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18 Features

Xbox One games: Your guide to 2014

By Chris Scullion on Thursday 9th Jan 2014 at 4:56 PM UTC

The first wave of Xbox One game reviews were a mixed bunch, with Forza Motorsport 5 enjoying most praise but the likes of Ryse and Dead Rising 3 rarely receiving more than an adequate reception.

This is often the way with launch line-ups of course, and anyone purchasing an Xbox One will likely be fully aware that it's an investment that is only going to result in more rewarding experiences as the months go by.

With that in mind, here's a look at the most promising games you can expect to see on Microsoft's platform throughout 2014. Release dates are, of course, subject to change.

Early 2014

Thief (Feb 28)

Eidos Montreal knows it has to tread carefully rebooting a cult favourite like Thief, because one unpopular decision can be enough to ruin a legacy.

It seems to be listening, though, and more importantly it's responding too. In a Q&A published on the studio's community site, one of the game's fans asked how the previously announced QTEs were being handled so as to not break immersion. "Easy, we're not implementing them," replied studio member Valerie Bourdeau.

This is not the first time Eidos Montreal has removed a feature due to pressure from fans. In October it was confirmed that the game's XP system would also be scrapped after fan feedback made it clear the feature wasn't welcome.

Garrett might well be most comfortable in the shadows, but in the run-up to next-gen Thief will have to deal with the spotlight. And so far, at least, the stealth adventure isn't cracking under pressure.

Buy now from Amazon

Titanfall (March 11 US, March 13 EU)

There is a question that has seduced us for years: what would a Miyamoto FPS feel like? The answer is, perhaps, Titanfall.

An intriguing combination of online multiplayer gaming, single-player style storylines, free-running agility and bulky mech power, Titanfall feels like a game full of contradictions, and yet a recent play session suggests they seem to come together wonderfully.


Titanfall's combat feels as finely tuned as the famous Call of Duty brand - guided by perfectionists of the genre who once led Infinity Ward before everything went legal.

Then there's your very own Titan - a metallic giant which lands from the heavens like a thunderbolt - and the wondrous agility of the game's player characters, who dash across the Battlefield like Neo from The Matrix.

Titanfall already looks and feels incredibly accomplished as a multiplayer shooter, but developer Respawn also claims it will bring a campaign-centric narrative to the online game. There's probably a whole lot more to these claims, but from what we've seen so far, Titanfall is shaping into the first must-have deathmatch title of the new console generation. And who needs a story for that?

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Kinect Sports Rivals (release date set for "spring")

Microsoft is keen to ensure its second version of Kinect doesn't meet the same fate as the first - all but abandoned by third-party developers and criticised for its lack of accuracy.


It was a bold move for the company to include Kinect 2.0 as mandatory with every Xbox One, and in an attempt to prove the new sensor is the real deal Microsoft and Rare have made a free early demo of Kinect Sports Rivals (entitled Preseason) available for download at launch.

Not only is this an effective way to show off the new Kinect's greatly improved accuracy and player recognition features, it also handily promotes the full version of Rivals, which is due for release sometime in spring.

With bowling, rock climbing, football, target shooting and tennis added to the jetski racing event featured in Preseason, there's concern that Rivals may not boast a huge amount of content. That said, the first Kinect Sports is one of the best Kinect games around so if any 2014 release will make the most of the new sensor, it's likely this one.

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Plants Vs Zombies: Garden Warfare (February 18 US, February 20 EU)

A spin-off of PopCap's popular tower defence series and revealed at E3 in June, Garden Warfare is a third-person shooter headed "exclusively first" to Xbox 360 and Xbox One in spring 2014, followed by PC.

Interestingly, despite its third-person viewpoint, Garden Warfare will have no single-player element, instead focusing purely on multiplayer gameplay.

"We definitely want to build on the game once it's launched," said the game's creative director Justin Wiebe. "We're definitely taking a cue from Plants Vs Zombies 2. Using DLC and new content updates, we want to keep players engaged in the long haul."

