Statistically, the most played video games in history are released by Microsoft. That’s because those titles include Minesweeper, Pinball, Solitaire, and Hearts that even your grandparents must have played. Within the gaming community, however, the Windows Store does not enjoy the same reputation as Steam, Play Store or App Store. However, Microsoft has been making games for over 2 decades now. The most popular of which are Age of Empires, Halo, Forza and Gears of War. Three of which you cannot play anywhere outside of an Xbox console or Windows PC. Some major titles do come out on the Windows Store, but are sometimes more problematic than their releases on other stores with problems like Cuphead not saving. That said, Windows Store gives you free previews (trial versions) of games that you can play for a few days before deciding if you want to buy it. This feature is sorely missing on all the other platforms. These are the five best games in the Windows Store.
Gears of War 4 (Offers Free Trial)
Gears of War 4 follows a zig zag release cycle. The first one came out for both the Xbox 360 and PC. The second and third were Xbox 360 exclusives and now, 6 years later, Gears of War 4 is available on both Xbox One and Windows 10. Unlike some of the other titles mentioned in this article, this one will not be available for purchase from other online stores like Steam, or GOG, etc.
Gears of War is a third person shooter in which you play Marcus Fenix, a towering hunk of beef in man form who leads the Coalition of Ordered Governments army (COG, because you can never be too on the nose) and some other players against an alien horde dubbed “The Swarm” armed with the series’ signature Chain Gun (a machine gun with a chainsaw attachment) that you use to cut through hoards of aliens. Aliens invasions are not exactly a novel idea in gaming, but people have always gravitated towards the gore, gameplay and increasingly interesting story line of the franchise.
The series is like Call of Duty, the popularity of the first one made people choose between platforms and the sequels have built on that premise. The graphics are gorgeous, the gameplay is fun and the entire franchise has a nice story that compels you to care about the characters over time.
Forza Motorsport 7
Forza Motorsport 7 is part of another series that had not seen the face of PC gaming until October 2017. It was one of those few exclusive titles that encouraged people to select Xbox over PlayStation. Today, however, Forza Motorsport is exclusive to Xbox One and Windows 10 store and on its 7th iteration. The visuals are so life-like that you wonder how they plan on improving over photo realism, yet, they add more detail each time and the cycle of awe runs in a loop.
This is a game aimed at imitating real life vehicles, so it is best played with a supporting rig with a steering wheel input, clutch, paddle and gears. That’s not to say that playing with a standard controller isn’t fun, it’s just meant to be a true petrol-head’s game. Just watch the trailer to see what we mean about the visuals and gameplay.
With 700 cars, Forza Motorsport 7 has the definitive car collection that lets you race almost every known vehicle against each other (trucks, classics, muscle, you name it) that you can expand with DLC car packs (such as Fate of the Furious car pack). It does not feature a story mode, but that is not the aim with this game. It is the continuation of the car racing classics that focus solely on the racing and that experience is more than sufficient with this game series.
Halo Wars 2
Halo Wars 2 is an Xbox and now Windows 10 exclusive that has a massive fan following much like Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto. It is one of the few shooters that chose to remain exclusive to consoles and still thrived. The original Halo came out to PC and was celebrated for its fun multiplayer and engaging story mode. The story mode for Halo is not likely to come to PCs anytime soon (because it does not need to), but Halo Wars 2 takes the idea of Halo as a franchise and takes it to an experimental level by putting it in the seat of a bird’s eye view real-time strategy game like Command and Conquer, Age of Empires (another Microsoft release) etc.
Minecraft For Windows 10
Minecraft is basically LEGO played in first person 3D where you craft each individual box by hand. The game has a bunch of gaming modes that come down to “Survival” and “Creative”. Survival mode is where you go through a story, you build and create and fend off the sporadic onslaught of Zombies, Creepers, Spiders, Witches, and Skeletons by constructing yourself a safe haven. The game has come a long way since its inception where it was as simple block based construction game. You can now create full fledged electronics in it. Some companies have resorted to creating cell phones and cell towers that actually make video calls. Not only that, this game has launched careers of gamers all across YouTube as well. The major difference between the public release and the Windows 10 release is that it also features Pocket Edition and Xbox features such as controller support, touch screen support and traditional keyboard and mouse support.
Age of Empires Castle Siege
Age of Empires (Castle Siege) is Windows answer to Clash of Clans. However, with the franchising power of Age of Empires, we are given a preview of a game called Castle Siege. Like Clash of Clans , you have to build your bases, lay siege to other castles and defend yourself. The graphics are more in alignment with the target genre than their Age of Empires roots. If you like these kinds of games, you’re not going to be disappointed by this one either.
Middle-Earth Shadow of War
Middle-Earth Shadow of War is likely going to go on sale on Steam long before it experiences any price change on the Windows Store. If your college or university has prevented access to Steam, you can get your hands on Shadow of War via the Windows store. The game is a brilliant franchise that is also, somehow, the plight of gamers around the world. You can buy loot boxes to bolster your in-game experience, which is akin to buying cheats. This is more noticeable when you are playing online. You can raid other players’ forts in first person mode (and they can similarly defend it). This does not mar the single player story that has plenty to offer gamers.
Even though you can play titles like Cuphead, the Windows Store is not exactly a masterclass in intelligent design. We had to Google the above shared links because the Windows Store doesn’t give you a direct link. Some games, like Cuphead, had problems in the store at launch. Windows store is not our first choice for gaming, but it is a choice when all else fails. Again, free preview is quite the money saver when you are not sure about the game.