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Editorial

Top 5 Single Player Backwards Compatible Games on Xbox One

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Last week, we published a list of the Top 5 Single Player Games on the Xbox One, and this week we have a list of the Top 5 Single Player Backwards Compatible Games on the Xbox One.  All of the current consoles offer some form of backwards compatibility with the previous generation, but I’d argue the Xbox One handles it the best…once the game has been installed, at least. On the negative side, there are only about 130 titles currently available, though there are some great ones coming soon.

While there are certainly more than five great backwards compatible games available on the Xbox One, these are the ones that I feel offer the best single player experience.

Mass Effect, Backwards Compatible

Mass Effect

For me, the original Mass Effect is the video game definition of an oldie but a goodie. It’s hard to believe that this game is almost ten years old now. Longtime RPG masters, Bioware started perfecting this gameplay formula with Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, and despite the lack of an iconic license, they were able to find amazing success with a whole new franchise.

Mass Effect is essentially a third-person shooter/RPG hybrid with a level of character customization that is impressive even by today’s standards. Even though the game sends you all over the galaxy, the narrative manages to remain dense enough to give everything weight. The relationships that are built with your companions and the choices you make as commander are all high stakes. The actions you choose actually carry over throughout the next two games.

Though the Mass Effect series has continued to evolve over the years, in many ways the original effort offered much more player freedom. That freedom did come at a price. Many of the game mechanics aren’t quite as polished as they could be, and driving that MAKO around was often an exercise in frustration. The story also takes quite a while to get going, but once you get that final third of this first game, you’ll be hooked.

Deus Ex, Human Revolution, Backwards Compatible

Deus Ex: Human Revolution

Considering the release of Deus Ex: Mankind Divided has been pushed back, it’s some consolation that Deus Ex: Human Revolution is available on the Xbox One through the backwards compatibility program. The highly stylized first-person action/role playing/stealth hybrid video game is without a doubt a must-play title from the last generation.

The original Deus Ex game redefined what a first-person shooter could be. Along with Half-Life, Deus Ex brought the shooter genre out of the corridors and introduced narrative in completely new ways. Released in 2011, Human Revolution is true to its roots, although there is some sense that the whole Deus Ex experience has been shoehorned into a console game. Despite any mechanical limitations, the game features a wide array of gameplay elements, as well as multiple endings.

The whole Deus Ex series and Human Revolution in particular are set in a dystopian future that is somewhat reminiscent of Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner. Like the film, the game lets the player explore the morality of transhumanism in a multicultural, futuristic setting that borrows heavily from Asian influences. Deus Ex: Human Revolution, lets players choose their own morality, join or thwart the Illuminati, and ultimately guide the fate of the world. You couldn’t ask for higher stakes.

Witcher 2, Assassin of Kings, Backwards Compatible

Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings 

Without a long console gaming pedigree, The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings caught many North American console gamers by surprise. The first Witcher role-playing game was a PC exclusive and, like the rest of the trilogy, is based on the short stories and novels of Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski.

Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings, an Xbox 360 console exclusive, continues the adventures of a medieval monster hunter, Geralt of Rivia. The game really scratches an itch for Western RPG enthusiasts with its action-oriented combat and decidedly mature storyline. If you’re looking for a game where choice really matters, this 40 hour-long title features 16 different endings. As a matter of fact, one early decision in the game completely eliminates nearly half of the game’s content.

This console generation’s The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt won numerous “Game of the Year” awards and overcame whatever lack of name recognition the series previously suffered from. If you missed it the first time around, the Xbox One’s backwards compatibility feature makes going back to the previous entry an appealing proposition. Even if you didn’t take advantage of Microsoft’s free download promotion for the game, Witcher 2 is definitely worth playing.

Fallout 3, Backwards Compatible

Fallout 3

The Fallout game series is surprisingly almost 20 years old now and unfortunately, most console gamers have never played the old isometric-view originals. Starting with Bethesda’s Fallout 3, however, the series has been on a completely new path. Similar in design to Bethesda’s own Elder Scrolls series, Fallout is now a fully-3D gameplay experience, utilizing either a first or third person point of view.

