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Microsoft Shows a lot at E3, but is it Enough?

Those sure are some pretty looking games...

There is no doubt that Microsoft has had a rough, uphill battle since they first showed the Xbox One at E3 2013. Between a misguided push towards an all-digital future and a higher launch price point than the PlayStation 4, the market penetration that MS had with the Xbox 360 seemed to vanish in just a couple short years. With Sony continuing to win with their console and so much positive feedback on the Nintendo Switch, all eyes were on Microsoft for their E3 2017 press conference. Would their widely hyped Project Scorpio hardware be enough to put them back into competition? Only history will tell, but for now, it may be a case of too little, too late.

As expected, the Project Scorpio hardware reveal kicked off the press conference. The official name for the machine is the Xbox One X, which may be a problematic name for mass consumers, with the Xbox One S sounding so similar. The numbers on the machine are indeed impressive, sporting 6 teraflops and 326GB of memory bandwidth. The Xbox One X has 12GB of GDDR5 RAM, and sports a 1TB hard drive. It claims to be able to display true 4K resolution, featuring high dynamic range, improved textures and effects, and solid framerates. Microsoft’s Phil Spencer claims that gamers that still have not made the leap to 4K displays will still see graphical upgrades if they play on the X.

With all of this power, it is impressive that the console is the smallest in the Xbox One line, even slimmer and more compact than the Xbox One S. The system is liquid cooled, possibly to forestall any chance of another “red ring of death” situation. The Xbox One X will launch on November 7 at a price point of $499.99. The PlayStation Pro, Sony’s take on an upgrade to their original hardware, currently retails for $399.99, and there is speculation that Sony may drop the price in answer to the announcement of the X.

Of course, fancy hardware is nothing without software, and the lack of quality exclusive content has been at the forefront of the Xbox’ woes for the past couple of years. For this conference, games were definitely the focus, with a whopping 42 games shown in some form or fashion. Approximately 20 of these games are either first party exclusives or timed exclusives. All footage at the Microsoft press conference was captured on Obviously there were too many games to go in depth on, so I’ll stick to some of the standouts.

METRO EXODUS

The third game in the popular first-person survival horror series, Metro Exodus was certainly impressive with its moody lighting and gruesome monsters. The gameplay trailer showed an interesting twist on the Metro lore; the protagonist relies on the ubiquitous gas mask while underground, but when he reaches the surface he takes it off, as the camera reveals a lush post-apocalyptic environment. The guns shown recall the original BioShock, and one encounter with a large beastie ended with the creature falling off a ledge. While clearly scripted, the potential for this type of environmental combat is interesting to contemplate.

ASSASSIN’S CREED: ORIGINS

While not an exclusive, Assassin’s Creed: Origins showed off some stunning visuals and a vast environment. The much rumored shift to ancient Egypt proved to be correct, and your protagonist relies on a falcon to scout areas and mark targets for him. There was little in the gameplay demonstration to set this apart from previous entries in the series, but the game looks gorgeous, and it will be interesting to see how a multiplatform game like this performs on an Xbox One X as compared to the S or the PS4 Pro.

SEA OF THIEVES

Shown at last year’s E3, the presentation for Sea of Thieves this year detailed more of the actual moment to moment gameplay. As a member of a four person pirate crew, players are able to dive overboard to search for sunken treasure, defend themselves from deadly sharks, and haul booty back onto the ship. The demonstration showed players disembark to find treasure on a skeleton infested island, only to be attacked by an enemy ship in a ferocious storm shortly after. Players can fire the cannons, or jump in and launch themselves onto the enemy deck if they are so inclined. 

 

CRACKDOWN 3

Crackdown 3 has been a known quantity for a long time now, but there has been so little information lately that some believed the game was dead in the water. The E3 presentation showed that this is very much not the case, and even has Terry Crews onboard as one of the characters. His level of bombastic line delivery perfectly accompanied a trailer full of impressive explosions and super jumping. However, with the very similar title Agents of Mayhem on the way this year it is hard to say if Crackdown 3 can move the needle for the Xbox.

ANTHEM

Microsoft ended their games deluge with the first gameplay footage of Anthem, the new multiplayer open world game from former RPG developer BioWare. Characters man special armored suits called Javelins and explore a lush environment. The demo begins with an NPC approaching the player for some dialogue that begins a quest. It was very seamless, so it will be interesting to see if this is how all quests are issued in Anthem. The basic Javelin suit showed off an Iron Man fans’ wildest dreams as it flies around effortlessly, dives underwater, and is kitted out with all sorts of armaments to tackle the creatures and enemies encountered. There was a strong Destiny vibe from the game, but the graphics were truly something to see. Anthem is also coming to PS4 this Fall, so it was interesting that it capped off Microsoft’s conference that had shown so many exclusive titles.

