On May 7, Microsoft held the first entry for Xbox 20/20, a series of digital events that will be held each month throughout the rest of the year, where they unveiled their lineup of games for the upcoming next-gen console: Xbox Series X, and the reaction was pretty lackluster, to say the least. It certainly wasn’t a bad showcase (especially compared to the Xbox One’s rollout), but it didn’t really “wow” people either. It featured 13 new titles that will be made available for the Xbox Series X:
- Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla
- DiRt 5
- Scarlet Nexus
- Bright Memory Infinite
- Call of the Sea
- Madden NFL 21
- Second Extinction
- The Ascent
- The Medium
- Vampire: The Masquerade — Bloodlines 2
- Yakuza: Like a Dragon
All of the titles were confirmed to be Optimized for Xbox Series X.
It’s a solid collection of games and the future looks promising as well with the amount of the developers that were shown to be partnering with Xbox to provide more games for the console. Some titles stood out as welcome additions that offer different experiences for the console: Scorn looks like an interesting horror IP with H. R. Giger influences, Chorus is a space combat shooter that features a sentient ship, and Call of the Sea is a puzzle game, reminiscent to The Witness, where a woman is in search of her missing husband in a mysterious island.
However, some viewers were pretty unsatisfied that the showcase offered very little gameplay, and relied more on cutscenes that were supposed to simulate how the games would run on the next-gen console. Assassins Creed: Valhalla seems to be the main focus of complaints since it showed no gameplay at all. The fan reaction prompted the head of marketing for Xbox Games, Aaron Greenberg, to take to Twitter and apologize for setting up false expectations.
With Nintendo riding the success of Animal Crossing: New Horizons amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and PS4 being the 4th best-selling console of all time, Microsoft has a lot to do to shift the momentum in their favour for this next generation of consoles.
Despite a clear lack of first-party exclusives, Microsoft has been taking a more consumer-oriented approach to maintain the loyalty of the fans. Backwards compatibility has allowed players to revisit old gems from the original Xbox era, and Game Pass provides players with a wealth of games for an affordable price, making it one of the best deals of the decade for gaming.
Game Pass Ultimate allows players to reap all of the benefits from both Game Pass and Xbox Live Gold, along with Cross-Save, which lets players access save files from PC as well as consoles. Now they’re introducing a new service called Smart Delivery, which gives the player a next-gen copy for any purchase of a current-gen game that’s compatible with the service, and vice versa.
While the general consensus regarding the live stream seems to be mixed, we still have Halo: Infinite to look forward to, and Microsoft has announced that they will hold another live stream event in July to showcase the first-party games that will be coming to the console. Let’s just keep in mind that this was the first entry for Xbox 20/20, so even if this event didn’t meet our expectations, there are still a lot more to come.
Words by Kai-Ming Chow