Our favorite launch titles for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One

Bought a new console? These are the only launch games worth paying attention to.

Next gen is upon us

Mmm, smell that? That's the nice chemical smell of brand-new hardware.

But what are you going to do with that new hardware? You can get only so much enjoyment out of playing with the packaging materials the console came in, and screwing around with the user interface? That's maybe five minutes of fun, tops.

Nope, whether you picked up an Xbox One or a PlayStation 4, you'd better buy a game or two. Preferably one of the ones in this slideshow. They're not all great, but hey, they're the best launch titles you're going to get for another eight years or so.

Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag

It's not truly a next-gen game, but Assassin's Creed IV might be your best bet when it comes to big-budget launch titles.

Take command of Edward Kenway and pilot your ship around the Caribbean during the Golden Age of Piracy. Oh, and you'll probably assassinate a few people, too.

While Assassin's Creed III was a letdown, this sequel is a return to form for the series, and those waves look mighty pretty on the new hardware.

Battlefield 4

For years the Battlefield series has been powering ahead with better graphics, bigger maps, and crazier destruction on the PC—consoles be damned.

With Battlefield 4 on next-gen consoles, platform parity is a lot closer than it has been in the past. Console players can finally enjoy 64-person multiplayer matches, and the graphics are a major step up. You're still going to get the best experience on a decent PC, however.

Divekick (PS4 only)

Divekick is a fighting game played with only two buttons. One button makes you jump. The other makes you kick.

It's also one of the best games to break out at a party. It's silly and frenetic, and easy enough for anyone to pick up and play.

Sure, it's not going to wow you with its graphics, but at least it's more fun than Ryse.

Sound Shapes (PS4 only)

Sound Shapes is already more than a year old, but if you missed it the first time around, you should strongly consider picking it up for the PS4.

Sound Shapes is a platformer, but each stage is crafted around a piece of music. Every item you encounter contributes another piece of the music—maybe a hi-hat or a synth note—until at the end you're left with a full piece of music, including a soundtrack by artists like Deadmaus and Beck. It's brilliant, and with a year's worth of community-created levels already available, you'll have plenty to play with.

Forza 5 (Xbox One only)

It wouldn't be a new console generation without pretty driving games to ogle. Go ahead, look at that car. Take this napkin—wipe the drool off your chin.

This latest entry in the Xbox-exclusive Forza series also takes advantage of Microsoft's cloud-computing power to replace generic AI opponents with customized “drivatars”—AI opponents who emulate your friends' driving behaviors. We hope your friends are nicer than ours are.

Need for Speed: Rivals

The second half of this year's driving one-two punch (though not the lesser half, by any means), Need for Speed: Rivals puts its own twist on online playing.

Using a system called AllDrive, NFS: Rivals can seamlessly transition from solo to multiplayer gameplay. And then your friends can seamlessly crash into your car and mock you.

This is the future that next-gen hath wrought.

Dead Rising 3 (Xbox One only)

So you want a decent big-budget game that's made solely for next-gen platforms, and you want it now? Well, on the Xbox, this is it.

That's not meant to be dismissive. While Dead Rising 3 isn't exactly shaking up the Dead Rising formula, it's certainly another good entry in the series. It’s easily worth the entry price if you're pining for something to play on that new console.

Killzone: Shadow Fall (PS4 only)

If you're picking up a PS4 and you want that “next-gen” title, unfortunately this is your best bet.

Listen, Killzone: Shadow Fall probably isn't going to astound you. It's just a competent shooter that looks pretty. If you're picking up that PS4, though, you don't have many options for big-budget exclusive games right now. Call it the “Stockholm launch syndrome.” Remember Perfect Dark Zero?

Resogun (PS4 only)

Now this is quality. Who knew that the standout PS4 launch game would be a downloadable title? Shows how far that segment has come in the span of a console generation.

Resogun is a side-scrolling shoot-’em-up that hearkens back to the old days. Fly your ship around, shooting everything in sight. And keep moving, or you're dead.

Rinse. Repeat. This is a great twitch-based game, and all those fancy particle effects make a good case for the new hardware.

Killer Instinct (Xbox One only)

Killer Instinct is one of those legendary titles. Developed by Rare in the ’90s, it gained a cult following and has been on many people's “most-wanted sequels” list for nearly two decades.

Well, here you go. Killer Instinct is still a fast-paced, flashy, over-the-top fighting game. You can test it out for free, though you'll be limited to one character.

C-C-C-C-Combo Breaker!

Zoo Tycoon - Xbox One only

You get to pet the animals using Kinect.

What else do you need to know about Zoo Tycoon?

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