I think the last console war I was a part of was back in my early teens. I had a Super Nintendo along with some of my friends while the other half had a Sega Genesis. The Sega dudes would call our system junk and vice versa. It was great because social media wasn’t invented and we barely had dial up internet in schools at the time, so it was just words and not words with articles of stats, sales figures, gifs, etc. I think when the N64 came out, and we were all introduced to Goldeneye, everyone just went their separate ways and the war just became extinct. But yes, as a retired Super Nintendo commanding general of the great junior high school console war of words, I’m still retired and don’t participate in the overplayed console wars. I just smile, kick back, and watch it all unfold while I enjoy all my consoles. So with that unneeded introduction, I present to you all my first opinion piece about the Xbox E3 conference. Key word here, “opinion.” Alright let’s do this.
Last month, I wrote out some predictions of my own on what I thought I would be seeing at the Xbox E3. It really wasn’t too hard to come up with, since in the past they’ve all been some what predictable. Although some of my predictions were legit, I was also more surprised than anything after the conference.
The Outer Worlds opened up the event. I could already see the tweets inside my head from people. Really? Opening with a multi-plat? Although the game looked pretty fun, sort of Borderlands-like, the beginning of the trailer was what really got my hyped. “The Outer Worlds available on Xbox Game Pass at launch.” I was shocked. Is Xbox not only putting their exclusives on Game Pass day one, but are they putting every game that comes out of Microsoft Studios on Game Pass day one? Multi-plat or not?
Bleeding Edge was another title shown off, in the form of a trailer. Not much is known about the game other than it’s a 4v4 multiplayer game with the likes of Overwatch and Battleborn. But, yet another text appeared at the bottom of the video. It was also going to be available on Game Pass at launch.
Along with PC Game Pass, they introduced Game Pass Ultimate that combines your Gold and Game Pass subscription for one fee. They even offered Ultimate for just a buck. You could even merge your ongoing memberships to the deal and see the true savings for months out. Xbox really kicked it off great. To me, this was huge for the gaming world. Especially if we see Game Pass going to other platforms outside of PC and Xbox.
During the conference, something felt different. As I kept watching I finally realized that everything announced, Xbox wise, was not introduced as an “exclusive.” Are they finally realizing that releasing games on console and PC does not really mean exclusive to most gamers? Maybe. But I have a better idea. Maybe this is the very beginning of something I’ve been thinking about for some time. That we could be witnessing the early stages of a true Xbox Anywhere. Phil Spencer expresses every year multiple times that gaming should be for everyone no matter where you play. He also has expressed in the past that he sees Xbox more as a brand rather than a one stop shop. This gives me hope that one day we will finally see a day where exclusives are a thing of the past and we could be enjoying some Gears of War or Halo on other platforms like the PS4 or even the Switch. Game Pass is here and kicking, so it doesn’t hurt to just assume it can be implemented on other platforms.
I was probably one of the only ones from what I’ve seen not expressing my frustration with the lack of gameplay for the games showcased. To me, E3 is an experience, and those who are at the conference, can just walk out the door to the show floor and play the game themselves. For those of us at home, we are gifted with social media like YouTube and Twitter to see the gameplay ourselves by people in attendance. I will say that the lack of Gears 5 gameplay was a little disappointing to me, considering that the game releases in September, but then again, I can always find what I’m looking for afterwards online. Same goes with Battletoads.
From the very little bit of footage that I saw of Battletoads, the graphics and gameplay (very little) was nothing that I already didn’t expect. When it first got announced last year, I knew it wasn’t going to be some crazy graphical game. I was always assuming it would be along the lines of Cuphead, and probably very hard. I did, however, expect a little more than what we were shown.
One of my strongest dislikes in the gaming world are “timed exclusives.” We seen it with Dead Rising, Tomb Raider, PUBG, and now we’re seeing it again with the game Crossfire X. While we’re in the exclusive times in gaming, it should be either one or the other. “Exclusive” or “multi-plat.” I can deal with exclusive content for most games on one platform, but holding a game hostage for a whole year is just something I’ll never get I guess.
When the Halo Infinite trailer played, I wasn’t expecting any gameplay. As I predicted before E3, I thought it would be smart to release Halo Infinite on next generation consoles at launch. And that was the case. Not only will it release in 2020, but it will release with the Scarlet. The lack of gameplay did not bother me one bit. Why show off gameplay now when you can show it off next year alongside the new console that showcases its hardware? I thought it was a smart move and I think it’s going to be shown off in a way where we’ll be talking about it for months until the release day.
With all the games announced and the amazing news on Xbox Game Pass, I say it was a good solid showcase for games. Now let’s move on to hardware.
The Xbox Scarlet was teased with a video. They mention 8K and 120fps and that it’s going to quote “eat monsters for breakfast.” Now I love the hype don’t get me wrong, but as a console gamer, do I really need 120fps when I can barely get 60fps on some games right now? On the world’s most powerful console? I guess I have to see it to believe it next year at E3 2020. Another feature I don’t really get is 8K. I can barely find an affordable monitor or TV right now that’s 4K, so why the sudden push for 8K? Maybe the Scarlet will just be 8K ready when it becomes the new high end experience years out. Phil also said on stage that they’ve listened to all the feedback and are making sure the Scarlet is a true gaming experience and nothing more. A lot of the hype behind Scarlet is simply just that. If it’s all true, I can not wait to see it in action next year.
How about that xCloud? Or having your console as your own personal server? From what was shown and explained, along with people experiencing it on the show floor afterwards, it’s been living up to the hype in its early stages. Being able to play your Xbox library anywhere with a Bluetooth Xbox controller? Sign me up. Sign me up 30 times. This is another huge announcement that should get us all excited for the future.
When they revealed the new Series 2 Elite Controller, I was hoping for one thing. New, reliable grips. And they delivered. The Series 2 from the appeal and new features just makes the Series 1 feel dated and yesterday’s news. From the fine tuning of the thumb sticks to the extra hair trigger settings makes this a beast of a controller. I really feel like they listened to the fans concerns from the Series 1. What sold me the most was the Bluetooth connectivity and the rechargeable case. And up to 40 hours on a charged battery. They really amped up the Elite and I can not wait to get my hands on it.
So after watching and soaking up the Xbox conference, let me just say I was impressed. The amount of games alone should get any gamer excited. Who cares if you can play most of them on another platform? Games are coming and they are here for you however you want to experience them. Xbox Game Pass stole the show for me. The future of Game Pass is bright and it’s coming in hot. Not only are we getting Xbox games day one at launch, but we are getting some highly anticipated multi-plats day one on Game Pass. The value is extraordinary and everyone with an Xbox should take advantage of it.
Overall it was a strong showing, and while I still think we’re years out of seeing the end of exclusivity, the future of Xbox is strong.