Yesterday, Microsoft held their e3 briefing for Xbox and Windows 10 gaming. As promised, they did the big reveal for Project Scorpio, which is now officially called the Xbox One X. As I sat and watched the conference, I was chatting with people via social media and there were a lot of mixed feelings. Know that what you read here is purely my thoughts on the situation, but I want to give you both sides of the coin.
Xbox One X: The Claim
Let's start by getting Microsoft's big boast out of the way. The fact is that yes, The Xbox One X is (to date) the most powerful gaming console created. It is impressive in terms of its specs and it handles the most UHD media. Right out of the gate, the system has a potential edge. Why do I only say potential? Let's take a look back a generation.
When the Xbox 360 launched, it did so a year before the Wii or the PlayStation 3. Microsoft built a library of impressive titles in that year and left Sony holding the bag. At that time, the PlayStation 3 was the actual better console in terms of technology. Blu-ray was better than HD-DVD and the console it self was more powerful. The problem was a lack of games. Sony remedied that issue and the PS3 surpassed the 360.
Fast forward to this generation and we have PS4 and Xbox One launching within a week of each other. Four years later, both consoles have a respectable library with one major difference: PlayStation 4 has a much larger library of exclusive titles. Good ones, at that. So as I sat yesterday listening to Phil Spencer laundry list the console's abilities and specs thinking “just shut up and show me the games!” Eventually, my mind control seemed to work.
The trailer that introduced the Xbox One X teased Gears and Halo, but once that was done, Wade Barrett (figuratively) popped out and said: “I'VE GOT SOME BAD NEWS FOR YOU!” The only (major) Xbox exclusives shown were Forza Motorsport 7 and Crackdown 3. You might wonder what is wrong with that and in some ways, the answer would be nothing.
Forza Motorsport 7
I love racing games and racing sim games hold a place in my heart. However, there have been four Forza games for the Xbox One already and the console is not even four years old yet. How many times are we going to unlock the same cars or in this case, the 2018 version of the same car? Microsoft kicked off the Xbox One X reveal with the same old thing.
This one hurt my heart because I am a huge fan of this franchise. First things first, and I mean no disrespect to Terry Crews. When I watch a game trailer I want to see the game, not Terry Crews. They wasted a full minute that could have shown more of the game with Terry Crews, well, being Terry Crews. Now we find out that the promised 100% destructible environment is only in an online arena mode and the game itself looks to have added very little to the formula. I for one was unimpressed.
Super Lucky's Tale
I do not want to dump on this game because it looks fun and a console has to appeal to all ages. All I am going to do is remind people of the PlayStation 4 reveal and a game called Knack. Do you remember Knack? No one else does either. Super Lucky's Tale does not look like it is going to be doing many favors for the Xbox One X. Microsoft puzzles me; if you wanted a cute, anthropomorphic character you do own this company called RARE ya know.
Ori and the Will of the Wisps
Ori and the Blind Forest was an amazing game. It is great to see that there will be a follow-up coming to the Xbox One X. However, I am not a fan of trailers that do not show gameplay. Even if it had, the odds are that Ori and the Will of the Wisps will max at maybe ten hours of gameplay for completion. A game that can be binged on a Friday or Saturday is not a console pusher.
Phil Spencer wowed audiences by saying Microsoft would show 42 games (22 exclusive) yesterday. The majority of that 22 were ID@Xbox titles that flashed by the screen in the blink of an eye. Indie games are great; many of the games I have raved about this year are indie titles. When you flash a whole bunch of titles on screen quickly like that, it just makes it look like you needed to fill time. For all the praise that was given to the ID@Xbox program on stage, the video presentation served to strip a lot of it away.
This trailer addresses everything I had to say about Ori. It is a game that is probably not very long, but we got to see actual gameplay. Cuphead looks absolutely amazing. You might think it is not really pushing the Xbox One X, but to make a video game look like hand-drawn animation is a feat in and of itself. Even if everything is drawn, animating it is an amazing sight. This is one to watch; unfortunately, it is still not a console pusher.
I obviously did not show everything that Microsoft presented yesterday and there is a reason. Sea of Thieves looks like fun with the right people but it was shown last year. It did not come out then and it is not coming out in 2017. My hopes are that it keeps getting polished and amazes next year.
Ashen has an amazing art style that reminds me of the GO series (Hitman & Lara Croft) on a larger scale. The issue I have is that Microsoft was using creative language yesterday. What exactly is the “Xbox Console Launch Exclusive?” It would not be the first time Microsoft was “mistaken” about exclusivity (Rise of the Tomb Raider). It would also not be the first time that an Xbox exclusive jumped over to Sony (Inside, The Flame In the Flood). Do not be surprised if you eventually see Ashen and The Last Night showing up on PS4.
So Wat Cha Sayin'
You might wonder where I am going with all of this. The Xbox One X launches on November 7, 2017. The console, as I said at the beginning, is amazing. It is not $500 amazing in my personal opinion, however. The Xbox One S does most of what the X does for half the price. Xbox One X gives you native 4K gaming and the best graphical experience for upcoming Xbox games. it will also let you play 360 and some (original) Xbox games.
If you buy a brand new console to play old games, that is up to you, but I think that is a crutch to hide the lack of new games on the Xbox One profile. The Xbox presentation was actually very entertaining. Were those games coming to only the Xbox One X, they would probably be the clear e3 “winner.” Unfortunately, most of the truly spectacular titles shown (Metro Exodus for one) will also be on PlayStation 4.
If you are an Xbox One owner, I would only recommend upgrading at launch if retailers are offering at least a $200 trade-in on your old console. PlayStation 4 and/or Switch owners that do not currently own an Xbox One may wish to stay as they are. Unless you are interested in at least five titles that are Xbox One X exclusive, $500 is money you could better spend elsewhere.
I waited for the Microsoft e3 conference, to begin with, baited breath. I very much wanted Microsoft to sell Project Scorpio to me. They have not completely failed. The Xbox One X deserves to be in gamer homes. Perhaps when they bundle it with a big game, lower the price or get more new exclusive IPs, it will be a viable threat to the PlayStation 4 PRO. At this time, despite being the more powerful machine, it is still falling behind.
*This editorial reflects the opinion of Slick, aka Handel Williams. It does not necessarily represent the thoughts or opinions of R.A.G.E. Works, RW staff or RW partners.