Xbox E3 2017: All the News From Microsoft’s Conference At E3 2017
Anyone else struggling to cope with how good Metro Exodus looked on Xbox One X at Microsoft's E3 briefing?
As the house lights dipped for the start of the Xbox press briefing last night at E3, there were so many questions circling around Xbox’s Project Scorpio: What did it look like? How much does it cost? When can I get one? And most importantly: what can I actually play on the damn thing?
Once the intro montages wrapped up, Head of Xbox Phil Spencer took the stage to introduce the world to the Xbox One X and announced the new console would be available starting November 7th and will cost $499, which is around £400 in the Queen’s money.
To get a better idea of what this new entry in the Xbox One series could do and if it could ever be worth that eye watering price, Spencer invited Vice-President of Xbox Kareem Choudhry on to the stage to take a more in-depth look at the power behind the Xbox One X. Choudhry’s enthusiasm for the project was palpable as he listed the technical specifications of the Xbox One X, which were undoubtedly impressive. However, one concern for many commentators and players alike was that this new console would only serve those people who already own a 4K television. Choudhry reassured the audience, however, by stating that “the game library you have today will look and play even better on Xbox One X with enhanced visual fidelity, isotropic filtering and faster load times”.
My initial reaction when seeing the Xbox One X for the first time was how compact the chassis looked and this was also confirmed by Choudhry who claimed it was the “smallest Xbox console ever”. So Microsoft had made an impressive start as the new console looked great and sounded impressive from a system’s architecture perspective, but we all know that isn’t worth a thing if there are no games to play. Microsoft anticipated this, however, and what followed was a veritable smorgasbord of new titles and exclusives to show off the power of the Xbox One X.
In classic new console fashion, the first game to demonstrate the power of the Xbox One X running in true 4K, 60 fps and Ultra High Definition was a racing game. Specifically, Forza Motorsport 7, which looked absolutely gorgeous on Microsoft’s giant 4K screen. The game will be available on October 3rd with players who purchase the game ahead of the Xbox One X launch will receive a free update to bring it up speed should they opt to also buy the new console. This particular section of the show featured a grown man saying “dynamic puddles”, which was very enjoyable.
Phil Spencer returned to the stage to introduce the “largest and I believe most diverse lineup of games we have ever shown on our E3 stage”’. First up was the newest entry in the extremely popular Metro series. The trailer was rendered in-engine and was further proof of what the Xbox One X can deliver. Not only did the game look visually magnificent, but it’s also an open world title, showcasing a new standard for sandbox game graphics.
We then saw gameplay from Assassin’s Creed: Origins, which takes the eternal struggle between the Assassins and the Templars back to its roots in ancient Egypt. It seemed packed with additional features as well as the appearance of a monstrous snake! Whether this was a new fantasy-inspired direction for the series of simply a dream sequence remains to be seen. This was quickly followed by Steam viral smash hit PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds and zombie survival RPG State of Decay 2.
Microsoft and Mojang clearly got together and decided that nobody should be safe from the Xbox One X’s rampant graphical upgrades so even Minecraft got a facelift, as well as crossplay support.
Then came a sizzle reel of games improved by the Xbox One X including:
Phil Spencer returned to the stage to re-introduce Sea of Thieves, the delightful pirate multiplayer adventure from Rare slated for release early 2018. The developers have shown off bits and pieces of the game in the past, but this time we were treated to an extended look at how this game will work in real terms and it doesn’t disappoint: Team up with your crew, sail the treacherous seas, find the map, discover buried treasure and try not to be eaten by sharks.
Immediately after this was another game clearly aimed at a younger audience called Super Lucky’s Tale, which looked like a suitably charming platform adventure game, if a little vanilla.
Then Microsoft lifted the lid on another one of its heavy hitters as Crackdown 3 took centre stage. The supremely likable Terry Crews asks us all to step up our boom when Crackdown 3 releases alongside the Xbox One X on November 7th.
Then came two of the most truly curiosity peeking announcements of the night as Ashen was shown off on the Microsoft stage alongside Life is Strange: Before the Storm. Not much is known about the former, though a dungeon crawling cooperative action adventure seems like a good bet. Life is Strange: Before the Storm is a prequel to the 2015 critically acclaimed Life is Strange, which if you haven’t played yet I can thoroughly recommend.
After that, we got a bit more of Middle-earth: Shadow of War which is taking the solid concept from the original and ramping it up a few notches. Tasked with raising an army and conquering Mordor, this new iteration not only seems to be raising the stakes but adding in a much needed injection of colour and humour to just lift the tone a little bit.
Xbox still had time for one more mic drop moment as they unveiled that original Xbox titles would be made available for download on Xbox One later this year.
The curtain dropped on the briefing as EA Games’ Patrick Soderlund presented an extended look at the new Bioware title, Anthem. Based on a ravaged futuristic world that seems to have been reclaimed by nature, each player will don an exoskeleton called a ‘Javelin’ to dish out the hurt in whichever way they see fit. I certainly got a Mass Effect: Andromeda meets Gears of War (given the apparent four player coop) vibe from the game which is a very promising mix indeed.
Overall, I believe this was a very positive briefing for Microsoft. They resisted the temptation to do anything other than show off video games that people can actually play. It was a simple conference, that revelled in a genuine affection for games and an infectious enthusiasm for supped up technical specifications. It will certainly be interesting to see whether this approach resonates with customers when the Xbox One X launches November 7th.