E3 2018 was a BIG one for Microsoft. There’s still time in this generations ‘console war’ for them to have a lasting impact.
Statistics have shown that the general public have generally favoured Sony’s PS4 hardware, with it boasting nearly double the sales of the Xbox One. That’s an incredible amount considering how much the Xbox 360 dominated the PS3 last decade.
It just shows the power of E3.
Microsoft really shot itself in the foot a few years ago with a few blunders: price tag, lack of third party game use and a permanent internet connection required for the Xbox One.
Nintendo has shown that as long as you’ve got the right hardware, games and attitude; you can still make a difference e.g the Nintendo Switch.
So can Microsoft get some new IP’s out as, late in the game, system-sellers?
Halo Infinite (Exclusive)
As I predicted, a new Halo game has surfaced; albeit very briefly. There was nothing to take from this. There a rhino, Master Chief with his helmet off and the famous, green Halo truck. I’m quite shocked that that’s all we got.
Ori and the Will of the Wisps (Exclusive)
This is probably the best new game to come out of Microsoft’s presentation. A sequel to 2015’s Ori and the Blind Forest. This looks like an adorable, fuzzy game with warm-looking characters in an enchanting adventure. It looks like a solid co-op game boasting an array of colours and creative backdrops in its 2.5D style design. It’s art-style is gorgeous and did I say that Ori is adorable?
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice (Third-party)
Looks like Nioh. That’s my first instinct. My other instinct is that I want this. Made by From Software, it’s the game we thought was going to be Bloodborne 2. We finally got a glimpse at the game, that was revealed last year, and its Samurai action looks frenetic and VERY intense.
Thankfully it’s a multi-platform release, but this would be a sign of things to come from Microsoft’s conference.
Fallout: 76 (Third-party)
Initially there was uproar over Fallout 76. Is it an MMO? Is it going down the same route as Elder Scrolls Online? We still don’t know, but this reveal suggests that it’s not a full-blown MMO, and that resonates with me nicely.
The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit (Third-party)
Set in the Life is Strange universe, one I’m completely unfamiliar with so scold me in the comments section. I can’t comment much here, it looks zany and emotive and if it follows the same ‘Telltale Games’ gameplay, then it will probably sit well with fans of Life is Strange.
Crackdown 3 (Exclusive)
I love it just for Terry Crews’ voice alone. Crackdown games are usually over-the-top, kick as much ass as humanly possible games; in the same vein as the later Saints Row games.
I can’t say it looked all-that impressive, personally. The graphics seemed a bit blocky, and they didn’t sparkle with the modern-day gloss that lots of top AAA games do.
More importantly, the gameplay just didn’t grab my attention. As I’ve alluded to already, if you slapped the ‘Saints Row’ name on this game, then it wouldn’t be amiss.
Metro Exodus (Third-party)
It looks more Fallout than Fallout 76 does. It looks like a true, posy-apocalyptic world with danger lurking around every frickin corner. The pulse-racing desire to achieve survival feels paramount here and could be the sleeper hit of 2018.
Kingdom Hearts 3 (Third-party)
Coming to Xbox. That’s big. But not as big as OLAF! What you prefer Sven? Well you better LET IT GO because I don’t care.
Seriously though, this a great addition for the Microsoft catalogue and KH3 is shaping to be a sequel worth waiting for.
Sea of Thieves DLC (Exclusive)
This is another game that I saw as an opportunity missed. This needed to be released WITH the game on launch, not now. The game didn’t boast a lot of content in the beginning and it still doesn’t. It may be too late for Sea of Thieves.
Battlefield 5 (Third-party)
We already saw this at the EA Conference, kind of. Not much new stuff here.
Forza Horizon 4 (Exclusive)
Leaves! Leaves fell from the ceiling in time to leaves falling in the game. No expense spared, it might wake the audience up. It looks like a really connected and open, driving world with real-time bonding and crashing. Dynamic seasons. It’s your typical Forza Horizon game really and looks beautiful.
