The last few years haven’t been very kind to the Xbox brand. The Xbox One started its life with a bad reputation, due to plans for “always online” style DRM that despite never actually happening, cost them a lot of their fans. Then you have the fact that the PS4 was more powerful, cheaper, and had a much more diverse line of exclusives. Then Microsoft cancels one of their big exclusives, Scalebound, while others seem to just kind of disappear. As one of the few people who genuinely prefers Xbox consoles to their PlayStation counterparts, it’s been very hard to watch. So, I’m happy to report that this year’s Microsoft E3 Press Conference was phenomenal.
We knew going in that this would be the big reveal of Project Scorpio, the Xbox One equivalent to Sony’s PlayStation 4 Pro. We even already knew the specs, since Digital Foundry was given an early look at the console earlier this year. But what we hadn’t seen was what the console looked like, what it was actually called, and what games looked like in motion.
The official name for Project Scorpio is Xbox One X. It’s a pretty silly name, but I actually like it a lot. It’s catchy and easy to remember, while not feeling like a true fourth Xbox console. Also, I suppose if you were to abbreviate it, it would just be “XBOX”, so that’s kind of cool, right?
As the presenters made sure to remind us every couple of minutes, the Xbox One X is the most powerful console of all time, at least for now. Strangely, it’s also the smallest Xbox console ever, despite all that power. It’s even liquid cooled, which is pretty crazy for a console. I have a feeling all of this added up to the one negative takeaway I had from this press conference. The Xbox One X will cost $499.
The funny thing is, I’m sure it’s justified. I’m positive that with how powerful the console is and with how small they managed to make it, that price point is totally fair. However, as I said earlier, I prefer Xbox consoles to PlayStation ones, and I really want to see Microsoft be competitive again. If they could have not only demonstrated that the Xbox One X was more powerful than the PlayStation, but could offer it at the same price, they could have had a real winner. Instead, I feel like it’s just $100 too much for the average person to run out and buy one. I even feel like the Xbox faithful will struggle to find it worth upgrading.
But enough about that, let’s talk about the games. There were a lot of them shown today, and I’m only going to talk about a fraction of them. I really want to stress though that this was one of the best lineups I’ve seen in a press conference in a long time. Although it never hit Shenmue III and Final Fantasy Remake levels of dream fulfillment, there was a ton of brand new games. And the crazy thing is, none of them really fit the Xbox stereotype of the big meat-head shooter.
For example, one of the surprises today was the announcement of Dragon Ball FighterZ. This is a new 2D fighting game from Arc System Works. I really can’t stress how crazy that is. Phil Spencer introduced a Japanese developed hardcore fighting game based on a popular anime at an Xbox conference. It feels like I fell into an alternate timeline. Also, that game looks completely bananas. It has three-on-three fights with huge screen filling attacks and animations that transition into full 3D. It’s like an even crazier version of Marvel Vs Capcom and I can’t wait.
One of the other big games shown was BioWare’s new IP, Anthem. This was actually teased yesterday at EA’s conference, but now we’ve got a full gameplay reveal. In a lot of ways, it looks like a better version of Destiny. It’s an action game with loot, like Destiny, but a much more vibrant world, and that seems like a true open-world. It’ll be one to keep an eye on.
I also absolutely can’t wait for Sea of Thieves. Rare’s new game has been shown for a few E3s now, and every time it just looks better and better. In today’s showing, we see a sunken ship that players can grab treasure from, but they have to avoid sharks that are swimming about. We also see a new concept in riddles that lead to treasure. By figuring out clues, the players were able to find another chest. They had to fight there way back to the ship, and even after getting there had to fend off a ship of other players. Really cool stuff.
There was pretty big news announced as well. Cuphead, an indie game that seems to have been stuck in development for as long as I can remember, finally has a release date. It’ll be out in September. In other news, support for original Xbox games is coming to the Xbox One. This is huge for someone like me, who doesn’t have particularly great equipment for capturing footage of games. When this gets added, I’ll be able to play Xbox games easily on a console that has video and screenshot support built right in. Hopefully, it won’t be in a game-by-game basis, like the 360’s backwards compatibility.
There was a ton more stuff that was shown, a total of over forty games in fact. But these are the ones that really stood out to me personally. If your favorite reveal wasn’t included, don’t worry, I didn’t think anything looked actually bad. But let me know which ones you liked!
And before you go, I need to update you on how I’m doing with my E3 Predictions. I got none of them right this time. That’s actually not a bad thing. Who wants to watch an easily predicted press conference? This brings my current total to 1/6 correct predictions. At the time of this writing, the Bethesda conference is starting in about an hour and a half. Come back later tonight to see what I thought and if I did any better on my predictions.