E3 2017 - Microsoft Press Conference Abridged

Microsoft needed to use this E3 to sell us on Project Scorpio, the more powerful Xbox One. Knowing this made me realize there’s been new hardware at each E3 over the last three years. This industry is crazy. Here are the big moments of the 2017 Microsoft E3 media briefing!

Announcements

Project Scorpio’s official name is the Xbox One X. Yes, there are three X’s in that title and yes, I’ve already made that joke. The specs for this new box are already out there, and it is indeed, unquestionably, the most powerful game console ever made. It seems like a good piece of kit, too, with a smaller form factor than all previous Xbox Ones and a fancy cooling system designed strictly for this platform. Things get a LOT more complicated when you consider that when it releases this year, on November 7th, it’ll retail for $499. I’ll have more on that conundrum in a another article.

Triple Xbox.jpg

Microsoft is finally doing something significant with that Minecraft they purchased. In the near future, the entire service will be updated to add cross-platform play and bring in user-created content to all versions of the game. As I write this, fresh off the conference, the details of this deal have yet to be discussed, but they did specifically say Xbox, mobile, PC, and console versions will play together. I find this extremely hard to believe, but if anyone would know, it’d be the people who own the game, right? The game will also run in 4K on the Triple Xbox, and, according to Phil Spencer, looks so good he “was blown away.” That man must really love pixels.

They ran a demo of Sea of Thieves. It’s that online pirating game from Rare, and it still looks fun…mostly. I have some concerns about the combat, but they have some time to iron that out.

 

Cuphead has a release date again. It’s September 29th. Game still looks dope. Water is still wet.

Crackdown 3 was shown along with swearing Terry Crews. I don’t know that there was anything new in this footage beyond the game looking like it’s closer to completion. As one of the only showcase games for the power of the Triple Xbox (it even releases alongside the new console on November 7th), I think it’s a weak game. The comic book art style looks fine but you need more than that and particle effects to re-sale a $500 box to a market that sort of didn’t want your last $500 box. And “Step Up Your Boom” is a bad tagline.

The Middle-Earth: Shadow of War gameplay demo was about what you’d expect. That’s a game that is entirely about scale and depth with its systems and open world. As such, most of the stuff they show will be completely lost on someone who doesn’t have all the context of what’s going on in that game, which would be all of us, since no one has played it. Still, what they showed looked awesome. Shadow of War looks like an incredibly dense game, and I’ll absolutely plumb those depths when it drops in August.

The gameplay demo of BioWare's Anthem we were promised closed the show. It was worth it! Anthem appears to be EA’s answer to Destiny in terms of it being another RPG/shooter hybrid with a focus on small-team co-op play. The game will reportedly have a large open world, loot, and a heavy focus on exploration. Players get to control an exo-suit with customizable parts and colors. The suits fly and have all sorts of ballistic weapons, so it’s a bit difficult to avoid comparing them to Iron Man, in a good way. If they can get the mission design and online implementation sorted out, and thereby avoid the pitfalls of the first Destiny, this could be a tremendous success. I'm very curious what people think of this gameplay demo.


Surprise!

Original Xbox games will be joining the growing library of forwards-compatible games playable on the Xbox One. They specifically mentioned the game everyone wanted, Crimson Skies. That was how I learned people want to play Crimson Skies.


New Games

Immediately following the obligatory chest thumping that was re-announcing the Xbox One X’s specs was the reveal of Forza Motorsport 7. There wasn’t much info, and somehow this involved a new Porsche showing up on stage, but it looks as pretty as you’d expect. The game, I mean.

This led to a Metro Exodus reveal trailer. It looks quite different from the other Metro titles, but still familiar enough that I knew what the game was about five seconds in. It also looked incredible visually, but this was just a trailer.

Next up was the first footage of Assassin’s Creed Origins. I’m a big AC fan and I’ve completed almost all the games, but this was super underwhelming. I sincerely hope their showing at the Ubisoft event explains more of why this game is a departure from or improvement over the last one. Nothing about this shows the extra work the game received from them giving the franchise a one-year break. Also, your eagle vision is literally seeing things as an eagle.


Also New Games?

At this point, the conference got weird. They started to rattle off game after game and it was kind of cool in that “we’re all about the games” way, but also frustrating because it was rarely clear what a game’s level of exclusivity was, or if it was something you’d be playing any time soon. Obviously information on each of these games will trickle out over the course of E3 (which still hasn’t even started yet) but here’s the ridiculously large list of games they showed.

  • Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds
  • Deep Rock Galactic
  • State of Decay 2
  • The Darwin Project (which featured the absolute worst on-stage debut I’ve ever seen)
  • Dragonball Fighter Z – The rumored DBZ fighting game from Ark System Works which looks outstanding, visually. 
  • The MMORPG Black Desert - So is it a port of the PC game Black Desert Online? What's happening here? Who am I?
  • The Last Night
  • The Artful Escape
  • CodeVein
  • Tacoma
  • Super Lucky’s Tale
  • Ashen
  • Life is Strange: Before the Storm
  • Ori and the Will of the Wisps

This was then followed with a minute-long sizzle reel of about 25 id@Xbox indie games. I have no idea what any of them were.


All told, Microsoft delivered what they told us to expect. They showed over 50 games, even if that meant doing so in an incoherent mess of trailers. They made the argument for why Scorpio is the most powerful console ever. They painted a picture of a platform with a ton of games that may or may not only be playable there… and on Windows 10. I’ll have more to say about this presentation and what it means for the Xbox’s position in the game industry later. For now, it’s time to prepare for Ubisoft’s and Sony’s showings tomorrow.