Time to run down my reactions to this year’s E3 press conferences, and yeah, time for me to receive my annual internet beating about how I didn’t think Microsoft blew the roof off of the building. Bring it on, I’m ready!
Microsoft’s previous two years at least had something to pique my interest, something salvageable to leave me with the impression that the Xbox One could be a solid purchase before the holiday season was up. Maybe it was ReCore or that Hololens demonstration from E3 2015, but each of the years prior had a standout that helped drag me back in after a mediocre showing
This year had no such game to bring me back into reality, and I was too distracted wondering how much Phil Spencer looks like he should star in a Seth Rogan film to pay attention to the games being revealed.
Microsoft’s show was boring, barebones, very by the books, and nothing here made me want to buy an Xbox One let alone upgrade to the Xbox One X for an extra $500. A game or two here and there might have something worth exploring, but overall, I was not impressed by Microsoft’s offering this year.
What’s in a name?
The big announcement of the night was the reveal of Project Scorpio’s true identity… here it comes… the Xbox One X. Really? I haven’t facepalmed myself that hard over a gaming console since the reveal of the Wii U. If you’re looking for a reason to drop $500 on this console, then you’ll have to look below the hood because, on the surface level, it’s just a silly name. We had a good laugh at its expense over our voice chat during the press conference.
As for the power, it definitely has the oomph to make your games a fraction of a hair prettier for $500 on top of what you already paid for the Xbox One two or three years ago. Joey has a full rundown of the problems of pricing with the console, and by and large, I agree with him. Microsoft’s plans for the death of the traditional “video game generation” needs to crawl into a hole itself and expire. With a price tag of $500, you’re either going to have to sell me an entirely new machine that can play advanced games far beyond the current standards, or else, I’m just going to build a PC that will remain relevant for three times longer.
Microsoft got some cheers when it started running down the specs, but those are just numbers to me. I game for gaming’s sake, and framerates and screen resolutions don’t matter to me unless they seriously hamper my experience. Aside from the awkward introduction of the latest Porche, which you might actually be able to buy if you have enough money for video games nowadays, Microsoft focused the rest of its show on the games.
Gaming for gaming’s sake
And we get to the video games. Yeah, Microsoft has a lot of video games coming out. Those who own an Xbox One will be pleased that they have some new stuff to play, but I fear those who have not already climbed aboard will be scratching their heads looking for a reason to do so.
Microsoft started with Forza Horizon 7, hooray. More racing just like the last time you played Forza, but only ever so slightly prettier with slightly more realistic weather effects and slightly more beautiful sunsets, you know, the real reason we play racing games.
The problem with racing games is that they come out of a new generation ripping and roaring because cars are the easiest thing to render on new hardware. Then, as the generation drags on, the differences in graphical output doesn’t change enough to really justify another game, unless you’re just hardcore into the genre. Forza fans will be happy, but I don’t see many others climbing aboard here.
Metro Exodus, a generic post-apocalyptic horror shooter with a generic subtitle tagged onto the end of it. Giant, mutated sewer rats are your enemies and you’re armed with a crossbow. Are we not over “medieval technology being stronger than guns” trend in video games yet? It looks pretty in its game engine and it has a popular franchise behind it, but I feel I’ve played this game before. Let me guess, I start the game dropped into an open world and am told to go complete objectives on a map, yeah? Great.
Assassin’s Creed Origins, the prodigal franchise returns with yet another lame subtitle. This one caught my eye at first, but Ubisoft seems to be going full-on RPG here, so much so that numbers jumped out of enemies heads when they were struck. The series has long since done away with the “social stealth” aspect as its selling point, but never before has the jump into open world RPG been so blatant. Now it’s not even hiding the fact, and in the overcrowded market of open world RPGs, Assassin’s Creed ranks pretty low on my priority list simply because it has yet to prove itself as an RPG in the first place.
Besides, the series has been at this point before, when we see a pretty trailer only to have disaster strike later in the holiday season. Forgive me for not jumping on the hype train just yet. I hope the extended development phase helped iron it out this time around.
I’m starting to draw a blank as to what happened next. We got a barrage of indie games if I’m remembering properly. There were a few standouts and a release date for Cuphead. However, I’ll get into the indie games in a separate article.
