- Microsoft’s original Xbox had a diverse library of tough, challenging games across different genres.
offered players difficult quests and combat.
Popular exclusives like
Halo: Combat Evolved
provided intense, challenging firefights against Covenant forces.
When Microsoft entered the console market with the launch of the original Xbox, they were able to have a hand in publishing some of its best titles. Yet many of them, like its competitors during the sixth generation of consoles, were designed to target an older, more mature audience of teens and young adults, rather than the “kids” who were supposedly the biggest gamers out there. These were games that attempted to change what had come before, by being not just more grown up, but tougher.
The 20 Best Exclusives On The Original Xbox, Ranked
The Xbox brand may be struggling for exclusives, but Microsoft did not always have such a limit line-up. Just look at the original Xbox’s games!
As a result, Microsoft published games across a wide variety of different genres. Racing games, fighting games, RPGs and many other genres were represented by Microsoft, and many of them can be quite tough. From the harsh edge of the Halo: Combat Evolved campaign, all the way to how surprisingly difficult Fable could be, the library of the original Xbox was anything but ordinary, something evidenced by these tough and challenging experiences.
GameFAQs Difficulty Rating: 2.80/5
- September 14, 2004
- Action RPG
Fable was one of the Xbox’s greatest games, spawning two sequels with a franchise reboot on the way. But for all of its whimsy and comedic charm, Fable is a surprisingly difficult game at times and can be quite trying for players during some of its later quests.
As the Hero of Oakvale, players travel across the world of Albion and fight numerous creatures, beasts, and humans. The main quest line of Fable is a great example of building difficulty over time, with the infiltration of the Twinblade bandit camp and the final confrontation with Jack of Blades being some of the game’s toughest challenges.
GameFAQs Difficulty Ranking: 2.93/5
- July 20, 2004
- Climax Group
Sudeki was originally planned for both the Dreamcast and the PlayStation 2, but a series of delays brought it to the attention of Microsoft. This Xbox exclusive action RPG is built around four distinct characters, featuring a swordsman, a sorceress, a hunter, and a gun-wielding fighter.
With a robust leveling system and a world brimming with danger, Sudeki challenges the player to learn all the characters and how best to utilize them. As with most great RPGs, the battles get bigger and more challenging over time. Sudeki is one of the most overlooked games on the platform, but also one of its most rewarding in terms of its difficulty and its ability to challenge the player.
6 Jade Empire
GameFAQs Difficulty Ranking: 3.0/5
- April 12, 2005
- Action RPG
Although Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic was a runaway hit and one of the best reviewed games of 2003, BioWare opted to hand the sequel duties off to Obsidian and chose to create an entirely new IP for their next project called Jade Empire. Influenced by Chinese myology and wuxia, Jade Empire is a tough action RPG based around hand-to-hand combat.
10 Hardest Xbox RPGs, Ranked
With the extensive backwards compatibility of the Xbox Series X/S, players can experience many difficult RPGs that will test their skills.
Plenty of RPGs from this era were built around guns or fantasy settings, but Jade Empire intended to put players right in the middle of Chinese mythology. Like so many of BioWare’s efforts, it’s a game that has a heavy focus on a wide swathe of different enemies and challenges to face. From humans to monsters and creatures, they all offer a great variety of different and unique challenges.
5 Shenmue 2
GameFAQs Difficulty Ranking: 3.09/5
- November 23, 2001
Seeking some big time exclusives for their new console, Microsoft published the Xbox version of Shenmue 2, as the Dreamcast version never made it out of Japan. While the first Shenmue focused on Ryo’s ongoing struggle inside the village of Yokusuka, the second game expanded the locations to an urban city known as Kowloon and upped the level of difficulty significantly from the first game.
Shenmue 2 features a larger number of high-energy chase scenes, one of the best aspects of the first game. With a larger play area, Shenmue 2 benefits by increasing the scale of these sequences and adds in tougher hand-to-hand fights than the first game had.
4 Halo: Combat Evolved
GameFAQs Difficulty Ranking: 3.18/5
Halo: Combat Evolved
- November 15, 2001
As one of the first big Xbox exclusives for the console, Halo: Combat Evolved had to make a good first impression. One area where Halo succeeded was in its campaign, set across ten levels and featuring brutal firefights against the Covenant forces. Halo didn’t just accomplish its goals, it demolished them with some of the toughest encounters that the console saw over its lifespan.
Every Halo Game, Ranked According To Difficulty
The Halo games differ massively in their difficulties, but a few of them are downright brutal and very unforgiving.
While Master Chief’s eternal conflict with the Covenant made for its most compelling and challenging fights, the battles against the Flood also rank pretty high on the difficulty scale. Just a mere mention of the library level is enough to stir up memories of Halo’s toughest level, just one of the many in this stone-cold classic.
3 Halo 2
GameFAQs Difficulty Ranking: 3.19/5
- September 4, 2004
The two-year wait for Halo 2 lasted for what felt like a lifetime, but it resulted in one of the best sequels of all time and one of the original Xbox’s greatest games. Halo 2 took every aspect of the first game and sought ways to either fix or improve it, not the least of which was the difficulty.
Enemies in Halo 2 feel faster and more direct, aggressively pursuing Master Chief and finding ways to make the player’s life tougher in every single level. The Flood also return, in one of the game’s toughest missions set aboard the Delta Halo, known as Installation 05.
2 Forza Motorsport
GameFAQs Difficulty Ranking: 3.43/5
- May 3, 2005
Among the variety of genres that the original Xbox explored, perhaps one of its most undervalued was the racing genre. Forza Motorsport is not only one of the greatest racing games ever made, it’s also one of the most challenging and difficult to master.
7 Best Xbox 360 Racing Games, Ranked
The Xbox 360 was home to some incredibly fun, fast paced, and unique racing games, and these were among some of the best.
While arcade-style racing was massively popular during this time, Forza opted to go more into the realm of simulation. While other racers were keen on challenging the player in some sort of game-focused way, Forza put a focus on simulating the challenges and hurdles of actual racing. The phrase “easy to learn, difficult to master” immediately comes to mind regarding Forza.
1 Project Gotham Racing
GameFAQs Difficulty Ranking: 3.43/5
Project Gotham Racing
- November 9, 2001
- Bizarre Creations
What began as a racing series on the Dreamcast, Project Gotham Racing was a launch title for the Xbox and showcased exactly what the machine was planning to bring during this generation. This richly-detailed, high-octane racer put an emphasis on four cities with a fantastic selection of tracks.
Project Gotham Racing features tracks set in San Francisco, New York City, London, and Tokyo. As players achieve better times and earn more kudos points for more daring and tricky moves, new tracks become available. The progression is great, requiring the player to learn the ins and outs in order to get the most out of the game.
7 Hardest Xbox Achievements Of All Time
Xbox Achievements should always provide a decent challenge for the player to complete, but these ones went a little overboard in their difficulty.