As we do every year, today we're here with our thoughts on the E3 Press Conferences. Today we're grading the E3 press conference for Microsoft. This was a big year for Microsoft and their Xbox division. With their announcement of the Xbox X and a huge launch window lineup, what did our editors think of it?
We Need New Ideas Instead of Technology
Xbox One X might be a ferocious little beast but people didn’t exactly flock out to buy PS4 Pro either. Sure, X is more powerful than Sony’s upgrade but with a price tag of 500 bucks I think the most customers really don’t care. It’s not the resolution that makes games great. It’s the ideas. Most of the games on display relied more on an improved technology than innovation. On a plus side, Microsoft finally managed to give release dates for the titles they’ve been showing for a last few shows. Single-handedly the most inspiring thing for me though was the announced backwards compatibility for the original Xbox games. There were some really great titles at the time (and they are still on my shelf!) and I can’t wait to get to play them again! The sole reason I stayed awake to the very last minutes of the awkward show (time difference is killing me!) was BioWare’s Anthem. I expected more than a co-op shooter and it doesn’t look exactly original either.
Everyone Needs a Destiny
So... Anthem is really just Bioware’s Destiny. It made a certain amount of sense that it showed up as kind of the big thing at the MS presser, as Destiny seems fully invested in Playstation the way last generation’s Call of Duty wasn’t. I am a bit disappointed that the next big offering from my favorite RPG studio is as multiplayer focused as Anthem looks to be, but I also recognize the shifting sands of the game industry, and if anyone can fix the story issue that Destiny had, it’s Bioware. Also, The Xbox One X is both beautiful in its simplicity and totally dumb at the same time, name wise. Plus Crackdown 3 looks a whole lot like just more Crackdown then I wanted it too.
It’s a bit difficult to place a definitive ruling over Microsoft’s presentation this year. If you care about games, there was quite a bit there worth getting excited about. There were a bevy of indie titles, including an announcement for a sequel to Ori and the Blind Forest. We got our first looks at Metro: Exodus, Assassin’s Creed: Origins, and the incredible-looking Anthem, from Bioware. When it came to exclusives, however, the Xbox presentation was sorely lacking. That is if you could tell what was exclusive amidst all of the ambiguous “Console Launch Exclusive” tags. Nevertheless, let’s look at the sure-things: Forza Motorsport 7, State of Decay 2, Sea of Thieves, Crackdown 3 and Cuphead. There are legitimate reasons to be pumped for every single one of these games, but we’ve known about them for quite some time. If you went into Microsoft’s presentation hoping for big, brand-new, triple-A games and earth-shattering exclusives, you most likely left disappointed. Now, it’s not all doom and gloom. Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds will be making its way to the Xbox, exclusively. They also announced that they will be extending backwards-compatibility to the OG Xbox. These announcements, however, were relatively innocuous when you consider that Microsoft was supposed to be selling consumers on brand new hardware: The Xbox One X. For $500. Ouch. Make no mistake, every game showed today looked absolutely gorgeous, but Microsoft failed to demonstrate, in precise terms, what exactly the Xbox One X will be offering gamers. Certainly not exclusives, at least not this year. Unfortunately, a bunch of WORLD PREMIERE trailers for what will inevitably be multi-platform games aren’t the best way to push a new a console. It may have been a good presentation for games, but if Microsoft was earnestly attempting to sell the Xbox One X, they failed.
Ok, so they of start off with showing the raw POWER of the new Xbox One X (terrible name by the way. What was wrong with Scorpio) with the teraflops and what not. Then they got straight to the games which are almost always available on the PC as well. This was the problematic yet charming part of this conference. If you wanted to sell me a Xbox, you have failed. Miserably. If however you wanted to show some cool games, hoo boy WAS THIS A JOLLY EVENT FOR ME.
Right out the gate we got hit by Metro: Exodus. How did this even not get leaked?! After that was Assassin’s Creed: Origins. I do realize that some people are really excited about this game but let's be honest with ourselves here, we knew that the game was taking place in Egypt for 2 years now, before Syndicate got launched.
