Microsoft have rather boldly stated that their 2015 line-up represents the best in Xbox history, PR should be taken as it is and they’re always likely to say that but I wanted to look into their statement and see how it competes to what I consider to be the best time in Xbox history which was the same time in the Xbox 360s life-cycle, the second full year after launch: 2007, huge year for gaming and Xbox in general.
Here is 2015 in full:
- Screamride (Frontier Developments) 06/03
- Ori and the Blind Forest (Moon Studios) – 11/03
- State of Decay: Year One Survival Edition (Undead Labs) – 28/04
- Halo 3: ODST (343 Industries/Ruffian Games) – 30/05 [Halo MCC DLC]
- Rare Replay (Rare) – 04/08
- Gigantic (Motiga) – August
- Gears of War Ultimate Edition (The Coalition/Splash Damage) – 25/08
- Forza Motorsport 6 (Turn10 Studios) – 15/09
- Halo 5 Guardians (343 Industries) – 27/10
- Rise of the Tomb Raider (Crystal Dynamics) – 10/11
- Fable Legends (Lionhead Studios) – “Holiday 2015”
The year started off a bit slow for them despite 3 launches around March/April, Ori and the Blind Forest is a fantastic game which will take some competing with to be their best game of the year but never the less, it was well supported by the mid-tier Screamride and remaster of their 2013 hit State of Decay.
From early August though Microsoft have thrown gaming budgets out of the window with some great remasters in Rare Replay and Gears of War Ultimate Edition along with 5 entirely new games which focus around all of their big franchises with a side helping of Gigantic and Tomb Raider, a new (timed) exclusive to the stable.
I think this line-up is certainly great if you like Xbox, perhaps it could have done with being spread out a bit better during the year but games need to be given the right amount of time in the oven to fulfil their potential and I think it will do big numbers for them this holiday. The only thing I think is missing is a new AAA IP, Ori, Screamride and Gigantic are new but not in that AAA space so much. Quantum Break was originally intended to be that game in the line-up but has been moved to early 2016 to give it a bit of room to breathe and for that game it’s definitely the right choice. The biggest game for Microsoft is undoubtedly Halo 5 Guardians in October and that will be a huge release for them but overall its a great line-up.
But how does it compare to 2007? Looking at the line-ups, Microsoft include Tomb Raider, a third-party exclusive in their line-up so I think Lost Planet and Bioshock should be included too, given they were the same sort of deals:
- Lost Planet (Capcom) – January [Western Release]
- Fusion Frenzy 2 (Hudson Soft) – January
- Crackdown (Realtime Worlds) – February
- Forza Motorsport (Turn10 Studios) – May
- Shadowrun (FASA Interactive) – May
- Bioshock (Irrational Games) – August
- Blue Dragon (Mistwalker/Artoon) – August [Western release]
- Halo 3 (Bungie) – September
- Project Gotham Racing 4 (Bizarre Creations) – October
- Viva Piñata Party Animals (Krome Studios) – October
- Scene It? Lights Camera Action (Screenlife/WXP) – November
- Mass Effect (Bioware Corp) – November
A massive line-up of 12 titles, even if you were to take away the third-party exclusives it’s still a massive line-up with something for everyone, new IPs, reboots, sequels and spin-offs, it had literally everything and would be very difficult to top but Microsoft are certainly trying.
For me 2007 does come out in front, it was such a huge year and looking at the sort of franchises that were birthed or brought great sequels to the table in that year it was one of the biggest in gaming for releases ever.
2015 might not quite be able to top 2007 which was an insane year but it’s certainly not far off and just goes to show the incredible line-ups Xbox consoles have had in the past and have to look forward to as well. The Xbox 360s early years, whether through exclusives by default due to the late launching PS3 or Microsoft’s own line-up was a fantastic console.
Both Xbox 360 and One had a large amount of exclusives at launch and had slightly less from Microsoft before the next holiday in between but I’m going to go on record and say I think 2016 may be the year that will topple 2007 from the summit of Xbox history, we know quite a few things that are intending to release there already and much like 2007 brings new IPs galore to the platform with some sequels as well:
- Quantum Break (Remedy Entertainment) – Early 2016
- ReCore (Armature Studios/Comcept) – Spring 2016
- Scalebound (Platinum Games) – 2016
- Sea of Thieves (Rare) – Holiday 2016
- Gears of War 4 (The Coalition) – Holiday 2016
- Crackdown (Cloudgine) – TBC
Phil Spencer has hinted at some releases before E3 2016 along with what we know of ReCore’s announcement at E3 being for “Spring 2016 and I think Scalebound will join ReCore and Quantum Break in the first half of 2016 with Crackdown joining Sea of Thieves and Gears of War 4 in the latter half of the year. Rare creative director Sim Woodroffe was retweeting and responding to articles on his twitter which mentioned a Holiday 2016 launch for Sea of Thieves so I think at this time it’s certainly a possibility.
With Gamescom aimed to show off Microsoft’s 2016 titles there are also a few other titles that could end up launching next year from internal developers or other partnerships they have going, Forza is a franchise that releases a game every year and we know Undead Labs have signed on for more State of Decay and given its been two years since it originally launched in June 2013 I think it’s a possibility:
- Twisted Pixel – Unannounced project
- Press Play – Unannounced project
- Forza 2016 – New Forza entry from Playground Games?
- State of Decay – The next title as part of their multi-title multi-year partnership with Microsoft
Even if as I said 2015 doesn’t match 2007 I think next year is going to be a huge year for Xbox and by far their biggest. They said they have their best line-up ever and I think in general with some huge partnerships and exciting properties in development both new IPs and entries in established franchises, they are right, this is the best overall line-up they’ve ever had, we’ve never had it better and things are only going to continue to move forwards from here.
Roll on Gamescom (and Rare Replay!) in early August.