It’s been an interesting last five years for Microsoft and the Xbox One console; after reigning as champion the last generation with their Xbox 360, the company utterly tossed away most of its audience’s goodwill with the announcement of the Xbox One. The always online option felt for many to be anti-consumer and pro-MS’ wallets. It didn’t help that most of these announcements were made by an ultra smug Don Mattrick (yeah, he got the boot soon after).
After plenty of backtracking on their radically always-online console, it sold solidly but over the years just hasn’t had the exclusive games to really stand at the top of the heap. Still, now with gamer-friendly Phil Spencer calling the shots for the game division, they’re gaining an interesting second wind; with pro-consumer choices like backward compatibility, cross-play, and an incredibly rewarding Game Pass subscription service – they are slowly winning back points.
They are addressing the biggest complaint as well; where the heck are the games? Announcing a slew of enticing exclusives at E3 2018, plus having bolstered up their mass of first-party studios with some incredible new additions – it feels like their painfully empty exclusive slate will be turning around in the next couple of years.
So, let’s have a look at all the exclusive titles that are still to come for the Xbox One and a couple that are rumored. There’s some big name brands returning, as well as some gripping indie titles that will only appear on the Xbox One, and nowhere else…
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30 In Development: Crackdown 3
The first Crackdown was awesome, the second one not so much.
Microsoft thought to bring this undernourished I.P. back for a return hurrah on the Xbox One. An E3 preview in 2014 showed off plenty of saucy footage and an ambitious online cloud method of rendering destruction.
Then it was hit with delay, upon delay, upon delay.
Most assumed it was finished until Microsoft showed it off recently and gave it a February 2019 release. The hype has decidedly fizzled for this one, although hopefully, it can be a solid and fun open-world time-waster in the end.
29 In Development: The Artful Escape
Coming exclusively to the Xbox Store, The Artful Escape telegraphs the kind of interesting indie project that seeps with color and personality and makes a strong impression on gamers.
Co-developed by the lead guitarist of The Galvatrons, it centers on a musician who endeavors on a psychedelic-infused platform adventure with the inspiration being ‘David Bowie traveling off from London on an interstellar trip to create Ziggy Stardust.’
Sounds intriguing, for sure with an inventive art style and sharp platforming mechanics, this is one to watch out for…
28 Possibility: Cuphead 2
Even the most loyal Xbox One supporter has to admit the year 2017 was completely dire when it came to exclusives for the console; the one and only worthy release was the hard-as-nails platformer/shooter Cuphead.
Displaying an incredible art style inspired by 1930s Disney cartoons, it looked utterly charming yet played like the hardest game you ever touched.
It was an instant hit and a needed victory for Microsoft that year.
With that said, a sequel is basically a complete given, in fact, asides from an official announcement it’s all but confirmed in development.
27 In Development: The Darwin Project
It’s all about the Battle Royale nowadays, huh? The online sensation even has Call Of Duty and Battlefield implementing the mode for their next installments. Also, when it comes to playing it on the console market, Xbox One is king with having held exclusivity onto PUBG.
But with the high amount of followers, how do you stand out from the crowd? This upcoming Xbox exclusive attempts to up the ante by setting the arena in the extreme environmental conditions of the Canadian Rockies – where players must survive the harsh elements as well as other players.
26 In Development: Ori And The Will Of The Wisps
Hands down, Ori and The Blind Forest is likely the best Xbox One exclusive out on the console. Gorgeous art design, a moving story, and deep, challenging gameplay.
It took many by surprise by just how good the digital game was with it becoming a quickly championed title.
So, a sequel is gearing up and looks like delivering much more of the same; which is not a bad thing whatsoever. Hopefully, this one features less cute characters meeting tragic demises – thanks for that opening Moon Studios.
25 Possibility: Next Game From Compulsion Games
Along with the announcement that Ninja Theory is now a Microsoft First-Party studio, so was up-and-comer Compulsion Games. If you’re scratching your head as to who that is, they just dropped We Happy Few.
