With the Xbox Games Show in the books, one thing is for certain: the game pass is going to continue to be the best value in gaming. While Halo Infinite was shown alongside announcements for Fable and Obsidian’s new RPG Avowed, the show ultimately felt like it was lacking something.
This isn’t to pile on Microsoft, but this has been a glaring issue with most presentations. There is more CGI than there is actual gameplay and this can put a damper on an particular game announcement. Fortunately, Halo Infinite gave a brief glimpse of gameplay, putting an emphasis on increased movement speed and experimentation with the new added grappling hook. Its now an open-world title, take that for what you will, but it is refreshing to see Halo move in a different direction. If there was an issue, it was that the visuals themselves didn’t exactly scream next-gen.
Microsoft’s entire presentation however, didn’t scream next-gen either as there was nothing to show off the power of the Series X. Forza Motorsport provided a teaser, but having a trailer say in-game build is usually setting yourself up for disappointment. All of this doesn’t mean that the presentation was awful, it was fine for what it was, but it lacked a real wow moment.
It feels as if this presentation served another purpose, one that Microsoft has been diligently building toward for the past few years; to advertise and emphasize the game pass. Every title shown will make its way to the game pass at some point and there is denying the value of having all of these options under an affordable bundle. It’s an incredibly consumer friendly strategy and one that should pay off for Microsoft during the holiday season.
So what does this mean for the Series X? Currently, there are no solid release dates for Microsoft’s biggest exclusives outside of Halo Infinite. If it does indeed take two years for a true exclusive to arrive, which is entirely possible considering that all of these studios were only acquired in the last two years, then the Series X would be nothing more than a premium upgrade, similar to the Xbox One X. Oh, and if you’ve been paying attention, the Xbox One X was recently discontinued.
What’s going to be interesting moving forward is how Microsoft begins to market the Series X in preparation for its launch. Halo Infinite will almost definitely be the poster child as it has been in the past, but the visuals don’t necessarily show off the power of the Series X and there aren’t other exclusives that they can lean on. The Medium looks to be the most visually appealing, but the gameplay video doesn’t answer any questions regarding mechanics in the game. Crossfire X showed off a intriguing new campaign with Remedy helming the project, but this will be sold separately from the Series X, which is really disappointing as the multiplayer will be on game pass.
Due to Microsoft’s emphasis on gamepass, they face an uphill battle promoting a console knowing that its not a requirement to play any of its launch titles. There will be a number of titles not available on the Xbox One at launch, but those titles will be available on PC. Executives at Microsoft have stated multiple times that immediately upgrading is not required, while this message is appreciated for being consumer friendly, once again, it doesn’t make sense when trying to launch a new console.
What was shown during the presentation is obviously a small sample size of what Microsoft has in store, but are they too focused on the future and not in the short-term? They showed nine of the fifteen studios and the majority didn’t show gameplay or indicate a release date for their product. If the other studios have their games in early stages, when are consumers expected to get a hands on? How long can the game pass keep people distracted with third-party or AA titles until the Series X gets its true exclusives?
Regardless, this holiday season will provide consumers a number of options and in these difficult times, that is something to be grateful for. Here’s looking to see how Sony and Nintendo respond to Microsoft’s big event.