It’s no secret that the Xbox One has struggled to keep up with its main competitor, the PlayStation 4, this console generation. Phil Spencer, Head of Xbox at Microsoft, and fans alike are keenly aware that, both in terms of sales and overall perception, team green are lagging behind.
Sea of Thieves was somewhat of a disappointment.
With Sony's planned absence from E3, the Xbox team really have a chance to shine next year. The jaded cynic in me realises they've always had the opportunity and never fully seized it, but I am feeling positive about the brand as a whole.
Exclusives have always been a sticking point, but more so recently as the likes of God of War and Spider-Man have gone unanswered by PlayStation's biggest rival. Microsoft acquiring new first-party studios should mean fresh exclusives are on the way, making it clear that Xbox are building towards a better future.
Game Pass is constantly being made more enticing, to the extent that I'm now fully behind the idea. Perpetually delayed exclusive Crackdown 3 sits firmly at the top of my most wanted list and is finally visible through the fog; what’s more, it can be played on launch day at no additional cost for Game Passers! I also discovered Forza Horizon 4, which is a lot more fun than a simple driving game has any business being, and State of Decay 2 is potentially the best zombie survival title that my abject cowardice has prevented me from exploring.
If it was more concrete, I’d mention Fable 4 here, but it isn't, so I won't.
Game Pass represents a great value proposition for Xbox fans.
Xbox is boring. That's not necessarily a bad thing, in that reliability often equates to being considered boring, but it's clear that the excitement felt when Microsoft entered the market just over 17 years ago, introducing their hulking, green monster, has long since dissipated.
Being the underdog has its advantages though, and the brand has cunningly been getting its ducks in a row by buying up fistfuls of studios, including the minds behind Forza Horizon, State of Decay and more recently Obsidian, who brought us Fallout: New Vegas way back when.
Potential is the biggest factor here, in that many of the studios have done good work in the past but, arguably, not consistently delivered (possibly with the exception of Playground Games). It’ll be interesting to see whether they can bring new ideas or if they'll be pigeonholed into developing more of what they’re known for, which could ultimately seal their fate in Microsoft's developer dungeon alongside Rare.
Hardware could make a splash at E3, but we can only hope Microsoft have learned from the cold reception to the Xbox One's introduction, infamously handled by former Head Don Mattrick, and bring us something exciting and memorable (for the right reasons) instead.
Crackdown 3 is the next big Xbox exclusive, set to launch 15 February 2019.
Ever since Xbox One’s botched E3 reveal and the whole ‘always online’ saga, it was obvious Microsoft would be playing second fiddle to Sony this generation.
Though disappointing for fans, the silver lining in lagging behind is that the Xbox team has had to be more creative in order to win people over.
Would we have seen all first-party releases, in addition to the occasional third-party title, as day one additions to Xbox Game Pass, or even a Game Pass at all, if Xbox had been the market leader? The sorely-lacking-by-comparison PlayStation Now service suggests not.
It’d obviously be great to see Xbox knocking out impressive games in the same vein as God of War and Spider-Man, but with the amount of studios Microsoft have been amassing I’m sure their equivalent, or at least something of a similar ilk, will be coming to Xbox soon enough.
More than optimistic, I’m excited about the potential of the next batch of Xbox consoles and the games that’ll grace them. As someone who often has to fight for control of the TV, the rumours suggesting we’ll be able to play games on our laptops or phones via streaming is something I’m especially keen to see more of.
Xbox One X has been offering players upgraded performance and visuals for over a year now.
I’m a relative newcomer to all things Xbox, my first Microsoft console being a delicious Xbox One bundle I picked up back in 2016. I’d had no real prior interest, being an avid PlayStation and Nintendo boy, but the online play and a chance to sample new franchises led me slowly to the green side.
With that in mind, do I see a bright future for Pippy Spencer and his band of silicone sailors? Yes, I really do.
There are so many positives to take from the last year or so: the incredible Game Pass service; the acquisition of fantastic new studios; backwards.funking.compatibility; frequently updated, superior UI and iterations on an already industry-leading controller.
Much like Sam, I enjoy the PS4 for its big budget exclusives, but it’s the more accommodating Xbox interface that has me turning that machine on every day for both games and entertainment. I should add that I buy all multi-platform releases on the base Xbox One, in spite of its lacklustre power, such is my preference.
That said, there’s no denying that Microsoft need to work on first-party games. I do, however, fully expect Ninja Theory to help close that gap, as I already believe Hellblade rivals God of War.
Forza Horizon 4 is the latest stellar entry in Microsoft's flagship racing franchise.
How are you feeling about Xbox going forward? Justified in your purchase? Perhaps looking to pick a console up for the first time? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.