For me the best part of the show was without a doubt DRAGON BALL FIGHTER Z. I knew the leaks but it still caught me off guard and it looks beautiful. We also got Sea of Thieves which looks pretty fun, The Last Night which looks to be a great appetizer while we wait for Cyberpunk 2077. We also finally got a release date for Cuphead (29 September, I already preordered it on steam)
However, the biggest problem this show had was a lack of first party exclusives. The absence of Scalebound really shows, the only true first party titles were Sea Of Thieves and Crackdown 3 which looks cool but Terry Crews isn't enough to sell me on it.
To wrap it up: Some great games, not a lot of reasons to buy an Xbox One let alone a an Xbox One X. I currently have a PS4 and a PC. I also plan on getting a Switch. I don't really see myself missing out on a whole lot.
P.S: Just what in the world was up with that multiplayer game with the weird announcer?
P.S 2: With this much talk about the POWER of the Xbox One X, I expected Kanye West to show up sometime in the conference. I mean if they can get Usher, why not him?
Microsoft on Autopilot
If the PS4 Pro had a 4K Blu-Ray drive, I wouldn't even think about buying an Xbox One X. Not after that. Speaking as someone who has an original Xbox One, I was very excited to see how the new iteration would improve new and older games. This is something, almost as much as truly exclusive games, that Microsoft really needed to show us. The lack of both just took my hype away as soon as I factored in logic and reason. Yes, the console is sleek, and yes, I'm sure the games will look great despite their lack of comparisons here, but with Halo 6 nowhere in sight and Sea of Thieves being an MMO (much better on PC by their nature), there was literally nothing that even struck me as, “Wow, this would be so amazing on my TV that I’m getting this for Xbox instead of my PC,” let alone anything that - again - was actually console-exclusive.
Microsoft had one thing, one single thing at the conference that had any spark of E3 inspiration: the announcement that Xbox One will be able to play original Xbox games. Yes, it was lazily delivered, with a single Xbox logo and nothings else, but it was completely out of left field and entirely welcome. That announcement, along with a competent showing from the pseudo-exclusives, are what saved this from being an outright poor showing.
A Mixed Bag
Microsoft began its conference, as expected, with the official introduction of the Xbox One X, and though the rest of the conference was focused on highlighting the new console, only a few of the games actually showcased the new hardware. After that initial reveal, Microsoft spent the remainder of the show hitting us with a barrage of games, both brand new and some we’ve seen before. Forza did a good job of showing the capabilities of the Xbox One X, but then there were announcements like Minecraft in 4K, which was both confusing and laughable. Assassin’s Creed Origins was another announcement I was excited for once it was leaked the game would take place in ancient Egypt, and it didn’t disappoint…for the most part. My hope is that Ubisoft takes Origins deeper into the fantasy and mythology only hinted in previous games, and makes Egyptian mythology a key component to both gameplay and story. The other two new games that grabbed my attention were the new Metro game and Anthem. My biggest concern with the Metro: Exodus trailer was how scripted it felt, leading me to believe the game could look much different by the time its launch rolls around. Anthem, on the other hand, gave a more open look at gameplay, and though I’ve already seen complaints it will be too similar to Destiny, it looked fresh enough to keep my attention and get me hyped to see more of it. Overall, Microsoft showed us game after game, and many of them seemed genuinely interesting, but they failed to sell me on the added benefits of the Xbox One X by showing too many games that merely have unspecified “enhancements.”
Kept My Attention
Microsoft’s press conferences tend to follow a tired formula of shooters, sports, and racing games, so I was pleasantly surprised to see a diverse lineup of (timed) “exclusives” and “world premieres.” There were some genuine surprises, particularly the Life is Strange prequel that I’m now extremely excited about. I was also surprised to see things like Dragon Ball Z Fighter Z, The Artful Escape, Super Lucky’s Tale, and the gorgeous new Ori game. One of the biggest points was the unveiling and price point of Xbox One X. Name jokes aside, I think it will be a decent console, and backwards compatibility with Xbox 1 (seriously, these names…) is icing. Although I think a lot of the new games should please Microsoft fans, there was little to convince me to want the Xbox One X. At least conference-wise, the show kept my attention for nearly two hours, which is a definite point for Microsoft.
