The Xbox One launched worldwide five years ago on November 22, 2013. A hardware launch is always an exciting day for the gaming world, but did the Xbox One launch titles wind up impressing? We recently took a look at the PS4’s launch day, so it only makes sense to give the same treatment to the Xbox One and see how five years of hindsight treats Microsoft’s console.
Xbox One Launch Titles – The Good
One of the Xbox One’s best games immediately killed the stigma of free-to-play titles. Developed originally by Double Helix Games, Killer Instinct wound up being one of the best modernizations of a classic fighting game. KI‘s unique counter system was as intense as ever before, and the game was just as pretty to look at as it was fun to play. Development was eventually handed off to Iron Galaxy, and it has done a fantastic job of adding a story mode and dozens of new characters. It remains one of the best fighting games of this current generation, and appeals to both the casual and hardcore audiences.
While Kinect quickly died on Xbox One, Zoo Tycoon, the latest entry of the popular park simulation series, had one of the coolest uses of the hardware. Using the video camera, players could actually interact with the animals in their parks. Sure, it’s a gimmick and one that will definitely get players some awkward stares if someone walks into their living room while they play, but it highlights how pure and joyful gaming experiences can be. That relaxed attitude is exactly why Zoo Tycoon is so endearing, and it’s still one of the best titles published by Microsoft for the system.
Now, I know this isn’t exactly the coolest thing to say, but Peggle 2 is easily the best launch title. The puzzle game is bursting with personality, has some brilliantly designed levels, and was one of the main reasons to buy an Xbox One early on. It’s now available, alongside its great DLC, on PlayStation 4, but I’ll always have a soft spot for where I first experienced one of the most underrated titles of 2013.
Two of the other launch standouts, Forza Motorsport 5 and Dead Rising 3, have both been surpassed by their sequels, but are still worthwhile games in their own right. Dead Rising 3 has one key advantage, as it has its own unique story and mechanics, while there is little reason to go back to Xbox One’s first Forza title aside from the hilariously janky cardboard cutout crowds.
Xbox One Launch Titles – The Meh
Despite being a very simple experience that may have not justified the cost of admission in 2013, Ryse: Son of Rome remains one of the most gorgeous games to come out during this console generation. It’s a technical feat and the short runtime makes it a great rental. While the counter-based combat may leave something to be desired for those looking for a more complex system, it makes it more than easy enough to get through the entire story. Throw in an interesting setting, and you have got a worthwhile, if hollow, couple of hours.
While the spiritual successor to Panzer Dragoon never hit the same highs, Crimson Dragon is still a decent enough action game. It helps that there aren’t many titles like it, as the rail shooter has a host of issues (from graphical to narrative) that keep it from fulfilling its potential. Either way, it stands out by being unique, rather than just a flawed title that has been outdone countless times this generation of games.
Games like Mario Golf and Hot Shots Golf have shown how great arcade golfing titles can be, but sadly Powerstar Golf didn’t join that same pantheon. It’s still a solid enough game, which was helped by being a launch title, but there is little reason to go back to it in 2018 given how forgettable it is.
Xbox One Launch Titles – The Bad
Oh, LocoCycle. Twisted Pixel Games has a great track record of creating fun and unique experiences. However, everything went wrong here. From a racist script that often mocks the Latinx culture to some truly terrible combat, it managed to make something as cool as an A.I. controlled combat bike into something boring. It is truly one of the most disappointing launch titles of all-time.
Fighter Within, however, is arguably the worst game to be released on Xbox One. This Kinect-exclusive fighting game has hilariously awful controls, and is just completely broken. Anyone that has a Kinect should check it out, though, as it’s truly baffling that a game was released to stores in the state that it is in. Microsoft’s latest system had a strong launch, but this is so bad that it almost colors the entire library of games.
Xbox One Launch Titles – Conclusion
Overall, the Xbox One had a very solid launch. It was much better than what Sony brought to the table a few weeks earlier, but it goes to show you that a launch lineup doesn’t determine whether or not a system will be successful. That said, even in 2018, fans can still have plenty of fun from the Xbox One launch titles.