Check out the trailer for Bioware’s new game, Anthem here. Best thing to come out of the conference in my opinion:
Well all, it’s the middle of June, so you know what that means. E3 is upon us, and with it, scores of game trailers, hardware announcements, and cringey live presentations. While a lot gets showcased at E3, now more than ever, the biggest takeaway every year isn’t what Bethesda has to say or what new indie title is getting showcased, its whether Playstation or Xbox have the better press conference. Why is this? Probably because gaming is centered around the notion of competition, besting an enemy or accomplishment, but whatever the case may be, it’s important to sum up each console’s conference so we know not only who won, but what the climate for gaming is in the upcoming year. So before Sony’s conference tomorrow, without further ado let’s break Xbox’s conference down.
Xbox One Scorpio is now the Xbox One X
Right off the bat, Microsoft started their conference off by announcing that their console, previously nicknamed “Scorpio” was officially coming out this year and is called the Xbox One X. Now, while this name might seem cheesy at first, I actually think this is a smart move from Microsoft, for what they’re going with this console cycle. Rather than taking the typical stance of releasing a new console and killing off the previous one, (RIP WiiU and 3DS) Microsoft decided to create a console family out of the Xbox One generation. The original Xbox One, the Xbox One S, Windows 10 PC’s, and the Xbox One X will be able to play the same games, and not only that, thanks to Play Anywhere you only have to purchase a game digitally once to unlock it for all platforms. What’s the point of purchasing the Xbox One X when Microsoft also announced a $50 price drop to their already sweet Xbox One S console, a smart consumer might ask? Well the point Microsoft kept driving into audience’s brains during the press conference was simple: more power. Xbox One X is the “most powerful console ever made” and although this sounds like a buzzwordy tagline, it’s true. The Xbox One X packs insane power for a console, and is priced at $500. While this may seem like a lot for a console, if you were to look into building a PC with similar specs you’d be looking at the same price range, or more. On top of that, somebody who buys the new Xbox would essentially be future proofing for the long duration I see this console generation enduring. The good news with the One X is that not only will it play all of your existing games and new games in delicious 4k (if the game supports it) but all of your existing hardware (controllers, mics, etc.) will work with the new console. For anyone who had to endure the Wii – WiiU, 360 – One, or PS3 – PS4 upgrade grind, you’ll appreciate that. Last of all, the console is slated to launch November 7 of this year at $500. My impression is that if you’re super into the Xbox platform and care about stats and hardware, this is a great investment to make. If you still like playing on console, but can’t justify spending that much on a console, I would still recommend picking up a One S while its discounted. Either way you’ll be coming out on top. Now, let’s look at what you’ll be playing on these consoles.
Now, a lot premiered at Xbox’s conference. 42 games were showed, half of them being console or Microsoft exclusives. These are what I thought looked genuinely good from what we saw.
First on my list of goodies is Bioware’s new game, Anthem. As a huge Bioware fan, I was really surprised that Mass Effect Andromeda had as many bugs as it did on launch, and even now. I wondered what the studio had been doing for the past years, and I’m kicking myself for not thinking new IP was on the docket. Anthem is going to be a single and multiplayer story driven 3rd person action experience, coming out next Fall. The gameplay and game style immediately summon thoughts of Bungie’s Destiny, and Ubisoft’s The Division, games that are console MMO-lites that let players create and customize characters and then get together with friends and plunge through hours of content grinding for gear and loot. Anthem’s two twists though are that 1) The game centers around players entering Iron Man-esque suits that allow them to traverse terrain and fight monsters and 2) The game allows you to travel through water, land, and sky, giving you a lot of freedom to explore. The graphics look great, the premise has me sold already, and it’s good to see Bioware tackling this genre. I’m really excited for this, and it was definitely game of the show.
This is the other game that has me most hyped. Metro: Exodus is the next addition to the beloved action-horror franchise, based off of Russian novels. Instead of crawling through old metro tunnels and determining the fate of mutant monsters though, the trailer for the new game had us fighting off mutant bears, ziplining above ground, and last of all escaping on a survivalist train of sorts. This game has me excited for multiple reasons. First of which is that the previous Metro games are incredibly solid games, running great, looking great, telling great stories, and just overall being experiences that are worth your time and money. The trailer for this game doesn’t lead me to think this one will be any different. Next, I loved how the trailer for this game started with gameplay that reminds us of the Metro we’re used to. Tight, cramped, dark spaces that are only lit by a dim flashlight. Spider webs that have to be burned away. Suspenseful music that leads into jumpscares. Classic Metro. Then, the game takes you outside, and showcases a whole new experience that looks really exciting. The game is coming a little bit away, but look out for this one, as it won’t disappoint.
