As the best upcoming indie games on Xbox One shows, there are a great range of things from smaller studios well worth your attention. Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds proves you can have a massive, mainstream smash - it's not all about little art house curios.
So let us guide you through some of the most exciting indie games heading to Xbox One, via Microsoft's ID@Xbox program. There's things you might recognise, like Ooblets very pokemon flavoured creature capturing, or Surviving Mars sim-tastic take on world building and survival. And everything else in between, from horror, RPGs and multiplayer. Take a look at what's on the way.
Follow any gaming YouTubers? Then you’ve probably seen this one crop up a lot lately thanks to the amazing stunts people are pulling off in this insane battle royale. It’s a simple enough concept – you parachute onto an island with nothing but the clothes on your back and in order to survive you’ll have to hunt down weapons and armour to use to take people down until you’re the last person standing. The fun comes in all of the abandoned places you can hide and the items you can find – from simple knives to machine guns, you never quite know what you’ll find and what you’ll have to make do with.
There’s a joy in being stuck with a machete and finding someone who hasn’t spotted you yet and sneaking up on them to liberate them of their sniper rifle and ghille suit. You can even find vehicles to help you get around the map that much faster and run people down with it. Of course, if you’re not careful someone might just outsmart you and steal it from right underneath you. It’s currently in early access on Steam, but will also be making its console debut on Xbox One later this year – with two new maps in tow – so you can take on the world.
Release: TBA 2017
We can’t get enough of how adorable and full of character this looks – it’s like a monster-hunting game crossed with elements of farming that reminds us a bit of the excellent Stardew Valley. You start off in a rundown farm that you’ll customise and improve over time, heading out into the world of Oob to meet people and gather seeds that you can then cultivate and grow into an army of Ooblet creatures of your very own. Explore the town, or the numerous other biomes to find different creatures, and you’ll also find people to battle your little clutch against in Pokémon-style fights. You can also dress them up in silly hats and tutus, which is basically the OXM office dress code so we’re all in.
Ever wondered what it would be like if humans started a colony in space? Not just as a cool idea, but the practicalities: how will it all get built? How will everyone be fed? What happens if a meteor hits? Well, this project will help you find out as you manage a small colony on Mars to help it grow and survive. You can control everything, including the first wave of robots who will explore and set up things like solar panels to prepare for the later arrival of humans and scan for potential resources. It’s being made by the team behind the Tropico games so you know you’re in for a great strategy game.
Dev: Paradox Interactive
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It’s a well known fact that sweater vests and facial hair are inherently evil, so when a dude fitting just that description moves in next door you know something is up. He might act all nice and normal when you see him inside, but deep down you know that there must be a sinister secret hiding behind his beady little eyes. The solution? Sneak into his house to investigate without letting him know you’re there. You’ll have to stealthily skulk around, or hide to avoid him, or use items found around his house to set up traps to buy you enough time to uncover his dirty secret before he catches you. It might look jolly, but this is horribly tense stuff as you do your best to survive.
Dev: Dynamic Pixels
Release: 8 December 2017
Black Desert Online
Known for its insanely beautiful graphics and impressive character creator, this MMO has been out on PC for a while, but thanks to ID@Xbox it’s now making the leap to Xbox One too. It’s also going to be cross- play so you’ll be able to play with people already on PC, meaning there will be a large community in place to play with right from the start. You can play as a human, elf or giant, slashing your way through a high-fantasy countryside full of gorgeous vistas and quests to take on. The combat itself is action-based so should feel right at home on a controller, and there are several classes to pick from, including ninjas, rangers and warriors, meaning there will be something to suit your playstyle.
Dev: Pearl Abyss
Release: Spring 2018
The Last Night
It’s rare to be so utterly blown away by pixel art, but this little beaut is one of the most stylish games we’ve ever seen. It reminds us a lot of Blade Runner and its dingy sci-fi future city full of neon signs and flying taxis. It’s set in a world where robots and AI have taken over all jobs so humans don’t have to work, so define themselves by what they consume instead of what they do. It’s a tale about survival, but not your typical one about food and water – it’s more about finding your purpose to keep you going. It’s an interesting theme, and one that befits its lush setting. It’s one to look out for if you want to try something a bit different.
Dev: Odd Tales
The Darwin Project
Another movie-inspired concept here, though this time it’s a multiplayer combat game set in a Hunger Games-like arena where you win by being the last one standing. Set in a future where a new ice- age is incoming, an entertainment / survival training show has been devised that sees you stuck in a cold wasteland where you need to murder everyone to survive – while still entertaining. You’ll have to deal with the extreme environment, set traps and use skills to track down your opponents. But while all that’s going on there’s also a Show Director mode, that lets you watch the action and potentially influence the outcome of the match to give the underdog an advantage, or vice versa. It’s a neat addition to add some intrigue to the setting.
Dev: Scavengers Studio
Path of Exile
While this top-down action game has been out on PC since 2013, it’s making its console debut on Xbox One with four-years worth of content all at once. If you’ve ever played Diablo 3 then this will be familiar – you pick one of several classes, grabbing up loads of loot and making devastating attacks that let you take on floods of bad guys at once. After being abandoned on a hellscape of an island in nothing but a loincloth, you eventually become an absolute badass, which is all we want from video games. Areas and items are randomly generated so you’ll always have somewhere new to explore. It’s also free-to- play and has a deep end-game so it’s worth having a go when it’s out later this year.
Dev: Grinding Gear Games
Release: Winter 2017
This arena brawler might look quite simple on the surface, but is actually surprisingly deep and has already found a lot of success in its early access on PC. You pick a fighter to take into the arena alongside a friend or two in 2v2 or 3v3 battles and try to pummel your opponents before they do the same to you. It’s incredibly competitive, and with it being held in fairly small arenas it’s also extremely tight, making for some pretty intense matches. It feels a bit like Overwatch, but in miniature – your chosen heroes bound about the arena vying for dominance and, ultimately, victory, but all in a wonderfully chaotic and bright style.
Dev: Stunlock Studios