E3 is here! I’m just not as excited as I feel I should be…
First out of the gate for the platform holders was Microsoft with the Xbox conference, and while there were a number of bigger games announced, I didn’t feel all that wowed.
Introducing The Usual Suspects
Of course, it wouldn’t be an Xbox E3 event without seeing the usual games shown off. Microsoft wasted no time, beginning the show with Halo Infinite, which appears to feature Master Chief on a Halo ring, though there’s little information available at this time. It seems like it might be open-world in nature, given that the area of operation shown in the trailer is extremely large, and the game is being built with an entirely new engine.
Ori and the Will of the Wisps made its debut; another entry in the Ori series. Forza Horizon 4, Gears of War 5, and Crackdown 3 (again) all had their time in the spotlight, showing that Microsoft is unwilling to let their franchises take a breather. Gears of War got some extra attention, with a mobile game (Gears POP!) introduced alongside a strategy game called Gears Tactics which will be a PC exclusive.
To pad out the announcements, Microsoft showed off a ton of third party games we’ve already heard about, like Metro Exodus, PlayerUnknown Battlegrounds updates, Kingdom Hearts III, Fallout 76, Battlefield V, Sea of Thieves updates, Shadow of the Tomb Raider, Cuphead DLC, and We Happy Few.
Then came out the interesting stuff. You’ll have to forgive me if I don’t give a ton of recognition to those games listed above. I have interest in a few, but I don’t watch E3 stuff to learn about things I’ve already heard of; I watch to get new info.
Onto Better Things
Cyberpunk 2077, Devil May Cry 5, Dying Light 2, Jump Force, Just Cause 4, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, Session, Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition, The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit, The Division 2, and Tunic all made their debuts on Xbox’s stage.
Of those, only a few piqued my interest:
Cyberpunk 2077 – Let’s see… A sci-fi adventure, set in the near future, created by one of my favorite developers? I’m sold. Besides, while I’m not getting another adventure with Geralt and Ciri, I’m loving the aesthetic on display and the setting. Did they need to make me wait until the end to show me what I wanted to see though?
Dying Light 2 – I adored the combat and traversal mechanics of the original game. While I feel the story didn’t live up to the potential, namely the lack of tension involved with being actively infected with a zombie disease, I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the game, and I feel that Techland made great strides as a developer by providing some excellent DLC with the season pass.
Just Cause 4 – There’s something about a giant sandbox of explosions and mayhem, which is part of the reason why I adored Just Cause 3. It wasn’t a perfect game, but considering the fact that Avalanche Studios released the third entry so early in this console generation’s life cycle, I feel they performed some admirable work. Plus, I see there might be some weather manipulation in this newest entry!
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice – I have to admit that when I first saw this trailer play, I thought I was watching the premier of a long awaited Tenchu sequel. While I’m admittedly disappointed that Tenchu is still left in the dust of the past, I’m intrigued that From Software is bringing a new experience to the Xbox One, and presumably the PlayStation 4 and PC as well.
Other Big Stuff
Microsoft has acquired a few new developers to gaggle under the umbrella of Microsoft Studios. Joining the ranks of The Coalition, Turn 10 Studios, and 343 Studios will be Compulsion Games, Undead Labs, Ninja Theory, Playground Games, and The Initiative. Sure, Playground Games and Undead Labs have already more or less been part of Microsoft considering they’ve basically been exclusively developing games for the Xbox for years now, but the other studios may be free to bring some unique games to the Xbox library.
Interestingly, Microsoft seems to be doubling-down on the Xbox Game Pass. I love that my membership means that I’ll get to play Forza Horizon 4 without me needing to spend the cash up front. The same goes for Crackdown 3 and Halo Infinite. Given that The Elder Scrolls Online has hit the Game Pass, Jennifer and I might finally give it a shot.
Xbox also will be getting a feature called FastStart for enabled games, which might be delivering on the promise to allow players to start playing games as they download, something that was originally teased at the outset of this console generation but quietly fell by the wayside. By the sound of it, FastStart enabled games will install the core files necessary to run the game first in order to get the player into the action ASAP.
Then there was the announcement that Microsoft is working on a new venture that could bring console streaming to mobile devices, meaning second screen play could be possible for Xbox One gamers finally, and wouldn’t require the purchase of another peripheral to take advantage.
A Good Start
This year’s E3 press event for Xbox was better than the last, but still far from what I’d like to see from my platform of choice. It seems like they’re on the right track now that they’re building up their first-party studios, but I think that’s a long-term investment. I doubt we’ll be seeing any results anytime soon, especially with Phil Spencer hinting at the next generation of Xbox consoles. It’s sadly possible that there won’t be any revolutionary additions to the Xbox first-party franchises until after the next generation of consoles hit.
It was a good conference. Not mind blowing by any means, but a damn fine event nonetheless. Here’s to the next few events, and announcements from the other two console platforms, Nintendo and PlayStation!
Did you catch the Xbox E3 presentation? What did you think of the announcements? What were the hits and misses for you?
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