Every video game console maker wants a lineup of high quality exclusive games. Exclusives are important, because they help gamers choose which black box to spend hundreds of dollars on and place under their TV. We’ve already looked at the best exclusive games for Xbox One. Now it’s time to head to the opposite end of the spectrum and look at the worst ones.
Below, we dive into the dregs of the Xbox One’s library of exclusive games, seeking out the worst-received titles we can find. As for our methodology, we surveyed all of the Xbox One exclusives listed on Metacritic and created a composite score that includes both the critic and user ratings. For example, a game with a 55 critic score and 5.3 user score would receive a 54 composite score. This should gives us the clearest picture of just how poorly these games were received.
7. Xbox Fitness
Microsoft’s big mistake when it announced the Xbox One was assuming gamers cared about what it could do beyond simply playing games. In an attempt to appeal to a wide swath of players, Microsoft released Xbox Fitness, an exercise program that worked with the Kinect motion-sensing camera that used to come packaged with all Xbox One consoles. Essentially, the Kinect watched you work out and made sure you were doing the exercises correctly.
An exercise program isn’t really a game, so it’s hard to judge it as such, but that didn’t stop critics and gamers from slapping mediocre review scores on it.
From a Metacritic user review:
I’m really disappointed that more of the Fitness programs don’t use the Heart Rate feature and that there is NO Yoga workouts at all. Also the workouts are not clearly sorted by difficulty or fitness level. The interface is also frustratingly difficult to navigate. Took me FOREVER to figure out how to turn on voice commands for Fitness and then, of course, they only work 50% of the time, at best. This was the #1 reason I purchased an Xbox One and if it doesn’t improve quickly I’m putting mine on Craigslist.
6. Powerstar Golf
Another launch game for Xbox One was Powerstar Golf, a game that does the bare minimum to re-create the sport and not much more. What really seemed to disappoint players is that the game didn’t do anything to show off the power of the “next gen” hardware. It’s just a cartoonish golf game that would have looked exactly the same had it been on the Xbox 360. Other strikes against it include its lack of online multiplayer and its uncomfortable focus on microtransactions.
From Eurogamer: “Despite its exaggerated cartoon characters and picturesque sunsets, Powerstar Golf feels surprisingly staid and lacking personality.”
5. Crimson Dragon
Yet another Xbox One launch title (are we seeing a pattern here?) was Crimson Dragon, a game that promised to let you soar through the sky on the back of a powerful beast that seemed to come straight from the pages of your favorite fantasy novel. Too bad the launch date seems to have crept up on the developers of this game, because it feels almost unfinished.
Completing missions in Crimson Dragon is a downright chore. Most levels are simply built from a small pool of the same objectives, resulting in some incredibly mind-numbing tedium.
Each level is divided into sections where you’ll do the following: shoot down swarms of small enemies, follow “beacons” for extra points, and tackle large bosses while aiming for a time limit. That’s the entire scope of the game, and despite the rewards you collect along the way, it gets old quickly.
4. Zombie Driver: Ultimate Edition
In this top-down driving game, you get to ignore the rules of the road. That’s because the streets are teeming with zombies. You can mow them down, blast them with a rocket launcher, char them with a flame thrower, or riddle their rotting bodies with machine gun fire — all from weapons strapped to the outside of your ride. Sounds great, right? Too bad it turns into a dull, repetitive slog after about five minutes. It’s not the worst game out there, but there’s no good reason to pick it up, either.
Zombie Driver offers a relatively welcome distraction and can be a fun title to pick up for five to ten minutes at a time. The lack of any real multiplayer and the repetitive nature of the story mode mean that despite numerous challenges to complete and upgrades to collect, it lacks the “just one more round” appeal that would make it a real contender in the arcade marketplace, though.
3. Kinect Sports Rivals
While this one wasn’t an Xbox One launch title, it must have been an early warning to Microsoft that the Kinect wasn’t shaping up how the company had hoped. This is a collection of motion-based mini-games that you and your friends play by moving your bodies. It comes with a tennis game, a bowling game, and a handful of more extreme sports like wake boarding and mountain climbing. While it sounds like it could do Wii Sports one better, it fails because the Kinect 2.0 isn’t a reliable input machine. When you can’t do what you try to do in any game, it’s frustrating. When you don’t even have a controller in your hand, it’s even worse.
But in a motion control game it is simple; control is paramount. When Kinect 2.0 behaves, Rare’s creation can be plenty of fun, especially in a social setting. But its lack of consistency breeds a sense of distrust in players, and with that the fun fades. It seems that flawless hands-free motion control applicable to a variety of living room environments continues to remain just out of our reach.
2. Dead Rising 3 Episodes
Among the Xbox One’s launch titles was an exclusive game called Dead Rising 3, from Microsoft Game Studios. It was decent for a launch title that scored a 78 on Metacritic, leaving it in a fairly unremarkable position in the overall Xbox One game library.
The problem with Dead Rising 3 wasn’t the core game itself. It was the seemingly endless series of dull expansions Microsoft released in the months that followed. From Operation Broken Eagle to The Last Agent, these pieces of downloadable content failed to impress pretty much everyone, even though they cost $10 a pop. Both gamers and critics have rated all four expansions poorly on Metacritic, giving them an average score of only 47.5, which Metacritic’s terms “generally unfavorable reviews.”
Whereas Broken Eagle at least changed the way you play the game, Fallen Angel makes no real attempts to differentiate play style at all. Angel is a one-dimensional protagonist and is unlikely to resonate with players greatly, and the DLC is again woefully short and lacking in content to justify its existence.
1. Fighter Within
Launch game? Check. Kinect controls that don’t work like they should? Check. It’s almost as if Fighter Within was doomed from the start. The idea is that you’re a fighter in a martial arts school who has to face off against competitors who represent different styles of fighting, from boxing to Jiu-Jitsu. You’re supposed to stand in the middle of your room and shadow box as the Kinect turns your moves into control input for your character in the game. As you can probably guess, this works about as well as a rock swims. It’s an unplayable mess.
I wanted to like Fighter Within. I participate in martial arts and boxing in real life, and have long wanted to play a game that brings that physicality to a video game. As designed, Fighter Within could’ve fit that niche, with flashy action bolstered by a strong sense of fundamentals — punches, kicks, throws and counters. But the game that actually came out is broken, hampered by a control scheme that doesn’t work more than half of the time. This, coupled with the weak writing, means that Fighter Within does a better job of emulating the pain and frustration of actual training — rather than its rewards.