SBox Soapbox: E3 2015 Predictions (Microsoft Edition)

E3, the video game equivalent of the Superbowl, is almost here at last. With summer being the quiet period in terms of AAA releases, E3 stands to be the fuel gamers need to keep their fire going until the Fall. Everyone knows some of the biggest announcements are made here, which is reason enough for any avid gamer to be excited.

This is my first E3 with this blog, and I plan to cover it to the best of my ability starting right now. This week is predictions week here on TSRB. Before we get into the festivities I want to have my anticipation level in check. I will at the very least cover the Big 3 (both pre and post-show) since those are the only ones I pay much attention to. So we’ll start with the first up to bat: Microsoft.

This year Microsoft is the more unpredictable of the 3. That seems to be the running theme every year since Microsoft has been known to lean much more on third-party IPs than first-party. That’s what separated the Xbox 360 from its competition last generation. It’s also one of the reasons I wasn’t the biggest fan of the 360.

Before I go further, because this is important, Xbox isn’t my preferred at this time. That being said I have no bad feelings with Microsoft. I own a Xbox One along with the PS4 and Wii U. My predilection toward the other two in the past was due to a lack of first-party games that catch my interest. I’m not that into Halo, Fable, or Forza; Gears of War I’m kind of into. The 360 was lacking in much else so I tended to go elsewhere for my gaming needs.

But it was for those reasons that made last year’s E3 a God-send in my eyes. Last year was dedicated to games and nothing but that. On top of that, they showed off new and/or revitalized IPs. They won me over last year simply by showing me something new, which is all I wanted. It was one of the reasons why I decided to get a Xbox One.

So when we start talking about this year’s E3, I have a lot of confidence. All Microsoft has to do is continue down the path of discussing the other umpteen franchises they have under their umbrella and I’ll be a happy camper. Do I think that’s going to happen? Yes to an extent.

I believe this E3 will be Microsoft’s attempt to expand the Xbox One’s repertoire while honing their more familiar franchises (Halo, Gears of War, etc.). This will also be the time to reintroduce hardware talk to their conference. Remember, this is the first E3 not to be directly associated with the notorious pre-launch stigma of the XBO. Last year’s E3 wouldn’t have been what it was if MS wasn’t concerned with damage control. Hardware will be part of the show, but it won’t be integral.

This is a decent formula for a good E3 showing. My one word of warning to Microsoft this year is to not let HoloLens take over the show. With Sony admitting to having little-to-no first-party content this year, this should be a year focused on games. You have the opportunity to gain a lead on PS4. All you have to do is provide software so that people will buy the hardware.

Now let’s talk about specific games.

The confirmed games for the show are Halo 5, Rise of the Tomb Raider, Quantum Break, Fable Legends, Forza Motorsport 6, and Elite: Dangerous. Other games that I guarantee will be at the show include Crackdown, Gears of War: Ultimate Edition, Gears of War 5 and Scalebound.

All of those games we already know exist, the main areas of focus going unsurprisingly to Halo and Gears. I actually think the emphasis will be more on Gears of War since they have two projects to discuss. If they wanted to, they could also talk balance patches and extended DLC for Halo: The Master Chief Collection to balance things out with Gears. I predict Microsoft die-hards are more interested in seeing where Gears goes from here, so maybe Gears of War will be saved for somewhere towards the end of the show while Halo is discussed either in the beginning or middle.

Rise of the Tomb Raider won’t have that much of a presence at Microsoft’s show for two big reasons. First, Tomb Raider will be Square Enix’s game to show during their conference. Second, it’s not even MS exclusive. During Microsoft’s conference, it’ll have a modest showing and a gameplay trailer spanning about ten minutes, but not much more.

Forza won’t take up too much time either (or at least I hope so). I think gameplay footage and/or a trailer will be the extent of Forza’s presence.

Fable Legends will have a decent time in the sun this year. Nothing too much because we got a lot of this game last year, but since it’s a pretty big leap from traditional Fable games, they should advertise it big time.

Quantum Break, Crackdown, Scalebound and Elite: Dangerous will have just as much time and attention as I think Fable Legends will get. These are the newer and more obscure names at the show, so it makes sense to try and pimp these games out most. I especially hope Scalebound and Crackdown get a lot of screen time. Of course both are due for a gameplay demonstration, but hopefully they aren’t skimmed over.

HoloLens is all that remains from what is already known. This will take up a substantial amount of time I bet. If they do this right, it can be a great highlight for their show, but if it becomes the focal point and tries to consume the whole show, it can become a problem. I see them attempting to balance this out with Halo and Gears so that there are three stand-outs this year. Hopefully I’m right.

But now for the hat-tricks of the conference. What can Microsoft do to surprise its audience?

I think announcing a Rare game would be a good place to start. I do believe there will be something coming out of the Rare camp, but the question is what. Many are saying Battletoads and I buy that. If I were them I’d announce Banjo-Threeie, but that’s too idealistic. Conker has a slightly likely chance, but not much.

As for other surprises it’s up in the air. They can announce anything from the past, but I think any remaining time will be spent on brand new IPs, just like Phil Spencer said. How many? At least one, at most three, most likely two.

That’s all I have on Microsoft. I will post my thoughts on the show after I see it. What are you guys’ predictions for the show? Let me know in the comments so we can discuss this together.

Next I will share my Sony predictions, so stay tuned.

I’m SBox180. Thanks for reading!

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