E3 2017 is almost upon us, and what I want from Microsoft this year is for the company to give me a reason to own an Xbox.
I should clarify this: I have an Xbox. I want a reason to brush the dust off it; a reason that goes beyond the standard franchises like Halo and Gears and Forza. While these are phenomenal franchises, all of which I own, they have been pushing the same formula for years. These titles appease core Xbox fans while doing little to push boundaries in terms of story and gameplay, and potentially pulling in gamers who are still on the fence about owning the console.
Hear me out.
Even the Xbox staples like Gears 4 and the newer titles like ReCore did fairly little to make waves during 2016’s 4th quarter. While they were extremely popular in their own right, both games launched in the midst of other hugely anticipated games like Battlefield 1, Infinite Warfare, Final Fantasy XV, and Dishonored 2 (review here), all of which released on multiple platforms. Put that into perspective with canceled Xbox games like Scalebound from Platinum Games and the briefly canceled Phantom Dust remake, and you’re left with a company that has a shaky handle on their exclusives, especially the anticipated IPs.
Right now, Nintendo is riding comfortably on the massive success of the Nintendo Switch and Breath of the Wild; but even as a company, Nintendo is always finding new ways to keep their core games like Mario and Pokémon feeling fresh and exciting for fans both old and new. For the last few years, Naughty Dog has been somewhat of a saving grace for the PlayStation, as the developers have received numerous awards and have created a dedicated fan-base with the Uncharted series.
Following the release of Drake’s Deception, the team proved they could expand their storytelling capabilities even further and created a memorable experience with The Last of Us, another title that garnered industry-wide acclaim. Not to mention titles like Bloodborne, Until Dawn, and most recently, Horizon Zero Dawn have all pushed the capabilities of the PlayStation 4 in terms of graphics, and have also pushed the medium of games in terms of diversity in storytelling; and that’s keeping in mind that Sony has exclusive deals with Bungie, Rockstar Games, and Sledgehammer Games for the upcoming Destiny 2, Red Dead Redemption 2, and Call of Duty: WWII, respectively.
So, when it’s all put into perspective like this, where does this leave Microsoft in terms of leveling the playing field? Below is a list of what I’m expecting from the showcase on Sunday, June 11th, as well as some hopeful predictions:
Expectation: Project Scorpio
To see Project Scorpio dominating Microsoft’s stage is just a given this year, as we will finally see the full unveil. The company announced this new upgrade to the Xbox family at their E3 2016 briefing, and now is the time we will get some solid information about it, including detailed specs, price, a release date, and its actual name. Project Scorpio is 4K ready and promises to take gaming to the next level, offering an all-around experience. While the hardware details that have been released boast a powerful system, we’re going to need some games to go along with it.
Hopeful Prediction: Virtual, Mixed, and Augmented Reality
Xbox already announced the Scorpio will support virtual and mixed reality headsets, which will be released in 2018 to support Xbox One and the Scorpio. This could potentially be a large selling point for the Scorpio, but Microsoft stated it will not be featured at E3. However, we would still like to hear something more concrete about how the Scorpio will support virtual and mixed reality. Right now Microsoft only has the HoloLens, but that only supports augmented reality. The most likely option here is the Oculus Rift.
Expectation: Scorpio / Xbox Exclusives
This year is the time for Microsoft to show fans the Xbox not only has what it takes to make them happy but that it can also vie for the attention of gamers on different platforms who’re thinking about making that investment in Xbox. We’re obviously expecting Turn 10 to show off Forza Motorsport 7, getting some Crackdown 3 action from Reagent Studios, and potentially seeing Xbox One games like Gears of War 4 and Forza Horizon 3 get the Scorpio treatment. There is also a high possibility we might see the rumored Shadow of the Tomb Raider at the show.
Hopeful Prediction: Exclusive IPs
All that being said, it would be great to see Microsoft show off some brand new AAA titles that can get us as equally excited, as well as dive more into their ID@Xbox program which offers fantastic support for indie developers. We already know Sony is going hard with the games at E3 this year. With the recent release of the PS4 Pro and PSVR, discussing or releasing new hardware is slim-to-none. The Scorpio may be powerful right now, but for gamers, the system will only be as strong as its lineup.
What are you all looking forward to at Microsoft’s E3 showcase? Let us know down in the comments. You can also watch the show live at The Nerd Stash on Saturday, June 11 at 2 pm PT/ 5 pm ET.