After experiencing E3 2017 last year, I was certain that I wouldn’t return for another E3 unless I was being sent by a sponsor/company. In a wonderful turn of events, after a whole year of long, hard work, sacrifice and immense dedication to the gaming industry, I’m back for another year of E3 in Los Angeles, thanks to a company that I will forever be loyal to, Xbox.
I love Xbox, not just as a brand but as an organisation, so it was absolutely fantastic that the very first day of E3 would kick off with Xbox related activities, which set the bar very high. Day 1 consisted of the ever popular Xbox briefing event followed by a media showcase, wherein many of the games announced at the briefing were available for media to have a hands-on with.
The Xbox briefing was every bit as incredible as I’d experienced last year, minus the Porsche car reveal. The crowd was insane, with many of the FanFest pass holders showing off their passion for the brand with wild cheers.
The one thing the team at Microsoft and Xbox constantly do right when it comes to events is showmanship. Both this year’s and last year’s briefing were by far the best shows I’d been to with bright lights, acoustics that just gave me goosebumps and game reveals that had every fan boy and girl screaming away with delight. That, and the entire room looked brilliantly epic with the fantastic Xbox themed visuals.
Right from the get go, Xbox thrilled fans with the reveal of Halo Infinite (a.k.a Halo 6). The moment Master Chief’s helmet was revealed was pure perfection and the crowd went wild with boisterous squeals of excitement. That pretty much set the tone for the entire event as Xbox announced a whole heap of exciting new games and features.
To give you an idea of how fantastic the briefing was, there were over 50 games showcased, with 18 console launch exclusives and 15 world premieres! Not only that, but the team also announced Microsoft’s commitment to delivering original content through the acquisition of 4 game studios, including Playground Games, Undead Labs, Compulsion Games and Ninja Theory, as well as the reveal of an exciting new studio, The Initiative.
Of course, the Xbox Game Pass featured quite heavily in the briefing, with a host of new titles being made available to play via the subscription based service. Next to Xbox Live, this is another reason why I love Xbox. Their commitment to delivering what gamers actually want and need is a pleasure to see. Learning that every new game will automatically be available on Game Pass on the same launch day is a game changer to say the least.
After the briefing, I managed to get a behind-closed-doors look at the Xbox Adaptive Controller. The team involved in the making of such a different gaming controller that’s more accessible for all gamers is exceptional. What makes it more incredible is that the controller is a product of consultation with numerous groups and organisations. It will also be made open for any other company to potentially utilise. I was told that Phil Spencer, the head of Xbox is all about bringing gamers together and for everyone to be able to play games. This truly comes across in the way in which the company has opened its tech up for anyone to essentially learn from and make their own.
Xbox Adaptive Controller
The Adaptive Controller is easy to use, with button mapping abilities that can be customised in the settings of an Xbox One console. Not only that but the design was clearly well thought out with ports that have grooves to allow for easy plug and play as well as a base that offers grip and does not slide of surfaces easily. Along with these design features, the buttons also have some added depth and are slightly larger to allow for ease of use.
The one thing I learnt from my session with the team behind the Adaptive Controller is that Xbox has a feature called ‘copilot’ which essentially connects two controllers together. This means that a player is able to get some help with a game from another person using another controller, without having their own controller removed from their hands. This means parents and children are now able to play together, pros can lend noobs a hand and more. I was blown away, especially because this means that Tom, my partner can now help me through difficult challenges in game without frustrating me by removing my controller from my fingertips.
Generation Zero – ID@Xbox Title
I was given a first look at gameplay of an interesting ID@Xbox title called Generation Zero. The game is developed by Avalanche Studios and is an open world action game set in the 1980s. The game is a multiplayer co-op survival game in which players are at war with machine creatures. Think Horizon Zero Dawn meets a zombie survival game but at an indie game level.
The game looked good and actually had a gameplay style that I enjoyed. It looked beginner friendly at first but of course, gets progressively harder as players take on bigger machines. Visuals were also top notch as the entire environment, including costumes were 80s themed.
Not much can be shared at this stage as the game is still in development, however it is set to release sometime next year.
Forza Horizon 4
The Forza series from Playground Games has always been a delight for racing game fans. With each iteration of Forza and Forza Horizon, we’ve seen gameplay, audio and visuals improve to the extent that it’s almost difficult to distinguish between game and reality.
I was delighted to have a demo session with Benjamin Penrose, the Art Director at Playground Games, today, who informed myself and some of the other media in attendance that to date, there have been 9 million players of Forza Horizon 3 and that the Horizon series in particular is all about having fun in cars with your friends.
Forza Horizon 4, the latest iteration in the series, is set in Britain, complete with an environment filled with huge open roads, great lakes and even castles! There’s a great deal and variety of landscape as well as a true sense of history associated with Britain in the game, which could be seen right of the bat in the demo.
I couldn’t take my eyes of the game’s visuals, which was absolutely stunning! Everything looked just so real that it was tough to think of what I was seeing as a game. Benjamin mentioned that the locations in the game were all real and that the crew had actually gone to these locations to film every single detail from the ‘woosh’ of the wind to the crackle of old leaves.
Where Forza Horizon 3 was brilliant in that it introduced dynamic weather, this latest version introduces dynamic seasons, which each last for one week. This was incredible to witness on screen as autumn turned to winter and so on, so forth.
While there are several amazing aspects of Forza Horizon 4, the game is still in development and therefore there isn’t too much that can be revealed at this stage. For now, all I can say is that I’m incredibly excited for the visual aesthetics and to witness what’s to come in the near future. Racing game fans are definitely going to want to pick this title up!
Xbox Wins E3 Before It Even Begins
I know it’s too early to mention it but after my experience with Xbox at E3 both this year and last, I’d definitely say that Xbox wins E3 in my book, if not for anything else but showmanship and the epicness that is Xbox Game Pass.