Xbox’s Twitch stream went down in seconds so all screenshots come from Gamespot’s stream of the event, hence the Gamespot watermarks in all images. Screenshots were taken by me and were NOT taken from Gamespot.

Microsoft came into this year’s E3 with a very clear mission: to sell the gaming public on Scorpio, officially titled the Xbox One X. I’m not sure they succeeded at that but fortunately, we got a lot of great game reveals in the process. There are too many to take a look at all of them but I’ll try and mark the highlights here:

Xbox One X

Xbox One X
The world’s most powerful console… until the next console!

The big highlight of the show was the reveal of Microsoft’s new console, the Xbox One X. Like previously mentioned, this will NOT be a new console generation, but simply an advancement of the Xbox One tech. Thus, all games revealed will be playable on current gen Xbox One’s but they are optimized for Xbox One X. Likewise, all current games and accessories will be compatible with the Xbox One X.

If you’re a specs-junkie, they had you covered and other sites can give you all the gritty details but the important takeaway is that the Xbox One X promises 4K 60 Frame Per Second gaming. If that’s what you’re into, congratulations! It seems to make good on that promise. Still, most gamers don’t have 4K TVs so I’m not convinced this is going to be any more meaningful to gaming than the PS4 Pro. We will have to see. The console comes out November 7th and will launch at $499.

Forza Motorsport 7 – October 3, 2017

Racing Title
New Console = New Pretty Racing Game

It’s pretty much a gaming law that every new console reveal must come accompanied with a graphics intensive racing game. Sony has had Gran Turismo and Microsoft has had Forza. The Xbox One X has not broken tradition and immediately following the announcement of the Xbox One X, we received a trailer for Forza Motorsport 7… and a world reveal of a new Porsche supercar… Since that’s what we come to E3 for…

Anyway, the game looked great and otherwise seemed like every other racing game trailer out there. They dropped phrases like “beautiful vistas”, “dynamic weather” and “breathtaking finishes”. While it didn’t do anything new for racing games, it still looked like a pretty great racing game and considering the Forza pedigree, I’m guessing racing fans will have something to look forward to.

Assassin’s Creed Origins – October 27, 2017

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The Worst Kept Secret of 2017

If you want to make a big reveal to the world, maybe don’t release images of t-shirts featuring your new main character. Ah well, despite the lack of surprise of the setting and name, Assassin’s Creed Origins actually looked better than Assassin’s Creed has looked in years.

They obviously decided to lean into the RPG elements of the franchise and have included features like character levels and ability points for the first time. More subtly, the game seems to finally be focused around actual stealth! This has been a complaint of mine for YEARS that Assassin’s Creed barely has any actual stealth components. The gameplay trailer showed stealth takedowns, utilizing the environment to stay hidden, crouching (yeah, crouching is something that’s pretty new…), as well as a new bird friend you can use to scout.

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I shall name you Birdie! Birdie the bird! Nailed it.

Ultimately, the extra year off looks like it may have paid off for the franchise which, aside from the last game, Syndicate, has struggled to stay relevant for a while now.

New Game Onslaught!

Like I mentioned, there are just too many games revealed to talk in-depth about all of them (I’m just one guy! I’m sorry!) but here is the list of games we got small, cinematic trailers for.

  • Metro Exodus – 2018 – Sequel to Metro: Last Light.
  • Deep Rock Galactic – Unknown – Looked like a mix of Minecraft and Borderlands
  • State of Decay 2 – Spring 2018 – Looked much the same as State of Decay 1.
  • The Darwin Project – Unknown – Desperate for eSports attention, cell-shaded shooter.
  • Minecraft – Fall – Unifying it’s versions across Mobile/Console/VR/Desktop
  • Dragon Ball Z FighterZ – Early 2018 – 3v3 fighting game. Looked like it will be a Marvel VS Capcom style game.
  • Black Desert Online – Unknown – Port of the PC MMO
  • The Last Night – Unknown – A pixelart sidescrolling adventure game a la Gemini Rue
  • The Artful Escape – Unknown – Sidescrolling musical drug trip!
  • CodeVein – 2018 – Vampire anime Dark Souls
  • Super Lucky’s Tale – Nov 7 – The return of the 3D mascot platformer and sequel to the VR exclusive Lucky’s Tale
  • Cuphead – Sept 29 – Release date given! Maybe they’ll stick to it this time?

