From ‘Halo 5’ to ‘Titanfall’: What we know about the Xbox One games coming after launch

Microsoft’s beefy new Xbox One console offers a tremendous upgrade over the nearly 10-year-old Xbox 360. The internal hardware is on the level with what present-day gaming PCs can deliver, but it’s more than that. There’s Kinect 2.0. There’s SmartGlass. There’s the console’s connection with Microsoft’s cloud, and all of the potential remote processing offers. There’s a solid launch lineup to be sure, highlighted by Dead Rising 3Forza Motorsport 5, and Ryse: Son of Rome, but it’s the more distant releases that you want to keep an eye on. Here’s what we’ll be watching closely for news on.

halo 5 screenshotHalo 5

Developer: 343 Industries

Publisher: Microsoft Studios

Release date: TBA

What is it: What is an Xbox console without Halo? Microsoft revealed Halo 5 – if that is the name it ends up with – at E3 2013 with a brief cinematic trailer and nothing else. The game would continue the “Reclaimer trilogy” that began with Halo 4, 343 Industries’ studio’s first big outing with the beloved franchise.

Why you should care: Whether or not there ends up being a number at the end of the final title, Halo 5 is meant to be the next chapter of Master Chief’s story in the long-running series. The end of Halo 4 made it abundantly clear that there’s more story to be told – not that anyone ever expected Microsoft to give up on one of its biggest moneymakers – and 343 is has proven than it is up for the challenge.

What we’re not so sure about: Basically everything. There’s just a cinematic trailer so far, featuring what looks to be a giant-sized version of the Prometheans encountered in Halo 4. It’s probably a safe bet that the next Halo will feature a campaign mode, a multiplayer mode, and something that at least resembles Halo 4‘s Spartan Ops, but that’s all just speculation. Don’t expect to hear anything further on Halo 5 until E3 2014 at the earliest.

Quantum BreakQuantum Break

Developer: Remedy Entertainment

Publisher: Microsoft Studios

Release date: TBA

What is it: Quantum Break amounts to a new fictional universe from Max Payne and Alan Wake creator Remedy Entertainment. The game focuses on three playable individuals – protagonists Jack Joyce and Beth Wilder, and antagonist Paul Serene – who are impacted in various ways by a time travel experiment gone wrong. Remedy will use an episodic story structure that blends a third-person, cover-based action game, with live-action filmed content. The underlying idea is to have the story bend and shape itself around your decisions, with the live-action sequences that you watch changing according to those decisions.

Why you should care: Remedy is one of the most accomplished creative teams around when it comes to interactive storytelling. Sam Lake, the writer that lent his talents to both Payne and Wake, is once again charged with steering the narrative for Quantum Break. Remedy’s whole pitch of realizing the game as a sort of TV series that gamers create through their own play, threatens to be groundbreaking.

What we’re not so sure about: Video games have a pretty crummy history when it comes to being paired with live-action video. Remedy pulled off some inventive content in that realm for both Alan Wake games, but Quantum Break sounds like it’s going to go much further in that regard. So far a lot of promises have been made, but not much has been shown, and it could be a while. The original Alan Wake was announced in 2005 but not released until 2010. Will the same happen with Quantum Break?

Fable LegendsFable Legends

Developer: Lionhead Studios, Big Blue Box

Publisher: Microsoft Studios

Release date: TBA

What is it: Microsoft revealed Fable Legends at Gamescom 2013 as a co-op-driven action game set in the land of Albion, 400 years before the events of 2004’s Fable. It’s a time in the series’ fictional history when heroes were still common, allowing players to band together in groups of four as they take on a fifth player, playing the villain.

Why you should care: Fable Legends is four-player co-op with a twist. While the four heroes run around the game’s environments, engaging in the same sort of exploration and combat that fans of the series have become familiar with, the fifth villain player actively works to ruin their day. The villain maintains a top-down view of the world, depositing enemies, traps, and other obstacles into the path of the four heroes as they proceed.

What we’re not so sure about: Fable Legends is essentially a dungeon crawler, with the heroes accepting quests from a hub town before setting out into the larger world. Fans of the Fable series that are expecting something more akin to the role-playing game dynamic that typifies the three numerical entries in the series, would do well to re-align their expectations. Then there’s Lionhead, a studio that is notorious for promising more than it can deliver on. Much of that comes from the now-departed Peter Molyneux, however. Molyneux’s absence might mean an end to the over-the-top promises, but will it also negatively impact the team’s creative focus?

Fantasia - TurtleFantasia: Music Evolved

Developer: Harmonix Music Systems

Publisher: Disney Interactive Studios

Release date: 2014

What is it: Fantasia: Music Evolved is not so much a game as it is an interactive musical experience that’s been designed as a sort of spiritual successor to Disney’s Fantasia. The music will pull from modern sources as opposed to the 1940 film’s classical music score, but the idea remains the same: immerse the viewer/player in a journey that marries sight and sound in pleasing ways. As you explore different worlds, you find new songs to play with and new musical points of interaction to unlock. All of it is Kinect-driven, so your hand, arm, and body movements help to dictate the shape that the music takes.

