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From sandboxes to island hopping: The most anticipated Xbox One games of 2016

Last year was a big year for the Xbox One. Although Microsoft lagged behind Sony at the start of this console generation, a strong lineup of titles AAA and indie titles, as well as consistent updates to the Xbox infrastructure, have brought a sense of parity to the console. The past is the past, however, and Xbox owners have an exciting year ahead of them. There is a diverse lineup of games scheduled to release for the Xbox this year, covering all sort of genres and budgets. Whether you want indie adventures or high-fidelity shooters, it looks like the Xbox One will have them.

Related: Our favorite Xbox One games that you can play right now

Editor’s Note: All release dates and windows are to the best of current knowledge. They may change in the forthcoming months or year. This article is continually updated to reflect known release dates.

Q1 releases (January – March)

Tom Clancy’s The Division (March 8)

After years in development, Ubisoft’s The Division is finally poised for release. A sort of hybrid between a shooter and an open-world RPG, the game allows up to four players to group together and face the perils of post-apocalyptic New York, fighting scavengers and salvaging loot as they trudge on. Players can also fight other groups of players, and even betray their own teammates to hoard the loot for themselves.

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The Witcher 3 – Blood and Wine

The Witcher 3 was one of the best games of 2015, marrying a gorgeous open world with dense stories and complex characters. The upcoming expansion, Blood and Wine, will transport players to a new realm, the aristocratic land of Toussaint, and task them with uncovering the dark secrets beneath the seemingly polite society. Details about the expansion remain sparse, though developer CD Projekt Red has said it will further refine The Witcher’s already exceptional gameplay.

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Tropico 5

The latest in the long-running city management series, Tropico 5 once again puts players in control of their own island nation, this time following a timeline from the 19th century to the 21st. In addition to overseeing the progress of their own people, players must negotiate with foreign nations and strike a path between great powers such as the United States and the Soviet Union. Tropico 5 also adds multiplayer to the series’ formula, allowing players to work together or compete to build the best dictatorship.

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Kerbal Space Program

The sky is not the limit in this aeronautics simulation game, where players oversee a space program on the planet Kerbin, building rockets and other craft and using the native Kerbals as test subjects. Originally a PC game, Kerbal can be incredibly difficult for beginners, requiring players to take orbital physics into account in order to successfully make the giant leap into space. Kerbal Space Program can be a bit obtuse, but there is truly no other game like it.

Demon’s Age 

Old-school dungeon crawlers have had a bit of a resurgence on the PC in the last couple years, and now even console owners can get in on the loot-collecting action with Demon’s Age, a dark turn-based RPG from Bigmoon Entertainment. Players can assemble a party of diverse adventurers, each with their own personalities and goals, and explore the world of Moragon, solving puzzles and slaying demons along the way.

Super Dungeon Bros.

Four players are better than one when it comes to fighting undead hordes, as is the case in Super Dungeon Bros., a dungeon-crawler that allows up to four players to fight their way through a variety of locales. The game’s controls seem simple enough, with light and heavy attacks reminiscent of classic brawlers like Gauntlet. If one can look past the game’s embarrassing sense of humor — the games tagline is “Bros B4 Foes” — Super Dungeon Bros. might be a breezy co-op romp.

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Anarcute

Anarcute promises to be the world’s cutest riot simulator, but at the very least, it gets points for originality. Players take control of a variety of cartoon animals, leading a mob to overthrow the oppressive forces governing the city setting. The entire city appears to be destructible, and players can use small objects and even entire building as weapons.

Q2 releases (April – June)

Quantum Break (April 5)

Drawing on both typical shooters and television dramas for inspiration, Quantum Break is a third-person person with some interesting twists. The player can control time, allowing one to dodge bullets, get behind enemies, and manipulate environments in the middle of fights. The game also places a heavy emphasis on storytelling, with a cast of veteran character actors (including Sean Ashmore and Aiden Gillen) and live-action segments meant to resemble a TV show.

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Dark Souls III (April 12)

The ostensible end of the Souls series, Dark Souls III promises to build on its predecessors’ challenging gameplay, adding a variety of new abilities and ways to build a character. Developer FROM Software promises that combat will be more fluid than in previous games, allowing players more rapid movements in battle. Dark Souls III will hopefully be a grueling finale to a series famous for putting players through the wringer.

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Battleborn (May 3)

Just when it seemed like the great MOBA (multiplayer online battle arena) gold rush was over, Gearbox announced its own take on the genre: Battleborn, a multiplayer first-person shooter with abilities and character progression. Players choose from a variety of characters with specialized roles such as dealing damage or healing teammates, then duke it out on different maps. Characters begin each game at level one and gain experience throughout the course of the match, allowing them to choose upgrades designed to suit their style of play.

