opportunity to get hands-on with a variety of ID@Xbox games ahead of their Xbox One arrival. These are our highlights from the showcase, condensed into our five most anticipated games.
Below (Xbox One)
Following its E3 2013 unveiling as a planned launch title for Xbox One, Capybara Games' Below has seen a notably long journey to the console. Following a vow to deliver its vision amid multiple delays, the attractive roguelike is finally on track for a release this year.
Below is a game built on mystery and exploration, featuring a nameless protagonist on a journey through its stylized world. With no guidance on controls or mechanics, players will need to descend in the dungeons while combating the dangers of the depths. Its unforgiving permadeath punishes the smallest of mistakes but you'll come back stronger for the next attempt.
Below is set for an Xbox One and Steam PC release, currently slated for 2018. The game will also be enhanced for Microsoft's latest flagship console, Xbox One X, supporting 4K resolution and 60 frames per second gameplay.
Descenders (Xbox One)
Speed and technique are essential in Descenders, delivering fast-paced downhill biking as an intense, sleek experience. Its arcade twist rewards ambitious tricks and high-speed action, pushing riders to the edge in pursuit of higher scores. But with a reputation system stacking between stages, the tension builds the longer you play.
In many ways, Descenders feels like a stylish take on the Trials series, offering a freestyle sandbox built around flexibility and physics. Riders have fine control to overcome challenges, stringing together jumps, turns, and obstacles through procedural generation.
Following its Steam debut, Descenders is set to hit Xbox One this summer via the Xbox Game Preview program.
Planet Alpha (Xbox One)
Planet Alpha is a 3D side-scrolling platformer from Adrian Lazar and Team17 with a unique hook – the ability to control the entire planet. Using the left and right triggers the game's world can be rotated on its axis, shifting through the daylight cycle.
Shifting between times, Planet Alpha's platforming puzzles change on the fly. Some flowers may only blossom in the day while others only in the dark, requiring for quick changes to keep progressing. Light can also have an effect on enemies, with the promise of deeper fights requiring heavy use of these mechanics. All of this is pairs with stunning dynamic scenes, composed of creatures and machines coexisting in the backdrop.
Planet Alpha is currently on track for a 2018 release for Xbox One and PC via Steam.
Harold Halibut (Xbox One)
Situated in a mysterious spaceship wreck in an underwater world, Harold Halibut follows a community trapped within the confines of its metal walls. But what makes Harold Halibut so special isn't its premise – it's how it came together.
The design process behind the game is so impressive, I'm surprised it hasn't been approached sooner. Influenced by clay stop-motion animation, the game's characters and locales are all modeled in the real world, before being translated into an in-engine render. Every detail has a handmade touch, whether tiny clothes meticulously made with a sewing machine to an extensive backdrop built to scale. Harold Halibut expresses character solely through its craftsmanship.
Although a release window for Harold Halibut is yet to be discussed, what lies ahead looks undeniably promising.
Trailmakers (Xbox One)
Following the disbandment of Microsoft's Press Play studio, a portion of the team moved onto Trailmakers – a vehicle building and racing experience within a physics-based sandbox. After combining thousands of modular pieces to craft wacky vehicles, players can test their creations across the game's open world.
The potential of Trailmakers lies with its multiplayer mode, allowing up to four friends to band together through a single session. Creations can be freely tested or within the guidance of expeditions or challenges, testing the limits of your designs.
Trailmakers is set to hit Xbox One soon via Xbox Game Preview, as a console launch exclusive.
Over to you
Which Xbox One indie games are you looking forward to in 2018? Drop into the comments section below with your most anticipated titles.