Xbox fans have been hyped for today’s Xbox Games Showcase. It is no secret that Xbox spent the entirety of this current (almost past) generation behind PlayStation. Once Nintendo released the Switch, it caught up and surpassed the Xbox One as well.
Spending the last 7 years in a distant third has forced Xbox to push the boundaries. They came out with Game Pass which gives gamers hundreds of games to play, including all first-party games. That means you don’t have to shell out $60 to try a first-party title if you aren’t sure about it. They also have been pushing xCloud, a streaming service that lets you play Xbox games on your phone. Starting in September, Project xCloud will be available to those who have an Xbox Game Pass Ultimate membership. These are some of the things that make Xbox the most consumer friendly of the big three.
The one thing Xbox struggled on was the big AAA titles that bring gamers to their console. PlayStation was releasing things like God of War, Marvel’s Spider-Man, Horizon Zero Dawn and much more. Nintendo released The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey in the same year, and saw both receive many perfect scores. Meanwhile, the best Xbox exclusive on Metacritic was Forza Horizon 4. The second best, Forza Horizon 3. Now that’s not to say there’s something wrong with racing games, but they’re not the kind of game that brings people to the console.
The Xbox Games Showcase today was the time to get people excited for the Xbox Series X. It was the first time people were excited for an Xbox event since the Xbox One reveal event in May of 2013. Xbox needed to show something that was different from the bro shooter or racing games that they have become known for. Unfortunately for them, they kind of stumbled here. They didn’t fall on their face but they missed their chance for the big wow moment.
Here are the up’s and the down’s from today’s Xbox Games Showcase.
Up: Halo: Infinite
As I said back when PlayStation had their event in May, it would be wise to show Halo: Infinite first. Everyone knew it was coming. So it didn’t make much sense to hold it until the very end. They didn’t and showed the game off from the get go.
We finally got to see the gameplay from Halo: Infinite. It’s changed up the formula from other entries in the series, and this time will be somewhat open world. They showed the map where you can pick what objectives you go to. There also seemed to be more objectives on the map which might be side missions. In the menu as well is an upgrade tab meaning that it might be worth doing those side quests.
We also saw the first look at the grappling hook, allowing you to pull things like gas canisters and then launch them into enemies. It also allowed for transversal in the environment and the ability to close the gap to enemies. I can’t wait to grappling hook an enemy, pull myself close, and then finish with a Energy Sword strike. I spent the entirety of the trailer thinking of cool ways I could use that grappling hook.
Up: The Beautiful Games Coming to Series X
While Halo: Infinite looks really good, the trailers for State of Decay 3 and Forza Motorsport really blew it out of the water. Both games only showed teasers but I am thrilled to see what State of Decay 3 will look like with a bigger budget. Don’t expect it to be Xbox’s answer for The Last of Us 2 but I think it will be a much better version of the first two games.
It is surprising that Forza Motorsport was just a teaser. It was almost a sure bet that we would see it at launch as we had when both the Xbox One and Xbox One X launched. However, the game was absolutely breathtaking. Somehow Xbox keeps managing to push the limits of graphical fidelity. At a certain point it’s going to be hard to tell the difference between watching a real life race on TV, and watching a race in Forza.
Down: Tell Me Why and As Dusk Falls
Before you jump down my throat in the comments, I’m not saying Tell Me Why or As Dusk Falls look bad. They don’t. They look like very solid games that are fun if you enjoy games such as Life is Strange (same developer as Tell Me Why), or other interactive dramas. The down here comes from being shown during the showcase.
I was excited when they showed off the ID at Xbox games during Geoff Keighley’s pre-show. That made us think that there wouldn’t be the filler titles during the main show. That wasn’t the case and it slowed the show down a little too much.
Down: Every Other Shooter Not Named Halo
We saw trailers for both S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2 and Warhammer 40,000: Dark Tide, as well as CrossfireX, a game we have already seen. Both S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2 and Dark Tide are FPS horror games, and CrossfireX looks like your typical military shooter.
