This years Microsoft E3 Conference was primed to be their best conference ever. Phil Spencer (Head of Xbox) over the years has told us the Xbox was going back to its roots of being a game-first company. With an absent PlayStation and Phil Spencer’s boasting about having 60 games and 14 Xbox exclusives to show off this was supposed to be Microsoft’s year, and it wasn’t.
Don’t get me wrong, I thought the conference was fine, good even, but it needed to be Sony’s 2016 E3 conference good, and it couldn’t deliver which Sony knew hence why they weren’t at E3 this year. Bloober Team’s Blair Witch and Ninja Theory’s Bleeding Edge both caught my attention and looked like really solid games that I will try, but no having gameplay was a letdown especially for Blair Witch since the game launches August 30th.
We did get a truly stellar moment from this conference; Keanu Reeves in Cyber Punk 2077 f**k yes! and the CGI trailer for CyberPunk looked absolutely incredible. Keanu even came out on stage and delivered a charming speech about CD Projekt Red and even gave us a release date. The only problem is that CyberPunk 2077 isn’t an Xbox exclusive, of course it’ll run best on Xbox One X but its going to be available everywhere when it launches 4/16/2020.
After CyberPunk 2077, there was a lull, games like Flight Simulator, Star Wars Lego, Wastelands 3, and even Battletoads although nostalgic doesn’t make consumer think they have to own an Xbox One. Also during this time we got a look in the future of Game Pass, and having Metro Exodus come to Game Pass so soon is awesome, and not raising the price for the Game Pass for PC was great, but showcasing titles like Imperator Rome, and Football Manager 2019 just didn’t add value for me. Now the Halo Master Chief collection I was all in for and can’t wait to try that out for myself.
Things got really weird with Gears 5, we got a weird trailer of Kait Diaz that was only 1:20 long but felt like a lifetime. You can check out the trailer in the my Gears 5 “News” tab, we then got our release date which is September 10th, which I still excited for, and then even a new mode Escape; which sounds like fun, but we got ZERO gameplay. And, yes! I know that gameplay of Escape was shown on twitch with the WWE guys but we should have gotten prerecorded gameplay during the conference. The whole Gears 5 presentation was weird to me and it felt like Microsoft was just doing things to fill space to make their conference run longer.
Finally we get to the Future of Xbox, and they revealed Project X Cloud which is supposed to be Microsoft’s play anywhere initiative, but they didn’t give us any information about it, expect that it goes live in October, and with Google Stadia’s the day before Microsoft needed to come a little harder to get me excited about X Cloud could be.
Project Scarlett was revealed right after X Cloud, and again it felt underwhelming. I’m excited about it having a SSD, and custom AMD processor, but for them to not show a design, talk price, or show anything running on Project Scarlett was so reminiscent of the Xbox One reveal it was insane. I needed something here to get me excited about Scarlett, and Xbox didn’t come through for me. All the information Xbox gave at E3, Sony gave the same information along with a demo in a Wired Magazine interview. Not even Halo Infinite could turn it around for Microsoft, the trailer although gorgeous gave us no insight into what this game is going to be about. It was E3 2018 all over again for Microsoft, and in a year without your biggest competition Xbox needed a Home Run, but instead it a single and it just wasn’t good enough.