Xbox E3 Briefing 2019 – E3 Thoughts

 

Expectations:

For the first time in approximately six years, Microsoft appears to lead the pack as the company to watch for at E3. As a result, there is significant pressure for the company to demonstrate the need to not only be interested in Xbox, but be invested in Xbox. In order to accomplish this, we need to see tangible glimpses into the “future” of the Xbox brand in multiple capacities. Whether this be its streaming plans, next-generation console(s), or original game announcements, Microsoft requires the ammunition to reaffirm themselves as a major player in the gaming space, especially against the triumphant legacy of the Playstation 4. Put quite simply: make this presentation about Microsoft beyond

The Outer Worlds is shown off more with additional gameplay, announced to be released on October 25th, 2019 with a simultaneous release with Xbox Game Pass 

Extremely stoked to be playing The Outer Worlds later this year, especially with Obsidian Entertainment behind it. Seems to be a Fallout-esque title that takes place in a more futuristic and fantastical setting than its counterparts. The studio was responsible for Fallout: New Vegas, which was widely beloved by the community. While I am not a big fan of first-person games, I am willing to give this one a shot.

Ninja Theory announces a new action title called “Bleeding Edge”, with a technical alpha releasing on June 27th 

Gives me vibes of Overwatch, expect within a third-person perspective. Seems to be a methodical and extravagant action title, and the 4v4 will be interesting to witness in execution. Ninja Theory has proven to have a fantastic grasp of the genre, so I have no doubt it’ll find a new way to shine.

Ori and the Will of the Wisps shown off, will be releasing on February 11th, 2020 

This is such a cute little platforming series hat I have not been able to play because I do not own an Xbox One. Heard that its predecessor, Ori and the Blind Forest, was phenomenal, and would definitely be interested in giving it a shot if I invest within the next generation of Xbox.

Minecraft Dungeons announced, and will be released in the springtime of 2020 

Do not have a particular interest in Minecraft, but it appears to be in a new perspective and focus on a different aspect of the experience. Will likely skip, but curious to see if others find enjoyment in the title.

Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order shown off in greater detail, releasing on November 15th, 2019

It might surprise some of you that I am not a big Star Wars fan, but I cannot help but admit that this title is one of my most anticipated of the year. Seemingly a blend of Uncharted and Star Wars, I have been craving a new cinematic action experience, and the new gameplay shown has only reinforced my interest.

Blair Witch announced as a new title, will release on August 30th, 2019

Not a big fan of the horror genre, but it seems like much of the scares will derive itself from the composition and editing that the player experiences while going through the game, as evident with the camera cuts and flashing red transitions. Unless I can get over my personal fear of horror games, cannot say this is on my primary radar.

An extended look of Cyberpunk 2077 provides more narrative and gameplay details, while announcing that Keanu Reeves has a role in the game; releasing on April 16th, 2020

Pleasantly surprised to see that Cyberpunk 2077 will be released by the first half of next year. For those unaware, CD Projekt Red is best known for The Witcher games, and the third installment in the series was critically and commercially acclaimed, establishing them as a major player in the RPG space. So happy to see the studio take a major risk, and I will undoubtedly pick up the game on release.

Spiritfarer announced as a game from Thunder Lotus; no release date given 

Unsure what to think of the entire game, but the aesthetic is gorgeous, and I am curious what aspects of the game are going to be the most important, whether it be the construction of the town or the action elements.

Battletoads shown off without a release date 

Battletoads has a major history and legacy from the past. Unfortunately, I am quite unfamiliar with the series. I know this was an exciting announcement for many though, and I hope that it delivers upon their expectations!

RPGTIME! The Legend of Wright announced, releasing at an undisclosed point in 2020 

Seems like an amalgamation of multiple styles of role-playing games into a varied creative experience. I enjoyed the section in the trailer where the character was making their way through a notebook; likely will not be able to get around to trying it if it releases at a saturated time for gaming.

ID@Xbox does a highlight reel of some of the games releasing in the future for the platform

I continue to appreciate the spotlight that Xbox is providing to independent studios across the board, especially by revealing that they will be available on Xbox Game Pass, which is fantastic for providing exposure of those games. Will always be implicitly curious about the financial aspect of streaming. There were too many short glimpses of games to cover, but enough caught my attention that I would love to try with access to Xbox Game Pass.

