For the last few years, Microsoft has been struggling to recover from the let down that was the Xbox One launch. Phil Spencer’s team has been working hard to repair the brand’s image in the eyes of fans. The Xbox team brought us a game-heavy conference, a promised commitment to giving gamers the best experience from their Xbox One, and the new most powerful console on the market While not quite perfect, Microsoft came out swinging.
Let’s start with the hardware: Xbox One X (XBOX), formerly known as Project Scorpio, was revealed at the start of the conference, with a beautiful trailer and a smaller, less bland presentation than was previously shown with Sony’s PS4 Pro reveal. They got the key information out relatively quickly, with all but one major point coming out in this opening speech.
The launch date is set for November 7th 2017, just in time for the Christmas period, and a few weeks before Black Friday 2017. The Black Friday sales may be helpful for the more cash-strapped Xbox fans, as XBOX will retail for $499.99, which obtained a quieter cheer from the audience than some of the indie reveals during the conference.
The $499.99 price was squeezed in at the end of the show, with Phil Spencer looking ever nervous as he announced the price. While this is in no way shocking after Geoff Keighley’s tweet before the show, or when considering the beefy hardware packed inside, it is possibly a little too high to drive millions of sales with that price. Especially if the PS4 Pro hits the $349.99 price tag by that point.
With Super sampling and increased performance for all Xbox One titles, it proves useful for those who do not have a 4K television, although those that do will have access to the most powerful console, providing ‘true 4K gaming’.
At the end of the conference, just before the price reveal and possibly to soften the blow of the price, original Xbox backwards compatibility was announced for later in 2017. A fantastic bonus for those who want to play the Original Xbox classics with improved visuals.
Just like the conference itself, it’s time to get past the formalities and into the games. There was 43 games shown at the conference, with 22 being Xbox ‘Exclusives’.
After a boring ‘We have new sponsors’ speech that dragged on for far too long, and ended with the reveal of an actual new Porsche, Forza Motorsport 7 was shown in all its 4k 60fps glory. It looked life-like, showing off the power of Xbox One X, and cementing racing games as the best way to show how beautiful your new console’s games are: We’ve reached the point where real life and virtual cars are now identical.
In another first party addition, Crackdown 3 finally came back. The beautiful trailer showed off the explosive gameplay for which the series is known. The start of the trailer was a Terry Crews monologue, a highlight of the conference. Crackdown 3 is set to launch with the Xbox One X on November 7th.
Sea of Thieves came out with a new trailer, and gameplay footage highlighting what players will actually do in the game, minus the YouTubers from the previous year. Trading, looting, running away from and fighting skeletons, diving into the sea, and attacking enemy ships. This game looks stunning, and had a fun, somewhat sarcastic voice over that helped make this game stand out as a promising title. It’s loaded with the classic Rare charm. Sea of Thieves will release in early 2018 Also, your character can be fired out of a cannon to invade enemy ships. Pirates.
In what could be one of the brightest, happiest moments that E3 2017 will see outside of Nintendo’s conference, 3D platformer Super Lucky’s Tale was announced for release on the 7th November 2017. With the brightly coloured fox bouncing around the screen, collecting coins and digging through the environments, this will arguably be the best way to show off the HDR capabilities of Xbox One X,
In stark contrast to the happiness presented in Super Lucky’s Tale, Ori and The Blind Forests’ sequel Ori and The Will Of The Wisps was announced, to the sound of Gareth Coker’s beautiful Piano rendition by the game’s theme. This game’s art style is a thing of beauty, and will most definitely be a contender for Game of the Year upon it’s release.
Rounding up the rest of the first party announcements, State of Decay 2 got a new trailer, looking very similar to the previous State of Decay, and is set for release in Spring 2018. Cuphead finally got a release date of 29th September 2017. Minecraft announced it will enable a cross-platform marketplace and cross-platform play for PC, Xbox, Nintendo Switch, VR, and Mobile. Mojang also announced the ‘Super Duper Graphics pack’ which will update Minecraft to 4K Graphics. ID@Xbox got a less lengthier than usual showing, with most titles passing too fast to be noted on.
When it comes to third parties, the Microsoft conference really didn’t let up. Starting with the announcement of a new Metro title, Metro: Exodus. The new title in the post-apocalyptic series was announced with a very beautiful trailer, without a single spoken word, choosing to show rather than tell. The environments and lighting looked amazing, although the very scripted experience leaves me concerned in case the final product isn’t as impressive.
Lord of the Rings: Shadow of War had an extended gameplay showing, with the ability to dominate named Orcs and recruit them to your side. Then, taking control of their forces to lead them into battle across a much larger map. The second aspect that was shown was the ability to plan your attack against opposing fortresses, although not too much was shown, it seems clear that you can specify certain leaders to take out different objectives during the battle. Overall, it was a very funny trailer that showed the interesting personality of your generals, as well as your enemies.
After more leaks than the Titanic, Assassin’s Creed Origins got it’s big reveal, showing a gorgeous rendition of Egypt, and new gameplay that looked fantastic. If you liked the flying drones from WatchDogs or Ghost Recon: Wildlands, the Bow and Arrow combat seen in Horizon and Legend of Zelda: Breath of the wild and refined melee combat over other Assassin’s Creed titles, you’ll enjoy this entry a bit more. The one major positive is this game looks better and less rushed than the previous two entries, hopefully proving the year Assassin’s Creed took off was worth it.
For those of you who love the arena style last man standing of Player Unknown Battlegrounds, it will be a console launch exclusive for Xbox One, showing of a gameplay trailer that didn’t look similar to what the game currently looks like on PC, hopefully that will change.
Previously announced at EA Play and revealed today, ANTHEM, the new title from esteemed studio BioWare, got it’s big reveal. A very pretty third person Destiny-like game, with a very interesting world. This game looks like a solid competitor to Destiny, and with BioWare’s (mostly) well told stories, should be a very strong title when it eventually releases.
To round up the rest of the third party titles, there was an announcement for Dragon Ball Fighter Z, an MMO known as Black Desert set release in 2018, 2D platformer The Last Night and The Artful Escape were announced. Other announcements include an August 2nd 2017 release date for Tacoma, Ashen, a seemingly co-op 2 player souls-like and a new Life is Strange entitled Before the Storm with the first episode set to release on August 31st 2017.
Microsoft’s conference is now in the books, like EA Play, and later this evening will be Bethesda’s E3 Conference, followed by Devolver Digital. Stay Tuned to CSG for more news, views and opinions as E3 2017 continues.