The first of the Big Three’s press conferences at the Electronic Entertainment Expo has come and gone, and it’s time to look at what hit my personal mark, and what didn’t. And while I made a number of predictions yesterday (not all of them were Microsoft-centric), some actually came true! And by “some,” I mean “one.” Still, it’s one hell of a “one,” so I’ll take it!

Read on to see what’s keeping me happy to be an Xbox One owner in 2017 and beyond.

The Top 5

Super Lucky’s Tale

At first glance, I thought this might be a new Conker game, and better still, one which uses his original design — and goes back to his roots? Looking at the trailer here, though, this is so clearly not a Conker title, but in my defense, I was watching over my wife’s shoulder, and the unveiling featured one of those damn panned-out shots of the stage where you don’t have a good view, so there’s that.

No, this is something else entirely — no Rare, no Playtonic, but seeing this arrive so soon after Yooka-Laylee‘s release is interesting nonetheless. A bright, cartoon-styled 3D platformer is right up my alley, and something the Xbox One could always use more of. Not only that, but watching the gameplay gives me a real Mario sort of vibe without being blatantly derivative, and I don’t think anyone can reasonably argue that’s a bad comparison for a game like this to have.

Cuphead

Oh my god, it’s finally coming out? It finally has a release date?

Between the retro-cartoon graphics and shoot ‘em up gameplay, I’ve been looking forward to this one for a while now. The only reason it’s not higher on my list is that it feels like it should have been released already, and I’m not sure we’re seeing anything here that makes one say “oh, so that’s what took so long!”

I’m being snippy, is what I’m saying.

Crackdown 3

I know Crackdown is one of those games that’s basically a staple franchise of the Xbox brand, but aside from dabbling a little bit in one of them, I’ve never really gotten to play at length. And while I’d happily give it another go if given the opportunity, I wasn’t especially champing at the bit, either.

So cue this trailer, no name given, and what do I see? “A Sumo Digital Production”?

Sumo Digital? As in, “the developer of two of my favorite mascot racing games that are better than several Mario Kart entries, you wanna fight me over it? I said do you want to fight” Sumo Digital?

Well, now you have my undivided attention.

And is that Terry Crews? Terry Crews, who I think plays football but I know is the star of some hilarious Old Spice ads, playing a character that’s like Nick Fury on amphetamines?

This just keeps getting better.

Throw in a catchy song as Crews and company blow up all sorts of stuff against a neon-lit nighttime city backdrop, and yes, thank you, may I please have another?

Dragon Ball Fighter Z

I am such a mark for Dragon Ball. I quite enjoyed Dragon Ball XenoVerse, and while it’s sequel came maybe a little sooner than I would have liked, it’s not like I was disinterested, either.

But this year, we get something new. While I did enjoy the 3D fighting of XenoVerse, a new 2D fighting game with Dragon Ball characters has me stoked — especially when it looks like this! Bandai Namco has been good at translating the art style of the cartoon into 3D, but now Arc System Works is giving us something that seems to look more like the TV animation than ever before (possibly better?).

The 3 vs. 3 style of fighting sounds like we might have something akin to a Dragon Ball version of Marvel vs. Capcom gameplay here as well.

Ori and the Will of the Wisps

While there was a lot of cool stuff at the briefing, this is the one thing I was hoping for that came true, at least for Microsoft’s part in everything.

What can I say? I love Ori and the Blind Forest — what I’ve played, at least — and this probably brought the biggest smile to my face of the entire show. Even before Ori himself appeared, I had a hunch, and I’m quite glad it paid off. The first game was one that went straight for the heart (part of my reluctance to finish the job, I’ll admit), and by the look of things, the sequel will be no different in that regard.

But knowing what lies ahead, I’ve got new resolve to finish the original and eagerly anticipate this.

Biggest Letdown

No Battletoads

Like Krusty the Clown and the Washington Generals, I really thought they were due.

