Updated: Feb 19
Well here we are folks, another day another not E3 showcase and this time it was Microsoft's turn. On July 23rd the world finally got to see what Phil Spencer and the boys (affectionately called Philly's X Boys....I made that up) have been doing, making teraflops and buying up the competition with a whole fleet of new studios working on the one thing Xbox doesn’t have, exclusives and this is the first time the public gets to see, finally, what they’ve been up to.
And it wouldn’t be CGC if we didn’t have exclusive, blazing hot takes on what went down. What we liked, what we didn’t, you know real top tier journalism stuff. Anyway we’re gonna say some stuff now so sit back and enjoy!
Xbox: Combat Evolved
Halo is back…
Oh yes other stuff happened, how rude of me! Honestly, this showcase had to grow on me. There was a pervasive feeling of just being whelmed while I was watching but after a few days to digest, I’m impressed. To get it out of the way, I’m a huge Halo fan and just even seeing Infinite was gratifying in itself. It wasn’t a big massive blow out it was a very simple “this is Halo”. A sweeping statement that promised more of what you loved and that is all Halo needed. I’m not sure there was anything in that gameplay that would convince those who were never interested to begin with to run out and buy an Xbox, but that’s no longer Microsofts game now is it?
What was shown after this, was all about variety. With Gamepass, Microsoft want you in their ecosystem, and what impressed me most was the little note in the bottom left hand corner of every trailer that simply said “Gamepass”. The fact that every game shown is going to be day and date on the service is incredible and you don’t even have to own a console to play. I gave up my own awhile ago but invested in the PC Gamepass beta, so the idea of playing the next Halo, one of my favorite franchises of all time, for a fiver at launch is just awesome. Nevermind the fact they just announced that Project X Cloud, their other streaming service is going to be included with Gamepass in September. Meaning you can play their first party line up on your phone or tablet with a decent WiFi connection and you’re all set? Excellent.
Outside of all that, one thing that was apparent throughout was the subtle and overt offerings from Japanese based developers like Square Enix and Atlus. Historically, this market has been sorely lacking in Microsofts portfolio and both their hardware and software sales have been barely a footnote compared across the pond in comparison to their homegrown Sony and Nintendo counterparts. This is a clear line in the sand for Microsoft, with the likes of Dragon Quest, Final Fantasy and now Phantasy Star Online 2 gracing the Xbox ecosystem and a big push in the pre-show for the wonderfully whacky Balan Wonderland, they're hungry for players and are looking to cater to all aspects with the easiest of transitions this side of a generation to date.The console wars are dead, long live the content wars.
Oh also WTF no Battletoads!?
When Will They Learn?
I'm going to keep this one brief. A very lackluster showing from Microsoft once again. This company has so much to offer in terms of innovation and scope, yet they decided to once again trapse out a selection of games that honestly I'm unsure who they are for.
Now i've never been a Halo guy, unlike our James and Paul, but i had my time with Halo 3’s campaign like anyone else and I do wish for more from the franchise, it deserves to be sunset well and neither last generations Halo 5 nor this generations Infinite seem to be fitting the bill for Chiefs swan song.
Infinite to me looks unimpressive and barren, likely due to Microsoft’s initiative that its first party games will run on the base XBOX One (why is that necessary?) but also it seems the more we see of it, the more apparent it is that this is shaping up to be Microsoft’s answer to ‘games as a service’ such as your Destiny or Warframe etc.
I came into this conference confident of buying the under dog X console. Primarily because of the backward compatibility, gamepass and the overall more powerful hardware for third party games. However, after looking at Microsoft's first party offerings and how they are clearly being hamstrung by the older generation compatibility, I have to ask myself, is my XBOX One X good enough for now?
Only time will tell I guess.
Everwild (I mean any Rare game)
Tetris Effect Connected (Hook it to my veins!!)
Crisis on Infinite Platforms
Well, that… happened didn’t it?
Full disclosure, I’m not really an Xbox guy and don’t intend on getting an Xbox Series X for a bit after it’s release.
I get it, they want Xbox to be available on all screens imaginable and I commend Microsoft for finally having a differentiator in the console race. Couple that with the resounding success of Xbox Game Pass, they had an opportunity to gain a lead here.
Opening with the new entry in the beloved Halo franchise was a great move. Nostalgia alone had me hooked in from the first moment. It looks like the first game to a fault, so the next few months are critical in establishing it as a true “next gen” game.
Speaking of which, their messaging is what has ultimately lost me with Microsoft at this point. They’re touting the Xbox Series X as the most powerful next-gen console in the world (which it is), yet they’re not going all in on next gen with actually having games for it you can’t play anywhere else (and won’t for “years”) because they also want their games (mostly 3rd party) on every screen possible. Despite this, some of the games shown in the latter portion clearly show they will be available for Xbox Series X and PC, no Xbox One, meaning the assessment they won’t have exclusives for years on Xbox Series X is incorrect or it’s far too early to have shown off half those titles. Either way, no thanks Xbox, you’ve lost me once again.
*takes a breath* that paragraph hurt my brain to write.
That said, there were some seriously promising titles shown off. The biggest surprise for me was Avowed, which is set in the same world as Pillars of Eternity. Echo Generation, Everwild, The Medium all looked really cool. I don’t have much else to comment on games wise, outside of Fable being a thing again which I’m sure will make a lot of money for them.
The games-as-a-service approach is an interesting one that will appeal to some people but I’m not really sold on it as of yet. I like buying a game and playing it to death, and moving on. Perhaps I’m a bit close-minded on it, but for the moment it’s not for me and I will have to see what it’s like once Xbox Series X is out in the wild. I’m just not terribly convinced they will have the software to back it up.
There is a reason their main competitors are generally so monstrously successful, and ultimately it’s down to the games.
There it is, some top class opinions from some (but certainly not all) of our top class boys. The platform wars are about to begin once again and we'll be right here when it happens. Some varied thoughts across the board don't you think? We'd love to know what you think, now that you've had some time to digest everything, sound off in the comments below or jump to our Facebook community page and Twitter to tell us what for! In the meantime....here's a gif....
Gif taken from right here
Console image taken from official Xbox page here
Be sure to sign up on the site for all things Casual, and create your own Casual Game Community profile.
Have a great content idea that would be perfect for CGC? Contact us here and we’d be happy to chat!