On the surface, Microsoft’s E3 2016 presser might have appeared to be quite exciting. Between custom designed controllers, a new slim model, and the reveal of Project Scorpio, on the hardware end of things, Microsoft’s press conference was quite exciting. Microsoft and Xbox is ready to give home console options more purchasing options going forward into the future.
Putting that aside though, when it comes to games, this might be one of the dullest conferences for Microsoft in recent memory. Not because the games that were featured don’t look promising, but rather because so much time was spent checking in on games that were exciting when they were announced last year but didn’t get enough new details to carry that excitement through this conference.
Microsoft wanted us to remember 2015 as “the greatest lineup in Xbox history.” While that’s obviously debatable, 2015 was a solid year for Xbox One fans and its conference was solid. The 2015 presser unveiled ReCore, Plant vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2, Dark Souls 3, Rare Replay, Gears of War: Ultimate Edition, Sea of Thieves, and Gears of War 4. Even if all of those games aren’t Xbox exclusives, it was the first time we were officially learning about them, which gave it some extra juice. In addition, Microsoft shocked many by not only announcing backwards compatibility for the Xbox One, but that previously owned used discs would work seamlessly as well.
What was newly revealed at this year’s conference? Not nearly as much. We learned about Forza Horizon 3, Gwent, Dead Rising 4, and State of Decay 2. They all looked pretty good, don’t get us wrong, but Dead Rising and Forza are both well established franchises that don’t leave a whole lot for the imagination.
Maybe it’s not fair to expect a company to top itself year after year. However I, and I imagine some other people as well, struggle to find reasons to get excited over drip-feeded snippets of games we already knew about. Gears of War 4 probably got the longest screen time, but to be honest, as great as it looks, it’s hardly a game that needs much explaining/revealing. Even the other, lesser known exclusives that were announced last year, had middling appearances at the presser this year.
ReCore, had a nice little trailer, but it was still very short on details and gameplay, and other than a release date, we still don’t know a lot about it.
Sea of Thieves on the other hand, was just irritating. It was a series of short gameplay clips that for whatever reason included streamers that Rare invited to play, screaming and shrieking constantly. It looked OK so far, especially its ship-to-ship combat, but there was hardly anything other than that which should have warranted so much shrieking. The inclusion of streamer reactions did nothing other than just make things unnecessarily irritating and instead it came off as a awkward attempt for Rare to prove that there’s a community for this game when they really don’t need to yet.
With all of that said, what ended up happening this year was a Xbox conferences that relied very heavily on hardware hype. Clearly, there isn’t much ready to be shared on the 2016 lineup that was revealed back in 2015, and even less ready to go on what to expect in 2017 and beyond.
If the new hardware options get you pumped, then hey, I’m happy for you. I’m certainly excited to order a Twinfinite themed Xbox One controller. Plus, it’s cool that there are more console choices than the one size fits all option that has existed in gaming since pretty much forever.
Like Halo 5 did last year, games due out this year such as ReCore should be getting a lot more detail, and playing a supporting role for some vague, but brand new games. Instead, when it comes to games, Microsoft spent more time rehashing last year than it did moving forward.