Xbox really needed Starfield this year

It’s equal parts comedy and tragedy that Microsoft felt the need to clarify that its non-E3 summer games showcase had the “the most gameplay they’ve shown at a briefing in Xbox history(Opens in a new window).” In an era where most conferences are dominated by CGI trailers, showing off the game is a novel act.

As part of this desire to keep things real, Xbox has also chosen to focus only on games coming in the next 12 months, as opposed to a hazy future on the horizon. If you subscribe to Xbox Game Pass right now, here’s what you can expect to play until it’s time to go back up. As much as I respect that decision, however, it unfortunately also highlights how Xbox’s next-gen lineup feels somewhat lacking, especially with its only really big game, Starfield, now delayed to 2023.

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Todd Howard is back!

Fortunately, Starfield looks like a game worth waiting for. The showcase gave us our first look at gameplay for the upcoming sci-fi RPG, Bethesda’s first major game since Fallout 4 (and the company’s first new franchise in 25 years). The progression systems seem to be based on previous Bethesda games. Like Skyrim, Starfield rewards you for using your favorite skills by making you get better at those skills. And conversations with NPCs will feel instantly familiar to not only Bethesda fans, but also fans of Bethesda-inspired games like The Outer Worlds. I hope the gunplay is better than the one in Fallout 4.

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The change in setting adds fresh energy to the mechanics and gameplay. This is not a fantasy world or an irradiated wasteland. This is an outer space frontier with a spirit of adventure, the missing link between today’s real-world NASA and the various alien worlds of Mass Effect. Even the color scheme splits the difference between aerospace realism and otherworldly color. You can also customize your spaceship to fly to hundreds of planets in various systems. It may be too gigantic for its own good. Much like No Man’s Sky, having so many worlds can make each world feel less unique.

star field

Starfield looks like a huge game, and I don’t want to suggest that the team should have gone out of their way to get to their previous release date of November 2022. Halo Infinite was originally an Xbox Series X/S launch title before it was pushed back a year. , and it turned out great. Also, given Bethesda’s history of flawed and flawed initial releases, this is the time to take your time and launch from scratch, a new franchise on new consoles. We don’t need another Cyberpunk 2077 situation. Still, like Halo in 2020, Starfield’s absence this holiday season leaves an obvious and unfortunate void for Xbox.

Starfield’s absence this holiday season leaves an obvious and unfortunate void for Xbox.

mystery box

You absolutely should play more video games beyond the big budget AAA behemoths. There are so many exciting experiences to discover once you open yourself up to smaller games, indie games, across all genres. Xbox Game Pass is especially good at encouraging subscribers to try these games, at no additional cost. This showcase highlighted intriguing games that were overlooked, such as As Dusk Falls, Cocoon, Hollow Knight: Silksong, and Minecraft Legends.

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Coming to Xbox

However, great singular games generate enthusiasm and excitement. They push players onto the platform where they can enter the larger ecosystem. They fill a crucial role in a console’s library, and according to this showcase, Xbox needs more of them sooner rather than later.

Take a look at the next 12 months for Xbox and what do you see? There’s a lot of upcoming content for existing games: custom ships in Sea of ​​Thieves, Halo vehicles in Microsoft Flight Simulator, and Hot Wheels DLC in Forza Horizon 5. One of the biggest announcements was that Atlus ported older Persona games to Xbox. Even if the deal hasn’t gone through, Microsoft is certainly behaving like it already owns Blizzard, as we finally got solid information and release plans for Overwatch 2 (October 4) and Diablo IV (2023). Redfall looks good, but it was also recently delayed. Oh, and I guess it’s time for another “serious” Forza with Forza Motorsport (2023).

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Still, it doesn’t feel enough. Many of the games at the show have nebulous 2023 release dates, as the first half of 2023 is still within the 12-month window. And we’re still waiting for the fruits of Microsoft’s recent studio buying sprees. There’s no word on Avowed, Everwild, Fable, Gears 6, Hellblade 2, Indiana Jones, Perfect Dark, or State of Decay 3. Now, we can add a vague new Hideo Kojima game to the list of blockbuster Xbox projects a consider. …Finally.

greatness awaits

I enjoy my Xbox Series S. With Game Pass, it’s the cheapest and least ugly way to get into next-gen gaming. And I’ll play my best on Starfield every time I come out. However, between the ever-increasing costs and manpower of modern development and the aftershocks of a global pandemic that has slowed production for years to come, we’ll have to accept that the biggest video games will be ready when they’re ready.

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For more on Summer Game Fest, check out PCMag’s video game stream and tune in. The Pop-Off YouTube Channel(Opens in a new window) for more video game discussions.

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