Art by Brad Beatson
PlayStation 4 and Xbox One have finally hit shelves, and to a wave of positive reception. A frequent complaint, however, among the systems' many reviews is their lacking launch titles. The situation's not so dire, though. For while the launch lineups may have lacked the impact of console cycles past, there's still several solid titles from which to choose. Here's the best next-gen games already here or coming soon.
Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag | PS4 & Xbox One
The Assassin's Creed franchise is synonymous with gaming. Love it or hate it, it's an icon of the industry. And the series' newest, Black Flag, is worthy of carrying the mantle. Turning away from the games' focus on revolutionary periods in history, Black Flag is a tale of good old fashioned piracy, rum and cannons and all. Assassination isn't any less fun in a tropical setting, so this one's a must-buy.
FIFA 14 | PS4 & Xbox One
It was never a secret that the mammoth sports franchises of the current generation would make the jump to next-gen, but the early returns are impressive nonetheless. With improved and constantly updated rosters, revamped physics calculations, and much better multiplayer, FIFA 14 is the latest and greatest in digital soccer, and a no-brainer for any fan of past installments.
Resogun | PS4
Much of the PS4's "triple-A" fell flat, but this indie sidescroller has been called the best day-one game for the system—and for good reason. Running at a gorgeous 1080p/60, the voxel-based (those are square particles, by the way) shoot-'em-up is a celebration of over-the-top graphical effects, old-school charm, and fantastic music. And if you play your cards right, you can probably pick it up for free. Head to the PlayStation Network and see for yourself.
Battlefield 4 | PS4 & Xbox One
The inevitable collision of Call of Duty: Ghosts and the Battlefield 4 left the latter on top, with Ghosts bogged down by frame-rate issues and a generally underwhelming presentation. Battlefield 4 has taken modern first-person shooters to impressive new heights—and then collapsed those heights with the game's dynamic destruction engine. Buildings shatter and terrain shifts as battles advance, which makes the game's massive multiplayer matches all the more visceral.
Forza Motorsport 5 | Xbox One
Filling the void of online-racer Driveclub's last-minute delay (stay strong until 2014, PS4 owners) is Forza 5, developer Turn 10's next-gen poster child. With wonderfully realized AI based on the performance of actual professional drivers, this racer delivers a true next-gen experience. Oh, and the extensive list of painstakingly recreated cars is nice, too.
NBA 2K14 | PS4 & Xbox One
Obeying the trend set by FIFA, the newest NBA 2K is unquestionably the series' strongest. Virtually every player has been created with the help of detailed facial scanning, and the court looks all the livelier as a result. With graphics that take full advantage of the advanced processors of both next-gen systems and greatly expanded online content through the likes of MyCareer and The Park, NBA 2K14 is the best basketball gaming has to offer.
Warframe | PS4
From Halo-developer Bungie's Destiny to Ubisoft's ambitious The Division, the PS4/XOne universe is sure to be rife with online shooters. Warframe, an early entrant to that field with a solid PC history already under its belt, is ready to make itself known to console gamers. It's unique mix of melee combat and three-dimensional mobility has put a refreshing spin on space-themed shooting.
Killzone: Shadow Fall | PS4
Developer Guerrilla Games has brought the Killzone franchise to PS4 (and only PS4) in a big way with Shadow Fall. From its impressive use of the new platform to its brilliant multiplayer ecosystem, this FPS has more than earned its place as a day-one PS4 title.
Infamous: Second Son | PS4 (in-progress)
Sony is gunning hard with PS4 exclusives already, and the currently in-progress sequel to the popular Infamous franchise will be leading the charge come March 2014. A riveting blend of super-powered mayhem and customizable narrative, the Infamous series is a must-own for PS4 gamers.
Oh, and if you're holding off on picking up the system itself, consider the Second Son bundle, which will also hit shelves in March.
Titanfall | Xbox One (in-progress)
Call of Duty's