Confusion, excitement, but mostly bedlam. When Microsoft revealed the Xbox One in May, eager gamers everywhere glued their eyes to the morning webcast, hoping to catch a glimpse of the future and none of the rumored Digital Rights Management we'd heard about for months prior. Always-online connections that we should just deal with? Installing entire games to internal hard disk drives? Paying full price to activate a used game disc with your system?
Fuck that noise. Xbox One DRM is dead and gone and in its place we've got the usual stuff: trade your games, play offline—it's all good, gamers! Now that we can look at the console as a piece of tech and not an intrusive, difficult betamax box, we can get excited about the exclusive software coming to Xbox One!
Here are a few games to be really excited about, now that you don't have to worry about connecting online or paying full price after snagging a used copy:
Killer Instinct – This reboot of Rare's beloved fighting franchise easily made the biggest splash during Microsoft's E3 press conference, even if it was given a diminuitive amount of time on stage. The combo-intensive brawler had two playable characters on the E3 show floor, Jago and Sabrewulf, but my personal favorite Glacius was also confirmed in the trailer. From Kevin Schaller's preview: "With the additions of things like the extra power meters unique to each character, like the Shadow Meter and Instinct Meter (both of which are still a bit mysterious to me) and the ability to share and edit videos of your favorite battles with friends, Killer Instinct looks like it might be the fighter to bring the more casual fan back into the fold… or at least shoot some nostalgia right into the femoral nerdery." Even better, you can't beat a free download. Even if you want to buy a season pass to unlock every character available for Killer Instinct's rebirth, you can get online and mess around with Jago from day 1.
Below – You might know indie developer Capybara from Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery or Super Time Force, but even if you don't recognize the name, the pixelized visual style in Below is haunting and one-of-a-kind. Seeing everything play out in 1080p will be a sight to behold. The experience might run on the shorter side, as indie games tend to, but it will surely be as impactful as any AAA release available on Xbox One thanks to alternative story-telling, serene and stark visuals, and interesting gameplay. Xbox Live Arcade played host to many unique experiences, downloaded at home over the internet in your underwear.
Quantum Break – Even if you're not a fan of Remedy's story-telling, you can't deny their sense of character and gameplay. Alan Wake took us to the haunting interplay between the absence of light and the human psyche, equipping us with a flashlight for a weapon and even giving gamers a stage to really rock out on. Quantum Break seems to push more towards noir and procedural criminal narratives, opting out of Wake's heady brand of inner-monologue, but I'll be damned if the whole scene-frozen-in-time gameplay mechanic doesn't grab players with beautiful intricacy. Plus, the choices you make in game will effect the TV show you can stream via Xbox One!
Sunset Overdrive – I realize that this trailer from Resistance and Ratchet developers Insomniac Games looks a hell of a lot like their pre-rendered trailer for Overstrike, which eventually turned into Fuse, which eventually turned into apathetic stares from gamers. Still, I love the personality, vibrance, and attitude present in Sunset Overdrive's early reveal. Insomniac has a way with creating inventive and entertaining weapons, so I have high hopes that they'll be able to turn that magic to the open-world they've promised here. Plus, it looks like a lot of fun to play online with friends.
Project Spark – I know, I know, I thought the same thing when I saw Project Spark demonstrated on Microsoft's E3 press conference stage. "Isn't this just the Xbox One version of LittleBigPlanet?" An entirely different development team and a next-generation platform might just be what the doctor ordered to revolutionize the create-play-share platform LBP established. From Vincent Ingenito's preview: "If MS can manage to execute their free-to-play model without making prospective creators feel nickel and dimed, they might have a real hit here. Nearly anyone who's played games for a few years feels the hunger to create and direct an experience of their own. And though we don't know anything about the true price of admission just yet or even an actual release date, the promise Project Spark makes is nearly impossible to resist. With the tools being so simple to grasp and the barrier to entry being so low, we can probably expect to see an army of armchair game developers taking the plunge, and I can't wait to see what they all come up with." Another free download? I can't wait to get online with Xbox One and try Project Spark for myself!
Titanfall – We don't hand out Best of E3 Awards to just anything, and what's more, the driver behind this pick was Nick Tan (who is about as un-multiplayer-shooter-fanatic as you can get, let me tell you). That means one thing: Titanfall has a golden nugget. The concept of battling it out with enemies both with boots on the ground and pedals to the mech-suit metal seems like it should have come to fruition a long time ago, but thankfully Respawn Entertainment is bringing it to Xbox One now. With the brains behind Call of Duty's addictive and intense online multiplayer driving this mech-vs-man concept, Titanfall might be the next must-play online shooter with a community as large as Xbox One sales will allow. I'm looking forward to… jumping… online… with Xbox Live to…
Fuck. Guess the whole always-online connection ordeal didn't mean much in the end, but at least people with shoddy internet service providers or stationed at US military outposts overseas can still play too!