When it comes to exclusive games and big hit franchises, Microsoft hasn't really been too impressive as of late. 2011 was certainly filled with some pretty big hits, most of which were multiplatform, but when it came to being an Xbox 360 owner there really wasn't too much to brag about.
Sure we saw Gears of War 3 and Forza 4, and if you were a Kinect owner with children there may have been a couple redeeming titles to get hold of, but realistic big hits? Even in the FPS department, the best thing that came around was a remake of the original Halo game, disappointing considering the same time in 2010 we received Halo: Reach. And so we turn our heads to E3 2012, where Xbox fans are hoping to see a bit more than kids acting on stage.
Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor
Outside of Child of Eden, Dance Central and Once Upon A Monster there has been a fairly low amount of hit Kinect titles for 'dedicated' gamers. Not everyone wants to spend their time dancing around however, which is why I have so much hope for Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor.
Though few ever really experienced the massive controller experience that was the original Steel Battalion, there's little doubt that a mech sim (if properly done) would turn a lot of attention to the Kinect as more than just a casual platform. That being said it's going to take a lot more than fancy cinematics to properly turn any heads, but given the Xbox's lack of major console exclusives I can definitely see there being a timeslot dedicated to the upcoming mech action game.
The second big Kinect title that's worth a little bit of show would be Crimson Dragon, and if there's anything to be learned from rail shooters its that they're not to be underestimated.
The Panzer Dragoon series has always been a popular one, so it's nice to see the next iteration in the series coming along so well, and more importantly it's great to see more games on the Kinect that can be appreciated by older gamers. As an on-rails game there isn't too much technical depth to be had, but any step Microsoft takes towards bringing more interesting games to the Kinect is a step in the right direction.
Gears of War Next Gen
With Halo coming out later this year I would imagine we won't be seeing any major Gears of War releases, but as an Xbox staple it would be pretty sad if we weren't given at least a glimpse into what they plan on doing with the franchise. Most speculation leads toward a game that takes place around the pendulum wars, but no one would be disappointed about seeing a brand new 3rd person shooter using the same engine either.
Be it a spiritual successor or a franchise prequel, the Xbox needs a multiplayer title to keep people interested. With so many successful multiplatform titles available to choose from, what the Xbox really needs is a greater focus on the multiplayer centered features of Xbox Live, and there's no reason not to utilize a pre-existing franchise that already has such a strong fan following.
It's the next Halo game, and it will probably get a new trailer of some kind. Enough said.
The next chapter in the racing series will likely include more of what's already been done in the past, but with little information at this time outside of rumor and speculation it wouldn't be too surprising to see the franchise's next entry properly unveiled.
With Horizon in the name it can only be assumed that the cars will either be going into space, or there may be some new multiplayer features, so having Microsoft settle this debate once and for all would be great.
Fable: The Journey
If there's one thing the Xbox desperately needs right now it's a stable, lengthy, addictive RPG, which is everything The Journey doesn't sound like. The last time we checked in on this franchise Peter Molyneux was desperately trying to convince us all that a game that doesn't seem to deviate from any discernible path and largely appears to consist of predetermined cutcenes is not an on-rails experience. All without providing us with any real details or evidence as to how this can be possible.
Needless to say much of the attention that the Kinect RPG gathered was lost shortly after, but things may have changed since then. Outside of an entirely new IP being created for the Xbox, Fable remains to be the only dedicated RPG experience that Microsoft fans can appreciate, so here's hoping they get this one right. It'll just be interesting to see how the project goes on without Molyneux.
The real bulk of this next conference is likely to be dedicated to the Xbox's features, upgrades to the social and networking services that Microsoft has been desperately trying to let me know is way better than playing any actual game. While this is something that may appeal to the general homeowner, or even the multimedia enthusiast, it leaves the general gamer a bit wanting.
Although nothing has been announced regarding Microsoft's next big console, everyone knows that the big three have to reveal something soon, and with motion sensor technology failing to leave any kind of a meaningful impact it may be sooner than later that the tech demos start turning up for the next generation.
That being said, with tech demos generally come developer collaborations, new IP announcements, and features/functionality, which may just distract enough from a clear lack of 2011-2012 exclusive titles that Microsoft fans are kept at bay. It's all speculation at this point, but hoping for something is far better than hoping for nothing at all.