All of these games were announced but all of them were revealed in short trailers with very little details about any of them. This reflected Microsoft’s strategy throughout the show of give TONS of games but very few details about any of them. You’d be hard-pressed to watch the presentation and not find SOMETHING to be excited about but it was hard to get invested in new IP’s like EA managed with A Way Out.

My highlights were Metro Exodus, The Last Night and The Artful Escape. Metro, just because I’m a big fan of Metro 2033 and Metro: Last Light but the other two because their indie-styled throwback trailers seem unique on a platform so invested in graphical powerhouses.

Sea of Thieves – Early 2018

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I’ve seen underwater movies before… Watch out for sharks!

Sea of Thieves got another extended look this year, although this year was more scripted than last year’s “record a bunch of YouTubers playing it” presentation. Honestly, this look was the best yet as it showed a couple miniature adventures players could experience playing the game.

The first showed players swimming through a sunken vessel looking for treasure while sharks defended the territory outside. While there wasn’t much in the way of action going on, escaping the sharks was tense and you can imagine the fright of the players knowing the sharks are right behind them, racing them back to their pirate ship.

The second showed the players storming a small island looking for buried treasure. It sounds like missions will be given in the form of riddles that the players must solve in order to determine where the treasure is located.

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Looks… enthralling?

I have some questions about how that’s going to work but the combat looked fun as players ventured into a cave defended by skeletons. Combat appears to be first-person shooter using weapons a pirate may feasibly have but someone could also control the ship to bombard the island’s defenders. The trailers didn’t show melee weapons but you have to imagine cutlasses will make an appearance.

Finally, players will be able to fight each other for their treasure in ship vs ship combat. They didn’t show much about how this will work but it certainly looked fun.

We still haven’t gotten firm details on how multiplayer in Sea of Thieves will work but assuming it will work in a Destiny-like fashion, Sea of Thieves could be a real comeback for Rare. One that I’d personally love to see happen!

Tacoma – August 2

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Really the only screenshot I could get… FORGIVE ME!

Okay, Tacoma was technically one of the quick reveals I burned through earlier but I had to spotlight this game. Gone Home was one of my favorite games of all time and their follow-up, Tacoma, has been on my watch list for a long time.

Not much was said about this game other than it will finally be released this summer, August 2nd! YAY!

Crackdown 3 – November 7

Crackdown 3 3
Crackdown 3! Hopefully less blurry than this image!

Forgive the poor screenshot quality, the live stream had a terrible habit of zooming off of the trailer whenever they would show the title and release date! It’s like they have it out for us bloggers, I swear!

Anyway, Crackdown 3 got it’s widely rumored re-reveal today and will be utilizing the tech from the Xbox One X, like everyone pretty much already guessed. What they may not have necessarily saw coming was that they went full Saint’s Row with this series. The trailer started off with Terry Crews (yes, THAT Terry Crews) shouting at us before going into a comic-styled trailer showing crazy explosions and gunfights that looked straight out of Saint’s Row 3.

It was not entirely unwelcome but I’m concerned the game may lose its identity by adhering so closely to an already established (and played out) franchise. We’ll have to see but at least we’ll finally have some closure with this long-awaited sequel in November.

Life is Strange: Before the Storm – Episode 1: August 31

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YESYESYESYESYESYESYESYESYESYES!

Another game I lost my mind over that didn’t actually show much about the game. Life is Strange became famous for perfecting the episodic structure of games. Yeah, Telltale may be better known for it but Life is Strange has done this style better than anyone else, bar none.

As was already announced, Before the Storm will be a prequel starring Chloe, your punk friend from the first game, and Rachel, her bestie who went missing before the events of LiS. I’m not sold on the idea of a prequel especially since your actions can’t make a difference on the events of Life is Strange but I’m willing to give them a shot. Few games pack an emotional punch like Life is Strange and I’m hoping that Square Enix can go 2 for 2.

