Seven years ago, Microsoft began a seemingly impossible climb in an attempt to get out of the deep crater generated by the Xbox One’s Earth impact. Via Kinect, via Don Mattrick, via the arrogance of those who sat on the throne of living room consoles thanks to the push of the Xbox 360. Phil Spencer inherited a decadent chassis and transformed it piece by piece into today’s Xbox ecosystem, a engine driven by the power of Series X horses and the avalanche of titles part of the Game Pass.

Practically, as in the construction of the Megazord, each piece has fallen into place: the machine, the cloud, the services, the shared ecosystem and above all the studies acquired over the last three years, have come together against the backdrop of the ninth generation. ZeniMax and Bethesda arrived right on the gong, inaugurating what, potentially, could turn into the second golden age of the company. To complete the picture, only one very important element is missing: a title park capable of shouting to the whole world that the great Xbox is back.

Was she ever gone? It is very difficult to answer this question. The Xbox division has invested heavily in building new intellectual property over the years; he did so with Remedy, to which he entrusted millions to build the ambitious Quantum Break project; it did so with its flagship software houses, which were able to count on almost unlimited budgets to produce the new episodes of the most popular series; it did so with Rare, which was able to transform itself into a creative island far from the dictates of the market.

Matt Booty is the man chosen by Phil Spencer to orchestrate the new generation of first party video games.

It is particularly difficult to pinpoint the ingredient that Microsoft missed during the eighth generation of consoles. Is it possible that this is simply bad luck? A bit like in football, when a team buys a promising young player and this turns out to be a flop, while the competition hits a Ronaldinho, a Messi and a Neymar after the other. Xbox has never thought of putting aside large productions, it simply has not managed to cherish the idea of ​​a GOTY, nor to grow a nursery of game directors ready to turn into industry stars as happened in the cases of Cory Barlog and Neil Druckmann.

As mentioned, however, there was no lack of experimentation and investments. There was an attempt to expand into the medium through a sprawling line-up, capable of ranging between contained productions such as Re: Core and the vast seas of Sea of ​​Thieves, between the survivalism of State of Decay and the freshness of Sunset Overdrive, between the combos of Killer Instinct and the sad shootings of Crackdown 3. The biggest absence? That of a great single-player video game full of emotions, a milestone worthy of competing for maximum recognition from critics and the public.

Today Xbox Game Studios are something very different than in the past, a bundle of 23 software houses ready to cover dozens of different genres and inspirations, orchestrated by Matt Booty in an attempt to fill the most evident void left by the house. Role-playing games, story-driven titles, shooters, sports, cRPG, strategic: in the safe there is the talent to do everything necessary and even something more. What should we expect from the future of Microsoft’s early parts?

The most important news that emerged at the end of 2020 lies precisely in the announcement of Perfect Dark according to The Initiative. This studio, we remember, is a hotbed of talents ‘stolen’ from some of the most consolidated realities of the medium, and represents the most concrete response to the proprietary training of Sony Interactive Entertainment, one of the few under the Redmond wing able to aspire to producing strong “AAAA” investment securities.

Perfect Dark by The Initiative is yet another rebirth of a game already known, but it’s brave in its own way.

And The Initiative, we said, has chosen to bring the universe of Perfect Dark back to the center of the stage, a creature whose roots in the industry go back as far as 2000. The fact is that many hoped to see the newborn super-studio engage in construction of a new IP, which happens very rarely in Microsoft’s parts, but unfortunately the stock of titles will expand once again to include a name already known to fans.

That said, for our part we are very happy with the announcement. Why never? Well, because in the triumph of third-person action-adventure that are monopolizing the attention of the public and the media, to focus strongly on an AAA FPS is a fascinating choice, close to the history of the company and in some ways also courageous; in a market that even conceals experiences like that offered by Arkane Studios’ Prey, anyone would be intimidated by trying new paths in the maze of the first person, but The Initiative seems intent on differentiating itself deeply from the competition.

Let’s face it, the preponderance of classic story driven experiences inextricably linked to the third person view is a legacy of the last generations, and we have almost forgotten the quality that works like Bioshock have poured into the fabric of the industry. Cyberpunk 2077, with all its imperfections and its sad legacy, is the demonstration that transversal approaches to well-established formulas like that of the open-world have all the credentials to work wonders. The specter, in the case of Perfect Dark, lies in the hypothesis of an episodic launch, which in our opinion would constitute a sensational own goal.

