X019 Review

I’d been looking forward to X019 for quite some time.  After Microsoft announced that their flagship Xbox conference and fan show was coming to London, I knew I had to get tickets.  Luckily enough I secured tickets for the Saturday (though I’d have loved to attend the Thursday evening Inside Xbox session they sold out too quickly) and the countdown began.

After watching the Inside Xbox livestream, I managed to get a better idea of what was in store for me.  And while I was fairly underwhelmed by the announcements made as a whole, as an event, I was still keen to see what Xbox had up their sleeves.  What I will say, is that the future for Xbox first party support looks bright.  And while the games shown on Inside Xbox didn’t include any massive AAA announcements, it was nice to know that things are coming, and I can’t wait to see what they have for Scarlett.

Anyway, Saturday had come, and I was waiting in line for X019 in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.  I noticed that in comparison to the likes of EGX, the amount of people in the queue was modest.  An observation that was only strengthened when we entered the arena.  Whether through intention, or lower than expected ticket sales, the amount of people inside the Copper Box Arena was perfect.  Minimal queueing, and while I was sceptical that a 4-hour session wouldn’t be enough, there was ample time to see mostly everything available.

As soon as we entered there was no mistaking that this was an Xbox event.  Awash with black and green, including a neon green centrepiece in the middle of the floor, there was no way this could be anything but.  It was so nice to see that Xbox were willing to put money into a fan event like this.  And it wasn’t just games available, there was opportunities to try xCloud, the new Elite 2 controller, a whole merchandise shop, chances to win months of Xbox game pass, representation from Xbox Support and the Ambassadors and presentations from game developers, hosted by Major Nelson himself on occasion.

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I should probably say a quick word on the actual games I played, of which there were a good number, so I’ll only give a quick overview.  Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order had been released the day before I attended, but I hadn’t yet had the chance to play it.  There was a generous 40 minutes demo available, which would never have been achieved at any of the bigger evens without the need to book a slot prior.  We played the start of that game, and I enjoyed it so much I went and bought the full game the next day.

Bleeding Edge is an interesting one.  It isn’t the type of game you’d expect from Ninja Theory, but it’s a take on a hero shooter.  This is firmly based in brawling, with several different characters to choose from, this could genuinely be a hit for Xbox.  Each character was different, and with different levels of difficulty to master, those that love learning and having a ‘main’ character in a game may well love this.  Graphically it’s sharp, the only concern is whether there is enough room in the market for another title like this.  It might have enough about it to hold its own though.  I could see it having a hardcore group of fans.  One to watch for sure.

Grounded is a bit of a strange one from Obsidian.  Yes, they have said that traditional RPG’s they’re known for are on the way, and I can’t blame a group of people wanting to have a bit of fun with a game.  But, from what I’ve seen this is a very standard survival affair.  There is a hook in which you play a character in s shrunken world, so you’re dealing with creatures that we all know in a different capacity.  I just don’t think there is enough here that’s different to other games in the genre, but the visuals and graphics could well be a draw to the younger audience and introduce those to the survival genre.  And, it’ll be on Game Pass, and having a diverse portfolio there is never going to be a bad thing.

A few quickfire ones.  Wasteland 3 I feel is going to be a fantastic game but is a difficult one to display in demo form.  This is a world that you need to get lost in, and it’s difficult to get fully to grips with it in an environment like that. West of Dead was a game I hadn’t heard of until the Inside Xbox stream.  And I’ll be honest, the inclusion of Ron Perlman and a really fun art style had me very interested.  The twin stick shooter plays really well, and I’ll certainly be looking to play it more.

Halo Reach I didn’t play but did watch some gameplay.  Those expecting a Halo Anniversary style face lift should tune down their expectations.  It’s now in 4K, but other than that it is appears too be a straight port.  Great to complete the MCC and to be able to play through on PC and Xbox One though.  Doom: Eternal is very much more Doom.  Certainly not a bad thing after the fantastic reboot.  Another generous 25-minute demo available which was a nice way to end the day.

I can’t finish the article without talking a bit about xCloud which had a full section available with a number of different games on show.  While I appreciate that the area was set up to show the best of it, it’s still so impressive how technology has advanced that we are able to play top tier games on our phones.  There will certainly be hiccups along the way, and network connection is obviously a massive factor, but when it works, it’s so good.

X019, was possibly lacking in massive announcements and games, however as an event it was second to none.  The very best event of its type that I’ve attended.  It’s a shame that if It returns next year it’ll likely be in a different country, because if it were to come back to the UK, I’d be in line for a ticket at time of release without question

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