God of War is the latest critical success for Sony and the PS4, with the game achieving universal praise and a myriad “perfect” scores (including our own). While the Nintendo Switch put in an excellent first-year showing back in 2017, the PS4’s lengthier time on the market and barrage of excellent first-party games still makes it the frontrunner in terms of the wealth of great games it offers, though it also serves to cast a deeper shadow over the Xbox One.
To say that the Xbox One’s library of exclusives has been lacking is an understatement. True “system sellers” have been few and far between for the console, and while Sea of Thieves looked set to provide a unique multiplayer game for players to jump into, it didn’t live up to the high expectations that players had for it. This has become a recurring theme for the Xbox One, with its biggest exclusive releases underperforming critically, commercially or both, making it a less attractive prospect for consumers.
Looking through the highest rated Xbox One games of all time on Metacritic, it’s clear that there’s a major disparity between Xbox One and PS4 exclusives. Throughout the Xbox One’s life cycle, the only title exclusive to the console to have reached a Metascore of 90 or above has been Forza Horizon 3 (not counting its release on Windows). The next most highly rated Xbox One game is Ori and the Blind Forest, which achieved a Metascore of 88.
Compare that to the PS4, which now boasts God of War and its 95 Metascore, Persona 5 and Uncharted 4 at 93, Bloodborne at 92, and Shadow of the Colossus at 91. The console also has the likes of Horizon Zero Dawn, NieR: Automata, and Nioh each skirting the high-80s, giving PS4 owners a variety of critically-acclaimed games to play. Even the Nintendo Switch, which has just left its launch, has the 97-rated The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey.
The unfortunate reality for the Xbox One is that it doesn’t offer enough that its competitors aren’t already delivering in spades. Though the Xbox One X is a mightily impressive console, and its cross-play capabilities with PC players is a welcome alternative to Sony’s gatekeeping with the PS4, that doesn’t really count for much if the games aren’t there. God of War is now the fifth PS4 game to have achieved an average critical rating in the 90s, which when compared to the 11 PS3 games that achieved the same feat across the seven years between its launch and the PS4’s, it’s highly impressive. God of War is further indication that the PS4 hasn’t even reached its peak yet in terms of what it can offer, and we should expect to see many more critically-acclaimed games in the years to come, with Spider-Man and The Last of Us 2 both on their way in the near future.
It needn’t be said that the Xbox One isn’t going to catch up with the PS4 in terms of sales, but those who have invested in an Xbox One will no doubt want to see Microsoft putting its weight behind the kind of first-party titles that are being churned out by Sony and Nintendo. With Sea of Thieves failing to hit the mark and not a lot else on the immediate horizon, in these later stages of this current console generation’s life cycle, hopefully Microsoft will choose to go out with a bang and not a whimper.