The issue here is that Xbox needs something that isn’t a shooter. They’re known as the bro-shooter console for a reason, and nothing from this group really changes that. Maybe Xbox is just turning into the skid here, but it definitely was a misstep in my eyes.
Up: The Medium
When the trailer for The Medium first started I was a little disappointed because we had seen this game back in May. However, my mind changed quickly as we saw the ability to switch between realities. Just as PlayStation showed us the quick load times in their Ratchet & Clank trailer, Xbox showed off some of what the Series X will be able to do.
The ability to have two different realities rendered simultaneously is very impressive. As long as the transition between the two is instantaneous this is definitely a huge up.
While I wasn’t quite sure why they decided to show off an expansion to The Outer Worlds during the Xbox Games Showcase, everything else they did was phenomenal. The trailer for Grounded had some great jokes and definitely added some levity in the middle of the horror show that surrounded it. (That’s not saying the Xbox Games Showcase was horrific, but that there were a lot of horror games on the book ends of the Obsidian section.)
The biggest announcement though was for Obsidian’s new Fantasy RPG Avowed. Not much is known about the game yet, but it definitely gave off some Lord of the Rings and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim vibes. Including the end which definitely reminded me of the Balrog scene from Fellowship.
Down: The Lack of Early Exclusives That Aren’t Shooters
If you were hoping for something to play on the Xbox Series X early in it’s cycle that wasn’t a shooter, you’re going to be disappointed. The only confirmed (and that’s not even necessarily true) launch title is Halo: Infinite. The Medium will be released sometime soon after the Series X launches. There will be no Forza at launch either.
That means that most of the console exclusive games will be shooters. This wouldn’t normally be that big of a deal, however the fact that we saw very few exclusives during this generation is a bit frustrating. Xbox Game Pass and third-party titles should help cover for that but it’s not enough. Now there is a bit of a pass given because of COVID-19 and what it has meant in regards to working from home. But still it is a bit disappointing. What wasn’t disappointing though was…
It finally happened. Xbox is finally bringing back Fable. It’s been a long time coming. It’s felt like a Fable return has been predicted at the last few E3’s. This time it’s finally coming back. We don’t know much of anything else about the game, but that shouldn’t stop us from being happy.
I would imagine that this will be a reboot of the series rather than a sequel. But I for one can’t wait to go explore Albion again. The only downside is I don’t know how long I’ll have to wait to do that.
Overall the Xbox Games Showcase was good. The problem is I think Xbox needed more to convince people to make the change to their console. Now I know Xbox doesn’t really care how you play their games. Whether it be on the Series X, a PC, or a cell phone through xCloud. However there is a somewhat large group that doesn’t enjoy playing on PC and prefers the console experience. This was the group that Xbox needed to convince to buy a Series X and I’m not quite sure if they did that.
While it is finally nice to see some exclusives that could put Xbox in the running for Game of the Year at The Game Awards, we don’t know how far they are away. Both Fable and Avowed don’t look like they’re coming anytime soon.
This Xbox Games Showcase was a good first step, however it didn’t have the big WOW moment that was needed to bring in those on the fence. There is the possibility that they’re saving some of the other big games for things like Gamescom and whatever else they’re planning on doing this year. But that’s a mistake I thought they’d have avoided by now. If I had to give a grade, I’d give the show a solid B. It wasn’t a train wreck or even close to one, but it did lack a certain something that would have really made it special.
Let us know down in the comments if you disagree with me. Also, let us know the grade you’d give it, and if it convinced you to stay or switch to Xbox, or even move to another platform. And stay tuned to Generation Xbox for some in depth analysis at some of the games shown. Finally, go listen to our weekly podcast where we discuss the biggest stories of the week. Make sure to subscribe so you can get notified the minute our coverage of the Xbox Games Showcase goes live.