The highs, lows, and no-shows of the Xbox Games Showcase – Reader’s Feature

A reader offers his view of the Xbox Series X gameplay reveal, with a mixed response to the games that were shown and those that weren’t.

With Microsoft’s showcase out of the way we are left with a glimpse of what it is to come for Xbox Series X at launch and beyond. To my surprise there were a plethora of games to rouse our anticipation, though unfortunately in many cases it really was only a glimpse, to use the word generously.

Lots of games, lack of gameplay

To my count there were 32 games on display, including an excellent-looking indie games selection from the pre-show that were announced as timed exclusives (to an unknown extent). It was mentioned that every single game that appeared would be available day one on Games Pass, making this service look incredibly attractive. Consoles exclusives weren’t in short supply and they blended well in the overall presentation.

Microsoft have clearly been keen to show they are all about the games this time round and with sheer quantity they have heeded the call of gamers that felt short-changed by Microsoft’s lack of commitment to content this generation. Considering development kits for Xbox Series X haven’t been in developers’ hands for that long [it’s not clear when they got them – GC] it was perhaps too much to expect a lot of gameplay, but the absence was nevertheless very noticeable.

Game selection

Another thing I couldn’t help but notice (probably because I don’t favour this genre) was the sheer amount of first person games, mostly shooters. However, I was pleased to see the Microsoft had branched out to include some very interesting looking third person games – including platformers and role-playing games – broadening their demographic in the process. I can appreciate Halo fans will have been very deeply fixated on the gameplay demo of Halo Infinite but regrettably I’d have to admit there wasn’t a ton I found particularly exciting given my tastes.

There were a couple of games that stood out to me though. The Medium looked excellent, I was immediately impressed by the innovative concept, and I suspect the Velocity architecture has been flexed here. Obsidian put two forward that immediately caught my attention: Grounded and Avowed. Admittedly I am a fan of Obsidian but that aside I thought Grounded also looked like an innovative concept with some interesting mechanics, whilst the short trailer for Avowed would excite any role-playing fan. [But Avowed is first person? – GC] There were other exciting prospects in the mix, such as Rare’s new game Everwild and a new Fable game, but no gameplay to go with them.

‘Unmatched resolutions’

I expected to hear a lot of talk about 4K 60fps, and certainly there was some but nowhere near what I had anticipated. Something else I expected to hear brought up more was ray-tracing, and actually I couldn’t see many obvious examples of it. Most of the third person trailers seem to be running at 30fps but from what I could observe it seemed that most (if not all) of the first person games were running 4k 60fps; which is excellent.

The only clear and obvious example I saw of 4K 60fps gameplay with ray-tracing was Forza Motorsport. Phil Spencer stated during the showcase that Xbox Series X could deliver ‘unmatched fidelity, performance, precision, and immersion’ and that couldn’t have landed any sweeter than when the trailer for Forza swiftly followed.

To date, I have seen nothing as graphically impressive as this. However, while I found some of the aesthetics of the wider selection very pleasing (especially the more cartoonish inclusions) I didn’t find much of the graphics on display all that awe-inspiring. Halo Infinite I felt was particularly graphically underwhelming, which is bizarre considering that is front and centre of the showcase and the Xbox Series X.

This is possibly another casualty of early demonstrations, and it should be noted that certain things stand to improve. Halo Infinite is set to get ray-tracing support at some point after launch, for instance, but it isn’t obvious how much and at what processing cost.

What was left out

I was shocked for the whole presentation to go by and no mention of Xbox Series S ‘Lockhart’. I’m beginning to think that is a myth we’ve all conjured in our collective unconscious. What I wasn’t so shocked to find left out was the price, it seems like they are keeping their cards close to their chest right unit the end. I was slightly surprised that FromSoftware/George R.R. Martin collaboration Elden Ring didn’t premiere on the showcase, and subsequently I’m wondering if this will be something that Sony premiere or left until the next Xbox showcase later in the year.

Overall Impression

While there was certainly no shortage of prospects showcased that could potentially excite me, there simply wasn’t enough gameplay demonstration to deliver. Forza Motorsport presented a clear case for next generation graphics and The Medium gave me (if I’ve understood the game properly) a good sample of what gameplay experience could be achieved in this new era.

As a long time Fable fan I’m very pleased to see Microsoft have revived this series and invested back into the role-playing game space they had all but vacated last generation. I expect a lot of fans will be happy with what they saw overall, although for me personally there was very little to advertise a notable advancement in gaming experience over the last generation. With that said, this is still early days for Xbox Series X developers, and there shall certainly be more to come later in the year.

By reader Twiggy Smalls

This Reader’s Feature does not necessary represent the views of GameCentral or Metro.

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