So, I’m going to level with you right here and now: I’ve had zero hype for this year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo. None. Zero. Zilch.

Not that there haven’t been or I wasn’t expecting there to be announcements that would surprise me and reveal games I’d want, but so much of the year-round, or at least pre-E3 news cycle has left me… I don’t know, almost fulfilled? At least where announcements themselves are concerned. I’ve got Mega Man 11 to look forward to, Team Sonic Racing has my interest piqued, Yakuza Kiwami 2 is keeping the good times coming, and so on. And that’s not even considering stuff announced last year that hasn’t been released (Shenmue III, plus the upcoming HD re-releases).

As such, my hype for E3 2018 has more or less flatlined.

And yet, following Xbox’s press conference, I find myself pleasantly surprised. Not every announcement was a slam dunk with me, because they probably aren’t all going to be for anyone. But I found enough stuff that hooked me and left me feeling that the future of Xbox is looking pretty good at the moment.

Of course, it’s what we see in the coming days that will really tell the tale, but for now, here’s what I enjoyed throughout the conference:

The Top 5

Battletoads

Their absence last year was my “Biggest Letdown,” because “Like Krusty the Clown and the Washington Generals, I really thought they were due.”

Having Rash in Killer Instinct and the entire trio in the Xbox version of Shovel Knight, to say nothing of their presence in Rare Replay has made it seem like Microsoft was ready to bring the Toads out of retirement, but I felt it would be a sad waste of the new designs not to use them in a new game. The road to get here was a long one — one that won’t end until 2019, even.

Despite all this, I’ve admittedly got some trepidation about this effort from Dlala Studios. The little glimpse we see there leads me to think that the “4K hand-drawn 2.5D graphics” won’t look like what we’ve seen previously, and “body morphing genre mash-ups” has me worried we might see less beat-em-up stuff and more Turbo Tunnels. God, I hope not — or at least if they do, they tone the difficulty down to “insane” or lower from the original.

In case you weren’t aware, Battletoads Arcade (as seen on Rare Replay) was all I ever wanted from Battletoads back in the day, and I’m hopeful it comes out more along those lines. Guess we’ll see.

Forza Horizon 4

Fact: I love Forza Horizon 3.

Fact: I love it when games have seasons and times of day change.

Forza Horizon 3 had the latter, and Forza Horizon 4 is bringing the latter, though the seasons apparently change weekly, so it’s not real-time. I prefer if the game I’m playing matches the season and time around me in the present, but nonetheless, I’m pretty excited for this one.

The British scenery is quite nice, too. But that also means those rumors of it being set in Japan were clearly way off.

Tunic

This basically looks like a top-down, isometric The Legend of Zelda starring a little fox guy.

I love top-down Zelda — the first game in the series and A Link to the Past are among my favorites, and it looks like the camera moves beyond its normal isometric perspective, so I’m eager to give this one a try.

Jump Force

Jump Super Stars is a Nintendo DS game which stars many of the heroes of the Japanese Shonen Jump weekly manga anthology, placing them in a Super Smash Bros. style of game. It never left Japan, and it was believed to be because getting all the English rights holders to work together on a western release would be nothing short of impossible.

And yet, here we are with Jump Force, a game which features characters from Dragon Ball Z (you’d think they’d go for Dragon Ball Super, but whatever), One Piece, Naruto, and “many others” (including a tease for Death Note at the end of the trailer) squaring off in “hyper-stylish arena brawls,” which I’m reading to be something not unlike Super Smash Bros., Power Stone, or the aforementioned Jump Super Stars.

Making things more interesting is that they’re apparently going to be having these ludicrously overpowered battles against backdrops from our world, including Times Square in New York City and the Matterhorn.

I can’t tell whether I want them to fight in Toronto or not, but either way, I believe I am quite sufficiently stoked for this one.

Ori and the Will of the Wisps

Yep, same as last year. I make no apologies, and this year’s trailer has only reaffirmed my desire to play this. In my mind, Ori is the Xbox One mascot (and in my opinion, should be officially — the little light and chime for the power button even make me think of Ori), and this one looks to be even better than the first one, which itself was a beautiful and emotional game.

