When I originally set out to cover E3 2018 over the course of the week, I didn’t plan to watch the X-Box conference at all. This is due to one simple thing: I don’t own an X-Box. I didn’t see much reason to view a conference for a console that I don’t plan to get, so on the day the conference happened I passed on it. Now when the time came around for the Nintendo conference, I expected to have multiple articles worth of stuff to talk about, but it turns out that Super Smash Bros Ultimate was really the only game given enough attention for me to focus on. The Treehouse also hasn’t given me as much content to cover as I thought, so that opened up some slots for me to pay attention to other conferences that were not originally on my radar.
So here we are, a Nintendo fan who occasionally dabbles in PS4 shenanigans watching the X-Box press conference. What I found was an interesting case of “golly, I really should have watched these things in chronological order.” You see, the X-Box conference touched on a lot of games that were described in more detail at later conferences. I saw repeat trailers for Battlefield V, Kingdom Hearts 3, Fallout 76, Just Cause 4, The Division 2, Nier Automata – all games that I already knew about from watching the other conferences over the course of the week.
Now don’t get me wrong, X-Box had a ton of unique stuff – and I’m going to get into that – but it was that much harder for me to focus because of all the repeat content. Whereas with most of the conferences I’ve been a lot more engaged, here it was a little easier to zone out during familiar times. It made it that much more important that the games shown off really grabbed me – and grab me they did. Despite my bias against X-Box due to not owning one, I still found this to be one of the strongest showings at the conference. Let’s talk about why!
Microsoft burst out the gate with Halo: Infinite, a new entry in the series that effectively put the X-Box on the map. We don’t have much to show for this title, but just being able to say that one exists is plenty for a lot of fans (similar to the reveal of The Elder Scrolls VI or Metroid Prime 4 – it’s enough to appease the masses). After that they showed a game that I personally got really in to – Ori and the Will of the Wisps. This game looks utterly gorgeous with a unique art direction that sets it apart from many of the other hyper-realistic titles that were shown off during this conference. I haven’t played the original Ori title, but after seeing this one in motion I might be rethinking that (if it isn’t X-Box exclusive).
Next came Shadows Die Twice, yet another samurai game! That makes three I’ve seen over the course of E3 – Nioh 2, Shadows Die Twice, and Ghosts of Tsushima. Of the three, I’d say it’s a tie of whether this game or Ghosts of Tsushima appealed to me more. The music and art style of the latter was better, but the former appears to have more unique options for travel and combat thanks to the character’s mechanical arm that allows you to grapple and swing.
This is where things got boring for awhile. Fallout 76 was shown off, but only a trailer that would later be repeated at the Bethesda conference and then expanded upon a lot more. Having already seen Bethesda, I mentally checked out here. That trend continued as Captain Spirit was shown – another game I already saw in action at a different conference. These games do look interesting each in their own way, but particularly when it comes to Fallout 76 the definitive experience is really the Bethesda conference.
Crackdown 3 was an interesting-looking title with a fun sense of humor and some cool ghame mechanics – I particularly liked the unusual methods of travel that are possible in your vehicle. The main character has a ton of personality and this seems like the sort of game that sells based on that personality rather than on features of the game itself. Terry Crews is a great performer and that comes through here quite clearly.
One of the titles they spent the most time on during this presentation was Forza Horizon 4, a game that I originally assumed was a racing game but turns out to be…honestly, I don’t know how to describe it. You have a fancy car that you can drive around an open world. Other online players are in that open world with you. The time of day, weather, and seasons change dynamically in this shared world, so all players online experience the same conditions at the same time. As far as what you do? It seems like other than participating in special events that spawn from time to time, you just…drive. I guess this just isn’t my kind of game, but I find it hard to believe that a game about driving (but not racing) could be that engaging. Perhaps the events are more frequent and have a lot more variety than I am giving them credit for. Or perhaps this game appeals to folks who just want to collect really cool virtual cars. Either way, good for those looking forward to it!
Microsoft spent some time during the conference to show off all of the new studios that they “acquired” – perhaps I’ve read too many dystopian novels, but the way Phil Spencer phrased that sounded real hostile to me. Ah well, as long as Microsoft allows Nintendo to continue making games when they become the megacorporate overlord of a real life Cyberpunk 2077 I’ll be fine. At any rate, the only company they acquired that I actually recognized was Ninja Theory, the creators of Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice. If the trailer for We Happy Few was any indication, though, these five developers are a very strong group of folks and will be bringing some quality stuff to the X-Box.
Microsoft showed off a lot of content towards the end of the presentation, and this is where things became a little more engaging for me. One of the biggest new titles they displayed was Devil May Cry 5. Now I’ve never played DMC myself, but I’ve known some fans over the years and Dante is my secondary main in Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale, so I was excited to see him in his natural environment. It was particularly interesting seeing his partner, a southern (?) lady with a lot of sass and the ability to start smoking a cigarette while her van is flipping over. Now THAT takes skill!
Jump Force is, by all appearances, the ultimate game for anime fans. Luffy, Naruto, and Goku all make significant appearances in the trailer, along with the villainous Frieza. Now I personally don’t follow the anime scene – I love Hayao Miyazaki’s films and I enjoy anime-ish shows like Avatar and Voltron – but most of the gamers I know love the shows that had some representation in this game. I got a pleasant surprise at the end when Ryuk and Light from Death Note made an appearance – if L is in this game, I might actually be semi-interested in it. Still salty about that show…
Of course, the big title of the night was without a doubt Cyberpunk 2077, the latest game by CD Projekt Red (creators of The Witcher video games). This title was all I saw on Twitter when the X-Box presentation ended – everyone was talking about this amazing new cyberpunk game. When it came time for me to watch the trailer, I expected it to look absolutely brilliant. Honestly, I don’t know what the hullabaloo is all about. Maybe people just love cyberpunk as a genre that much, or maybe it’s CD Projekt Red’s pedigree, but with no gameplay to show I have no real opinion on whether I would be interested in this game. I’m glad people are excited, but until there’s a real product to show I won’t really be hyped for this title.
Ultimately, I think I would have enjoyed the X-Box conference a lot more had I seen it in its intended order – before almost all of the other conferences. Instead, there were multiple games shown here that I had already seen in bigger blowouts, so it was hard to stay engaged throughout the conference. It turns out that for those trying to watch E3 in its entirety, the order of events actually matters and can affect your impressions of the shows you see.
So what were your thoughts, adventurers? Did you see the show live or did you see it later? Any titles you are particularly excited about? Any that disappointed you? Let me know in the comments below, and be sure to come back tomorrow for my final thoughts on the entire E3 2018 as well as my favorite game of the show!