It's become fashionable to bash the Xbox One for its lack of exclusive games. Heck, we do it all the time around these parts. But consider this: Microsoft's position this generation is stronger than it looks.
The Xbox One X was an underrated success, firmly establishing Xbox as the technological benchmark for consoles. It's now arguably the best place to play third-party games, and it has a great backwards compatibility setup. Add in some well-received programs like Xbox Game Pass and you have a strong foundation for the future.
Still, Xbox One could still do with a spark of excitement, and that's what E3 has the chance to provide. So with that in mind, here's what we expect to see from their show during E3 2018.
What a Successful Xbox E3 Would Look Like
Literally anything that can get people legitimately talking would be a good start. Last year had a good reveal for the Xbox One X, a handful of smaller wins like the exclusive rights to PUBG, and lots of indies. The Xbox One X was the star of the show, but to borrow a phrase, "It's about the games, stupid."
We've all written ad nauseum about how the Xbox One needs more exclusives, and a big reveal at E3 2018 would certainly get people talking. But the truth is that the Xbox is still recovering from the Kinect era, which did great damage to Microsoft's first-party studios. Even if we get, say, a teaser for a new Fable, it almost certainly won't be out for a couple years.
Still, any amount of buzz would be good for the Xbox. Sony has shown in the past what the announcement of a big triple-A game that's still a couple years out can do for a console's hype level. As long as fans have something to look forward to, that's probably enough.
In that light, if Microsoft can tease a big new IP, get people hyped for a new Halo and Gears of War, and land some good indie exclusives, the Xbox will be in good shape for the next couple years. Forza Horizon may well be Microsoft's only tentpole release in 2018 (where art thou, Crackdown 3?), but anticipation can be good. Xbox One owners will have Red Dead Redemption 2 to tide them over in any case.
And hey, if Rare wanted to reveal a good Sea of Thieves trailer, that would be great too.
The One Thing We Hope to See From Xbox
Well, it would be nice if Microsoft decided to take the wraps off Halo 6 and really give it a proper push after a rough couple entries...
Oh who am I kidding? I really just want them to announce Forza Horizon Tokyo already. Forza is by far my favorite thing about the Xbox One—I think Forza Horizon 3 might be the best racing game ever—and a version set in Japan sounds like a dream come true. It would instantly shoot to the top of my most wanted list.
Don't let us down with this, Microsoft. Don't set Forza Horizon somewhere boring like... I don't know... Hawaii. Give me Forza Horizon Tokyo Drift and I'll call 2018 a success for the Xbox One.
What We Can Expect to See
The time seems about right for Microsoft to take the wraps off a new Halo. For better or worse, it's still the Xbox's most popular first-party exclusive, even if it's been rough going for the series of late. It may not come out this year—in fact I doubt it will—but there are enough Halo superfans remaining to give Microsoft's conference a nice charge. I also expect Gears of War will make an appearance as Microsoft tries to emphasize release volume in the wake of the Xbox One X's release.
Otherwise, Microsoft's press conferences tend to follow a certain rhythm: promise lots of exclusives, then show rapidfire trailers for indies and ports. This isn't necessarily a knock as it is an observation. The new Forza will undoubtedly get some time as well.
As for third party releases, I'm guessing that Anthem will once again get a good push during Microsoft's press conferences, as it did last year. Buzz around Anthem has been a little muted since it was first revealed at E3 2017, but it's still a technical showcase that's generating a lot of interest from fans. Coming right on the heels of EA Play, I fully expect it to make an encore appearance at Microsoft's press conference. It's also possible that CD Projekt Red's Cyberpunk 2077 will be at the Microsoft press conference, which if so, may end up overshadowing everything else that gets shown.
That's what I'm expecting to see. As for what we'll get, I'm mostly just hoping that Microsoft surprises me. Sony's position is secure for this generation, and Nintendo will make its fans happy no matter what. Xbox badly needs some momentum going into the back half of the generation. E3 2018 is a great opportunity to do so.