Start hard and start strong, Microsoft wasted no time in getting to the good stuff kicking things off with what everyone was tuned in for: the now officially named Xbox One X (XbOX/XB1X). Introduced by Phil Spencer the unit looks remarkably similar to the original Xbox One but is actually the smallest Xbox One yet and, in what would become the most repeated phrase for the day, ”the world’s most powerful console”. It’s available worldwide on November 7th and will set you back A$649, which considering the US sticker price is $499, means Australia isn’t getting shafted for once.
The new console features true UHD 4K graphics with HDR support, Dolby Atmos and an UHD BluRay drive. Internally you’ll find a GPU capable of churning out 6 teraflops along we 12GB of GDDR5 RAM paired with a custom 16nm chip with 7 billion transistors all being cooled by an impressive custom designed liquid vapour cooling chamber. There’s an entire list of impressive stats and numbers that I could list but have no idea what they really mean. I’ll leave that and the comparison to the PS4Pro up to those who are far better equipped to do so.
Similar to PlayStation’s “PS4 Pro Enhanced” moniker, the new Xbox One X will identify games that are made (or updated) to specifically take advantage of its newer hardware labelling them as “Enhanced for Xbox One X”. Dozens of titles will be updated prior to the Xbox One X’s launch including favourites Gears of War 4, Forza Horizon 3, Resident Evil 7, Final Fantasy 15 Rocket League and many more.
Alongside the introduction of the new hardware Xbox’s Backward Compatibility program announced its expansion to include original Xbox titles such as fan favourite Crimson Skies. The update will roll out later this year but there’s no word on a full title list just yet, details to come.
With the hardware out of the way, lets get to the games. Kicking things off with an Xbox exclusive (of course) shown in amazing 4K at a locked 60fps with the highest poly count models you’re going to see via Forza Motorsport 7. It looks impressive, every car game with each generation does, but I honestly think we’re reaching the point that car models just can’t get much better. I know that’s a “640k memory is enough” type of comment but it seriously feels that way.
Not to be outdone with previous years we didn’t get a Ford GT lowered from the ceiling but in its place was the unveiling of the Porche 911 GT2RS and the partnership with the car brand to be incorporated into the series.
Interesting Assassin’s Creed: Origins has its launch at the Xbox conference instead of Ubisoft’s tomorrow. The game is set in ancient Egypt, as we all knew, and provides a new series of RPG elements to its mechanics that hopefully add some more depth into a long cooked franchise. It looks like a case of “more of the same” to me if I’m being honest. Its biggest standout was the menu system that’s been taken straight out of Destiny, cursor and all.
A big get for Xbox, Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds is coming to the platform. This title has become a phenomenon amongst streamers and players alike in a short period of time, sweeping me up as well I have to admit. Can’t wait for this one, coming later this year along with an high-res update for the XB1X. Also coming to the Xbox from PC land is the wildly popular
State of Decay 2 got an abnormally long spot – it looks great but as I didn’t play the original I can’t really feign my interest or feel its the spot was warranted for yet another zombie (team) shooter. I was far more interested in the new Metro Exodus semi-gameplay trailer shown and what’s going on in that universe.
Still milking the money making cash cow that is Minecraft you’ll get a “Super Duper Graphics Pack” update when Minecraft goes 4K later in the year – which seems pretty ridiculous to me, how “super duper” can Minecraft really look? More importantly is cross platform compatibility so you can play with your friends regardless of the system they’re using.
Sea of Thieves gets its third showing at an E3 briefing with a far more detailed example of a quest line than we’ve seen before. The persistent cartooned pirate world game continues to look really good in theory but relies so heavily on actual team play my fears of the internet being the internet mean that it will never live up to its potential without you organising actual brick and mortar friends to play with.
Shadow of War builds on the award winning nemesis system in its predecessor further tailoring each player’s story to the individual. Players build their own army recruiting war lords to join the arms of the “light lord”. These can then be used to plan an attack on stronger holds and advance your cause. Shadow of Mordor was a sleeper hit and while I personally didn’t find it suited me the new Shadow of War is bound to be a system seller.
Anthem the new Bioware IP teased by EA yesterday got a full gameplay showing. The rumours of it being EA’s Destiny seem to be true only this one is set in an world that resembles an almost prehistoric one with giant beasts and lush, extremely detailed environments.
Players are fitted with a customisable exoskeleton that also has the ability to fly adding even further to the massive open world Bioware has created. Loot drops, upgrades, world-time events, it is definitely of the Destiny/Division genre but with a Bioware backing and the amazingly beautiful world rendered around it on the XB1X it would be difficult to see me buying this on a PS4.
Other notable mentions include the long awaited, Terry Crews inclusive Crackdown 3, a sequel to Ori & the Blind Forest – Ori and the Will of the Wisps and an episodic prequel to Life is Strange, Before the Storm.
All in all it was a solid showing from Microsoft. The Xbox has copped an absolute beating this generation, everything going downhill rapidly after that backflip on digital rights management when the console was first announced.
Today’s showing was book-ended well, the new hardware, an exclusive look at (but not exclusive to Xbox) Bioware’s new IP Anthem, but the guts felt like more of the same old Microsoft.
There was also zero mention of VR and Microsoft’s ongoing partnership with Oculus. I’m surprised given the supposed power of the new console and the sales figures from Sony’s PSVR unit that we didn’t even get an aside for it.
Despite showing 42 games, 22 of which were Xbox exclusives, there wasn’t anything that leaped out at me like I wanted it to. I expect Sony to spend tomorrow’s conference to focusing on the opposite. Almost no talk about hardware and a big focus on games that will get people excited.
With that said, the Xbox One X is a damn impressive piece of kit that I’ll gladly add to my arsenal I just wish they had a more compelling list of titles to get my friends on-board or even consider a switch from their PS4s.