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E3 2017: The Xbox Showcase
Post by KostaAndreadis @ 04:32pm 12/06/17 | Comments
Where we take you through the 2017 Xbox E3 Briefing, with play-by-play, trailer embeds and our thoughts on what was shown.

After getting announced this time last year, Microsoft finally lift the lid on the mysterious Project Scorpio – where we said farewell to the weird project name we’ve all grown to love and hello to the Xbox One X. A supercharged, 4K capable, 6 Teraflop powered beast that is getting a worldwide release on November 7 with a price tag of $499 USD and $649 AUD. Xbox One X played a big part in the Xbox E3 Briefing this year, but in terms of presentation Microsoft ensured that the messaging was not “this is a new console, you gots to buy it”. It was more along the lines of an announcement of a new addition to the Xbox One family. Cue, a sitcom audience “ahhhhh”.

Here’s the stylish Xbox One X reveal we got at the top of the show.

With the additional announcement of original Xbox titles coming to the Xbox One platform’s backwards compatibility program in addition to Windows 10 also getting most of the games that were shown, we’re left wondering if Microsoft will ever release another complete Xbox hardware refresh. For all we know, the introduction of the Xbox One X could mean that from today onward the Xbox brand will now encompass a suite of platforms – Xbox One S, Xbox One X, Windows 10 – with new and old pieces of kit rotating in and out to preserve both backwards and forwards compatibility.

Microsoft’s Phil Spencer and the rest of the gang didn’t really spend too much time talking about anything other than games. In the world of tech and hardware speak we got a bit, but not much. With the real standout piece of information being word that the Xbox One X will feature some form liquid cooling. And that in terms of size, the console represents the smallest Xbox ever created. Yeah, even smaller than the Xbox One S – and impressive technical achievement to be sure. Especially for the price.

When it came to games though we got a metric tonne of information, trailers, and announcements – with Microsoft stating that with the over 40 games they were about to showcase, over half featured Xbox One console exclusivity.

First on the menu of 4K Xbox One X gaming goodness, was the announcement of Forza Motorsport 7. Which, as expected, looked impressive. The introduction of a new track set in Dubai set the scene for what could very well be the best-looking car game ever created. Add in over 700 cars, including a new one from Porsche (which was also on-stage IRL-style), Forza 7 is also set to become the most feature-packed Forza game yet. But as a traditional racer, and the next entry in the Forza franchise, it’s hard to get excited. You know, if racing isn’t your thing. In that department, you can’t get much better than the arcade-fun of last year’s Forza Horizon 3. Which in a spot of good news, is getting a 4K-ready Xbox One X update later this year.

Next up came a bit of a surprise with the first look at the multiplatform Metro Exodus, from Metro 2033 and Metro: Last Light developer 4A Games. What we saw was running in-engine on an Xbox One X in 4K, and it looked impressive. With some of the most detailed post-apocalyptic environments we’ve ever seen in a game. And boy, we’ve seen a few. Although very much an E3 demo in the cinematic and action-spectacle stakes, we were pleased to learn later-on that this new entry in the Metro series will feature a dynamic open-world and narrative that will allow for characters in your party to die – affecting the trajectory of the overall story. Very cool. Scheduled for release sometime in 2018, where development has already passed the three-year mark, we can’t wait to see more Metro Exodus.

And then came the announcement that we’ve all been expecting for weeks. Mainly because, thanks to leaks, we’ve known for months that the next game in the Assassin’s Creed series is called Assassin’s Creed Origins and that it’s set in Egypt. And so we got our first look at the game running in 4K in a snazzy reveal trailer followed by an Xbox One X gameplay demo that revealed quite a bit. Most notably that that this time around, it’s not only the setting that’s different. Described as an open-world action-RPG, this is Assassin’s Creed with a dash of Elder Scrolls. And we couldn’t be happier. With improved combat, less clutter, and a focus on exploration and building your character, Assassin’s Creed Origins is set to make that two-year wait for the next game in the franchise well worth it.

As with the last few Xbox E3 Briefings, under the guidance of Phil Spencer a lot of time was also spent looking at a wide range of indie titles coming to the Xbox One platform. This year was no different, just with the bonus of each game now featuring the tag ‘Enhanced for Xbox One X’. Perhaps the biggest announcement from the indie side came with the news that the insanely popular PC hit from the past few months, , will be making its console debut later this year -- exclusively on Xbox One. Which means that the Early Access title will run in 4K on the Xbox One X. It’s the sort of game, the Battle Royal where the last man standing wins, that has been missing in the console space. So it’ll be great to play it with a new audience when it drops late 2017.

To say that Microsoft had a lot to show this year would be an understatement as we then got a string of trailers and reveals for upcoming games coming to the Xbox platform either exclusively, as part of a wider release, or enhanced with Xbox One X bells and whistles.

