E3 season is almost here (holy crap we’re almost halfway through 2017). With that, I can safely say I’m starting to feel the excitement! It’s a moment where so many publishers and studios come together to reveal new games in development or expand upon titles that have already been announced. Where new hardware can be given limelight and megatons dropped. It’s a holiday for video game players worldwide.
So, I wanted to talk about what I’m excited for, what I think will be shown and what I hope to see. Now, let’s be clear, I won’t be leaking anything here. Even though I may be aware of some things, that’s not what this is about. Rather, I just want to have a candid conversation about what I’d like to see. Let’s start with Microsoft!
Xbox has a long road ahead of them, and I think it’s a tough one. They’re not the dominant force they once were during the Xbox 360’s reign. Sony is scooping up major partnerships and marketing deals left and right and this E3 marks the future of the Xbox platform. With that said, I’ve been a big fan of Xbox since I first bought the original system back in November 2001 and playing Halo: Combat Evolved overnight into the wee hours of the next morning. They have put out some of my all time favorite games and IPs and I want to see them succeed and continue to be a major player in the gaming scene. Competition creates healthy ecosystems.
With that said, I’m cautiously excited for what Xbox and Phil Spencer can bring to the table. I say “cautiously” for a few reasons. I’m just a little apathetic when I look Xbox’s first party portfolio. This is not a ding on Xbox or the work Phil has done. I love games no matter who makes them, but for me, personally, the experiences I’m craving may not be all that plentiful.
We know games like Crackdown 3, State of Decay 2 and Sea of Thieves will be there. Hey, I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the original Crackdown. Skills for kills agent. Building up my skills as an agent, chasing down those addictive green orbs and taking out kingpins and drug lords was a load of fun. The fantastic fireworks of destruction was icing on the cake. The less said about the sequel the better, but I’m looking forward to Crackdown 3. The destruction on display in early footage looks phenomenal.
While it’s been said that a single player campaign is being worked into the game, I’m not sure if it’s going to be substantial or more along the lines of the first two games, which only felt “there” to push gameplay progression. Like I’ve said many times, I love narrative, so fingers crossed it won’t all be built around multiplayer and co-op gameplay. In any case, I’m really looking forward to finally seeing a proper gameplay demo of the game.
We know Sea of Thieves is showing up but I’m not particularly interested in it simply due to the game’s nature. I think it looks gorgeous visually. I really dig the art style. It also has that signature light hearted fun feel to it that’s usually associated with a Rare game. However, I’m not a fan of MMOs or what’s being called “shared open worlds”. Again, I sound like a record player at this point but I’m most attracted to narrative experiences and I’m not anticipating a strong sense of that with Sea of Thieves. I hope nothing but the best for Rare and hope the game’s a wild success.
We’ll also be getting a look at State of Decay 2 along with a release date according to Undead Labs. I’m actually open to this one. I’ll keep an eye out. I never got around to playing the original and I sometimes feel like I should at least give it a try. I like open worlds, apocalyptic settings and vying for survival so it should be right up my alley right? If anything I’m looking forward to learning more about it!
We can definitely check off a new Forza Motorsport title debuting at the show. I’m sure it’ll be another excellent entry into the series with tons of fans, but with a new Forza game coming in every holiday season, I’m not sure if it’ll move the excitement needle very far.
I feel a sequel to Ori and the Blind Forest is imminent so I’m expecting an announcement regarding that. I never played the original so once again I can’t speak to it but it’s a beloved game and I’m sure fans will appreciate it. I’m really, really hoping we get definitive news on two indies I have been keeping my eye on for a while now: Cuphead and Below. Throw me a bone here Phil! To build on that, I’m looking forward to seeing new indies! I think independent developers have given us some of the most worthwhile experiences this generation so I can’t wait to see what studios are cooking up.
