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The Xbox One no longer excites me [Opinion]

Xbox One X, E3 2017

I’ve written a similar headline before about the Sony Xperia line last year, but Microsoft’s Xbox One is the latest tech product to fall to the wayside in the eyes of this consumer.

Microsoft’s confused play for the multimedia entertainment arena back in 2013 handed the reins over to Sony, which marketed the PS4 as a pure games machine. Sony’s console proceeded to sell by the shipload, dwarfing Microsoft’s sales.

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It’s a blow that Microsoft still hasn’t quite recovered from, on wobbly legs at this stage of the console race. But the early days certainly played host to a few killer apps on Xbox One, such as Forza Motorsport 5, Forza Horizon 2 and Halo: The Master Chief Collection.

Now, it feels like most of Microsoft’s current big-hitting franchises have grown stale, and the console has a widely acknowledged exclusive problem.

Halo 5: Guardians was a great game and made for a fun multiplayer experience, but it certainly lacked the spark of the first trilogy or Halo: Reach. I enjoyed the Gears of War remaster when coerced to review it, but I avoided Gears of War 4. The cover shooter formula employed by the franchise wore thin for me halfway through Gears of War 2 and while it’s a fun, technically competent series, Gears just feels old hat.

What about the future?

Console generations are marathons though, and Microsoft does have a smattering of exclusives for the holiday season and 2018. Between Cuphead, Crackdown 3, Sea of Thieves, Ori and the Will of the Wisps and Forza Motorsport 7, we’ve got a few respectable titles coming up. At least on paper (we don’t count Recore Definitive Edition).

But interrogating the lineup reveals a few cracks if you’re looking for genuine big budget experiences. Cuphead and Ori 2 are indie titles at heart, Crackdown 3 has a lot to live up to (being the sequel to a good but not quite great franchise, while the destruction tech has a lot to prove) and Forza Motorsport 7 occupies the same niche as Gran Turismo. That is, it’s a stalwart racing franchise that might not appeal to everyone.

Meanwhile, Sea of Thieves is looking like the most innovative and big budget title of the lot, being the only real original blockbuster Microsoft has on the cards. But aside from this title, fans are asking the company what happened to original blockbusters, made even more glaring by Scalebound‘s cancellation.

Heck, I would even take new entries in existing franchises if they’re done well, such as Crytek’s Ryse (even though the studio underwent drastic restructuring), the Amped snowboarding series, a new Mistwalker game, Fable (that collectible card shit doesn’t fly here), Fuzion Frenzy or Perfect Dark.

The Xbox One needs far more exclusives if it hopes to close the gap to the PS4

Still, the coming launch of the Xbox One X has seen the company gun for Sony’s PS4 Pro in the power stakes and, if it lives up to the hype, it should provide a welcome shot in the arm. But a console lives and dies by its games, not its horsepower.

In the Sony camp, you know things are going better when the post-E3 conversation was “we only saw new trailers for all the upcoming exclusives rather than new exclusives announced”. The Japanese brand is in rude health right now, owing to a steady stream of big-hitting titles from both original and existing franchises.

Yep, between God of War, Detroit: Become Human, Days Gone, Death Stranding, Ni No Kuni 2The Last of Us 2, Yakuza 6 and Spider-Man, there’s no shortage of tantalising big-hitting titles on the horizon. And that’s without mentioning the already strong back-catalogue, such as Bloodborne, Horizon: Zero Dawn, Uncharted 4, Persona 5, Until Dawn and Nier: Automata.

It’s plain to see then that Microsoft has its work cut out to make the Xbox One an attractive purchase again. But a Minecraft console isn’t going to win this war.

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