It is worth noting that this prequel will NOT be made by the developers of the original and that’s worthy of some concern. Then again, Dontnod’s other project was Remember Me so even if they were in charge, it wouldn’t be a guaranteed success anyway.

Ori and the Will of the Wisps – Unknown

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Don’t cry, Owl… you’re gonna make me cry!

Another follow up to an emotional powerhouse, indie hit Ori and the Blind Forest is getting a sequel with Ori and the Will of the Wisps. No gameplay was shown but it looks to keep the same style and artistic integrity the first game had in spades. A live pianist accompanied the trailer and just like the first game, the music was breathtaking, and this is coming from someone who doesn’t normally get excited about game soundtracks.

If there’s anything concrete to take away from this game’s reveal, it’s that the game looks to have a much darker and bleaker tone than the first game. There was no release date so don’t hold your breath for Ori 2 coming out anytime soon but at least we know this wonderful game is getting a follow-up.

Middle-Earth: Shadow of War – October 10

Middle Earth 3.png
An artists rendering of the gaming public responding to the industry that didn’t pick up the Nemesis system.

Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor was a game that had zero right to be as good as it was. Back in 2014, Lord of the Rings games were all over the place in quality and most had barely forgiven those terrible Hobbit movies featuring CGi Orlando Bloom and millions of dwarves we don’t care about. Oh and Martin Freeman! We like him!

Despite being mostly an Assassin’s Creed copy on paper, the game introduced us to the Nemesis system, a mechanic where enemy generals all have their own traits and personalities that change depending on your actions. If you fail to kill one, expect them to ambush you when you least expect it in their quest for vengeance. It’s a fantastic system that should have been picked up by EVERY GAME EVER. Yet, we haven’t seen anything similar since.

Well, Warner Bros decided to give the industry another chance in their follow-up: Middle Earth: Shadow of War. We got to see some enhanced combat featuring some new moves but the biggest reveal is that Shadow of War will expand the Nemesis system and let you use the generals to build your own opposing army. While details were light, the possibilities of this system are theoretically endless. I’m very excited to see how this has built out over the last three years when the game releases in October.

Anthem – 2018

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TOTALLY ORIGINAL GAME 2018!

All the way at the end, we got our promised look at Anthem and it was… underwhelming. Yeah, the game looked beautiful and the idea of an open-world Bioware game is still exciting but it was hard to get past how Destiny the whole thing looked. Basically, the game seems to have instanced worlds that players can drop in and out of while doing shooting missions with their friends. Missions drop loot and on and on it goes.

The game looked like it has taken some inspiration from Xenoblade Chronicles X by including exploration bonuses and jetpack exploration which could be great but I just can’t get over the problems of Destiny. Hopefully, Bioware can do this formula better than Bungie or Ubisoft managed but I’m a bit concerned for what was previously Bioware’s most promising title.

New Tech

While there were a TON of new game reveals, Microsoft clearly wanted to promote it’s tech over all else. Mixer, the new name for Microsoft’s Twitch-competitor, was constantly referenced throughout the show and every game came with a “Better on Xbox One X” message.

They also announced that Xbox One’s backwards compatibility program will be expanding to feature original Xbox games starting with Crimson Skies. While attendees were ecstatic about this, I am having trouble seeing the benefits to this as the original Xbox had VERY few exclusive titles and most of those have since been ported elsewhere.

Finally, they said that many games, including most of Microsoft’s recent first-party titles, will be getting 4K patches in the near future, much like Sony had with the PS4 Pro.

Overall:

I appreciated the variety of games shown during Microsoft’s press conference and the lack of obvious titles like Call of Duty or Madden/FIFA but I would have liked a longer look at some of these games. Sea of Thieves was great and getting to see Anthem was appreciated, if a bit disappointing, but what about these other games? Cuphead has been in development for how long now? You keep showing it at E3, can you really not give us some actual gameplay to whet our appetite?

Games like The Last Night and The Artful Escape look great but are they so far off as to not have any extended looks? Last year, one of the highlights of the show was the trailer for We Happy Few but this year didn’t take many risks like that. Still, it was a show that revealed a ton and didn’t waste time like EA did.

Score: B