Microsoft E3 2017 Recap

Feature article

E3 ended a little flat this year. Nintendo did well to acknowledge the upcoming games for the Switch and Sony did what Sony does best which is announce new games. But amongst the strange and outright “what was that” moments, Microsoft was ahead of the rest in terms of its presentation at E3 2017.

When I wrote my predictions and expectations article, I thought I was asking a lot considering the history of Microsoft’s usually underwhelming E3 presentations, which tend to feature lots of promises, few exclusives, and “coming soon”‘ dates that never come soon enough. This year however has got to have been their best year in some time. And even re-watching their E3 presentation after having to sit through Bethesda’s “Bethesda land”…( what was that?), I think Microsoft hit that sweet spot of new releases, release dates for expected games, and relevant details about what Project Scorpio was about.

Microsoft E3 stage

What Microsoft were expected to deliver

Project Scorpio, officially revealed as the Xbox One X, was a major highlight for me. The introduction to this console was certainly a trailblazer, but is the new console worth it? In my opinion, yes. The Xbox One X is  a market competitor for the PS4 Pro and I think this is a smart move by Microsoft. Fans already knew what the specs of the unit were prior to E3. This positioned Microsoft strategically to deliver the details everyone would thereafter demand – release dates and prices. Microsoft actually delivered more than just what we hoped for, however. Not only did they announce the price and release date, but they also clearly outlined their target demographic. They aimed this console directly at people who want power behind their gameplay at true 4K  resolution, and for the fans patiently waiting for 60 FPS capabilities (although not all games will support it). It’s clear, if you want these things, the Xbox One X is your console. I thought that it was straight to the point and clear during the presentation.

There was just one little sour point for many of us eager to learn about pricing. The console is priced at $499 USD or $649 AUD. Alongside the most powerful console ever released, we’re also looking at the most expensive, especially if you’re already a console owner.  So overall a pretty cool announcement from Microsoft in my opinion, but as usual the price point leaves the Australian fans a little concerned.

The games Microsoft were expected to deliver

Let’s talk games, and I’m not going to delay on what I believe is one of the most important announcements from the event, State of Decay 2. Fans have been patiently waiting for a mention of this game for some time now and to be quite frank, the wait was worth it. The 4K trailer that proceeded to display the beautifully designed graphics and the brutal but fun looking co-op gameplay has, for me at least, scratched an itch festering for quite some time. I am excited for the release of this game and autumn 2018 (or spring for those in the Northern Hemisphere) can’t come soon enough!

Another game that got a release date is Cuphead and I couldn’t be happierCuphead is going to bring co-op gameplay back to the couch and it looks like a lot of fun. The artistic and interesting approach to gaming that Cuphead is taking has got my complete attention. Due on September 29th, the game is not going to even need to compete for my attention while I shoot gigantic evil carrots with my finger.

Lets talk about something important just quickly. A lot of the videos representing the list of games Microsoft is delivering were amazing. That being said, I think Ashen wasn’t given the attention it deserved. In my previous article I stated that Ashen  “is expected to be a beautiful RPG with a comprehensive story-line. It’s advertised as an open world experience with high risk combat and  a non linear narrative.” The video shown at E3 outlined what is expected to be an amazing game, but it fell a little flat for me! We followed two characters through a dungeon which revealed very little about why I wouldn’t just play Dark Souls 3 instead. That being said, I expect Ashen is going to be an amazing game, I just wish they gave it a better representation. I’m also quite disappointed that a more solid release date wasn’t given to a game that’s been in development for 2 years. I hope this one doesn’t fall off people’s radars whilst it stays dormant in development.

Another E3 and another gameplay video of  Sea of Thieves is released. I’ll be honest, after waiting since 2015 for this game to make waves, the gameplay Microsoft showed this year was a bit naff. But that’s E3. I’m not sure I’m personally as excited for this game as I was in the lead up to E3, but that being said, many pirate fans should look forward to the release of this game in 2018.

