Among a thousand doubts, uncertainties and a good load of mysteries still to be revealed, the next-gen is getting closer: Sony and Microsoft have started to show their cards with events dedicated to technical specifications, pad and console design and more generally to their market strategies but only the Japanese giant has come forward with some trailers expressly dedicated to "titles of the future". Now it's up to Redmond's house show your muscles and intrigue the public with your own launch line-up (and not) and, above all, try to recover the lost ground towards your rival, trying to completely regain the confidence of the players, so mistreated at the beginning of this generation .
Finally, tomorrow, July 23, at 18:00 Phil Spencer will virtually go on stage to conquer the limelight thanks to the news in store for the public, with a series of risks and surprises that, according to him, should convince everyone of the goodness of the work done with Xbox Series X. There are some fears: Unfortunately, Microsoft has shown several times that it is not very effective, to put it mildly, in communication and to make choices that are not only risky but just incomprehensible. Although the period of wicked decisions seems to be now far from returning, it is understandable to approach the event dedicated to Xbox Series X with some hesitation but at the same time, given the situation in which Microsoft is currently, there can only be a great curiosityto.
Back to Basics
Impervious path that Microsoft traveled during this console generation. Strong (and probably a bit bold) of the success of the Xbox 360, it arrives at E3 2013 with a conference that will remain in history, but for all wrong reasons. In addition to the now iconic meme "TV, TV, TV!" remained indelibly imprinted in the public, there was the question "Always online" that would have allowed to exploit the power of the cloud but with the scotto of a severe DRM and a daily check of the actual internet connection, under penalty of temporary blocking of the software. All things on which Microsoft then backed down, but now the media die was cast and his incisive communication - to put it mildly - he had already started doing damage.
In addition, what Microsoft led by Mattrick never gave up was the forced bundle with Kinect, which should have been an indispensable device for Xbox One, however, increasing the purchase cost by a good 100 euros compared to the rival Playstation 4 and consequently sanctioning the beginning of the darkest period of the gaming division of Microsoft, so much so that, a few years later, increasingly persistent rumors began to foresee a closure of the same, making drop the curtain on the Xbox brand. With the passing of the baton to Phil Spencer, who was already in the forefront of the Microsoft Gaming ecosystem but who only takes over from 2014 as head of the Xbox brand, things slowly begin to change, not smoothly or slips, but finally begins to emerge a more solid identity for what the brand wants to represent within the market.
We thus get to the concept of Gamepass, to the desire to break down walls and borders, reaching as many players as possible, following a vision, a line, more fluid, liquid and outside the box. Like it or not, Microsoft's current mentality in the gaming context works and convinces more and more public, but it will be the upcoming Series X event that will show if Redmond's house is really ready to start again and be reborn from the ashes. But what has most penalized Xbox One in recent years, in addition to the disastrous early years, has been the shortage of new IPs that have really managed to break through. The cancellation of Scalebound is a wound still open, as well as the failure of the much vaunted (but already little awaited) Crackdown 3, in addition to a series of small and large defeats and naivete that have made the Xbox One title park a pale one I respect the previous consoles. Yet today, at least on paper, Xbox has everything it needs to do well and return to the glories of the past. A large number of proprietary studios, including Obsidian and Ninja Theory, as well as the new The Initiative, whose projects are still shrouded in mystery, an excellent service such as The Game Pass, which in its Ultimate version will also include Xcloud, and a renewed one desire to amaze and invent.
Furthermore, it appears that a rapprochement with the increasingly distant Japanese market is strongly desired by Spencer, and indeed the intent has already been demonstrated with the reveal of Devil May Cry 5 on the stage of Microsoft's E3, as well as the entry of Yakuza and Kingdom Hearts into the Xbox softeca. Although it is a must to keep your feet on the ground in this sense, it is easy to get carried away by thinking about the titles that landed on the Xbox in the past. Jet Set Radio, Panzer Dragoon, Otogi, Lost Odyssey, are a distant memory but it is possible that in Spencer's words the intent is hidden not only to bring currently important brands to their land but also to propose new ones, or to recall them some now forgotten but steeped in the history of Xbox? In this case, a return to the origins would be more than desirable.