Sea of Thieves continues gaming’s trend of “go find your own fun” adventures. A pirate-themed open world game is a fine concept, and this could deliver the dream that pirate fans have been seeking for years. However, I thought that Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag was already the quintessential open world pirate game. I have yet to really tell what sets this Rare release apart from it. Cute, British narration? I’m not sure that’s even in the final game. The colorful character models? They look a bit more awkward than the last time we saw it in action.
Crackdown 3 looks okay, even if it makes me want to pull out the first Crackdown again rather than dip into this one. The real news is that Microsoft has submitted and no longer wants to fight with fans over the title. It is Crackdown 3, no longer a reboot taking it back to square one.
Anthem really has me stunned since BioWare seemingly has done away with RPGs altogether. Open world action shooting is not the same as a finely tuned, finely scripted RPG, like Baldur’s Gate or Knights of the Old Republic. This could be the game that drives a stake into the heart of the old BioWare once and for all. Not saying Anthem is a bad game by any stretch of the imagination. It’s just not the direction I was hoping to see the company go after the last two games.
Plus, yeah, it’s uninspired and looks like every other open world sci-fi shooter out there.
Enough with being a fuddy-duddy. I did see a few cool games, at least. Dragon Ball Fighter Z was actually the game that caught my eye the most. We’ve watched Guilty Gear evolve over time into the “playable anime” that it is today, and it’s about time that Dragon Ball Z got the same treatment. I’m 100 percent on board with this game, and I’m equally terrified that it might turn up being my Game of Show. Hopefully, Super Mario Odyssey or SOMETHING else can steal that title from it.
I also have a soft spot for Super Lucky’s Tale. Indie studio Playful is lifting the ideas straight from Super Mario 3D World for this game, so at least it is pickpocketing ideas from the best place. Apparently, this is an Oculus Rift game being given a shot at the big leagues, so Virtual Reality does remain an option here.
No thanks, I’m just around for the platforming.
And Middle-earth: Shadow of War seems okay. Monolith Productions looks like it’s hitting a sophomore slump in the story department, but at least the Nemesis system remains the selling point of the game.
My concern with it, aside from the graphics somehow seem worse this time around, is I can’t tell if I like the orcs talking so much in this game or not. They just ramble and ramble and ramble, no longer pleased with a simple threat of violence. Monolith Productions might need to hire an editor because the writers clearly love how clever they are trying to be with the orcs in this game. Bruz the Chopper makes for a really REALLY fun Internet meme, but I wonder how he holds up once you start playing.
Nothing Microsoft showed left me feeling cold, thinking that “this game is going to be awful,” but equally, nothing set my soul on fire or inspired me to leap out of my chair to at least buy a discounted Xbox One S. The sad part is that each of these exclusives will also be available on the PC when they launch, so what’s the point?
Microsoft wins meme of this show?
The Darwin Project’s cute intro CG had me for a second, reminding me of Insomniac Games’ humor set among extreme violence… and then THIS walking man-beard started talking.
Whoa, and I’m out again. At least ESPN found a new employee! Give that man a contract!
Backwards compatibility for all!
The best announcement of the night, both for myself and for the crowd, was the reveal that Microsoft would be bringing original Xbox games to the Xbox One. The acronym “OG,” my guess meaning “original generation,” needs to get lost in the forest and never come back, but the initiative itself is very welcome.
Crimson Skies: High Road to Revenge wouldn’t be my first choice to kick off this latest push, but at least it’s something.
Judging by the crowd’s reaction, Microsoft got the love it wanted for placating to the retro gamers. However, did it really? When the internet seems happier to be playing games that are ten years old on your console rather than the games that will be out in the coming year, you actually might have a problem on your hands.
I don’t want to be this down, but it’s hard not to
I’m not impressed by the tech behind games, and making games smoother or shinier doesn’t do anything for me. Microsoft built its show around buzz words like “true 4K” and “monster,” but in the end, it delivered a show that failed to inspire me as a gamer to go out and pick up its library. I struggled to remember the highlights of this show, and it felt more like the lifeless EA and Ubisoft press conferences of the last few years than the rip-roaring good times that Microsoft usually delivers.
I left thinking that I would rather own a gaming PC than an Xbox One, that I would really like to play Panzer Dragoon Orta for the first time in a decade, and that I wouldn’t wait for someone to come and save me from E3 2017. Who will it be? Bethesda? Sony? Nintendo? Ubisoft? No, probably not Ubisoft.