Player 2 Vs Xbox Developer Direct 2024

Player 2 Vs Xbox Developer Direct 2024

Xbox has just finished it’s now-annual Xbox Developer Direct 2024 showcase, a platform for the company to focus upon it’s internal studios and hone in on a series of big exclusives coming to the Xbox/PC platforms in 2024. Player 2 Editors, Paul James, Jess Zammit, and Stephen Del Prado checked out the showcase and below, share their thoughts on each of the five games that Xbox brought to show off.


Paul: The day this publishes my list of 10 most anticipated games was also due to go live. Avowed was essentially number 11 on my list with a coin toss being what prevented it from being number 10. That list will have to be a time capsule now because already Avowed soars up the list after this showing. It’s exactly what I want from an Obsidian RPG with the depth of narrative, morally grey areas in decision making, and engaging combat. I’m all about Avowed and this game will have my time guaranteed to it by year’s end. 

Jess: I’m not sure how I forgot about Avowed when I was putting together my list of most anticipated titles – it looks awesome, and Obsidian always know how to deliver. I’m always drawn in by the lure of a good choice-consequence mechanic, and if anyone is going to nail that morally grey decision making, it’ll be Obsidian. I’m curious to see what kind of story they tell this time, and also to meet some of the (what I’m sure will be many) side characters – Obsidian side characters are always diverse and interesting, and I’m keen to see who shows up this time!

Stephen: Obsidian have been off my radar for so long I didn’t even know this game existed, and while I’m interested to see how it turns out, much of the combat looks like concepts that seem cool in a trailer and wear out their welcome in the hands. Worldbuilding however is something Obsidian have excelled at in the past, so provided Eora is as compelling to explore as its visual design, perhaps Avowed can wow me on release.

Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II

Paul: I said it during the live-react that this game needed to get a solid release date, whatever that may be, or we riot – simply Xbox and Ninja Theory had been teasing and showing too much over the years to not provide something solid this time. Thankfully, the release date is locked in, and I’m clearing the slate for May 21 to check out Senua’s next adventure. The technical brilliance of the studio is on show yet again, and I simply cannot wait to get into Senua’s head.

Jess: While I bounced off the gameplay of the first Hellblade, I remain endlessly fascinated by the world that Ninja Theory have crafted. I love the concept of Senua’s Saga, and I love that they’re committed to ensuring authenticity by consulting with experts as well as people with lived experience in order to create these games. Clearly the games are better for it. Everything I’ve seen about this game is, like its predecessor, hauntingly beautiful – and I’m glad we finally have a release date to look forward to. 

Stephen: I left the first game too late to play and while the audio mechanic was cool, much like Jess the gameplay didn’t grab me in the slightest. By playing this one closer to release date I think Hellblade II will feel much fresher and looks to be building upon the strengths of the original and perhaps jettisoning some of its weaker elements. Having any solid release date in 2024 is a win right now and the presentation quality on display from Ninja Theory certainly doesn’t hurt the chances that come May I’ll be keen to dig into the next chapter in Senua’s saga.

Visions Of Mana

Paul: Look, I knew Square-Enix and Xbox were starting to mend bridges, but I didn’t expect it to result in a Visions Of Mana showing during the Direct. As the only game that was kept to the chest prior to the showcase, it was nice to get a surprise new look at the game, but to also have the game presented to the Xbox audience – lord knows that they need to be getting more JRPG goodness into their lives. Visions of Mana was already one of my most anticipated games of the year, but to get a look at some great gameplay, learn about mounts and even see the modern realisation of the enemies in action further adds to my hype for it

Jess: I’m really not usually one to jump into a series without starting at the beginning, but after seeing this, I feel like maybe I’m going to have to make an exception for Visions of Mana. This was obviously a fun surprise for the direct (there was always going to be a surprise, it was just a matter of what it was going to be) and I, like Paul, am thrilled that Xbox players are going to get some JRPG action. I just didn’t expect that I’d want to be one of them. That Pikul though! Adorable! 

Stephen: Visions of Mana is shaping up to be a solid Action-RPG by the looks of things after a long absence outside of 2021’s remake/remaster Trials of Mana. As I said in my Most Anticipated List, with Ys still out of contention at this point, VoM is likely to be my go-to in the genre for 2024 and based on what was shown here, I’m in good hands. Sumptuous visuals and a rock-solid frame rate are exactly what I want from a technical standpoint – the only thing that would excite me for this more would be some Dark Chronicle style gameplay extras thrown in for good measure.

