Pre-E3 2017 Spotlight: Microsoft and Third-Parties

by Matthew Thompson

I don’t have quite as many thoughts on Microsoft’s E3, so I’m lumping them in with third-parties for my last Pre-E3 post. With the start of the show only a day away, here are some final predictions and wishes for what the Electronic Entertainment Expo will bring for the Xbox and various third-party publishers.

Microsoft

Ori and the Blind Forest

My Xbox One has turned into a streaming machine for my bedroom over the past year or so. I play my multi-platform stuff on PS4, so I really only use the Xbox for exclusives. It just hasn’t been delivering there. They have always lagged behind Sony and Nintendo in terms of first-party development, but things have worsened over the last decade with the loss of Bungie and a number of other outside partners like Bioware and more recently Remedy going multi-platform. Phil Spencer has spoken about the importance of first-party development. My biggest wish for MS at E3 is to see that in the form of intriguing new first-party titles outside of the usual Halos and Forzas.

Otherwise, I will look to the indie space for reasons to game on my Xbox One. I’m still waiting for Cuphead. I don’t need to see it again, I just want a release date. An update on Ashen would be nice. There is supposedly a sequel to Ori and the Blind Forest titled Ori and the Will of the Wisps in the works. The first Ori is one of my favorite Xbox One titles and I’d love to see the sequel at E3.

Of course, the focal point of Microsoft’s presser will be the upcoming Project Scorpio. Given my lukewarm feelings about the Xbox One, I don’t see any way they can sell me a new machine regardless of power. I am curious what it will mean for the console landscape though. Ever since the first rumors of the Pro and the Scorpio, gamers have wondered if we are headed towards a more iterative model for consoles. The Pro didn’t change how I viewed things or how I thought things would play out. The Scorpio offers a much bigger upgrade, so it will be interesting to see what it means for the future of gaming.

EA

Hazelight

Outside of getting a substantial look at Visceral and Amy Hennig’s Star Wars game (which seems unlikely given the Fall 2018 release window), I am most interested in seeing what will come out of EA Originals this year. Originals is an initiative EA announced last year that will look to support indie developers and bring about unique gaming experiences in a similar way to what they did with Unravel. Last year they announced the intriguing Fe. Along with an update on that title, I’m curious what other fruit this program might bear. I believe Hazelight Studios’ first game is technically a part of Originals as well. Regardless, I’m excited to see more on their title. Hazelight is made up of the core developers behind the exceedingly clever Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons and I’m expecting another moving, innovative game from them. Hopefully we see that at E3 and it looks like we will.

Bethesda

This conference is all about getting my first look at the next Wolfenstein. I loved The New Order. A perfect blend of old and new school shooting sensibilities with a surprisingly great narrative to go alongside the action. The Old Blood wasn’t quite as good, but a fun time nonetheless. I feel like this is an absolute lock to be revealed this year and I’m excited to see where they take this franchise next.

Ubisoft

Far Cry 5

I’m a big Far Cry fan. The first teasers for the fifth numbered entry in Ubi’s open-world FPS series have sold me on the rural America setting and characters. At E3, I’m looking to see how they have evolved the franchise’s gameplay. I was starting to feel the fatigue with Primal and while I do think Far Cry is better with modern weapons and vehicles at your disposal, I still think it could use some tweaks to the core formula.

I would love to be excited for a new Assassin’s Creed game and I’m a sucker for an Egyptian setting, but I don’t think Origins will be the reinvention that series needs. Sure they took a year off, but I’ve gotten my hopes up before – I thought AC3 was the true sequel to 2 I’d been waiting for after the two Ezio midquels – and that didn’t turn out well for me. Please prove me wrong Ubi. Show me an AC sequel worth being excited about.

Otherwise, I’ll just be crossing my fingers for the usual slew of sequels I covet. A new Prince of Persia! A look at Beyond Good & Evil 2! (I believe they have pre-crushed that dream this year.) 2D Rayman please! More Splinter Cell!

A few more things:

  • It sounds like the next Tomb Raider won’t be at E3. It’d be cool if we saw a new game in the Lara Croft branch of the series. I’d play another co-op title, but I think this brand would be the perfect way to bring back a more platforming focused game like the TRs of yesteryear. Even if it was just a mini downloadable adventure.
  • That leak about the Life is Strange prequel sounds like a bad idea to me. Not sure if that will be at E3, but I’d certainly like for them to give me a reason to be more optimistic about the project. I really liked the first game.
  • Season 2 of Tales from the Borderlands would be great!
  • I’ll throw in one final prediction: Capcom announces Devil May Cry 5 at the Sony conference.
  • That is it for my Pre-E3 posts. I hope everyone enjoys the show. I’ll be back with thoughts on the event over the course of the next week. Thanks for reading!
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