SBox Soapbox: How Did Microsoft Do @ E3 2017?

Why is it that I’m never just be at home during E3? Seriously, I must have some kind of curse on me, because it always seems like the same thing happens to me every year. No matter how much I plan this shit out, something always comes up that makes me either miss the first day or makes me barely miss the big conferences. Luckily, this year saw my spontaneous family outing wrapped up just in time for me to catch the first major show of the biggest event in gaming: Microsoft’s “Xbox @ E3 2017 Briefing”.

As is customary for this time of year, I’m dedicating this whole week to E3 as I cover the big 3 conferences: Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo. For those who wanna hear about announcements outside those 3 companies, don’t worry. I have a few special posts planned for after the Nintendo conference which will be dedicated to everything at E3, but today our focus is on Microsoft.

For clarity, I won’t be going over everything that was announced at the conference (at least not in great detail). I’m only sticking to the highlights, giving my thoughts on each as I go. If you want me to go into any certain game further, let me know in the comments, and I’ll try to make it happen.

Don’t Let Microsoft Name Your Kids!

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The conference begins with the official unveiling of Project Scorpio, now deemed the Xbox One X. Yes, seriously. The Xbox One X will be the most powerful… Really? Who did Phil Spencer get to come up with these console names? Xbox One X? I can’t even type that out without thinking it’s a typo. It looks wrong, sounds wrong, and from a marketing standpoint is wrong. Of all the letters you could’ve chosen, why choose the one that could be easily confused for Xbox One S? Think of the children, Phil! The children will be crying at Christmas, Phil! I’m crying already, Phil! Why, Phil? Why?!

… Sorry, I’ll move on.

I’ll save you the technical lesson by telling you that this will be the most powerful console on the market upon release; heads and shoulders over the PlayStation 4 Pro and Switch. Capable of native 4K gaming, faster frame-rates, and smoother graphical fidelity, all while dramatically shrinking the size of the box, this thing is a beast. As expected, all Xbox One games will work for the new console with a better visual look than on the base model. What wasn’t expected? Full backwards compatibility extending to not only the Xbox 360 library, but now the original Xbox. That is badass! And the first Xbox game to be compatible: Crimson Skies. You know, because life is awesome! It will be available November 7 for $499.

Is it worth getting, though? I’m afraid that’ll have to be a conversation between you and your bank account, but for me, probably not. Look, I may be impressed with the tech and the performance, but the only major incentive here is better graphics for games that will still be compatible with the old Xbox One anyway. I passed on the PS4 Pro for similar reasons. I have no qualms sticking to what I have now, but that’s not to say you won’t feel differently. There’s a whole bunch to like here, so if you have the money or don’t have an Xbox One already, go for it.

“I Can’t Feel My Beard!”

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The show continues with Microsoft showcasing 42 games, 22 of which are exclusive to Xbox One. Unfortunately, like I said, I’m only covering the highlights for now.

First up was Forza Motorsport 7, Forza almost always being the second announcement at every Microsoft E3. Just saying! While I don’t typically care about the Forza games, I always do enjoy seeing them at E3, especially in the wake of a new console. Forza is always a great game to showcase the new system’s graphics, and it didn’t disappoint this year either. Just look at the background. The sky, the trees, the sand, and the mountains are simply stunning. Clearly we’re approaching the Uncanny Valley here.

Another game I won’t be covering fully is Metro Exodus, because I have yet to play a game in that series. Looks pretty cool, though.

What I do care about, surprisingly is Assassin’s Creed Origins. I didn’t think I would be, but look at it! Can you believe what two years of breathing room can do for what was such a tired series not too long ago. The setting of ancient Egypt was a brilliant idea, and you can just tell the game looks fresher than previous titles. It looks beautiful (naturally), and allows for a much different weaponry system which will make the combat more unique. Could this actually be the first Assassin’s Creed game I beat? Maybe.

Next came a game called Deep Rock Galactic from the creators of Goat Simulator. It appears to be a team-based, first-person exploration game where you play as 4 armed dwarves. You mine, savage and shoot your way through what I assume are multiple missions, all while hearing some pretty amusing banter between the 4. It definitely has personality, and I enjoyed the trailer.

Skipping Player Unknown’s Battleground, we have State of Decay 2, which provides a lot more detail to outside players than last time around. For those who haven’t played the first game (like me), it appears to be a much better version of Zombi U. Instead of just guiding your hand through a zombie apocalypse story, it’s up to you to decide how you go about your “zombie plan”. Oh, and if you die you start over as a new character. Very intriguing title from last year’s E3.

Minecraft “Switches” Gears

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Since I don’t play Minecraft and I had two Snapchats to attend to at the time, I was unaware of the big news of it until just now. Other than the Super Duper Graphics Pack coming in Fall, Mojang is working toward full unity between Minecraft players. This means you’ll soon be able to play Minecraft with everyone who has the game for any platform: phones, tablets, Windows PC, and consoles. This now includes ā€” da-dada-DAA ā€” the Nintendo Switch. Amen to that!