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One way EA might do this is with the Boss mode, which will be exclusive to the Xbox One version of the game. This uses Kinect or SmartGlass and gives co-op players a top-down view of the battle, allowing them to use abilities like health drops, revive stations and artillery strikes.

We're curious to see if Garden Warfare manages to emulate the success of the main PvZ series. With Russell Brand providing the voice of the game's enemy Dr Zomboss, it certainly seems likely to retain its trademark sense of humour.

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Metal Gear Solid 5: Ground Zeroes (March 18)

Every release in the Metal Gear series is a key moment for the games industry, but this time Konami is splitting the fanfare in two. In the build-up to the (unspecified) release of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, Kojima Productions has developed a standalone prologue.

While it's likely that The Phantom Pain is still a long way off, series creator Hideo Kojima say that Ground Zeroes sets the scene and allows players to understand how to play an open-world Metal Gear Solid title.

Ground Zeroes will focus on an infiltration mission set in a Cuban prison camp, as depicted in this Tokyo Game Show video. It will also feature "a large open environment, and missions where time of day and weather have a dynamic effect on the game and its missions."

It's slightly reminiscent of the famous Tanker demo released months ahead of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, though presumably it's more fully featured as it won't come cheap.

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The Elder Scrolls Online (June)

The Elder Scrolls games are known for their insane levels of depth, so by taking the next step and turning The Elder Scrolls into an MMORPG Bethesda may end up creating one of the most vastly time-guzzling gameplay experiences ever (if they can pull it off).

Bethesda has been working hard with Microsoft to ensure the planned steady stream of downloadable locations coming to the PC version of The Elder Scrolls Online will also feature in the Xbox One and PS4 versions with very little hassle.

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"One of the things that we've worked really hard on with both Microsoft and Sony," said creative director Paul Sage in a CVG interview, "is to make sure that we can have a certain cadence of content and we're very committed to having new content out on a regular and frequent basis. I think they've been really good about working with us on that."

Subscription costs, however, could be a thorny issue. Bethesda will be charging a monthly fee for The Elder Scrolls Online, much like other MMOs do. But with Microsoft's new console requiring a fee for online play, Bethesda is hoping its MMO will be playable without the need for Xbox Gold. That has still to be decided.

Look out for a beta some time before the game's launch - however, back in June, Bethesda promised the beta would be "exclusively available first on PS4," so be prepared for a small period of frustration while "the other lot" get to enjoy it first.

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Mid - Late 2014

Watch Dogs (due before July)

It's one of the most highly-anticipated next-gen games, which is why gamers around the world sighed in unison when Ubisoft confirmed that Watch Dogs was being held back until Spring 2014.

The publisher's ambitious open-world action game was a key title in the launch line-ups for both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, but now it'll have to settle for being one of the most promising games during the second wave of titles for both systems. A Watch Dogs gameplay video released in September shows why there is so much potential. Assuming the role of Irish vigilante hacker Aiden Pearce, players will have to tap into Chicago's central operating system and use it to turn the city into one big weapon.

With a Watch Dogs movie also announced, it's clear Ubisoft expects its new IP will catch on, which is likely one of the reasons why the title was delayed to ensure the quality level is as high as it can be.

Buy now from Amazon

Below (2014)

Below, one of a handful of indie titles confirmed for Xbox One, will be a timed exclusive on the platform.

First unveiled during Microsoft's E3 2013 press conference, the moody adventure game is one of the Xbox One's flagship indie titles, alongside Minecraft and Swery's D4.

Quite apart from the usual conveyer belt of shooters and action games, Below appears as a slow-paced dungeon-crawler, emphasising exploration over action.

The plane occasionally switches from top-down to side-on, incorporating what appear to be co-op hack-and-slash elements. It's essentially Castle Crashers after a shot of novocaine.

During its unveiling, Microsoft's Phil Harrison said the platform holder would continue to focus on partnering with indie developers.

"'Below' is a classic rogue tale with moody graphics and Kinect technology," Microsoft said in an official description.

"You'll scour the open world in search of rare and special loot while battling the malevolent Darkness, an artificial intelligence-controlled character that uses Kinect to sense and change level progression based on the room's surroundings."

