The jury is out for this year’s roster of Microsoft releases. Visit our list of the Best Xbox One Games of 2019 for the full catalog.
FromSoftware created a whole new genre of punishment with Bloodborne and Dark Souls. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, follows and strays from the legacy. Playing as a shinobi with the powers of resurrection in a reimagined Sengoku Era, it's an interesting premise, and definitely a far cry from the Soulsborne games’ straightforward grittiness.
Unlike previous games, SEKIRO is a stealth action-adventure that offers variety, and most especially, mobility. With its backdrop of majestic and vibrant Japanese vistas, Attack of the Fanboy puts it as "a truly new expression of the design philosophy that FromSoftware has spent years refining." But, while the things that make it *different* are great.
Ultimately, SEKIRO's strength lies in the refining of what made FromSoftware great: combat. It's just as--if not, more--punishing than their previous titles. But, it's new verticality allows players to approach scenes and battles in various ways. Though there is an expected level of expertise needed to enjoy the game, critics and gamers have been mostly receptive due to its many redeeming qualities.
We'll go with Xbox Tavern's conclusion: "...due to its punishing difficulty alone, you’re either all in or you’re all out. If you’re of the latter, you’re missing out on what may well be one of the best games of 2019."
It has a playscore of 8.38
Obsidian Entertainment was the name behind many of our RPG favorites but it looks like they delivered once more. Making use of their extensive background The Outer Worlds brings narrative freedom into SPACE, telling the story of factions and corporations vying for galactic power.
For fans of the studio, the writing and dialog have always been at the heart of their creations and the tradition continues here. Interactions are still peppered with satire and tongue-in-cheek statements that are made better by its wonderful characters and companions. And, it all adds up to an engaging storyline too that presents you with morally gray decisions.
According to God Is A Geek: “it’s so confidently written and lovingly made that you’ll almost certainly want to go back for another adventure when you’re done.”
Set within an open world, it's populated by stunning planets with each of their own adventures. This does add to its feeling of sparseness, but it's remedied somewhat by multilayered quests, solid gunplay, and un-buggy experience.
Obsidian may remain in the shadow of their previous works, as Gamezone says, "Obsidian has built a vibrant and freeing world...ripe with galactic potential that will hopefully continue being explored in sequels."
It has a playscore of 8.39
NetherRealm has been hard at work creating the next best Mortal Kombat game and it’s paid off with this latest entry. Sure, it's still the campy and gratuitously gory game we always loved, but NetherRealms manages to elevate everything to the point of sophistication.
In its “emotionally charged” storyline, which follows shortly after the events of Mortal Kombat X, we get a play on time travel that pays homage to their previous games. Introducing a host of new and old characters that all play their part in the compelling narrative--with the exception of Ronda Rousey's Sony Blade, of course.
Where Mortal Kombat 11 really sparkled through is in its gameplay. Despite a long-running legacy, Mortal Kombat 11 has no problem keeping it fresh. Not only did they repurpose the X-rays that formed a huge part of the past two games. They've also added offense and defense bars, Crushing Blows and Fatal Blows that all add up to a fighting experience that is "fluid and intuitive and, even when you’re losing, [is] a joy to play."
If there's one drawback to the game, though, it's the microtransactions. As much as it has a rich array of customizations, ZTGD says "grinding for all the cool stuff the game has is a real chore."
There have been a lot of updates since the game's release, some of them made especially to combat these gripes. With that said, despite its issues, many would agree that MK11 is "arguably NetherRealm’s best work so far" with a score of 8.44
Devil May Cry is one of the earlier releases among this year's superstar roster of games, and seeing that it's still rocking in the year-end rankings shows off the quality of this installment. After 11 years of waiting, Devil May Cry 5 makes a spectacular return, bringing their much-changed demon-slayers in tow, along with a brand new face.
With Nero's demon arm gone, we get to spice things with replacement appendages that each have unique abilities. For the new guy V, we get a less passive but nevertheless stylish way of fighting with his demonic animal companions. And, well, Dante got a whole grayer. But, it's a whole lot of the varied, straightforward action we loved--and perhaps that makes it so great.
Like VGChartz says: "Many titles have become more story driven...Not Devil May Cry 5, which feels like it embodies the exact same attitude of its older PS2 titles."
Especially following the polarizing DMC reboot, which changed way too many things for comfort, DMC5 was a welcome development. It's gorgeous, polished, and it offers so much in detail and combat. Even those left hopelessly lost by its over the top storyline, couldn't help but praise it anyway.
But, we'll leave Xbox Achievements with the bottomline: "A triumphant return for Capcom's coolest series, Devil May Cry 5 is a stupidly slick game that does almost everything right."
It has a playscore of 8.45
Another game released before the halfway mark that still found its way among the year’s top runners. For an independent studio, that makes it all the more impressive.
As a survival action-adventure, there’s a lot that contributes to its success--from its gorgeously grim world to its compelling stealth mechanics, and especially its rich, evocative storyline. Telling the tale of two siblings, Amicia and Hugo, we’re faced with their harrowing adventures set against the backdrop of a plague-ridden 14th century.
Unlike the other games in this list, Innocence received some lukewarm reviews from its critics. While there were those like Player.One who described it as “honest, brutal and incredibly hopeful all at the same time...without being naive.” There were also those like IGN who found its “rat-infested world looks more dangerous than it actually is.”
Sure, it’s not a game for everyone. Its themes may be a little too depressing for some, but it utilizes it in a way that makes it a poignant, emotional adventure all the way. Gamers, most especially those from Amazon and the Microsoft Store had more than positive reviews.