I don’t expect to see or hear anything from The Coalition given they recently wrapped up Gears of War 4 not *too* long ago. Some story based DLC or multiplayer news? Sure, why not. I love me some Gears so more DLC is A-ok with me. 343 Industries has said they’ll have a little something at the show but it won’t be the next mainline Halo. The most likely candidate to me is an expansion or some sort of DLC for Halo Wars 2 but we’ll see! So this is where I’m a little conflicted. I’m excited for some of these games. Crackdown definitely grabs my interest, State of Decay 2 is on my radar and I’m anticipating something on Cuphead and Below, but beyond that, I’m not expecting major surprises.
The reason for this stems from the first party studios under Microsoft’s belt. We know Turn 10 is on Forza, 343 is busy with Halo (which won’t surface this year), The Coalition is working with Gears (which again likely won’t show up), Rare is all hands on deck (no pun intended) with Sea of Thieves which we’re all acquainted with, and Cloudgine is getting ready to finally show their hard work with Crackdown 3. I’m genuinely trying to think of where new first party announcements may come from, but I can’t. Unless there’s a secret studio or two of hundreds of people tucked away somewhere, they’re all known quantities. And Phil Spencer’s said in the past that he’s not big on exclusive third party partnerships.
Naturally there’s going be some third parties taking the Xbox stage and I think that’s necessary for the platform. I expect we’ll see a bit of Middle-Earth: Shadow of War, perhaps the rumored Assassin’s Creed: Origins and a little something else.
E3 always brings surprises so I only hope Microsoft has some things up their sleeve.
I expect a major focus to be on Microsoft’s new console upgrade “Project Scorpio”. This holiday marks the system’s debut and being that we’re in June, I think it’s safe to expect a look at the final design, a price point and release date. From things I’ve been made aware of in the past, it sounds like the design is extremely sleek despite the jump in hardware power over the standard Xbox One. Given how incredibly sexy the Xbox One S is, I bet the Scorpio is going to turn some heads. I also suspect we’ll finally get a good look at a new dashboard and I’m hoping it improves upon streamlining what we currently have with the Xbox One. I think it needs it.
Given numerous comments from Microsoft about the console being a “premium” device, I don’t expect it to be cheap. Now I’m no financial expert, but my personal guess would be along the lines of $449 to $599. Heh, that’s a big gap, but as I said I’m not an authority on gauging price points for electronics. I wouldn’t be surprised if it lands closer to the higher side of that spectrum with all the nifty hardware in there. I also don’t believe Microsoft is expecting to “catch up” to the PlayStation 4 in terms of sales so I think they’ll target profitability and upgrade attraction for current hardcore Xbox One owners versus extremely high mass market adoption.
Though new hardware is great and an exciting prospect (come on who doesn’t love seeing new systems), they’re not much on their own. Microsoft is definitely going to be showcasing a slew of titles running on the Scorpio and that excites me. Visuals aren’t *everything* to me but I don’t mind seeing games look better wherever possible. I expect we’ll see games like Crackdown 3 and Forza Motorsport 7 showcasing the new hardware and looking mighty fine. Microsoft will want to show players that all games look better on Scorpio so there will no doubt be a number of third parties gracing us with their presence. It’s going to be difficult to truly showcase 4K, HDR and all the bells and whistles through janky internet streams but hey, we know the games will look good.
Ultimately I’m actually pretty damn excited for the Scorpio. As a Samsung KS8000 owner myself, you bet I’m planning on buying one this holiday. I own a PlayStation 4 Pro but if I can get multi-platform titles looking even better, I’ll certainly be picking those up on the new Xbox.
Described by Phil Spencer as sort of a Netflix type system for games, I’m hoping we get to see more titles come to service and get even more details on what the service can provide for studios and game development in general moving forward. If it allows more leverage for studios to create games, I’m all for it. I think Game Pass will get touched upon in the conference.
All in all I’m looking forward to Microsoft’s E3 conference in several ways. I’m also hesitant in several other ways. I want to see new story driven experiences come out of Xbox first parties but I’m not anticipating it deep down. We’ll see what Microsoft brings to the table on June 11th!