While this year’s E3 may have been a little disappointing with regards to the number of surprises, one main takeaway was Microsoft’s willingness to come out swinging. Continually reiterating that their conference would showcase “50 games, 18 exclusives, and 15 world premieres” over and over, and over and over, and over and over again – yes that many – they had a strong showing, but did they succeed in delivering the goods? Put simply, not quite. But it was their best attempt nevertheless.
Microsoft’s biggest issue these past couple years has been the lack of exclusive titles on the system. While Platinum’s dragon slaying Action RPG Scalebound looked promising, it’s cancellation meant that the Triple-A landscape was left looking pretty dire for the world’s most powerful console. Microsoft did attempt to remedy this by announcing four new first-party acquisitions – Ninja Theory, Undead Labs, Compulsion Games, and Playground Games – alongside the reveal of a newly created studio, The Initiative. While this could potentially work out great in the long run, it does little to quell those on the fence about purchasing an Xbox One.
There is no easy fix to the Xbox One’s exclusives problem, so instead the publisher is looking ahead. To my mind, with the intention to cut losses and futureproof their game line-up for the inevitable Xbox One successor. Their conference did at least do at lot to prove that Xbox remains a solid place in which to experience multiplatform releases, a sentiment backed up by the world premiere of titles like Dying Light 2, Life is Strange: The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit, and perhaps the most unexpected announcement, Devil May Cry 5. It was more surprises than Sony had, and help give the conference the overall “oomph” you’d expect to see from a company that’s down but not out!
Presently, the only real reason to dive into the Xbox eco-system so late into its lifespan is the beauty that is Xbox Game Pass, which to their credit, Microsoft have done a great job at supporting. E3 saw Bethesda unveil Fallout 4’s addition, for example, seeing it join a selection of 100+ games which can all be downloaded and played for just a monthly subscription of £7.99/$9.99. Realistically, if one did purchase a system they could in theory experience most of the console’s exclusives this way. It’s enticing, and sure as hell beats paying £50/$60 a game.
Crackdown 3 finally resurfaced at this year’s showcase with a sooner than expected release date of February 2019. Xbox Game Pass subscribers will get this free day one as with other Xbox One exclusives. If this, Gears 5, and Forza Horizon 4 interest you, Microsoft may have tipped you over the edge. For everyone else, however, they’re left to continue waiting for the next generation in the hope that Microsoft can return its console efforts to the heights of the 360 era.