Released in 2008, Fallout 3 is a huge action/shooter/roleplaying game featuring a massive world. Set in a post-apocalyptic Washington D.C., the adventure starts in Vault 101, but quickly moves out to the Capital Wasteland, where every minute is a fight for survival. There are super mutants, ghouls, raiders, and a seemingly endless number of other dangers in the wasteland as you search for your missing father.

Despite the ownership change, the Fallout series has been able to maintain its mid-century aesthetics and campy sense of humor. In truth, Bethesda has put an indelible stamp on the games and created a whole new set of fans for the franchise. If you’ve played one of Bethesda’s Fallout games, the others should feel pretty familiar, and with Fallout 3 now on the backwards compatible list, there’s no reason to have not played it.

Fable 2, Backwards Compatible

Fable II

Peter Molyneux’s Fable action/role-playing series has lost some of its sheen, particularly due to the designer’s departure and the franchise’s recent descent down the multiplayer rabbit-hole, but there’s no disputing Fable’s place as an Xbox flagship. Despite the original game’s storied ambition, Fable 2 is arguably the series’ peak. The third game did include a number of gameplay advances, but it’s tough to ignore the creator’s own criticisms of the final product.

Fable 2 picks up 500 years after the first game and allows players to play as either a boy or girl and, depending on your choices, your hero will grow up to be tall or short, fat or skinny, and good or evil. The game offers a dynamic world that allows a massive amount of freedom to do as you please. Players can get married and have children, if you’re able to impress a mate (and keep your belching and farting under control). Every house, hut, castle, and dungeon can be purchased and you can even become the mayor, king, and even emperor of the land.

It’s this freedom to play the way you want to play, along with a fairy tale, fantasy aesthetic, and an abundance of humor the makes Fable 2 so much fun.

I am aware that each of the games in this list are role-playing games of some sort, though it wasn’t entirely intentional. I will admit I have a soft spot for a good RPG, but I enjoy plenty of other video game genres too. Other backwards compatible games I considered for the list were, Assassin’s Creed 2, Beyond Good and Evil, Condemned, Dungeon Siege III, Halo: Reach, Mirror’s Edge, and South Park: The Stick of Truth. There are also a few great Xbox Live Arcade games that were contenders too.

Halo: Reach is probably the game I most wanted to include on the list, but ultimately didn’t. I really do like the game’s narrative, but the campaign’s short length, and the series’ focus on multi-player are what led to its omission. Obviously, this is just my list. Do you agree or disagree? Let us know in the comments below, and make sure to follow us on Twitter (@Official_OnlySP) and Facebook where you can also sound off your opinions.

Editorial

Three Single-Player Games to Watch Out for in July 2019

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Three Single Player Games (July 2019) - Sea of Solitude, Fire Emblem Three Houses, Wolfenstein Youngblood

July, the middle of winter down here in Australia. Even in the bizarre New South Wales climate, the biting cold makes for a great excuse to stay inside and play games. 

Weirdly for single players, quite a few prestige games this month include additional co-op modes. With acclaimed designers behind them, such games will hopefully avoid the pitfalls of accommodating multiple players, as too many games have done in the past.

Sea of Solitude

Release Date: July 5, 2019
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One

At first blush, Sea of Solitude looks like yet another story of a young adult struggling with questions of identity and mental health while exploring a beautiful but harsh fantasy world.

Actually, that’s what it is. ‘Quirky, life affirming indie adventure’ is a whole cottage industry these days, but the fact that such games are now more prevalent should never dismay.

Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice was a masterpiece of refined design and storytelling, and Sea of Solitude appears be something similar—this time dealing with a fantastical vision of depression that turns ordinary people into literal monsters.

