There might be a global pandemic going on, but Microsoft isn’t letting that stop them from continuing full steam ahead with their next gen console the Xbox Series X. On Thursday they hosted an event meant to show off the gameplay capabilities of the Xbox Series X. A flurry of games was shown ranging all kinds of genres. Xbox has traditionally been a console of first person shooters, racing games, and sports games, but the Series X showcase featured a surprising variety beyond those staples.
The intention of the showcase was to reveal some games, show off the power of the console, and get a lot of fans who are stuck at home a chance to get excited. For the most part, it succeeded. It’s also worth noting that at the end of the showcase they teased a similar event in July that figures to fall around the time typically reserved for E3 since this year’s E3 was canceled.
The event was fun and there were some potentially awesome looking games. There were also some moments that felt like they could have been improved. Here’s what we learned from Thursday’s event.
Graphics and Performance
Obviously, this was an event meant to show the power of the Xbox Series X console and it’s safe to say that it delivered in showing that power in a big way. Every trailer shown featured some gorgeous graphics and when extensive gameplay was shown it looked like it ran very smoothly. A huge issue with the current generation of consoles has been inconsistent frames and the load times. This new generation of consoles is supposed to put an end to a lot of those issues.
While there’s optimism about this next generation delivering on that promise, everything seen in the showcase should be taken with a grain of salt. Demo tape almost always looks better than the eventual release. The reason for this being is that the majority of these games aren’t even close to finished yet. As games develop they sometimes need to be scaled to make everything work. While I would love it if every game looked like it had the potential of Bright Memory, I am also a realist. That said, give the trailers of Bright Memory and Dirt 5 a watch, as these showcase the potential of the console and that’s enough to be excited about.
Xbox goes to Japan
One area of the world the Xbox has traditionally struggled in is Japan. Which makes sense. It’s hard to go into Sony and Nintendo’s backyard and win, but it also hasn’t helped that traditionally it’s not easy to find Japanese developed games on the Xbox console or games that give an anime style feeling. As consoles further blend the lines of exclusivity however that appears to be changing in the near future. Yakuza: Like a Dragon and the new Scarlet Nexus were both revealed to be coming to the Series X.
Yakuza: Like A Dragon is the latest in the long running and extremely popular Japanese crime series from Sega. Lately, Microsoft has been doing more with the franchise by putting some of their games on Game Pass and PC, but traditionally they’ve been Playstation exclusives making this a huge get for Xbox. Scarlet Nexus on the other hand is a new IP from Bandai Namco and has an absolutely gorgeous look with a style that just screams anime. There’s no way to tell if the Series X can finally find a way to help Xbox succeed in Japan, but these two games sure look like a great start.
Call of the Sea
My personal favorite game that was shown was Call of the Sea. It was a quick trailer, but it immediately enraptured me with its cell shaded art style and whimsical voice over laying out the mystery before me. I wanted to pick it up right then and play it. On top of that, while Bright Memory was soft of a blatant example of a tech demo this felt more like a game that really will look like its trailer come release day. The cell shade looks incredible with next gen graphics and I can count every single raindrop. Call me a hipster, but that game sold me more than anything else on the power of the Xbox Series X.
Where was the gameplay?
For an event that was meant to show us the gameplay and power of the Xbox Series X it felt like there was a severe lack of gameplay actually being shown. The large majority of trailers shown were just glimpses of gameplay mixed in with smash cut editing into other pieces of gameplay and cutscenes. Assassins Creed Valhalla, in particular, left so much to be desired in terms of gameplay. The brief gameplay glimpses we got were fun, but it would have been nice to see more. Hopefully this is remedied in the July event, once these games are further developed.
A lot of these games could still be great. They might even be all-time classics. However, while the Series X obviously wants to showcase how powerful it can be, it led to a show where most of the trailers were obviously designed to show how great everything looks. These games are likely not finished yet so creating a good trailer is going to be hard, but the event was advertised as a gameplay event. If you’re going to promise gameplay, then trailers like these are going to leave me asking for more. Tech demos are fun, but a lot of these games won’t look the same at launch.
In the end this was a fun event and welcome to see in the middle of May. That said I can’t wait to see more in July when Microsoft comes in with some more heavy hitters.