I love my Xbox One. If I didn’t, then I wouldn’t have upgraded to the Xbox One X. Hell, it’s easily my most used console, though mostly for video apps, rather than actual gaming. Still, if there’s a multiplatform title available, the Xbox One is my preferred console of choice. And yet, despite my appreciation for the platform and many of the choices Microsoft has made over the last few years, the console is not in a good spot. Exclusives are few and far between, sales are down compared to the competition, and the general vibe among gamers is that the PS4, Switch, and PC are dominating Microsoft this gen. With E3 2018 right around the corner, there could be some hope, but looking at the overall landscape isn’t all that promising.
Let’s talk about the 7 foot tall, metallic elephant in the room: Halo. Yes, Halo 5 is a few years old now, and we’re right at the point where Halo 6 should be ready for a big announcement. If Microsoft wants to go big at E3 2018 then this is certainly their trump card. What will make the announcement that much more exciting for fans will be if it is announced as a Play Anywhere title, officially moving Microsoft’s biggest franchise over to the PC. This is actually pretty likely, given past comments on the title. However, if the Xbox One is to survive it needs these kinds of exclusives, so this somewhat pro-consumer move would cripple the console going forward.
When Microsoft began its shift away from console exclusives we often wondered what the endgoal was
When Microsoft began its shift away from console exclusives we often wondered what the endgoal was. It seems like it’s to keep gamers inside the Microsoft ecosystem. Whether they’re playing on an Xbox One or a Windows 10 PC, they’re gaming with Microsoft. Unfortunately, the Windows 10 Store is awful and its gaming features are so lacking that players have found empty multiplayer servers and have often received refunds for titles purchased on the platform. If the goal was to bolster adoption of the Windows 10 Store for gaming, then it’s kind of already failed.
So, whether they announce Halo 6 or not, whether it is exclusive or not, it’ll be a big announcement that makes a lot of fans happy, but it probably won’t shift the console war landscape at all. The Halo series is sort of baked into the equations when you’re thinking of purchasing an Xbox console. What else do they have? Unfortunately, not much.
Forza will certainly be there and eat up what feels like an entire hour of the presentation (I don’t like cars, or realistic racing games). Crackdown 3 will probably make a return appearance, hopefully in a better state than it was in last year. Other than that, there’s few games I can think of off the top of my head that will impress much of the audience. Of course, this could be one of Xbox’s strengths. They have a wide open schedule and could be ready to fill it with tons of exciting games. I’m just not sure what those games could be.
Here’s where I pitch what would be a surprise for me, and what would get me excited to continue owning an Xbox One X. Hopefully some of these come to fruition, but we’ll have to wait to see. I’d love to see Microsoft go back and fix one of their biggest mistakes this generation, with a total relaunch for Halo: The Master Chief Collection. That title was set to be a reason to buy the entire console, but fell flat due to technical problems, some of which have remained to this day. They’ve pledged to fix it, and now is the time. Announce huge improvements, along with 4K visuals and a PC release, and fans will hopefully come swarming back.
For new games, a full-fledged, 3D platforming sequel for Banjo-Kazooie would get lots of old school gamers excited. A sequel to Sunset Overdrive would be a nice touch, though Insomniac is a bit busy with Spider-Man over on PS4. Getting back to Rare, perhaps they could surprise lots of people with a new Perfect Dark title, though their last crack at it didn’t go so well. I’m struggling to think of more, and this is exactly the problem right now with the Xbox One. Hopefully it’s just a failure of my imagination and Microsoft has some big stuff ready to go next month.