E3 2017 Day 2: Microsoft Recap

We recap what happened in the lengthy Microsoft E3 Press Conference, share the reactions of SmashPad staffers, and give you some viewing material if you missed out on it.

Coming into E3 this year, Microsoft had a lot of work to do to make up for their absence throughout most of 2017 so far. They seemed to do a pretty good job of that with tons of game demos and trailers that showed some cool stuff to look forward to for the next year or so. We finally got a name for Project Scorpio, the release date, and the price, which is almost everything we wanted to know about it. The Xbox VR initiative they hyped up last year unfortunately seems to be skipping the launch of the system and will hit in 2018, if at all. We also got some big news on the backwards compatibility front. Microsoft at least put a good statement out that they’re not ending the year as poorly as they started it, which is good news for everybody with an Xbox One that wants to join in on the great year that 2017 has been so far.

Without further ado, let’s get to the recap, staff reactions below that, and trailers at the bottom:

  • Project Scorpio got the official name of Xbox One X, which I guess can be abbreviated as XBOX to further confuse things. It will be released on November 7 for $499 US, though the price fluctuates a bit in other regions so that you’ll need to check local retailers for your own country. The name is a little weird, but everything else is in line with what we expected before E3. There will be a few dozen games, including a handful of recent first party games, that will get updates to support Xbox One X.
  • We saw a decent number of first party games at the show, which included Crackdown 3, Cuphead, Forza Motorsport 7, Minecraft, Ori and the Will of the Wisps, Sea of Thieves, and State of Decay 2. The one knock I have for that is none of them are new or surprising, so I’m curious when we’ll learn about some more attempts at new IP by first party games.
  • Forza Motorsport 7 seems like the perfect game to use to demonstrate 4K and HDR enhancements to people as is the tradition with new platforms and racing games. It’ll be out on 10/3.
  • Crackdown 3 came out with a great trailer full of action, though I have reservations that we didn’t really see any gameplay there. I’m assuming the daily Xbox streams will make up for that later this week. The best news is that Terry Crews is voicing the commander/narrator, which is a great choice for a high energy voice actor. The game is out 11/7.
  • Cuphead made its return after a delay and will finally be out on 9/28. It still looks awesomely gorgeous.
  • Ori and the Will of the Wisps is as depressingly beautiful as you’d expect, though this debut trailer features a sad owl that was just a big bummer in the middle of this press conference. I believe it’s out in 2018.
  • Sea of Thieves came back with a lengthy demo trailer that shows that this is the sort of game where you and your crew will get as much fun and enjoyment out of the game as you put in, for all of the good and bad that can entail. It’ll be out in early 2018.
  • State of Decay 2 is the big time follow-up to the extremely popular XBLA game that seems to just offer more of that open world, solo or co-op, fun with the base camp management mechanics to build out your HQ and crew however you want. This game will be out in Spring 2018.
  • Minecraft was probably the biggest of all the first party games in terms of both scope and number of announcements. The big thing is that they’re going all in on cross platform multiplayer that supports Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Windows 10, VR, and mobile versions of the game, which obviously leaves out the PlayStation and Wii U versions for whatever reason. The other big announcement is that they’re releasing the Super Duper Graphics Pack on Xbox One and Windows 10 that looks to improve the visuals a ton along with 4K and HDR support. The Cross Play update is coming this Summer and I’m assuming the graphics pack is this Fall alongside the Xbox One X launch.
  • They threw in a ton of indies that will be exclusive to Xbox One for some period of time after launch, which includes The Artful Escape of Francis Vendetti, Ashen, Black Desert, The Darwin Project, Deep Rock Galactic, The Last Night, Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds, and Tacoma. Super Lucky’s Tale is fully Xbox One and Windows 10 exclusive after the original was an exclusive to Oculus Rift for its launch.
  • Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds is a huge get for the Xbox One and X, as it’s the hottest game on Steam right now and dominates Youtube and Twitch for content creators. PUBG will be out on Xbox One sometime this Fall. I’d love to know how long the deal is for this since it’ll only get bigger when it hits PS4 in 2018.
  • Tacoma is also a huge get for Xbox One and X, as the follow up to Fullbright’s first big hit Gone Home will be a highly anticipated game for those into story-focused adventure games. That is out really soon on 8/2.
  • Third parties were also a big part of the show, though moreso for just support and mindshare for Xbox One X since there won’t be much in the way of exclusivity with these titles. That group includes Anthem, Assassin’s Creed Origins, Code Vein, Dragon Ball FighterZ, Life is Strange: Before The Storm, Metro Exodus, and Middle-earth: Shadow of War for an interesting variety of western and Japanese games.
  • Anthem came in from an underwhelming EA Press Conference reveal and exceeded our expectations. It seems to build off of Destiny’s base ideas and features to add new things like jetpack flying, swimming, four-player groups, and an open world to explore. There’s still a focus on Diablo-style loot with a weird immediate loot box-style animation that I’m hoping is just there for trailer purposes. This game definitely looks like an interesting new game after Mass Effect Andromeda was not received well from the general public, which caused that team to be downsized with the rest of them moved to Anthem. It’s out sometime in 2018 for PS4/XB1/PC.
  • Assassin’s Creed Origins was another really interesting unknown for us, as we didn’t know how Ubisoft would rethink the series’ core mechanics to come up with something fresh. The debut gameplay trailer seemed to show a good bit of new stuff for this series that is obviously borrowed from many other games out there. It features RPG-style leveling and randomized loot that you can pick up off of defeated enemies with that MMO-style XP bonuses for discovering new areas. It’s out 10/27 on PS4/XB1/PC and will obviously be ready for the Xbox One X launch two weeks later.
  • Life is Strange: Before the Storm is a prequel series to the popular episodic coming from Idol Minds that features Chloe and Amber as BFFs before Amber’s disappearance that lead into the events of the original series. Life is Strange nearly was my #1 Game of 2015 when it released, as Rocket League was the only thing to stop that from happening. This is an exciting announcement for me while I wait for the sequel series that is coming from Dontnod next year. The first episode of this three-part series is out on PS4/XB1/PC on 8/31.
  • To cap off the show, Phil Spencer hyped up the backward compatibility feature for Xbox 360 titles and that they’ll look and run a bit better on Xbox One X with the added horsepower. In addition to that, they would also add original Xbox games to the pile with disc games especially getting support. The only real knock is that the only other detail on the major addition to BC is that Crimson Skies is the only game mentioned to support it. Whether games will be available digitally is not known, though they’ll probably offer them on Xbox Live.