Backwards Compatibility w/ Original Xbox
Something of note that Xbox enthusiasts will really enjoy is that Microsoft announced that games from the original Xbox will now be becoming backwards compatible with Xbox One, just as 360 games are. They showcased a personal favorite of mine, Crimson Skies, but we can expect classics like Splinter Cell and KOTOR to make return as well. I personally think this is genius as it allows long time fans like myself to revisit classics from years ago, and new gaming generations to try these classics out again as original consoles and copies are hard to come by. This is also a deeper dig at Sony, who has had a lot of trouble allowing compatibility with their games, and makes up for the DRM loss Xbox suffered a couple years ago.
Some other games were shown today that really got me excited. Cuphead for example was shown, and finally given a solid release date. Crackdown 3 put out a trailer with Terry Crews playing a loudmouthed commander that honestly made me laugh. Ori and the Blind Forest is getting a much welcomed sequel. Life is Strange is releasing 3 prequel chapters that take place before the first game, and there will also be a sequel in the future. Forza 7 is coming out in beautiful graphic fidelity. A really cool looking game, The Last Night also got showcased, looking a lot like a Blade Runner game that we’ve always wanted but never got. Last of all, LOTR: Shadow of Mordor is getting a good looking sequel, as well as a new Dragon Ball Z fighting game is coming out, that looks like Street Fighter on steroids in the best way possible. So many games were shown today, and while most aren’t going to come out for a while, it all looks so good. Well at least most of it.
Although Microsoft had some pretty cool stuff shown today, there was also some things that really didn’t interest me, or honestly disappointed me. Here they are.
Sea of Thieves
Sea of Thieves would get a pass from me if this was the first or second time we had seen this game at a Microsoft press conference. Unfortunately, we’ve seen more of this game than we’ve ever wanted to, and I have to say, it just looks so meh. The art style is cute, but lowers the game to seem more like a medium budget AA title rather than a console selling exclusive. The marketing for this has always been annoying, last year using unknown Let’s Players who loudly and pointlessly yelled at each while showcasing this game, and this year they did an incredibly slow paced and boring gameplay trailer. Every time I see this game, I like it less, as I would probably be down to play a free roam pirate game if it wasn’t shoved down our throats so much.
Assassin’s Creed Origin
While not a bad game, I’m putting the new Assassin’s Creed in this category because I’m so disappointed in it. I really enjoy the concept of doing an Assassin’s Creed game in Egypt, but this is the game we wanted 5 games ago, not now. I feel like Ubisoft really blundered the last few years, staying in regions that were too close together for Assassin’s Creed sales to really succeed at all. Fans were clamoring to go to Egypt or Japan, but instead they gave us a game about Victorian England and Revolutionary France. Way to read the room Ubisoft. I’m also incredibly unimpressed with the animation quality from these games, as always. There’s some cool looking features, like the bow, the pyramids, and the RPG elements, but at the end of the day I think this game is a little too late to save this franchise.
I feel like for every good game that was showed at this conference, two pointless games were as well. State of Decay 2, a cult favorite, got way too much screen time for such an aesthetically unappealing game, that relies on a really niche fan base of zombie lovers. A game called Lucky Tail, a child platformer was showcased as a console exclusive despite having no original design or gameplay features. Pointless MOBA’s nobody cared about and card games only the devout will touch were also announced. While ID at Xbox has allowed some really cool games to shine on the console, allowing indie devs to get a voice they otherwise wouldn’t, I really think the console marketplace has been hurt by the lack of filter and quality of state these games are being released. Also, I’m not a fan of the fact that Microsoft still seems to not understand what sets gamers off at a conference. They started off in such a strong manner when they showcased the One X and Forza 7, but then spent seemingly way too long advertising for the new Porsche and talking about physics that again, only the devout few would play. They also had a really cringey moment when they had a shoutcaster announce for a MOBA game nobody had ever heard of. Twitch chats around the world went wild.
Despite these blunders, I’d say that this Xbox E3 Conference was a positive one. While not as strong as a comeback as last year’s conference, this wasn’t the failure that 2013 and 2014’s were for Xbox. I’m happy with a lot of what I saw, between hardware and games, and I’m so stoked for original Xbox games on my One. Oh nostalgia our best friend. Overall here’s how I’ll score Xbox’s showing:
User Experience: 8/10
Hype Level: 7/10
I really give this conference a solid B. I got excited by a lot but was also disappointed by a few glaring factors. I’m excited for the future of Xbox and will remain a loyal supporter of the platform and a devout hunter of achievements. Check in here tomorrow for a look at the Playstation conference, as I’ll score that one too and that way we can see who the true winner of E3 is for 2017. Let me know what got you excited in the comments below. Let’s be honest, no matter who comes out on top this E3 one thing is true, it’s never a better time to be a gamer than now.