Not quite as simple of an upgraded SKU as with other consoles nor necessarily the start of a new generation, the Xbox One X is perhaps instead the herald of what's to come for the video game industry as a whole. As we draw closer and closer every year towards an all-digital gaming future, the importance of Xbox One X is better found not in the fact that it is indeed the most powerful console around, but in the other ways it benefits the industry.
A New Business Model
The mobile phone business has found its comfort zone in releasing enhanced iterations of the previous edition year after year, and people continue to buy into it. While we aren't saying that yearly updated consoles should become the norm, we are saying that a similar business model could very well be where we are headed, and the new Xbox One X is a testament to that.
Frequent, iterative hardware seems like the safest bet for where Microsoft is going, each release expanding upon the last in a significant way while still leaving room open for the previous version to thrive. This is seen in Xbox One X's extensive compatibility features. There is a reason that compatibility is one of the core pillars of what makes the One X what it is; every Xbox One game, controller, and accessory will be usable on the new system day one, with Xbox 360 and original Xbox games on the way as well.
Exciting Exclusive Titles
New games will continue to work on original Xbox One and Xbox One S, with 4K and other enhancements found on the new One X. Those same games are another sign of what One X is all about.
Moving away from how powerful the console is, Microsoft made it clear in its unveiling that it still cares about exclusivity. Despite the breadth of quality PlayStation exclusive titles in the recent months, Microsoft is not giving up and has a slew of exclusive games coming to the Xbox One X. 22, in fact.
Microsoft made a point to cover most of its bases with the lineup of titles it announced. There's shooters like Crackdown 3 and Gears of War 4 beefed up to 4K, platformers like Ori and the Will of the Wisps and Super Lucky's Tale, intense third-person action from State of Decay 2 and Ashen, complete online experiences like PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds and Sea of Thieves, and (of course) Forza Motorsport 7 for all the racing fans out there. We had a chance to play two completely different blockbuster titles that show that the console is home to games that provide unique entertainment that you can't find anywhere else.
Super Lucky's Tale of Family-Friendly Fun
Not being a platformer fan makes it especially weird to say that my favorite game to play at the Xbox showcase was Super Lucky's Tale. In this 3D platformer, you play as Lucky, a cute and cuddly little fox with a strange obsession for digging underground. The short demo I played seemed like a perfect first level of the game, briefly explaining the controls before letting me loose in a mostly linear environment.
That linearity may seem like a concern, but it actually helps the game a lot based on what I've seen. The gameplay is tightly designed, but still allowing for an insane amount of collectibles (collector fanatics will want to take notice, because Super Lucky's Tale will certainly scratch that itch). Shiny coins are scattered everywhere in the level, on top of hidden objective items, extra lives, and five letters that spell out the titular name Lucky. And by everywhere, I mean coins are all around you.
Collecting all of the coins require serious dedication and skill. There are the typical easy coins that are obvious to see, but then there are the ones that are much harder to collect. Some can be found in trees, shrubs, and the like by smacking them with your tail. Others require expert level platforming to reach, while still others require a careful eye to see the slight glimmer of an invisible coin. Lastly, coins can also be found underground through the usage of Lucky's signature burrow technique.
Lucky is able to dig and traverse under dirt to find coins, but that isn't its only purpose. It is also useful in platforming sections where there are traps and stealth in combat. Most enemies aren't able to attack you while you are burrowed underground, so it is great for sneaking up and whacking them with your tail. The only unfortunate part of the combat is that your only attack (that we saw in the demo at least) is just pressing X to swipe with your tail, but like Mario's jump, the versatility of the attack is vast.
The objectives we encountered during our demo were quite varied, and a lot of fun whether you're young or old. What started with platforming to collect hidden robot heads to activate a huge golem led to an intense mini-boss battle on a tight ledge to, finally, an extremely challenging scenario where I had to carry a robot head through countless traps while very limited in my movement.
Crackdown 3 Is Here Alongside Terry Crews
If you were watching the Crackdown 3 trailer at the Xbox briefing and were confused by the odd inclusion of Terry Crews from White Chicks, then you'll be happy to know that he is indeed featured in Crackdown 3 (cue A Thousand Miles). A developer told me that he is involved but his role in the game, and to what extent is still being kept a secret.
What finally isn't a secret, though, what Crackdown 3 plays like. I got to sit down and enjoy a brief but mostly positive 10 minute experience where I could go and do absolutely whatever I wanted. In this demo, I had the ability to level up five different skills that would be tallied up at the end to give me a total score. The skills are Driving, Agility, Strength (think hand-to-hand), Firearms, and Explosives. While these skills seem like a great fit to include in the main game, it remains to be seen what role they will play.
My only disappointment from the experience are the graphics. While nothing terrible, Crackdown 3 so far does nothing to show off the new Xbox One X's power with tons of neon lights that do little to offset the mostly bland environments. However, Crackdown 3 is perfect at showing the exclusive experience that it offers on the new system with gameplay that shows tons of promise.
In my 10 minutes, I picked my agent (male and female are available), hijacked at least five cars, crashed into everyone, did one or two stunts, climbed everything, and most importantly, caused mayhem everywhere. In this third entry in the series, you have double jump and a thruster pack so you are now able to more efficiently jump up buildings and dodge enemies. Movement and combat are absolutely perfect, with the ability to cause so much carnage being a huge plus.
The amount of weapon variety is greatly appreciated as well. I got to pick up everything including your typical SMG, a rapid-firing carbine, and more exotic weapons like the destructive vortex rifle and the outrageous, black hole-producing singularity cannon. Even when out of ammo, the hand-to-hand combat is fun through quickly smacking enemies around left and right, or picking up dead bodies and vehicles to throw at bad guys.
A Bright Future
Super Lucky's Tale and Crackdown 3 are just two examples of exclusives games that are sure to please gamers, whether you're a current fan or one that jumped ship a while ago. There are still so many other unique experiences from stunning AAA titles to hot indie games.
Microsoft's E3 messaging has been simple but effective. A short and sweet explanation of Xbox One X and the endless onslaught of game announcements show that it is actively changing with the release of this new console. This change of heart and the slew of games are what's driving the Xbox One X and prove that, while it is the most powerful console on Earth, it is also so much more than that.