Now in all fairness, after a lengthy development cycle and long-term buzz, that game released and disappeared pretty much overnight. That’s not a slight on the studio though, the world from the game and plot were one-of-a-kind, showcasing they are a very special studio.
With the proper budget and right marketing, their next project could indeed find the right audience on the Xbox.
24 In Development: Black Desert Online
Released on PC back in 2016 this lush looking MMORPG is making it’s way to Xbox One before year end. Developed in Korea, it looks to be a fun console answer to World Of Warcraft except done in a flashy anime-inspired design.
With the endless exploration and a fluent combat system, it seems to be a good fit for console gaming.
The PC reviews were solid (if not exceptional) across the board and feel like a much-needed substitute for Xbox gamers to get a rich online role-playing experience from their couch.
23 In Development: Below
Capybara Games is one of the most distinct indie game developers out there, with each project getting progressively more ambitious moving forward.
At E3 2013 they showed off a tasty glimpse of an Xbox console exclusive that blended Zelda and Diablo with their trademark art style. It was truly one of the most exciting exclusives for the system – yet, it still has not come out.
This is most likely due to the scale and high-bar the game needs compared to the company’s lower-key former efforts. One thing is for sure, it is definitely coming – let’ just hope the wait was worth it.
22 Possibility: Fable 4
Fable has had a rough couple of years; the last proper entry was eight years ago with Microsoft hooking the title to everything from Kinect to collectible card games in the meanwhile.
On top of that Lionhead Studios closed it’s doors and took down the cool looking Fable Legends with it.
Sure, the franchise was never Halo to the Xbox but that didn’t mean it wasn’t a tentpole for the console. It’s heavily rumored that Playground Games has been busy secretly working on a fourth entry of the franchise.
21 In Development: The Last Night
Since the first footage released for this interactive adventure game, anticipation has been high; with a jaw-dropping design aesthetic that recalls Blade Runner, mixed with a retro gameplay in the style of Another World or Flashback – the teases have been stunning.
Strangely though, not all the talk surrounding the game has been due to positive buzz; main developer Tim Soret said some unpopular sentiments on social media back in 2014 and it has followed him like a bad smell.
Who knows if the game will be able to shed the behind-the-scenes static and move forward to success?
20 In Development: Apocalypse Cow
That’s got to be one of the greatest game titles of all time – but can this indie back it up? A 2D cartoony art style carves a distinct look for this incredibly wacky storyline.
The plot features a bunch of nerdy gamers becoming the only hope for saving the world in an apocalyptic future (featuring evil cyborg cows of course).
The gameplay is a mix of platforming and shooter and looks frenetic and relentless in terms of challenge and exhilaration. This one can also be picked up on PC but will only be available on consoles via Xbox One.
19 Possibility: Age Of Empires IV – Xbox One Version
In 2017, Microsoft announced they were publishing a new entry in the highly-respected Age Of Empire franchise, coming exclusively to Windows 10.
Fans have been waiting for thirteen years for the title to return, so most will anxious to jump on their PC’s and play. What about console gamers though?
None of the former titles came to the Xbox but with the company having made RTS gameplay on the console actually work with the Halo Wars series – it wouldn’t be a surprising move.
It’s one of the companies biggest releases in the last three years – something the Xbox One is aching for currently.
18 In Development: Battletoads
A colorful and memorable NES beat-em-up that was graced with one of the most infuriating racing levels of all time (be honest, you haven’t beaten it either?). An arcade game and a so-so spin-off with Double Dragon followed.
Even so, Rare’s TMNT spoof never caught on like maybe it should have.
Thankfully a rejuvenated Rare is taking advantage of one of those long-dormant franchises they’ve been sitting on. We don’t know much asides that it will be co-op side-scrolling beat-em-up – and there’s not enough of those, so please bring it on!
17 In Development: Gears 5
It’s been radio silent on the Gears franchise for the last couple of years; the fourth installment was a solid entry with a surprisingly likable new cast, yet it also wasn’t the behemoth return for the title either (with much of the action feeling samey).
In many ways, it signified a warm-up for developers The Coalition and the epic new direction their story-line was heading for.
