While it’s true that the Xbox One’s exclusives just weren’t on par with the PS4’s, you’d be wrong to think that Microsoft has always struggled with securing incredible exclusive titles. In fact, a look at the history of Xbox exclusives reveals some of the best games of the last 20 years.
So, ahead of the Xbox Series X’ release and incredible backward compatibility abilities, we thought we’d count down the 10 best Xbox exclusives ever.
Just know that for this list, we considered an Xbox exclusive to be any game that was never released on another console besides an Xbox. However, if that game was released on PCs or mobile devices, it was still considered to be eligible.
10. Lost Odyssey
During Microsoft’s brief infatuation with wooing the Japanese market with high-profile JRPGs (which also included the excellent Blue Dragon), they convinced Final Fantasy creator Hironobu Sakaguchi to make this often-overlooked Xbox 360 exclusive.
Lost Odyssey was initially criticized for its reliance on traditional genre elements, but years later, the title’s blend of classic concepts and new ideas feels more appealing than ever before. Besides, Lost Odyssey‘s story is arguably one of the best in JRPG history.
9. MechAssault 2: Lone Wolf
Blowing stuff up with a variety of giant mechs is fun. That may sound obvious, but given that the MechAssault franchise has largely been ignored over the last 15 years, it’s apparently not as obvious as we’d like to think.
MechAssault 2 is a pure action game that’s depth comes through its various unlockables and high replayability. Its multiplayer was also shockingly good, especially for an early Xbox Live game.
8. Alan Wake
Before Control, Max Payne developer Remedy Entertainment dipped their toes into the horror genre with the surprisingly scary Alan Wake.
Alan Wake’s simple gameplay and sometimes…off voice acting won’t win everyone over, but you just can’t beat the title’s moody small-town atmosphere, various world-building tricks, and genuinely engaging story. It’s a gem of the genre.
7. Rare Replay
This spot was reserved for Viva Pinata, but while we’re at it, why not just highlight the collection that includes that game and 29 other retro classics?
Granted, most of those games are available on some other console, but the ability to play some of Rare’s greatest games (including the aforementioned Viva Pinata) in one package makes this one of the Xbox One’s best exclusives.
6. Fable 2
Truth be told, there’s never been a Fable game that’s realized the ambitious intentions of the series’ creator. However, Fable 2 is the game that proved even a taste of that ambition could be addictive.
Fable 2‘s simple (but fun) gameplay, engaging story, and incredible character-building options help it stand tall above its largely underwhelming predecessor. Even Fable 3 couldn’t quite live up to Fable 2‘s tight take on this franchise’s best ideas.
5. Crimson Skies: High Road to Revenge
Anytime you ever meet a Crimson Skies fan who is a little too enthusiastic about this game, try to forgive them. After all, there’s never really been a game quite like this 2003 Xbox exclusive.
Crimson Skies‘ airtight aerial gameplay is bested only by the game’s shockingly interesting story and fascinating alternate history worldbuilding in which America has rebuilt society around air travel. We’d give anything for a proper sequel to this truly underrated classic.
4. Forza Horizon 4
As the Forza series grew from its humble origins as a Dreamcast exclusive called Metropolis Street Racer, the one thing that remained constant was developer Bizarre Creations’ ability to inject more personality into their racing titles than any other developer.
Forza Horizon 4 is the culmination of their efforts. This massive racing game is nearly perfect from a visual and gameplay standpoint, but the true joy of the experience comes from finding a way to appreciate all the little touches while you blaze past them at high speeds.
3. The Elder Scrolls 3: Morrowind
You can’t really talk about Morrowind without acknowledging that the game was a technical nightmare, suffered from some historically slow pacing, and, in many ways, just wasn’t designed for consoles.
Yet, Morrowind‘s success on Xbox really did change the gaming industry for the better. It not only proved that games like it were viable (and desirable) on consoles, but it advanced the technological design of Western RPGs by years. Flaws aside, Morrowind remains one of the best Elder Scrolls games in terms of world-building and genuine role-playing.
2. Halo 3
We could just reserve this spot for the Halo series and call it a day, but just to make it interesting, we’ll go with the Xbox 360 exclusive, Halo 3.
We’ve praised Halo 3‘s multiplayer in the past, but in terms of the balance between multiplayer and campaign, you really could argue that this is the best overall Halo game. It represents everything that there is to love about this franchise.
1. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
Few Xbox exclusives, not even the mighty Halo, are held in as high regard as BioWare’s 2003 Xbox RPG, Knights of the Old Republic. Thankfully, this is one of those cases where the hype is about more than nostalgia.
In some ways, KOTOR‘s incredible gameplay, jaw-dropping story, and memorable missions are bittersweet. As BioWare has lost its way and Star Wars games struggle to relive the glory days, there just aren’t many RPGs on the modern market that come close to replicating the stunning creative brilliance of this true masterpiece.