Looking back at 2016, it was a weird year for me. As a huge PlayStation fan, I found myself playing my Xbox One a lot more often throughout the year. Why is this? It’s because Microsoft had an amazing year with Xbox. Don’t get me wrong, I couldn’t be more excited about the fantastic exclusives games that have hit PlayStation 4 lately (The Last Guardian, Gravity Rush 2, Horizon: Zero Dawn, Persona 5). But up until these games released late last year into Q1 of this year, the PS4 was starving for exclusive games and/or features in 2016. While the Xbox One was having its strongest year ever.
So where am I going with this? Xbox is having a slow year in 2017. Aside from Halo Wars 2, the console is starving for more (console) exclusive games. But looking back to last year, Sony was in the same position, and only released a small handful of great exclusive titles (Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, Rachet & Clank). The PlayStation 4 had a decent year in 2016, but not outstanding. It seems the companies are taking turns when it comes to releasing superb exclusive games each year. I wanted to refresh some minds on how awesome of a year 2016 was for Xbox. And no, not just in terms of the games, but the company as a whole.
The Xbox One S
The Xbox One S is one of the sexiest consoles ever built, that’s right I said it. I am getting banned from Vita island? I hope not! Anyway, on top of looking amazing, oddly enough, the Xbox One S is the only 4K player I have in my house, which is a little insane considering I bought my 4K TV for my PS4 Pro (Seriously Sony why wasn’t this a feature?). When the Xbox One S released it was sort of like a new start for the Xbox One brand. No more focus on TV or Kinect, Microsoft was determined and put emphasis on branding the console as a system for gamers. And it paid off, Xbox One surpassed PS4 in sales for consecutive months throughout 2016, for the first time in the console lifetime.
Heavy Hitters – Gears of War 4 | Forza Horizon 3
Forza Horizon 3 seemed like it sorta came and went. While the game does still have a thriving online community, I feel like Forza Horizon 3 wasn’t talked about enough. Was it because another huge Xbox One exclusive was right around the corner? Maybe. Gears of War 4 came to Xbox One about two weeks after Forza Horizon 3 did, which is just insane. Was it a poor choice on Microsoft’s part to have two of their biggest franchises release so close to one another? I’m not entirely sure. But I can’t help but think that because of it, neither of them got quite the limelight they deserved. We called Gears of War 4 a “great jumping in point for new gamers to the series, but will also please the numerous hardcore Gears fans out there” and Forza Horizon 3, “Whether you’re a hardcore racer, a fan of cars, or just an Xbox One owner, Forza Horizon 3 is a game that you owe it to yourself to play”.
There’s more mini successes that the Xbox One had in 2016 that kinda flew under the radar. Games like ReCore, Killer Instinct Season 3, and We Happy Few (still in BETA) have niche audiences who love those titles. Also, The Division DLC was first on Xbox One, which was a big feat for Microsoft.
Backwards Compatibility Still Thrives
While maybe not the most important thing to many gamers, the Xbox One’s backwards compatibility list still continues to grow. Phil Spencer made a promise and he’s keeping it. By offering this feature that they’re most likely not getting much in return, but they’re showing us gamer that they do in fact care about us. They listen to what we say, and I salute Phil Spencer for turning the Xbox ship around, and putting all the focus on catering to the Xbox audience.
Honorable Mention: Quantum Break
Quantum Break, an Xbox One console exclusive that I thoroughly enjoyed. The game had a mixed reception overall, but in terms of gameplay and presentation, it was top notch (I thought it felt like a cool mix of Infamous & Uncharted). Aside from that, the game offered a truly unique, and ambitious experience. A live-action TV show seamlessly blended into an action game. I was surprised, the TV show aspect ended up being my favorite part of the game. While this game wasn’t received extremely well, it sits at a 77 on MetaCritic, and I thought it was at least worth mentioning.
What are your thoughts about the year Xbox is currently having, or the great year it had in 2016? Leave all your thoughts in the comments section below, or on our social media page!
Brett Medlock is one of our leads on video production here at Enthusiast Gaming. He’s obsessed with action-adventure games, platinum trophies, and K-pop. To hear more about how lame he is, follow him on Twitter @brettnll