From the beginning to the end of the Microsoft conference, “True 4K” and “Open dynamic worlds” definitely were prevalent themes, especially as the conference began with Microsoft selling the Xbox One X, “the most powerful gaming console to date”. Though these are great features to big up a game, vast and enjoyable games are needed to sell that £430 price tag. Does Microsoft deliver? Not particularly.
As stated, the conference begins with technical readout of Xbox One Scorpio, now known as the Xbox One X. Technical details are impressive, but they need to expand on their game library if they expect people to spend £430 on the console. So the first thing Microsoft shows off after the Xbox One X? The new Porsche 911 GT2 RS. Not really something I can play with my Xbox.
This new supercar reveal goes hand-in-hand with a reveal for Forza Motorsport 7. And while I’m sure racing game fans might get something out of it, it looks as if it’s the 7th Forza Motorsport game. Nothing really original and not something to convince people to buy the game let alone a new console for “The True 4k Experience!”
Unfortunately, the conference doesn’t really go up from here. Credit to Microsoft, a lot of games are announced for this year’s E3. However, a lot of these are minor games that we’ve all probably seen before. Another staple MOBA, another simple platformer, another zombie game, another announcement for Minecraft. While this announcement is actually interesting, cross-platform gameplay (i.e. no matter the console you can play with anyone) which is great, and I hope more companies follow suit, however I’m just surprised people still play Minecraft.
Even games which should have been heavy hitters failed to really generate massive interest. Assassins Creed Origins really caught my eye with the new Ancient Egyptian setting, something which hasn’t been explored much in games as of late. But once the gameplay started, I’m suddenly reminded that this is another in a mountain of Assassins Creed games, and almost all interest in lost. Despite this, this is one of the few games I may keep my eye on in the coming months.
Another game which should have been a heavy hitter is Crackdown 3. Crackdown was originally released a decade ago to positive reception, and, while the second game wasn’t as well received, it was still a lot of fun. Crackdown’s main feats where the Open City gameplay and the ability to improve in every aspect as you progressed and is an exclusive to Microsoft, the original even including a beta to Halo 3. So what really surprised me is that we only got a trailer mid-way through the presentation. And while the trailer did include Terry Crews, who I can never get enough of, as an exclusive to Xbox, this is a game Microsoft really should have pushed and it was a mistake on their behalf not to.
On the topic of Halo, Halo was noticeably absent from this year’s conference. Halo 5 is nearly 2 years old, and Halo is almost definitely Microsoft’s flagship exclusive. When someone says ‘Microsoft Exclusive’, you almost definitely think of Halo as your first choice. So to not even get a teaser, or even a name drop, it just stands as another mistake from Microsoft, if they’re really trying to sell their console later this year.
Though it’s not all doom and gloom for Microsoft, as there definitely were some gems scattered throughout. First of all, there was the Dragonball Z fighting game (very cleverly named Dragonball Fighter Z…). Looking very fluid and well animated, while also sporting fast paced fighting action akin to Marvel vs Capcom, this is a game I almost certainly will be picking up. And not just because I’m a raging Dragonball fan.
Another great looking game is Rare’s Sea of Thieves. As I mentioned in a previous article “Top Five Games to Look Forward to in 2017”, Sea of Thieves is a cooperative based game, where you and your friends explore the world in search of treasure, solving riddles and fighting other players in Ship-to-Ship combat. Other companies should really learn from Rare, as the most enjoyable part of most gaming experiences is the cooperative aspect.
And almost best for last, Bioware unveiled their new game, Anthem. Anthem is a 3rd person shooter, where each player is given a fully customisable exo-gear to explore and fight with. These exo-gears are customisable both with aesthetics, firepower, and abilities such as flight. Not much was shown, other than showing off different abilities to unleash carnage on enemies (which is always just a load of fun) as well as cooperative gameplay and flying around a big open world. Definitely one of the most exciting games to be shown off and with a big name like Bioware developing the game, Anthem is definitely going to have to live up to big expectations.
But with that said, Microsoft ultimately fell short on selling their Xbox One X, which was their ultimate goal for this E3. New games for the system will be full 4K, and those without a 4K TV will still see games upscale and running fully smoothly. However, they just don’t have a strong library to back their console up, unlike their competitors Sony and Nintendo, so there’s no reason to spend nearly £500 for an improved Xbox One. And for the love of God, it’s not 2007. “Open dynamic world” IS NOT a selling point anymore.
You can read our full coverage of E3 2017 here.