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Feature Article

The 5 Best Xbox One Games Of 2017

One for all.

The Xbox received a much needed boost with the release on the Xbox One X this year. The console's successes have varied, but this year in particular was a big step in the right direction. Part of this can be attributed to the arrival of Xbox One X, currently the most powerful console on the market. In theory, it will be the best way to play cross-platform games. It's this forward-thinking that has given Microsoft an edge over its competition--despite its short list of console exclusives. On the other hand, 2017 also yielded an array of fantastic indie games for Xbox One, further rounding out its lineup of first-party and third-party releases.

The Xbox One offers solid experiences that are often made even better by high-end hardware. In no particular order, here are our picks for the best Xbox One games of 2017.

Assassin's Creed Origins

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After seven years worth of annual releases, it's understandable that people grew fatigued with the Assassin's Creed franchise. However, Assassin's Creed Origins quells doubts and concerns over the series' future by making good on the promise of revitalizing the franchise. Taking form now as an action-RPG, it benefits from expanded stealth and combat mechanics, offering more depth and nuance than its predecessors. Its protagonist Bayek is one of the series' best, possessing kindness and compassion that make him instantly likable, but he's also a morally conflicted character with a tragic past that's easy to empathize with.

While Origins maintains the series tradition of period-piece settings and conspiracy theory narratives that made past entries so engrossing, it also reinvigorates the formula with new ideas. The game organically shifts progression through a multitude of activities you discover while navigating a stunning depiction of Ptolemaic Egypt. No longer do you climb towers to unlock a checklist of simplistic tasks; instead, each quest you take on offers narrative context that shines light onto the state of the world, displaying the time-period's myriad injustices or simply showing you a heartfelt encounter between Bayek and his loved ones.

Origins is one of the best open-world adventure games on Xbox One this year, offering an experience that'll keep you hooked for hundreds of hours. It's also the best version of the game on consoles, as it performs and looks best on Xbox One X compared to PS4 Pro. If you haven't picked it up, Origins is well worth your time on Xbox One, regardless of whether you're a hardcore fan of Assassin's Creed or not.

Cuphead

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If a game was made in the 1930s, what would it look like? The answer is: Cuphead.

Developer Studio MDHR's creation brings together a wealth of ideas and mechanics that feel completely at home with one another. The game's hand-drawn animation and watercolor backgrounds bring to life a visual style that is both completely unique to video games and executed flawlessly. From the moment the opening title rolls, Cuphead envelops you in its world, one whose authenticity never lets up for a second.

But Cuphead is more than just a fancy, well-drawn exterior. The game is an ode to the run-and-gun shooter genre and to classic video games in general, with homages to series like Mega Man, Contra, and Street Fighter. Cuphead's two-dozen-plus bosses not only fill the screen with hazards and obstacles, but also with personality, constantly offering challenges that excite just as much as they frustrate. You're encouraged to get better, though, and eventually overcome its toughest levels.

Cuphead is a game that deserves to be seen and played by everyone. Backed by a fully orchestrated jazz soundtrack that you'll catch yourself humming for weeks to come, Cuphead grabs hold of you with its beautiful and infectiously cartoony world, and hopes you never leave it.

Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus

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Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus never lets you forget who you're fighting, and why. Nazi brutality is on full display, from the blown-out, irradiated remains of Manhattan to each of the characters, who all carry mental scars if not physical ones. The far-future technology of the Nazi regime is exhilarating to partake in--high-powered laser weapons are exciting to use, after all--but it’s also a grotesque display of their ruthless subjugation of all corners of the world.

That said, a tongue-in-cheek tone reminiscent of Inglorious Basterds strikes the right balance with the game’s incredibly heavy subject matter. The New Colossus has a completely bonkers storyline, and it’s elevated by satisfying Nazi-killing action and a self awareness of its own dark humor. It also manages to make combat exciting without becoming a power fantasy--it’s straight-up difficult, and its mechanical, heavily armored enemies can seem impossible to take down at times. But regardless of whether you take a stealthy or guns-blazing approach, you’ll be rewarded with a thrilling fight once you do emerge victorious.

The most memorable thing about The New Colossus, though, is its direction. Carefully choreographed cutscenes give more gravity to an already great cast of characters, and the timing of specific moments (all spoilers) makes them all the more impactful. Wolfenstein's tense gameplay elevates this further by giving you the power to truly resist--and come out of each battle ready for another fight.

Resident Evil 7: Biohazard

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Resident Evil 7: Biohazard marks a return to form for Capcom, which reconnected with its survival horror roots in 2017 to deliver a Resident Evil that is both modern and faithful to the series' legacy.

The game casts aside the third-person perspective for first-person, and in doing so, ratchets up the nerve-wracking tension throughout the campaign. Crucially, however, it leans on the genre pillars that it both established and popularised; bullets and healing items are in short supply, and enemies require strategy and a steady hand to take down.

From the early moments of breathlessly running around the Baker home, hoping and praying not to cross paths with Jack, the psychotic patriarch of the family, to the nail-biting cat and mouse game in Marguerite's bug-infested cabin, and the intense fight for survival at the end, Resident Evil 7 is edge-of-your-seat gaming at its finest.

What Remains of Edith Finch

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In What Remains of Edith Finch, you play titular character Edith Finch as she explores her family's old and mysterious mansion. Ever since her ancestors arrived in America from Norway in the 1930s, there's been a rumor that suggests the Finch family tree is cursed, leading to many strange and unfortunate deaths.

As you explore the various rooms within the large estate and read old notes from your fallen relatives, the game flashes back and allows you to play out their last moments. What makes What Remains of Edith Finch so powerful is that it does an excellent job tapping into the commonalities of belonging to a family. Who hasn't lost a loved one in life? Seeing how Edith's aunts, uncles, and siblings pass away can be heartbreaking, but these little story vignettes are also wildly imaginative and whimsical.

Seeing a hungry little girl eat poisoned berries only to experience hallucinations that lead to her untimely death is both sad and fantastical. Reliving your brother's last moments as he overcomes depression while daydreaming on the job at a fish factory is another haunting, yet beautiful experience. Each vignette in the game is distinct and amounts to short-but-sweet modern-day fairytales. It helps that the game is tied together by wonderful voice acting and meticulously detailed environments that further bolster the story's eerie events.

GameSpot will be unveiling its picks for the best games of the year throughout all of December. Check out our Best of 2017 hub for even more.

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Assassin's Creed Origins

Assassin's Creed Origins

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