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Xbox and Bethesda – Showcase?

So let me preface this by saying, while there were some good things on show here and a certain franchise coming to the platform which could have huge implications, depending on future releases. This showcase is far from a showcase in my opinion, there were lots of great marketing terms and manipulations of words, like all the games on show being released within 12 months being an Xbox first… The fact that this is even something they feel they can brag about is utterly depressing, not only that however, but the reason also they bought Bethesda and Activision Blizzard has become incredibly obvious.

I already spelt it out before but let’s think of their last show and the first party games. Contraband from Avalanche, Outer Worlds 2, Avowed, Hellblade 2, fable, state of decay 3 and Everwild were nowhere to be seen. Starfield the big title would not even be Xbox only if MS did not buyout Bethesda, and even Starfield doesn’t have a solid 2023 date. Take all those titles out of the previous showcase and it is not hard to see why Xbox is buying out as much of the industry as possible. Gross mismanagement from Phil Spencer, look at Sony’s first party output, now look at MS’, they could be, and I TRULY WISH they were doing much better. Poundlandpass (gamepass) exists for a reason.

With all that said, let’s go through what was shown at the “showcase”.

REDFALL

Yes, we finally got our first look at Redfall gameplay, complete with awful “music” at the end. I have to say it seems to be continuing the disappointing path Arkane has been on of late, clearly going downhill. It is artistically void of any semblance of Arkane, it can indeed be played in SP but it is a MP open world game, the animations looked passable, the enemy design is extremely uninspired, and the gameplay… Completely uninspired, been there done that a million times gameplay, in fact it looks like Arkanes least creative gameplay to date. Which after Deathloop is quite an achievement. So yes, one of my favourite developers has turned into a mediocre studio after the big talent left. The truly sad thing is due to this not originally being a poundlandpass game, this is one of the best, if not the best looking game of the show production value wise.

Hollow Knight Silksong

Yes the game is coming to poundland pass, and that is great, because MS certainly needs it. The game itself looks incredibly solid, and I hope doesn’t go too big which is the only issue with Hollow Knight. This was one of my favoutire games of the show, if not my favourite. The problem I have with it being at the show was there was no release date. So it was here only for filler, I guess we know it should be coming within the next 12 months, given there was no 22 date, I can only assume this is a 23 release.

High On Life

On paper I should be excited for this, and while I will definitely give this a go, it was extremely underwhelming. Justin Roiland is back with another game, a game full of all the comedy from Rick and Morty and Solar Opposites to its own detriment. As much as I cannot wait for the next season of R&M after the insane ending to last season, and I can not wait to see where Solar Opposites goes there is a problem here…

Justin is a one trick pony, the game literally feels like reused jokes from both of his series’, a knife called knifey who talks and acts like a psychopath… Normally I would be amused by this, but I’ve already seen this from his shows. It goes even deeper than that though, there are guns that effectively fire MR Meseeks in everything but name. This game is complete null and void of any creativity. I will absolutely still get enjoyment out of this, but it would be nice to see Justin come up with some new material.

RIOT games come to Xbox

This was a pretty big announcement on the surface, it is still a great announcement and Sony is guilty of doing the same thing. Yes, all of RIOT’s games are coming to Xbox, but according to rumours they are also coming to switch and PS. So, while they gave the deliberately misleading impression that these are XBOX exclusives, they are not…

That all being said though Xbox owners get all champions in wild rift on mobile, and all agents and champions in Valorant and LOL respectively.  It is great to see Riot extending to other platforms, and quite frankly RIOT seem to be turning into something very special. It would have been nice to see more of their fighting game though…

A Plague Tale: Requiem

The multi-platform sequel to A Plague Tale was shown off and continues to look solid. The first game was well received, and this looks to be shaping up very nicely.

Forza Motorsport

The next entry in Forza Motorsport was finally shown off and continues the trend of pushing tech and being an all-right juggernaut in the genre. Nothing bad can ever be said about the Forza games, they have some faults, but they are very minor. They are the upper echelon of racing games. However, this one does feel a bit iffy, especially falling for the dynamic trend, which I am not a fan of.

Microsoft Flight Simulator

We saw a very big and great update to the already extremely impressive flight simulator. While this game is not for me, it is undeniably an amazing game, has some fantastic next gen tech and offers an experience nothing else ever does. It’s even getting Halo DLC, which feels a bit out of place but it is undeniably fun.

Overwatch 2

This was actually a big one, I really enjoyed my time with the OW beta and love the direction it is going in. We now have an Early Access release date of October 4th, which is very exciting. My only concern is the state it is going to be in when it does launch… On the more positive side however we got our first look at Junker Queen and she looks absolutely fantastic, from Character design down to her gameplay.

Ara: History Untold

Not much to say here, Oxide games are making another Turn Based game of which we got to see nothing of. Yes, it’s just a CG trailer telling us absolute nothing, so no excitement to be had until we see some actual gameplay.

Elder Scrolls Online the High Isle

We got a very brief glimpse at the next ESO expansion, which we already have seen more of, so this was nice and all but was merely filler.

