E3 is only a week away, so it’s time for the annual week-long event that is “E3 Predictions.” (At this point, it may as well be a festival.) Every day this week, a new publisher will be in the spotlight as we take a hard look at what announcements and games we can expect to see, as well as some wish list projects that would brighten our lives if they ever became a reality. First up is Microsoft, a studio that’s spent the past couple weeks on the run from media outlets after their Xbox One announcement event ended up doing more harm than good. The house that Master Chief built promised quite a software showcase at next week’s Expo, so here’s a look at what Microsoft has planned:
What to expect: Let’s get the most obvious out of the way first: There will be a next-generation offering of Halo. 343 Industries is working on a trilogy so Halo 5 is the most likely candidate to be announced as a year-one Xbox One title. However, 343 has spoken in the past about wanting to take the franchise in a new direction, with games taking the focus away from the Chief as well as the FPS genre altogether. If Microsoft really wanted to spice things up, launching a new Halo spin-off franchise or, alternatively, creating a sequel to well-received RTS Halo Wars would certainly be one way to do it. If that’s still not enough sci-fi for you, ex-Halo alumni Bungie Studios will assuredly be on hand to showcase some new Destiny footage during Microsoft’s presentation.
Remedy will definitely be around to provide more details about Quantum Break. Similarly, Microsoft promised 15 exclusive games, 8 of which are original IPs, would be launching within the first year of the Xbox One’s release; so we should expect to see where that alleged $1 billion spent on internal first-party development is going. Quantum Break makes one original game, and Microsoft has also promised a “historic” Rare franchise will wake up from cryosleep, so that makes two exclusive games. Microsoft already announced Forza Motorsport 5 at the Xbox One event, and it’s assumed that Lionhead Studios will introduce the next Fable, undoubtedly appearing on the Xbox One, but that still leaves an incredible number of game announcements to come.
Unfortunately for Microsoft, who wanted E3 to focus primarily on software, there are still too many unanswered questions concerning the Xbox One to let slide. A solid portion of Microsoft’s E3 presentation will now have to focus on clarifying what exactly the Xbox One’s policies are concerning used games, DRM, the availability of live-TV and other features/applications, and Microsoft’s stance on indie game publishers. We also know next to nothing about how Xbox Live will change next generation, so some information about pricing, features, and more specific details about the all-new, cloud-based network infrastructure will have to be addressed.
Beyond that, a good portion of the presentation should also focus on how Smartglass and Kinect will fully integrate into the Xbox One experience using specific, real-time examples. A lot of what was shown at the console event was smoke and mirrors, so E3 should bring us real-world examples of using these features in conjunction with the actual games we’ll be playing for the console. Hopefully, Microsoft will finally prove they understand how to integrate Kinect functionality into core games, without forcing folks to either flail around wildly or pray Kinect picks up their subtle gestures.
But perhaps most important for many, Microsoft has to give the Xbox One a firm release date with pricing details. November is the obvious choice for when the new console will hit store shelves, but folks want to know when exactly they can expect the next generation to begin, and just how many organs they’ll have to donate to be able to afford it. Microsoft really went out of their way to pitch the Xbox One as if it was some sort of rich-boy toy that only well-off patrons will be able to fully utilize; so they need to come in at a price point that better reflects their “all-in-one” mentality of appealing to the widest possible demographic.
Wish list: This section will be dedicated to the titles I’m personally hoping to see, no matter how unlikely or improbable. For the first wish list game of E3 2013, I want a next-gen reboot of Banjo-Kazooie. After the bizarre experiment known as Nuts and Bolts, I think it’s high time Banjo got back on the platforming bandwagon. Rare has a number of “historic” franchises under their belt, ranging from Perfect Dark to Killer Instinct, and let’s not forget Conker, but none of them matter to me as much as Banjo-Kazooie. With the power of next-gen hardware able to create sprawling worlds teeming with active NPCs, the Xbox One finally has the tools to reinvigorate the tired, collectible-driven platforming genre; and who better to lead the charge than Banjo?
If birds and bears aren’t getting the spotlight, maybe unicorns will. Contrary to most folks, I’m willing to admit I actually enjoyed the time I spent with the Viva Piñata franchise. With the Xbox One’s heavy focus on social integration, and the world’s pre-conditioned obsession with managing simulated worlds (thanks, Farmville,) a brand new Viva Piñata title that takes full advantage of the new console’s features could prove an incredibly addictive experience.
As for my “swinging for the fences” dream title that absolutely will never happen, and brace yourselves kids because I’m about to date myself, I’d certainly go nuts if Microsoft brought back the Nightcaster franchise. Yeah… remember Nightcaster? Of course you don’t. Mediocre reviews and non-existent marketing can be attributed to the failure of this third-person action adventure title which somehow managed to earn a sequel. To this day, I can still recall fond memories of unleashing awesome elemental-based spells on my foes and thoroughly enjoying my time with the series. Even if the rest of the world hates me for it, I hope one of Microsoft’s remaining unannounced exclusives is a Nightcaster revival.
That’s going to wrap up the first round of E3 predictions. There’s no question Microsoft is going to come out guns blazing with a huge volume of game announcements, so the only real question is exactly what new projects they’ve been keeping secret. We’ll find out next Monday, as Microsoft’s presentation is scheduled for June 10 at 1:00 PM EST.
What are you folks hoping to hear out of the Microsoft spotlight? Are you more excited to hear about original IPs, or would you rather see the latest Halo and Fable games? What’s the absolute highest price point you’d be willing to pay for the Xbox One? Let us know in the comments section, and don’t forget to like IGXPro on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, or give us the ‘ol +1 on Google+.