The eighth generation of consoles is in its last legs now, and while we gamers eagerly await the new line up of consoles and games, let’s take a moment to appreciate the gems which made each of the existing consoles that much more special. Here is a list of console exclusive games that justified the existence of their respective platforms. Before we get on with the list though, a few things to keep in mind. Timed exclusives and remasters/remakes do not qualify. So regardless of how good Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice and Shadow of the Colossus were, they do not qualify for this list. However cross-gen games within the same platform will be considered. Also, this list is in no particular order, except that they are covered one platform at a time. So, without further ado let’s get to the list.
Super Mario Odyssey – Nintendo
Decades-old and spanning multiple genres, the Mario franchise is not only one of the most recognised brands in the industry, but also the most consistent. The franchise evolves with each new iteration of the Nintendo hardware while also remaining super fun and addictive to play. Super Mario Odyssey is no different. It is one of, if not, the best game in the series, which is not an easy feat to achieve.
With colourful worlds that are packed to the brim with quirky and minute details, silky smooth animation and perhaps the best spin on New York City EVER, Super Mario Odyssey builds upon the 3D platforming that franchise has excelled at since Mario 64, and adds new and fun mechanics that enhance the gameplay in so many ways, making it a must buy if you own a Switch.
The Legend of Zelda Breath of the wild – Nintendo
Acting as Nintendo’s ace up its sleeve for the release of the Switch, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild absolutely served its purpose. With one of the highest Metacritic score in all of the videogames, standing alongside Super Mario Odyssey, BOTW not only lived up to The Legend of Zelda legacy but also gave us one of the best games in the franchise.
The game was universally praised for its huge scope, great story and gorgeous world. Although the multiple delays during its development raised a few concerns and eyebrows, all doubts were thwarted once the game was released. Consequently, the game played a huge role in the Switch’s immensely successful launch. The sequel couldn’t come soon enough.
Super Smash Bros Ultimate – Nintendo
There’s no doubting the quality of Nintendo’s first-party franchises. And if they are good at one thing, it is iterating on legacy franchises while finding ways to keeps it fresh and fun. With Super Smash Bros Ultimate though, Nintendo took a different route. SSBU took a step back and created something incredible out of it.
Justifying the “Ultimate” in the title, SSBU featured every character that has ever graced the franchise. Throw in a few tweaks to the already stellar gameplay and you have an incredible game in your hands. It is no surprise that the game sold over 3 million copies in the US alone in under two weeks. Developer Masahiro Sakurai’s painful hours spent while being injected with an IV, during the game’s development sure seemed to have paid off.
God of War – PlayStation
Sony is no stranger to creating new and exciting IPs. Like Nintendo, they have a first-party line up that has immense fan bases. But, arguably, their best game this generation comes from a franchise that almost died a few years ago. With the release of God of War: Ascension for the PS3, the franchise had hit a wall. The series had already seen several releases across three different Sony hardware and the ever-angry macho persona of protagonist Kratos started to feel stale. It was imminent that the writing on the wall was already there for the franchise and another game would mean the end of it. Then came God of War 2018 on the PS4.
Taking a whole new spin with an ageing Kratos, who now contemplates the repercussion of his past actions, and venturing the series in a whole new direction, God of War subverted expectations in the best way possible. The game not only breathed new life into the franchise but also gave us one of the most cinematic and story-driven third-person action games yet for the PS4.
Uncharted: A Thief’s End – PlayStation
The God of War franchise may have taken over a decade to get the franchise to the cinematic masterpiece that it is today. But if there is one franchise that set new standards for story-driven action-adventure games back in the PS3 era, it is Uncharted. Uncharted: A Thief’s End not only serves as a swan song to Nathan Drake’s story but is also the best game in the franchise. While it lacked the number of epic moments when compared to, let’s say, Uncharted 2, A Thief’s End, it made up for it with strong story moments.
The addition of Nate’s never-before-mentioned brother Sam was expertly handled. With a quasi-open world approach and a grappling hook throw into the mix, A Thief’s End delivered in spades in the gameplay department too. Few cold-hearted individuals haven’t teared up at the end of the game, which as considered by many was, simply put, perfect.
