What Does Microsoft Have Left Up their Sleeves for Xbox One?

The Xbox One is in an interesting spot right now. Nearly four years after the original Xbox One hit the market, Microsoft released the Xbox One X to positive reviews. Although it’s considerably more powerful than the original Xbox One, or even the PlayStation 4 Pro, it plays every game the original can, and the original can play every game the Xbox One X can. It’s a considerable upgrade, but it’s not a new generation.

Traditional console cycles are being transformed by these upgrades and it’s unclear how near the Xbox One’s true successor is to release – but it’s definitely being worked on. With the next Xbox cycle likely years away, there are perhaps even more pressing matters to attend to. Microsoft has released some great exclusives over the last four years, including Gears of War 4, Halo 5: Guardians, and Forza Horizon 3. They’ve also had a handful of timed exclusives that impressed, like Rise of the Tomb Raider and Inside. Most recently, Microsoft and Studio MDHR had an indie hit with Cuphead. But even with some great exclusives under its belt, people are becoming worried about the Xbox One’s future exclusives. After all, both Fable Legends and Scalebound were meant to be major releases for the console, but were abruptly canceled. What exclusive games does Microsoft have in the oven for the Xbox One right now? We’ve gone into detail with what’s coming for the Nintendo Switch, but now it’s time to read the stars and see what’s in store for the Xbox One.

Announced Releases:

PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (December, 2017)

Team: PUBG Corporation

It’s easy to forget that PUBG hasn’t technically been released yet. The game entered an open beta through Steam’s early access program in March and managed to reportedly rake in over $100 million in revenue by August alone. The online “battle royale” game is set for an actual, legitimate, official release in December for both Microsoft Windows and the Xbox One. Yes, it’s coming to PC, but all Microsoft-published Xbox One games are now. It’s a huge title that isn’t hitting either the PS4 or Nintendo Switch, and Microsoft is sure to count that as a major win come next month.

Sea of Thieves (2018)

Team: Rare

It’s been two and a half years since Rare and Microsoft unveiled Sea of Thieves, and still nobody’s certain exactly what it is. It’s not that they haven’t shown us enough of the game: there’s just so much going on, it’s hard to pin it down to a single genre. It’s an online cooperative multiplayer game that features a shared world, where players will run into each other, both randomly and intentionally. It’s an action-adventure on the high seas that will let players fulfill all their pirate dreams: so long as those dreams are (more likely than not) within the confines of being rated E10+. Sea of Thieves looks like the first game Rare has had total creative freedom and total interest in since the Nintendo 64 days, and that’s reason enough to be excited.

Crackdown 3 (2018)

Teams: Sumo Digital, Reagent Games, Ruffian Games, Cloudgine

Crackdown 3 has had a tough year. It was originally supposed to launch alongside the Xbox One X, but was delayed to 2018. It was playable for certain attendees at E3 2017, but the reception was mixed. Many lauded how fun the gameplay was, while others lamented its relatively poor performance and muddy visuals – which might help explain why it didn’t end up being an Xbox One X poster boy. The original Crackdown, made by Realtime Worlds, received a warm critical reception. Its sequel was met with less acclaim, but was handled by a completely different studio: Ruffian Games. Now Ruffian Games, along with the help of three other studios, is working on the third title. If all the men and women behind it put their best into delivering the best experience they can, Crackdown 3 could go down as an extremely fun, open-world, highly-destructible romp like the original was. Only time will tell.

State of Decay 2 (2018)

Team: Undead Labs

Following the release of the original State of Decay in 2014, fans were left wondering when they would see a follow up to this Microsoft-exclusive title. At E3 2016, State of Decay 2 was officially announced to be in development, and one year later, they showed off gameplay for the first time in a nearly five-minute-long reveal trailer. Though the market is flooded with zombie games, State of Decay 2 looks to separate itself from the pack by focusing on establishing safe houses from the living dead, working together with up to three other players to survive, and delivering an even bigger open world than its predecessor.

Ori and the Will of the Wisps (TBA)

Team: Moon Stuidios

Ori and the Blind Forest was a whimsical 2D-sidecrolling, Metroidvania-esque, puzzle-lite platformer that got a lot of praise upon release – and it deserved it. Its sequel, Ori and the Will of the Wisps, looks to build upon that beautiful foundation and take it one step further. The Ori franchise has a lot of heart, and though it probably won’t be out until late next year, everyone and their mother should keep this gem of a sequel on their radar.

