Microsoft dropped a massive bomb on the gaming community during its Xbox press conference at Gamescom 2014. Rise of the Tomb Raider, the next installment in the rebooted Tomb Raider series, will be an Xbox One exclusive; a move that may end up annoying a lot of gamers. After that bombshell, nothing else said really feels like much news; although both Forza Horizons 2 and Quantum Break look very interesting.
Rise of the Tomb Raider
This is not one of those timed exclusives where the other platforms also get to play the game after a few months, but rather a real genuine third party exclusive for the Xbox One. This is a massive victory for Microsoft as Lara Croft’s next adventure is one of the most highly anticipated games for the next generation consoles.
Crystal Dynamics head Darrell Gallagher made a statement on the Tomb Raider Tumblr trying to reassure people who do not own an Xbox that they are not forgotten.
“This doesn’t mean that we’re walking away from our fans who only play on PlayStation or on PC. Those are great systems, with great partners, and amazing communities. We have Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris coming to those platforms this December, and Tomb Raider: The Definitive Edition is available on PS4.”
For most, it will not matter where the Definitive Edition goes if they have to buy an Xbox One just to find out what happens in the series. Expect Xbox sales to possibly increase a little after this point.
The makers of Max Payne and Alan Wake return with this other Xbox One exclusive title. It’s yet another third person shooter and slightly resembles gameplay from Max Payne. There isn’t much else to go on for this title, aside from the time stopping mechanics that are extremely similar to bullet time; except that your opponents aren’t aware of where you’ve run off to. It probably appeals to a certain subsection of fans, but we can’t say much more until the developer, Remedy, provides more details.
Forza Horizon 2
Multiplayer sections of Forza Horizon 2 were previewed as Microsoft showed off how easily the game blurs the line between single and multi-player sessions. Essentially, players will be able to jump to multiplayer games from an in-game menu; removing the need for long waiting times in lobbies (and frankly the lobbies themselves).
Once in a game, players can vote for what to do. Which is a slightly more democratic process than the usual getting friends together and arguing about what to do. Aside from that, Forza Horizon 2 appears to have the option for players to show off their cars and decorations; which is very much similar to real life car enthusiasts. Just wait until Forza includes sitting around discussing engine specs and performance.
Indie games are experiencing a sort of renaissance on consoles, and the lineup ID@Xbox certainly raises some eyebrows. The Eccentric and surreal Goat Simulator will be making its debut on the Xbox One. Which is an interesting choice, although whether console players will appreciate the nonsensical humour brought by the joke game is questionable. After all, who would want to pay money to play a bug ridden game about a chaos-sowing goat?
SuperHot is also making a debut on the console, at least when the developers get around to finishing the game. This particular FPS title provides a different perspective on the genre and is often described as more of a puzzle game than actual shoot-‘em-up. The trick to the game is that unlike every other video game ever made, time only moves when the player is in motion. Meaning it is possible to stop moving to see where bullets are flying and plan a safe path through them. The Unity web-based prototype version of the game is still up for anyone to try.
A few other titles were also included in the announcement, although they lack the name recognition of the first two. Ghost of a Tale, Gunscape, Space Engineers, The Escapist, and Smite will also be appearing. Smite is one of the more intriguing games to join ID@Xbox. As a MOBA it doesn’t entirely inspire confidence in its ability to perform without a keyboard and mouse. That being said, it will be interesting to watch the reception to the game.
Xbox Catching Up
It’s been no secret that Xbox One sales have lagged far behind those of the PlayStation 4. Microsoft is undoubtedly hoping that console exclusive titles will help remedy that issue; after all half the games talked about during the presentation will only be found on the Xbox One (and not even the Xbox 360).
Bringing PC favourites to ID@Xbox is an interesting move for the company. Both Goat Simulator and SuperHot resonate well with hardcore PC gamers, but is unlikely to persuade them to pick up those games on a console. Not when they should already own it on the PC.
The number of exclusives, particularly Rise of the Tomb Raider, is slightly worrying for the gaming community. The hobby is not cheap by any metric, and many will resent the idea that they have to buy both consoles just to enjoy the best games of their generation. Even if Microsoft is worried about catching up to the PS4; couldn’t they at least try to allow those titles to appear on the PC? It’s not like the company is in direct competition with that market.
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