I had a really strange epiphany at the end of Microsoft's E3 conference.
I am interested in Microsoft's consoles. Plural. Not just one, but two. I am not quite as excited about the games coming out on those consoles.
But let's discuss those consoles. Because god damn.
Most platform holders announce one new console at a time. Microsoft isn't playing by those rules. It announced the Xbox One S — a smaller version of the existing Xbox One console. Then, as reported pre-E3, Microsoft announced Project Scorpio — a super-powered console that renders a lot of teraflops. We know this because a lot of people said the word teraflops over and over again. Then one unfortunate soul said the words "highest quality pixels".
Be gentle internet. Be gentle.
We're about to live in a strange future. Microsoft dropped a helluva lot of buzzwords during this conference — "no limits", "beyond generations". It all seems to signal a shift in thinking, the idea of providing a more modular style of console that caters to individual needs and — more specifically — how much cash you're willing to drop. I'm not too sure how I feel about it.
I honestly felt a little bit Grandpa Simpson when Microsoft started discussing Project Scorpio. I'm old, I'm set in my ways... I like the idea of fixed generations... how many new consoles do they want me to buy, etc. By the end of the show I was honestly thinking to myself, "has there ever been a better time to get into PC gaming?" It used to be that consoles were the cheaper, safer, more homogenised option when it came to playing video games. Is that still the case?
I'm not so sure.
So as excited as I am about all that power and all those "high quality pixels", it is in a sense, pushing me away from the Xbox platform.
Now, let's talk about the games.
There were many games. Perhaps the strangest (and coolest) moment for Australians was the news that Forza Horizon 3 would be solely set in Australia. I pretty much spat out my drink when I heard the presenter name drop Yarra Valley. The trailer opened with kangaroos bouncing around like idiots, so I should have known we were in for some bonza Australian racing action.
ReCore was a game I'd practically forgotten about, but its new trailer reminded me why I was excited about it in the first place. Anything made by anyone who was even partly responsible for Metroid Prime can get right on my 'most wanted' list. I'm looking forward to seeing more from that game.
Sea of Thieves was the real highlight for me: an online pirate simulator where teamwork is required just get the goddamn ship sailing? Count me in. Just exploring this universe seems like an incredible amount of fun.
Others that stood out...
— We Happy Few looks subversive as shit. — I can't believe people are excited about a Halo Wars game in 2016. — Gears of War 4 looked a lot better this year. Was that just me?
But I can't help feeling as though it was a real light year for Microsoft. The Xbox One is starving for some genuinely exciting exclusives and I can't think of a single game shown tonight that has me thirsting to see more. There's no The Last Guardian or No Man's Sky. No mention really of how VR or Hololens fits into Microsoft's plans.
It all felt a little lackluster to be honest.
Most likely it's a result of Project Scorpio leaking prior to the event, but Microsoft's event really did feel like E3 by numbers. I had hoped for better.