Microsoft E3 2018 – This should have been year one

In this generation of consoles, Microsoft has suffered tremendously from their bad start and are still paying the price for it. While we are slowly but surely moving towards a new generation, they have an opportunity to catch-up and prepare a brighter future. It is Microsoft we are speaking about: one of the richest and most talent-fueled companies in the world. This E3 is a good opportunity for them to shine and show what they are made of. While my title was a bit of a spoiler, let’s take a look!

Favourite moments:

Ori and the Will of the Wisps: last year, it was already my favourite moment of all E3… Will I ever change? Nope. I know that I have a (tiny little) bias when it comes down to Ori, but look at this beauty:

I have a hard time hiding my excitement for this game, which will most likely be my GOTY 2019. The game mechanics seem to have been reworked a little bit to add new tools to Ori’s kit, as for the rest they kept it: wonderful visuals, incredible soundtrack, charming atmosphere overall  Moreover, the team and Gareth Coker released the trailer music on Bandcamp:

 

Sekiro – Shadows Die Twice: Let’s get this out of the way: I absolutely suck at Soulsborne games. However, this game sounded like music to my ears: less stiff than DARK SOULS, set in a Japanese theme, looking like a mix of Souls x Horizon Zero Dawn (Somehow?). I am very looking forward to seeing what they are cooking for us.

One of the other interesting things to see is the improbable match: Activision and FROM SOFTWARE. While the Japanese developer is one of the gamers’ biggest darlings, you can’t say the same about Activision. On my side, I am very excited to see what this cooperation will bring us.

 

The famous Soulsborne Youtuber/player VaatiVidya did a video breaking down the trailer and gameplay mechanics

 

Cyberpunk 2077: my love for The Witcher 3 and CD Projekt RED is not new and I’ll never cease to claim it, highly and proudly. I am not necessarily fond of all the cyberpunk themes but the guys at CDPR managed to shatter all my pre-conceptions of this universe and sucked me in their vortex of craziness. Aside from the insane trailer they have shared and the way it was introduced, I absolutely adored the clever marketing tricks they have used for the trailer – this is also why I respect their team, having worked with them taught me a lot.

 

Their communication is already on-point, but again: nothing new here.

Last but not least, it seems that the first impressions from the press are really, really positive:

 

Devil May Cry 5: the rumoured DMCV finally shows itself! As much as I loved DMC 1 2 3, I didn’t play DMC4 and DMC – so this will be my chance to get back to it. The thing I loved the most? The music and of course the well-known over-the-top nature of the IP. I was also pretty happy to see Matt on stage with the game director, stuffed to see him as a producer on the game. (If you’re not, I’d recommend following him, he is a dev working for Capcom on Osaka)

 

 

Microsoft announced that they have acquired 4 studios: Playground Games (Forza Horizon), Undead Labs (State of Decay 2), Compulsion Games (We Happy Few) and… Ninja Theory (Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, DmC, Enslaved, Heavenly Sword). Ninja Theory’s acquisition is the most surprising one given the massive success they encountered with Hellblade by being “freed from the shackles of a big corporation” in order to develop an AA/AAA game with a small team. Here is what creative lead and top manager Tameem Antoniades had to say following the acquisition:  “When Microsoft approached us, it was totally unexpected and not something we were really looking to do. Nevertheless, they asked us what our goals and ambitions were as a studio in an ideal world, and so we said we wanted to free from the AAA machine and make games focused on the experience, not around monetisation. We want to take bigger creative risks, and creative genre-defining games without the constant threat of annihilation. We want to make our own games our own way, and not be told what to make and how to make it, and above all, we want to protect our team, our culture, and our identity because that, in essence, is Ninja Theory“. Same as Tameem, the Commercial Director, Dominic Matthews, explains the reasons behind this new chapter (but also conceded that this might irk fans)

 

Industry-leading voice: with new additions to their GamePass and the “FastStart” technology, Xbox continues to show their desire to innovate and lead the way towards future ways of using the content. Very looking forward to the next steps they will take in terms of fully-streamed games.

Battletoads 2019: nothing was shown, but it’s pretty cool to see Rare working on this one! As they said themselves “a lot of time has passed”… They have already confirmed that the game will allow couch co-op and has “4K hand-drawn 2.5D graphics“!

 

Jump Force: seeing how far my previous colleagues have come with the anime titles makes me happy. This one looks like the ultimate anime cross-over in all its glory.

 

Gears 5: I never could play Gears games due to my motion sickness issues. However the rumoured change of format got my attention, I will be following this closely. Among the first notable changes, we could already see: we have a female lead and they have dropped “of War” from the title. (Interestingly enough, I didn’t see gamers cry too much because we have a heroine leading the cast…)

 

Least favourite moments:

Before we dive into details, I am not saying I would have done better.

To be fair… There aren’t tons of things I didn’t like in this conference, aside from the following:

Forza Horizon 4: while I used to like racing games, I’m completely out of them for a few years now. The presentation felt a bit “forced” with the over the top comments/chat. However, the game looks stunning! I talked to some friends who are into Forza and they were pretty excited about it.

This isn’t something I didn’t like about the game, but more a fun fact: I love how Playground/Microsoft spread false rumours about the game being in Japan, kudos to them – that worked out pretty well!

 

The Division 2: Too long. Visually the game is absolutely bonkers, the topic of the game is pretty cool too but that’s it for me: not my thing. Moreover, I feel that a lot of AAA shooters are very similar. Last but not least; the in-game chat was a bit annoying…

 

 

 

Incredible performance by Microsoft. Right pacing, right tone, right content. I am just sad that this happened this late in the cycle.

As a platform agnostic consumer, seeing this conference makes me happy; because we have tons of stunning games coming over the few years.

As an industry lover and follower, it makes me even more excited as we have tons of changes and evolutions coming.

To summarize: 9/10, would do again.

(Full conference, in case you want to watch it)

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