The Xbox has a big, Kratos-shaped problem. God of War is releasing for PS4 on April 20, and fans of the franchise have been eagerly awaiting the return of the myth-based ultra-violence that the series is so well known for. According to reviews, though, the wait has been more than worth it, with consensus being that God of War may be the best in the franchise.
It's another triumph for Sony, and another exclusive game for the PS4 that hits home for the company. It joins an excellent list of PS4-only games that have preceded it, including the absolutely fantastic Horizon: Zero Dawn, and there are even more to come for the Sony console. However, that can't be said for every console on the market, and Xbox One users may be feeling a little frustrated given their current library and those exclusives that have been officially announced so far.
Quite simply, the Xbox One has a serious issue when it comes to exclusive games. The console, including its extremely powerful Xbox One X variant, has some stunning games in its library to be sure. However, when it comes to games that are Xbox only, or at the very least absent from competitor consoles, that list is looking pretty bare. Even last year, questions over the console's upcoming exclusives were raised, with some querying where all the big Xbox exclusives were, and this has definitely carried over into 2018.
Going into this year, the main Xbox One exclusives were Crackdown 3 and Sea of Thieves, with State of Decay 2 also seen as a major bonus for Microsoft. Three months have now passed and already one of those games has come out, but the response has hardly been as breathtaking as Microsoft would have wanted. Sea of Thieves may be pretty and an interesting concept, but even its own developers knew it was shallow. Rather than a console seller, instead it's left plenty of players with a sense of frustration. Meanwhile, those Xbox One X exclusive games and features to compete just don't seem to be there.
Compared to God of War, it's pretty brutal. God of War is stunning, compelling, and undoubtedly the kind of game that sells consoles. It comes from one of the most beloved PlayStation exclusive franchises, which undoubtedly helps, but it also takes risks. A change of tone has led to concerns from some players, but it's this kind of bold decision making - and publisher confidence to back up said changes - that makes a good game into a great one.
Quite simply, which is a better option for a gamer's $60? A multiplayer game with a lack of depth and the promise of improvements, as seen with Sea of Thieves, or something as breathtaking and polished as God of War? The latest PS4 exclusive isn't alone in doing something special, either - the aforementioned Horizon: Zero Dawn was a new property from a developer best known for first-person shooters, and focused on a strange and relatively abstract concept. Yet with patience and support, Guerrilla Games created a game that will no doubt define a console generation.
Following on from that, of course, are plenty more PS4 exclusives that players have been waiting years to see. The Last of Us Part 2 holds an unbelievable amount of potential, and once again could take players on a powerful journey. Beyond that, of course, lies Spider-Man, and Insomniac's superhero game is so far looking like it could be one of the games of the year. According to the developer, it's also never going to come to Xbox.
It's grim reading for Xbox users, but something has to be done. The console may have PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds, but players might be asking where all the big games are. After all, it's not as though Microsoft has a lack of properties that it can release for the console, and no doubt the launch of a new Halo game could at least be a step in the right direction. With E3 now relatively close, fans will be expecting some news on the game - and some additional exclusives wouldn't hurt.
It doesn't help that Microsoft pulled some of the console's exclusives over the last few years, either. Scalebound and Fable Legends were both meant to release for the Xbox One, yet neither saw the light of day. Had those two projects worked out, then perhaps Microsoft would have been in a better situation, but instead there's an absence that can be clearly felt by players. The rumors of a new Fable game may alleviate worries, but until this game becomes more tangible fans are right be be concerned.
However, just developing and releasing these games isn't good enough. Sony has set a high bar for quality with its exclusives this generation, and so expectations will be huge for whatever Xbox One exclusives are in the pipeline. Whether the company can match those expectations is another matter entirely, and so far the Xbox One is looking some ways behind its main competitor. It may have a nice backward compatibility library behind it, but at some point Microsoft needs to take a serious look at the future.