The thing with Microsoft’s miraculous turnaround of the Xbox One this generation is that there isn’t any one moment in time that you can point at as where it might have happened. Unlike Sony and their introduction of the PS3 Slim and Uncharted 2, or Nintendo and their Nintendo 3DS price cut, and release of Super Mario 3D Land and Mario Kart 7, the comeback of the Xbox One has been a slow, steady process. It’s been going on ever since Phil Spencer took the reigns of the Xbox department at Microsoft, and systematically started to dismantle everything about the system that was controversial, leaving just a great gamer focused machine in his wake.
So no, you can’t point to any one Microsoft conference, E3, Gamescom, or otherwise, and call it bombastic, because they’re never those- they’re only very good at best. But very good is excellent in this case. Very good is what the doctor ordered. Very good works. Because without knowing it, I now find myself sold on an Xbox One, pining for its exclusives. And never before has that been more apparent to me than tonight’s Gamescom showing.
Microsoft already had a massive advantage going into Gamescom this year- with both Sony and Nintendo sitting this one out, they had basically won by default. They could have just made their Gamescom showing a repeat of their E3 stuff, and called it a day. No one would have complained much, because what would they be doing bad compared to? But no, true to their word, they decided to highlight entirely separate portions of their lineup at Gamescom, talking about games that they hadn’t even mentioned at E3. And in the process, they ended up giving the impression of a massive, massive lineup of exclusives for their console in the coming months, which should be enough to sell anybody on it.
From their ‘big three’ showings – Remedy’s Quantum Break, looking literally a generation ahead of Uncharted 4 in terms of gameplay; Platinum’s Scalebound, which looks like an excellent action RPG, and like the next generation Dragon’s Dogma game that we are doomed to never get; Crackdown 3, which finally looks set on realizing the potential of Microsoft’s open world action franchise – to their announcement of more perks for existing Xbox One owners (Windows 10 coming to Xbox One, all future GwG games being BC enabled on Xbox One, backwards compatibility finally being made available to everyone this November), Microsoft never missed a note.
They also made sure to talk more about Halo 5: Guardians, which looks like it will have an extreme focus on eSports, as well as Forza Motorsport 6, which looks like a return to form for the franchise; Rise of the Tomb Raider, which finally got a proper showing, and also, a whole lot of third party games, from Just Cause 3 to Rainbow Six: Siege, to even Dark Souls III, which got an amazing looking gameplay trailer that finally got me excited about it. Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night got some stage time, as did a whole host of other indie games. Major PC games, such as ARK: Survival Evolved and Cities: Skylines, were all confirmed for Xbox One.
Essentially, it didn’t matter what kind of game you liked- first party or third party, exclusive or multiplat, western or Japanese, AAA or indie, PC or console, you got something that was right up your alley at Microsoft’s conference anyway. The fact that they even managed to find some time to talk about their multimedia features – DVR recording for TV is finally coming to the system, and will even be compatible with the Xbox app on smart devices – or that they even managed to have one last minute new announcement in Halo Wars 2 (which by the way, being helmed by The Creative Assembly, looks like it could be seriously awesome) is only a testament to just how great this conference was, and how much they managed to pack into it.
When people make lists of all time great conferences in the future, Microsoft’s Gamescom showing this year will probably not feature in it- probably, none of their showings at E3 or Gamescom in the last few years will, to be honest. But this year’s Gamescom showing will probably be looked at as the point in the Xbox One’s history where the turnaround was complete to such an extent that there was very little downtime, very little that disappointed, very little to complain about.
And considering where the Xbox One was just a year ago, that is seriously impressive after all.