Okay, so 2017 may be here, but with so many games due out each year it can take a while before we finish the delights of the year before. After all, every game maintains that it will offer everything we want in a game and with so many failing to deliver, it can more often than not end in disappointment anyway. Sometimes though the opposite happens, and whilst we sit watching a release come by, expecting it to be a bit pants, there will be millions of players out there enjoying a fine masterpiece right under our nose.
So with that in mind, here are five of the most surprising Xbox One games of 2016…and an honourable mention too – it was a good year!
Honourable Mention – ReCore
Back at their press briefing at E3 2015, the world got its first glimpse of something Microsoft thought was missing from Xbox One – a new action-adventure platform I.P. that would be coming to Xbox One and Windows 10 exclusively in Q1 of 2016. ReCore.
Whilst that didn’t happen and the eventual release was pushed back until September, there weren’t many that were too disappointed. Sure the trailer looked great, but the trailer had no gameplay in it. Instead the first gameplay we saw before release looked rather dull and disappointing for an action-adventure game of any variety. Then it arrived and we finally got hands on with Joule and Macks adventure…and it turns out that it really was something that was missing from the Xbox One library.
The story takes place roughly 200 years from now, after the effects of a horrible plague – the Dust Devil Plague – ravaged the earth, making it uninhabitable, sending the protagonists to a distant planet called Far Eden. Whilst I don’t wish to ruin the story for those yet to experience it, it goes without saying whilst ReCore may not be a stand out must play title, it’s certainly not the dull experience we saw in the gameplay footage either. In fact, it is definitely worth a playthrough if you’re after a story that will keep you gripped.
5) F1 2016
What is that you say? A yearly release providing a surprising experience? Yes, that’s right.
You see, after the disappointment that was F1 2015, Codemasters listened to the fans and did what hasn’t been done since F1 2013 – they made a decent, enjoyable and true to life racing experience; one that can be enjoyed by simulation enthusiasts and causal racing fans alike.
Whilst those looking for a game to provide multiple disciplines will certainly be disappointed – here’s to hoping F1 2017 includes Formula E – those who enjoy racers for the competition and realism will certainly have had their ears perked at this one. From the safety car, to the handling, from the tracks to the cars, everything in F1 2016 is near perfection and with the return of the popular career mode that everyone so desperately missed last time out, F1 2016 finally sees the fire put back in the racer we thought died out years ago.
A bit of a lesser known choice this one, but those who knew it was coming certainly didn’t expect it to be so damn enjoyable did they?
SUPERHOT (yes the capitals are necessary) is a first-person shooter from independent developer The Superhot Team. The creative flow may not exactly shoot off the page with the names, but the gameplay contained within is certainly a different story.
Players take control of a guy, and they shoot other red guys – that’s the main premise of this game. However this is no bland, boring shooter and instead it’s more of a strategy game than anything else.
In SUPERHOT when you stop moving, time stops flowing, at least mostly, and that means any bullets fired your direction stop and the world turns into nothing more than an extreme slow motion masterpiece. But the moment you make the slightest of movements everything resumes at full speed, with every red guy in the land out to shoot your glass-like body into millions of tiny pieces. Gameplay can quickly become tense and whilst there wasn’t exactly anyone out there who expected this to be terrible, we certainly never expected such a great game – especially when it provides such a limited colour palette and similar gameplay throughout.
We were wrong, and if you haven’t played this yet, so were you.
Hitman is as popular as it’s ever been, with many titles available from the series across recent generations, but a transition to an episodic game was something no one saw coming, and something we assumed would only really work well with games such as those offered by Telltale Games. Sometimes though, it’s good to be wrong.
Hitman serves as a reboot almost to the entire series, with one new mission in each episode. Whilst that may not sound like much, with many capable of completing entire games in just a day or two, don’t underestimate the content on offer, with the full season and various extras having been thrown in along the way, players have been treated to one of the best stealth experiences ever.
With the famous suited protagonist taking players all over the world after several targets, the most impressive thing about this game is the detail and sheer scale of each mission – as well as the never-ending list of possibilities within them. Sure, the end goal is the same, you have a target and you must assassinate them, however how you do it is entirely up to you. Maybe you blend in to the crowd of staff and kill from within, or maybe you wait it out at long distance for the right moment? It’s entirely your choice, but with each level providing a playground bigger than anything seen before, and an astonishing level of detail put into everything on show, Hitman puts the question in our minds as to why more games haven’t done this already.
A second season has been planned, this could well be one of 2017’s top games as well.
2) DiRT Rally
Don’t give me that look, I’m well aware of just how good DiRT 3 was, although we’ll just forget DiRT Showdown ever happened shall we?
Whilst this may be a series that is well renowned for its rally experience, no one on this planet expected the quality increase DiRT Rally brought to the franchise, taking it from an arcade rally racer to the best racing simulation experience ever made. Those on PC were fortunate enough to test this beauty out back in 2015, but us lot over in console-land were made to wait a little longer…but the wait was certainly worth it.
No matter whether you are one of those who threaten to battle the pros and race with no assists, or whether you’re a casual gamer who is just out to enjoy the ride, DiRT Rally brought some sudden shocks that no one expected.
With plenty of cars available from legendary classics all the way to the Group B monsters of present and beyond, DiRT Rally has everything – including some of the finest gameplay that really asks the best of us. The only thing to criticise is just how poorly you handle that first corner and just why you thought racing around that cliff edge in fourth gear was acceptable.
The masterpiece we finally got our hands on was certainly one of the biggest surprises of the year – all we hope for now is that the inevitable sequel is just as fantastic.
No, no this isn’t a joke entry, and with Bethesda behind the wheel you may think we’ve gone crazy with this one, but there’s no doubt many were shocked at just how great this was.
Let’s be honest, have blood and guts ever looked so inviting?
From the opening moments that see you awaken in the realms of hell, to the addictive slaughterfest that is the online multiplayer, DOOM just got it all right. With this being a reboot of one of gaming’s most beloved titles, many didn’t expect what we got – in fact many questioned if the legendary series could ever relive those moments. Fortunately we had arguably one of the best developers in the world behind it and DOOM was a fantastic game…and certainly one we find ourselves going back to from time to time.
With extra content constantly available through the in-game snap map mode, the recently added arcade mode for those with a competitive edge, and one of the years best campaigns, DOOM really made the headlines. It has to be said that the multiplayer took a knock as players started to drop off, but the recent inclusion of bots has once again ensured that we will continue to have fun with the best iteration of the series yet…at least as we wait for the next gaming surprise to take the world by storm.
Do you agree with our choices, or was there a game that you found exceptionally surprising that we’ve left off our list? Let us know in the comments below, and on our usual social channels.