Buy now from Amazon

Dragon Age: Inquisition (release date set for "autumn")

Bioware and EA's fantasy action RPG series is well-loved so it should go without saying that Inquisition, the third game in the series, is well worth keeping an eye on.

Merging elements from Dragon Age Origins and Dragon Age II, Inquisition lets players choose to explore its larger environments as either a human, dwarf, elf or Qunari.


There will be a greater focus on teamwork this time, with Bioware promising that tactical and positioning considerations will be more important in combat than button-bashing. A new romance system will also replace the previous games' gifting system, leading to more Mass Effect style relationships.

Dragon Age: Inquisition and the next Mass Effect are both powered by DICE's Frostbite 3 engine. BioWare Montreal studio director Yanick Roy has confirmed both games will share 'core systems'.

For many fans, Bioware must atone for recent misfires. In Dragon Age: Inquisition, with its expansive customisation, meaty combat, vast lands, and increased focus on moral choice, they're right on target.

Buy now from Amazon

D4 (release to be confirmed)

Where Kinect Sports Rivals shows some of the more conventional uses of Kinect for gaming, D4 is a great example of how it can be used if developers think outside the (X)box.

D4, or Dark Dreams Don't Die, is an episodic point-and-click adventure game from Hidetaka 'Swery' Suehiro, creator of acclaimed survival horror Deadly Premonition.

To draw comparisons, D4 has a lot in common with TellTale's Walking Dead series, except with all the quirky characters and utterly bizarre goings on of Deadly Premonition.

Players take control of David Young, an amnesiac private investigator who's remarkably chipper for a man trying to figure out who killed his wife and why he can suddenly dive into the past when coming into contact with certain items. Using Kinect, players can guide David around different environments, pointing out where to go and what to investigate, as well as swiping to reorient the character. In conversations players can say one of the on-screen dialogue prompts.

On its own, all of that sounds pretty ordinary, but D4 puts all those actions into weird and wonderful situations on-screen. One of those wild arm flail situations, for example, might be during a fist fight on an aeroplane where you're doing a front flip over a runaway foodcart.

During the same fight, you might pin down your enemy and grab a nearby megaphone, then shout a mixture of abuse and questions crucial to furthering your investigation right down his ear hole.

Insane? Yes. Interesting? Definitely.

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Halo 5 (2014)

Of all the CGI trailers at E3 2013, Halo 5's was most puzzling. Where are we? What is that massive robot bird thing? Why is Master Chief wearing a robe over his armour? Surely it's air-conditioned? We don't anticipate answers to these questions for months yet.

Regardless, the trailer served a purpose. Beneath all the cloak and mirrors, Seattle studio 343 announced the return of Microsoft's flagship franchise. For those who doubted the worth of Xbox One, Halo's reveal was a reminder of what lied ahead.

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Microsoft recently reaffirmed that Halo 5 will indeed be released in 2014, so it's likely we'll get our first proper glimpse of the project at E3 in June. Expect Halo 5 to release around November.

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Fable Legends (Beta in 2014)

Lionhead has so far dodged the question of a Fable Legends release date, stating only that a beta test for the Xbox One exclusive will begin in 2014.

Legends once again has players adventuring in the world of Albion, only this time with up to three other heroes (or villains) as you embark on quests, slay monsters and discover new weapons, armor and treasure to upgrade your character with.

Although the game features a strong online component, Lionhead insists "it's not an MMO" and can be played offline in single-player.

"You can play with other people in a four-player cooperative experience. Your party could be all human players, or a mix of players and AI-controlled Heroes," the studio explained in an official Q&A.

"You can switch easily between single player and multiplayer styles of play whenever you decide, or when a friend signs on. During a quest, you can elect to battle a human or an AI Villain."

Legends will also include "mini-games, pub games, and similar activities" in a central city area, some of which may use Kinect motion controls.

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The Evil Within (late 2014)

"From the mind that brought you Resident Evil 4" is probably about as much marketing as The Evil Within needs to generate interest. Published by Bethesda, "the studio that brought you The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and Fallout 3", The Evil Within is a new survival horror title from Shinji Mikami, video gaming's very own John Carpenter.

