We’ve now had several months to get over the release of the next-gen gaming consoles. Although many highly anticipated titles are not yet available, there are a lot of very popular titles already out there. So, a few months into the so-called next generation of gaming, here are 10 titles that are already standing out. Note: this list is not based on sales. These are merely the games that have impressed us most so far.
1. Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag
Arguably the most buzzed-about game to be released for next-gen consoles yet, Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag has an edge due to its incredible visual quality. The truth is, the installments in this series have always been very attractive, and with the improved graphics of the Xbox One and Playstation 4 it was destined to be one of the best-looking games on the new consoles. Long time developer Ubisoft delivered on this front, but its gameplay is terrific as well, with the “open world” format of Assassin’s Creed perhaps better than ever with the new Caribbean setting. As always, the campaign is engaging, but the real thrill is simply in exploring the oceans and islands around you.
2. Killzone: Shadow Fall
The sixth installment of the Killzone franchise and first for next-gen consoles, this title was exclusively released on PS4, and was one of the first early games to take full advantage of the sheer capability of the new console. In their own rundown of the best next-gen console titles, NY Daily News nails the description of what makes Killzone: Shadow Fall so great, calling it “a visual feast, a showcase for the PS4′s horsepower.” Showcase is probably the best word, as it seems to have sought to display the very best the PS4 has to offer. The gameplay is tremendously realistic as well, with multiplayer offering the most fun, as is generally the case with modern shooters.
3. FIFA 14
Perhaps the most predictable entry on this list, FIFA 14 delivers the same outstanding soccer experience of its predecessors. EA Sports seems to have perfected their approach, so really it makes the list more by virtue of being the biggest and best FIFA experience yet, rather than because of any specific perk on the new consoles. FIFA 14 does, however, offer a few subtle changes. The most notable is that the gameplay is a bit more precise and realistic, which many have described as somewhat irritating at first, but ultimately an improvement once you make the adjustment. Plus, the experience is made all the better by the added thrill of being able to play international matches during a World Cup year! This title is available on Xbox and Playstation devices (including 360 and PS3).
4. Call Of Duty: Ghosts
There isn’t a whole lot to say for Call Of Duty: Ghosts other than that Infinity Ward has once again pulled off an incredibly entertaining shooter. It doesn’t quite show off the next-gen console capability in the way that Playstation’s Killzone: Shadow Fall does, but it’s still one of the most exciting titles you can buy for these devices. The Call Of Duty franchise is somewhat prone to “taking a year off,” as some would put it, with some installments almost showing less effort than others to advance the franchise. And then of course there’s even the iOS app version for those who want a simpler version. But don’t be fooled by waning enthusiasm for the franchise based on these small versions and “off years.” Ghosts is an incredibly fun game.
Another title exclusively for the PS4, Knack may be the most unique entry on this list and has even been compared by some to the wildly popular Crash Bandicoot series. Essentially, Knack is an action-leaning platformer in which players control Knack, a small creature with the ability to change his size, shape and strength by incorporating different materials into his body. Knack must conquer a goblin army using his strange skills and abilities. Ultimately it is a little too cartoonish, and may not have the raw beauty or scope of others on this list. Still, it’s a brilliant, original option for those who like a lighter touch to their gaming experiences.
6. Battlefield 4
Not to overload the list with shooters, but Battlefield 4 absolutely deserves a mention. Having emerged as perhaps the best competition for Call Of Duty (that is, until the next Halo installment and Titanfall start making waves), the Battlefield franchise is every bit as enjoyable for many gamers. Really, it’s a matter of personal preference for the most part, as both games deliver superb shooter experiences. Battlefield 4 is also available on Xbox and Playstation devices, including the 360 and PS3.
7. Ryse: Son Of Rome
Declared by some to be Microsoft’s attempt at a signature game to accompany the launch of the Xbox One, Ryse: Son Of Rome is an Xbox-exclusive title that brings ancient Rome to life in a vivid, historical fiction adventure format. Gameplay is essentially of the hack-and-slash sword-and-sandals variety (though a bit more sophisticated than what probably comes to mind), as players control a rising Roman general on a quest for vengeance for the death of his family. The one drawback is that its campaign is a bit short and lacks some variety, but this is yet another next-gen experience that shows off the graphics that are possible on a new console. Its settings and action are beautiful, too. Plus, there’s always the chance that it launches a new franchise.
8. Need For Speed: Rivals
For those who love arcade-style racing games, Need For Speed: Rivals is now the most advanced option out there. Not to mention, its release at the end of 2013 comes just ahead of this spring’s Need For Speed film, featuring Breaking Bad star Aaron Paul in the leading role. It’s always hard to describe a particular racing game to anyone who hasn’t played, but trust us when we say Need For Speed: Rivals is one of the sharpest, cleanest experiences in the genre, combining high-speed racing with an almost Grand Theft Auto-like storyline, all within an open world format.
9. Peggle 2
It’s also worth noting some of the smaller, simpler titles available for the next-gen consoles, as these actually tend to reach massive audiences. And the arcade game Peggle has had an interesting journey. Originally a downloadable online game, it wound up making waves in various different forms. The app achieved enormous popularity, and the Betfair Arcade, which offers real money gaming, even has a Peggle-themed slot machine. Yet it now seems as if these arcade gaming versions were only the beginning, as Peggle 2 now exists as a giant, and shockingly addictive, Xbox One title from PopCap Games. Give it a shot if you want a puzzle/arcade experience to mix up your next-gen experience.
Minecraft for the Xbox One hits shelves this March, and marks yet another popular app that has made its way to major consoles. If you’ve played the Minecraft app, you know that it’s an addictive, enormous world-building game. Sure enough, it’s the same experience with a bigger scope, more options, and a wider range of view (the narrow range is annoying in app form) on a major console. This is another great option for those who like a few simple titles mixed in with the beautiful graphics and intense action of bigger games.
More great titles are definitely on the way. However, with several months of next-gen console action now behind us, these are the games that stand out as some of the best options.