E3 2019: Takeaways From The XBox Pre E3 Briefing
by Gary Catig
The Sunday before E3, Xbox held their annual show briefing to showcase what they had in store for the future. They see the potential in the industry citing the unprecedented growth in the number of gamers worldwide recently. Because of this, the company has a focus on all players keying in on three main points. Play the games you want, with who you want, where you want. These main ideas were repeated by the various speakers throughout. The over an hour and a half presentation showcased 60 games plus news on the highly anticipated next generation console dubbed, Project Scarlett. Below are some takeaways from day’s briefing.
The people at Xbox are always searching for new publishers to bring into their studio and new titles to release on their console. They plan on acquiring Double Fine Productions bringing their total of developmental studios to 15. This announcement coincided with Double Fine showcasing Psychonauts 2. On the games front, they are bringing one the world’s most popular first-person shooters on PC, CrossfireX, to consoles for the first time. Also, they plan to bring Japan’s greatest online RPG, Phantasy Star Online 2, to North America for the first time.
The All Ages
It’s understandable to develop games geared towards kids. You attract a gamer at a young age, you could have them playing the rest of their life. One way to draw them is by incorporating brands they’re familiar with. Lego had two titles featured, the Forza Horizon 4 Lego Speed Champions expansion and Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga. The popular children’s building blocks add adorability to any game and allow young minds to flex their creativity by building and customizing cars and characters. Likewise, vinyl figure company, Funko, is teaming with Gears of War for Gears Pop!, a mobile game on iOS and android. There will also be a new addition to the Minecraft Universe with Minecraft Dungeon. Up to four players can explore dungeons together in this action adventure bringing up memories of the classic game, Gauntlet.
During these kinds of reveals, a game can become lost amidst the sheer number titles being announced. One good way to distinguish yourself from the pack is through the imagery and graphics. Tales of Arise has a beautiful aesthetic one would find in any good RPG with settings and characters that could easily be found in anime. Ori and the Will of the Wisps is a visually stunning game. The video shown highlighted epic boss battles from the action platformer sequel.
To prove Xbox is truly looking to provide games for everyone, they highlighted ones with unique premises. Coming in spring of 2020 is RPG Time: The Legend of Wright. The charming visuals look hand drawn with pencil or constructed and crafted with paper. It has a Scribblenauts feel but more involved and better looking. In Way to the Woods, a deer and fawn embark in a post humans world on a journey to return home. For a more mature game, Twelve Minutes is like the movie Groundhog Day, but as a real-time interactive thriller. A husband relives the same horrific evening where his wife is accused of murder by a police detective and he must use his knowledge of what happens next to break the twelve-minute loop.
With all the talk of new, the old popular franchises were not neglected. Borderlands 3 is coming this September and it will have all the same craziness and loot hunting of the previous entries with new worlds, enemies and four new vault hunters. Also coming in September is Gears 5. There will be 5 different modes to play including Escape. This mode is a three-player co-op that has a suicide squad taking out enemy hives from within and hopefully escaping alive. They saved the best for last as fans can expect a new Halo game. Halo Infinite will be a launch title for the next generation console, Project Scarlett described later.
The biggest audience pops for the afternoon came from games featuring popular stars. Cyberpunk 2077 is a futuristic, open world action adventure that also has Keanu Reeves. The actor even made a brief appearance to talk up the game and was greeted with a standing ovation. Acclaimed author and creator of the fantasy series, A Song of Ice and Fire, George R.R. Martin, partnered with Hidetaka Miyazaki to craft and build the world in Elden Ring. Martin begins another foray into fantasy in this action RPG adventure.
The actual Xbox One console doesn’t have the portability of a Nintendo Switch so players only had access to their games at home. Focusing on the idea of playing where you want to play, Xbox will provide the opportunity to stream games from your console directly to a mobile device. Through Project xCloud, they hope to provide their users the freedom to play their games anywhere.
Professional gaming is a growing industry and like any sport, gear can be as important as skill. The Xbox Wireless Controller 2 is engineered for ultimate performance and customization and has 30 new and improved features inspired by fan feedback. Gamers can expect these upgraded controllers in November.
Controllers are nice but the most anticipated news from the Xbox E3 briefing were details on their next generation console. Arriving during the holiday season of 2020 is Project Scarlett. It has a custom-built AMD processer to increase power and capabilities displaying at a higher frames per second than the Xbox One. The biggest boast they claimed is players will no longer experience load times with the new gaming system. As mentioned earlier, the first launch title revealed will be Halo Infinite.
Xbox had much to cover during their presentation and hopefully they bring a new and fun experience through emphasizing their three key points. Their diverse library of games can appeal to a broad spectrum of players so they can find what they want. Offering both online and couch co-op for games allows people to play with who they want. Taking gaming to the cloud provides more freedom and flexibility to play where they want. Add in a new next generation console, Project Scarlett, and Xbox has plenty to be excited for.