It feels like Groundhog Day. Here I am again, sticking the proverbial boots into Xbox and Microsoft. I thought 2018 would be different, and perhaps it will – after all it is only the first week of May. But I can’t help but think that with the recent Spider-Man announcements regarding gameplay and release date coupled with God of War crushing it with critical acclamation (at the time of writing it has an OpenCritic rating of 95), that Xbox are now further behind the eight-ball than I first thought. It hasn’t been all bad news for Xbox though. They’ve seemingly future-proofed themselves from the looming games as a service future with their Xbox Game Pass, a service that will grow in value over time. They’ve also had Sea of Thieves, which was meant to be Rare’s big comeback, but instead was met with a mixed reception (66 rating currently on OpenCritic), and they’ve got State of Decay 2 on May 22 and Crackdown 3 to come. The problem is that none of the aforementioned titles will force my hand to want to play the Xbox One with any urgency.
Since the release of the Xbox One X I have been waiting for that killer title that really justifies the purchase of the One X. As I have said in the past, Ryse: Son of Rome was the single reason I bought an Xbox One on launch. The only time my Xbox gets a workout these days is if I choose to buy or review a multi-platform title on Xbox, it feels like more of an excuse play the Xbox than a reason to, even if some third-party titles run better on the X.
The future of Xbox
As we know, Xbox needs games. It’s been done to death. But it would appear that they need them more than ever now given Sony’s continual success with exclusives. We know that new IP first-party titles take a lot of time and cash to develop, and Microsoft simply don’t have the cattle to produce the games required to fast-track their salvation. So instead of relying on their first-party teams to dig them out, why doesn’t Big Phil and co look to third-party developers and existing IPs to give them the exclusive injection they need? Sony has shown that having third-party produced exclusives (Persona, NieR, Yakuza etc.) can help ease the burden when first-party titles are sparse.
In order to solve Xbox’s lack of exclusives dilemma, I have taken it upon myself to research the back catalogues and recommend seven IPs that could help release the pressure on the Xbox hierarchy. While these titles may not save Xbox individually, collectively they would help alleviate the problem and give Xbox owners something to look forward to over their rivals.
When Crysis launched in 2007 it was met with critical acclaim, with numerous outlets such as GameSpot and PC Gamer calling it one of the best shooters of all-time. The game’s visuals were one of its drawcards, with the lush foliage and immense detail raising the graphical bar. Although the series’ third instalment didn’t perform as well as hoped sales-wise, causing the series to be put on ice, the game was still relatively successful with critics, with praise again being given to its visuals.
Crytek has always had a reputation for making beautiful looking games and utilising every drop of power from a platform, so just imagine how good a new Crysis would look running on the Xbox One X. Former Crytek CEO and Crysis series director Cevat Yerli stated previously that a new Crysis would not be called Crysis 4. This gives Crytek a chance to reboot the series, with one of Crysis’ shortcomings being its often subpar storylines.
Personally, I’d love to return to Crytek’s nanosuit powered universe and tackle another adventure, and it seems I am not the only one, with Redditor CoachCoppock having similar thoughts as myself.
Chances: After a number of IP sales and studio closures/sales, Crytek is a shell of what it was when the Crysis series was up and about. The company’s main team in Frankfurt are currently working on PC exclusive competitive shooter Hunt: Showdown, and given their downsizing it’s hard to see them working on multiple titles. But you never know.
Fans have been calling for a new Splinter Cell for a while now, with the last entry, Splinter Cell: Blacklist releasing in 2013, and with Ubisoft’s recent good form, the time feels right to see the silent assassin again. Xbox needs a big third-party statement in my opinion, and there’s perhaps no one better waiting in the wings (for a new adventure) than Sam Fisher to make such a statement.
In fact, rumours of a Splinter Cell reveal at this year’s E3 have already begun to circulate online. However, perhaps more interesting is the rumour, or leak as it’s been reported that a Splinter Cell marketing deal Microsoft has been signed with Ubisoft. Whether this means that Sam Fisher’s next adventure will be shown off during Xbox’s presentation we will have to wait and see.
Let’s not forget that Splinter Cell: Conviction was an Xbox 360 console exclusive. So there is a history of Microsoft and Ubisoft working on exclusive deals. With game budgets skyrocketing since then it’s hard to see Ubisoft limiting themselves to Microsoft platforms (Xbox and Windows 10) and lower sales given the PS4 install base, unless big Phil gives Yves Guillemot a big juicy wedge. However, in the age of timed exclusives it wouldn’t surprise me if Sam Fisher pulled a Lara Croft and spent 6-12 months solely with Microsoft.
Chances: Hard to see it happening, but then again Tomb Raider’s defection came as a surprise. Won’t be full exclusive like Conviction, but a timed exclusive isn’t out of the realms of possibility. Either way just give me a new Splinter Cell.
Is old mate Sam Fisher set for a sneaky comeback?
Vanquish was one the coolest titles I played last generation thanks its fast-paced action sequences. Despite its critical praise, Vanquish was not a household name and it was thought that the Platinum Games developed title would not spawn a sequel.
I’ve called for a Vanquish sequel before, but when it was reported earlier this year that Vanquish 2 was in development as an Xbox One exclusive I was surprised. Given the tumultuous development of Scalebound, it surprises me that both parties would enter into a new deal so soon. I am not complaining, however.
