Recently, I covered what I believed to be the 10 best Playstation exclusives of all time. Afterwards, I felt like something was missing. Then, I realized: I need to show the Xbox a little love! After all, all consoles are fantastic, with their strengths and weaknesses. Microsoft might not be the exclusive powerhouse that Sony is, but there a lot of fantastic Xbox exclusives.
Just like before, there will only be one game per franchise. Otherwise, this list would be consumed by the many entries in a few fantastic series owned by Microsoft!
Now, the thing about Xbox exclusives is that many of them are making their way to PC. So, if you see a title on this list that can be obtained on a Windows PC, simply realize that Windows is also a Microsoft product. You could almost title this list Microsoft exclusives, but, since these games are developed for the home console, we’ll stick with Xbox exclusives.
Alright, without further ado, here are the 10 best Xbox Exclusives of all time.
10. Ninja Gaiden II
Before there was Dark Souls, the Ninja Gaiden series was responsible for getting even the most determined of players to rage-quit. Released in 2008, Ninja Gaiden II punished Xbox 360 players who thought they could just slice and dice their way through the game. Instead, your attacks needed to be precise, your dodges perfectly timed, and your blocks constantly ready to go.
The story is very difficult to follow, making it not particularly compelling, but the game succeeds in having truly incredible gameplay. Combat was complex and challenging enough to have everyone forget about the plot and simply focus on the battles ahead. And you will need to focus to slay the challenging bosses and hordes of quick, agile, deadly enemies. It may not be perfect, but it certainly is one of the best games made exclusively for the Xbox.
9. Viva Piñata
Certainly a change of pace from the last entry, Viva Piñata is a fantastic children’s game that still has a strong appeal for adult players. The core concept is that you are a farmer of some sort who creates environments to attract and care for various animals that are, you guessed it, piñatas So, there is no plot to speak of, but the gameplay is extremely addictive and relaxing.
All the animals in the game have unique personalities, and some get along with other species better than others. Ultimately, you will have to mould your farm to keep these animals happy – separating unfriendly species and putting friendly species together. The rest of your time is spent helping the animals mate, staving off your enemies, the Sours, and growing and expanding your farm. The animation, the sound design, and the tone of the entire game are adorable and relaxing. Once you get frustrated with Ninja Gaiden, this is just the game to calm you down. It is the most relaxing Xbox exclusive ever made.
8. Blue Dragon
Blue Dragon is weird but oh-so-wonderful. This is an expansive JRPG with a cute animated style and an unconventional but memorable soundtrack. Centred on children who harness the power of their shadows for magic, this RPG has a fascinating world to explore that includes everything from sci-fi to fantasy elements. You also fight a giant poo, so…
In other words, Blue Dragon is unique, and a game that you can easily pour dozens of hours into. Its turn-based combat is great, approachable yet complex. The story is engaging, and although the characters aren’t as complex as the characters from other games on this list, they are engaging. This is a kid’s game, but there is no reason that an adult can’t enjoy this classic RPG. It’s a great time, and one of the Xbox 360’s best titles.
Plus, the boss music is an absolute banger. A hilarious, so-bad-it’s-good banger.
7. Shadow Complex
Shadow Complex is a unique take on the Metroidvania genre. Where most games in the genre take place in fantastical or sci-fi worlds, this game is much more grounded. Nolan North, the same actor who plays Nathan Drake in the Uncharted series, brings Jason, the main character, to life in midst of one of his troubling times. Finding himself in an underground military facility, Jason must jump and shoot his way out of the base.
The controls are perfect, and the level of details in the game make backtracking, a cornerstone of Metroidvanias, a joy to undertake. Combat is an absolute joy due to a large, creative arsenal at your disposal. You don’t start with much but, by the end of the game, there isn’t anything you can’t destroy. The story is great, but it is the sense of progression delivered by the gameplay that keeps you going forward. It may be shorter than some of the other games on this list, but it is by far one of the best.
The Crackdown series has seen some incredible lows. The second game took the strong foundation of the first and… then threw it in the trash to make room for zombies. The third simply did nothing to improve upon the formula in any way, feeling empty, dull, and obsolete. The original, however, still stands tall.
Its story was nothing to go crazy over, but its combat, open-world, and more make the game excellent. First off, you are a superhero; you can leap massive distances and take an insane amount of damage. Therefore, it is very easy to traverse the world, blowing things up as you go with an unsettling amount of explosive devices. That was another great thing: the world was incredibly destructible, which made causing chaos in the world of Crackdown unique from causing chaos in a game like Grand Theft Auto.
Some stats could be improved, which gave you a strong sense of progression as you saw your character grow stronger the more you used certain weapons or abilities. Also, the game did have multiplayer. You could wander the city with your friend, wreaking havoc as a team of two. It’s some of the most fun you can have on an Xbox console.
