“Xbox E3” was the first of the big three showcases at E3 2019, and there’s a lot to cover. Phil Spencer took the stage and showed off key franchise updates, previews of new IPs, and even a few surprises. Here’s our full report card for Microsoft’s “Xbox E3” presser from E3 2019.
- Microsoft’s first big announcement was for Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, which includes the traditional Game Pass service, Game Pass for PC (which will feature a ton of AAA games by August that are playable across both Xbox and PC), and Xbox Live Gold for $14.99 per month. At this rate, that’s only $5 more than Xbox Live Gold alone, so it’s looking like a no-brainer for me to upgrade to it. Game Pass is a phenomenal service, and Xbox just made it’s dominance clear in the “streaming” game wars, IMO.
- Microsoft has officially acquired Double Fine Productions! Xbox Game Studios’ fifteenth acquisition is no small one, and living legend Tim Schafer took the stage to kick off the announcement with more info and footage of Psychonauts 2. I can only hope Double Fine’s newfound parentage can mean a potential Brutal Legend sequel is in our future. A girl can dream.
- We got some more info on the next Xbox, tentatively dubbed “Project Scarlett“. Microsoft’s self-titled “Future of Console Gaming” is coming in holiday of 2020 alongside Halo Infinite, so get hype (and start saving). Scarlett is powered by a “custom-designed processor” that leverages the latest AMD tech, GDDR6 memory, and a next-gen SSD. All of this enables several enticing industry buzzwords, including but not limited to: hardware accelerated raytracing, variable refresh rate, 8K capability, and ultra-low latency input. Neat? Neat! Tons more info right here in the reveal trailer for a console project that nobody’s even seen yet. Can you even call it a “reveal” at this point? Whatever. Here’s the sizzle reel:
- A ton of games were shown off, including Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot which looks amazing. LEGO: The Skywalker Saga, The Outer Worlds, Phantasy Star Online 2, Cyberpunk 2077 (feat. Keanu Reeves), and Forza Horizon 4’s LEGO DLC were all huge standouts for me. For those who didn’t play it already, Forza’s last foray into toy-land was with Hot Wheels, which was a match made in heaven.
- Lastly, the rumored collaboration between FromSoftware and George R. R. Martin was officially announced, and it’s called Elden Ring. I’m sure Dr. Bob will have a whole slew of takes and predictions on this one as our resident FromSoftware guru, but I’m just excited for more dark fantasy goodness. There isn’t much really to grab onto from the teaser video, but I can’t imagine that a collaboration between one of the most critically acclaimed developers of the last ten years and one of the most beloved fantasy writers of all time can be a bad thing. Sign me the fuck up.
- Project xCloud sounds amazing on paper, but we just don’t know enough factual info yet to get truly stoked for it. It’s awesome that Microsoft is pushing for an October “preview” window, and they’re promising Xbox One and Game Pass titles “on the go”, whatever that means. I can’t imagine that streaming The Witcher 3 to my iPhone from a hotel room across the country would really be a compelling experience, but I guess we’ll have to wait and see what the future holds.
- There’s a new version of the Xbox Elite controller, which is $180. I truly don’t know who this is for except for the kids who grew up with their MadCatz controllers’ “Turbo” button permanently enabled. Next!
- Don’t get me wrong, the Halo Infinite cinematic teaser moved me in more ways than one, but I wish there was more. Here it is:
- No new gameplay for Gears 5 or Halo Infinite, which are Microsoft’s biggest tickets. Infinite wasn’t as shocking since it isn’t coming until late 2020, but Gears 5 is dropping in… Q3 of this year? That’s kinda close to be withholding new gameplay footage, don’t you think? I can’t say the Gears series has made it move for me since Gears of War 3, so I was really hoping for some new gameplay to get the juices flowing. But hey, Gears POP! is coming soon!
- I love Xbox, I really do, but I can’t stand the E3 trend of seeing the same game in multiple pressers. I get that there’s exclusive content and “first-to-console” content here and there, but its a bad time when I need to watch 4 hours of pressers to get a total of 20 minutes of information about a single title. Looking at you, Jedi Fallen Order and Kingdom Hearts 3. Cut it the fuck out.
Overall, I can’t say I was overwhelmed or underwhelmed by Xbox E3 this year. I was just… Whelmed. I felt a few things, skipped a few things, but wasn’t really blown away by any means. I’m sure we’re gonna see lots of this from Sony as well, but Xbox had a whole lot of “tell” and not nearly enough “show” for their biggest blockbuster announcements. I appreciate the teases, but at some point you gotta touch it, y’know? Give me some more concrete information and maybe even some gameplay or hardware footage and this conference is a full letter grade higher.
Final Grade: C+
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