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Mirror’s Edge Catalyst (May 24)

The long-awaited sequel to 2008’s futuristic parkour platformer, Catalyst reboots the story of the original and refines the gameplay, removing the often tedious gunplay to focus solely on running, jumping, and martial arts. Developer DICE claims the setting will be much more open than in the previous game, allowing players to improvise and explore various routes throughout the dystopian environments. The game also promises to better incorporate combat into the free-running, which is likely to help keep the pace quick and fluid.

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Overwatch

Blizzard Entertainment is a titan among game developers, having produced a few of the biggest franchises of all time in the Warcraft, Starcraft, and Diablo series. As such, it was big news that Blizzard will release its first original IP since Starcraft, and in a genre it has never tried, no less. Overwatch is a team-based shooter, with players choosing from a lineup of characters with different abilities and different roles. One character might build turrets to slow down an enemy offensive, while another might play a beefy knight who charges into crowds. There are various objective-based maps, and victory will depend on teamwork and proper use of each hero’s unique skills.

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Doom

There are few titles that evoke such reverence as Doom, the very metal, very violent first-person shooter that pushed buttons as well as hardware limits in the early ’90s. The franchise has seen its ups and downs since then, but current license-holder Bethesda has promised that the new Doom — same name as the original — will be a return to form, not just for the franchise but for shooters in general. According to Bethesda, 2016’s Doom will get rid of the health regeneration and cover-based shooting that have been the focus of so many AAA shooters recently, instead emphasizing reckless, daring action.

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Hyper Light Drifter

Indie-games paying homage to the 16-bit era could hardly be considered a new development; in fact, after the last few years, some might view them as a crutch for developers who rely more on nostalgia than innovation. Hyper Light Drifter seems poised to eviscerate such objections, however, with lush visuals that push pixel-art to a new level, and smooth gameplay that manages to be as challenging as any Super Nintendo game. Players control The Drifter, a wandering swordsman who must hack and slash his way through a variety of settings, acquiring new weapons and abilities in the process.

Fable Legends

The next entry in the Fable franchise seems to be a Fable game only in looks. Rather than a single-player, story-driven adventure, Legends is a multiplayer outing, pitting four heroes against a player-controlled villain in a setup that feels like a modern board game. The heroes each have distinct abilities, as do the villains, who can also summon monsters to try and stop the heroes’ progress. The game will be free-to-play a la League of Legends, with a rotating selection of free heroes as well as the option to buy heroes for permanent use.

SpeedRunners

The Xbox One’s lineup of multiplayer games is going to get a little bigger and a lot faster with SpeedRunners, a game in which players race through 2-D levels using tools such as grappling hooks and missiles to screw with their opponents. With a clean visual style and frantic gameplay, SpeedRunners seems like an ideal game for those with friends and a couch.

Kingdom Come: Deliverance

In a time when RPGs tend to be streamlined to appeal to a wider audience, Kingdom Come: Deliverance dares to be complex, allowing players a great deal of choice in the details of their character. Set in 14th century Bohemia, Deliverance casts players as a nobody who must rise up through the ranks of German nobility. There are plenty of options for weapons and clothing, and players will even need to pay attention to things like hunger and sleep. Kingdom Come promises a lot, but if it can deliver, it should be one of the deepest RPG experiences this year.

Mayan Death Robots

Mayan Death Robots builds on the formula of the classic computer game Worms, pitting players against one another in 2D, highly destructible levels. Unlike Worms, however, there are no turns. Every player can move and act simultaneously, and the action never ceases. Gigantic bosses will also occasionally appear to shake up the battles, encouraging players to temporarily work together to combat a massive threat.

Mighty No. 9 (February 19)

The new game from Mega Man creator Keiji Inafune, Mighty No. 9 is a spiritual successor to that storied franchise, putting players in control of a childlike robot who must defeat a collection of villains and steal their powers. The 2D platforming is a throwback to old-school SNES games, but a focus on speed ought to help Mighty No. 9 appeal to modern audiences.

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We Happy Few

One of the most bizarre games slated for release this year, We Happy Few, is a first-person survival game set in a psychedelic dystopia where most people are hopped up on a drug called Joy. Players are part of a small group called Downers who live drug-free, and unfortunately, Joy addicts react to them with extreme violence. The player must navigate the town of Wellington Wells, gathering resources while concealing their identity as a Downer. We Happy Few appears to be a challenging, fresh take on the survival genre.

Next page: game releases for the second half of the year

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