I went at Microsoft fairly onerous for the corporate’s baffling no-show at December’s huge Recreation Awards occasion. As such, it’s solely truthful I give them credit score the place credit score is due: its first-ever Developer_Direct – aka Xbox Direct for these of us who don’t have the persistence to kind that rattling underscore each single time – was successful. The 40-minute broadcast correctly mimicked the hostless format that Nintendo pioneered and Sony neatly stole, and because of this we noticed 5 video games, obtained 4 launch dates, and maybe most of all, took away some optimism for the months to return.
Microsoft managed to pleasantly shock everybody by dropping a brand new Tango Gameworks rhythm-action recreation on us known as Hello-Fi Rush. It instantly regarded like a pleasant mashup of Sundown Overdrive, Ninja Gaiden, and Guitar Hero. Even higher, Tango launched it proper after the Direct ended, making this one of many first same-day announcement+launch combos in fairly a while. It’s not a stretch to say that such a shock wouldn’t have been attainable with out Xbox Recreation Cross, the place word-of-mouth can construct up over time, and a recreation’s success isn’t as closely depending on a pre-order marketing campaign and months of selling hype.
In the meantime, Redfall was the headliner, closing issues out with a deeper take a look at Arkane’s vampire-themed FPS. It nonetheless clearly retains Arkane DNA, however it’s additionally decidedly totally different from the studio’s earlier emergent-gameplay choices like Dishonored and Prey. As a substitute, you’ll do a variety of capturing with a variety of cool weapons and towards a variety of wild enemies, from vampires that shroud the battle area in darkness to very large bosses that just about resemble Strikes from Future. It’ll be out on Might 2 – which ought to be simply sufficient of a head begin earlier than multi-decade-old franchise juggernauts like Zelda, Diablo, Avenue Fighter, and Last Fantasy clog up the Summer season (to not point out Rocksteady’s long-awaited Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League).
In actual fact, the one actual disappointment of the day was from Forza Motorsport. Not the sport, thoughts you. As soon as once more, it appears unimaginable. The Forza collection has by no means been missing visually and the rebuilt-for-next-gen-only reboot (i.e. there won’t be an Xbox One model) wowed us with its paint reflections, dynamic day/night time cycle, and reasonable dust accumulations on its 500 vehicles. And that was simply within the compressed 1080p livestream. It’ll look much more superb in its native 4K/60fps. As a substitute, the letdown took the type of Forza Motorsport’s launch date, or, extra precisely, the shortage of 1. Provided that Microsoft made it clear up entrance it will be specializing in 4 video games for this Direct, and that each one 4 of them have been anticipated within the first half of the yr as per the corporate’s decree finally Summer season’s Xbox Showcase, it was truthful play to count on to be taught precisely once we’d get to play every of them. However sadly we didn’t even get a season to count on Forza in – a generic “2023” was all we obtained, all however confirming that the next-gen racer will slip to the second half of the yr.
In abstract, if Microsoft takes away something from its first Direct, it ought to be these two issues:
1) Maintain utilizing this format for non-E3 showcases. It really works. By no means escape the overproduced, overly lengthy Inside Xbox format once more.
2) Maintain underpromising and overdelivering. It was made clear that Starfield would get its personal Direct later and never be part of this one. That helped calibrate viewers expectations getting in, and people expectations have been exceeded when Hello-Fi Rush hit the display, after which once more when it launched on the identical day.
Ryan McCaffrey is IGN’s govt editor of previews and host of each IGN’s weekly Xbox present, Podcast Unlocked, in addition to our month-to-month(-ish) interview present, IGN Unfiltered. He is a North Jersey man, so it is “Taylor ham,” not “pork roll.” Debate it with him on Twitter at @DMC_Ryan.