Xbox’s E3 2019: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

While previewing what we should expect for Xbox’s big E3 conference, I discussed how this was their chance to show everyone that they’re ready to take back the number one spot from PlayStation. Microsoft talked a big game by saying that 14 first-party studios would be showing off games at their conference and Microsoft also announced that they would be discussing their upcoming console. Everything pointed towards a huge conference for them, but did they nail the landing?

The Good

So Many Games

Xbox is in the gaming business and after their nearly 2 hour conference they reminded everyone that business is good. From beautiful indies that will rip your heart out to Triple-A titles where you’ll actually be ripping someone’s heart out, Xbox showed off so many different and unique titles that our wallets left that conference in tears. For me personally titles like Blair Witch, The Outer Worlds, Spiritfarer, RPG Time: The Legend of Wright,12 Minutes, and Cyberpunk 2077 all looked amazing and as someone who doesn’t own an Xbox or PC, the fact that 3 of the 6 games I mentioned are exclusives to those platforms, I’d say Microsoft is doing a pretty good job.

Keanu Reeves???

On top of great games, the Xbox conference also had what I’m sure many will describe as the moment of the show when the star of the classic film The Lake House walked on stage after being revealed to be in the upcoming CyberPunk 2077. Let’s be honest, typically when celebrities are asked to come on stage and present things they suck at it. They either don’t know anything about the game or act like they’re simply above the entire event. Keanu Reeves however is a man of the people. As the crowd lost their collectives minds, Keanu just stood on stage laughing at how ridiculous the entire scene was, all the while trying to do what he was put on stage to do which was to announce the release date of CyberPunk 2077. Oh, did I forget to mention that one of the biggest and most anticipated games of this entire generation is coming out April 16, 2020? Yeah, everything about this moment was just perfect.

The Bad

Honestly, I think this conference ran at two wave lengths. It was either amazing or it was disappointing. So while I’m sure I could nitpick and find things to mention that would belong in the “bad” section, I really don’t think anything belongs.

The Ugly

That was it?

Maybe we all set our expectations too high, but after years of Xbox setting the table for one big E3 showing where they would remind us why they use to be the biggest console on the market and with a Sonyless E3 being the perfect time for them to finally show their hand we left today’s conference let down. Even if certain titles like Fable weren’t ready, they clearly showed that they’re more than okay with showing off cinematic trailers, so why not make that game official. Why not show off what’s to come?

Besides the lack Fable, we only saw one title that will be making its debut on the next console and that was Halo Infinite. Well, maybe that game will look amazing in action but for the second year in a row we saw another cinematic trailer that, one, didn’t look all that impressive, and two, told us nothing about the game. As for Triple-A titles that are exclusive to the console that are coming out this year like Gears 5, they actually didn’t show anything. Yes, more cinematic trailers, but for a game that’s coming out in September, why didn’t we see more gameplay at the main show?

I Shouldn’t Have Questions

On top of the lack of Triple-A reveals, I also found myself with questions about some of the big projects that Microsoft is working on, the biggest one being Microsoft CloudX, their competitor to Google’s streaming service. When it was announced, it seemed like the service would be going live in October which, as I stated earlier, as someone that doesn’t own an Xbox or a PC, got me very excited. Would I be able to stream Xbox titles to Mac? I would be more than happy to give them $10 a month to try out this service. As it turns out, the service is only going live for people that own an Xbox One. Which from a consumer’s stand point leaves me with a lot of questions. If the current model of Xbox One is capable of handling this streaming service then why would I need to consider even buying their next-gen console?

As for their next-gen console, Codename Scarlett, they really didn’t say anything that we haven’t already heard. If you read PlayStation’s Mark Cerny interview with Wired, he basically said all of the same things that we heard during the Xbox conference. Yes, it’s awesome that load times are basically a guaranteed thing of the past, but I want to hear more.

Overall Score: B-

Despite my frustration with what wasn’t shown, I can’t be upset at a conference that Microsoft clearly never intended to have. Myself, along with several members of the industry expected something more, but at the end of the day that’s on us, not Microsoft. If I take a step back and look at their conference overall, while there were certain missteps with a few of their projects, overall, it was a really solid conference that had something for everyone.

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