Gaming

Xbox July 2020 Showcase – Thoughts

After much hype leading into it and a fair few tweets pummeling gamer’s feeds we finally got a chance to see the next leg in Xbox’s journey via a games showcase. As the name implies it’s all about the games and because of the one hour running time many reveals were kept brief so as to move to the next announcement in the queue. The presentation is below (English language version, but others available on YouTube) for those curious to see for themselves.

Halo Infinite was the big showpiece and was also first out of the gate with footage shown from a playable demo that gave a little bit of everything you’d expect from the shooter with a variety of weapons, enemies and of course driving the Warthog. The Master Chief now has a grapple as part of his toolset which can be used for both movement and combat and it looks like enemies have a few tricks of their own too. The art style is interesting in that it appears it’s not aiming for hyper detail/realism but it’s also not going into the realm of caricatures either. My take is they’re trying to make the world appear more vibrant, like Sea of Thieves succeeds at, but retain enough of the art design that makes it unmistakably Halo… especially the earlier games.

The next Forza Motorsport game (dropping the number 8) was presented via a teaser so could still be some time away from being ready. Having Forza Horizon 4 get a Series X update might be simply to allow the team that extra time to get the game done right. I suppose considering the last time a Forza game launched with a console (FM5 on Xbox One) they went through hell after having to retool the game after Microsoft’s last minute change to their digital rights policy which resulted in one heck of a big day one patch to the game.

Everwild from Rare had another showing and the visuals are really something. Watching some of the character animation reminds me of rotoscoping (it’s probably mo-cap) just in how the realistic movement ties with the art style. It’s a great effect. Also noticed a few games were not listing Xbox One as a platform, just Series X and PC, so chances are they’re still some time out from release and not cross-gen… maybe even 2022 games?

It closed with a teaser for the new Fable game from Playground Games which didn’t give a lot away except perhaps to let fans know it still doesn’t take itself too seriously. Xbox won’t be short of RPGs for this new generation but this is still the one most people want to see back.

Now I’ve finished covering what I’d seen, how did I go with my predictions?

  • Game Pass will replace Xbox Live Gold. Nothing was said to that effect however Game Pass was pushed VERY hard during the whole hour as almost every game announced will be available on that platform. Having Destiny 2 come to Game Pass gives now gives it parity with Stadia so it’s aiming to be the “go to” subscription if you want the best of what Xbox can provide.
  • More developers added to Xbox Game Studios. No new studio announcements here – it really was focused on games and what is (hopefully) coming within the next year. Still… I’d imagine if they find teams whose experience fills gaps in their portfolio they’ll address them.
  • Oculus will have something for Xbox. Didn’t happen either… all games! Maybe with the next hardware announcements?
  • More old PC franchises to get resurrected. Nothing to report here but Stalker 2 is making the jump to console which might count even though it is a sequel. Doublefine are apparently planning to bring their adventure game remasters (Grim Fandango, Day of the Tentacle, Full Throttle) over but they weren’t mentioned.
  • Rare will (finally) be going hard on their IPs. Rare’s upcoming game Everwild was given its time to shine but there was nothing else new to announce except for Series X support for Sea of Thieves. Not even a peep about Perfect Dark.
  • Halo goes free to play. Unless you count playing it through Game Pass as “free”. The demo shown was very much a tease of what you’ll expect Halo Infinite to be like and it’s not straying too far from the gameplay formula that works.

If I had one thing to criticize about the presentation it was that I think an hour was not enough. There was a lot covered in that time with very little filler (which is great) but with a new console only a few short months away I’d have hoped we’d see enough to know what’s shipping day and date with Series X. Certainly those players wanting to preorder would like that info soon.

Apart from that I’m happy with what I saw and it’s more than enough to have me stick with the platform for the next generation. 🙂

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