Not Announced, But Possible:

Forza Horizon 4 (2018)

Teams: Playground Games, Turn 10 Studios

Will there be a new Forza game next year? Does the sun rise in the east? Microsoft, Turn 10 and Playground Games have cranked out high-quality entries in the Forza franchise every year, without exception, since 2011. This year Forza Motorsport 7 graced the Xbox One and looked better than ever on the Xbox One X. As is now tradition, the mainline Motorsport series and the Horizon subseries take turns coming out every other year. Next year Horizon’s up to bat, and if Forza Horizon 4 follows in its predecessors footsteps, it will likely improve upon its open world, arcade-racing insanity in every way possible. Sure, Forza Horizon 4 hasn’t technically been announced, but it is nearly a sure thing to come out next year.

Forza Motorsport 8 (2019)

Team: Turn 10 Studios

Same deal, different team. Whereas Horizon is more open and relaxed than the core series, Motorsport is a super serious racing simulator whose realism is challenged only by the Gran Turismo series – but even then, many would argue Forza’s quality has outstripped the competition. If the Xbox One continues its console cycle through 2019 (which it more than likely will, with the Xbox One X out in the wild), Forza Motorsport 8 is a surefire candidate for coming out that year.

Halo 6

Team: 343 Industries

343 Industries was created with the sole intention of continuing the Halo franchise after Bungie left it behind to explore the unknown. After the well-received Halo 4 and the super solid effort that was Halo 5: Guardians, 343 is naturally going to finish off the second Halo trilogy with a sixth mainline title. Though 343 didn’t bring Halo 6 to E3 this year, they’re working on tying up the dangling plot threads left by Master Chief and Spartan Locke at the end of Halo 5. Though many criticized the game for not focusing enough on Master Chief, 343 has heard fan complaints and is looking to rectify those issues in the next game. Mainline Halo games typically take about three years to make, so it’s possible that Halo 6 could come out next year, but considering it hasn’t been shown off yet, it might be best to expect a 2019 release. Give 343 the time they need to make the best Halo possible, and surely Halo 6 will be worth the wait.

Gears of War 5

Team: The Coalition

Similarly to 343 Industries, The Coalition was formed to work on the Gears of War series after Epic Games left the IP in Microsoft’s hands. Last Year’s Gears of War 4 was great, though perhaps fell just a tad short of the exceedingly high mark set by the first three mainline installments. The Coalition got their beaks wet on the Gears of War remaster they worked on in 2015 and cranked out the fourth entry like COGwork. Although Gears of War 5 hasn’t officially been announced, it’s coming. Whether that means it’ll hit the Xbox One next year or the year after is uncertain, but fans can expect to continue J.D. Fenix’s story soon enough.

Not Likely:

Fable 4

Possible Team: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Yes, Fable Legends has been canceled and Lionhead Studios was closed down by Microsoft last year, but that doesn’t mean the Fable franchise is dead. Microsoft still owns the Fable IP and their first-party lineup could use a good action-role playing game. Fable 3 for the Xbox 360 was a step down in quality from its predecessors, but with a whole new team taking up the mantle, anything is possible. It would be best for the franchise to be left in the hands of a British team, as the series has always been drenched in English culture. Peter Molyneux, the creator and director of the first three Fable games, has formed a smaller studio called 22Cans. It’s unlikely that he would want to come back to Fable and take another stab at a AAA game, but his inclusion on any team working on it would surely be welcomed by fans.

Banjo Kazooie 3

Possible Team: Rare

No, Banjo Bazooie: Nuts & Bolts did not count as Banjo Kazooie 3. No, it’s not likely that Rare will return to the franchise any time soon, especially since they’ve been so hard at work on Sea of Thieves. But just imagine, for one second, that they did decide to come back to one of the best 3D platformers ever made. After this year’s superb Super Mario Odyssey brought the genre back to the forefront of everyone’s mind, Microsoft would be crazy to not try and throw their own hat into this fertile ring. It’s a long shot, but the bear and his bird could very well return one day, and if they do, it’ll be on a Microsoft platform.

New Remedy IP

Possible Team: Remedy Entertainment

Quantum Break didn’t set the world on fire, but it was a solid game from a great team. Remedy has gone on record saying they have two new games in development and neither one is a follow up to Allen Wake. This could, theoretically, be a follow up to Quantum Break, but it seems that Remedy is less interested in sequels and more inclined to work on new franchises. Remedy is a private developer, but they’ve had a strong working relationship with Microsoft for quite some time. If all of these pieces are put together, it looks like another Xbox One exclusive is a possibility.