If you, the reader has been following along with these E3 2014 Predictions & Expectations, you would have noticed the opening paragraph of the Sony’s article, where this writer detailed how Playstation 4 managed to dominate Microsoft’s Xbox One without doing much of anything at all heading into and out of E3. While the Playstation 4 was gaining praise by promising to be a games oriented console, which happened to show the depressing state of the games industry, the Xbox One was being scrutinized and laughed at just as its competitor was gaining praise.

There’s a reason, and it’s not simply blind fanboy rage that caused the Xbox One hatred. The universal distaste of Microsoft’s ideas came from nearly all sides. The Xbox One was originally an online-only console with a forced Kinect and had considerably handicapped the consumer’s ability to share games. Microsoft had some good ideas cooking despite the scrutiny they had drawn: physical copies for games is an archaic concept and a focus on the online marketplace is a fantastic way to go, though it doesn’t change that parents and others rely on those physical copies in order to get games, some even forced to depend on used copies due to money constraints. It’s not a pretty situation, as Microsoft soon realized, and after Sony delivered their beatdown the consumers followed up afterwards. What proceeded was a months long process of backpedaling which reduced the Xbox One to be almost exactly like the Playstation 4, except with more paywalls and a higher pricetag for a weaker console. The games themselves had a myriad of issues: Dead Rising 3’s atrocious framerate issues, Killer Instinct’s netcode, Forza’s controversial marketplace decisions, and the impossibly long download times many consumers were forced to deal with.

Heading into 2014 the most noise Microsoft was able to muster was the announced pricecut to $400 dollars without the Kinect, and that isn’t necessarily a great thing, as it shows the Xbox One is still in the midst of an identity crisis. What Microsoft needs, aside from a system overhaul, is games.

Games to Watch For

Quantum Break – Remedy Entertainment: The developers of Alan Wake come together once again to develop an Xbox One exclusive. Borrowing a concept from the troubled MMO Defiance, a TV show is being developed in conjunction with the game with the idea that the show offers clues and the game changes the plot of said show. While it’s slated for a 2015 release, now wouldn’t be a bad time for Microsoft to throw its name around in order to remind people their lack of fear when riskier ideas are involved.

D4 – Access Games: Deadly Premonition, the cult classic horror game that created a chasm as vast as the Mariana Trench was the noteworthy title from the director of Access Games, Hidetaka Suehiro whose backlog includes the early Playstation 2 launch title Extermination, yet another polarizing horror game. Hidetaka Suehiro is known for bringing together rather thought provoking or providing vastly unique ideas. A relatively unknown title so far, but one can count on it being an interesting experience.

Project Spark – Team Dakota: Microsoft unveiled the game-maker tool at last year’s E3, and has since seen a beta release in March and, on a lesser note, had a music video with Linkin Park. Despite the questionable band connection rivaling the Haze/Korn song in terms of ridiculousness, the game has so far shown promise. A tool easy enough to pick up for the average consumer and complex enough for a seasoned content creator is what Microsoft is aspiring to create, and if they succeed there’s no reason to not be excited. Seeing a project such as this gain more of a spotlight at E3 would be interesting, fingers crossed they leave the Linkin Park music video at home.

Expectations

Microsoft has to make a splash at this E3, unless they prefer to suffer through another year of chasing Sony’s coattails. Like Sony, Microsoft has a massive lack of exclusives that are slated to launch in 2014 which means that creativity will be a must. Addressing the issues with the console’s UI in order to make it user-friendly for those without a Kinect is a must, focusing on improvements on the way and a balance with new games will be key as well. Don’t be surprised if Microsoft decides to unveil a new in-house IP, something to truly get attention drawn to them, except this time hopefully in a good way. One-sided fights are not only boring to watch, but damaging to the industry as a whole, so Microsoft needs to get their act together, and Master Chief dressed in a potato sack is not going to be enough anymore.

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