The E3 2018 trailer for the fifth entry signifies this blatantly with a grilling and emotional looking campaign at its center. Oh yeah, and I’m sure there’s plenty good multiplayer too.
16 Possibility: Forza Motorsport 8
Forza quite easily became that must-play racing game exclusive for the Xbox brand since 2005. It helped fill in a Grand Turismo-sized gap in the Microsoft back catalog and has been going strong ever since.
Since 2011 the series has been in a natural annual release groove that saw a Forza Motorsport entry followed by a Forza Horizon entry.
So what released this year? Forza Horizon 4, so you can bet your bottom dollar next year we’re getting Forza Motorsport 8 – plus in 4K.
15 In Development: Tunic
Did you want to play Zelda on your Xbox? But the isometric old-school type? Well, replace Link with a cute little fox and your not far off from Tunic; the new downloadable exclusive upcoming Xbox title.
With an adorable art style yet challenging gameplay with deep exploration elements, this title looks to be heading forward to sleeper success for gamers in need for the type of adventure title you could only find back in the 90s.
14 In Development: Session
Man, for a while there, it seemed like the Tony Hawk series was just going to become an industry mainstay like FIFA or Grand Turismo – something that inevitably got an annual release with a minor update (yet still sold like gangbusters).
Yet, due to Activision progressively messing with the winning formula with weak gimmicks and rushed production, people eventually stopped buying it.
Don’t fix, what’s not broke!
Microsoft is looking to take advantage of that gap in the market by releasing this console exclusive that represents a grassroots return to that gameplay; simple and smooth street-style grinding and tricking.
13 Possibility: Next Game From Ninja Theory
Ninja Theory is one of the most interesting action game developers out there. With an emphasis on creating rich worlds, characters and involving stories coupled with satisfying action.
Two of their five titles were (initially) Sony exclusives, which made it surprising when Microsoft announced that they bought the company.
Their latest game, Hellblade, was the first created with full creative freedom and was by far their most distinct and interesting. They are obviously gearing up for the next thing currently, and if Microsoft is being hands-off yet floating the bill – the results could be their best game yet.
12 In Development: Ashen
This unique looking action RPG has been developed for a while. It also has had very little buzz and hype. Yet, keep your eyes peeled, it could be something very special when it eventually drops – and a stand-out exclusive for the console.
Taking the dark and murky fantasy aesthetic from Dark Souls (yet style wise it leans closer to something like Journey). This game is clearly enamored with the strategic combat and obtuse world from that game. Yet, word is, it has etched out its own identity with a more fluid combat system and much more satisfying co-op elements.
11 In Development: oOo: Ascension
This Microsoft exclusive has a stylish Tron-like Sci-Fi aesthetic and takes the insane and riveting gameplay of Geometry Wars but replaces the manic shooting with break-neck puzzling instead.
Your spaceship will have everything thrown against it as you attempt to finish the level in the shortest time possible (competitive co-op also available).
Certainly, it’s not the tastiest exclusive coming out for the console, yet (just like Geometry Wars) it has the opportunity to hit a niche in the gaming market for people looking for a tense yet rewarding challenge during their gaming sessions.
10 Possibility: Gears Of War 2: Ultimate Edition
A remastered version of the first game dropped to much success. Sure, the innovating action game was showing some wear-and-tear with its dated pacing and repetitive campaign, but gearing up with a buddy in co-op still gleamed that extra fun actor.
So, if that all went well where the heck is the remaster of the 2nd game?
Arguably it was the best story in the series, not to mention, has not dated like the first, playing basically as sharp as it was when it was released. All it would need is that modern polish for a certified slam-dunk for Microsoft.
9 In Development: Vigor
DayZ became a big deal on the PC, although it stayed in Early Access for years and hardly evolved from it’s earlier stages. It didn’t help the popular traits it introduced to the market (Survival and Battle Royale) went on to massive success with other games.
The makers of that game are back attempting to do another refresh take on that concept (minus zombies). With a stronger emphasis on survival than on PUBG-style duels, the game has been in Early Access on Xbox for a while yet word has been that it hasn’t ironed out several problems DayZ had.
