What I Hope to See in Microsoft’s Xbox Digital Event this July

This past May, Microsoft organized its first digital event of the year highlighting upcoming games produced by their publishing partners and independent developers for its next-generation Xbox Series X console. In case you missed that, watch the video.

Okay. There were several games showcased but in my honest opinion, the event felt underwhelming overall due to the presentation – there was just not enough real-time gameplay sequences shown as there was too much emphasis on showing the games’ concepts in a more cinematic fashion. Even The only games from that digital event that interested me were Dirt 5 and The Ascent.

This July, Microsoft has another digital event coming only this time it will be a showcase of upcoming Xbox Series X video games made by varied game studios working under the Xbox banner. A date has yet to be announced as of this writing.

As this will be a showcase of products from the 1st party game makers and announcements from Microsoft to prove their dedication with the next-generation of gaming, I hope to see the following happen.

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  • Halo Infinite showcased in both cinematic and real-time gameplay demonstration – It has been two years since Halo Infinite was first announced and with the expected Xbox Series X launch happening late this year, the time is right to emphasize that game’s concept with real-time cinematic scenes and show how it plays and what new gameplay features have been implemented by 343 Industries. Here is hoping that the developers have learned from the mistakes they made with Halo 5: Guardians.
  • Forza Motorsport 8 and Forza Horizon 5 announced together – this is a long shot but I hope to see the next-generation games of both Forza Motorsport and Forza Horizon to be announced in the same event as this will be Microsoft’s chance to show why Xbox Series X will be the console of choice for gamers who love cars and racing (be it simulation or open-world) as well as the machine that will give racing-driving car developers all the resources and opportunities they need to make their dream projects come true. There’s no telling yet if the expected Forza Motorsport 8 will be a launch title with Xbox Series X but it is clear that a follow-up to Forza Motorsport 7 is already due. As for Forza Horizon 5, I don’t expect it to be released until 2022 but an early announcement would not hurt. Going back to Forza Motorsport 8, if any gameplay footage will be shown, here is hoping it will run in 4K resolution with 120 frames-per-second frame rate and ray-tracing turned on.
  • New Fable – Considering how long the next-generation Fable RPG (popularly referred to as Fable 4) has been rumored to be in production under Playground Games, this year is the right time to finally confirm it and show at least some concept art if no gameplay footage is available. The game makers should also make clear if the new Fable is a sequel or a reboot, and more importantly, emphasize what its fantasy concept will be, what kind of gameplay can be expected, and what the game’s tone will be like.
  • Brand new, 1st party open-world video game – When it comes to open-world games involving Microsoft, I am NOT a fan of the Crackdown franchise of games and I certainly don’t want to see that game series to continue at all. Considering how many game studios are working under the Xbox banner, I’d rather see a brand new open-world game that will not only be different from Crackdown but be a lot of fun (regardless of what its concept will be), be very engaging and be made with high-grade quality production values. It will also be an opportunity for an Xbox game studio to make an open-world adventure game that can be different from the fantasy, crime or post-apocalyptic concepts.
  • The Outer Worlds sequel plus new RPGs from Obsidian Entertainment – I love playing and replaying The Outer Worlds on my Xbox One, and I certainly hope to see Obsidian Entertainment announce a sequel (at least show a video), only this time it will be Xbox-exclusive now that they are owned by Microsoft. Given the very positive critical and commercial success of The Outer Worlds, making a sequel that can be bigger and even better is the way to go. Going beyond The Outer Worlds, I hope that brand new RPGs will be announced.
  • More from Ninja Theory – I hope to see more of what Ninja Theory could do. They already showed a video of Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II some months back and I hope they will show actual gameplay of it this time. Apart from that upcoming sequel, it would be nice to see what new games they are working on will be announced.
  • The Initiative’s first game – The Initiative is a new game studio set up by Microsoft which reportedly has a lot of very talented game developers working together in Santa Monica, California. What they are working on remains unknown but I hope that at least an announcement about their first game will be made.
  • Xbox Series S console – While I personally want the Xbox Series X to replace my aging Xbox One, to see the rumored Xbox Series S console (expected to be smaller, less powerful and more affordable) get confirmed and showcased will still be welcome. I hope to see it having a very compact design (note: most likely it will come without an UHD Blu-ray drive), very good graphical and technical performance and a $199 tag price.
  • At least one new game each from the other Xbox game studios announced – The other Xbox game studios like Undead Labs, Rare, inXile Entertainment, Double Fine and Compulsion Games should each have something new to be announced. I’m talking about new, Xbox-exclusive games that gamers are willing to wait for to be completed and released. As for The Coalition, I don’t expect a new Gears of War sequel to be announced yet.
  • $399 launch price for Xbox Series X – This is something I really hope will be confirmed by Microsoft. Considering that Microsoft itself can afford to lose some money on launching hardware as they make money from Xbox Game Pass and paid services and game sales via Xbox LIVE, a $399 launch price will definitely make Xbox Series X a very attractive next-generation console for consumers. Granted, the technologies and components for Xbox Series X are surely expensive (apart from the amount of money spent on developing the console) and the Xbox One X itself was launched at $499 in 2017, but still a $399 launch price is not impossible for Microsoft to pull off. In terms of competition, the attractive launch theoretical launch price will add tremendous pressure to Sony to follow suit with PS5.

Now that those are the things I hope to see, we can only wait for Microsoft to announce exactly when this July they will organize their digital event. Stay tuned!