So yeah, I can’t wait to play this… in 2019?!

Oh well, I’m sure it will be worth the wait.

Biggest Letdown

No Rare Replay 2 or Wizards & Warriors

Now that Battletoads is confirmed, it’s time to move on to the next thing. I’m surprised there hasn’t already been a Rare Replay 2, because I know they haven’t completely exhausted their back catalog, and I’m not even talking about the Donkey Kong stuff (obviously). Wizards & Warriors alone is a good three to four entries there.

And heck, I’d even take a Wizards & Warriors collection. Or remake. Or collection of remakes. Or, you know, a new one would be cool, too.

No New Xbox Avatars

Honestly, I thought these would be out by now. I even thought maybe they’d wheel them out and say “and you can check them out right now” or something. Instead, nothing. What’s the hold-up?

Honourable Mentions

Halo Infinite

I’m not a first-person shooter guy, but I’ve enjoyed other elements around Halo, including the fiction, the music, animated stuff, etc. Then I discovered Halo: Spartan Assault, and since then, I’ve been wondering if I should give Halo proper another chance. And if I do, which one should I start with?

This is looking quite beautiful, and I wonder if it would make a good starting point for someone like me? (I’ve considered Halo 5, but heard mixed things on that front.)

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice

I’m… curious. That’s all I’ll really say about that. I should probably give Dark Souls Remastered a try to see if their style of gameplay suits me.

Crackdown 3

Terry Crews and Sumo Digital are involved, so I’m intrigued.

Kingdom Hearts III

Hm, Wreck-It Ralph, Tangles, Frozen… this might be the most interested I’ve ever been in Kingdom Hearts since they announced the original.

Devil May Cry 5

When I first saw this, I thought it was the rebooted “DMC” version — before realizing that version didn’t have white hair. The stylistic shift is a bit jarring, but they’re hailing this as a true sequel, and as Devil May Cry (to my understanding) is something of a spiritual predecessor to Bayonetta (which I rather like), this has my eye. But I should probably play the other four first.

Cuphead: The Delicious Last Course

Cuphead is an awesome game, but also a hard one — maybe more than even I can handle (So close! I always come so close!). This downloadable content (clever play with the name, by the way) looks cool, but might not be a prudent purchase for me.

Dying Light 2

Nadia thinks that’s the Toronto skyline seen about halfway through the trailer, which is enough to make me curious, at least.

Gears Pop!

Bizarre little fake-out. Kudos.

Wonder if the game will be any fun, though? It comes to iOS and Android next year, so maybe it’ll be free to try?

Gears Tactics

Now we’re talking. I’ve been kind of curious about Gears of War for a while, but I’m almost as bad at third-person shooters as I am first-person. I’ve enjoyed the likes of Transformers: War for Cybertron and Transformers: Fall of Cybertron well enough, even though I wasn’t very good at them, and always wondered if I’d take to it as well without the involvement of Cybertronians.

But I do like turn-based strategy! I just hope my computer can run it — that’s the problem I ran into with Halo Wars 2, as I didn’t much care for using the standard controller, but my computer couldn’t run it so I could try with a mouse. This one’s Windows 10 exclusive, though — which is too bad, as I could probably deal with turn-based well enough, given that’s what I’ve done with Fire Emblem over the years.

Gears 5

I guess they’re not even calling it “Gears of War” any more?

Cyberpunk 2077

This looks interesting. I’m enjoying the style, the futuristic setting, the city backdrop, the designs, and other stuff. And it’s made by the guys who did The Witcher 3? Definitely worth keeping an eye on.

—–

I’ll be doing this again over the coming days for Sony and Nintendo, so I hope I’ll see you then!

And if you missed the conference (which has a lot more than I talked about here), then here’s the whole thing.

And if you’d like to see Microsoft’s full press release from the event, check out the following page!

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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