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E3 Preview: Microsoft

As this year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo draws near, rumours are starting to swirl and gamers are sharing what they’re excited for and what they’d like to see. With this in mind, over the next few weeks I’ll be sharing my predictions and hopes for each publisher that will be presenting a conference this year at the event. To kick things off, let’s start with a publisher that needs to knock it out of the park; Microsoft

It’s common knowledge that the Xbox One is trailing well behind the Playstation 4, and despite the Xbox One X doing well since its launch, it hasn’t matched the enormous success of the Nintendo Switch.

Microsoft have achieved success in terms of hardware, the Xbox One X is an excellent system, and the backwards compatibility program has continued to impress since it launched over two years ago. However, it’s software that Microsoft are lacking in. Even their heavy hitters such as Halo, Forza, and Gears of War haven’t performed as well as they have in the past, so now’s the time for Microsoft to show off some different projects.

Software will need to be the star of the show for Microsoft this year, so let’s talk about what we can expect and what I’d like to see from them.

Announcements of new IPs

Every E3, it feels like Microsoft show off a new game from their top three franchises; Halo, Gears of War and Forza. I’m expecting it to continue, and I’m happy that such long standing franchises have continued to exist, but Microsoft need to show off their investment in new IP.

We’ve seen a bit of this already in the form of games like Recore, but we need to see a lot more for Microsoft to truly expand their library of games. A showcase of multiple new IPs that are in development would give fans something new to look forward to.

Halo

I’ve talked about the important of Microsoft revealing some brand-new games to generate interest, but we’re bound to see an appearance from some of their mainstays. Forza Horizon 4 feels like its guaranteed to make an appearance if we follow the release pattern that the franchise has maintained for years now, but I also think we’ll be getting some Halo-related information as well.

It’s been over two years since Halo 5: Guardians released and we have yet to hear any information on what the next instalment could be. 343 Industries have told gamers not to expect Halo 6 to launch this year, but that doesn’t mean we won’t see an announcement for it at E3 this year.

Not getting to play the latest instalment of Halo this year doesn’t necessarily mean we won’t be getting something new. For me personally, with 343 Industries now dedicated to rebuilding the Master Chief Collection, I don’t think it’s too crazy to believe that we finally might get an anniversary announcement for Halo 3, which could be sold as additional content for the collection.

Continued support of Indie titles

I’ll admit, this isn’t an area that Microsoft have been struggling in. As a matter of fact, I think they’ve done a wonderful job in highlighting many indie titles coming to Xbox at past E3s, and this should continue.

Seeing a company support independent developers is always good to see. It puts smaller games in the spotlight, and allows the opportunity for gamers to spot some gems that could tie them over as they wait for the next big videogame release. Microsoft tend to have multiple demos of games created by indie developers, so I’m sure we’ll be seeing some of that this year too. 

Fable 4

Rumours that a new Fable game had been greenlit started popping up a few months ago, and as a fan of the series I’m excited to see it return in a game that’s akin to previous titles. It’s rumoured that a team at Playground Games are handling the development of the game, and if they can reinvigorate the series as well as they did with Forza, then I’m confident they can produce something great.

While I did enjoy it, I felt that Fable 3 was a step back for the series, so I’m hoping that Fable 4 takes more inspiration from the first two titles, while also introducing some new features to keep things interesting. 

The return of older franchises

In an attempt to further diversify their games line up, it’d be good to see Microsoft revisit some of their old IPs that have been left behind. Many of their exclusive titles for the original Xbox could be successful in the right hands. I wouldn’t mind seeing the return of Mechassault or Fusion Frenzy for example.

It’s also worth noting that when Microsoft purchased Rare, they also purchased all of their IPs as well, which is an enormous catalogue of games that Microsoft could dig in to. I’d be ecstatic if I saw the return of Conker or Banjo-Kazooie, but even games like Perfect Dark, Kameo, or Viva Piñata would be great announcements to offer gamers with something different.

This year’s E3 is going to be a critical one for Microsoft and the Xbox brand. In order to get fans excited, they’re going to have to knock it out of the park in just about every area. We need to see the brand’s biggest hitters, but we also need to see some new titles and unfamiliar faces to step into the spotlight as well. We’ve got games like Crackdown and Ori and the Will of the Wisp on the way, but let’s hope that Microsoft have some surprises up their sleeve.

If Phil Spencer and the team at Xbox can manage to do just that, I think we’ll be in for an enjoyable press conference from Microsoft.

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