Sales-wise, it hasn’t been Microsoft’s generation. While the Xbox One is doing better on the market than its predecessor, the Xbox 360, the newer console is being outsold at a rate of two to one by the PlayStation 4 according to a report from SuperData. But with the device up for an upgrade towards the end of this year with the launch of the mysterious Project Scorpio, Microsoft has far from given up on its flagship console.
That’s the good news – and here’s some more: Project Scorpio, whatever form it takes, is likely to serve as the home of “Forza 7” and Rockstar Games’ “Red Dead Redemption 2”, a game that is long overdue (the critically acclaimed original came out seven years ago) and probably the best launch title the console could hope for, even if Rockstar does have a small timed exclusivity agreement with Sony on the release of certain content.
The Old West
The original “Red Dead Redemption” filled a gap in the market for the kind of gunslinging Old West experience that seemingly died with the mainstream appeal of cowboy films like “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre” (1948) and “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” (1962). However, since the credits rolled on Rockstar’s epic, the Western genre has found a new foothold in gaming, inspiring casino games and mobile apps alike.
The strategy game “Lost Frontier” is an obvious example but two of the slot machines in Betway casino’s offering have a Western theme – “Jackpot Express” and “Chief’s Magic”. As retro three-reel slots and featuring imagery of steam trains, American Indians, and mine carts, they’re something of a novelty online. Along with nearly fifty other slots, the two games can be played with bonus funds – Betway has a £1000 welcome offer for new players.
While details of “Red Dead Redemption 2” were initially elusive, the fact that the title was so far along in its development by the time it was announced meant that leaks and other informational tidbits were inevitable. The world got a look at the title’s map in April 2016, revealing a setting to the east of the first game in the region of New Orleans – or New Bordeaux as it’s known in the game – a bit of knowledge that also hinted at the sequel actually serving as a prequel.
Of course, now there’s a trailer, revealing a beautiful world fit for cowpoking and outlawing in the 4K of Project Scorpio. The presence of a “Grand Theft Auto 5”-style multiplayer mode in “Red Dead Redemption 2” and the new console’s reported emphasis on live streaming and recording could help give Microsoft and the Xbox brand a greater presence on Twitch and YouTube Gaming. It’s here that Sony’s exclusivity deal could be an issue, though, as it affects online DLC.
So, is Project Scorpio just an Xbox with go-faster stripes? In many ways, yes, but it will introduce something that the console has been lacking these past few years – virtual reality, and all the financial promise that comes with it; Sony has already sold nearly a million PlayStation VR units.
With the hardware Project Scorpio boasts, the details of which are due out at the beginning of April, the device will support Windows Mixed Reality headsets, a device made by Acer. It might not do much for “Red Dead Redemption 2” but, as a racing game, “Forza 7” is perfect for the VR environment.
The bad news is that there’s still months to go until either Project Scorpio or “Red Dead Redemption 2” go on sale and even longer for the former’s VR accompaniment, which is penciled in for a 2018 release.