Sony's PlayStation 4 tends to have the lion's share of critically-acclaimed console-exclusive titles today, but Microsoft is stepping up efforts to close the gap. Many of these titles are also available on Windows PC, but as far as console gaming is concerned, these are some of the greatest Xbox One exclusives available today, with many more on the way.
Forza Horizon 4 is the world leader for arcade racing, and it's exclusive to Xbox One on console. Set in a vast and detailed British landscape, Forza Horizon 4 rewards players for their style and skill, racing across all sorts of terrain types, accentuated with persistent weather effects and even seasonal changes. Forza Horizon 4 is breath-taking.
While it's highly likely Ashen will hit other consoles in the future, right now it's exclusive to Xbox One. Ashen's haunting art style and "Souls-like" combat has already earned it a lot of praise, set in a dark open world where light is a rare occurrence.
Quantum Break is a slick shooter with heavy time manipulation mechanics. In Quantum Break, Jack Joyce finds himself involved in a time experiment gone wrong. With time itself unravelling, it's on you to navigate reality as it collapses in on itself and stop those responsible.
What if the apocalypse was more of a funpocalypse? Sunset Overdrive takes place in a gorgeous and vibrant open world where a strange energy drink has mutated the citizens into gigantic orange monsters. Grind, dive, and somersault your way across the map using all sorts of crazy weapons and put a stop to the madness.
Halo is Microsoft's flagship game, besides Minecraft, and it remains a staple point of interest for most Xbox fans. Microsoft has spent a ton of time porting and remastering the classic Halo games, incorporating them into a vast set dubbed The Master Chief Collection (MCC). And, hey, it includes classic multiplayer as well.
As Xbox console exclusives go, few have been as well received as Ori and the Blind Forest. Ori is a Metroidvania-style platforming adventure starring the eponymous cat-like Ori, who uses magical powers to solve puzzles, defeat monsters, and traverse a gorgeous hand-painted world. This is a must-buy for Xbox fans.
Gears of War is synonymous with Xbox, right up there with Halo and Forza. Gears 4 takes place a few years after the events of Gears of War 3, with the war-torn world of Sera steadily recovering from an apocalyptic battle with the subterranean Locust. But are they gone for good?
Classic '90s fighter Killer Instinct got a big reboot this gen on Xbox One. Every classic fighter is their alongside several new ones, including guest characters like RAAM from Gears of War and Rash from Battletoads. While the game isn't currently seeing any further updates, it's still a competent fighting experience, and it's free.
In State of Decay 2, your mission is to not only fight back the hordes of undead, but manage a small community of survivors, including all of their worldly needs. You'll be scavenging for ammo, food, and supplies, while building up your skills and abilities in this strangely hypnotic action simulator.
Cuphead is a side-scrolling shooter with platforming elements, with stunning hand-drawn art based on classic animation styles and music production. As a co-op title, you and a friend will battle across a dream-like world to settle a debt with the Devil, after losing a bet. Cuphead is maddeningly hard, and as a result, incredibly rewarding.
Sea of Thieves is an open world adventure sandbox set in a lush pirate paradise. Join up with up to four friends and compete across an ocean archipelago filled with island secrets, tons of treasure, and evil, evil skeletons. Sea of Thieves is persistently updated with new content, too.
ReCore is an open world 3D platformer set on an alien world, filled with angry, homicidal robots (and a few nice ones). Joule arrives on the planet expecting to find a bustling industrial settlement, but instead she finds abandoned facilities and haywire droids. It's on you to leap, dash, and blast your way to solving the mystery.
Halo Wars 2 is a sci-fi RTS title set some years after the events of Halo 5. Battling a military junta led by a psychotic Brute, the crew of the UNSC Spirit of Fire arrive on the scene to find "The Banished" poised to unleash yet another catastrophe on the entire galaxy. Halo Wars 2 has a fun campaign, addictive multiplayer modes, and a separate "tower defence"-style mode for added value.
Most of these titles are available as part of Xbox Game Pass, granting you access to many existing and all future Microsoft Studios titles for a monthly $10 fee. If I had to recommend just a couple, Ashen would get my first pick, for its haunting atmosphere and rewarding combat. Quantum Break would be a closer runner-up, for its slick transmedia approach to storytelling, and infectious slow motion combat.
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