How Was The Xbox One’s 2015?

How Was The Xbox One’s 2015?

The Xbox One has been quite the interesting console ,but not exactly for it’s games. It’s initial DRM concepts had the masses up in arms. Stock market value took a hit in the surrounding time of the One’s reveal. Changes were made, opinions switched, yet Microsoft’s huge box is still a curious creation.

2015 was billed as the year the ‘next gen’ consoles would finally show their worth. Looking past sale figures, how did the Xbox One do in terms of it’s quality? Was this the year that the One became a must own? No, well not quite yet anyway.

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Make no mistake, 2015 was not a bad year for the One. For fans of already established Xbox titles, there was few treats in store. Halo 5 and Gears of War Ultimate provided devout followers some decent play hours. Even with Halo’s fleeting relevance to the masses, it’s core fan base still bared witness to a fairly decent outing.

Perhaps a more under appreciated elements to the Xbox One in 2015, Free-to-play has became something of a secret weapon. Neverwinter’s arrival on the system went by quietly, but that doesn’t mean it’s not decent. Handling it’s transition from PC to console in an impressive manner, Neverwinter is worth a look. The controls are well mapped, with only the odd hiccup rearing it’s head. It may not match the PC version toe-to-toe, but it’s still good classic style MMORPG on the consoles.

Smite was another big name free-to-play title that found a new home on Xbox One. MOBA games tend to get a bad name, mostly due to their play style, but Smite is highly accessible. Focusing more on team fights and action, as opposed to grinding, it fits consoles well. The MOBA genre has never quite ‘worked’ on consoles, but Smite changed that. Mostly forgotten about by the majority, Smite proved it fitted in well on the Xbox One, giving it something other consoles did not have (yet).

Rare Replay was another curiosity that gave the One some much needed depth. A collection of games from a developer long since destroyed by Micorsoft. For a low RRP price, the Rare Replay turned the One into a nostalgic jaunt down memory lane. Battletoads, Killer Instinct, Banjo-Kazooie and Perfect Dark were just a few of the games included. It was a smart move by Microsoft to bring Rare Replay to the market, even if it did remind people what they did to Rare in the later years.

Forza 6 did what Forza does best, cars and flashy visuals. As always, Forza 6 was decently made and severed it’s purpose well. Generating positive reviews, along with a few gripes over DLC. It was a much needed addition to the One’s exclusive library.

Two stand out titles came in the form of Ori and the Blind Forest and Rise of the Tomb Raider. Both titles became darlings of various websites and critics, with Ori popping up across various Game of the Year lists.

The timed exclusivity of Tomb Raider was a little strange, even more so given the game’s release date. One negative brought on by the deal was Microsoft’s enthusiasm for saying how well the game sold, suggesting the exact opposite.

Backwards compatibility turned out to be Microsoft’s biggest trump card of 2015. Playing 360 titles on the Xbox One will be a staggered process, but the effort is still there to be admired. It’s the perfect process, with some titles lined up being pretty odd choices, but it’ll do for now. It’s unclear to how far Microsoft will go with the update, even more so with remasterings proving to be a popular avenue.

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Last, but certainty not least, is the Xbox One Elite controller. It’s pricey, it’s heavy but people seem to love it. By people I mean those who managed to get their hands on one. Microsoft underestimated the demand for the Elite controller, resulting in store running out of stock. All of it’s fancy features have users hearts aflutter, but that price point remains a stumbling block for many.

The Xbox One has had a fair 2015. There’s still a lack of games that could truly be described as must plays. It’s library of exclusives is growing, but not at the desired pace. Halo is not the power house it used to be, Microsoft seem to accepting this. The systems technical weakness still rear their heads from time to time, resulting in a few tuts and sighs. It’s been a year that failed to define exactly what the Xbox One is, or is not.

 

Sean Halliday


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