Ara: History Untold

Paul: I’ve never been crazy about big strategy games, and once the showcase confirmed that the game wasn’t coming to Xbox (at least for now), I became more sure that Ara is just not a game that I’ll be playing. Don’t get me wrong, it looks great, but that type of game isn’t really for me, and then I’d have to be playing the game on my PC (which is in my shed!) in the middle of Winter – no thanks!

Jess: I like to dabble in strategy games, but I think this one is going to be a little too big for me to really want to dive into – which is great news for genre fans, of course! In a lot of ways, this does kinda just seem like it’s going to be a Civ variant, which is fine, but it isn’t bringing anything new enough to really pull me in. The crafting part is interesting, and I’m sure that’ll add some depth, and it’s clear the team is passionate about getting this game right (the news about the continuing Insiders program shows as much), but I’ll probably give it a miss. 

Stephen: Given I game on a potato, a PC grand strategy Civ game just isn’t in my wheelhouse right now. It’s also a highly competitive genre and Ara has some heavyweights it will need to pull people away from, so I wish the devs the best of luck because it seems like there is a lot of passion for both the game and their supportive fanbase embedded into it.

Indiana Jones: The Great Circle

Paul: I was concerned going into this that MachineGames might try to chase Uncharted too much, despite Uncharted itself being partially inspired by Indy. Thankfully The Great Circle really has a cool identity of its own, one that I really gravitated towards. Keeping the game in first-person also gives the game a point of difference to what we’ve seen from both Uncharted and Tomb Raider over the decades. I won’t lie though, I was thrilled to see the game visually doing a sensational job of recreating Harrison Ford, but was then disappointed to hear that Harrison wasn’t lending his voice. Troy Baker will surely do an amazing job, but it’s just not the same.

Jess: Ahh, look. I wish it wasn’t in first-person. Off the back of Avatar, where that really felt like it was to the game’s detriment, I’m not thrilled to see another game going down that path. But, if it’s going into third-person for traversal sections, hey – maybe it’ll be fine, and I’ll eat my words. As good as he is, I also kinda wish we could cast someone who isn’t Troy Baker to voice a gruff action protagonist, just once. But otherwise? I’m kinda excited! I love that they’ve chosen a think first approach to level design, and I’m impressed with how much of the Indiana Jones essence it seems they’ve been able to capture. I’m keen to check this one out later this year. 

Stephen: With the success of Uncharted and the more recent Tomb Raider games, it makes sense Machinegames would want Indy to be different and as their success has been in the FPS genre, I’m quite supportive of a pivot from third-person action adventure. The spirit is there, even if some levels of authenticity can’t quite be reached in regards to casting. I just hope there is a good split between traversal, puzzles and maybe a touch less of combat – Indy can fight when he needs to, but the series has never been about him mowing down hordes of enemies Nathan Drake style.

Overall Thoughts

Paul: Xbox has an awesome year ahead of it. Of the three exclusives that are coming to console, I’m super into all three of them, and the growing support from Square-Enix is heartening as well. What was even better is that Xbox didn’t need to overshow it’s hand either. It would have been easy to try and lean on Fable, State Of Decay 3, Everwild, South Of Midnight, or even drop a tease of Gears 6 to whip people into a frenzy, but they stayed their hand, and delivered a great showcase of the imminent releases, which are already exceptional. They have the Xbox/Bethesda/ABK showcase at mid year to get crazy, and so I loved the restraint, allowing the 2024 big hitters to shine brightly. Kudos Xbox, this was excellent 

Jess: I had a good time! It was nice to get a concise look at what’s coming this year, and the focus on letting developers talk about the projects was extremely welcome, especially given the current climate of absolute hell for the industry. I just like seeing people making things they love, and being excited to share that with the world. More of that in the coming months/years/forever, please! Thanks Xbox, this was a great way to get us excited about what’s to come!

Stephen: I don’t quite get the sense that any of the Big Three are coming into 2024 will guns blazing just yet, but it’s good to see Xbox giving fans a few things to look forward to, even if the majority of them are sequels or from established IP. As a huge fan of all things Game Pass, I’ll no doubt be checking out each of these when they hit the platform!