In the end, from a collective of talents like that of The Initiative it is more than reasonable to expect a video game nominated for the Game of the Year, something that is not afraid to contend for the statuette with the latest episode of God of War or The Last of Us. It may be that this is not the peak that the software-house aspires to, but the first production signed by Darrell Gallagher, who is the former head of Crystal Dynamics and boasts a past between Rockstar and Activision, will undoubtedly turn into the perfect moment for make an initial assessment of Microsoft’s first party investments.

Playground Games’ Fable represents the biggest test for the Forza Horizon studio.

Scrolling through the new Game Studios in order of importance, the second name that catches the eye is that of Playground Games. “Ah, how does Playground Games”: this was the mantra that accompanied all fans of the Horizon series of Forza, fans who for several years have wondered what would have come out if the house had chosen to deviate from the track of the racing. Well, the moment has finally come, because the historic Fable saga has ended up in the hands of the English studio.

Obligatory consideration: also in this case we are faced with an IP already known, indeed, very well known on the banks of the Xbox, and since this is the second occasion in a few lines, one wonders what is the reason behind this sort of creative fossilization.

We know well that the success of a modern project is often linked to the coat of arms that it carries on its shoulders, but sooner or later, that coat of arms will have to be created somewhere. Of course, Microsoft has every reason to want to recover big brands that have been consolidated and unused for years, but the real news has become increasingly rare, and this obviously also applies to Sony’s upcoming line-up.

Little or nothing is known about the Fable of Playground Games. The nature of the title means that it is an extremely flexible creative universe, perfect to adapt to any context and era, and it has been since the announcement of Fable Legends that fans have been looking forward to a new coming of the saga. If the house were to be able to pour into the action-RPG the same level of care that it has reserved for its automotive open worlds, there probably would be none, but for the moment it is mere speculation.

 Obisidian’s Avowed made everyone think it was Xbox’s answer to Skyrim, but then …

Now, though, it’s time to discuss the Xbox home paradox. Some time ago, Microsoft secured the talent of Obsidian, a software-house that has built the history of video games in first person, brick by brick. Many wondered what the fate of the RPG giants would be until, during the summer presentation dedicated to Xbox studios, Avowed took the center of the screen, showing itself as an immense first-person role-playing game probably set in the universe. by Pillars of Eternity.

Observing the first images of the game it was inevitable to think of being in front of the “Skyrim of the Xbox home”, an experience willing to fill the void left by The Elder Scrolls during the eighth generation of consoles. Then, unexpectedly, Microsoft announced to the world the acquisition of ZeniMax, and with it Bethesda Softworks, effectively creating a sudden and weird overlap. What good is a “wannabe” Skyrim when you have the original work available?

The fate of Bethesda in Microsoft’s hands is still shrouded in a thick blanket of fog: it is not known which IP the company is currently working on (where is Starfield?), It is not known if these will actually be exclusive to the Xbox ecosystem, it is not known what conditions were signed at the time of acquisition.

It is very difficult to imagine a future in which the next chapter of Fallout or The Elder Scrolls chooses to give up the huge slice of sales guaranteed by a cross-platform launch, but it is also true that a relationship of exclusivity for titles of this caliber could completely rewrite the balance of power between living room consoles.

… then it happened that The Elder Scrolls became an Xbox-owned brand. Will it be an exclusive?

All without counting Arkane Studios, iD Software, Machine Games and Tango Gameworks, the subsidiaries of the Maryland company, each master of rare jewels such as Dishonored, Prey, Doom and Wolfenstein. Coexistence with Obsidian, moreover, could dust off old partnerships, such as the one that gave birth to Fallout: New Vegas, an atypical chapter that for many fans still represents one of the spearheads of the saga.

In any case, Microsoft’s future in the world of RPGs promises to be at least rosy. Between Bethesda Softworks, Obsidian and an InXile Entertainment veteran of Wasteland 3, Xbox Game Pass subscribers seem destined to receive tons of level experiences. And the optimism is not limited to this particular undergrowth, because of all the achievements of Phil Spencer and Matt Booty, that of having created a colorful roster stands out above all others.

