After sitting through an hour of Microsoft showcasing the very best of what it’s mustering up to give the Xbox Series X an advantage over the PlayStation 5 (PS5), I can’t help feeling a little uninspired.
A handful of heavy-hitting reveals and announcements prevented it from devolving into an outright disaster. I just assumed Xbox was hiding more up its sleeve.
At times, it’s fair to say the showcase verged on the dull.
Pitted against Sony’s “Future of Gaming” PS5 event last month , the Xbox Games Showcase lacked a similar element of surprise.
It had nothing to match those “oh wow” moments hastened by the reveals for Horizon Forbidden West, Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, and Demon’s Souls.
Sony’s slow-paced, drip-fed PS5 reveal played a part. Mystery breeds anticipation, and this certainly amplified the already-exciting moments.
On the other hand, Xbox has been refreshingly candid, spoiling us with a steady flow of information about both the machine itself and the games.
Halo Infinite, Rare’s Everwild, the surprise STALKER 2, Forza Motorsport, State of Decay 3, Obsidian’s new Avowed RPG, and the “one last thing” Fable: While they’re all welcome games in their own right, they don’t quite fuel the imagination like Sony’s slate of PS5 titles.
Combined, they fail to evoke the same broad system-selling pedigree. Although Halo Infinite will lure over many, it’s not the line-up you’d expect from a marquee showcase designed to prompt fence-sitting gamers into opting for the Series X over the PS5.
In a way, it mirrors how the current generation played out. Sony dominated in part due to its stellar slate of first-party exclusives. Xbox languished in the aftermath of a misjudged initial marketing push.
Microsoft has clearly learned its lesson this time around. Phil Spencer and his team made laudable efforts to redress Xbox’s fortunes with a transparent, player-friendly vision for the platform’s future.
Between Game Pass, Smart Delivery, xCloud, and – on paper – the more powerful of the two consoles, Xbox has it right on so many fronts.
The issue lies in the games. If today stands as a measure of what would-be Xbox Series X owners can expect, it feels a tad underwhelming.
That’s all the more disappointing since Microsoft boasts a far broader spread of console launch titles than Sony’s PS5.
Fortunately, Microsoft only touched on the projects of nine of the fifteen members of its Xbox Game Studios roster. There’s more to come.