Vanquish as an Xbox One exclusive makes sense. It’s a title that was well received and one that a number of gamers have been calling out for (a sequel to). It’s also a title that isn’t synonymous with any platform, unlike Tomb Raider and PlayStation. The thought of a Vanquish sequel excites me, and if the One X can get the game running at 4K and 60fps, then Xbox will have a solid title in their hands. Please just have a new protagonist.
Chances: On a Japanese trip in October last year, Big Phil tweeted that it was good to be back in Tokyo meeting with the team and partners. If this wasn’t a subtle hint that Vanquish 2 is in development then I don’t know what is. Glass half full.
EA’s refusal to remaster popular titles from their back catalogue has been a constant source of frustration from gamers given the industry has developed a penchant for rehashing old content. Recently however, for the first time this generation, EA remastered a game, Burnout: Paradise. It wasn’t the Burnout game we wanted, but it was enough to give current-gen consoles a taste of the iconic racing series.
Currently, Xbox has the Forza series, which is more of a true racing game in that collisions are actually bad. Burnout offers racing fans something different – the chance to cause as much damage as possible while trying to win races. Fans have been clamouring for a new Burnout, with EA showing little interest in reviving the series. However, maybe – just maybe – the release of the remaster was EA dipping its toes back into the water.
There’s no doubt a new Burnout game would appeal to many gamers, and if I were Phil, I’d want to make sure that Xbox was at the forefront of any revival. The high-octane and frenetic gameplay would shine on Xbox One X thanks to its untapped horsepower.
Chances: EA is not known for reviving many of its IPs, in fact it’s considered somewhat of an IP graveyard. Hopefully Andrew Wilson can hear the pleas of the masses from his top-level corner office in Redwood and make it happen.
Can you imagine the reaction if Xbox got their hands on the exclusive rights to a new Dino Crisis or a remake of the original? Dino Crisis is arguably one the most requested remakes, and Capcom are repeat offenders when it comes to re-releasing their back catalogue – either via remaster or full-blown remakes. So given their penchant for recycling, it’s practically a given that Capcom will re-release Dino Crisis back into the wild in some form at some stage.
Capcom is also no stranger to console exclusive deals either, with the Japanese company tying the mega-popular and critically acclaimed Resident Evil 4 exclusively to the Nintendo GameCube early doors as part of the Capcom Five. Prior to its GameCube release Capcom announced that due to fan and shareholder pressure they would be porting the game to the PS2. Furthermore, let’s not forget that Dino Crisis 3 was an Xbox OG exclusive (while simultaneously forgetting that it was terrible) and that Street Fighter V was a PS4 console exclusive.
Just picture it now – a brand new Dino Crisis powered by the RE Engine (Resident Evil 7) and the One X, or a remake of the first. Either way I’ll take it. Capcom and Xbox could even come to some timed exclusive agreement if Capcom were scared of upsetting the apple cart.
Chances: A longshot, but stranger things have happened.
Dinos in space wasn’t quite what fans wanted
TimeSplitters is a series that is a quintessential example of nostalgia. A first-person shooter that yielded a myriad of fond memories for so many people. Whether it be late nights with mates playing the up to four-player multiplayer or playing the humorous campaigns, TimeSplitters earned its place as one of the best shooters of the earlier console generations. Sadly, the franchise has been lost to time, with IP owners Crytek stating in the past that despite their desire to bring the series back, they don’t believe that the demand would be enough to justify a new entry.
The other knock on the series, according to series co-creator Steve Ellis, was that potential publishers didn’t know how to market a game with a diverse roster of characters, as opposed to a single identifiable protagonist. However, given the current trend of online multiplayer games such as Overwatch (which has a diverse line-up of characters), Fortnite, Overwatch and PUBG drawing huge numbers of players, a new TimeSplitters with a big focus on online play might gain more traction now than what TimeSplitters 4 would have done five or so years ago. Throw in some couch co-op – a mode that is sorely lacking from shooters these days – and you have yourself a possible cult hit.
Chances: While Crytek hasn’t shut the door on future iterations of TimeSplitters, a new entry does look unlikely at this stage given Crytek has given their blessing for a fan remake known as TimeSplitters Rewind. Check out the slew of concept art from the cancelled TimeSplitters 4 here.
You need to harken back to 1994 for the last release in Sega’s Street of Rage series. A mighty fine series if I may add. To me, the pinnacle of the series was Streets of Rage 2, a game that should take some – if not the majority of the credit for my passion and love for video games. Also, it has one of the best soundtracks ever. Don’t believe me? Listen for yourself.
It’s been a long, long time since beat ‘em ups were en vogue, with their glory days back in quondam times of 2D side-scrollers and arcade machines. Alas, as game design has advanced the beat ‘em up genre has been relegated to nostalgic experiences and remasters/ports. Well god be damned, I say let’s bring the beat ‘em up back, and what better franchise for such a resurrection than Streets of Rage.
A full reboot I say. With delicious city backdrops, a pumping retro soundtrack and tight and brutal donnybrooks, a modern and revamped Streets of Rage could be an online and couch co-op champion. I mean if the cancelled Streets of Rage remake prototype below doesn’t wet your whistle to its potential then I don’t know what will.
Chances: There’s been numerous rumoured pitches/prototypes and fan remakes for new Streets of Rage titles over the years, but the fact is that Sega hasn’t released a new entry for 24 years. I smell a 25-year anniversary remake/reboot announcement…
What do you think? Could these IPs solve Xbox’s exclusive woes? Did I miss an IP that Xbox could turn to? Let us know in the comments below.