There he is Microsoft showcase it's ended by a handful of hours, the web has already expressed itself and the memes flock, while haters and fanboys dive into their favorite activity of all time, typing on the keyboard like ill-trained monkeys, as funny as grotesque. Now there is truly E3 air. As pointed out in the editorial immediately preceding this, the - almost - sixty minutes of the Xbox event would have been decisive, a test to which Microsoft itself wanted to present itself, speaking on several occasions of an extraordinary and unprecedented show, which would have shown to the whole world the renewed strength of a brand finally free from the difficulties in which it has been entangled for almost an entire generation of consoles.
In short, this event was to be said by everyone, and especially by Phil Spencer, an epochal event. The ideas seem to be clear in that of Redmond, yet still far from materializing in a fully effective way. Xbox has found its way, a direction to follow that makes it, net of judgments, unique and with a renewed personality but at the same time continues to commit small and large errors that prevent it from reaching the public forcefully. Let me be clear, on the whole the event was more than good and as usual well paced, full of titles, very welcome returns - even unexpected - and a combination of unassailable quantities and varieties, but at the same time it is difficult to shake off the idea that everything is plagued by times too dilated, too inconsistent, and communication, once again, too sibylline and convoluted.
Halo. Four letters that have definitively redefined and cleared the concept of first person shooter on console. A name, an intellectual property, born thanks to Bungie and become the backbone of the Xbox brand, with that Combat Evolved that was so successful at its release. Today Halo returns trying to reinvent himself and, as expected from his favorite son, he makes his debut on the front row stage to show himself to his beloved audience. Unfortunately, Something must have gone wrong in the development of Halo Infinite and above all in the design of the demo shown during the presentation. While understanding the breadth of the scenarios we are going to visit, as well as the fact that the title must be able to run on all Microsoft hardware of this generation as well as the next, the result is tending to what unfortunately can be labeled "indefensible" . There is no lack of elements of gameplay capable of arousing curiosity, just as it is undeniable that the potential of a product in continuous expansion is tremendously high, yet on the technical front we are really far from having something acceptable.
Referring only to what was seen during the show (and immediately after viewing it again in good definition and without compression due to streaming) too many things are out of place in the exclusive signed 343 Industries. The new game engine, which in addition to being a gargantuan investment according to the team should also allow for flexible and malleable scalability, shows far too many smudges and imperfections. From the problems of pop-ups and pop-ins that even if they should not show up in such an important event, they can overshadow a management of lighting and, above all, of the rendering of materials and textures that are really too stale and dysfunctional. A level of laughable detail and a set of animations not quite in step with the times close the question, showing a very weak general picture. In addition, outside the stream, a handful of crucial information about the project is thrown into the web, on all that specifies how Halo Infinite is seen by 343 as a platform on which to develop the brand, confirming this title as the latest in the series for a long period of time, but constantly updating it with regular content, even though it is already an already complete product. There is no mention of game as a service, although the concept sounds decidedly close to this definition, but a stone on which to build the future of the series.
So Microsoft starts off on the wrong foot, stumbles, but recovers immediately and shows an impressive amount of games, with an excellent rhythm and a combination, as already mentioned, of quantity and quality on the stellar level. Of all, it definitely stands out Everwild, with a strongly inspired artistic style and a unique magnetism, while not showing anything on a strictly playful level. There is Psychonauts 2, with the soundtrack that seems all supported by the talent of Jack Black (and sorry if it is little), there is Obsidian with his new avowed, a first-person fantasy RPG with a very classic flavor and set in the fascinating world of Pillars of Eternity, no flash of gameplay but the imagination cannot fail to take a small leap by imagining what such a title could give, knowing the quality of the works of the Californian development team. Forza Motorsport, who comes dressed only in his name, without subtitle numbers or frills of any kind to accompany him, shows the muscles of his engine but little else, if not an "early in development" that a little hurts the heart. Unexpectedly it appears S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2 and it's love at first sight, but the meeting is fleeting and again there is no room for a pinch of gameplay, as well as in Warhammer 40K Darktide - Vermintide's twin - and many other titles, many in an exclusive thunderstorm on the Xbox ecosystem, such as the interesting horror The Medium and the two titles mentioned above but above all, all available on Game Pass from the day of its release. In short, Microsoft demonstrates once again how much we care about this service and it is good, because it remains the flagship of the Xbox offer and it is good that it is constantly supported by a wide range of quality titles, as it seems to be.