Fallout 76

The very underwhelming to say the least Fallout 76 is getting a new expansion… It is hard to be excited by this, however, it is taking place in a new location is very nice.

Forza Horizon 5 Expansion… Hot Wheels again!

Yep Forza Horizon is getting Hot Wheels again… Words cannot describe  how disappointing this is… The fact they are reusing this again just screams poundland pass, I’m sure all lovers of Forza Horizon 5 was expecting much more than a reuse of hot wheels…

Ark 2

Another CG trailer for ARK 2 a game coming out in 12 months… This does not surprise me anyone who has played ARK knows it is an extremely mediocre game made by a dev full of controversy. In addition to that the original runs like hot garbage, and the fact we are not seeing any gameplay this close to launch tells me to expect the same.

Scorn

This very uninspired Doom FPS has finally got a release date of October 21st 2022, I would love to be excited by this, but it’s art style and gameplay just feels extremely uninspired and try hardy. It is nice to see if is finally coming out however, so it can stop being shown at these shows…

Flintlock

The multiplatform game Flintlock got a big gameplay reveal and all I can say is wow in a very bad way… Uninspired artstyle, awful animations, combat that lacked any weight and generic uninspired gameplay. I really could not care for this one in the slightest.

Minecraft Legends

Minecraft continues the trend of the main game getting delayed expansions, while it gets unnecessarily spun off yet again. This time as an Action Strategy game, that we did not see much gameplay of, and what we did… Well let’s just say I don’t see anyone getting excited from it.

Lightyear Frontier

The name is not the only awful thing about this game, although the name really is awful is it not? An open world farming game in mechs, based on UE4 using stock UE4 effects with an Art Style that is overused at this point. I don’t see anything in this game that is remotely fascinating or unique, except the poor choice to put all players in mechs they cannot get out of as its main unique feature.

Gunfire Reborn

The surprisingly decent but not without its flaws Gunfire Reborn is coming to Xbox Gamepass. A nice enough get but nothing to write home about.

The Last Case of Benedict Fox

Xbox continues its trend of getting the worst batch of indies to show off, completely outdone by Sony who were completely outdone by Devolver. It is yet another Indy Metroidvania, by the developers Plot twist.  Nothing here really stood out and unlike the games at Devolver and Sony’s show I can not say I have any desire to play this, nothing about it stood out.

As Dusk Falls

Dusk Falls, an original interactive drama from studio Interior/Night, with up to 8 players launches July 19 with Xbox Game Pass. This done absolutely nothing for me and felt incredibly low budget, low effort with a rather predictable script based on the trailer. Another Yawn fest.

Naraka Bladepoint

A game most people have probably already forgotten at this point is getting a big update and is coming to game pass.  Another title on multiplatform that is incredibly forgettable. on steam it has around 93k players, less than half it’s all time peak. That is not too bad for a game that’s almost a year old, it has a playerbase for sure, but I don’t think this announcement would have made anyone particularly excited.

Grounded

Grounded is finally entering into Full Release, this is not a bad game at all, it has its issue but is well designed for the most part. The problem is it released far too early and underbakes which has done permanent damage. The full release does look good, and this was a nice announcement, it is good to see this game finally hit the 1.0 milestone.

Ereban: Shadow Legacy

Raw Fury has another game in the pipeline, and it is coming to Xbox Game pass. The Art Style is mediocre and very uninspired, it is an interesting enough looking stealth game, but with the amount of mediocre stealth games around I need to see more of this. This is definitely on the watch list.

Pentiment

Obsidian Entertainment has a brand-new game in development and it is coming out in November 2022… It is a 2d Narrative Journey through the eyes of Journeyman Artist Andreas Maler during a time of great social unrest. This did not really grab me and screamed super poundlandpass, I’d love to be proven wrong though.

Diablo IV

FINALLY A HEAVY HITTER. Diablo IV continues the trend of looking stunning, everything shown looked amazing, even if the dev commentary could be copy pasted into anything ever. We finally got a look at the 5th and final class the Necromancer, and they look delightful. I’ve never had anything bad to say about how this new Diablo looks, and I don’t think I ever will. It is by far the highest Quality ARPG I have ever seen and has some nice new additions to the gameplay that hopefully work out.  Beta Signups opened today, and the game is targeted for a 2023 release.  Like Starfield however, I find it hard to see it hitting 2023, if all these games are out in 12 months, surely it could have a June 2023 date. So, I expect this to hit late 23 or early 24, either way count me in and I am incredibly Excited for this.

Sea of Thieves Season 7

Sea of Thieves is a great game if you have a group of friends to play with, all these years later the game is finally something unique and special in its own way. It got a very fun Season 7 trailer, and this was a good addition to the show, even if it will not bring in any new players.

Ravenlok

The creator of Echo generation has an Xbox Exclusive available day one with poundland pass. It may well be good and seems to be competent, but it screamed cheap Alice in wonderland rip off with its style. This could be a good game, but until a hands on nothing more can be said.

