The Xbox One X has been revealed, and as excited as I am for the platform, Forza 7 and Crackdown 3 aren’t going to exactly push me to go turn in my launch Xbox One and pick up the X. Maybe that will change when we see if Crackdown 3 lives up to its promises of a fully destructible online environment (no, it was never promised for single player). Microsoft has come a long way since the initial launch of the Xbox One, but if this E3 is any indication, they still have a long way to go.
Now that Microsoft has the hardware advantage over its competitors, it’s time for them to focus completely on building up their first party line-up. There’s no denying that the console has a pretty weak line-up at the moment, but that’s not to say Sea of Thieves, State of Decay 2, or even Crackdown 3 don’t look good – I’m actually very interested in picking up Sea of Thieves when it’s available. The gameplay demo they showed during the Microsoft press conference sold me on the game.
But, when you compare what Xbox is offering from their first party studios compared to the quality displayed at Sony’s conference, there’s still no comparison. Hell, even Nintendo is pushing more exclusives than Microsoft at the moment. Dropping the word exclusive on every piece of software in the conference didn’t really raise anybody’s confidence in Microsoft securing actual exclusives, but the amount of games shown off, both indie and AAA was impressive.
The Xbox’s first party line-up isn’t really focused on single player narrative adventures like Sony’s is. They just don’t have the same impact that the current trend of games as a service have, and this is something Phil Spencer has noted in the past. Sony’s exclusive line-up has a much more mature and cinematic tone than what Microsoft typically offers, but, as far as I’m aware, the PS4 doesn’t have an exclusive with multiplayer on the caliber of something akin to Halo or Gears of War.
The Xbox One, to me, is still the party system that it always has been. It’s the system I play on when I want to play with my friends online. It’s the system my friends and I use when they come over to hangout and watch Netflix or other media. All of Microsoft’s exclusives right now are socially focused, which is fine, but they aren’t exactly games that are raising the bar, aside from Forza 7.
Sony is constantly raising the bar with their first-party studios. Uncharted 4, and the upcoming standalone title, The Lost Legacy, look unbelievably good. Horizon: Zero Dawn raised the bar for graphic fidelity in open world games, and it looks like God of War is set to raise the graphics bar again. Previously, The Last of Us (arguably) raised the bar for what we expect from AAA narratives. Sony is always finding ways to wow their audience.
I want – and I’m sure Phil Spencer wants this too – that kind of quality on the Xbox One. The more competition the better, and Microsoft is in a prime position now with the Xbox One X to raise the bar from their side of the court. I was really disappointed to not hear of any new first party studios from Microsoft at the Xbox presser, but we know there’s new stuff in the works regardless.
E3 2018 should be interesting, since we know a new Gears of War and Halo are in the works, which leaves the door wide open for the unexpected. Can’t forget that Playground Games (Forza Horizon) are already working on a new open world IP that isn’t about racing, for example.
Many thought Microsoft’s E3 presser this year would be the turning point for the Xbox One, but I think we’re still a year out from that. Microsoft has the hardware, and they’ve been providing wonderful support for the many features the Xbox One exhibits. Now it’s time to make it worth something.