June 29, 2022

E3 2018: Welcome Back, Microsoft!


Wow. Someone had their Weetabix this morning!

Let’s be brutally honest – the last four years of the XBox One has been dry. Very dry. But suddenly, for some reason, Microsoft woke up this year. Games? You want games? Here’s fifty of the damn things – Battletoads! A new Gears game exploring what became of the Locust! Dying Light 2! Devil May Cry 5! That new FROM Software game! Cyberpunk 2077! And so much more.

It was, if I’m being honest, perhaps a little too much. But after a four-year drought, a monsoon isn’t something you’ll readily complain about.

To discuss each game individually so quickly after the show is impossible really; a lot of it hasn’t really settled yet, and so much needs further clarification, but let’s not be churlish here. Microsoft’s E3 2018 showcase was -exactly- what the company needed right now; games, lots of games, more games than your brain can handle. Games coming out of every available orifice. Over ninety minutes, it was just reveal after reveal after reveal and yes, we knew about many of them; but things like Dying Light 2 were a surprise, and a pleasant surprise at that. Oh, and what looked like a very open-world Halo. Looks like someone saw what Nintendo did with Zelda and wanted a bit of that, and who could blame them?

And at the end – they’re working on the next XBox Console. Wow, hold on Phil Spencer! Slow down there buddy!

It’s true that much of what they showed was third-party and will be on other platforms; particularly the PC. But Microsoft should be rightly feeling a little smug that they got to debut most of them. After several years fumbling around, they’ve finally thrown some cash around.

They even acquired a bunch of new game studios – including Ninja Theory, which some are very disappointed about, particularly after the revelatory mid-tier bombshell of Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, but it was one of very few duff notes in the whole presentation. Could have done with a little less Forza, but then, it’s not my kind of series and I’m sure its fans are thrilled to see another entry into the series.

It’s just nice to see some fight in Microsoft again. The games industry, I genuinely believe, needs all the major players to be on their A-Game to thrive and this time I’m almost convinced that Phil Spencer has finally righted the S.S. XBox One – it’s taken him long enough and I’ve no doubt he’s had to fight tooth and nail for this, but it’s still wonderful to see them finally get that second wind that they so desperately needed.

It’s been a long evening already, and I’m hopeful that the rest of this E3 should be a corker after that. Microsoft set the bar pretty high – a slew of games, and stuff I’ll be spending days picking through to make sense of it all. Sony and Nintendo have a lot to live up to now. Microsoft is not content with third place; it’s striking back as hard as it can, and that can only inspire everyone to greater things.

… but it does make EA’s conference look so lazy in comparison. Welcome back, Microsoft.

It’s nice to see you again.


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