Terry Crews is exploding into the gaming industry. Rumoured to be the voice for highly anticipated Overwatch character, Doomfist, to now being the face of Crackdown 3‘s announcement. I have to hand it to Terry, he really piqued my interest during the trailer for Crackdown 3. The gameplay looks crisp, and it looks like you get to spend a whole bunch of time blowing things up. The game is due to hit shelves on the 7th of November this year and is sure to have fans of the previous versions going nuts at its release.

Microsoft continued its strong and amazing lineup of expected game announcements with the mention of Forza Motosport 7.  This is another game I cannot wait to get my hands on!  The game looked amazing needless to say, and with it due for release on October 3rd I feel like the end of this year is going to be a full list of games that I have little time to play.

 

What we didn’t expect from Microsoft

Who could predict  the announcement of a crisp, fun, and Destiny competitor from BioWare? No one, that’s who. Microsoft surprised the hell out of fans when they played their Anthem trailer. The game, set to release in 2018, looks to be a looter shooter in a future world where you wear exo suits called Javelins. Like most games being released at the moment, it’s said to be most fun playing alongside friends who share different roles available in the game. Anthem seriously looks stunning and the weather system they introduced during the trailer looks like it’ll add an interesting twist as well. As always we will have to wait and see to make a better judgement on the quality of this game. Some concerns have already been raised over whether it will have a lot of end game content, a problem similar games have faced over recent years. But with BioWare at the helm, I’m in high hopes.

Another of the more notable reveals is that Assassin’s Creed Origins is due out on October 27th 2017, a reveal we may have expected from Ubisoft but not Microsoft. With another iteration of this game, many Assassin’s Creed collectors can add a new title to their shelves. Minecraft also got an honourable mention as well with the reveal that it will now support 4K resolution gameplay and be cross-play compatible. Talk about a big upgrade for some blocks, eh?

PlayersUnknown’s Battlegrounds got a nod and is making its way to the Xbox. Currently the game is still in open beta, and available only on PC, but it has gained a huge following and massive popularity for its fascinating approach to the PvP shooter market. Being available on Xbox “later this year” will surely increase the already growing fan base of the game.

Further notable mentions which weren’t expected was the announcement of a Dragon Ball Z game, called Dragon Ball Fighter Z. The game is similar in style to something like Street Fighter and from what we saw this game looks like awesome fun! Unfortunately Dragon Ball Fighter Z also falls into the “2018” pile and even though Microsoft was seriously delivering this year, I’m sceptical when they put the “coming *insert year*” banner on things given Crackdown 3 was originally announced in 2014!!!

To begin rounding off what has been an expansive list compared to previous years, a few more worthy mentions are left. Life Is Strange, the highly successful indie game with a deep seeded and very loving community, was rewarded with a prequel whose first episode is due to release on August 31st this year called Life Is Strange: Before the Storm. This was a very unexpected announcement to come out of Microsoft but the success of Life is Strange and the care and precision DONTNOD put into developing the original game meant it deserves a prequel without question. Let’s hope it holds up for fans.

For all of you Middle Earthians out there, Middle Earth: Shadow of War was another unexpected reveal to come out of Microsoft but a worthy inclusion for their press conference at this year’s E3. With a release date of October 10, it won’t be too long before fans can experience the expanded features introduced in Shadow of Mordor and a new story to play through!

There were many more announcements made during the E3 presentation –  all worthy of a lengthy mention, but just too many to continue detailing. I’ve compiled a list below of the other noteworthy games announced during the E3 presentation this year that I’d recommend you stop and checkout:

Microsoft freaking brought it this year. They deservedly should be awarded a “you did it” badge for the effort they put into revealing the expected and unexpected releases over the next year. With what I believe to be one of the better stage shows this year, Microsoft have at least delivered what their fans wanted to hear and some extras. We know they’ll at least deliver the goods on a few of the mentions, but for the ones left in the “Coming soon” pile, I remain sceptical until release dates are announced.