There’s also a new Dragon Ball game, Dragon Ball Fighter Z, aka DBZ vs Capcom 1. Nothing else to say about that.

Then there’s The Darwin Project, aka The Hunger Games… game. This one actually looks pretty cool. I can see myself having a ton of fun at sucking at it. I really like the idea and the artsytle!

Black Dessert is a very pretty looking game, with what looks to be pretty fun beat-em-up gameplay. It’s almost Scalebound-like in a way (R.I.P.). I probably won’t buy it myself, but I’ll keep an eye on it for sure.

Both The Last Night and The Artful Escape have really great artstyles and look super interesting. Props to the latter for the sweet electric guitar riffs. However, there’s nothing to talk about with these trailers.

Code Vein looks cool, but there’s not a lot of trailer to cover, and Tacoma looks fine I guess. Ashen looks like a really good story-based game, and I love giant, green, sky whales as much as the next guy. But again, not much to say. Damn, it’s been a while since I’ve been totally blown away by somethin- Oh my God! It’s Cuphead! Hell yeah! Finally a release date! September 29? I am so there! Turn up, Microsoft!… Anyone else thirsty all the sudden?

Avast, Ye Game Designers!

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Okay, lightning round’s over! Perhaps I’ll cover some games from the Indie montage later this week, but let’s move on to something we can talk more about. Up next is… Life Is Strange: Before The Storm. Damn it, I didn’t play the first game. Next!

Is that Conker? No? Well, why isn’t it Conker? Anyway, this is Super Lucky’s Tale. A series debuting on the Oculus Rift, this is a 3D platformer. That just so happens to be my favorite genre of game. Admittedly it does look really kiddie and generic, but I can’t help but admire it a little. It reminds me a lot of Klonoa, which is always a good thing. I’m actually really glad Microsoft is investing in an IP like this. Hopefully it’ll convince them to actually make a new Conker game or something to that effect… Seriously, Microsoft, new Conker. Get on it!

Now, I may not be a huge online co-op guy, but I’ve been interested in Sea of Thieves for a while. Not only is it Rare’s big return to grace, but we honestly don’t get enough games with pirates in them. I mean there’s Assassin’t Creed 4, Tropico 5, um… Pirates Gold for the Sega Genesis, and I think that’s it. Anyway, I have to say I like this trailer much more than last year’s. Last year was just 4 people hamming up being excited. This one feels like an actual trailer with a pretty good narrator and great gameplay to accompany it. It’s a shame we’re still a ways to go before we get our hands on it, but I’m sure it’ll be worth the wait.

Maybe I’m just easily entertained, but Terry Crews should be in every game trailer for the rest of time. “BOOM!” Crackdown 3 finally has some gameplay, and coming from an outsider of the series it looks really fun. Destruction everywhere. Beating enemies up with pieces of a building. Giant shooting robots! Where do I sign up?

A bit of a confession as I move on to Middle-Earth: Shadow of War. While I do own Shadow of Mordor, I only ever played it once before it went to my backlog forever. Nothing against the game itself, but I have a ton of games to get through and so little time. Hopefully by the time this one comes out, I would’ve actually completed the first one. Besides, how does one deny a game where you turn a giant Orc named Bruz (voiced ironically by Bruce the Shark from Finding Nemo) into your ally? Answer: you don’t!

Another game I haven’t quite gotten to but really want to is Ori and the Blind Bandit. Well, now it’s time to speed up those plans, because now there’s a sequel called Ori and the Will of the Wisps. It looks as beautiful, heartbreaking and cute as ever.

After that, Phil Spencer discussed backwards compatibility (we covered that earlier), and then came one final announcement. Those who saw the previous day’s EA Play knew there was a game called Anthem that was supposed to be showcased at Microsoft’s conference. And showcased they did! Admittedly, I think I undeserved this game when I saw the trailer at EA, but wow! I mean, wow! This may be one of my favorite games of E3 so far, no joke. This game is not only beautiful and has an excellent setting. It also looks like so much fun. You’re telling me that there exists a game where I can enter a robotic suit, use insane weapons and fight freaky looking enemies in an open world with weird extra dimensional portals in it… and I can fly?

EA, we’ve had out differences in the past, but you’re one hell of a sweet talker. Oh you have Star Wars, too? Okay, let me know where I can drop my wallet off to you.


Thus concludes Microsoft’s E3 2017 Press Conference. Overall, I’d say they set the bar pretty high for Sony and Nintendo. I noticed how there was a bigger emphasis on new IPs this time around, and I love how they didn’t take too much time talking about the Scorpio, but showing it. Definitely one of their better conferences more or less on par with last year.

What did you think of the show this year? What’s your favorite game announced at E3 so far? Let me know in the comments so we can nerd out together! And sty tuned for my thoughts on the Sony conference next time!

I’m SBox180. Thanks for reading!

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