The Xbox One X is still one of the biggest stories in gaming hardware for 2018, and Microsoft could be in for a tough year as it tries to make its argument for beefy graphics against Sony's impressive suite of exclusive games. That doesn't mean that ...
Dave Thier , Contributor I write about video games and technology. Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.
Xbox One X Console and Controller.
The Xbox One X is still one of the biggest stories in gaming hardware for 2018, and Microsoft could be in for a tough year as it tries to make its argument for beefy graphics against Sony's impressive suite of exclusive games. That doesn't mean that there won't still be great news for Xbox One X owners, however: there are a bunch of games coming down the pike both exclusive and otherwise that could really put the powerful new hardware through its paces, ideally proving the utility of Microsoft's machine even with games that are also available on other platforms. The Xbox One X is undeniably the console that plays the most technically impressive games out there right now, but it won't matter as much if we don't get some software that really shows off what the new machine can do. Here are six games that could serve as Xbox One X showcases in the coming year:
Crackdown 3: This one is...tricky. While it's hard to predict how a game is going to land based on its development cycle, everything we've seen about this game over the years points to trouble. It's seen multiple delays and years of silence on what we were once told were core systems, and it's hard to just look past that sort of thing. But I still loved the original Crackdown, and you can't talk about Microsoft's exclusive suite in 2018 without talking about Crackdown 3. And there are definitely some things in here that feel like they could be well-deployed on the Xbox One X: 4K is great for clarity on big skylines and stylized graphics, as well as the explosions that are sure to pepper the game from start to finish. A 30 FPS framerate is less than encouraging, however.
Red Dead Redemption 2.
Red Dead Redemption 2: This is the big one, at the end of the day. Rockstar makes beautiful, sweeping, insanely detailed games. They're as strong as they are in the slight detailing on a double action revolver as they are in broad vistas over deserts and forests. Rockstar's amazing visual fluency got millions of people to buy GTA V first on Xbox 360 or PS3 and then again on Xbox One, PC or PS4. I expect that to be on full display here in Red Dead Redemption 2, the first game it's made from the ground up for current-generation hardware. And right now, I'm as excited to play this game on Xbox One X as I am to play it all: I want to fill my field of vision of glorious Western panorama rendered in 4K, and without a PC release the Xbox One X will be by far the prettiest place to play this thing. I'm imagining the foliage in anything less and it's coming up short.
'Sea of Thieves,' an upcoming Xbox exclusive.
Sea of Thieves: We tend to associate graphics technology with photorealism, but beefy hardware can be just as handy when it comes to bringing stylized worlds to life. Sea of Thieves looks like it might have what it takes to be a true standout exclusive in the Microsoft ecosystem: I've enjoyed it every time I've played it, and it so far feels like it has some fresh takes on an MMO-concept that utilize cooperative gameplay in strange and interesting ways. From a visual perspective, the Xbox One X could bring us long draw distances and the sort of sharp detail that looks good when peering through a spyglass, as well as good detail on the lush foliage of some jungle islands. HDR is going to big here, from the sun glinting off the open sea to dramatic cannonball explosions.
State of Decay 2
State of Decay 2: Another Microsoft exclusive, and another opportunity for the company to get its partners to really push the envelope on the new hardware. State of Decay 2 will feature some zombie hordes, whose AI-free antics are always a popular way to showcase graphics tech. The game looks good, overall, and while it's sure to be as big on PC as it is on Xbox, it could still be a rare point of envy when it comes to PS4 and Switch owners with its particular take on cooperate survival gameplay. As a zombie game its promising its share of gore, which could really be where we see the Xbox One X stretch its legs. Grass, foliage and HDR sunsets are also reliable ways to stretch a GPU.
Credit: CD Projekt Red
Cyberpunk 2077: We don't know that this is coming out in 2018, but the Twitter account made a sign of life yesterday and at this point I'm calling it a definite possibility, at least until we learn more. The game has been in development for long enough, after all, and a 2018 release doesn't feel implausible. Regardless, it feels like it will be an Xbox One X showcase whenever it comes out. CD Projekt Red makes beautiful games, and The Witcher 3 is already an Xbox One X showcase despite having a few years under its belt. There's no reason to expect anything less from Cyberpunk 2077. Expect CD Projekt Red's Night City to look particularly crisp on the Xbox One X, though a PC release will still likely be the sharpest place to play.
Tomb Raider: Another game that we don't know much about, but another game that we still might well see in 2018. Rumored to be called Shadow of the Tomb Raider, Square Enix has promised to lift the curtain at a "major event" in 2018, which I'm going to guess is E3. And another prediction: it's going to lift the curtain on stage at the Microsoft event, because the next Tomb Raider game is likely to be as much of a graphical showcase as the ones that came before it. Intense technical work on both the details in Lara's face and hair alongside environmental effects made Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition a great showcase for then then-new PlayStation 4, and the series stayed at the cutting edge of top-tier graphics with Rise of the Tomb Raider. I'd expect a robust use of 4K here, though we'll see if the Xbox One X can handle 4K and 60 FPS at the same time.
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