Another year down and being shown what we will be playing over the next year and beyond. My initial impression of the Xbox conference for 2017? Solid. In a year where most conferences didn’t seem to set the gaming landscape ablaze, Microsoft showed a record number of games off with the majority of them being released within the next year. Disappointingly, very few new IPs were shown from first party development studios, with third parties having a heavy presence in the line up.
Of course, most people watched and were excited by one thing, and one thing alone: The final reveal of Project Scorpio. We would learn its price point and the final name – Xbox One X.
Surprisingly, a console with so much power, it would rival high end PCs and take console gaming forward into the realm of true 4K gaming and higher framerates. Did it succeed?
Yes and no.
I have no doubt that the console is incredibly powerful and even with a higher price, it offers incredible bang for your buck – all enclosed in a size that is slightly smaller than the already impressive Xbox One X. The Xbox engineering team really did work magic when it comes to its design and power.
So where did it fall down?
The showing off of that power when it came to games. With 42 games being shown off, not many seemed to deliver in terms of showing consumers why they should be running out to buy one as soon as its available on November 7th for $A649. That’s a huge number of games, only beat by the number of t-shirts in Aaron Greenberg’s suitcase.
Some games that were shown off – Assassin’s Creed: Origins, Metro:Exodus, Shadow of War, Anthem (more later), Forza Motorsport 7 – all delivered on the promise of 4K gaming and in some instances, 60 frame per second gameplay (I will discuss dynamic 4K in a later opinion piece).
But where was the killer app? Where was the amazing new AAA first party IP we were hoping to see? According to Phil Spencer, Head of Xbox, these games are in the works but too early to show. Even though I agree with his comments, I feel it was a misstep not to show off a first party exclusive that would leave our jaws on the floor. A game on such powerful hardware that would make us run – at Forest Gump speed – to the nearest store to get our hands on this flashy piece of tech.
Super Lucky’s Tale looks like a return to form for platformers and Ori:The Will of the Wisps looked incredible but we needed more. Where was the ‘wow’ moment where Crackdown 3 would blow us away with its cloud processing? Hell, where was Crackdown 3 on stage for more than a quick trailer?
Many third party and indie games were shown and impressed me. Standouts being The Last Night, ARK, Code Vein, Ashen, Black Desert, Battlegrounds, Cuphead, The Artful Escape etc.
Some would notice these from PC and I can only hope that we see more games from PC make their way to Xbox in future. Great to see a top MMO like Black Desert make it over to consoles, a genre so popular on PC.
Microsoft also made the announcement that backwards compatibility would expand to the original Xbox. I thought this was already in the works so I wasn’t overly surprised but it is great to see it announced officially and showing Microsoft’s commitment to ‘taking your games with you’. Showing off the new feature was Crimson Skies which was a great game to announce first and was a favourite of mine upon release.
We also saw that Microsoft is committed to Mixer – the replacement for Beam – a game streaming app that allows viewers to interact with the streamer (also catch the DownUnderGaming show on Mixer).
The show concluded with EA’s Patrick Soderlund taking the stage to discuss and show Bioware’s new game Anthem – an online RPG shooter similar to the much loved and hated Destiny.
This game looked stunning and really showed off the power of the Xbox One X. From the detail in the characters faces (looking at you Mass Effect:Andromeda), to the lush open world, creature design and gunplay, this game was sure to be a favourite of many. I have no hesitation in saying this was my game of the show and cannot wait to play it. Bioware will need to learn from both Destiny and The Division in launching and supporting such an in depth game. A style of game that requires balance, content, a proper end game and a robust and engaged community.
As the show concluded and I was left staring at the TV’s Mixer stream I still had one thought going through my head. A thought and a feeling that was stronger than before.
I saw the AAA game I was looking for in Anthem. The problem was it wasn’t a first party title. I guess we play the waiting game…