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Crackdown 3’s Critical Reception Should Concern Gamers Who Want The Best Value For Their Money

I am a gamer who owns an Xbox One console and I always want the best value possible in return for the amount of money I spend on buying new video games.

For this current console generation, Xbox One’s lineup of exclusive games has not been very engaging compared to what was offered on Xbox 360 in the previous generation. To put things in perspective, the start of the current console generation was pretty bad for Xbox One and things slowly started to improve when Phil Spencer replaced Don Mattrick as the head of Xbox.

While the improvements continued to develop, it’s too late for Xbox One to match sales success of Xbox 360 and it only made sense for Microsoft to prepare themselves focusing on the next-generation.

Ironically, something from the embarrassing build-up of Xbox One finally got released commercially and that game is Crackdown 3.

To put things in perspective, Crackdown 3 was first announced at E3 of 2014 exclusively for Xbox One. It went through a very troublesome production and it was heavily delayed before finally getting released on February 15, 2019.

Now that the game is out, you must be wondering how did the video game critics react to it. Sad to say, Crackdown 3 was not the stellar hit and I’m not really surprised.

According to the game critics…..

Crackdown 3 shows very little in the way of learning from the past or learning from the other open-world games that have graced consoles over the last nine years. Instead it feels slight, mindless, and dull. It feels like a gussied-up first-generation Xbox One game. ~ Giant Bomb

Crackdown 3 is just more Crackdown. For some players, that will be enough. But compared to what Crackdown 3 initially promised, what we ended up with seems lacking in depth and destruction. ~ EGM

Crackdown 3 makes no sense on paper. Its story is nonsense, you spend way too much time searching for hidden orbs and leveling up, and the presentation isn’t anything spectacular. And yet, the over-the-top madness and hilarious, memorable moments it brought me made it impossible to put down. ~ GamingTrend

Crackdown 3 just doesn’t meet contemporary standards as a premium $60 title, with dated visuals, thin gameplay features, and an under-delivered story. There are too many open world superhero-style games that simply do it better. ~ Windows Central

Forget Crackdown 2 ever happened, Crackdown 3 is the sequel we deserve. ~ GameSpew

As a big fan of the first part, it’s not easy for me to say that, but Crackdown 3 is at least five years late…This is all the sadder, because the mechanics in Crackdown 3 are quite solid and I especially enjoy the search for the movement Orbs. But the bottom line is the sobering result of a developmental odyssey, which will probably be the last nail for the series. ~ GamePro Germany

It certainly delivers on letting you blow things up and jump around the city. However, a dozen years after the first Crackdown offered that same experience but failed to provide you with enough interesting content surrounding that, it’s truly disappointing to see this latest iteration suffer from the very same problems. ~ GameSpot

The game isn’t the visual masterpiece one would expect from a AAA production, but it isn’t without its charm. It’s with Wrecking Zone that Sumo Digital stretches their wings thanks to the chaos of destructible environments, but the glaring lack of content and missing features makes it more of a curiosity rather than a fully fleshed out mode. ~ Hardcore Gamer

Crackdown is back with a fun game that ends up being quite repetitive. Sumo Digital has done a great job finishing this title, but we expected a more evolved concept after so many years.  ~ Vandal

Crackdown 3 is a good Crackdown game, which, unfortunately, doesn’t mean much anymore. ~ Destructoid

There you have it. Some reviews and statements for your reference in case you are thinking about spending a lot of your hard-earned money on Crackdown 3.

Personally I have no intention of buying the game right now not because of the critical reception but it’s because I am still enjoying Resident Evil 2 “remake” and Tales of Vesperia on my Xbox One. Even if I get tired of those two games, there’s no guarantee I’ll buy Crackdown 3. As far as open-world games are concerned, I want a game that has very in-depth gameplay combined with sufficient cinematic storytelling, high production values and of course enduring, high level of enjoyment. Believe it or not, I still have not played Red Dead Redemption 2 and that game alone is the better choice over Crackdown 3 as far as open-world games of recent times are concerned.


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I’m not too interested with Crackdown 3

So Crackdown 3 will finally be released on Xbox One on February 15. That Xbox-exclusive has been delayed way too long due to a very troubled production.

The game at this stage is looking better than ever and it even has popular movie star Terry Crews in it and his character can be played by gamers.

Still, as an Xbox One owner and long-time Xbox fan, I am not too interested in Crackdown 3 at all.

For one thing, I played Crackdown on Xbox 360 twelve years ago. I endured the game’s single-player campaign, explored a lot and played until I finished it.

But ultimately the whole experience was a disappointment for me.

Sure that old game had lots of action and thrills but the narrative is very shallow and there are no characters to follow other than your agent. There really was no story.

By comparison the open-world game Saints Row had a lot more depth, a serviceable story, had more varied gameplay and had memorable characters to follow. Crackdown was simply a very hollow game.

Years later I skipped out on Crackdown 2 which was released to a weaker reception.

I am not judging Crackdown 3 based on game previews alone but what I am saying is that very delayed game does not look like it can deliver the great stuff to justify the years-long wait.

I hope I am wrong about Crackdown 3. What I love to enjoy about open-world games are varied gameplay, deep exploration, characters worth following and a good story to endure that goes well with the gameplay.

Soon enough we will find out if Crackdown 3 will live up to expectations and spare Microsoft from potential embarrassment as they prepare for the next-generation Xbox.