But the titles shown were many and all, or almost all, with a certain character. As for third parties, it is worth mentioning The Gunk, certainly a minor title but with a well-defined style and the work of Image & Form Games, the creators of the SteamWorld brand who have been able to win the trust and affection of the public and critics alike and which should not be underestimated. As for Phil Spencer's oriental optics we have Phantasy Star Online 2: New Genesis: it is the only announcement that winks at the Japanese market and may appear disappointing on impact but it must be considered that it is a Japanese saga to the core, thus making this lukewarm announcement decidedly more intriguing when viewed in the right perspective. The presence of Phantasy Star Online could therefore be a first step, not too shy, towards a renewed bond with the land of the Rising Sun.
Last, but not least, indeed, it is Fable. Despite the persistent rumors that see him "victim" of a new declination towards the MMO genre, which would actually be very atypical as a choice, the short teaser steals a sigh of wonder and snatches a smile, showing all the inspiration in a matter of seconds and the atmosphere of the title of Peter Molyneux and Lionhead Studios, now passed into the wiser hands of Playground Games. While the screen on a green background takes leave with the most classic of "Thanks for watching!" the mind unrolls and sorts the heap of games that Microsoft has piled up in its hour of show and the final judgment can only be positive but with many reservations.
Matter of time
Spencer's recent statements argued that users would not be forced to buy Xbox Series X at launch and that the transition to the next generation would be smoother and more painless than ever. The first two years of Microsoft's next-gen, by admission of the same, should consequently include all the exclusives in a cross-gen perspective, allowing all owners of an Xbox belonging to the current generation, the possibility to play with the new flagship titles of the American giant's internal studies. Yet many of the titles shown, virtually all except Infinite, appear to be developed exclusively for the Xbox Series X, going to clash with the words of the last few days and unfortunately throwing further confusion in a situation that is not in itself very clear. And remaining in the murky it is inevitable to think that it could be a simple "propagandistic" declaration, however decidedly foolish if it were to be revealed as such, or a sentence towards the games shown, effectively sanctioning their arrival on the market not before 2022.
Difficult to shed light on the issue, as it is difficult to understand the actual extension of temporality titles defined as "Console Launch Exclusive" which, depending on the period of exclusivity, could be less or more incisive as arrows to the bow of Microsoft. In short, time will seem to play a crucial role in the life cycle of the Xbox Series X, and this point remains only to hope that Phil Spencer is reasoning four-dimensionally. The launch of the new Microsoft flagship seems to be not very consistent to date and the consequent window of time linked to the first year of life of the console even less defined than that belonging to PlayStation 5, which is all to say. Needless to bandage your head earlier than necessary but a little more biting would not have spoiled and the great exploit that we would have expected has unfortunately not arrived.
In conclusion, Microsoft has in part betrayed expectations. In itself the event was more than good, but without the strength to shake off the Xbox from the tremendous period of uncertainty that struggles to leave behind. However, it should be stressed that not all cards have been turned up, some studies have not shown up, while others are likely to have some plans still in store for the players. Doubt remains over the concept of next-generation with a console, but for now the same can be said of the direct rival, who will hardly be very attractive on the day of its release and the whole seems to be implicitly held back by a "To be continued" ready to postpone the actual next-gen a couple of years after today.
It is true that the launches of the new consoles have become more and more detached over time from real titles capable of exploiting their hardware with dignity, yet at this moment putting your hand in the wallet and booking an Xbox Series X cannot fail to seem a rash gesture . Put it in another perspective, however, things change significantly. The fact that all the games seen a few hours ago during the Xbox Games Showcase will be present, from day one, on the Game Pass is incredibly inviting, and the power of the console itself should be just as incisive in these terms, making the Xbox Series X a forward-looking investment, thanks to a machine with a powerful force and full of titles, exclusive and not, with which to entertain. This thought is more than consistent with the current mentality of Microsoft and could therefore translate into a console that, sooner or later, all video game enthusiasts will have to buy. In short, going to close, in the last generation my curiosity about the future of Xbox had dried up tremendously while today it returns strongly in health, because there still seems to be much to see from Microsoft. Maybe it will not be enough, maybe it will be not very concrete, maybe it will be all too romantic but it is now established, dreams intrigue us more than what we see when we are awake.