E3 2017: Microsoft

Entering E3 this year, Microsoft needed to dominate its conference. The company was set to finally unveil the next iteration of the Xbox, Project Scorpio. Not only did they have to hammer home the idea that this will be the most powerful console ever made, Microsoft had to show a wide assortment of games, preferably exclusives to the Xbox community. At the end of the day Sunday, Microsoft delivered a quality showcase that presented strong AAA games, but failed to expand its exclusive library like Sony has to date.

Xbox One X — November 7, 2017

Microsoft drew back the curtains on Project Scorpio to reveal the next line in its home consoles: Xbox One X. Not to be confused with the current Xbox One S, this next console will be the most powerful console ever made and is set to release on November 7, 2017 for $499.

The company released the following specs for the machine, however I don’t really know what to make of them:

  • 6 teraflops GPU clocked at 1.172 Ghz
  • 12GBs of GDDR5 memory
  • 326 GB/s of memory bandwidth
  • 8 million plus pixels
  • HDR
  • Wide color gamut
  • Premium Dolby Atmos sound
  • 4K UHD Blu-ray playback
  • Liquid-cooled vapor chamber
  • Smallest console from Microsoft

While I’m quite glad the Xbox One X will have a sufficient amount of teraflops and a nice vapor chamber, it’s hard for me to defend the $499 price tag. Microsoft has expressed their defense of the price point, and will expectedly do so throughout this console’s lifespan, but I believe it’s a mistake. Yes, the Xbox One X is geared for the “hardcore gamer” and is a “premium product”. But in order to use this premium product, you need a 4K TV to truly take advantage of everything the Xbox One X has to offer. So not only are you going to spend $499 for the console, without tax, but an upgrade to your TV will put you back another $499 at least. So you’re sitting at around $1,000 and we haven’t even gotten to any games, accessories or online services. Ouch.

Games

Microsoft has painfully been in the rearview mirror during this console generation when it comes to games. The battle for exclusivity of games for the most part has resided in Sony’s corner, most recently with Horizon Zero Dawn, NieR: Automata and Nioh. It goes without saying that Microsoft is in a tough spot in securing exclusive titles not named Halo or Gears of War.

Crackdown 3 — November 7, 2017

Looking like Microsoft’s big holiday title, Crackdown 3 is slated to release on the same day as the Xbox One X November 7. Considering fans of the franchise have waited since 2010 and that it’s being released alongside their new console, I don’t expect this to get pushed back. Terry Crews starred in the most recent E3 trailer.

Forza Motorsport 7 – October 3, 2017

The company showcased their next high-end racing game, Forza Motorsport 7. I’m not a big racing fan, but Forza looks absolutely breathtaking on the X. The vehicles are sleek and the environments are virtually life-like. Microsoft said there will be more than 700 cars and the game will feature native 4K.

Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds — Late 2017

The battle royale simulation on PC has found an exclusive console home. Microsoft revealed that Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds will be coming to Xbox One later this year. Currently on Steam with over three million players, this is a good get by Microsoft in expanding their exclusive library.

Metro Exodus — 2018

Following the events of Metro: Last Light and Metro 2035, Metro Exodus is a first-person shooter with stealth and horror elements. It has been four years since the previous Metro game released, earning a wide spread of fame among critics and fans. Metro Exodus is scheduled to release in 2018.

Sea of Thieves — Early 2018

Microsoft showed off their exclusive pirate action-adventure game for the third E3 in a row. First announced in 2015, Sea of Thieves looks to be an integrated cooperative multiplayer adventure from the first-person perspective. Players will sail the open seas, search for booty and do all the various piracy activities. Sea of Thieves is scheduled to release in early 2018.

Cuphead — September 29, 2017

Originally announced at E3 2014, Cuphead has finally received a release date. Due to come out on September 29, 2017, this title from Studio MDHR looks like nothing you’ve experienced before. The art style is reminiscent of Disney animations from the 1930s. Cuphead is a platformer/shooter that appears to be a colossal hit for Microsoft.

Anthem — Fall 2018

Arguably the most intriguing of all the titles announced, Bioware’s upcoming shooter is catching tons of attention. Anthem looks to take inspiration from other spacey shooters, such as, Halo, Destiny and Titan Fall. Said to be an action role-playing game in a shared-world, Anthem will release sometime in 2018.

Xbox original backwards compatibility

Finally, the one announcement many hardcore Microsoft fans have been waiting for. The company announced that original Xbox games will be functional via backwards compatible on the Xbox One S and X. Albert Penello, lead of marketing for Xbox, tweeted that the original discs for Xbox classic games will work on the current systems.

Wrap-up

Overall, Microsoft had a very strong conference. The lack of exclusives was still evident, other than Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds. The appeal of the Xbox One X did not sit with me, but it was a good response to Sony’s PS4 Pro (albeit the price). Microsoft clearly brought out the big guns by announcing release dates for Cuphead and Crackdown 3, and threw the longtime Xbox fan-base a bone with the news of Xbox original backwards compatibility. E3 2017 might be the turning point that Microsoft was looking for, let’s see if they can capitalize on this strong showing.

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