Inside Xbox recap: Did Microsoft over-promise and under deliver?

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Microsoft just wrapped up its much-anticipated Inside Xbox livestream, which was a bit shorter than an hour. Overall, Microsoft showed a lot of unannounced games shipping on Xbox Series X, but Xbox fans looking to see real gameplay footage may have been a bit disappointed, to say the least.

Indeed, most of what we’ve seen during today’s livestream was cinematic trailers, not live demos of Xbox Series X games. Microsoft’s promise of first “Xbox Series X gameplay reveal” was a bit ambiguous, but Xbox fans probably expected more than cutscenes captured in-engine.

The Game Awards creator Geoff Keighley took the temperature with a Twitter poll, and as of this writing 44.6% of respondents gave the show a “D or Lower” grade. Twitter user Arun-1910 seems to have captured the global sentiment: “A lot of what was shown didn’t look next gen or was just cinematics/cutscenes.”

Well, to be fair, the livestream started really well with a trailer for Bright Memory Infinite, a brand new futuristic FPS from FYQD-Studio in China. This is definitely the type of photorealistic graphics we expect from next-gen games, and this title in particular looks like Titanfall 2 on steroids.

This is one of the few “real” gameplay trailers we saw today, and you can watch it below:

Microsoft also showed today an interesting trailer for the upcoming racing Dirt 5, which also had some extra time at the end of the stream with an interview with Development Director Robert Karp. Dirt 5 will feature various environments with changing weather, which are visible in the trailer below. Again, this is a cinematic trailer captured in-engine, with no real gameplay footage.

Interestingly, Dirt 5 will support four-player split-screen, something that has become really rare on console games. Moreover, the game’s Development Director mentioned that the Xbox Series X version of the game will allow players to choose between 4K/60FPS or 120FPS at a probably lower resolution.

Second Extinction is another impressive-looking game that was announced today. The 3 player co-op FPS will let you fight off mutated dinosaurs, and the trailer was one of the few featuring real gameplay footage

Ubisoft’s much-anticipated Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla also had its “World premiere of gameplay debut” today, but again, what we got was a cinematic trailer with “footage representative of expected Xbox Series X gameplay.” It was pretty disappointing, and you can watch it for yourself below:

Microsoft showed many other games today, but some of them didn’t really look like next-gen games, such as the top-down Action RPG The Ascent. We understand that Microsoft didn’t want to focus exclusively on AAA developers today, but gamers were probably expecting the contrary: ambitious, photorealistic games that really show what next-gen consoles can deliver.

Microsoft highlighted today that the biggest developers are already working on Xbox Series X games, and we should expect “hundreds” of new titles optimized for the new console in 2021

We have no doubt that Xbox Series X games are going to look better than ever, but overall, it seems that Microsoft probably over-promised and under-delivered today. There was a segment about Madden NFL 21 with no gameplay footage, and gamers were probably expecting to see previously-announced games like Cyberpunk 2077 or Watch Dogs: Legion today, but that didn’t happen. But again, what was really disappointing is the lack of more real Xbox Series X gameplay footage, despite Microsoft teasing it repeatedly ahead of the event.

Unfortunately, Microsoft set today a pretty low-bar for all the upcoming digital events planned for this spring and summer, and it will be interesting to see if Sony does thing differently with its PlayStation 5 reveal. We hope the Xbox 20/20 July update that will focus on Xbox Game Studios titles will be more interesting, but Microsoft really needs to listen to Xbox fans: less trailers, more live gameplay, please?