Microsoft should have some interesting announcements but will it be enough to ride out the lackluster Fall/Winter lineup?
It really is a bad year to be an Xbox One fan. Granted, most gamers these days are either bereft of fanboyism, ignore the Internet’s opinions or pick up a specific brand for its specific franchises. But when you think about it, 2017 has to be weakest year for Microsoft’s IPs. We’ve had Halo Wars 2. Forza Motorsport 7 is out on October 3rd. Cuphead finally arrives on September 29th. Then there’s PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds arriving in the Game Preview Program and which will likely receive gameplay footage at Gamescom. Talk about slim pickings.
Still, 2018 isn’t all that far off. If Microsoft has to do anything at its Gamescom 2017 event, it’s hype up the releases to come. We already know the Xbox One X will be featured during the event on August 20th. How good will that be?
"The fact remains that in terms of a Fall/Winter line-up, this year is poised to be Microsoft’s weakest showing yet."
Considering the amount of time Microsoft will have, along with a focus on when potential consumers can pre-order (coupled with the inevitable Day One Edition announcement), it’s likely to concentrate on the games coming this year that will be enhanced in 4K as hype up future titles. So let’s go with “slightly below average” on the bad to good scale.
The latest teaser from Microsoft indicates that Middle-Earth: Shadow of War and Forza Motorsport 7 will receive new gameplay trailers. In fact, I expect Forza Motorsport 7 to be the sole standout if it’s single-player campaign receives new details. Every Forza game in the past few years has been great so this will be hard to mess up. Gears of War 4 was also teased, likely due to the significant improvements its visuals will receive on the Xbox One X. ReCore: Definitive Edition will be announced with improved graphics and a fifth Corebot added for fun. Which is fine. It’s nothing amazing but it’s fine.
There is some slight hope though. Super Lucky’s Tale looks like a decent platformer and it’s releasing on November 7th. While I’m somewhat skeptical about Microsoft’s claims of its awesomeness, it’s still intriguing and will be available to Xbox One and Xbox One X consumers in time for the latter’s launch. I would make some kind of prediction about Below, Capybara Games’ long-awaited dungeon crawler adventure, getting a release date but honestly you should just wait till the game is in your hands (or in the download queue) before having any kind of hope.
Not much information has been going around about original Xbox backwards compatibility since June. To that end, expect Microsoft to reveal even more information about what other games will be backwards compatible along with a release date for the function. Again, if you’re into that sort of thing, it will be fine. The fact remains that in terms of a Fall/Winter line-up, this year is poised to be Microsoft’s weakest showing yet.
"As for Crackdown 3…well, I don’t know what Microsoft could show from Crackdown 3 to generate interest but it has promised a better showing than San Diego Comic Con."
Hence we come to future games like Sea of Thieves, Crackdown 3 and State of Decay 2. We need more information on these titles and it has to be something that will actually captivate us since all three titles are launching in 2018. More exploration and emergent gameplay in Sea of Thieves would be great but we’ve seen it already. How about a new feature that Rare hasn’t mentioned till now? Maybe how players can go on raids and the like together?
State of Decay 2 should showcase just how much more feature-rich the world has gotten since the first game. Things are more serious, sure, but the open world genre has gone through some major changes over the years. Show us interesting things to do rather than a nice little trailer. As for Crackdown 3…well, I don’t know what Microsoft could show from Crackdown 3 to generate interest but it has promised a better showing than San Diego Comic Con. That will probably count for something. Perhaps the competitive multiplayer will finally have its time to shine.
I don’t think Microsoft will keep this conference as hefty as E3 2017. Games like The Darwin Project, Ashen, Black Desert Online, Deep Rock Galactic, The Last Night and so on should at least be playable on the showroom floor if they can’t be featured on stage. It needs to do something to keep the Xbox brand in the minds of those interested. Otherwise, they’ll play the third party titles on PC and PS4 or just ignore them completely. Cultivating Japanese developers would have been a great idea but Microsoft already killed that dead when it cancelled Scalebound. I know, I know, old wounds but it stings even more when you consider how barren this year has been for exclusive Xbox One releases.
"Microsoft at this point seems to be less about blazing a trail and just presenting a few exclusives that you might want to pick up this year…"
It’s hard to even imagine how Microsoft could hype up the Xbox One X any more than it already has. We’ve seen the 4K footage of said games at E3 2017. Microsoft itself has said this a device meant for a niche audience. The messaging would have been less confusing if we had a bunch of new games to hype up for 4K. Instead, there’s a fair bit of leaning on past releases. This isn’t to say that Sony didn’t do the same with the PlayStation 4 Pro but it did have a number of different titles in the works, even if many lacked release dates.
All of this negativity could be for naught when Gamescom finally rolls around. Microsoft could reveal another trailer for Bioware’s Anthem and how great it will look on Xbox One X. It could showcase new content for Halo 5: Guardians or, if we’re lucky, tease a brand new Halo game. Microsoft at this point seems to be less about blazing a trail and just presenting a few exclusives that you might want to pick up this year, perhaps for the Xbox One X. Maybe you’ll stick around long enough for when other exclusives arrive. Maybe you won’t.
Gamescom 2017 will be taking place from August 23rd to 26th for regular attendees, thus giving them a chance to play the games likely to be hyped beforehand. Share your thoughts on what Xbox One titles you’ll be looking forward to in the comments below.
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