We're at E3 2017 covering the year's biggest gaming event. Be sure to check out all our coverage on our E3 2017 hub!
When the news broke this morning that the system we now know as the Xbox One X would be $499, it immediately became incumbent on Microsoft to sell us on their new console being the best of the best. But there was another issue lurking below the radar: their lack of high-quality exclusives.
That problem was on full display when they led their list of exclusives with Forza 7, an outstanding racer that nevertheless lacks the mainstream power of, say, Horizon Zero Dawn or Breath of the Wild.
As the press conference continued, Microsoft touted one game after another as an "exclusive:" a host of indie games, Playerunknown's Battlegrounds. They showed Sea of Thieves and Ori and the Will of the Wisps, two excellent-looking games that are nevertheless not what you would call graphical powerhouses.
Outside of Forza 7, the two best-looking games were Metro Exodus and BioWare's Anthem: two games that will also be available on the PlayStation 4 Pro. Will the Xbox One X's graphical enhancements be enough to sway people away from the PlayStation 4 Pro? It doesn't seem likely, particularly with 4K still being in its very early days. The PS4 Pro's "almost 4K" will more than likely be just fine for people looking to buy into the premium version of the current generation.
The PS4 Pro, it should be mentioned, already has its killer app in Horizon Zero Dawn. Say what you want about the gameplay (you may have heard that we're not really fans), but it is gorgeous. It's a new IP that looks absolutely fabulous in 4K. It looks great on the vanilla PS4 as well, but its enhancements are enough to nudge a power gamer to spend $399 on a PS4 Pro.
But dropping $499 on an Xbox One X? A system that has fallen well behind Nintendo and Sony in the exclusives arms race? Oof.
"We got 42 games." It includes Minecraft pack, a bunch of indies and some already announced games.— otenko (@master_otenko) June 11, 2017
But [title] is a console launch exclusive! Man, I wonder where in the corporate ladder $499 came from.— AKA Andy R! (@andrewryan1984) June 11, 2017
It's hardly a new take to say that Microsoft doesn't have enough in the way of high-quality exclusives. Where they dominated last generation with Gears of War and another new IPs, they've struggled to keep flagship titles like Halo relevant. Crackdown 3 is apt to be pretty good, but when faced with an onslaught like God of War, Spider-Man, Last of Us, Horizon Zero Dawn, and (please god) Bloodborne 2, it hardly seems like enough.
So as hard as Microsoft has worked to sell the notion of the Xbox One X being the most powerful console around, it all goes back to the old mantra: games, games, games.
In the end, the coolest reveal at the Xbox's big event was Anthem: the new BioWare IP that follows in the footsteps of Destiny. It was everything that Microsoft needs out of a system seller. It was touted as being the perfect example of the power that Xbox One X will bring to the table.
But like so many other great Xbox One games, it's available on other platforms. The Xbox One has a great library of third-party games--enough to satisfy any gamer--but there's a reason Microsoft has fallen so far behind Sony this generation. Hard as Microsoft tried to push the Xbox One X, that reason was evident once again.
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