Players take charge of Kay, who has sought out the eponymous Sea—or rather, a flooded city based on Berlin—in the hope that there is a cure for monstrosity. However, despite its name, she is not the only person in the Sea. Avoiding the other monsters of the Sea seems to be a major part of the gameplay. These tense encounters are likely to provide rhythm and variety to the adventure and keep it from being a just walking simulator. (Not that being a walking simulator is inherently a problem.)

Although published by EA Originals, one would do well to remember that EA the company does not actually profit off the Originals that they publish. With a focused story and themes that still are not often explored in bigger games, Sea of Solitude should be of great interest to single player fans in a month otherwise dominated by multiplayer titles.

 

Fire Emblem: Three Houses

Release Date: July 26, 2019
Platform: Nintendo Switch

Almost certainly the biggest single player release of the month, and tied with Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 as another massive Switch exclusive, Fire Emblem: Three Houses might be exactly what single players need right now.

Lately the Fire Emblem franchise has exploded in both its popular profile and sales success, buoyed by a hunger for both deep anime RPGs and polished tactics games. Three Houses seems to have doubled down on exciting trends and features in both genres: particularly a Persona/Harry Potter inspired magic school setting and an even deeper tactical battle system that ditches the rock-paper-scissors for more nuanced character progression options. As with many Japanese RPGs, the story is also a major focus and hinges upon a time-jump.

The early part casts the player as a teacher at the Officer’s Academy, situated in the center of the game world and attended by students from the three most powerful nations. Five years later, the second and likely larger part concerns the drama between the player’s teacher and their former students, whose nations are now locked in a massive three-way conflict.

As is to be expected for a series finally coming back to consoles after a long time on the 3DS, Three Houses is a massive technical leap over its predecessors. The game boasts better realised battlefields, more detailed armies, and a slick animated style that appears much more consistent compared with the three or four different art styles on the 3DS.

With such improvements, as well as the overall pedigree of the Fire Emblem brand, Three Houses should have no trouble satisfying single player fans looking for a meaty middle-of-the-year RPG.

Wolfenstein: Youngblood

Release Date: July 26, 2019
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One

The recent Wolfenstein revival series is such a remarkable achievement in traditional shooter design and great, if goofy, sci-fi worldbuilding that the co-op focus of this latest instalment is somewhat disappointing.

Yes, as with F.E.A.R. 3 and Dead Space 3, following a well-received second chapter the Wolfenstein series now pivots to a co-operative focused chapter. Though the game is not a mandatory multiplayer experience, combat encounters and puzzles have been redesigned to accommodate the two player mode, giving single players an AI-controlled partner and bullet sponge enemies.

However, all hope is not lost for Wolfenstein: why else would it be the third game on the list? The narrative has been pushed forward in time, as B.J.’s twin daughters are now in their adolescence, now giving players a glimpse at the 1980s of Wolfenstein‘s skewed universe. Additionally, the level design itself is more freeform thanks to development assistance from Arkane, the developers of the Dishonored series.

Will Wolfenstein: Youngblood successfully deliver more of the series’s goofy charm and crazy alternate reality? Almost certainly. On the other hand, will the game be as fun to play alone as in multiplayer? That remains to be seen. Last month’s E3 demo that raised such concerns was naturally only a snapshot of a game in development, so MachineGames and Arkane have had plenty of time to resolve these potential downsides to a co-op focused game.

Those are our three big single player games to look out for this month. Other interesting titles coming soon include Stranger Things 3 on July 4 and Attack on Titan 2 on July 5, both games hitting Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.

On July 12 we will see the sequel to an almost-fantastic Minecraft-like RPG spinoff, Dragon Quest Builders 2 on Switch and PlayStation 4, as well as the Switch port of “anime Monster Hunter”, God Eater 3

The week after, July 19 brings us Switch-exclusive Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order, and at an undetermined time during the month Klei Entertainment’s anticipated survival-sim Oxygen Not Included will finally leave early access on PC.

Have we missed anything that you’re looking forward to? Let us know in the comments below and be sure bookmark OnlySP and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. You can also join the discussion in our community Discord server.

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