Microsoft’s Xbox One had a stellar 2014, with multiple critically acclaimed video games. In addition to various third-party hits, the company put its best foot forward with the likes of Project Spark, Forza Horizon 2, a second season of Killer Instinct, Sunset Overdrive and of course, next week's forthcoming Halo: The Master Chief Collection.
However, 2015 is even bigger. Along with many anticipated titles, Microsoft will also bring a variety of independent favorites that will make a big impact when they debut on Xbox Live.
On that note, here’s what you’ll play next year.
"Time to get back to work, Agent!" Crackdown made its next-gen debut at E3 earlier this year, with an action-packed trailer that points to the latest release in the series being just as chaotic as its predecessors. Expect to run all over the city collecting beacons, throwing cars and stomping criminals – all in the name of justice!
Lionhead Studios returns to its flagship franchise, making its debut on Xbox One next year. This latest chapter brings back the ambience we've come to expect, as well as many of its role-playing elements, like interacting with villagers and deep customization. However, the big twist here is the co-op support, and the fact that one player becomes the villain with a small army at his or her command, while four heroes attempt to survive the onslaught. That alone should make Legends far more intriguing than previous Fable releases.
Gears of War
Microsoft remains mum on its next-generation plans for this third-person shooting franchise, but we'll see some form of it arrive in 2015, either with a revised collection of the previously released Xbox 360 games (similar to what 343 did with The Master Chief Collection) or with an all-new title that will push us to go on a Locust Horde-killing spree. Either way, our Lancer is ready and waiting.
Halo 5: Guardians
The inevitable return of Master Chief has us stoked, and not just with the forthcoming Halo: The Master Chief Collection. Guardians will be the next huge chapter in the series, providing beautiful new locales to explore (at 60 frames per second) and both single player and multiplayer experiences built from the ground up for Xbox One. On top of that, the series will introduce a new playable character, Jameson Locke, as well as new Spartan abilities that could easily change the Halo universe forever.
This one has been on our radar for some time now, and there's a good reason for that – there's nothing quite like Cuphead. This is a side-scrolling shooter in the same vein as Metal Slug and Contra, but it utilizes a classic hand-drawn art style we haven’t seen in years. As a result, it creates a surreal effect, one that's familiar to play but still mesmerizes you with each new boss battle. Cuphead could easily be the next big indie game hero, right up there with Shovel Knight.
When it was first released for the Xbox in 2005, Yukio Futatsugi's Phantom Dust blended card-based strategy with action elements (similar to the Mega Man Battle Network series) to create a one-of-a-kind gaming experience. Microsoft felt these components could make for a terrific modern experience on the Xbox One, so it's bringing the franchise back. According to Futatsugi, the gameplay will remain about the same, but the visuals will no doubt get bumped up to a significant level, as the above trailer demonstrates. This could be quite a sleeper hit for the system by this time next year.
With such games as Metal Gear Rising Revengeance and Bayonetta 2, Platinum Games demonstrated that it can create some of the most visceral action experiences available. Now it's returning, this time with the Xbox One exclusive Scalebound, in which a powerful hero faces off against an armada of dragons and other dangerous enemies. He possesses dragon-like capabilities – such as generating scales on his skin – to fend off these threats. Fans of Platinum can expect Scalebound to be an overwhelming tour-de-force, but with added features that should make it the company’s most ambitious effort.
The creators of Limbo, Playdead Games, have certainly kept busy since unleashing that dark and hauntingly beautiful effort. Inside tells a different story, as you work your way through a factory where all sorts of terrorizing things are being built. Although the trailer doesn't show much, it could easily build up to becoming one of 2015's bright spots in the indie scene. Here's hoping we see more of it soon.
It's been a few years since Remedy Entertainment, the creators of Alan Wake and Max Payne, worked on something new. However, Quantum Break isn't too far off from release – and it looks amazing, as you can see from the above gameplay clip. The game features three playable characters, whose story revolves around the control of time-based elements (due to a freakish time travel accident). This allows them to save those in danger, while also battling soldiers that will stop at nothing to shut them down. The level of ambition in this one is quite high, and should make for a fantastic experience when it releases next year. Welcome back, Remedy.
Ori and the Blind Forest
One of the Xbox One's most emotional experiences will come with Ori and the Blind Forest, a gorgeous side-scrolling adventure from the developers at Moon Studios. In the game, you play Ori, a spiritual being separated from the Spirit Tree during a great storm. After being comforted by the gentle Naru, it sets out to rejoin the tree, but must do quickly before its power fades, or else the great forest will be lost. With compelling gameplay that involves puzzle solving and ever-changing elements, and an art style that as you can see dazzles with every turn, Ori is a powerful addition to the Xbox One library.