The specs and design of the Xbox One X are impressive to be sure, and it is reassuring to see Microsoft have a press conference jam packed with video games. While it’s true that a lot of the “exclusive” games are either smaller indie titles or will be coming to other consoles after a period of time, the lineup is far superior to what the Xbox had to look forward to before. However, with the $499.99 price point of the X, and the possible consumer confusion posed by this more powerful hardware, could it be another misstep for a company that has already made so many? 


 

Comments

Super Step Contributing Writer

06/12/2017 at 12:12 AM

To be honest, I liked Ori and Anthem, but nothing at the conference made me feel the need to go buy an Xbox One. I'm also not sure naming it X was a good idea either, as it smacks of Wii U naming conventions. 

I'm most excited for Xbox BC to be honest. I've never owned an Xbox, so having access to their entire library would be great. 

Julian Titus Senior Editor

06/12/2017 at 12:44 AM

I'm curious to see how it works and what works. If it's stuff like Breakdown and Otogi I'm totally down. If it's Halo and Splinter Cell I kind of don't care.

asrealasitgets

06/12/2017 at 01:32 AM

I'm honestly confused by all these naming decisions. I don't own an Xbox One, so I'm not sure if all these "NEW" games are compatible with older xboxes or not. Like with New 3DS, some new games are exclusive to that hardware, I believe, so it put me off from buying one just to play a handful of nicer looking games.  Thus, I still play original 3DS. I see a lot of backwards compatibility with XBOX One and 360 games, but not sure about New "X". Is it also backwards compatible with 360 games and can new X games be played on X One? I don't have a 4K TV either, so I don't care for 4K movies. 

 

I'm not hating on MS at all. It seems their super fans are excited for this and thats cool, but I don't see a need to have such an expensive system when I am honestly more curious about Switch and all the new games that were announced across other platforms. 

My top favs so far:
The Evil Within 2
New Metro
Wolfenstein 2
Battlefront 2
Assassins Creed Egypt

Monster Hunter (Switch)
Xenoblade 2 (Switch)
Skyrim (Switch) Yes! I know it won't look like PC. I want to play on portable dammit. Don't judge me!Cry


Julian Titus Senior Editor

06/12/2017 at 02:23 AM

All Xbox One games run on every Xbox One console. They will all look and run better on the X according to the press conference. 

For me, the way they are going back and constantly adding Xbox 360 games to backwards compatibility and now adding original Xbox, the Xbox One is rapidly becoming the best value proposition, regardless of which SKU you choose. 

Casey Curran Staff Writer

06/12/2017 at 05:51 AM

Personally, they gave me a reason to keep my XB1 with Original Xbox BC. That's good enough for me. Plenty of games that look good too that I'll get on Playstation/PC instead

Jamie Alston Staff Writer

06/12/2017 at 07:07 AM

Microsoft may want to rethink the naming convention of future Xbox consoles."Xbox One X" just sounds kinda lazy to me at this point.

Strange as it seems to me, the only E3 coverage I'm truely interested in is Nintendo stuff. 5 or 6 years ago, I never would have thought that Microsoft and especially Sony could lose my interest, but they just aren't as interesting as Nintendo.

I still can't believe I'm saying this.

Super Step Contributing Writer

06/12/2017 at 02:05 PM

I can't believe you're saying that, either. Sony has had my attention exclusively this generation, until Switch can ... ok, I see what you're saying. I'm interested in seeing what they have to show as well. lol 

SanAndreas

06/17/2017 at 11:30 PM

The Xbonx? One more X and we'll have the XXXbox. Maybe Brazzers will sign on as a developer, LOL.

Nintendo generally looks the most interesting to me anyway, but they knocked it out of the park with the Switch this year. As for Sony, I'm generally not into their presentations per se, but they always have a great stable of third party games that keeps me interested in my PS4. Pity the Vita wasn't a bigger success. My most wanted non-Nintendo titles at the moment are Ni no Kuni 2 and the Yakuza titles.

Machocruz

06/17/2017 at 07:14 AM

too much too late for MS I'm afraid. I don't see a lot of these in homes. Not a slight against the hardware itself, but I don't think more power is the answer to their market woes.

As for these games, Metro has my interest and maybe Anthem, but I'm afraid style is vastly going to  win out over substance.

I like the setting of the new AC (deserts are my thing), but this series needs that verticality that made the Ezio games the standouts of the series, and you just don't have it to that degree in this period and region. And also the combat needs a major reworking. Too much of it is on auto-pilot. This series is a such a missed opportunity for representing historic fighting techniques. Not full simulation maybe, but something more skillful and nuanced than Ubisoft has included so far.

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