5. Sunset Overdrive
Sunset Overdrive is extremely underrated. From the same developers who made Marvel’s Spider-Man for Playstation, Insomniac Games have created a hilarious, beautiful game for the Xbox One. The soundtrack is filled with punk music that pumps you up as you grind and hop your way around the world. Traversal in this game is truly fantastic, and even after hours of jumping and sliding your way through the city streets, you are still obsessed with trying to go for the longest amount of time without touching the ground, stacking up your combo counter.
The combat is a great time, too, oftentimes building off of the strong traversal system in place. There are many weapons in the game, some as ridiculous as they are useful. Speaking of ridiculous, the story is hilarious, ripping on video games themselves and much more. The story’s premise is silly in of itself, with the town’s citizens turned into monsters from an energy drink. It doesn’t get much deeper than that, and it doesn’t need to. Sunset Overdrive knows exactly what it is: a humorous, open-world, action game, only available on the Xbox One.
4. Forza Horizon 4
If you love racing games, you need to get an Xbox. The Forza series has found its home with Microsoft, and each game in the series is excellent. Forza Horizon 4 is no exception; in fact, it’s probably the best of all the Forza games. First, the game is gorgeous. The cars look real, and the world you explore is beautiful, making driving a consistently pleasurable experience. The game is open-world, but it is filled with activities to do. Races, challenges, and online updates and events make exploring the world a constant joy. All of this depth is taken even a step farther when the seasons change; when Fall becomes Winter, there aren’t just aesthetic differences, but the landscape of the world will change as well as how you approach it.
Customization is incredible, with a vast array of options that will please even the pickiest of players. There are hundreds of cars to drive, each unique in appearance and handling. And, of course, the driving is incredible. The Forza series possibly boasts the best driving controls of any racing franchise. Forza Horizon 4 is simply one of the greatest racing games ever, and so it is one of the Xbox’s best exclusives.
3. Fable II
The Fable series may have never lived up to the ambitious promises creator Peter Molyneux has made, but every game is fantastic. Each game brought something new to the table, like mechanics or concepts not seen before in video games. At the very least, Fable refined and popularized many concepts such as marrying characters in the game world, the world physically and figuratively changing from your actions, and more.
Even if we do not consider its impact on the industry, Fable II is a great game. The story was great – humorous with some dark undertones at times – and the moral choices were, if not conflicting, entertaining. Combat was a delight, with a vast array of swords, guns, and spells at your disposal. The world was large, beautiful, and mysterious, with tons of secrets for those willing to put in the time. As well, there was multiplayer, which allowed you to explore the world with friends. Multiplayer would be improved upon in Fable III, but Fable II is simply the superior game in terms of story, choices, combat, and more, making it one of the greatest Xbox exclusives ever.
2. Gears of War 2
The Gears of War series is utterly fantastic, but the second entry is the height of it all. Building on the cover-based shooting mechanics that the first game popularized, Gears of War 2 featured incredible, intense, and satisfying gameplay. There were more weapons than ever, and everything was tighter and more precise than what had come before. What makes the second game the pinnacle of the series, however, is its campaign. The story is incredibly engaging, being far more emotional than the testosterone-fueled game had any right to be. Prepare to cry, which is strange to say about a game that allows you to chainsaw aliens in half.
This game also refined the multiplayer elements that were present in the first game. Gears of War 3 would perfect the online Gears formula, but the second game gets a whole lot of credit for introducing the horde mode, which has now been a staple of the series ever since. So, with a great multiplayer component attached to the series strongest plot, Gears of War 2 becomes one of the greatest Xbox exclusives ever made.
1. Halo 3
I’d imagine you aren’t surprised to see a Halo game in the number one spot. The Halo series is Microsoft’s golden ticket, having drawn players to the platform for years now. Halo 3, released in 2007 for the Xbox 360, is the pinnacle of the series. The story is engaging, even if it can be confusing at certain points. But that’s ok because what we have here is one of the greatest first-person shooters of all time. Halo has done a lot to push the genre forward for the better, and all that energy has led up to this game, which is nearly perfect in terms of gameplay. All the weapons are a joy to use, and each one feels unique from one another. The vehicles are a joy to drive, and the campaign is endlessly replayable due to the spectacular mission design that features many large, expansive areas to explore.
The cream on top is multiplayer, which is fantastic. With a wide variety of modes, you can sink hours into playing with and against others online. The Forge mode lets you create levels in the game, and it was a lot of fun to mess around with friends in custom maps. Although I am an ardent gamer, I do not play multiplayer very much, but I can say I poured hundreds of hours into Halo 3’s unique but devastatingly fun multiplayer mode. Since it has one of the best first-person shooter campaigns ever and a stellar and expansive multiplayer, Halo 3 is the best Xbox exclusive of all time.
And that’s my list. Let me know if you disagree. Are there games you think are missing from the list, or would you put them all in a different order? Let us know in the comments below!