E3 is a mere 4-5 weeks away and my mind is racing with thoughts of what I want, what I believe should happen and just utter pure, unadulterated hype. With that said, over the coming weeks I am going to dish out all my thoughts on E3 and what wonders could or should happen on a conference by conference basis.
It has become clear during 2018 in particular that Xbox is suffering from lack of AAA first-party exclusives. Sea of Thieves released to decent but not rave reviews, State Of Decay 2 is coming later this month and doesn’t really scream AAA and Crackdown 3 has seen delay after delay that I often forget it’s still coming. Before that, Halo 5: Guardians failed to reignite the fandom flame and Gears 4 didn’t exactly move units. The only constant in the past few years has been the Forza franchise which has released on an alternate cycle between its Motorsport and Horizon series from Turn 10 Studios and Playground Games respectively.
Microsoft need to hit E3 hard this year with a major emphasis on games and proof that they are committed to building a more robust first-party offering. This needs to come at the expense of shelving some of their current IP in favour of new ventures, unless they can prove there is still fresh life to be had in the Halo and Gears of War series.
In fact, shelving these big names for a while may just be what they need to build anticipation for their next instalment. Not only that but creatively it could be beneficial for the development teams at 343 Industries and The Coalition. Unfortunately, their names are taken from the very titles they are known to make which could be a bit of a restriction unless Microsoft don’t tie them down because of a name.
Rumours have already began circulating that Halo will have a presence at E3 with many believing a battle royale game or mode is on the horizon. If done right, this would do wonders for attracting players back to the beloved IP. I feel the next instalment for Halo needs to be another mainline game and feature a bursting package of content. A single-player campaign, full multiplayer suite, horde-style co-op mode and a battle-royale mode. If 343 could pull that off, this would be something truly special and offer something for all types of gamers.
Out of the two big franchises, Gears is the one I love most and yet I would say to leave this on the sidelines for a while. The Coalition have proven they can deliver a solid story with satisfying gameplay and impressive visuals, a new IP is exactly what the team need, unbound to previous creative limitations and allowed to go nuts on a new mature shooter / adventure title. That being said, I would love more Gears but would be even more excited for something new.
Since the acquisition of Mojang, it would seem all they have been doing is working on Minecraft content updates and patches. But what if they hit the E3 stage this year with their next game and furthermore, make it an exclusive. Be it a new Minecraft or something completely different, the team at Mojang have proven their worth when it comes to making a huge hit and it would be beneficial to move the on to another game whilst Minecraft fever fades.
Turn 10 Studios
Turn 10 Studios is assumed to be working on the next Forza Motorsport title however, their last instalment released in 2017 and the usual Motorsport release schedule is every other year. So I wouldn’t be surprised either way whether or not they show up at E3 to announce the next game, but I would be surprised if they announced a 2018 release. I think 2018 is pretty close to being written off for Xbox, so what they need to do is ensure a strong 2019 release line-up. Saving Forza for 2019 would be a good way to build up the hype for a potential ‘The Year Of Xbox’ after 2018’s year of Sony and 2017’s year of Nintendo.
Playground Games (Second-Party Partner)
One genre that has been missing from the first-party exclusive line-up is RPG’s. Playground Games have been hiring developers to work on an open-world action RPG. From open-world racing games to RPG’s it would seem and many are under the impression that Fable is the series Playground have been entrusted with. It would still be early days but if Fable makes an appearance this year, even if it’s just a short teaser trailer it could help create awareness for a re-growing portfolio and to inform players that the games are coming.
So far, we’ve discussed first-party content, one first-person shooter, a third-person shooter, an open-world RPG, a basket-case (sorry, had to be done), Mojang’s anything and a racing title. All of which could provide an amazing 2019 and I would honestly be surprised if any new titles from the first-party studios are releasing this year.
Third-party exclusives is something Xbox need to invest in and give players a reason to choose their platform, Sony has done wonders in acquiring exclusives with the likes Square’s Nier: Automata, Atlus’ Persona 5, Team Ninja’s Nioh, Bandai Namco’s Ni No Kuni II, Spike Chunsoft’s Danganronpa series, Sega’s Yakuza series and the list just keeps going on and on. I have great trouble thinking of upcoming third-party exclusives for the Xbox One, and that is a major issue.
They need to hit the stage and bring a slew of announcements that solidify Xbox as a top contender. The first-party offerings won’t be enough, so I could see Microsoft reaching out to many developers and publishers and throwing some money to get some exclusive goodies. Even if it’s just partnership deals or exclusive content, we need something to cling onto to feel we are being taken care of on that front.
PlayStation got Nier: Automata, Nintendo are getting Octopath Traveler, so why is Xbox left out in the rain? Square are clearly open to partnerships and exclusivity deals so why not net a Japanese RPG, a genre with very little representation on the platform currently.
IO have now gone solo after a relatively successful outing with Square Enix and Hitman. That means they are ready for some Netflix and chill, Microsoft need to swoop in on the rebound and net themselves an exclusive title, be it in either the Hitman series or new IP it doesn’t matter.
The list goes on and on of potential partners and developers to go after and create something awesome. But will it happen? Who knows. Xbox are hitting all the right notes when it comes to the hardware, it’s online infrastructure, backwards compatibility but is all that for nought if the exclusive software, the killer app’s, aren’t there?
MY XBOX E3 WISHLIST
- Halo 6 – Complete with Single-Player Campaign, Multiplayer Suite, Firefight & Battle Royale.
- New IP From The Coalition (But I would be as equally hyped for Gears 5).
- Fable IV.
- New Game From Mojang.
- Japanese RPG of some sort from Square Enix.
Microsoft have stated that they are going big for E3 this year and I believe it, simply because they need to. I will be doing articles like these for the other press conferences too, so stay tuned.
Written by Rhys Baldwin.