3. State of Decay 2
Microsoft’s lineup of Xbox One exclusives looked positively dreadful heading into 2018, but the software giant had an ace up its sleeve in the form of Xbox Game Pass. In January, the company announced that all future first-party games published by Microsoft Studios would be available on Game Pass on the same day as their global release. In hindsight, giving away major first-party games as part of a monthly subscription fee wasn’t quite the value proposition many had hoped because if Microsoft’s future exclusive offerings all resemble something like State of Decay 2, it’s hard to imagine many people wanting to pay full price in the first place.
A sequel to the surprise hit zombie survival game from 2013, State of Decay 2 makes some noticeable improvements over the original, such as drop in co-op play with up to three friends and more satisfying scavenging mechanics, and is certainly the better game. However, the sequel is also plagued by many of the same issues as the first State of Decay, including numerous bugs and an overall lack of polish. While I understand that State of Decay 2 already has a pretty dedicated fanbase who enjoy what Undead Labs has managed to deliver, considering this is one of the very few Xbox One first-party titles out this year, it’s shocking that Microsoft let it ship in such rough shape.
2. Detroit: Become Human
Sony has absolutely spoiled us with its first-party software this generation, with games such as Uncharted 4, Horizon Zero Dawn and this year’s God of War being some of the best games available on the PS4. Of course, even the best publishers stumble from time to time and such is the case with Detroit: Become Human, the latest PlayStation exclusive from developer Quantic Dream. Continuing in the tradition of the studio’s previous games Heavy Rain and Beyond: Two Souls, Detroit is another narrative-focused adventure game powered by stunning technology. The performance capture and visuals in Detroit are top-tier, and the game is arguably worth experiencing just for its lavish production values alone.
Unfortunately, better tech hasn’t resulted in a more sophisticated narrative, as this is very much still a David Cage game, complete with a dopey script and poor controls. Detroit: Become Human’s futuristic setting and focus on themes such as the ethics of artificial intelligence are fascinating, but the game undercuts it all with its focus on melodrama and poorly written characters. Detroit gets closer than previous Quantic Dream games of delivering a Hollywood-caliber experience but considering quite a few games already offer more engaging and experimental narratives, the studio still has some things to figure out.
Sony Interactive Entertainment