8 In Development: Swordy
So this indie title features up to eight people fighting in an arena filled with weapons, with the last standing earning the title of victor- so far, so typical.
Yet, what makes Swordy different is that there is no attack button.
You have to build momentum by swinging said weapon, making it a strategic yet endlessly hilarious type of combat smash-up – all done in a lush pixelated style (think an isometric Nidhogg with eight people).
If your looking for some fun and challenging couch matches with your mates – this looks like an enjoyable contender for sure.
7 Possibility: New Killer Instinct
The latest Killer Instinct game launched with the Xbox One and was a great free-to-play title to jump straight into. The first round had its flaws yet every progressive season improved the game vastly.
It’s been a while since the first title brought its updated to an end – since it was well received you got to wonder where is the proper follow up?
Fighting games have returned to prominence and with Sony having grabbed Street Fighter V for themselves, you would Microsoft would want to blatantly remind them that they own one of the best fighting I.Ps in the current industry.
6 In Development: Outer Wilds
This is an indie that has an absolute stellar premise; you’re in charge of a space explorer setting down on a new planet.
After twenty minutes of exploring the world, the sun goes Nova and you reach your demise.
Your player is stuck in a time-loop it must repeat over and over yet each attempting to affect the world around and them and essentially solve the mystery behind the destructive event.
The word from hands-on previews have been ecstatic about the game, it’s visuals and main mechanic – I smell an indie sleeper success here.
5 In Development: Gears Tactics
What worked for Halo should work for Gears too, right? Well, both hold the honor of being Microsoft’s stalwart first-party exclusives, they also contain killer multiplayer and produced some of the strongest action gaming experiences across the Xbox 360 generation – but does Gears really need it’s own Halo Wars style RTS entry?
Well, there’s no point in questioning it, it’s incoming regardless. Still, if it can hit a fun blend of X-com and Halo Wars set in the Gears universe – there’s no reason this can’t be an enjoyable distraction until the next big entry arrives.
4 Possibility: Sunset Overdrive 2
Microsoft pulled off a smooth move when they landed Insomniac Games (a Sony-centric developer) to create an Xbox One exclusive title for its launch – it also happens to be the best exclusive on the console.
So, where’s the sequel? Unfortunately, the title straight bombed on the system.
Insomniac is more than eager to make a sequel regardless of this, yet it’s Microsoft who’s been holding back on greenlighting it.
Now with Insomniac’s massive success with the PS4-exclusive Spider-Man game, Microsoft should do the smart thing and get the current hottest indie developer to make them a much-needed follow-up.
3 In Development: Aftercharge
A simple yet fun formula for a game; three invisible robots are pitted against three undying guards. The robots have to take down the arenas defenses unnoticed, the guards have to catch them and defend the area.
It feels like an interesting new angle on the online competitive battle scene, with a quirky set-up that could lead to intriguing strategic matches. Yet, it also feels like a slight bit of content that could grow old quickly. We’ll have to wait and see.
2 In Development: Halo: Infinite
Halo 5 was a bit of a mixed bag; the campaign was all a bit meh but the multiplayer is arguably the best of the entire franchise.
Regardless, overall it was seen as a bit of a disappointment for its fanbase, with the brand going into hibernation.
That wait has come to an end as Infinite has been announced in a Master Chief-centric teaser. Not much is known except that it harkens back to a tone similar to the first game and the subtitle hints at a possible open-world angle to it. Who cares? Chief has been gone far too long anyhow.
1 Possibility: Perfect Dark 3
Yeah, everyone was so excited for Perfect Dark Zero launching on the Xbox 360; then they played it and not only did it scorn Rare’s (until then) near spotless track-record but it also basically killed off the franchise.
With enough time having past and Microsoft in need of some exclusives, rumors have been bumping around that they are ready to bring back this classic title in a third-person style.
It would make sense since they brought back other dormant Rare classics like Killer Instinct and now Battletoads – you can bet Johanna is returning sooner than later