E3 2016: Microsoft presser impressions

I don’t know what I wanted out of Microsoft’s E3 presser today.  I barely touch my Xbox One these days as it is.  Nearly everything that looked halfway interesting had a 2017 date attached to it, and there wasn’t necessarily all that much that looked halfway interesting.

In this frightening post-Burnout world we live in, Forza Horizon has become my favorite driving franchise, and Forza Horizon 3 looks pretty spectacular – I’ll definitely be picking that up in September.

I was hoping for some Crackdown 3 news or footage, and we got absolutely nothing on that front, and I’m not sure if that means I should be worried.  And I suppose I’d also hoped for some big-name 360 games to become backward-compatible (*cough cough* Red Dead *cough cough*).  There were other, obvious things that I figured we’d see – Gears 4 (which looks very Gears-y) and Halo Wars 2 (which isn’t my thing, but whatever).

The Xbox One Slim is a nice deal, but who in their right mind would buy it if the Scorpio – “the most powerful console ever built” with the “highest quality pixels” – is coming next year?  And will developers have a collective nervous breakdown if they have to develop across all Xbox SKUs?

As per usual, the most interesting part of the press conference was the “indie showcase”, which is merely a montage of all the legitimately cool-looking games that I’m actually looking forward to checking out.  Hard to get a feel for any of them with that quick-fire editing, though.

I can’t tell if I’m disappointed, jaded, or distracted.  But I’m definitely not feeling as gung-ho as I’d like to be feeling right now.

As in E3s past, I will most likely miss the Ubisoft presser, just because of my evening commute.  But I’m certainly very interested to see what Sony’s got up their sleeve. I’ll most likely be live-tweeting when that starts happening, and a more detailed impressions post will follow shortly thereafter.

 

 

a few words on intimidation, over-compensation, and apathy

This post might be a little rambly and random; last night the baby had, to put it kindly, an “uneven night’s sleep.”  I keep thinking I’m getting used to his sleeping patterns, but then every other day those patterns change into something totally different, and I get totally derailed.  It’s funny; I used to complain that I didn’t have enough hours in the day to do all the stuff I need to do; but now it feels like each 24-hour day actually lasts for, say, 72 hours, and yet I feel more and more incapacitated.

As always, Steve Martin says it a lot better:

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A few nights ago I attended a small, informal meeting of the NYVCC.  It was a very pleasant evening and I met some super cool people and I might be getting involved in some interesting-sounding future projects, and so this is all wonderful… but to be honest I was just happy that I didn’t totally chicken out and not go.  Social anxiety is still a very real pain in my ass, and even though I’ve gone to great lengths to overcome it (thank you, Ativan!), it’s still a source of frustration and agitation.  Still:  I showed up, which counts as a victory of sorts.

Of course, I should also mention that among the attendees were people who write for sites and outlets that I actually read on a semi-regular basis, and so I found myself engaged in this weird sort of social anxiety dance in which I was  somewhat intimidated by the pedigree of my fellow peers and thus desperately over-compensating by spewing forth opinions that may or may not have been a little half-baked.  It is an exceedingly strange phenomenon to find oneself pontificating about certain issues in front of the very people who provided one with the information in the first place, and so I am glad that I was a little drunk so as to dull the vertigo a bit, even if it loosened my tongue a bit too much.  Maybe next time I’ll remember to eat something first.

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It came out yesterday that Microsoft will be revealing its new console in less than a month.  Why don’t I care?

I’m not necessarily an Xbox fanboy, but the truth is that at least 80% of my game time this generation was spent on the 360, primarily because that’s where the bulk of my friends were.  And so I figured I’d get a bit more excited about hearing what’s next… but I’m finding myself surprisingly apathetic about what the big reveal will be.

I’m not sure it’s Microsoft’s fault, actually, even if Sony’s made tremendous strides of late in terms of courting and supporting indie developers (which is the very thing that XboxLive used to pride itself on).

I suppose it’s really just me and how my life has changed in the last few weeks.  Having a baby – and the financial repercussions that follow from such an event – means that I’m not sure I’m going to be acquiring both a PS4 and a new Xbox, and if I can only pick one, then I need to pick the one that will offer the most bang for the buck.  (And if we’re being brutally honest here, my choice between the Xbox and the PS4 becomes more or less null and void if the much-rumored Steam Box is actually a real thing and is sold at a reasonable price point.)

And I’m not even sure I know how to define “the most bang for the buck”, either.  I presume that both devices will continue to offer streaming video services, and that the new Xbox will come with a Blu-ray drive.  I also presume that both devices will have some sort of cloud-based storage system, and also that each will have a digital storefront that would allow me to download new games instead of buying discs.

Once again, it comes down to content.  And Sony’s been terrific lately in terms of offering exclusive, high-quality content.  And if the rumors are true and the PS4 is as easy to program for as the PS3 was difficult, then maybe the PS4 version of a multi-console release won’t be the “shitty” one.

But – again – if we’re talking about content, then what’s better than Steam right now?

If I look at my play habits over the last 6 months, I think it’s safe to say I’ve turned into a PC gamer almost exclusively; I’ve barely touched either of my consoles.  The living room of my apartment is too busy a place these days for me to effectively kick everybody out; whereas my PC is in the office, where I don’t bother anyone and nobody bothers me.  My aging PC still runs AAA games quite nicely, and Steam sales make acquiring those AAA games rather affordable.

And you know what else?  I don’t quite care about Xbox Achievements the way I used to, which is a huge psychological burden that I don’t have to worry about anymore.  It’s stupid, right?  And yet I always felt obligated to get big Achievement scores so as to be able to prove (to whom?!) that I was hardcore, or something.  Even if Steam has achievements, I don’t really care – there’s no “score”, and they don’t get all up in my face about it.  I still appreciate how Achievements fundamentally changed the way I play games – in terms of really diving in and exploring certain facets of a game that I might have otherwise overlooked – but I’m not hyper-competitive about the actual number anymore.

I suppose I reserve the right to completely change my opinion once the new Xbox is revealed, and then after E3 rolls around and the actual list of upcoming games comes out – because by the time the new consoles are actually released, I expect my son to have established some more regular sleeping habits, and so I won’t feel so guilty about claiming the living room again.