There was a heightened level of anticipation in the air sitting and waiting for the Xbox briefing to begin, we have been waiting for this moment for a year. We know Scorpio is coming, we know games will be announced, but will Microsoft capitalize on the moment knowing that the world’s eyes are on them? The answer is a little complicated and far less clear than it should be. We are going to break down this review into 3 categories:
- What Microsoft did right
- What Microsoft did wrong
- Games of the Show
What Microsoft did right
As to be expected Microsoft started out the show with Scorpio, announcing to the world that their new iterative console will now be known as Xbox One X launching on November 7th. Rightfully dubbed as the “world’s most powerful console”, this premium device showcased world-class engineering from the processor design to the unique cooling system. Microsoft engineers somehow were able to squeeze all that power into a smaller console, ensuring that not only will it enhance all current Xbox One games but it will support all current Xbox One accessories. We have mentioned before that Microsoft didn’t need to spend alot of their briefing time talking about the Xbox One X and they didn’t, they kept it brief and to the point allowing the games to be the highlight of the show.
The briefing was game-centric with 42 games being shown on stage 22 of which had some form of exclusivity, whether timed or Xbox One/ Windows 10 exclusives. Microsoft not only had the briefing broadcast in 4K, they had a huge 4K screen for us at the event to see the games running in this resolution and it was impressive. Allowing the world to see just how detailed and crisp these games can look on these high definition displays can truly showcase what the Xbox One X can do.
In order to their new console to be successful Microsoft needed to show developers utilizing the power of the X and they started with their own. Phil announced that Gears of War, Killer Instinct, Halo Wars 2, and Minecraft were all getting 4K enhancements for their new console. From what we were able to gather most if not all of the games shown were going to be Xbox One X Enhanced and this is a trend that needs to continue if the new console is going to hold its value.
One of the big moments of the briefing is Microsoft announcing original Xbox backwards compatibility. This is a feature that fans have been asking for ever since the Xbox 360 backwards compatibility was announced for the Xbox One. This to me is a big deal, having the ability to play an entire lineage of games from the current generation back to the original has never been done before. This will allow fans to relive classic moments in their favorite games on the same console that can play current generation games. Albert Penello later tweeted that your original Xbox disks will work, digital licenses will carry over and you can system link play across all three generations; this is how backwards is compatibility done right.
What Microsoft Did Wrong
One of the major issues that Microsoft faces is their lack of new exclusive games from their first party developers. An event of this magnitude would have been a prime place to unveil a new IP alongside the X and they failed to take advantage of it. Instead, what was shown was a slew of timed exclusives that won’t really draw any new attention to the brand as most know they can simply play these games elsewhere with a little patience. The X is designed and marketed towards the hardcore, this was clearly stated. With the console being spec’ed as a premium device, we all pretty much expected the hefty $499 price tag. With that being said, we needed to see Microsoft focus on their own developers so that owners of the X know that their purchase of the device will be justified with games that will take full advantage of the power they invested in.
Moving the briefing to Sunday was a way for Microsoft to have their day, and even though they showed an impressive amount of games they did not have any real wow moments. E3 brings briefings from every major console and game developer to be showcased and you have to create and take advantage of the spotlight to set yourself apart from the competition and Microsoft failed in that regard.
Games Of The Show
Out of the 42 games being shown there were a few that stood out above the rest and here are our choices:
- Battlegrounds: Xbox gamers can now get a taste of this wildly popular arena style battle game. This community driven game will take advantage of the Xbox One X and will surely be a hit as the game looks as fun as it is challenging.
- Sea Of Thieves: We have seen and heard a lot about Rare’s new IP Sea of thieves and during Xbox’s event they had one of the longest segments showcasing gameplay. This shared world co-op game showed us a glimpse of the adventures to be had with searching, finding and escaping with treasure. It was an impressive display with some of the most gorgeous water effects I have ever seen in a video game.
- Super Lucky’s Tale: OK, I must admit, we all thought we were getting a new Conker when we saw this cutesy character pop on screen. Instead, we were introduced to Luck’s Tale, a platform game with vivid worlds and beautifully designed levels. This game will add needed diversity of Xbox’s game lineup and is much needed.
- Anthem: There was no game shown during Microsoft’s event as impressive as EA’s new game Anthem. This shared world action RPG stole the show with its impressive visuals, eye-watering action sequences, and co-op gameplay. This game looks like a must own, and we look forward to seeing more about this title as it gets closer to launch.
In closing, Microsoft’s conference was overall fairly well presented. It was packed with games, well paced and showcased a diverse lineup that Xbox One owners are sure to enjoy. But with a lack of new first party games, Microsoft tripped over their own feet by not living up to the hype they helped generate over the past year. Xbox One X is here, the power is there, now Microsft needs to invest in its own games to ensure that those investing in the X are getting their money’s worth.