Spiderman – PlayStation
Superhero games are a tricky business. They have the curse of the being based on a licensed product, something that the industry still struggles with. And they often have the obligatory movie tie-in timeline to adhere to. All of this usually results in a hot mess and rarely does something as amazing as the Arkham franchise come out of it. But Sony pulled a golden rabbit out of its hat with Spiderman. Yet another superhero who has had a hit or miss relationship with videogames. Handing the reigns over to Insomniac, who were a relatively smaller studio to handle a brand like Spiderman, Sony played the game of faith-based on Insomniac’s track record. Needless to say, it was a gamble that paid off handsomely.
Imsomniac’s Spiderman for the PS4 was not only the best Spiderman game made yet but was also widely considered as one of the best stories of Peter Parker and his friends, taking into account all the movies, comics and shows. Featuring a robust skill tree with deep customization, and a swinging mechanic that makes you feel like the hero himself, Spiderman was every fan’s dream game made just right. It’s no wonder that it went on to be one of the fastest-selling PlayStation exclusives yet giving the game a well-earned spot on this list.
Until Dawn – PlayStation
Until Dawn is one of that rare mix of things that come together beautifully and turn into something more than the sum of its parts. The game represents a brand of cheesy horror, complete with a tragic backstory, a bunch of sex-craved adolescent stereotypes, and a secluded cabin, that seems to have been lost in 80s slasher flicks. Wrapping all of the above with gorgeous visuals, and (for its time) great acting, Until Dawn turned out to be a gem of a game.
There were a handful of truly tense moments that kept the players on the edge of their seats. Heck, this game even made QTEs and jump scares fun, which is a feat no one would have thought was achievable. Originally planned for the PS3, Until Dawn finally released on the PS4 to critical acclaim largely due to the game’s self-awareness and its ability to make the most out of it. Still, one of my personal favourite party time games with friends, Until Dawn is a PlayStation exclusive which would be a sin not to have.
Horizon – Zero Dawn – PlayStation
Guerrilla games served up one of PS4’s earliest titles with Killzone: Shadowfall. Little did we know at the time that the studio known almost exclusively for the Killzone franchise was secretly cooking up one of the best new IPs to launch this generation. With Horizon: Zero Dawn, developer Guerrilla games made a game in a genre they had never ventured before and delivered it with finesse and confidence. The game featured an intriguing setting with a rather interesting post-apocalyptic world where fauna is in robot form and exists seamlessly with the flora that overruns the decaying world.
The games robotic wildlife, which comprises of its own versions of animals, ranging from bulls to crocodiles to dinosaurs are a joy to tackle and the game’s main story and side quests have been handled with the utmost care so that the player stays invested throughout its 30 or so hours of run time. Aloy’s adventure has been one worth remembering throughout the PS4’s lifecycle and the fact that this game still holds strong alongside the likes of God of War and Spiderman is a testament to itself. Cannot wait for more Horizon.
Forza Horizon 4 – Microsoft
Let’s be honest. Microsoft has not had the best exclusives with the Xbox One. Although an imminent change is on the horizon, it is safe to say that the company has not been the poster child for stand out games. But the one series that has been consistently delivering stellar iterations is the Forza franchise. Forza Horizon 4, which is available on Xbox One and PC, is arguably one of the best racing games ever.
In a market that has big name studios like Code Masters and Polyphony Digital, who specialise in racing games, Forza Horizon 4 seems to have trumped all its competition with ease. With a plethora of vehicle types to choose from, an ever-changing weather system that alters your track accordingly and a gorgeously rendered English countryside, FH4 is just the tentpole racing game that Microsoft wants to bank on. And it has not disappointed us yet.
Gears 5 – Microsoft
The most recent game in our list also happens to be the big M’s best this generation. Gears 5 takes the Gears of War franchise in new directions and builds on the events and characters set in Gears of War 4 in some very interesting ways. Granted, like Forza Horizon 4, Gears 5 was also released on the PC, but the sheer amount of goodness that cannot be experienced on any other console is too hard to ignore. The butter-smooth cover shooting is the best it has ever been alongside some subtle but very useful gameplay tweaks.
The emphasis on building its characters and some strong story moments make Gears 5, the absolute best in the series. Looking back, it is hard to fathom that this was a series that began its journey being known only for its big hulking characters, and (rightfully so) the lancer chainsaw gun. And I would have never thought that I would have a special place in my heart for Jack the robot. Here’s hoping the franchise continues to grow and keeps its upward trajectory in quality that it so well maintains since the first game.