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Letters from the Front

Microsoft redefined gaming in the 2000’s. In a space that was once dominated by the likes of Sega, Sony, and Nintendo, Microsoft helped lead the way creating a whole new experience with the original Xbox and Xbox Live. While Xbox Live wasn’t a totally new idea, it paved the way for Xbox 360 and the legendary years of Xbox Live and all of those toxic game chats that people in my generation fondly remember.The Xbox 360 was a console unlike any other, a console dominated by epic games and epic studios like Bungie and Remedy.

Over the last decade, however, nobody can deny the strange path that the Xbox brand has taken and where it sits right now, at the brink of gaming history. Along the way, Microsoft lost their way but now, they’ve rebuilt and revitalised the Xbox brand into something remarkable – something beyond just a plastic box to play games on. Much of that has come down to the exclusives that Microsoft dropped throughout the decade, here are some of the most important Xbox games of the last ten years.

Forza Horizon 4 (2018)

UK developer Playground Games may have started life creating the original Forza Horizon on the 360, but their fourth iteration of the sub-series is their best one yet.

Taking all their previous works and combining it into one, Playground sparkled some bits of Burnout Paradise into Forza Horizon, creating an epic racer. There’s never a moment of boredom. This racer is considered to be one of the greatest racers to release within the past decade, full stop.

Gears of War 5 (2019)

It’s not easy to redefine a series that revolutionized a genre and revolutionized the Xbox 360. The Coalition’s first stab at the Gears franchise, Gears of War 4, was a little bit on the safe side and they succeeded at expanding the Gears universe and getting away from the old.

Gears of War 5 is / was a technical achievement, one of the greatest Gears game since Gears of War 2 and 3. Gears of War 5 evolved Gears into something more than just a dudebro shooter.

An incredible array of modes, a killer audio mix, a killer campaign on top of Horde and Multiplayer make Gears 5 a killer value but it wasn’t enough, the team went above and beyond. The Coalition made the campaign bigger and took Gears out of its comfort spot, adding a semi-open world and side quests and these huge environments to explore. Gears 5 is utterly essential, compelling from top to bottom. This is a must play.

Ryse (2013)

One of the decade’s most underrated games.

Originally launching at the beginning of the generation in 2013, Ryse was a unique game but it was overlooked due to the negativity surrounding the Xbox One. Despite it’s age, Ryse continues to be one of the most graphically impressive Xbox One titles.

Ryse is set in the time of the Roman Empire. The game follows the story of Marius, a general in the Roman Army, as he avenges the death of his family. Ryse: Son of Rome was originally a Kinect title but it was later transformed into a proper game which might have impacted the depth of the game but no matter, Ryse is one to play.

Cuphead (2017)

A throwback to the cartoons of the interwar period and World War II propaganda and a throwback to difficult games of the 1990s, Cuphead is a beautiful game that throws platforming into the mix while being a boss-rush-shoot-em-up. It also shows that Microsoft’s dedication to bringing new experiences to the Xbox One, but it’s newfound commitment to the Indie space. Cuphead is full of charm and character, but it’s a rewarding experience from start to finish.

Quantum Break (2016)

Remedy has proven that they are the masters of weird. Remedy can be counted on to challenge perceptions and shake things up. Remedy was not content with making Quantum a simple video game with gorgeous graphics, they wove in a strange TV show with real actors and everything.

Quantum Break paved the way for Control, utilising physics in much the same way and relying on you to control the combat from wherever you see fit which makes it one of the most flexible games today. Equal parts bizarre and brilliant, Quantum Break did a huge thing not only for Remedy but Xbox as well.

Alan Wake (2010)

The beginning of it all.

In the 2000s, Remedy made their name with the Max Payne set of games that was published by Rockstar Games but it was Alan Wake that pushed them to fame.

Releasing on the same day as the original Red Dead Redemption back in 2010, Alan Wake borrowed heavily from pop culture and it worked so well. The story was inspired by the Twilight Zone and the setting was inspired by Twin Peaks and Stephen King, a giant in the genre. Every good thing that Remedy has done in the decade since, it has been the result of Alan Wake. This game is the one of the most important games of the 2010s on Xbox.

Halo: Reach (2010)

The most important Xbox game of the decade and this is a fact.

The shift from Master Chief to a small squad called Noble Six was a big one. Halo Reach is one of the most personal Halo games to date, it was a good send off from Bungie before 343i got their hands on it. Halo Reach is a complete masterclass game from top to bottom.

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