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Xbox E3 2018: The Good, Bad And Ugly

by Jelani James

The best and worst of what Microsoft unveiled during its Xbox E3 2018 press conference.

xbox-e3-2018-press-conference

Microsoft’s Xbox E3 2018 press conference has come and gone, giving fans around the world a taste of what’s to come in the future; and with 50 games coming our way, it looks like that future is jam-packed.

With games such as Gears of War 5, Halo Infinite, Forza Horizon 4 and Crackdown 5, there is definitely a lot to be excited about. Of course, not all the announcements were equal and some were just flat-out awful, so without further adieu here are the good, bad and ugly of Microsoft’s E3 2018 event:

The Good

Cyberpunk 2077 (Finally)

At long last, CD Projekt Red’s Cyberpunk 2077 has finally been revealed to the world, and damn does it look amazing.

Set in an anarchic future where the line between fortune and ruin is razor thin, everyone needs to have a good deal of street smarts to survive. It’s not all bad though: with flying cars, futuristic weapons and cyborgs aplenty, players will have plenty of opportunities to soak in the environment and everything it has to offer.

Personally, I was hoping to see some gameplay, but what we got was good enough. And considering that there was no gameplay, there obviously wasn’t a release date announced — or even a window. However, with this trailer, we can probably expect the developers to be more consistent in sharing information going forward.

Five New Studios

It’s no secret that the Xbox One has serious deficiency in first-party titles. So it seems only natural that Microsoft opted to pick up five(!) new studios to remedy the situation.

Here are the new studios now working under the Microsoft umbrella and a quick breakdown for each:

  • The Initiative: This entirely new Santa Monica, California-based studio is led by Darrell Gallagher, former studio head at Crystal Dynamics, of Tomb Raider fame. His goal? To assemble “world-class talent to create groundbreaking new game experiences.”
  • Undead Labs: The Seattle-based team is lead by Jeff Strain who formerly worked at Blizzard and ArenaNet. Best known for State of Decay and State of Decay 2, it seems only natural that a developer who has partnered up with Microsoft in the past would just go ahead and work under it now.
  • Playground Games: Just like with Undead Labs, this U.K.-based team, responsible for the Forza Horizon series, is making its Microsoft relationship permanent. Interestingly, Phil Spencer noted during the event that it won’t focus solely on the Forza Horizon series but will also apply its “open-world expertise to an entirely new project.”
  • Compulsion Games: The Canadian developer behind We Happy Few is now a part of the Microsoft family. It will be interesting to see whether Microsoft’s acquisition will prompt publisher Gearbox to make the aforementioned title an Xbox/PC exclusive, instead of a multi-platform one with the PlayStation 4.
  • Ninja Theory: You might remember Ninja Theory for Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, the middling PS3 exclusive Heavenly Sword and the ill-fated DmC: Devil May Cry. Regardless of how you feel about it, the developer is now a Microsoft first-party developer.

Obviously, these acquisitions don’t automatically mean that the Xbox One will rival the PS4 in terms of first-party content, but at least they mean the competition won’t be as one-sided as it was before.

Two Long-Running Xbox-Exclusive Series Get New Entries

We saw them coming a mile away but any announcement concerning a new mainline Halo and Gears of War is a good one.

Halo Infinite is the sixth entry in the series and sees the return of Master Chief. The trailer didn’t provide much info, but considering that Microsoft started the whole event with it, we can likely expect to see more in the near future.

Meanwhile, we saw plenty of Gears of War 5 which is a direct sequel to 2016’s Gears of War 4, representing the first entry in the series following Microsoft’s acquisition of the IP from Epic in 2016. From what we’ve seen thus far, the game will follow Kait Diaz, and is poised to bring the series back to where it all began.

No release window was shared for Halo Infinite, but you can expect Gears of War 5 to arrive in 2019.

Swords and Demons

It wouldn’t be much of an E3 without a game featuring swordplay, and Microsoft was more than happy to show off two of them: Devil May Cry 5 and Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice.

I’ve been writing a good deal of news, opinion and rumor pieces concerning Devil May Cry 5 in recent months, so I’m happy that Capcom finally decided to confirm the rumors and reveal the latest entry in the Sons of Sparda saga to the world. There isn’t a great deal known just yet, but the trailer revealed we’ll be playing as Nero (hopefully for the majority of the game), is set several years after Devil May Cry 4 and that his princess, Kyrie, is in another castle. Also, Nero’s Devil Bringer was stolen.

Meanwhile, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is the result of a partnership between FromSoftware and Activision. Our first glimpse of this game was back at The Game Awards last year and many assumed the brief trailer shown at the time was for either a new Tenchu or Bloodborne 2. Amusingly enough, despite now knowing that this isn’t the case, its hard to not see the influences of both aforementioned titles in this new one. Swords, demons, blood, brutality…from what was shown, this game looks awesome.

Both games are due out in 2019.

The Bad

This might seem like a cop-out, but I don’t think there was anything legitimately bad about Microsoft’s performance. Sure, there were some announcements that would have been better served being shown at other events, but that has more to do with timing than anything else.

I guess if I had to go with one, then it would be Crackdown 3.

Still No Crackdown 3

We already know Crackdown 3 isn’t coming until Feb. 2019, but I was expecting Microsoft to at least offer up more information about a game that has been delayed so many times already.

Instead, all we got was a trailer. Admittedly, it was a good one. One where we got to see Terry Crews destroy everything in sight in the name of justice. If anything, the trailer proved one thing: just like with Old Spice, Terry Crews makes everything better.

The Ugly

Jump Force

As a fan of the J-Stars series I’m usually on board when these games arrive, but there’s something about Jump Force which I don’t like: the aesthetics — they’re ugly.

Just like with other games in the series, players will be able to play as characters like Goku from “Dragon Ball Z,” Naruto from “Naruto,” and Luffy from “One Piece,” and have them square off against other characters from Weekly Shonen Jump. What’s different here, however, is that all the characters will be fighting in the real world and developer Spike Chunsoft decided to make the aesthetics to match that.

Unfortunately, by having the aesthetics match that of our world, it eliminated the aesthetics of their own — eliminating its charm in the process. I often talk about ethos in these types of games and that’s because they need them to effectively convey the type of game that they are. Without them, they come off as plain and generic, something that is clearly being made to profit off the profitability of the source material; and based on what’s been seen, that’s exactly what’s happening. It doesn’t look like a game that would feature manga/anime characters, it looks like a game that is exploiting them.

For the time being, I’ll give Spike Chunsoft the benefit of the doubt. It’s clearly in early development, after all. I just hope that the second impression is considerably better than the first.

Finale

That’s it for the good, bad and ugly of Microsoft’s Xbox E3 event. What were your favorite (and least favorite) parts of the event? Do you think Microsoft did a good job overall? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

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