Batman: Arkham Knight, Metro Exodus, Hollow Knight, and Borderlands: The Handsome Collection are coming to Xbox Game Pass

Have never played Borderlands or Metro, but I can affirm that Hollow Knight is one of the most beautifully crafted and rewarding titles that I played last year. Batman: Arkham Knight…no so much :). They also reaffirmed that Xbox Game Pass would be arriving for PC, including the Halo Master Chief Collection.

Open beta for Xbox Game Pass on PC releasing today 

Reaffirms the commitment for Microsoft to extend the Xbox brand beyond their own hardware into new territories and store fronts. This is undoubtedly exciting for anyone that happens to own a personal computer, and one can assume that even less capable PCs would be able to utilize it given its roots in streaming.

Microsoft Flight Simulator announced without a release date 

Not the most interested in simulators, but depending on the scope of this project, the potential remains extremely high! With the opportunity to fly anywhere in the world and customize your jet, it could certainly fit the bill for a relaxing game experience.

Age of Empires II Definitive Edition announced for release this fall

Never played, but appears to be quite beloved.

Wasteland 3 announced 

XCOM-like title seemingly based within Colorado Springs. My only exposure to this type of game was with Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle, which I thoroughly enjoyed. On the whole, however, it is personally not my genre.

Double Fine Games now acquired under Xbox Game Studios ; shows off a trailer for Psychonauts 2

This is a pretty significant acquisition, given they are the developer behind Psychonauts as mentioned above (the trailer seemed reminiscent of the spirit of the original game). It follows the trend of a long line of acquisitions that Microsoft has pursued in order to bolster its development breadth and numbers. With access to the creative talents and finances under the Microsoft brand, it will be interesting to see if the studio flourishes.

LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga announced and releasing in 2020 

The LEGO Star Wars have always been extremely popular, and it is nice to have them combined within one collection for someone to experience. They described it as a “new game”, so I wonder if certain aspects of the experience will be refined or if new content will be added besides the final film.

Dragon Ball Z: Karakot shown off with a gameplay trailer and releasing sometime in 2020. 

The Dragon Ball franchise has experienced a huge infusion of popularity throughout the past few years, with a new anime franchise and a new collection of games that have brought its name to the forefront, including the fighting game sensation of Dragon Ball Fighterz. From this new trailer, describing it as an action RPG, the gameplay seems similar to that of Xenoverse, so it will need to show off its new RPG mechanics to cement itself as a fresh entry.

12 Minutes announced without a release date

As a top-down thriller time-loop game, it already carves out a new niche within that genre that might prove extremely compelling with a quality narrative. It seems like a compact experience with a high amount of replayability, so I definitely want to make time for it when I get an opportunity to play it.

Way to the Woods demonstrated and given a release date sometime in 2020

Appears to be an adventure in which two deer explore a post-apocalyptic world around them. Whatever the case may be, the cel-shading looks gorgeous and having two deer as playable characters offers a new means of control.

Gears of War 5 teased again, with a release date of September 10th, tech test announced for July 17th, and Escape demo announced for Gamescom in August. 

Gears of War remains one of the temple franchises of Microsoft, situated comfortably behind Halo and Forza. While I have never played a single installment in the franchise, it remains clear that its sustained quality and popularity has kept it afloat for this long, and I have faith in its success and reception.

Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2 announced 

For the longest time, Xbox has proudly taken upon the mantle with their controllers from the Xbox 360 days, and it appears this new spin on the Elite controller remains no different. Pricing tends to lean on the relatively more expensive side, but the amount of customization granted to the player is immense.

Dying Light 2 shown off and releasing in the spring of 2020 

I have never played the original Dying Light, but I have only heard glowing things about the title. There is a small possibility that I will jump immediately into the sequel since it will release cross-platform on Playstation 4 as well.

Forza Horizon 4 x LEGO Speed Champions announced

Besides the fact that the introduction of LEGO was a surprise out of left field, it will likely not change the core experience of Forza by a significant amount aside from the new visual style. It certainly differentiates itself from the previous titles.

