Xbox Developer Direct Reactions

Today, Xbox & Bethesda presented their Developer Direct update via YouTube, showcasing some of Microsoft’s first party studios and their biggest games (minus Starfield which is getting its own Direct).

1) Mojang Studios with Minecraft Legends

First up was Mojang Studios, creator of Minecraft, with their new game in the Minecraft universe: Minecraft Legends. This was not a first reveal of Legends, more an update prior to the game’s upcoming launch on April 18, 2023.

Minecraft Legends is a new action strategy game that takes place in the Minecraft universe during an invasion by the piglins from the Nether. As the Nether spreads its corruption across the Overworld, a great hero (you, the player) brings their banner to save the Overworld and bring together its mobs to help defend their home.

While I’m a huge fan of the core Minecraft game, and all the different expansions set in that world, I haven’t been a fan of Earth, Dungeons, or any other separate game based in the Minecraft universe. When I first saw Legends back in June 2022, as part of the Xbox and Bethesda Games Showcase, I didn’t think it looked that interesting, and nothing I saw today changed my impression at all. It could very well be an enjoyable experience, but so far it hasn’t piqued my interest.

2) Turn 10 Studios with Forza Motorsport

Next up was Turn 10 Studios, who are working on the next installment in the Forza Motorsport series. The Forza games have always been gorgeous, and Forza Horizon 5 surprised a lot of people in 2021 by being IGN’s Game of the Year. Now the next installment is on the horizon, and Turn 10 showed everyone just how well the game engine is progressing.

I typically prefer more arcade-style racers, but the next Forza is looking so beautiful that I may have to give it a try. Truly the in game car models and graphics are stunning, and if the game releases Day 1 on Xbox Game Pass I won’t have any reason not to try it.

3) Tango Gameworks with Hi-Fi Rush

After the gorgeous Forza display it was time for Tango Gameworks and their new game (releasing today) Hi-Fi Rush. Hi-Fi Rush is being described as a “rhythm adventure game” and looks a lot like a successor to games like Sunset Overdrive or Jet Set Radio. The Xbox press release describes the game as

“As wannabe rockstar Chai, you’ll fight back against a sinister robotics enhancement conglomerate using rhythm-amplified combat where everything – from the motion in the environment to the blows of combat – is synced to the music. Raise your guitar high and feel the beat in this utterly all-new title from Tango Gameworks, the team behind The Evil Within® and Ghostwire®: Tokyo. (We were surprised, too!)”

If you groaned at that last part in the Xbox press release you may feel the same way I do about this game. While the art style and graphics look really good (I couldn’t help thinking I wished it were a new Jet Set Radio game) the rest of the game’s “style” and cringe-worth ‘tude are a big turn off. If I had to purchase the game, there is no way I would even give it a try, but since it launched on Game Pass today, I’m at least going to see how the first few minutes goes.

** UPDATE **
I still stick by my initial reaction to the trailer and the presentation on the Developer Direct, however (and it’s a big HOWEVER) the game itself is AWESOME. It launched on Game Pass the same day as the Direct and this Reaction post, and since it didn’t cost me anything extra, I decided to give it a try. All I can say is WOW. The visuals are REALLY GOOD and the parts that seemed so cringy in the trailer and reveal videos are clearly tongue-in-cheek and the game doesn’t take itself seriously. I was initially worried about the rhythm parts as well, but honestly they are really well done and not as annoying as I feared (so far not annoying at all). This goes to show how poorly some trailers can make games look and if you have an opportunity to try a game for yourself you should always do so.

4) Zenimax Online Studios with Elder Scrolls Online: Necrom

The next developer check-in was something I definitely wasn’t expecting, as all the other games in the Developer Direct were new games releasing in 2023. Zenimax Online Studios revealed the next expansion to the Elder Scrolls Online, titled Necrom, and it takes place in an eastern section of Morrowind that hasn’t been revisited since the original Morrowind game. It also brings a new Arcanist class.

Honestly I never got into the Elder Scrolls Online, even though I spent hundreds of hours in the mainline console games, ever since Morrowind on the original Xbox, but the expertly crafted videos during the Developer Direct may just change my mind. Frankly the game world looks incredible, and ESO has expanded so much over time that it’s a massive game spanning multiple worlds in the Elder Scrolls universe. The new class looks really cool, and since it’s on Game Pass I may just have to give it a go.

5) Arkane Studios with Redfall

The last developer to check in was Arkane Studios, creators of Prey and Dishonored, and currently working on one of Xbox’s major 2023 releases: Redfall. During the Direct, the developers showed a lot more gameplay and went over some of the detail and attention that has gone into building the world of Redfall. Redfall releases Day 1 on Xbox Game Pass on May 2, 2023.

While Redfall is certainly one of Xbox’s major new releases in 2023 (the other being Starfield) none of the previous trailers really excited me at all. I always thought it looked like a poor attempt at a sequel to Left for Dead, but with vampires instead of zombies, and I haven’t been excited about the overall art style. While nothing shown today has changed my mind about the overall art style, I am starting to think that Redfall may end up being a more entertaining game than I have given it credit for thus far. I still don’t think I would choose to play Redfall over some of the other games I’m excited for this year (including Starfield and Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom), but it certainly looks more interesting to me now than it did before. Given it will be included in Game Pass Day 1, I will probably at least give it a try.

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