Having received universal critical acclaim for Resident Evil 4, Mikami dropped the proverbial mic and stepped away from the survival horror genre. His outstanding work went on to inform future survival horror games and, perhaps even more so, action games. But over the time the lines between the two have blurred: horror games aren't about tension and scares anymore, they're about big explosions, cheesy storylines and alienating fanbases.

The most exciting aspect of The Evil Within is that it's the product of Mikami's frustration with the current state of survival horror. In his own words, he's back to make a "real survival horror game".

"For me, personally, why I came back to survival horror is that survival horror as a genre is becoming all action now and there aren't any real survival horror games in the world right now," he said recently. "That is the biggest motivation for me."

The master is back, and it sounds like he's planning to teach one hell of a lesson. And by hell we mean a distorting world of horrors powered by id Tech 5. The Evil Within is the story of Detective Sebastian, who attends the scene of a mass murder and finds a powerful, mysterious force lying in wait. Dragged into a nightmare alternate reality along with his partner and peers, Sebastian needs to figure out what happened and find a way out, but will have to face his own fears to do it.

So far, both Mikami and Bethesda have been saying all the right things, promising the return of aspects fans of the genre have seen stripped away from survival horror franchises of old: "Players must survive on limited resources, experiencing that supreme match of action and horror, that indescribable terror. To survive in an afflicted world, your anxiety and nerves will be pushed to the edge."

The world "distorts and warps according to mysterious and evil horrors". Scenery has been described as "transforming in real time based on the player's actions", all the while horrific monsters advance on the player. Mikami's vision of a next-gen hell is sounding like heaven for survival horror lovers.

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Project Spark (TBC)

Microsoft's take on LittleBigPlanet, Project Spark, will be released as a free-to-play title on Xbox One.

The software allows users to sculpt their own worlds and create play structures within. Finer details can be tuned via a number of methods, including SmartGlass-powered iPads and tablets, as well as the next-generation Kinect sensor.

The game, in development at the relatively unknown outfit Team Dakota, was recently demonstrated in an extensive, one hour Livestream video (see it below).

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Project Spark will be free for all Xbox One owners whether they have a Live Gold subscription or not, according to a company representative.

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Quantum Break (TBC)

According to Max Payne and Alan Wake creators Remedy, the studio's new project will "push the boundaries of how people think of live action and gaming today."


Strong claims indeed, but the first Quantum Break demo did indeed look very impressive - and Remedy games usually tell interesting stories (at the least).

Quantum Break is a story-driven action game with decision-based scenarios that have consequences as you progress through its campaign.

The game's time manipulation mechanic will supposedly allow players to rewind and forward every physical object in the game, which (surprise, surprise) Remedy calls a "truly next-gen" feature.

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TBC 2014

The following list consists of games that are currently scheduled for 2014, with no specific date given.

Naturally, given the ever-changing nature of game development there is every chance that some of these titles will be put back to 2015, but for now we're considering them all likely 2014 releases.

Tom Clancy's The Division
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

Rumours and possibilities,

Each of the games below either have a small to fair chance of being released in 2014, or are rumoured to be in development.

  • Battlefield: Bad Company 3 (EA)
  • Beyond Good & Evil 2 (Ubisoft)
  • Doom 4 (Bethesda)
  • EverQuest Next (SOE)
  • Final Fantasy project (not FFXV) (Square Enix)
  • Final Fantasy XV (Square Enix)
  • Homefront 2 (Crytek)
  • Kingdom Hearts III (Square Enix)
  • Lily Bergamo (Grasshopper)
  • Mafia III (2K Games)
  • Mass Effect project (Bioware)
  • Mirror's Edge 2 (EA)
  • Resident Evil 7 (Capcom)
  • Shadow Of The Beast Remake(Sony)
  • Star Wars: Battlefront (EA)
  • Sleeping Dogs: Triad Wars (Square Enix)
  • Tekken X Street Fighter (Namco Bandai)
  • Untitled Project (Black Tusk Studios)

[Contributors: Chris Scullion, Rob Crossley, Tamoor Hussain]