Microsoft E3 2017: Beware of Scorpio
With Microsoft's conference now old news in the lightning paced week of announcement that is the Electronic Entrainment Expo, the benefit of time allows us to absorb and digest the action packed hour of announcements Microsoft crammed into their press conference. While lacking the bombast and much ridiculed “live” (term used exceptionally loose) demonstrations of prior years, Microsoft and the Xbox team delivered a solid plan and vision in their quest to control the living room.
He'll Sting You With His Dreams of Power and Wealth
As expected, the latest member of the Xbox family took center stage as the Xbox One X was finally revealed to the masses. Sporting the first console to utilize a liquid cooling system, the Xbox One X brings some very impressive technical specs to the home console market. The list below reads similar to a mid range PC rather than a home console, making the $500 price tag a bit easier to swallow
8 GB Flash Memory
1 TB Internal Memory
326GB/s of Memory Bandwidth
4K UHD Blu-ray Optical Disk Drive and HDR 10 support
2 HDMI ports/IR Out/ 3 USB 3
Dobly Atmos Sound
True 4K gaming out of the box is a very tantalizing proposition, especially when all you have to do is simply plug in the device. However, I'm unsure Microsoft did enough to sell users who've recently upgraded to the Xbox One S to make the jump to Xbox One X. With the recently announced temporary price drop to $249, I feel those who've been curious have already made the jump to this generation. Getting users to do it again so soon may be a tough pill to swallow... even if the games looked incredible.
Mojang and Microsoft made history Sunday evening by showing a competitor's console in their own press conference through the announcement of Mojang unifying the multiplayer components of Minecraft. Allowing PC, Mobile, Xbox and Nintendo Switch users to play together is a huge announcement in the world of multiplayer gaming and shows true commitment to Microsoft's vision of their gaming business. This commitment to their customers is made even more apparent thanks to Sony's refusal to participate in the program.
In addition to multiplayer unification, Minecraft is receiving a massive 4K visual update through the “Super Duper Graphics Pack” along with more skins and community creation, however unification remains the real star of the story. Even if the Switch was in block form, the mere recognition that other consoles exist is a rare departure in an industry where companies fight tooth and nail to gain the slightest advantage among their fans. Kudos to Mojang and Microsoft for this decision and their show of solidarity with the gaming community.
Power to the People
Part of what has made Microsoft so successful and memorable at E3 is their approach to announcing new titles. Rather than spending thirty minutes discussing Star Wars, Microsoft instead showcases multiple titles, giving each only a few minutes to display their artwork. While it's hard to spend time with the franchises we've come to love, we are instead able to make many new friends and find the next breakout series. Below is an abridged list of the games Microsoft showcased at E3
Forza Motorsport 7
For those so inclined to spend time with a realistic racing simulator, the mainline Forza series returns, optimized for the Xbox One X. In a five minute demo, cars are shown racing in what appears to be deep ISIS territory with the stunning visual clarity you'd expect from a 4K optimized console. While not a racer fan myself, I can appreciate the tuning and dedication that comes with the development of a game with such a particular fanbase and for those so inclined.
Sea of ZZZ
Perhaps the lack of development of major titles in sometime has affected the company, but last night was not a positive showing for Sea of Thieves. For a game about the joys of being a pirate with the ability to survive being used as ammunition in a cannon, the fourth wall breaking demonstration showed the game more as a chore devoid of anything that could remotely be misconstrued as fun. We still have no details of the game's economy and were introduced to two new enemies in the form of a shark and a skeleton made out of glass. However, the game does feature all of the clunky hand to hand combat and hip shooting with zero accuracy you can stomach. For those still curious, No Man's Sky 2: Sea of Thieves is slated for release in 2018.
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Metro: Exodus's existence certainly gets filed under the “surprise” file in the history of E3 2017. Exodus appears to offer more of the same mutant slaughter through a destroyed version of Russia, however this time all with the visual and performance upgrades afforded by the power of Xbox One X.
Super Lucky's Tale
Somewhat mind blowing is the notion that in 2017, consumers are being treated to a Mascot Platformer releasing with a new character. Super Lucky's Tale appears as a love letter to the lost genre, featuring bright colors, cute characters and menacing, but not scary enemies. Even if FurAffinity is going to have a field day with the main character, my inner child is thrilled to see the genre I've grown up with continue to flourish.
New Phone, Who Dis?
PlayerUnknown was to me just that, Unknown. Along with a lack of knowledge of his existence, his bland cookie cutter shooter didn't appeal to me in the may that colorful Overwatch ripoff, The Darwin Project did. The concept of viewers on Mixer being able to award players with power ups during gameplay reminds me of the promises made by the long forgotten shooter, Brink. If delivered as advertised The Darwin Project could be just as fun to watch as it looked to play.