We Happy Few (Third-party)
Already seen it plenty. It’s got that extraordinary Bioshock vibe to it which immediately draws me to it.
PlayerUnknowns Battlegrounds (Xbox and PC)
No one clapped for this again, it really feels like the crowd interest is waning significantly. This isn’t a major announcement as it’s just a minor extension of Pubg.
Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition (Third-party)
A 2008 JRPG being remastered for a new generation. Again, another game I didn’t know much about, but it looks like a very good Final Fantasy clone (pre XIII).
The Division 2 (Third-party)
The Division wasn’t a world-beater, and this did nothing to allay my fears about it as it looks to be treading similar ground to its predecessor. The graphics weren’t too impressive, but the arsenal on hand looked fun and it sounded great.
The voice-acting though, sheesh. I’ve yet to confirm whether not that was all pre-recorded, player dialogue, or if it was in-game battle chatter. Either way, it was horrible, cheesy and really undermined the reveal to the point I had to mute it for the final third of it.
Fast Track + Game Pass (Exclusive)
‘Fast start’ launches in June for select titles and will make games more accessible, meaning you can jump straight into them.
Plus Crackdown and Forza Horizon 4 will be available on the Game Pass on their release days. It’s cool to see full-price, day-one releases being available on this service. So if you have Xbox Live and the Game Pass, then you have some big, freebies coming your way.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider (Third-party)
Coming this year, it looks to be another fantastic addition to the successfully rebooted Tomb Raider franchise. There’s no timed exclusivity like there was for Rise of the Tomb Raider here either.
The reveal showcases deep storytelling, dramatic set-pieces, challenging puzzles; and Lara camouflaging to evade a big kitty.
The implication runs rife through the trailer that she’s responsible for something bad. Another gritty entry in a series that can do no wrong.
Session (Exclusive or Timed Exclusive?)
It’s not Skate, but it looks as close as you’re going to get to one. Boasting an Eminem-inspired soundtrack for the video, it really does look like a throwback to the great skateboarding games of yore.
But, I have read conflicting reports about the nature of its exclusivity. Some people say it’s an exclusive, whereas some say it’s only timed. For Microsoft’s sake, I’d hoped its an exclusive as this could be big for them. It’s a gap in the market waiting to be claimed due to the disastrous nature of the latest Tony Hawks game.
Black Desert (Timed Exclusive)
A hugely popular MMORPG in Asia, it’s now coming to Western consoles; yes, plural. Whilst Microsoft announced this as being a console exclusive, I dug a bit deeper and I discovered that it’s another timed one. In an interview with Pearl Abyss’ COO, James Heo, he said that once the deal is over (with Microsoft), they are sure to bring their flagship to other consoles as well.
Devil May Cry 5 (Third-party)
J-pop. Batsh*t craziness. Fighting demons, big demons, huge, sprawling demons. This looks like everything you could ever want from a DMC game. Old-school Dante is back too as he turns up to the party on his bike, classic hair-do and all.
Cuphead: The Delicious Last Course (Xbox and PC)
Ahh this breaks my heart. Even as a PS4 gamer, I want Microsoft to do well and produce some top quality games, but this is the one that hurts.
I like me a hard game, and this game is hard, overflowing with charm and boasts a unique identity. Cuphead is the best exclusive that Microsoft has produced in years.
So a helping of new bosses and levels will be welcome news to the ears of keen Cuphead enthusiasts. Lucky people with their dancing sunflower.
Another much-needed exclusive for the platform. It’s not a massive AAA title, but it’s another game packed with charm.
You control a small, cute fox and navigate contained, but open levels: fighting nasty monsters, locating treasure and making your way to the next level. It’s got a subtle soundtrack and doesn’t seem as easy as it first appears.
It looks like a nice title that people will hopefully take a chance on.
A crossover, fighting game featuring characters from Dragon Ball Z, Naruto, One Piece and even Death Note. No more needs to be said.
Although, surely it’s redundant with Light having the Death Note, right?
