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Letters from the Front

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Microsoft’s lack of exclusives are abysmal and the way they’re handling things also happens to be abysmal. Microsoft is not only missing exclusives but it’s missing developer support and despite not having exclusivity deals in place, games like Nier Automata and Final Fantasy XIV hasn’t arrived on Xbox because Xbox is basically non-existent in Japan.

Xbox and the userbase are missing out on heavy hitters that dominate the headline, of course there are few exceptions like Cuphead and PUBG on Xbox.

When it comes to visuals and performance, the Xbox One X is dominating the scene right now, breaking the rules and defying expectations; it’s a complete hit for Microsoft. The X delivers the best visuals outside of high-end PCs, and it’s the smallest Xbox ever.

As 2018 rolls on, Xbox is becoming more critical to Microsoft and their operations then ever before. Here’s some hopes and dreams that I have for Xbox in 2018

GAMES! 

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2017 was a very lackluster year for Xbox, probably one of the worst years ever for the console. The lineup wasn’t there outside of Cuphead, PUBG, Forza, and Halo Wars 2; most of the games that were supposed to launch with the X was delayed to this year. After the cancellation of Scalebound and Fable Legends, Microsoft has shifted to not announcing upcoming Xbox games until they’re closer to being finished. That policy is fine and leads to less disappointment but as a result it has created anxiety.

Microsoft leveraged third party deals last year, enlisting games like Assassin’s Creed: Origins and Shadow of Morder to showcase the power of the X and made a deal with Bluehole for a temporary console exclusive with PUBG.

Crackdown 3 has been the subject of multiple delays, and with the multiplayer beta failing to release last year and was pushed back to this year. Crackdown 3 was met with a mixed reception at E3 last year which possibly contributed to Microsoft delaying the game; hopefully when the game releases it will be awesome.

Sea of Thieves looks to be like the only promising Xbox exclusive for this year maybe outside of Crackdown 3, although the game was shrouded in a fog of “What is this?” and “How do you play it?” until the clouds broke and they revealed a very robust XP system. Crews of four players vote on quests, complexity, and difficulty level, all rewards will be cosmetic only and I guess this is a game that I will keep my eye on.

The weirdest thing about these two examples is that they’re all open-world, co-op shooters, and have cartoon-type graphics although that doesn’t really matter in the end. If these games launched close to one another that could accidentally be competing with each other like EA did in 2016, although I do have a feeling that Crackdown 3 will be delayed again to Fall 2018 at the cost of people being outraged.

As for other games in the lineup, it feels like a lifetime that we have recieved a mainline Halo entry outside of the spin-off that is Halo Wars 2. This could be the year that we receive news about Halo 6; Halo 5 was a success but we live in a time now that Halo as a franchise doesn’t have the same punch as it did in 2007 or 2004.

The story for Halo 5 was abysmal, the only thing that saved the game was the multiplayer.  I hope 343i plans to evolve the franchise and return Halo to the days of Halo 3, Halo 3: ODST, and Halo: Reach.

Outside of that, it doesn’t look very bright. Microsoft needs a W in their belt in terms of gaming, exclusives like Recore and Halo Wars 2 fell into the average category. Hopefully at E3 this year, we’ll see Phil Spencer announcing a few new exclusives that hopefully have the same potential as the legacy franchises.

We’re going to get a new Forza game this year, even though the team that usually works on Forza Horizon is working on an RPG, it also seems a little too early for Gears of War 5, any other exclusives will most likely come from third-party like Ashen and whatever game Studio Gobo is working on. I really hope Microsoft gets their affairs in order and release other exclusives that we don’t know about.

Hardware

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The Xbox One X just launched in November, so there’s no reason to expect another hardware launch from Microsoft for some time. We might also recieve the usual price drops for the Xbox One S and maybe for the Xbox One X as the holidays come around, perhaps more special edition designs.

I predict that we will see new accessories for the Xbox outside of the controllers, with Kinect buried in the ground, we might see some new microphone arrays for owners who want to yell CORTANA at their screen. Maybe Xbox isn’t interested in pursuing Cortana and or voice commands anymore, which is a good thing but also it’s a bad thing: Microsoft could really pursue Cortana and enter the field that Amazon has been dominating; home smart assistants.

This should be the year that the Xbox division brings mouse and keyboard support to the Xbox, although Microsoft seems to be wrestling with the idea of how to implement them. The only game that supports mouse and keyboard at the current moment is Minecraft, so the system is in place but how to add that is tricky.

Microsoft doesn’t want to force players to play against those with mouse and keyboard, will they limit the functionality to co-op games or go all out and just add it for all games including FPS shooters like Battlefield or Call of Duty, time will tell.

VR for Xbox?

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Another thing that’s missing from Xbox is VR. The Xbox One X was announced with VR capabilities but that promise was withdrawn as we approached the launch of the system back in November.

The Xbox One X is capable of delivering high-fidelity mixed reality, but Phil Spencer said that Microsoft wants to refine and improve the general experience before it comes to the system, with the addition of wireless technology.

While I don’t believe in VR and the general census that VR is the future of gaming and it’s this revolutionary technology, I would like to see Microsoft bring VR to the Xbox and see the possibilities they can do with this type of technology.

2018: An Interesting Year Ahead

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2018 will be an interesting year for Xbox. With the power argument won, we will be looking at Microsoft and the Xbox division in a different way now although we will look at their weaknesses in other areas now, namely the exclusives, VR, and how Microsoft is kinda ditching Cortana.

Microsoft and the Xbox division has a long road ahead, I hope like everyone else that they get everything in order and hopefully 2018 will be the strongest year in the Xbox lineup and for Microsoft, they’re struggling and I hope they can turn it around and that means building a strong lineup of games.

3 comments on “Xbox in 2018: Hopes and Dreams

  1. Hardware needs to be secondary. A big, impressive game from a studio that people know would be a great move. I love all the indies that are turning up, but most gamers look for big names.

    I wouldn’t object to Sunset Overdrive 2…

    1. Physics says:

      At this point I doubt Sunset Overdrive 2 will happen, much less a Ryse 2. I love Ryse and if Phil Spencer was aggressive enough, he would go right ahead and buy out Crytek with their engine and make them develop a Ryse 2 but I doubt it. I think Hardware is last, what they need now is Exclusives. Exclusives is first and foremost, get out there and acquire studios and build studios from the ground-up.

      If I was Phil Spencer, I would do this:
      Buy out Crytek and make them develop a Ryse 2.
      Buy studios and build new studios from the ground up.
      Give FABLE to CDPR ( Developer of Witcher.) and watch them closely as they have to inject British humor in there but make it adult-oriented and dark.
      Build new exclusive franchises that actually have potential, adult-oriented franchises instead of Kiddie games like Sea of Thieves and exclusives that YOU actually want to play.
      Maybe buy out BioWare from EA and make them an exclusive studio to MS ( it’s prolly a bad idea bc Mass Effect and Dragon Age but still..) , make them develop a Jade Empire reboot.
      Then comes hardware.

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