This past Thursday we had the first look at Xbox Series X ‘Gameplay’ which left many fans feeling pretty underwhelmed at what they saw. The following are my Xbox Series X gameplay reveal reaction.
Billed as gameplay reveal, one nice feature was shown off and consistently highlighted throughout which was Smart Delivery. This is where you buy the game once and get it on Xbox One and Series X, which is a nice feature and hopefully something that Sony will follow up with. Sony are being pretty tight-lipped with their features and games so far, and happy for Microsoft to have the floor. Up until now, Microsoft have been doing great and until this live stream hadn’t really put a foot wrong.
Let’s jump into the games that were shown.
Bright Memory: Infinite
This opened up the show as is a new first-person shooter which seems to blend different genres. There was rain, guns, swords… A Delorean! It seemed all over the place. One of the most interesting things that caught my eye in this trailer was the ammo count on the actual gun itself. This was promoted as the work of just one person, which seems unbelievable, but looked interesting… albeit not one to blow my socks off. This one has been out some a while on Steam, and it’s an odd choice to be the first game to be shown on Series X.
This one is developed by Neon Giant and is an action RPG in a neon future and had some big Cyperpunk vibes. Players can pick up body modifications, weapon upgrades and get into some great shooting action in this beautiful looking neon near-future.
Call of the Sea
This was a little different from the rest as it’s a mystery adventure game set in the 1930s. This is a first-person game with puzzles as the core mechanic. This is being developed by Raw Fury, based in Madrid in Spain and is the first title to come out of the studio. The world looks really inviting – bright, vibrant and similar to Ubisoft’s Gods and Monsters or Seas of Theives.
This one is from Bandai Namco and is a new RPG with designers from the Tales series. Set in a future where humans have evolved new abilities, they are now charged with defending the planet from odd flower type dog beasts (I really wasn’t sure what I was looking at here). Interesting, however, the style again seemed to be all over the place. Part Anime, part Sci-fi… it looked interesting.
This is where things started to get very weird, quickly. Developed by Ebb Software, this looked like something out of the Alien series. The look and feel definitely caught my eye, but it didn’t really help that I was eating at the time and it kind of put me off my dinner. This one is a first-person adventure game with puzzles and shooting and definitely has that Giger artwork look and feel. Caught my eye but in an unsettling way rather than “I WANT TO PLAY THIS RIGHT NOW” kinda way.
This one is being developed by Systemic Reaction, part of Avalanche Studios Group. It’s a first-person shooter where you take on dinosaurs either individually or as part of a group online. This one left one of the best impressions for me and is something I’m looking forward to.
Vampire The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2
Leaning into the weird and unsettling was this game which looked to be heavily inspired by visuals from The Joker movie. This is a sequel to Troika Games 2004 action-RPG. Harsduit Labs is taking on this game where you play as a vampire in modern-day Seattle.
Coming from German Studio Deep Silver FishLabs Chrous has been in development since 2017. In Chorus you take control of dual protagonists Nara and Forsaken. It’s a single-player story-driven game where you can get awesome weapons and mind-bending abilities and you fight to free the galaxy from the Circle – an oppressive cult looking to take over.
This is a 3rd person survival horror game inspired by Resident Evil and Silent Hill. You play as Marianne, who’s been haunted by visions of a child’s murder who attempts to uncover the truth of what happened in the past. As a medium, Marianne can interact with the normal world and the spirit world which should introduce interesting mechanics.
Yakuza: Like a Dragon
This one is already released in Japan as a PS4 exclusive as is planned as a launch slate game for Xbox Series X – although the precise details of slate is TBD. This is part of a wider strategy of getting more Japanese releases on the platform, as Xbox looks to reset relations with its Japanese audience since the missteps on current-gen consoles.
Assassin’s Creed Vahalla
Billed as the first gameplay trailer, this one was more like another cinematic trailer. The first trailer had been shown a few days before and the hype was real for this title. The way it was billed as the gameplay was massively wide of the mark and expectations were incorrectly set. However, saying all that Vahalla looks fantastic and very exciting. There are elements of classic Assassin’s Creed in there with the hidden blade and it looks like the Raven will be used this time instead of the Eagle as a lookout mechanism.
This game is set in the time period with Norweigan Vikings are invading dark-ages England to battle Alfred thew Great. It seems like we’re going to get settlements and it’ll be interesting to see how they handle the invading mechanics and how big the battles are.
Those were the games shown as the first reveal for Xbox Series X. It was interesting they chose to show 3rd party games and studios first. It’s always easy with hindsight to say you could have done something else to make it better, but it was strange to see something like Bright Memory: Infinite be the first game that was shown off. There were some great games here for sure, but it may have been better to kick off with Microsoft first-party games and Xbox Game Studios.
I think the major misstep here was the billing of gameplay. This seems to be a common reaction from the audience since the event, having had a few days to digest what we’ve seen. Within hours the video on youtube had thousands and thousands of dislikes, with many commenters and people turning to Twitter to voice their opinion on the level of gameplay shown during the trailers. Microsoft have since come out and said they set expectations incorrectly for the event. Aaron Greenberg said on Twitter
“Had we not said anything and just shown May Inside Xbox show like we did last month, I suspect reactions might have been different. Clearly we set some wrong expectations and that’s on us. We appreciate all the feedback and can assure you we will take it all in and learn as a team.”
They do have time to course-correct for the next events and hopefully, they learn from this one.
Many viewers left the event and live stream feel underwhelmed, which begs the questions how exactly do you show off the features for next-generation consoles. We’re at the point where there’s only so much you can show for graphical improvements. Some of the main features for next-generation are going to be SSD, improved loading times and similar. In a future where many of the features are hardware and quality of life, what’s the best way to show off these features. Do you do a side by side comparison showing off the features and how do we ween ourselves off cinematic showcases that we’ve been used to?
Waiting in the wings is Sony, who are keeping their cards very close to their chest. What will they do off the back of this showcase? Hopefully, they are watching and learning from this and will set expectations accordingly when they’re ready to come out and show what they have. Currently, we know specs and we’ve seen the controller. Beyond that, we haven’t seen the console or gameplay.
I imagine we’ll see something during June, perhaps during the Summer Games Fest by Geoff Keighley. It has seemed that Sony has been on the back foot, staying silent while Microsoft has been generating a buzz for their next generation. They kind of had to really give the mediocre success of the Xbox One compared to the PlayStation 4. However, this could be the opening Sony has been waiting for – almost like a game of chess. It’ll be interesting to see Sony’s response to this and how they can capitalise on this rather damp opening from Xbox Series X.
That’s it for my Xbox Series X gameplay reveal reaction. Check out other features and opinions on This Week In Video Games.