Dying Light 2 (Third-party)
Wow. I didn’t see this coming. I genuinely hadn’t heard anything about a sequel for Dying Light, and I thoroughly enjoyed Dying Light.
It looked bigger and more expansive; offering greater freedom in terms of being able to traverse from location to location e.g swing ropes etc. Plus, one of the weaker aspects of the first game (story) may be addressed here too with a city in civil war and in-fighting a problem.
It’s good to see that it got a sequel.
Erm, were people begging for this? I honestly don’t know, I guess the value of this exclusive is based on how keen you are on Battletoads. It’s been over 20 years since the last one and this is rigidly sticking to its roots, retaining 2.5D graphics and gameplay.
Just Cause 4 (Third-party)
A destructive sequel with destructive qualities and a destructive destruction of destructive destruction. Its a series that prides itself on cataclysmic chaos…and destruction.
Just Cause 3 was an absolute blast, packed with explosive gameplay and it kept me grapple hooked.
If number Four can up the ante, then it promises to be dynamite.
Gears of War Triple Header (Xbox and PC)
-Gears Pop: A cartoon game based on the hugely-successful Punko Pop Figures.
-Gears Tactics: A PC-Only, turn-based combat game that is very much set in the Gears universe.
-Gears 5: Another prediction of mine that inevitably came to fruition. I knew that the fourth game had ended on a proverbial cliffhanger, so a another game was inevitable. I can admit, if I owned an Xbox, I would probably own every game in this franchise.
I had the chance to play Gears of War 4 at Eurogamer in 2016 and it was stunning. The gameplay was so tight and brutal; 5 looks to be a continuation of this, but with a deeper story.
You take control of Kait, who debuted in GOW4, and you take your squad AWOL in attempt to find an answer to Kait’s broken psyche. With a rumoured Battle Royale mode too, GOW5 should be a must-buy.
Cyberpunk 2077 (Third-party)
The audience has noticeably gotten quieter throughout the show. But this woke them up somewhat. A nice little surprise at the end to close proceedings. Just as it seemed the conference was about to go offline, the screens were invaded with a ‘virus’ and malware seemingly took control of everything.
It was the reveal for the long-awaited, hardcore gamers wet dream; Cyberpunk 2077.
A deep-base soundtrack providing the grungy, undertones to this seedy looking city. A place that looks infatuated by all the poisons of its futuristic age. There’s no clear characters here or any defined story, but it’s a beautiful collage showing how this ugly city works; presented in every shade of the colour spectrum.
It doesn’t matter what console you own, this will be a system seller for all formats.
This was a fantastic games conference, but an awful Microsoft Conference.
I’d previously reiterated my belief that Microsoft could increased their console sales if they could just pull a few rabbits out of the hat. They for some reason decided to adopt a trilby, filled with concrete…
More than ever, this year moved away from TV, TV, TV and COD, COD, COD. This conference proudly boasted 50 games and 18 exclusives. But outside of the same old ones, what else was there?
Even the audience seemed to lose enthusiasm and energy the more the show went on. I’ve never really known games be shown, and get no reaction from the crowd.
Halo didn’t even tell us anything, Crackdown looks good, but not amazing, Forza will obviously be a superb racing game and Gears will impress, no doubt about it.
But you see the overriding problem here? None of these AAA games are new IP’s. I will absolutely not turn this into a flame war and point out what Sony are doing, I’ll talk about Sony’s success with exclusives during their conference tomorrow.
But the biggest new games are Ori, Tunic and Battletoads. Not exactly reasons to get your phone out and order an Xbox One.
The Fast Track and Game Pass announcements are cool, but that’s mainly for people who already own the console. Otherwise you’re asking people to shell out for a console, Xbox Live and a Monthly Subscription.
Additional DLC for Cuphead, Pubg and Sea of Thieves provide a small boost, but the third party games have really hit this conference hard. The main talk about the conference is primarily about third-party games e.g Battlefield V, Kingdom Hearts III, Sekiro, Fallout, The Division and Tomb Raider.
Next year will have to be a big year for Microsoft, as this didn’t live up to the hype I’m afraid.
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