A Lackluster Showcase
Microsoft came out the gate showcasing the Project Scorpio now with an official name of Xbox One X. I've been anticipating this since last year's E3 and I'm rather impressed by it on paper. The $499 price tag matches what the Xbox One cost at launch and is honestly a good deal given the hardware inside of it. Forza Motorsport 7 was used to show power of the Xbox One X and as expected it looks phenomenal. The conference fell flat for me in the exclusive games department however. While I'm excited for games such as State of Decay 2, Crackdown 3 and especially Ori and the Will of the Wisp, I felt the first party support was lacking which may make people think twice before they purchase an Xbox One X. Third party games like Metro: Exodus and Anthem were definitely the highlights of the show. Backwards compatibility for original Xbox games was also announced, but outside of Crimson Skies we don't really know what to expect from the service. MS continued to show love to indie developers which I appreciate, but there lack of AAA exclusives during this conference was disappointing.
A Few Nice Surprises
Microsoft didn’t blow me away, but the E3 presentation for 2017 was absolutely solid and filled with a good amount of new reveals and updates alike. We had a lot of AAA title reveals like Forza Motorsport 7 and Assassin’s Creed Origins that didn’t really strike me as important or unique, but the real issue with Microsoft’s presentation was the reveal of Project Scorpio, or the Xbox One X. It’s everything we expected it to be: a powerful console unlike any other. The past few years, Microsoft seemed to play it out like it was going to be a big and important step into the next generation of gaming, but it’s simply just the answer to Sony’s Playstation 4 Pro at the expensive price of $499. Thankfully they announced that the Xbox One S will be getting a price drop, but there is still no reason to buy an Xbox One if you have a competent gaming PC as almost every game mentioned during the conference is also available on Windows 10. There were some really cool games like Ashen, Dragon Ball FighterZ, and Metro Exodus that particularly made me excited for the future. Minecraft made a comeback, as it does every year, but I feel that they’re definitely going for a much better approach; it will be cross-platform across all systems. We also got some updates on Sea of Thieves and some more information on the new Bioware IP titled Anthem. I felt a bit disappointed with the project as it just seemed like Bioware’s attempt at cashing in on the multiplayer success that was Destiny, but who knows? The biggest piece of information in the conference was Microsoft’s viewpoint on backwards compatibility. We will be getting original Xbox titles in some form or fashion on the Xbox One, and that’s absolutely a brilliant idea. Ultimately though, their attempt at making the Xbox One X seem important was a huge failure. It almost seems like they don’t even care about selling units at this point. Take note, Microsoft: nobody will buy your hardware if they already have a device that will play the games you’re boasting for it.
EXCLUSIVE WORLD EXCLUSIVE PREMIERE EXCLUSIVE
I came to Microsoft’s E3 presentation for a specific reason: I needed them to give me a good reason to keep playing games on my Xbox One. With the exception of Everspace and a few rounds of Garden Warfare 2, I haven’t seriously played games on the machine for what feels like months. As expected, a good chunk of the time was dedicated to sell me on the new Xbox One X but because I don’t own a 4K TV (or need one at this stage), I spent this part of the show taking a cat nap. If I didn’t own the console I might feel differently--until I saw the $499 price tag. Ouch.
Thankfully, the rest of the show focused on games. Strangely enough, I thought it weird how the energy seemed to drop exponentially after each reveal. The conference felt front loaded with the heavy hitters with the reveal of a new Metro game (woo!), a very pretty Forza, and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds. Assassin’s Creed: Origins got me excited to return to the series and see what a year off for Ubisoft looks like. Dragonball Fighter Z had me intrigued with how well it captures the llshow’s iconic visuals. As time went on, I found myself reacting to game announcements with “that’s cool, but…”. Terry Crews made me excited for Crackdown 3 but I want to see more of the game than a highlight reel. It was nice to see Cuphead have a release date but I’ll believe it when I’m playing it on the console. While I’m certainly down for more Life Is Strange, I’m concerned that the game is not being developed by DONTNOD. Sea of Thieves could be real fun but I wish it was a single player adventure.
By the end of the show, the air seemed to be sucked out of the room with the majority of the applause coming from the company men and women sitting closest to the stage. Ultimately, there was nothing that made me shout “wow!” while scrambling to pull out pre-order dollars from my wallet. I’m feeling a little bummed out here, Microsoft.
I'm the Owner & Editor in Chief of Darkstation.com. After spending seven years as the reviews editor I took over the site in 2010. The rest is history. Now I work with our amazing staff to try and bring you the best possible video game coverage. Oh and I really like sports games.