Why you should care: Harmonix needs no introduction as the creative team behind the Rock Band games. Fantasia: Music Evolved is the studio’s first post-Rock Band effort, and its wildly different approach to user-driven musical composition shows a lot of promise. The tie to Disney’s Fantasia means that every world you explore is magically surreal.

What we’re not so sure about: Our first hands-on demo with Fantasia was a very early build of the game, and Harmonix only had access to the Xbox 360’s Kinect camera. These two factors combined to create a less-than-ideal playing experience. We got a sense of the ambition at work here, but we’ll have to wait and see how Kinect 2.0 feels and behave – not to mention a more polished version of the game – before we can make any judgments.


Developer: Respawn Entertainment

Publisher: Electronic Arts

Release date: Early 2014

What is it: Part first-person shooter, part mech-on-mech showdown, all awesome. Titanfall is the debut effort for Respawn Entertainment, the studio formed by former Infinity Ward bosses Jason West and Vince Zampella. The multiplayer-driven game features single player trappings including a single-player story-driven campaign, but it most exists to pit teams of players against one another in shootouts involving flesh-and-blood meatbags working in tandem with their Titan mechs. Zoom around in a giant, armored behemoth, or have one follow you around while you run, jump, and jetpack your way from frag to frag.

Why you should care: Respawn is an unproven newcomer but the team has major pedigree. More than that, early reports of Titanfall suggest that it is outstanding. Nearly every preview you can find speaks of the game with heavy anticipation. This is also one of the first games that we know of to make heavy use of Microsoft’s cloud support on the Xbox One; in addition to hosting multiplayer servers remotely, the cloud will also help to crunch through the processing of physics and artificial intelligence.

What we’re not so sure about: Absolutely nothing. This game looks nuts. We can’t wait to play it with the rest of the Xbox One-owning world in early 2014.

Sunset OverdriveSunset Overdrive

Developer: Insomniac Games

Publisher: Microsoft Studios

Release date: TBA

What is it: Ratchet & Clank and Resistance developer Insomniac Games is set to deliver its first-ever Xbox exclusive in Sunset Overdrive, but beyond that we don’t know much. The game was revealed in an E3 2013 trailer during Microsoft’s press conference, but it’s one of those games that is clearly not even close to release. There were no demos happening at E3 behind closed doors or otherwise, and there’s been no talk of the game since its initial reveal in June. We know it’s an open world shooter set in a cartoon-stylized world. Multiplayer seems to play a sizable role. The game world is a city in which all residents have either been killed or transformed into mutants. The trailer suggests that rapid traversal is a big deal in the game, with characters using ziplines and employing various parkour tactics as they shoot each other’s faces.

Why you should care: Developer pedigree, mostly. Insomniac gives good video game. The studio stumbled a bit in Fuse, its first foray into multi-platform game development, but it’s hard not to see shades of the team’s penchant for wacky weapons and fast gameplay in the Sunset Overdrive reveal trailer. There’s little else to go on right now, but we have faith in Ted Price and his crew to come up with something solid.

Why we’re not so sure: Fuse, mostly. Insomniac’s 2013 co-op shooter isn’t a bad game, but its successes in delivering four well-balanced, wildly different playable characters and elaborate levels for them to run around in are offset by questionable enemy AI and rote, third-person shooting gallery gameplay. Here’s hoping Sunset Overdrive leans more toward the successes of the Ratchet series; it may be more violent than the earlier series’ kid-friendly space adventures, but the two share similar stylistic sensibilities.


Developer: Capybara Games

Publisher: Microsoft Studios

Release date: TBA

What is it: Below is the next effort from Capybara Games, one half of the team behind the wonderful iOS-spawned adventure game, Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP. It is a top-down adventure game that places a heavy emphasis on replay value by way of a high difficulty and permanent character death. Wrapped around these retro design ideals is a stylishly retro presentation. Note that while Below is confirmed as an Xbox One exclusive, it’s also a limited time exclusivity. This one is going to make its way to other platforms eventually; it’s just coming to Xbox One first.

Why you should care: If you’ve played Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP then you know exactly why you should care. Below seems to share a similar sense of retro style, even though it’s a totally different type of game. Superbrothers was a collaboration of course, but Capybara is also getting plenty of attention for Super TIME Force, another Microsoft exclusive that’s coming soon (before the end of 2013) to Xbox 360 via Xbox Live Arcade. If Superbrothers leaves you unsure, Super TIME Force should give you a good sense of what Capybara is capable of on its own.

Why we’re not so sure: The big factor giving us pause is how little we know about Below. This is one of those E3 2013 press conference reveals that wasn’t elaborated on much during the show – aside from a brief appearance at Microsoft’s annual E3 showcase event, Below was a no-show. We’d like to see more before we start getting overly excited.

