A List of Demands for Xbox at E3 2016
It’s about that time again; the annual Electronic Entertainment Expo from Los Angeles, California. Yes, E3 is one month away and it is fast approaching. June 14 -16, Microsoft’s Xbox division will show off what’s been cooking behind the scenes at its various game studios. We will see everything new with the Xbox One and the partnerships they have forged to bring fresh second and third party content. But, what should we expect from E3 2016? We’ll probably hear about Gears of War 4, Halo Wars 2, Crackdown, ReCore, Sea of Thieves, and a plethora of other titles. Surely, there will be exciting surprises from unannounced games and new tech to wow the crowd like the HoloLens has in the past. But this isn’t about predictions. There are some things Xbox has to deliver at this year’s E3 to meet my personal expectations. Take note, Phil Spencer.
Address Upgradable Hardware
The big stage, the bright lights, the unwavering attention, that’s the time to make big announcements, right? The circulation of rumors and reliable source reports has spun out of control. With the all-but-confirmed PlayStation 4 NEO and more vague Xbox neXt that is no surprise. It is about time Sony and Microsoft step up and dish their own sides of those stories at E3. Even if PlayStation doesn’t delve too far into this PS4 NEO situation, people are waiting to see what Xbox in response to the rampant rumors and speculation that just won’t go away. Phil Spencer needs to clarify his and Xbox’s intentions for future hardware development and in-generation changes to the Xbox One soon. If the rumors are true, Xbox has to keep its fans informed on the direction of the Xbox One for the next couple of years. Will we see a “slim” console? Probably. It’s around that time in the console generation if the last is any indicator. Will there be a new box with upgraded specs? It’s uncertain, but hopefully not for long.
What is ReCore, anyway? Xbox has to come out swinging with new footage and an informative display of gameplay mechanics if they want to move the needle on this title. Keiji Inafune and Comcept Armature Studio rolled out an aesthetically pleasing CGI trailer last year. But, it only went as far as to show the possibility of many robotic companions powered by a single orb-like core used by the playable character. I think it’s safe so say ReCore will be a mostly standard third-person action game with the swappable companion as its unique twist. The game director, Mark Pacini, could bring his Metroid Prime influence to the Xbox exclusive. And that is worth noting. Since ReCore is to come out in 2016, hopefully, these broad questions will get answered at E3.
More Gears of War 4 Story Details
The Gears of War 4 multiplayer beta in April gave fans the opportunity to test out what’s to come from the major third-person cover-based shooter out of Microsoft in October 2016. That’s all well and good, but it didn’t quite scratch the itch in the way of single player story and gameplay. Last year’s E3 vertical slice introduced us to new characters, new environments, new enemies, and the old familiar dark atmosphere from the very first in the series. Yet, the demo was short and vague on the story. Now that we’ve seen a month of campaign content from Game Informer, it is time to unveil a story-heavy trailer. Gears of War 4 is unquestionably the centerpiece of yet another overflowing year of Xbox exclusives, so it would be in the best interest of both Xbox and the fans to deliver new story details. Tell me why I should care about J.D. Fenix and his squad. I know I will in October, but let’s hear it.
Sea of Thieves and More from Rare
Microsoft didn’t make many friends with its treatment of Rare when the developer was relegated to Kinect games. Their talents were wasted and the beloved properties lay dormant. In 2015, Rare rebranded and debuted Sea of Thieves. The pirate-themed first-person multiplayer adventure game employs user-generated story content. But, the tentative 2016 release window seems too good to be true, especially with an already dense line-up for the upcoming fall, but that doesn’t mean Sea of Thieves will sit until next year. Microsoft has yet to announce an exclusive title for this summer, and Sea of Thieves could jump on the quiet stretch in August. That said, I would prefer that Rare get to perfect the development of Sea of Thieves, so if it isn’t confirmed to launch soon, it may be best to hold off. Microsoft needs to show confidence and restraint with its first-party developers, what with the closures of many studios in the last three months. Let Sea of Thieves incubate at Rare, but give us something to tide over the anticipation of a game worthy of the old Rare moniker.
Unannounced Titles for 2016
Microsoft confirmed that they have a few unannounced titles up its sleeve for 2016, and what better place to reveal them than at E3? One such title will most likely be Forza Horizon 3 from Playground Games or a new third branch in the stellar first-party racing franchise. You don’t have to do much to sell me on a Forza game; just getting it out there is enough. Other than that, Xbox has all its bases covered in the way of obvious new games. There is always of a remastered title from Saber Interactive. But, Xbox has focused more on backward compatibility when managing older titles. Undead Labs could make an appearance for a new State of Decay instalment or perhaps a new IP altogether. Decisive Games revealed over a year ago that they were working on a “beloved strategy game” but they aren’t listed as one of the developers for Halo Wars 2. No matter the developer, I would like to see some new titles revealed at E3, especially if they choose to use the quick turnaround launch of Fallout 4 like Bethesda did last year.
Summer Indie Line-Up
Gone are the days of Xbox Live’s Summer of Arcade, but ID@Xbox and other indie efforts from Xbox should not be cast aside. It is crucial for Xbox to regain the reputation as the indie-friendly platform that the Xbox 360 boasted. The construction and promotion of a slate of great new titles like Cuphead, Inside and Below should be at the forefront of such a campaign. Making an event of smaller games will help drive sales and attention beyond the core audience that always has its ear to the ground for new and cool indie titles. That is not to say something like Inside, from Limbo developer Playdead can’t support itself. Instead, these flagship indie titles can help drive interest in other games on the same slate. Making an event of indie releases is something that Xbox seems to have forgotten despite their attention to these titles at major conventions. We can’t let a game hit the digital shelves with little fanfare like the time-manipulation first- person shooter Superhot did this month.
Something Out of Left Field
The announcement of backward compatibility at E3 2015 showed that Xbox could change and work in favour of fan interests that seemed out of reach before. Microsoft needs to one-up themselves at this year’s E3 with another major reveal. Or some people will accuse them of a lackluster press conference and show floor presence. With EA choosing to take their show down the road in Los Angeles, Xbox will be missing a considerable third-party contribution in their press conference. The HoloLens proved to be an easily demonstrable device on the stage and maybe more from its development could help sell customers on this distant hardware. Maybe a more streamlined Oculus Rift compatibility for Xbox One users who are willing to do a little bit of tinkering through their Windows 10 PC. Maybe the Xbox neXt or a new version of the Xbox One is ready for some real exposure. Whatever it is, make it clear, make it heard and don’t beat around the bush. Phil Spencer can’t afford to hit the stage and make another passing suggestion that he is open to the possibility of upgradable hardware in the future. It has to be a statement. Or they may get run over by the flood of new hardware and potential advancements made by PlayStation this fall and next year with the Nintendo NX.