COCOON

Visually this game looks very uninspired visually and mechanically, which is surprising given that it is from the lead gameplay designer of Inside and Limbo, Jeppe Carlsen. I am expecting the game to be very good however as Inside and Limbo are actually interesting special indies, Jeppe Carlsen definitely knows what he is doing.  It is coming to PC, Xbox game pass and Xbox one and series consoles in 2023

Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty

So, Phil has a Japanese Developer announcement which I am sure in his mind he thinks is genuinely amazing… At first, I thought it was a new Nioh, but then I remembered Sony owns that one. Phil has partnered up with the very mediocre Koei Tecmo for what appears to be a Chinese take on Nioh. No gameplay was shown despite it apparently coming out in 12 months… Nioh 2 was an extremely disappointing game, FF Strangers of Paradise is actually a very competent game mechanically, however as anyone is aware by now Team Ninja have an issue… They are as technically incompetent as Fromsoftware is, so I fully expect a poor artstyle, budget graphics poorly running game when this does come out. So yes well done Phil, you teamed up with a great dev here, and I am entire sure this is what Xbox users had in mind when trying to go back to the 360 days…

Update: It turns out this is also coming to PS, so this is a multiplatform title too. Not a bad thing, but just like Sony likes to mislead during their conferences so does MS.

Kojima Unannounced title

I will be in the minority here and I have no problem admitting it. For most people this would be an amazing announcement, for me though 0 gameplay, 0 CG and it being Kojima does nothing for me… As much as I loved the MGS series, I think it is an objective statement to say Kojima is a completely overrated developer. He is now overly obsessed with Hollywood talent and impersonates western media in a very ‘special’ way in his games.

To make matters worse he gave me crackdown 3 PTSD, stating that the game will be unique and offer a unique experience thanks to Microsoft’s cloud… Every time a game apparently utilises the power of the cloud it has NEVER ended well.  It also means you will need an internet connection to experience his new title, so if you have an outage or a situation out of your control, or even too slow an internet connection too bad.

All that being said this does count as a huge announcement my personal feelings aside. We will have to see how this one turns out.

Persona Series

Now this is what I would consider a potential MEGATON, and all on gamepass. Persona 3-5 Royal are coming to Xbox and PC. P4 has already hit PC, but this is great for Xbox owners, and P3P coming to PC and Xbox is a win. The biggest win however is P5 Royal coming to PC on the 21st of October, and with Steam Deck now in the picture… This is very exciting. What could make this a potential megaton though is the future of the series.  Right now, these are very late sloppy seconds for Xbox and PC. The real question is will Persona 6 come to Xbox day one, or will it come much later after PlayStation… If it does indeed come day one this is huge, and actually a big Japanese dev get for Xbox. This was easily one of the biggest announcements of the show.

Starfield

Starfield gameplay was finally shown and wow… In a bad way. It looks very rough with some very basic geometry, which is very surprising given this is a Next Gen only title… It could easily be on last gen if it was optimised. It’s artstyle is also incredibly bland.

The gameplay started off looking like a very budget No Mans Sky, the gunplay looks to keep the trend of feeling incredibly poor like all Beth’s games and unfortunately it completely revolves around gunplay for combat. AI looked incredibly basic; animations were poor, facial rigging felt extremely last gen. There was some great disingenuous marketing though. Todd was peak Todd and made very basic character customization and skill trees as something in depth and special…

He did show off some very No Man Sky base building, with a bit more depth than NMS. He also showed some space combat and flying, which in my opinion neither looked good or bad, just solid mid.

He then topped it off saying how you can land anywhere on any planet, yet all we ever saw of planets looked extremely empty, he also didn’t comment on the size of the planets at all. He then proceeded to show multiple systems saying you can go to each planet; the sheer number of planets however means it is clearly going to be procedurally generated. A horrible trend to save devs work. Given that all of Bethesda’s games up to this point had every inch handcrafted, I predict this is going to be a massive drop in quality.

This also leaves a big elephant in the room, a 2023 release with no exact date, screams this will not be out in 12 months, especially given how rough it looked. Also, this is the big title that didn’t have a poundlandpass budget that MS stole away from Sony. This was supposed to be their huge title, their megaton and it really didn’t feel like it. Just look at forum posts there are a lot of underwhelmed people.

Conclusion

That was the wrap, a very underwhelming showcase missing big names and titles shown previously, making the reason for the big buyouts incredibly obvious. As I pointed out previously, MS had nothing, and they had to desperately start buying up the industry to try and damage control for Phil Spencer’s incredibly poor management.  Persona was a great announcement; Kojima is a big announcement; a new Forza Motorsport is fantastic, and the multi-platform Diablo IV looks amazing.  

The problem is however let’s look at the first Party content pre buyouts here. Flight Sim update, new Forza Motorsport, reuse of Hotwheels DLC for Forza Horizon 5, Pentiment, Grounded Full release, and a new Mincecraft Spinoff. That’s all Xbox had for 2023, and these may be the only titles releasing in 2023, this will be almost 3 years into the Series X life cycle. 3 years in and this is all they must add to Halo Infinite, which has already been forgotten by a massive amount of the community and still doesn’t have basic features. Despite a rumoured budget of HALF A MILLION DOLLARS. Xbox is so sorely mismanaged it is entirely depressing and I yearn for the 360 era Xbox. This was an incredibly mediocre show that felt like a waste of my time.

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