I’m sure many gamers have already proclaimed Xbox’s adrenaline-fueled E3 conference as the best of the show, and I don’t really blame them. Microsoft put on a massive showcase of first and third party games – opening up with Halo Infinite (or Halo 6?) and closing with Cyberpunk 2077. In-between, the announcements broke out like a machine gun, giving us a new look into existing, highly anticipated titles as well as generating ear-screeching applause and roars from the crowd whenever something big, like Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice or Devil May Cry 5, took the spotlight.
Overall, Microsoft delivered a flashy conference worthy of some of the best showmanship in the gaming market, but amidst the glitter and excitement of the many multi-platform, and few exclusive, games coming out, there was an almost hushed tone from the company concerning the actual state of their console right now.
Before Microsoft’s E3 2018 conference, there was an unanimous, vocal request for the company to come out swinging in terms of new exclusives that could be played on the Xbox One, at least giving the underwhelming console an explosive send-off nearing the end of its generation. Instead of winding down and really focusing on what they could potentially do to address the growing concern for bigger, better exclusives, though, Microsoft littered their floor with even more multi-platform games, which I’m not complaining about at all, but it left a lot to be desired for Xbox’s glaring exclusivity problems.
While we did get our fair share of big first-party games coming out, particularly Halo Infinite and Gears 5, these games still didn’t quite deliver the punch that might have been brought to this conference. We did get a healthy and admittedly fun dose of Forza Horizon 4, but that simply wasn’t enough to ease the troubled minds of devoted fans.
Say what you will about the abhorred presentation at Sony’s E3 2018 conference, but when it came to their exclusives and games on display, they knocked every single game out of the park with gameplay reveals and interesting story bits to add to the overall package of each great project. It was the kind of showcase that Xbox desperately needed for Halo Infinite and Gears 5 but never came to pass (no pun intended).
This also led to another interesting point that our Nexus writer, Andrew, brought up during our pre-discussion livestream for the conference; simply showing more Halo, Gears of War, and Forza would not be enough. Microsoft really needed to prove that they could roll with Sony’s punches of delivering new, captivating IP’s. Unfortunately, they spent more time reassuring us that the future of Xbox is looking bright (complete with a next-gen tease already), and it’s pretty amazing that they’ve acquired Ninja Theory as I’m sure that they could create an IP to rival Bloodborne, but that’s all towards a vaguely distant future – but what about now?
In its current state, the Xbox One and its beastly nephew, Xbox One X, don’t have much going for it in terms of compelling, console-selling exclusives. The Game Pass initiative is definitely a huge plus and the fact that they’re working towards finally getting back on top of the gaming market is welcome, but it seems that all they really left current Xbox players with was a vast array of multi-platform games – which a majority of those sales will presumably be done through PlayStation 4 anyway – and promises. Unfortunately, promises mean nothing when it comes to big E3 announcements until we see some results.
At the moment, I’m eager to play Forza Horizon 4 but Crackdown 3 has completely lost my interest and there’s no telling when Halo Infinite plans to roll out (it may also very well be a next-gen title), with Gears 5 only slightly piquing my interest next year; but I really anticipated something fresh, new and surprising from Microsoft. These are familiar franchises that can only rely on its devoted fans for so long before the consumers expect something new.
Sony has nailed this formula this generation, taking several leaps with new IP’s that actually paid off – Bloodborne and Horizon Zero Dawn immediately come to mind, with Ghost of Tsushima and Death Stranding also looking like powerhouse AAA launches. Xbox also had that opportunity to shine through Scalebound, but we all know where that ended up. Instead, we got a string of mediocre to just serviceable attempts from them, with Quantum Break, Recore, Sea of Thieves, and State of Decay 2 all falling short of the mark.
Xbox delivered a great show this year, but far from a flawless one. While we anticipate where Xbox will go next, and whether or not all their new business ventures and partnerships pay off for them, they didn’t exactly comfort their own loyal fans either. A new Halo game should’ve been a much bigger deal for Microsoft this year than just a teaser and with all the attention given to Gears 5, there was a noticeable lack of actual gameplay. The Xbox One, unfortunately, still has no solution for its exclusivity problem. We got promises of bigger things to come, realistically only for next-gen, but that still leaves a big question mark hovering over the current state of this console.
On the plus side, I believe the next generation of consoles is going to be a truly marvelous and fierce competition between the industry giants, which can only lead to far better things for us gamers! Well, we hope.
Writer. Enthusiast of all things geek. Legend has it he completed Final Fantasy VII without a memory card.
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