Just like its two main characters, Asobo Studio's A Plague Tale: Innocence manages to hold its head up high amid the storms, getting a well-deserved spot with a playscore of 8.45
One of the more surprising titles on this list. Ska Studios’ took their time in bringing their Dark Souls inspired action RPG to the Microsoft console but it looks like it all paid off in the end.
First released on the PC in 2016, Salt and Sanctuary has been making its rounds among the other consoles, first exclusively on the PlayStation 4, before later moving to the Switch. Three years after it first launched, Salt and Sanctuary is kicking it on the Xbox One with features like New Game+, challenge modes, and local co-op.
Critic reviews for a recent port, much less on the Xbox one, are understandably sparse. But, from the little it has, they were overwhelmingly positive. Despite its age, Handsome Phantom praised the game’s precise controls that make you feel in control of your character.
Xbox Tavern veers away from the tradition of comparing it to the FromSoftware title. For them, it deserves a spotlight of their own, calling it a “dark and twisted journey that constantly relays a remarkable amount of depth, variety, innovation, and detail.” They also go on to say that its greatest achievement is “its ability to frequently entice its players, despite how often it screws them over.”
Old, but still gold on the Xbox One, it gets a playscore of 8.47
After Alan Wake, Max Payne, and Quantum Break, Remedy Entertainment adds another feather in their cap with this latest title. It's a title that hovers around their comfort zone of weird, science fiction shooters. However, with Control, Remedy culminates everything they learned from their past work, put it in an open-world setting, and dialed everything to 11.
The psychological trip is brought to us through Jesse Faden, who after a harrowing childhood, finds herself at the helm of the Federal Bureau of Control and wielding the seemingly sentient Service Weapon. Mixing it up with powers of Telekinesis, Levitation, and Suggestion, and we get to experience the superlative gunplay and action that's existed in most of the Remedy's works.
Navigating through their "brutalist masterpiece" of a setting in a non-linear, Metroidvania-like manner was also one of Control's biggest highlights. The atmosphere is just the right kind of eerie and the visuals are as stunning as ever. On the other hand, especially in decidedly destructive and hectic scenes, Control runs into some trouble with framerates.
Remedy may have addressed this in a later patch, but some work remains to be done. Thankfully, for most, these don't do much to dull the spectacle of what Destructoid calls a "weird, enigmatic, perplexing masterpiece."
It has a playscore of 8.49
Ten years after it first released on the Xbox 360, the Tales series’ tenth mainline entry finds itself at home on a Microsoft console once more.
Tales of Vesperia is, for many JRPG fans, one of the best titles within the series and without. So, it makes a lot of sense that, its return, packed with all sorts of improvements and additions, would once again stir the hearts of JRPG fans of this generation too. For those that missed out, Bandai Namco reopened the doors to Terca Lumireis with full HD graphics, never before seen characters, expanded storylines, and fully voiced dialog.
While these didn’t disappoint, critic reviewer GameSpew warns, “just don’t expect it to blow your socks off like it once did.”, he also went on to say that the Tales of Vesperia story is a little drawn out and that its real-time combat system feels dated.
Critics also pointed out flaws in the voice acting and cutscenes, but ultimately decided that the experience of a JRPG classic with new bells and whistles is worth the bumps on the road. Receiving high 9s and 8s from Microsoft, Amazon, and whatoplay game reviewers, it found its way to the top with a playscore of 8.55
2. Outer Wilds
If you read that wrong, no it's not that other game from Obsidian Entertainment. Outer Wilds is an open world action-adventure from Mobius Digital and Annapurna Interactive. It isn't a triple-A game by any measure--and some of us probably haven't heard of it. But, it brings to fore energy and ingenuity that generally makes up the best indie titles.
Simplified to its barest form, it's Groundhog Day in Space as you relive the same 22 minutes in a bid to uncover the mystery of an ancient race and a dying solar system. After each death or 22-minute run, the landscape changes too--albeit subtly--and the way it's executed within a limited space makes it unique from other games.
Player.One goes so far to say "[it] manages to blow other space exploration-based titles away for a mere $10."
And this sentiment isn't unique. While they might have problems with its lack of narrative structure and memorable characters, Gamereactor basically agrees that No Man's Sky and Elite: Dangerous' infinite universe can't hold a candle to Outer Wilds' stripped down cosmos.
"The moral of the story is simple - bigger is not always better."
Doing so much with so little, and for a budget cost too, Outer Wilds is our number 2 game of the year with a playscore of 8.6
Released in January and still topping our list 12 months after, CAPCOM's Triple-A resurrection of their 1998 title was the spark of hope that horror fans needed. CAPCOM didn't just rebuild Resident Evil 2 from the ground-up. They went the extra mile by adding fresh additions like adaptive difficulty, brand new areas, scenarios, and narrative changes that elevate its slightly campy origins.
And, throughout these changes, they still perfectly captured the spirit of the original. Den of Geek comments: "Newcomers among players will likely discover a new favorite horror franchise to explore, while long-time followers of the series will find a sweet blend of familiarity and freshness."
This recreation of Claire and Leon's misadventures in Raccoon City was done so well, that it became amazing in its own right. GameSpot nailed it when they said "[it’s] not only a stellar remake of the original, but it's also simply a strong horror game...topping some of the series' finest entries."
RE2 came at just the opportune moment. Together with the release of RE7, it revived fans faith on the franchise. “If you’re of the mind that the series had lost its way for a while there, this game is very much a return to form.”
And that’s why it’s this year’s Xbox Game of the Year with a playscore of 8.85