Microsoft came out with a bang for the second year in a row at this year’s E3 2019 Press Event. The company has come a long way from its “anti-consumer” business choices upon its Xbox One reveal. Microsoft firmly believes in its new mission for bringing everyone to play together no matter where they live or how they live. Whether the company continues its push to acquire developers to further their first party selection, or expand their services and product line to enable more players to enjoy the Xbox platform, there is little confusion about their plan to push the platform ahead. This year’s E3 Press Conference was direct and to the point. There was little in the way of bloated on stage antics, and the event was certainly not devoid of some exceptional announcements and surprise appearances. As the company continues to ingratiate itself with its every expanding audience, the future continues to look bright and exciting.
Phil Spencer, the executive vice president of gaming, has managed to reach Reggie Fils-Aime level of popularity among fans. He has been more than just a vice president, rather he has been a representation of the shift that has propelled Microsoft to be a leader in innovation and breaking new ground in the industry. Yet, all of this would be for naught if there was not a wide selection of great games to play on the platform. This year’s E3 event had a little bit of everything to satisfy every kind of gamer.
RPG fans were left in awe as Cyberpunk 2077 announced the involvement of Keanu Reeves as a character in this expansive and immersive open world. Oh, and they also provided a release date of April 16, 2020. Halo fans were finally greeted with a cinematic trailer featuring Master Chief and was confirmed to be launch title for Project Scarlett in Fall of 2020. JRPG fans were given the surprise reveal of Phantasy Star Online 2‘s arrival in the west in 2020, which would be not only free to play, but is also a Xbox and PC exclusive. Gears of War 5 revealed more information about game modes as well as the inclusion of Terminator content.
Microsoft delivered on the hardware side as well. The company put together a video detailing what their goal was for Project Scarlet. The company emphasized the drastic decrease in load times thanks to the introduction of a SSD. The new AMD processor will amplify the capabilities on offer to developers, which offers an incredible bump in power from the Xbox One X. They also claimed that Project Scarlet will be the biggest leap than in any other generation. Real time ray tracing will also be present in the console. Ray tracing is widely believed to be the next “big thing” in gaming as it allows light to reflect and travel in a more realistic manner. Project Scarlet will give the PS5 a run for its money.
Microsoft announced the Series 2 Xbox Elite Controller. The updated controller offers new customization options such as adjustable tension thumbsticks and USB-C support. The controller will also harness a 40 hour rechargeable battery, which will provide some assurance should you forget to plug it in after an extended game session.
Sarah Bond, head of Xbox Partnerships, has been hard at work behind the scenes and came on stage to announce the evolution of Game Pass. Xbox is now offering new and more engaging ways to play with more information about Project XCloud, which will arrive this fall, as well as the introduction of Xbox Game Pass for PC and the Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, which will enable players that use the Xbox One and the PC access to Game Pass and a Gold membership for $14.99 a month. This $15 a month subscription just might become one of the better ways to enjoy your games. For $180 per year, which is basically the price of three new games, you will game access to a plethora of relatively new and critically acclaimed games across two platforms along with Gold, which will net you the monthly free games.
Microsoft has already been lauded for its E3 Press Conference and has already been handed the honor of winning E3. However, it is not necessarily about “winning E3”. There has been a tumultuous relationship between the fans and the gaming industry as a whole. The introduction of intrusive and abusive micro transactions as well as the games-as-a-service genre has failed to provide quality gaming experiences that gamers expect. What Microsoft has done during this year’s E3 shows that there is money to made by just providing solid games that fans love while being clear in their mission and goal for the future.
*Photo Credit- UnSplash: Alex Haney