Honourable Mentions

Truth be told, there were enough cool moments during the Xbox briefing that I started to wonder if I should make this a Top 10 list instead. Heck, we could even go to 15 and still not even cover half of what was shown. Here’s the other stuff that would have jockeyed for position on such a hypothetical list, but in no particular order, because I want this article out before the Xbox One X is. Speaking of which…

Xbox One X

It feels like this ought to be in the Top 5, I know, and the only reason it probably isn’t is due to my own ignorance and state of being. That is, I don’t own a 4K television, but I get the impression that the experience would be improved regardless. But I’m honestly clueless when it comes to all the technical jargon they talk about — it sure sounds damn impressive, but you could probably make the original PlayStation sound equally impressive to me if you knew how to word things right.

I do dig the design, and while I love my monolithic Xbox One like the Fortress Maximus of my gaming consoles, the smaller form factor certainly has appeal, too (particularly when I have to reach around to the back to reconnect something one of my cats has unplugged).

The Xbox One X seems pretty awesome, though — I’m just still trying to find out what it means to someone like me.

Original Xbox Backwards Compatibility

This is pretty big and pretty awesome. When Phil Spencer began talking about the Xbox One’s backwards compatibility with the Xbox 360, I thought to myself “okay, but where could they possibly go with — no way.” And sure enough, the original Xbox is not only getting backwards compatibility on the Xbox One, but those games will purportedly look even better as well. I just wonder if these will feature into Games with Gold now.

The reason it’s not on the Top 5? To be honest, I didn’t have the original Xbox (save for my perpetual free “rental” of one when I worked at Blockbuster), so I need to evaluate what games I might be looking forward to on this. Off the top of my head, though, I know I’m crossing my fingers for Burnout 3: Takedown. Get me that, and everything else is gravy and sprinkles.

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So many of these titles look good (Unruly Heroes, Brawlout, and Riverbond are only a few that particularly caught my eye), but the footage of them is so brief and there’s little else to go on at the moment to slot any of them into the Top 5.

Forza Motorsport 7‘s 2018 Porsche 911 GT2 RS

While I love Forza Horizon 3, Forza Motorsport 7 fills me with a bit more trepidation on account of being less arcade-y and more simulation. So why mention it here at all?

Simply put: The 2018 Porsche 911 GT2 RS.

While I can’t find a good picture to show here at the moment, I’ll just say that while I’m not a big car aficionado, I am an enormous Transformers aficionado, and damn if I don’t know Jazz when I see him. Sure, the headlights are a little different, but I think the rest check out. Now I just have to wait and see if someone can create an in-game skin to match.

Minecraft

The Minecraft train keeps rolling on, now in 4K. What’s more, they’re promising the unification of the game across all platforms. If that means I can salvage my world from the Wii U version and bring it over to something still hooked up, then I am all for that. I’ve done so much, and yet there is still so much left to do.

The Last Night

I’m not quite sure what to say about this, except that the nighttime city setting and pixel art style really appeal to my sensibilities, so I hope to see more of this before long.

The Artful Escape

Colorful and imaginative, I was given pause when the lead character pulled out a guitar and it seemed to interact in tune with the environment. I was worried it might be a rhythm game (which I’m terrible at if I play past the opening stuff), but there doesn’t seem to be anything in the press materials to suggest that’s the case. So I’m curious to see more.

Sea of Thieves, Shadow of War, and Anthem

I decided these three would share a spot, because all three look great to me. Sea of Thieves is the most Rare-looking game to come out of Rare in quite some time (well, barring Rare Replay, of course), Shadow of War‘s trailer piqued my interest despite my interest in Lord of the Rings being mild at best (but I did enjoy The Hobbit, so I’m sort of in the middle with Middle Earth), and Anthem just looks like exo-suited fun.

So why aren’t any of them in the Top 5? They all seem to rely heavily on online multiplayer, at least in the trailers shown, and for me personally, I’m not sure how much of a commitment I can make to a game like that. I may give them a try anyway — I’d like to, especially if they have enough content that I can play without other people having to rely on my being there — but I don’t know how much I can get out of them in the long run.

And that’s it from me — but not all for the press briefing! If you’re interested in seeing everything Microsoft had to offer up on the big stage, then here’s the full show:

I’ll be back tomorrow (or whenever I get it done) with a look at Sony’s event, and again the next day with Nintendo’s!

David Oxford is a freelance writer of many varied interests. If you’re interested in hiring him, please drop him a line at david.oxford (at) nyteworks.net.

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