We have progressed to Day -1 of E3 2018 and it is time for Microsoft to literally take the stage. So let’s just jump right into it!

Why E3 2018 is Important to XBox

Ever since E3 2013, Microsoft has been doing their best to recover from the unfortunate messaging they placed around the launch of the XBox One. Fighting from behind from that moment on, the team at XBox, led by Phil Spencer, have been attempting to right the ship and try to return the brand to the glory days of the XBox 360.

While the XBox One is still dwarfed by the PlayStation 4 in sales by about a 2-to-1 margin, Microsoft is continuing to double-down on trying to please and entice fans with programs that are placing gamers first. With their extremely noble effort on backwards compatibility, now having numerous Original XBox and XBox 360 games up-rezzed and available on XBox One, and XBox Game Pass, a subscription service allowing access to an ever-changing list of games, they have done a lot to right the wrongs of the past.

But, one big thing they haven’t addressed still remains – where are the exclusive games? Where they continue to get dominated by Sony, the lack of exclusive games to push players over the edge on making a purchase of an XBox console (even the “Most Powerful Console, the XBox One X), Microsoft needs to make a splash this year in that arena. Especially after the confirmation of Crackdown 3’s delay to 2019, the question is even louder on gamers voices – what is there to play?

The reason why this year is more important than say next year is because we are starting to nudge closer to the announcement of the next generation of consoles. The closer it gets to 2019 and 2020, the more and more we will start to hear about the next generation and the less and less likely it becomes people actually purchase an XBox One.

What Was Announced?

Holy crap! Microsoft showed a ton of games, so many we can’t really run them all down. The conference definitely is worth a watch so feel free to give it a watch through. Here are some of the bigger reveals:

  • Though it was a bit of a low-point due to its brevity, the largest announcement was Halo Infinite. Though there was no release date attached and little details added as context, a non-numbered Halo sequel that seems to be leaning towards the games-as-a-service, living game model a la Destiny.
  • The setting of Fallout 76 was revealed and it will take place in post-apocalyptic West Virginia – however, with the game being four-times the size of Fallout 4 and the fact that they showed the U.S. Capitol, that could extend from the wilderness into Washington D.C.! More will come at the Bethesda conference I’m sure.
  • The conference ended with the first full trailer for CD Projekt Red’s next game, Cyberpunk 2077. The developers first departure from the Witcher series, the trailer did a great job of building the setting for us, though it did not give us a glimpse of what the actual gameplay would entail or look like. With no date,  it is clear that, as expected, this game is still not coming any time soon.
  • Three new Gears of War games are in the works – Gears Tactics, in the vein of XCom but in the Gears universe; Gears Pop, a mobile game; and then a full-blown sequel, Gears 5.
  • In the conference, XBox announced the purchase of five new studios, many of which they have had a previous relationship with (like Playground, the developer of the Forza games). But, one surprise inclusion was Ninja Theory, developer of last years’ hit success Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice.
  • Similar to the announcement of Dragon Ball FighterZ last year, XBox had the exclusive reveal of Jump Force, what seems like a team-up fighter of multiple Shonen Jump properties, including Dragon Ball, Naruto, One Piece, and many more. If you have a soft spot for anime at all, the video is definitely worth a watch.
  • Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, a game that was teased at Sony’s PlayStation E3 Showcase last year, received it’s first full-blown sequel
  • New trailers were shown for recently delayed exclusive Crackdown 3, now with 500% more Terry Crews, as well as a new story trailer for Shadow of the Tomb Raider, the reveal trailer and gameplay for Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 and many, many more.
  • Forza Horizon 4 was announced (no surprise) with the setting being Great Britain. It shows the crazy mixture of road and off-road racing that has been seen in the Horizon series previously, but this time, the introduction of seasons changing in the game was touted to be a huge change in the way you will play the various races and circuits.
  • A new game in the Life is Strange universe, The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit, will come out on June 26, 100% free. Outside of the conference, word is that it is a standalone story and that it has some subtle references to what is going to happen in Life is Strange 2 when that is released.

What Can I Play Now?

The only real releases that were announced to be available now are three new additions to XBox Game Pass: Fallout 4, Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited, and Tom Clancy’s The Division, as well as previously announced Halo: Master Chief Collection.

How Did XBox Do?

The early pulse of the game-o-sphere is that XBox killed it today. And I will admit, the show was spectacular to watch. There were so many reveals of new things we hadn’t seen rattled off in rapid-fire succession that it really built up the hype for the rest of this year and especially 2019.

From a presentation perspective, there were only a couple of lulls on stage – mainly during the XBox Game Pass discussions- that dragged things down.

The only other real negative is that Microsoft still didn’t announce much of what is coming exclusive for XBox in the near future. While they did a lot to show how they are attempting to solve that problem into the future with the five new studios under their umbrella, there still is a gaping hole remaining in their lineup with Crackdown 3 being moved into February 2019. And looking forward to 2019, it still doesn’t look like there is going to be a ton more to look forward to that is devoted just to the XBox One.

As someone who hasn’t ever purchased a Microsoft console (though I did have an original XBox), there wasn’t anything there that was really pulling me towards picking up and XBox One or an XBox One X. In fact, in his final speech, Phil Spencer mentioned that their hardware team is already hard at work on the next XBox console. Spencer also mentioned that they are working on an initiative to make games more playable via a cloud streaming service that is under development that will allow people to play Microsoft games anywhere they want.

With no new exclusive content really enticing me towards the system (Forza Horizon 4 is surprisingly probably the closest to doing so), I don’t see myself picking up an XBox One and would rather just wait to see what is next. If anything really compels me, I might just work on building a PC to play those games on and use for various other functions that pick up console that seems to be lagging further and further behind and in more and more risk of becoming obsolete in the near future.