Highlights included something called Deep Rock Galactic a four-player co-op first-person shooter where players become part of “a team of badass space dwarves”. Yeah, that was enough to pique our interest too. As for the game itself, players will explore procedurally generated space mines in search of riches as they fight for survival and hopefully make it out alive.

State of Decay 2 takes things up a notch as it provides quite the ambitious scope. Part survival game set in a post-apocalyptic zombie infested world, part shooter, part build your own fort-thing, State of Decay 2 looks to build on the original in every way. Or, if you’re so inclined, live up to the promise of the original. As an exclusive Xbox One and Windows 10 exclusive, State of Decay 2 is due for release Autumn 2018. So yeah, it’s still a few months out.

A few of the other big indie announcements from the show related to a couple of games that we’ve been seeing annually for a while now. The spectacular looking Cuphead has finally been given a release date -- September 29. Also Tacoma from Gone Home developer Fullbright has been given a release date – August 2. Be sure to keep an eye out for our separate Indie Showcase for a look at more indie titles to keep an eye out for. In the meantime, check out the following montage.

Yeah, we’re gonna have a montage. Montage!

Plus, a new look at Ashen. A great and stylish looking action-RPG from New Zealand developers Aurora 44. Now, this made its debut on the Xbox stage last year – so it’s great to see just how far along its come. And how much more we want to play it.

Okay, so there was no chance that Rare’s Sea of Thieves wasn’t going to be on stage this year, and with the added grunt of the Xbox One X our latest look at gameplay was pretty damn impressive. Featuring some of the best water and wave effects we’ve ever seen. As an online game where you can team up with friends, sail the high seas, and live the life of pirate, Sea of Thieves is enticing to say the least. And with this latest slice of gameplay we get to see what it’s like diving to explore a sunken ship and following a treasure map to a secluded island filled with ancient ruins and reanimated skeletons guarding some shiny loot.

Sadly, Seas of Thieves won’t be ready in time for a 2017 release as its scheduled to make its Xbox One and Windows 10 debut ‘Early 2018’. Another game in the ‘long time coming’ stakes would have to be Crackdown 3 which now has a release date to coincide with the launch of the Xbox One X – November 7. It’s showing this year was led by the reveal of Terry Crews playing a lead role, and that the campaign will feature four-player co-op. The trailer which dials-down the destruction that has previously been showcased as a large part of the game, instead focuses on the sort of stuff that made the original Crackdown a sleeper hit for the Xbox 360.

The fact that the large-scale destruction hasn’t been so much removed as its absence tied to the campaign and the fact that the city needs to remain intact makes less weary. As does the knowledge that additional multiplayer modes will indeed feature cloud-powered destruction that can lead to an entire city block being reduced to rubble. After Crackdown the next high-profile game we got see was Middle-earth: Shadow of War from Monolith. Running on Xbox One X hardware it certainly looked the part, but the real star of the show, and possibly the entire Xbox E3 Briefing was a large brutish Orc called Bruz the Chopper.

Seriously, he’s hilarious.

A great way to showcase the revamped Nemesis system as well as highlight just how bigger and more expansive Shadow of War has become compared to the original.

Closing out the show though was a surprise appearance from EA, there to present in-game footage of BioWare’s latest sci-fi epic – Anthem. Okay, so the surprise was kind of spoiled a bit at the EA Play conference where we got a teaser, but the demonstration was everything that we’d hope it would be. And more. Prior to the reveal we got word that it was a little bit like the studio’s take on Destiny with a look and feel that is also part Titanfall. And even though those comparisons are valid, the result is incredible. Outside of the “hey, we’re real people playing co-op but we’re speaking all serious like”, Anthem’s use of the Frostbit engine has to be seen to be believed with a lush large open world to explore with solid shooting and great action-RPG flourishes. Anthem is on track for a 2018 release, and much like with everything we saw will be enhanced for Xbox One X.

The Xbox E3 Briefing this year had a lot to live up to, especially in the exclusives department – with Sony kind of taking charge in that department. There was no mention of Star Wars or Call of Duty or even Destiny because Sony has the marketing rights for each of those games even though they’ll probably end up getting Xbox One X support. In addition to those missing big hitters we also didn’t get anything new to look at on the Halo front. But even so, the Xbox One X still presents an interesting and worth-while proposition. By sheer force of will Microsoft has made created a future-proof (to a certain extend) version of the Xbox One that presents the power of a custom-built gaming PC in something the size of a Blu-ray player. Not only that but it will be home to a lot of games both large and small scale. Two things we can get behind.

For more, including a look at Minecraft running on Xbox One X and a fighting game set in the Dragon Ball Z universe, you can watch the entire Xbox E3 Briefing below.