Tuesday, October 3, 2023

10 All-Time Xbox Exclusives Ranked.

February 29, 2020 by  
Filed under Opinion, Sports, Tech/Internet, Weekly Columns

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(ThyBlackMan.com) “Exclusives” really came into being during the Super Nintendo/Sega Genesis generation. That’s when the business of gaming became particularly competitive. Prior to that, it wasn’t unusual to see a game like Space Invaders on a console other than an Atari (it was also on MSX) but Asteroids was only on those Atari consoles.

Microsoft’s Xbox family has its own company exclusives and a few console exclusives. Let’s dive into ten of the best Xbox exclusive franchise of all time. Games and franchises with an asterisk were exclusive for that console only or limited-exclusives.

1. Halo (Xbox-present)

When Halo burst onto the scene in 2001, it was at a time when there was no shortage of first-person shooters on PC. Arcades still had their rail-based FPS and some of the OGs of the genre had been ported to consoles but Halo was like having a PC shooter on your home console.

Prior to that, the closest you really had was the port of Unreal Tournament which was a lot of fun but didn’t compare. There was also Medal of Honor which was also dope and featured a story by Steven Spielberg. Of course, outside of Unreal Tournament you weren’t playing online multiplayer on consoles—unless you had the Xbox or the PS2 with the adapter.

Halo gave you that experience and it was no different from the PC experience. It also kicked things into gear for multiplayer in general on consoles. After all, Unreal wasn’t exactly changing the game for those without a PC to play with friends.

While I’m not the biggest FPS fan, Halo is the definitive Xbox franchise to me.

2. Mass Effect (Xbox)*

This was a something of a limited-time exclusive. It dropped in 2007 for Xbox 360 and didn’t hit PC and PlayStation 3 until the following year. There are many things I love about this BioWare action RPG from the character designs to the open world approach to the lore of sci-fi/space opera setting. The combat mechanics are pretty much the peak of the franchise and it was my first introduction to a game where your interactions determined how you’re viewed in the world and how your actions can alter the story.

You’re not simply playing a character in Mass Effect, you’re the main character.

3. Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind (Xbox)

Morrowind and its older siblings are the Elder Scrolls games that managed to be one of Xbox’s console exclusives when Microsoft first started making consoles. It was also my first exposure to Bethesda’s work. While Skyrim is pretty much the peak of their work in the series—not including Elder Scrolls OnlineMorrowind was no slouch. Even though it was fantasy-oriented, it gave me the same feelings as Mass Effect in that you’re the main character.

You design your character at the start, you’re put into first-person view—meaning for the most part, you’re not going to see your character and their armor/weapon but you can take in the game world as you would the real world. It was early immersion just as graphics were getting better and it was an awesome experience. Morrowind is still a game I play today.

4. Jade Empire (Xbox/PC)

BioWare is the house that Jade Empire and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic built. While the studio had five other games before these two dropped in 2003 and 2005, BioWare really got their buzz as a studio that can rock games on any platform with these two games. MDK 2 who?

Jade Empire is a beloved title that was never continued for some strange, weak reason. It was an incredible action RPG that continued the what Star Wars: KOTOR began. Yes, you can allocate points to attributes but you also had that strong storytelling and moral system that determined the path the story would take.

It’s a BioWare stock approach that reached its peak in the Mass Effect and Dragon Age franchises and is used by other studios to add depth to gameplay.

5. Saints Row (Xbox-present)*

I’ve gone into Saints Row several times. It’s Grand Theft Auto if the series still had its massive mayhem in an open city vibe from the Vice City/San Andreas period. Before Saints Row 2 came along, the franchise was exclusive to the Xbox console—a wise move considering Grand Theft Auto was exclusive to PlayStation 2 at the time. The first one and the rest of the franchise are a blast to play.

6. Sunset Overdrive (Xbox One-present)

Our only Xbox One entry on the list, Sunset Overdrive is an open world game by Insomniac who really slugs it out of the park on open world stuff. Honestly, if this had been developed a few years earlier for Xbox 360 and Microsoft was dedicated to the game, this would’ve been a pillar exclusive for the Xbox family.

Xbox is known for linear shooters and Sunset Overdrive would’ve been the series that added some diversity to the exclusives library. What I dig about the game is the No More Heroes vibe I get from it.

7. Gears of War (Xbox 360-present)

The other game that defines the Xbox family of consoles in Gears of War. I’ve never been the biggest fan of the franchise as other third-person shooters came out before and after it but this was Microsoft’s contribution to this side of the genre and you could only play it on Xbox 360 console-wise. I will say for the most part, Microsoft took a Nintendo/Sony approach to Gears in developing an exclusive that shows what its consoles can do and setting it as one of the gold standards.

8. Dead Rising (Xbox 360-present)*

Do you dig Capcom games? Cool. How about slash em ups? Good, good. How about games with zombies? Great! Dead Rising hits all three of these. It’s not the strongest of Capcom franchises but it’s still a fun game where it’s easy to get overwhelmed by hordes of the undead and the weird human enemies you run into during the story.

For a hot moment, this was exclusive to Xbox and Microsoft should’ve struck something up to hold on to it.

9. State of Decay (Xbox 360-present)

State of Decay is a game I played religiously on Xbox 360. Actually, it was the exclusive I played the most. I was hoping it would come to PlayStation 4 when Microsoft scooped up Undead Labs. It was a great move because the franchise has potential. There are other zombie survival games such as H1Z1 and DayZ to name a few but this one worked because it had a simple storyline.

Or rather, it had a storyline period so there’s an aim here and you’ll know you’re making progress.  Did it have its issues? Plenty of them but it had everything that would make for an amazing, single player zombie survival game.

10. Forza (Xbox-present)

There are tons of action and action RPGs on the list but we can’t forget about Microsoft’s racing franchise, Forza. Sony has Gran Turismo, Nintendo has Mario Kart and F-Zero, and Microsoft has Forza. The franchise is actually one of the few racing games I’ll sit and play with the others being Mario Kart, Cruis’n, and Need for Speed. It’s a fine franchise and one of the Xbox family’s best sellers. If you’re into racing games, Forza is one of those you have to play at least once.

Staff Writer; M. Swift

This talented writer is also a podcast host, and comic book fan who loves all things old school. One may also find him on Twitter at; metalswift.

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