Staff Reactions

“I talked at length on the Day 0 Update about the Microsoft briefing. I seem to be one of the few who doesn’t think the $500 price is too much. It’s the Xbox One X, not the Xbox Two. This means it’s a better Xbox One, not a new generational leap. I think it’s important to remember that.” – Filippo Dinolfo

“Microsoft went out there and did what they had to do, which was minimize direct talk of the now-dubbed Xbox One X in favor of wall-to-wall software. The absence of Halo was genuinely surprising, and the absence of Project Gotham Racing hurts my heart every year, but the overall lineup was strong and should give Microsoft some momentum going into the fall. The real takeaway, though, is Microsoft’s continued commitment to protecting your investment in the Xbox brand with legacy backward compatibility, which will send Sony into tomorrow night’s show already with a black eye. That’s how you win E3, and winning E3 matters.” – Patrick Mifflin

“After gathering for the briefing and hyping each other up at the FanFest for what might come, Microsoft fell short of just about everyone’s expectations and hopes. No signs of any new console exclusive IPs and failing to get under the rumored $499 price point left a lot of us at FanFest eager to drown our sorrows on free liquor and tacos courtesy of Microsoft. Atleast they got that part right.” – Christian Paraguya

“Microsoft is still selling consoles with no first party titles to make people buy them. I don’t think its smart to announce a $500 device with no incredible title to sell it. Everyone is still waiting on cuphead. That game looks awesome too bad it won’t push console sales” – Jamie Rae

“If you thought Wii U was a stupid name, well here comes Microsoft announcing Xbox One X. All consoles get abbreviations like how Playstation 4 is PS4.. You really want your console to be called XXX? The problem with the $500 price tag is they didn’t show anything to justify that price since most of it is on PC.” – Joe Rosa

“While I appreciate the work Microsoft has put into the Xbox One X (which can be abbreviated XBOX–nice touch, MS), I was more interested in the games they had to offer for my existing system and for Xbox Play Anywhere. They didn’t shirk on the amount and variety of games shown. Backwards compatibility won E3 2017 for me, short of an Animal Crossing bombshell announcement from Nintendo.” – Theresa Samons

“Look, I don’t care about the PS4 Pro, and I don’t care about the Scorpio–or rather, the stupidly named Xbox One X (that’s almost as bad as Wii U). I’m not in the market for a 4KTV, and I doubt I’ll be in for one soon. So if you’re gonna sell me an Xbox One X, you gotta show me the games, and while there was a heck of an amount shown, pretty much all of them are playable on the Xbox One I already have. I hope Cuphead actually comes out, Ori 2 is something I’m extremely excited for, and Anthem looks like it has a lot of promise. As cool as these games looked, nothing really screams “Buy an X!” and it’s an even harder sell when you price the Xbox One S at half the price of an X.” – Danreb Victorio

“With a majority of the press conference basing itself around the Xbox One X, it was hard to get overly excited. Even with the speed and performance enhancements, I don’t have a big desire to jump on an X immediately. I’m surprised there wasn’t any focus on VR and even more surprised there wasn’t any Halo (though that was fairly refreshing at the same time). Additionally, backwards compatibility could not excite me any less.” – Alex Quevedo