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The Other Highlights of The Xbox Games Showcase

It’s not always about Halo, Fable, or Forza.
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The Xbox Games Showcase started out with literal guns ablaze with Halo: Infinite and finished solid with the new Fable announcement. Going against Sony’s library of exclusives, Xbox has their work cut out for them and we were expecting for them to bring all the stops to be a contender in this high stakes new generation duke fest. Unfortunately, they were passable at best but I wasn’t compelled to get excited even for the Xbox Lockhart.

While I wasn’t too blown away with Sony’s lineup either, I came out with a solid reactions: “I’m definitely getting Spiderman Miles Morales at launch”; “I’m really curious about Deathloop”; and “I hope they have some bundles available when Horizon Forbidden West drops”. At least there were three games for me to be excited about to actually purchase a PS5 and a few where I said, “That’s interesting, I hope to see more information at launch”. That was the majority of my reaction to Xbox’s release.

These are the games that caught my attention, but sadly, not enough to compel me to purchase an Xbox Series X at launch just yet:

State of Decay 3

After the underwhelming presentation of Halo: Infinite, an eerie trailer of a post apocalyptic world graced our screens. A lone survivor scours the wilderness and runs into a dead wolf being consumed by a zombie deer. Dun dun dun. While I’ve never played the previous games in the series but was meaning to, the teaser alone got me curious. Though I am cautious with games being presented with a teaser video with no in-game footage, so I’d take a gander when more about the game comes out.

At least we get Zombie bambi.

Everwild

Rare opened strong with a sprawling adventure that’s comparable to Rime with the ethereal music and a cast of interesting characters. Yet as mentioned like in State of Decay 3, I’m cautious with these types of teasers as the gameplay could be like Pyre where the lore and story are enthralling but the gameplay didn’t entice me to continue or Banner Saga where the strategy-RPG mechanic was palatable, it was also unforgiving but not the risk-reward kind of unforgiving found in Fire Emblem. I just hope the gameplay is worth the $70 USD price tag because at the moment, it feels like a $30 USD game.

Tell Me Why

Not to be confused with the lead up to I Want It That Way by Backstreet Boys, but it is Dontnod’s latest interactive drama project coinciding with Life Is Strange 2. Unlike its predecessors, this game will be three episodes long, having two fewer episodes than its mainline Life Is Strange counterparts. And just like the story trailer and everything that we expect from this game, I would expect some crushing plot twists, a great soundtrack, and a collectible feature that grants easy achievements. I’d totally buy it on sale.

As Dusk Falls

Just like Tell Me Why, I would expect this game to fall into that episodic interactive drama category. While stylistically, the game appears to work because it has this storybook flip animation present, sort of like playing through visual novels on the PS Vita. And just like Telltale and Dontnod games, they would probably fall in the same “I bought it for the achievements” category. Yet I’m curious how the game would unfold and we may have another Oxenfree in our hands.

S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2

A long awaited sequel that showed a fantastic trailer but without any gameplay. I feel that many horror games get away with a lot by showing nothing by just upping how eerie it is or the general intrigue of the game, throw in a stylized video and a quasi-jump scare or two. Its predecessors had a cult following a decade ago and fans of the title are excited. Truth be told, I would like to have Lost Odyssey 2: Life’s A B****, But I Still Can’t Die as one of the launch titles for the Series X, but Mistwalker only makes mobile games these days.

The Medium

Out of all of the games in the showcase, this was the game that I was actually excited after seeing, however I wasn’t excited enough as a basis for buying a new console. Yet, it really has strong Silent Hill, The Evil Within and Alan Wake vibes missing from Control. Don’t get me wrong, Control in the few hours I’ve played was a unique take on the genre but it didn’t hook me enough to keep me going after the first few missions. I’m blaming the color schemes as it might’ve worked as an independent arthouse film, but not as a video game. The dual mode of being in two worlds simultaneously was a curious draw and I’d love to see where they will go with this. As a title, I’m sold, hopefully it drops on Steam in the future.

WTF Honorable Mention – Grounded

Right away the game came out with kiddie graphics and felt like a terrible port of some Disney or Dreamworks IP.  Yet its tongue-in-cheek trailer sent some laughs in this ultimately milquetoast showcase. Lines like, “if you’re looking for the best game to come out this year, check out Cyberpunk 2077” and “for a great RPG experience, look no further than Obsidian’s lineup” communicated its playful nature. However, if their strategy was to be top of mind, they succeeded, sadly all I’ll remember is their offbeat presentation and not their actual game.

WTF Grand Prize – Hellblade 2

When it was Ninja Theory’s turn to amaze us with the next chapter for Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, the biggest announcement was they were going to set the game in Iceland. With the upcoming Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, it was quite certain that we will be graced with that moody scenery and haunting speorg notes that fit Hellblade’s brand. Then the showcase continued without a trailer of any kind… Talk about massive Blue Balls. Even Jack Black had a song and dance number for Psychonauts 2 but Senua can’t even sing Ja Ja Ding Dong? Ninja Theory did us dirty.

Hellblade 2: Eurovision Song Contest, anyone?

Author

Vincent Ternida moved Vancouver, Canada in 2006 and called it home ever since. He spends the lockdown catching up with his Japanese RPGs, writing his new manuscripts, and figuring out why he suddenly became the main character of the latest Haruki Murakami novel.

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