Project-Spark-preview-1Project Spark

Developer: Team Dakota

Publisher: Microsoft Studios

Release date: TBA

What is it: Project Spark is Microsoft’s bid to give Xbox owners a platform-exclusive game that doubles as a content creator. Think LittleBigPlanet. Think Disney Infinity. Same idea. Using a variety of tools – on your Xbox One, Xbox 360, and/or Windows 8 PC/tablet – you create entire worlds, complete with friends and enemies, treasures, whatever you can dream up, really. In addition to creating content of their own, players will also be able to try out other creations from the Project Spark-using peoples of the world.

Why you should care: Project Spark‘s creation features appear to be considerably more flexible than competitors have been able to achieve thus far. You’ve got full 3D world-building capabilities coupled with support for touch screen tools via SmartGlass or Windows 8, as well as Kinect motion controls. There may not be a single game at the heart of Project Spark, but the potential for what players will be able to do with it has us very excited.

Why we’re not so sure: As with any creation-drive game release, Project Spark‘s success or failure hinges entirely on how invested the community becomes in growing it beyond the basic framework that Team Dakota will deliver. We’ll no doubt see some developer-approved creations, both when Spark launches and in the months that follow, but it’s going to take a community investment to keep this one going, and there’s no way to know if that community will be there until the game is fully launched.


Developer: Access Games

Publisher: Microsoft Studios

Release date: TBA

What is it: D4 is an episodic, cel-shaded adventure hatched in the mind of Hidetaka “Swery” Suehiro, the creative madman behind Deadly Premonition. The title is shorthand for the phrase “Dark Dreams Don’t Die.” Players step into the shoes of a grief-stricken private investigator whose wife is the victim of murder. There’s also time travel somehow. This is Swery. It’s better if you don’t ask questions.

Why you should care: If you like weird things from imaginative Japanese creators, D4 is for you. Swery’s worked on a number of games throughout his life, but D4 seems to have the most in common with Deadly Premonition. It appears to be a very different style of game, with a much more heavily scripted approach to play and progression than the earlier title’s open world survival horror, but weirdness is woven deeply into the fabric of both.

Why we’re not so sure: For all of its cult status and inventive ideas, Deadly Premonition still isn’t a very good game. D4 appears to embrace a completely different approach to play, one driven heavily by quick-time events and other scripted sequences. It’s a Kinect game with a story attached to it, and the middling success of the Xbox 360-era Kinect is plenty of reason to be concerned.

Kinect Sports RivalsKinect Sports Rivals

Developer: Rare

Publisher: Microsoft Studios

Release date: Early 2014

What is it: Kinect Sports Rivals is your now-standard sports minigame collection that will be leveraged to highlight the capabilities of the Kinect 2.0-powered Xbox One console. We’ve seen little more than an E3 trailer, but it’s enough to confirm that the game features bowling, jet ski racing, rock climbing, soccer, target shooting, and tennis. Think of this as the follow-up to the Xbox 360’s Kinect Sports and Kinect Sports: Season Two. Mostly because that’s exactly what it is.

Why you should care: These sports minigame collections always make great party games. If the Xbox One’s Kinect really is the major improvement that Microsoft is hyping it to be, this early 2014 console-exclusive ought to be the first real showcase for that. There’s a great team at Rare, and one that’s had plenty of experience in building motion-controlled sports games after delivering the previous two Kinect Sports collections.

Why we’re not so sure: Kinect 2.0 is still very much an unknown quantity on the Xbox One. Microsoft has yet to really create any opportunities for significant hands-on (body-on?) time with the souped up motion-sensing camera, and that’s worrisome with the new console so close to release. There’s also just the general stigma surrounding Kinect games; gamers are a largely sedentary community, and titles like Kinect Sports Rivals require a level of physical exertion that isn’t always welcome for someone seeking a relaxing gaming experience.

Black Tusk StudiosUntitled game from Black Tusk Studios

Developer: Black Tusk Studios

Publisher: Microsoft Studios

Release date: TBA

What is it: Well it’s… we’re not really sure, actually. Announced at E3 2013 in a trailer that premiered during Microsoft’s press conference, we’re fairly confident that this untitled effort from Black Tusk Studios – formerly known as Microsoft Vancouver – is a video game. The trailer features a black bodysuit-clad man rappelling down the side of a Shanghai skyscraper while fireworks burst all around him. He eventually crashes through a window and quietly subdues an armed guard. The trailer ends with a tracking shot that appears to wind its way through the insides of some kind of sci-fi firearm. We’re not sure though. It’s a brief trailer, and a relatively unrevealing one.

Why you should care: Microsoft has been pretty clear in stating that it hopes this first effort from Black Tusk establishes a new first-party universe that rivals the Halo series. That’s all we got. What? You try coming up with reasons to be interested in a game you know absolutely nothing about.

Why we’re not so sure: Mostly because we haven’t seen a lick of the game yet. For all we know, this untitled effort is actually phase one of Black Tusk’s world domination plot. We’ll all scurry out like sheep on launch day to buy the game, only to be exposed to a Hypnotoad-like video sequences that drives all viewers mad and inadvertently triggers a puppy apocalypse.

What? It could happen.

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