Let’s rewind a few years, to a time before the pandemic. A time when the biggest gaming news of the year came from E3, and each of the big three stakeholders (Nintendo, Xbox, and PlayStation) all held their live, in-person, spectacular showcase. I remember watching these at home thinking, one day, I’m going to be there — let’s go E3 2023!
• Before leaving E3 altogether, in 2018 PlayStation did get a bit carried away with their multi-location showcase which had the audience walking from room to room to experience each game.
• Nintendo likes to follow showcases and press conferences with a “Live Treehouse” event where they can dive deeper into the upcoming games with the help of the game developers.
• Even as PlayStation and Nintendo have moved more into digital presentations, Xbox stuck to the big theater, over-the-top showcase featuring so many world premiere trailers that you’d walk away thinking of only two or three games out of the fifty you’d just seen.
Over the years, we’ve seen a rise in the digital showcase. This format also allows each company to break up their ONE BIG SHOWCASE into many smaller presentations throughout the year. While the E3 SHOWCASE always features celebrity appearances, big stages, and huge set pieces, these new digital presentations are more game focused — which is the most important part.
Yesterday, Xbox gave us their first (of hopefully many) new digital presentation, the Developer_Direct, presented by Xbox & Bethesda. Let’s first go over what they showed:
MOJANG | Minecraft Legends
The presentation began with a deep dive into the new, upcoming Minecraft title: Minecraft Legends. I recently began my Minecraft journey for a feature I am currently working on about the game and the amazing worlds players have built.
The original Minecraft is a block-building sandbox game that evolved into something larger thanks to the giant community. From there, they created Minecraft Dungeons to explore that world as a dungeon crawler. Minecraft Legends looks to be the next evolution. It sort of pulls from both games, while adding even more with a story-driven campaign as well as a large cross-platform PvP world.
If writing my feature about Minecraft sucks me into this world, I can see myself picking up Minecraft Legends when it releases on April 18th, 2023.
TURN 10 | Forza Motorsport
I love racing games. There was a time, back on the Xbox 360, where I played countless hours of Forza. On my PlayStation 4 I became obsessed with GT Sport, and now on my PlayStation 5 Gran Turismo 7. In recent years, the Forza franchise has branched off into its Forza Motorsport games (for the more authentic) and the Forza Horizon games (for the more adventurous).
I admire that they have both, since on PlayStation we only have the authentic racing sim Gran Turismo franchise. I love my authentic racing games, but sometimes I just want to drive a full-size Hot Wheels car over a mountain.
What I learned from this trailer is that even with racing games looking so realistic and beautiful today, there is still much to improve upon. There are so many sounds, reflections, and ray tracing to be experienced in these games. If anything, this trailer had me ready to re-download Gran Turismo 7 on my PlayStation 5 to figure out what’s missing in that game — first, I just need to make some extra space on my hard drive.
TANGO GAMEWORKS | Hi-Fi Rush
From the moment this trailer started, I was all in. I love the cartoony art style, the characters and voices, and the killer soundtrack.
What surprised me was that this game was not created by the team behind something like Sunset Overdrive. No, it’s made by the studio behind The Evil Within and Ghostwire: Tokyo. Two extremely spooky games. I’m not saying it can’t be done, but we usually see game studios release similar games over the years. Whether it’s the same tone, look, or gameplay.
Hi-Fi Rush is a rhythm action game, with a sweet soundtrack to fight to. The other great news, the game was released right after the showcase. I just hope this one works on my old school PC, if not I might have to pick up an Xbox Series S or some new PC components.
ZENIMAX | Elder Scrolls Online: Necrom
When it comes to the Elder Scrolls games, I know absolutely nothing. I do remember having some friends back in school who were obsessed with Skyrim, which also falls within this universe.
With the announcement of the base game (and all DLC) being free to play, I may finally jump in to learn what this game is all about. People have been playing The Elder Scrolls Online for almost ten years — maybe it’s time to give it a try?
Elder Scrolls Online: Necrom releases June 20th, 2023.
ARKANE AUSTIN | Redfall
Ever since our first look at Redfall, I thought this game looks great. It reminds me of games like Dead Island and Left 4 Dead (or its spiritual successor, Back 4 Blood). The problem is, those games all feel very much the same, no matter which version you are playing.
What may set Redfall apart from those other third-person online co-op shooters is that it is being developed by Arkane. Arkane Austin’s sister studio in Lyon, France developed Deathloop. Other than the fresh, new gameplay and world of Deathloop, I loved that game mainly for its buttery smooth controls.
Redfall has a chance to succeed over other new four player co-op third person shooters mainly because I think it will feel very much like Deathloop.
Redfall arrives on PC and Xbox on May 2, 2023.
Watch the full Developer_Direct, presented by Xbox & Bethesda:
After this dev direct, I can say that each of the big three companies (Nintendo, PlayStation, and Xbox) now has its own unique style of digital presentation. Nintendo has the Direct, PlayStation has State of Play, and now Xbox has the Developer_Direct. Each of these can even be broken down further, like Nintendo Directs vs Nintendo Indie World Showcases.
The Developer_Direct worked because it wasn’t an endless list of world premieres releasing some time between now and the next three years. This was a very focused presentation where each of the games was given a proper amount of love, and the voices talking them were the game developers themselves.
From the very beginning we were told, “Today we are focusing on FIVE games.” Next, we heard from the game studios, we saw some games we knew were coming, and a few brand new ones. Xbox should stick to this format for digital presentations. I would rather see a few of these during the year rather than being exposed to one hundred new game titles dropping on Game Pass on Day One for the next seven years.