Microsoft experienced a big 2016 with the release of the Xbox One S, the introduction of new IP (i.e. Quantum Break), the return of classic franchises (i.e. Gears of War 4), and the looming presence of their brand-new system, codenamed Project Scorpio, for now, still scheduled for a holiday 2017 release. Though it hasn’t made up ground on the PS4, the PS4 has crossed 50 million units sold while the Xbox One has 24 million units sold, but the Xbox One has made up some goodwill with consumers prompting gamers to have a positive outlook on 2017 for the company. Will 2017 be the huge year that Microsoft hopes for?
I own both the Xbox One and PS4 but the Xbox One is my primary system. You may ask, “NikePhelps, why would choose the “inferior” console as your primary choice?” Well, I’ll tell you. First, in the previous generation, I was a first-year adopter of the Xbox 360 so I have been familiar with Microsoft’s ecosystem for quite a while. I had some of my best experiences in gaming on the 360 so when the Xbox One was announced it seemed like a logical decision. I personally think that the Xbox One’s interface is more inviting and user-friendly. Also, the Xbox One Elite controller is the best controller ever made. I am under no delusion; however, that the PS4 is more superior in terms of console power and, for my money, first-party exclusives. Microsoft is gearing up to address both of those points in 2017. Let’s first look at some Xbox exclusive titles are coming this year.
Xbox didn’t quite start the year off right with news of the cancellation of Scalebound. I was cautiously optimistic about the game but the game had clear issues every time it was shown. The game was an exciting prospect for a number of reasons. First, freaking dragons! That alone is worth the price of admission. The premise was pretty interesting as well. Scalebound told the story of Drew who is thrown into an unknown world and forms a bond with a dragon named Thuban. The action RPG was supposed to feature the duo working in tandem defeating enemies and, I can only assume, discovering how and why Drew got there in the first place. With sub-par showcases and a delay from 2016 to 2017, the game wasn’t generating a ton of good buzz but the potential kept fans excited. Sadly, we may never see the realized vision PlatinumGames wanted to share with the world. With one marquee title taken out to pasture, how does the rest of the year stack up?
The first big title that will lay the foundation of Xbox’s 2017 is Halo Wars 2. I’m not necessarily a fan of real-time strategy games but I recognize the fan base it garnered. The game was very well done by recreating the Halo aesthetic to near perfection but, more importantly, proving that real-time strategy games can have a place in the console space. Halo Wars 2 looks to improve on what made the first title resonate with fans while bringing fans something new. A new card-based mode, Blitz, is a new addition to the game that mixes collectible card game elements with the real-time strategy gameplay of Halo Wars 2. The game looks promising but will it reach the same heights of its predecessor?
Microsoft has yet to officially stamp a release date on a lot of its upcoming titles but they are some that are confirmed for 2017 that I can touch on.
Xbox gamers have been waiting seven years for a follow-up to Crackdown 2 but that wait might be over this year. Though Microsoft hasn’t officially dated the release of Crackdown 3, it has been confirmed by Xbox boss Phil Spencer that it is definitely releasing this year. Not much is known about the game except the promise of completely destructible environments which sounds very exciting. Crackdown 2 was well-received but was too similar to the first Crackdown. Will this installment be able to innovate on the model they have built or will it be more of the same?
Gamers who have been itching for another zombie apocalypse adventure will get to enjoy the release of State of Decay 2. The original State of Decay put a heavy emphasis on the survival aspect of an apocalypse by the player being responsible for maintaining relationships with other survivors and dealing with a myriad of obstacles. State of Decay 2 is bringing all those things along with the introduction of cooperative multiplayer with should take the adventure to the next level. The game has gone quiet ever since its unveiling at E3 last year but Microsoft seems confident that it will see a 2017 release.
Games like Cuphead, Sea of Thieves, and Phantom Dust are also scheduled for a 2017 release. Microsoft seems confident that their games lineup will be very strong this year and be on par with PlayStation’s. While the software libraries of both Xbox and PlayStation battle it out over the year, Microsoft has a looming giant that they are readying for a release later this year that, if they have it their way, will innovate the console market.
Microsoft’s Project Scorpio, as it’s currently codenamed, is supposedly going to be the most powerful console ever sporting an often reported “6 teraflops” of GPU performance. The rise of 4K and VR have prompted both companies to address these growing markets with console iterations but the Scorpio is developed to encompass all those features while bringing a system that’s comparable to a high-end PC’s performance. The logical analog to the Scorpio would be the PS4 Pro but according to Microsoft, the advantages of the Scorpio will be “obvious” in comparison. This is very confident rhetoric that Microsoft is displaying which leads me to believe that they know what they have on their hands which should have gamers excited. Though, one could ask will Project Scorpio be beneficial to Microsoft or gamers? What happens if the console is deemed too expensive and just sits on shelves? What if VR turns out not to be the revolution that the industry hopes for? What if Microsoft never meets its own lofty expectations and the console is a dud? All plausible questions that will only be answered with time.
Xbox has a big year ahead. What are you most looking forward to from Xbox this year? Let me know in the comments. Make sure you subscribe and share.