Grading the Microsoft Press Conference

Microsoft could be easily summarized as games games games, a ton of games were announced, though very little information was released.  They opened the show teasing a new Halo game called Halo Infinite, the best guess for this game is holiday 2019 at the earliest.  Phil Spencer gave a brief opening talking about Mixer, the Xbox Fan Fest which is happening during the week of E3 and gaming for charity.  After this opening, they began bombarding the audience and viewers at home with trailers.

It looks like 2018 will continue to be a quiet year for Microsoft with Forza Horizon 4, and a few multiplatform titles coming to the Xbox.  On the first party front though, this time around Forza Horizon 4 will be set in the UK.  This game will also feature a full year with seasonal changes in weather.  Forza Horizon 4 will be coming out on Xbox One and Windows 10 on October 2nd of this year.  Beyond that, we saw more information on Ori and the Will of the Wisps, Metro Exodus, Division 2 and Crackdown 3.  All of these games will be coming throughout the year in 2019.

Microsoft also showed off a ton of reveals, most of which were timed exclusives or multiplatform for which they got the exclusive reveal.  We saw more information on Sekiro, the game that From Software teased last year with their cryptic trailer Shadows Die Twice.  Looking a bit like a mix between a souls-like and Tenchu game, we’ll be hearing more about Sekiro Shadows Die Twice later on, as was the theme with things shown on stage, however, this game will be coming in 2019.  There was also the exclusive reveal for Devil May Cry 5 and an anime crossover brawler called Jump Force.  Both of which are also coming in 2019.

There was also a montage of middle market and indie titles that will be coming to both the Xbox and the Windows 10 store.  Highlights here were the excellent Vermintide 2, the anticipated Below, Conqueror’s Blade which looks like it could fill the gap for players waiting for Mount and Blade 2, and Ashen which is another anticipated indie game.  Hopefully, these games can tide over Xbox fans during the foreseeable first party drought.

They closed the show with a few Gears of Wars titles, first up was a mobile game which acts as a mashup of Gears of War and Funko Pop figures.  I sincerely hope that this game will be more than a mobile cash in that bastardizes Gear of War with figures that barely ever resemble what they’re supposed to.  We also got an announcement of Gears Tactics a turn-based strategy game set before the events of the first Gears of War.  In an unusual move for Microsoft though, Gears Tactics will only be on Windows 10.  Finally, closing the reveal with Gears of War 5, this game judging from the trailer will have players in the shoes of Kait as she seeks answers from her past.  As was the standard for this event, Gears of War 5 is coming in 2019.

Ultimately Microsoft needed to bring it this year, last year was a quiet year for them.  With the primary focus last year being the Xbox One X, 4K updates for titles and bringing in more games with backwards compatibility.  While they definitely brought their A game in terms of breadth and the sheer amount of announcements.  2018 looks like it will be a quiet year for the hardware division that is already in a far second to Sony and the PS4.  Which is why Microsoft gets a grade of B-, they showed a lot and drummed up hype, but we also now know what the 2019 Microsoft conference will feature.


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