Among the cartridges in the barrel, in fact, there are also those of Ninja Theory, which inaugurated the next-gen communication of Xbox Series X with a sumptuous in-engine trailer dedicated to Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2, a title that following The Game Awards 2019 has completely disappeared from the radar. We know for sure that the English studio is working on the sequel to its little story-driven gem, but recently Project MARA has also appeared, an experience that emerges as a classic survival horror embroidered in a setting with sci-fi hues. .

If Ninja Theory is a collective of undoubted talent but which still has a lot to prove, then there are a series of important wildcards of which it is very difficult to draw a concrete profile. We are talking about Compulsion Games, the parent company of We Happy Few, of Double Fine, which has Psychonauts 2 in the pipeline, and of Undead Labs, whose name at the moment remains linked only to the State of Decay series.

Everwild is proof that Rare chooses to continue on a different, unique and personal path.

Sometimes it is nice to have a roster of studios in front of you from which you do not know what to expect, because it is precisely in the rare environments immune to media stress that great surprises bloom. This speech, in fact, absolutely does not apply to software-houses such as Rare, which following each release is almost obliged to have to discuss with fans. If there’s one valuable lesson to be learned from Rare’s troubled path on the Xbox shores, it’s that creative work doesn’t have to be conditioned by sales numbers.

Sea of ​​Thieves was the first experiment of Xbox Game Pass, an original title in a landscape of productions that are always the same, a project that has been made available to all users of the service at the ridiculous price of one euro per month. In the end, regardless of criticism and discussion, millions of pirates have sailed the stormy seas. And what matters is that Rare has decided to try again, this time with Everwild, an experience of which very little is known, yet it is clear as day that, even in this case, it will not be the usual video game.

Even if the facets of the new Xbox Game Studios certainly do not end here, and an entire article should be devoted to the implications of the future of Minecraft, we could only close this analysis with a look towards the veterans, those who made the history of the console. of Redmond, and which today, not without difficulty, are called to repeat themselves after years of half successes.

A 343 Industries stands out which, we remember, received a loan of over 500 million dollars to stage Halo: Infinite, initially thought of as the great launch title for Xbox Series X and S. Things, however, do not they went as hoped, and with the launch date postponed to the end of 2021, the studio will have to quickly file the numerous edges that emerged from the first appearance of the project. Will the finished product be able to stop that sort of fall of the gods of which the Master Chief series is becoming the protagonist?

Hellblade ushered in the new generation with a bang, then vanished into thin air.

Difficult to say. Ever since Bungie found independence, the most beloved series in Xbox history has entered a creative middle age from which it seems very difficult to find a safe way out. Halo was the king of FPS, the king of esports, the king of the sci-fi segment, and in playing these roles he left an indelible imprint in the history of video games. Imagining an Xbox without John-117 is a bit like thinking of a Nintendo without Mario, and it is clear that the Spartans must find a future as protagonists in the Microsoft universe, but the flagship series, for the moment, still remains. a ghost of what he represented.

The speech is similar in the case of The Coalition, a software-house with undoubted technical capabilities that has been anchored to the same creative formula since time immemorial. Gears of War, net of a fifth episode rather appreciated by the hard core of fans, recalls film sagas like that of Alien, started with a bang and relentlessly dropped following the conclusion of the original concept. What the COG series would need, perhaps, is the same treatment that Sony Santa Monica has reserved for Kratos, a reconstruction from the foundations of a legend otherwise destined to slowly die out.

Obviously these are purely subjective considerations, since the great efforts of Microsoft have preserved, decades after the debut, extremely affectionate user fractions and willing to continue on the path. In our case, however, the interest has turned towards the ecosystem of studies as a whole, a dense creative fabric that in the years to come will bring to the market what is undoubtedly the most varied offer in the video game sector.

Halo: Infinite is the biggest unknown of 2021: it could be a masterpiece or an unprecedented flop.

A mosaic capable of touching forgotten genres, experimenting in new directions and aiming for that maximum recognition of artistic dignity that has been lacking in the last generation, an offer that will be available to all members of the Xbox ecosystem at a price that some even consider it insane.

In short, after years of difficulties, the future of Microsoft is once again made up of many great home-made video games. And since today it takes very little, almost nothing, to become part of the Xbox family, as gamers we could not have asked for better.

Compra Sea of Thieves da Amazon

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