Will Xbox One be your one, true console?
The Xbox One may lag behind the PlayStation 4 in sales (and sometimes in frame rate and resolution), but the system's early missteps in attempting to shoehorn Kinect integration and pile on multimedia functionality are seemingly behind Microsoft.
With arguably the best triple-A first-party lineup in 2015, some intriguing recent reveals coming next year, and backwards compatibility on the horizon, there's plenty to get excited about with the Xbox One.
Here are our favorite exclusives coming soon.
Halo 5, October 27
The new Halo is Microsoft's biggest gun this holiday season (and, let's be frank, probably this year and maybe this generation). It will put you in the combat boots of two squads – one led by series mainstay Master Chief, and the other led by Halo 3: ODST's Locke – as you progress through a massive campaign that carries over into your multiplayer progress.
Gears 4, Holiday 2016
With Marcus Fenix's saga behind us, the team that put together the highly revered third-person original trilogy is working on a new saga featuring a pair of original protagonists equipped with the latest in chainsaw-rifle hybrid technology.
What will these brave new soldiers face? We saw a new bug-like menace pop out from the darkness to take on the new squad, but we'll have to wait a while to learn more about all of that, and more importantly, how Gears 4 improves upon the multiplayer and Horde modes that made the originals so endearing online.
Rise of the Tomb Raider, November 10
Nathan who? With no new Uncharted due until 2016, the action-adventure world is Lara's to explore this year. The Xbox One-exclusive Rise of the Tomb Raider follows up on 2013's much-loved Tomb Raider reboot, mixing intense platforming, awesome weather effects, and fast-paced shooting combat. The creepy caves, imposing avalanches, scary bears, and mounds of treasure are only available on Xbox One this year, though that doesn't discount a PlayStation 4 release next year. They may need it if Nathan has another delay.
Gears of War Ultimate Edition, August 25
Even with backwards compatibility delivering Xbox 360 games and their online suites to Xbox One, there are a few games that could do with faster framerates, cooler effects, and lobbies full of new competitors. The Gears of War Ultimate Edition will bring Marcus Fenix's original adventure to the Xbox One. With the public beta already underway, we've got high hopes that this game's launch will go a little bit more smoothly than Master Chief's Xbox One debut.
Fallout 4, November 10
Bethesda's post-apocalyptic saga continues with more character customization, bloodier VATS-enabled dismemberment, and an even more adorable dog. The ability to upload mods from the PC version into your Xbox One copy without needing a monster gaming rig to play is a big get (though we'll know later today if this is also Sony-bound). We do know there's a free download copy of Fallout 3 exclusive to Xbox One, which ain't chopped liver.
Forza Motorsport 6, September 15
We already know Turn 10's next racer is going to be the prettiest-looking car on the lot, but we have a few stats that show off the game's horsepower. How about 26 real-life racing locales (including rain effects, which were sorely missed in Forza 5 and Forza Horizon 2), 450 cars to gawk at, 24-player online races, and perhaps the most important stats: 1080p visuals with a smooth 60fps frame rate? Like our old Toyota Tercel, this fall just can't arrive fast enough.
Rainbow Six: Siege, October 13
It's been awhile since Ubisoft has ventured into the first-person, but we're ready to deploy soon. Rainbox Six has long been a favorite of online shooter fans thanks to its focus on teamwork and tactics, and by the looks of it, the five-on-five team-based action shown in Rainbow Six: Siege will bring it back.
Buying Siege on Xbox One gives you access to Rainbow Six Vegas and its sequel due to Xbox 360 backwards compatibility (more on that later), which sounds great until you realize you can probably pick up both at any store or on any service right now for a tenner.
Recore, Spring 2016
Keiji Infanue, creator of Mega Man and Resident Evil, has a strange new project in the works (besides the crowdfunded Mighty No. 9). In the teaser, we were introduced to a mysterious woman treading through a barren desert landscape with a robot dog. When that dog fell in combat, the woman took a round glowing ball (likely the robo-pup's soul) and inserted into a big lunk of a bot. How does it play? What genre is it? All of that remains a mystery until next spring.
The Division, beta in December 2016
In addition to the close-quarters action of Rainbow Six, Ubisoft also has a more atmospheric shooter coming with The Division, due out next year. After years of E3 showcases, the third-person, co-op-focused shooter is closer than ever, with an Xbox One-exclusive beta set to commence this December. It's got an intriguing concept, as you and your friends will make up a band of sleeper-cell soldiers summoned to keep peace and find answers after America's infrastructure is destroyed due to a pandemic. We'll start to learn this year whether that translates to a satisfying online combat experience.
Beyond Eyes and Xbox One Preview
There's a ton of recently announced indies due for Xbox One, many with exclusive releases (or console-exclusive, at least). The most intriguing indie from where we stand? Beyond Eyes, an artful story about a blind girl making her way in the world.
Since the protagonist's vision is impacted, only a small cone of the world can be seen in a dream-like view. The best indie games are usually the ones that have the most distinct look, so the Xbox and Windows-exclusive Beyond Eyes has caught our attention. Beyond Eyes is one of the games we hope is part of the Xbox One Preview program, (Microsoft's answer to Steam Early Access), where players can demo pre-release games for free and pay for early access if they enjoy the first taste.
Sea of Thieves and Rare Replay
It's been awhile since Rare's been on our radar; outside of Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts, the company's post-360-launch work effort has been on developing Xbox avatars and the Kinect Sports series. Fortunately, their next game has that Rare charm. Sea of Thieves is an open-world multiplayer adventure where you and your swashbuckling friends can fight, sail, plunder and hopefully drink some rum. With a $30, 30-game retrospective collection featuring everything from RC Pro-Am to Perfect Dark also on the way, the future may once again be bright for Rare.
Our Xbox 360 backlog, fall 2015
Can we just number this 12 through 112? Many a 360 owner felt pangs of guilt trading in (or shelving) their Xbox 360 with so many games left unplayed, but the shocker of the show makes replaying last-gen games a reality without extra wires tethered to your TV.
Whether you downloaded it last generation or kept your discs in storage, you can now play Xbox 360 games (over 100 at launch) with some Xbox One accoutrements, like snapping apps and taking screenshots on the fly. It's currently being beta tested with over 100 games promised for the fall launch, but you can bet we'll be ready with a couple hundred gigabytes free for our old favorites when backwards compatibility comes to the public.