Gears Pop! shown off  with another teaser 

This appears to be the way that Gears expands its audience, as it will be released for mobile platforms. It is quite apparent that the tone and gameplay mechanics will differ from the mainline games, and not necessarily tailored for the existing fanbase.

State of Decay 2 Heartland expansion announced and released immediately

Upon its initial release, the game has been met with lukewarm reception at best, and disappointed many players due to its unfinished state. The expansion might be the opportunity the game needs to reinvigorate its install base, given that it has made the necessary changes to polish the experience.

Phantasy Star Online 2 announced for the western market with a release in spring of 2020

This happens to be one of the largest online RPG titles in Japan, and it remains a big deal that it will finally arrive in a new market, and on the Xbox platform of all places (the brand has struggled to establish its relevance amongst Japanese developers in the current console generation). Perhaps this move signals a new wave of games to release on the platform that deviate from the norm.

Crossfire X coming to Xbox first some time in 2020 

From all indications it appears to be a massively popular first-person shooter within Asian territories. The develop, Smilegate, is based within South Korea, representing another push on behalf of Microsoft to expand the repertoire of international games arriving in tangence with the Xbox brand.

Tales of Arise revealed with a release date in 2020

Tales is another popular Japanese role-playing franchise that has existed for quite some time. From small indications, it appears that the narrative might explore different story beats than those fans are accustomed to. Personally, I have extremely small exposure with the series, but I am compelled to try the latest entry since most stand on their own.

Borderlands 3 shows off more footage in anticipation of its September 13th release date, alongside a new pre-story for the game available for download today.

With Borderlands 3 high in anticipation since its announcement, it is reassuring to see that the game will be heavily supported heading into its release and beyond. There has never been a better time to get into Borderlands!

Elden Ring announced without a release date 

This is another title from From Software, the developer best known for Dark Souls and Bloodborne, alongside their recent game Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. Different from the others, however, is the contributions of George R.R. Martin, the writer of Game of Thrones to the project. These games tend to have fascinating lore, and Elden Ring shouldn’t be different.

Microsoft officially unveils Project Scarlett with a release in Holiday 2020 

This was the most anticipated announcement from the press conference. With Sony already disclosing new details on the Playstation 5 prior, it was assumed that Microsoft would prepare their own opportunity to follow suit. It seems to have comparable features to the Playstation 5 based on the wording presented at first, if not more powerful. It still remains quite early, so the next mention of the next-generation of consoles will likely be some time off. Nevertheless, I am eagerly awaiting the newest details to see if I want to invest in the Xbox brand next year. Not going to lie: it’s looking positive!

Halo Infinite debuts more footage, confirms a simultaneous release with the next Xbox in Holiday 2020

Without a doubt, launching the next Xbox with the newest Halo, one that is expected to revitalize the franchise after launching multiple lukewarm experiences in Halo 4, Halo 5, and the complicated launch of Halo: The Master Chief Collection. One can only hope for the absolute best for the series, although it seems to be in fantastic hands under new leadership and talent. It definitely harkens back to the days of the original Xbox, and any replication of that release plan will be even more exciting in this day and age.

 

Final Grade: B+

Despite the fact that the presentation lasted for two hours, I am simply floored by the efficient use of time to highlight the plethora of games and experiences that will be arriving on Xbox in the near future. A subtle but effective strategy was to rarely mention “Xbox One” in order to emphasize Xbox Game Pass, or more appropriately Xbox as a brand. The goal of Microsoft amidst a vibrant era of gaming is to make Xbox the optimal place to play video games, and utilizing its press conference as a large platform for new game announcements is a major stride towards that goal. Not to mention, they made the ultimate promise to gamers across the board: Halo Infinite will release alongside the next-generation console. However, I am disappointed at the lack of new gameplay footage for title, especially since it was announced last year. This occurred with a handful of titles, and it maintains the trend of announcing games without tangible footage to demonstrate.

Reaffirming its commitment to create innovative entertainment on the gaming front, the future of Xbox has never been so exciting, and there remains little doubt that Microsoft will not be capable of fulfilling its promises.

 

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