It would be hard for even the most loyal Xbox fan to disagree that the Microsoft brand of home console didn’t have a great generation of exclusives with the Xbox One. Not only did the Nintendo Switch kick off with two of the best Mario and Zelda titles ever, but competitors Sony flooded its PlayStation 4 with numerous award-winning titles. Thankfully, the future is looking bright for the Xbox Series X, as Bethesda’s acquisition has added to an impressive collection of studios that should provide memorable experiences throughout the ninth generation of home consoles.
One of the best exclusive franchises that has eluded Xbox players is God of War. The franchise has consistently released excellent games, with the most recent release, simply titled God of War, being considered to be the best yet. Chances of the franchise ever coming to Xbox are slim, but luckily there are already many excellent adventures and hack and slash titles that can fill the void. To ensure the games on this list are available to as many people as possible, all ten of them are either Xbox One games or playable via backwards compatibility.
10 Ryse: Son of Rome
Launch titles can often be fundamental to a console’s success in its first couple of years. Microsoft looked to hit the ground running by providing its players with a hack and slash title to challenge God of War, titled Ryse: Son of Rome.
It soon became clear that the game wasn’t going to meet the high expectations, as reviews for the game were somewhat lackluster. Though the game is rough around the edges, it can still be a thoroughly enjoyable seven-hour adventure. A seven-hour runtime made it difficult to justify its full price upon release, but now that it’s come down in cost and is available with Game Pass, it’s certainly worth checking out.
9 Lords of the Fallen
The main strength of Lords of the Fallen is its boss fights. Whereas the standard enemies can be fairly rudimentary, the boss battles feel epic and engaging. The fights are challenging, testing both the player’s skill and resourcefulness to obtain the best equipment. A sequel was announced in December 2014, though the game is still in development, with news on the game being scarce.
8 Assassin’s Creed Odyssey
To their credit, Ubisoft has always been adaptive and shrewd when creating new IPs to suit what’s popular in gaming at the time. Rayman capitalized on the mascot platformer genre that was popular during the fifth generation of home console; Splinter Cell and Ghost Recon were successful in the sixth and seventh, and franchises like Assassin’s Creed and Far Cry have been instrumental in the rise of open-world adventures.
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey falls into many of the shortcomings that Ubisoft open-world games suffer from, such as repetitive objectives. However, it’s still a very well-designed game that will appeal to anyone who wants to experience God of War‘s Greek mythology elements in an open-world.
7 Dante’s Inferno
Of all the games on this list, Dante’s Inferno is the one that most clearly set out to be a competitor of Santa Monica Studio’s God of War. The game is based on Dante Alighieri’s poem of the same name that depicts the nine circles of hell.
The game’s hack and slash gameplay is very similar to the original God of War trilogy, making it an ideal choice for the first few games’ fans. Anyone who enjoys Dante’s Inferno may want to check out the dark fantasy film Dante’s Inferno: An Animated Epic, which was based on the game and released the same day.
6 Ninja Gaiden II
There aren’t many hack and slash franchises as well-known as God of War, but the Ninja Gaiden series is undoubtedly one of them. The first game was released all the way back in 1988, and it was regarded as one of the best and toughest beat ’em up titles of its generation.
One thread that has connected the Ninja Gaiden releases over the decades is the difficulty. The games are historically known for their brutal challenge, and Ninja Gaiden II is no different. The game is one of the series’ most critically acclaimed modern entries, exemplified by its impressive 81 Metascore.
5 Castlevania: Lords Of Shadow
From one iconic franchise to another, the Castlevania franchise is known today for having one of the best releases of the late 90s in Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, as well as being one of two games to make up the Metroidvania genre’s name, due to its influence on the gameplay style.
Castlevania: Lords Of Shadow was released in 2010 and is today recognized as one of the series’ best entries. The game received Metascores between 81 and 85 across its three releases and picked up the accolade of Best Original Score for a Video Game or Interactive Media from the Film Music Critics Association.
From one 2010 release to another, Vigil Games’ Darksiders stood alongside the aforementioned Castlevania: Lords Of Shadow as one of its year’s best hack and slash titles. The series is now on its fourth release, with Darksiders Genesis hitting stores in 2019, though the original 2010 game is still widely regarded as the franchise’s best.
The game puts players in control of War, who is one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Like any good hack and slash game, War can gain new abilities and weaponry throughout his adventure to keep the gameplay fresh and engaging.
With an Xbox 360 Metascore of 90, Bayonetta is one the this list’s most critically acclaimed entries. Praise for the game was predominantly directed towards its combat, as the hack and slash mechanics have excellent depth, ensuring that players become addicted to the rush of taking down the game’s many difficult foes.
The second game received even more praise from critics than the first, exemplified by its Metascores of 91 and 92 between its two releases, though sadly, it was a Nintendo Switch exclusive.
2 Dark Souls III
FromSoftware’s so-called “soulsborne” franchise has been one of the most influential series of the last decade. The first Dark Souls game was particularly influential, with how it went against the grain of modern tends like excessive hand-holding and simplistic difficulty by putting players in an unforgiving world and giving them minimal direction as to what to do and where to go. Moreover, the game’s storytelling was wonderfully intertwined with the gameplay, a style that has become increasingly prevalent in gaming ever since.
Any of the Xbox’s soulsborne games could have featured on this list, but Dark Souls III takes the cake for being the most accessible of the three for new players due to its more linear design and fairly forgiving first hour.
1 Devil May Cry 5
The Devil May Cry franchise is one of the few hack and slash franchises that can compete with God of War in terms of its critical acclaim and commercial success. The series was initially a PlayStation exclusive, and the first game, which was original planned as a new Resident Evil game, is one of the PlayStation 2’s highest-rated games on Metacritic with a whopping mark of 94.
Devil May Cry 5 initially hit stores in 2019 and is now considered by many to be the best release since the original title.