Here and now
Leaving aside for a moment the discourse on Microsoft's potential and on everything that could or could not show surprise in its dedicated show, it is good to focus for a moment on everything that instead we can give for certain - or almost - of tomorrow. Obviously one of the top titles will be the much talked about Halo Infinite, moreover Master Chief is a true icon of the Xbox brand and is a title of importance not to be underestimated, despite the perception of the public is now very flawed about this IP. The triptych "Come on, Halo, Gears" is it has now become a singsong with a joke flavor, a criticism, however understandable, towards i usual known which today play the most important role for Microsoft. It is true that there is talk of excellent quality titles, which cannot and must not be missing, but it is necessary that the event is also a harbinger of new titles capable of restoring strength and character to a library that, however large, is missing still biting.
Hellblade 2: Senua's Saga it should be another title on which we can put our hand on fire and which should have a good space on the virtual stage, given the excellent response from audiences and critics of the first chapter, it could also be the definitive leap in quality for Ninja Theory, being the first title to come out after joining the Microsoft first party. Staying on the thick sequels, Double Fine Productions should delight us with his Psychonauts 2, a continuation of the cult of 2005 and we also chat about a possible look at State of Decay 3. Then of course there is the question Playground Games and Fable, a duo not yet confirmed but which now seems to be certain, and this perhaps could be the most intriguing title of the Xbox Series X launch line up. The brand has always had character to sell, a refined artistic style and unique and many excellent ideas, which however have never managed to crystallize completely, probably thanks to being guided by the steady but unwise hand of the histrionic Peter Molyneux, often a victim of his own pindaric flights. The return of Fable would not only be more than welcome by longtime fans, but it would also be Playground Games' debut on a title outside the Forza series, so it will be interesting to see how they approach an open world rpg.
Obsidian should show Grounded again but it is desirable that they also present their new flagship project, although it is difficult to think it may be present at the launch of the console. Same goes for Rare and his Everwild, of which we have seen very little so far and which, according to recent declarations, seems to be still in full swing. There will also be many third party titles, such as Assassin's Creed Valhalla, DiRT 5, Watch Dogs: Legion and Rainbow Six Quarantine. In short, there could be a lot of meat on fire, given the presence of other internal teams, including above all The Initiative, which almost certainly will be present but on which we still do not know anything specific.
A few words it is necessary to spend it as far as the console itself is concerned, but without getting involved in the umpteenth speech on the specifications of which the web overflows. Xbox Series X, like PlayStation 5, will not arrive alone on the market but will offer at least one variant of its configuration. We can expect an "all digital" model without Blu Ray player at this point, not only for the choice made by Sony but above all because Microsoft has shown in the past years, with Xbox One S, to appreciate and support a type of hardware devoted exclusively to digital delivery. And then there is Lockhart, which could be the real trump card, a less performing but decidedly less expensive version of Series X, able to run all the titles of the next generation but with some compromises, which will gradually become more conspicuous over time is lawful to think.
If Lockhart were to arrive without a reader, however, it could be revealed a far too wicked gamble, given its nature as a console suitable for all budgets, and therefore addressed mainly to the casual public, it would be really risky to turn to that same slice of user by depriving it of the possibility of purchasing software in a physical version, also precluding any possibility inherent in the used. The most pressing issue remains the price of this small array of consoles though, though it shouldn't be revealed yet. Sony and Microsoft seem to await each other's response in this regard, in a sort of challenge to those who look away last. If Microsoft is actually as sure as it seems of its products and the value of the same, however, playing in advance by announcing the list prices of its family of consoles could prove to be the strategically best move, without considering the fact that even in this case the Game Pass it could prove to be a significant advantage in the launch of the Xbox Series X, should they decide to offer a substantial trial period with the purchase of its hardware.
The Number 23
As Joel Schumacher shows us in the film of the same name, the number 23 has a certain character, imbued with great power and a soul full of possibilities. Without however transcending into whimsical discourses on numerology, the cabal or the grimace (not particularly lenient with this number) is clear that this event is a kind of showdown for Microsoft. The path taken is certainly the correct one and in recent years the Xbox conferences have always been appreciable, just considering the desire to get up after an exemplary fall. But that moment has passed, one can no longer be satisfied with a declaration of intent, with a small step taken on a road paved with gold. This is Microsoft's moment, with the launch of the Xbox Series X everything is played and must necessarily present itself in better shape than ever, showing the world, as for itself, a renewed strength, an idea of understanding the video game not only through services and innovative ideas on relationships with the rest of the industry and the players but also, and above all, with new ideas from a strictly playful point of view, to finally find that twist that allowed the Xbox brand to conquer the world.