Xbox at E3 2018: Halo Infinite, Gears 5, Cyberpunk 2077 and more
Microsoft is coming from behind this E3. Sony still has the dominant console this generation (in terms of sales), and the Switch has earned the right to be called the fastest selling console of all time. Meanwhile, Microsoft’s Xbox has been struggling to find a killer app, especially since major projects like Scalebound were canceled.
Prior to their press conference,Microsoft announced that the Xbox One S and Xbox One X would be getting a price drop to $200 and $350 respectively. If Microsoft is going to win this year, however, they are going to need way more than a discount, so it was interesting to see how they plan on competing at this year’s press conference.
They promised 50 games, 18 exclusives and 15 world premieres, so that’s a pretty good place to start.
Whenever a press conference starts with a video that has “game engine demonstration” slapped underneath it, you know we are getting a concept trailer instead of any actual gameplay. I do have to hand it to Microsoft however, the sweeping shots of what appear to be a ruined planet were certainly compelling. However, it was far more compelling when we got to see a shot of Master Chief’s helmet.
Yes, Halo is coming back for another installment, Halo Infinite, powered by something called the SlipSpace engine. It will be releasing for the Xbox One and PC, which is interesting, becausewWe haven’t seen a simultaneous console/PC Halo release in some time. We don’t yet have a release date, but we do know that 343 is looking to build a Halo game both for franchise vets and newbies alike.
Ori and the Will of the Wisps
Up next, we had the triumphant return of Ori in Ori and the Will of the Wisps. This long awaited sequel has captivated Metroidvania lovers, and this time around the trailer focused on gameplay. Ori can now swim through water, ride on minecarts, fly on his owl friend, ground pound, and more. The trailer also showed off some of the game’s larger than life bosses including a giant shadowy wolf, a huge spider, and strange creatures that look like the come out of Hiyao Miyazaki’s nightmares. Ori and the Will of the Wisps will release sometime in 2019 exclusively for Xbox One and PC.
Sekiro Shadows Die Twice
From Software and Activision are creating a new Xbox One exclusive which appears to be a new Souls-like with a Japanese samurai aesthetic. The main character, an undead samurai, appears to be able to use all manner of traditional samurai tools, from a katana to a grappling hook, to a sword that looks like a steel umbrella. He will have to fight giant ogres, centipede monsters, and other Yokai and Oni from Japanese mythology. The game appears far more movement based than other Souls games, and certainly represents a fantastic feather in Microsoft’s cap for the Souls fanbase. Sekiro Shadows Die Twice will release for the Xbox One, PS4, and Steam in 2019.
Bethesda’s Todd Howard took the stage next to talk to us about the recently revealed Fallout 76. Fallout 76 will be four times the size of Fallout 4, which is absolutely enormous. Unfortunately we didn’t see much gameplay, just several shots of the game world which, admittedly, were quite impressive. We will likely learn more at the Bethesda press conferences later today.
Fallout 76 can be preordered on the Xbox Store starting June 15. Also, Fallout 4 is being added to the Xbox Game Pass today.
The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit
Square-Enix and Dontnod were up next with a world-premiere of what appears to be a new game in the Life is Strange universe. It certainly appears to capture the indie-film tone of Life is Strange, and it takes place in the imagination of a young boy. He pretends to be a superhero, while working through his own emotions and the death of his mother. It’s called The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit and it’s available to download for free starting June 26th on the Xbox Store, PSN Store, and Steam.
Crackdown 3 returns this year for another trailer featuring everyone’s favorite mountain of muscle, Terry Crews. It showed off a lot of the new abilities in the game, including psychokinesis, super strength, super speed, a psychic grappling hook, and even a gun that shoots exploding rubber ducks! It also showed off a transforming vehicle that can defy gravity and drive up walls. It’s about as absurd as you would expect. Crackdown 3 will be part of the Xbox Game Pass when it launches in February 2019.
Everyone’s favorite game about philosophy and robot wars, Nier: Automata, is coming to the Xbox One with NieR: Automata BECOME AS GODS Edition. This new version will include all previously released DLC, and will include graphical updates for the Xbox One X including 4K and HDR compatibility. BECOME AS GODS Edition will release on July 26th this summer.
Microsoft showed us a new trailer for the upcoming Metro Exodus, which primarily focused on story but had a few nifty gameplay elements as well. We got to see the gun customization system at work, a couple shots of special movement such as ziplines and rappelling, several shots of special visors and masks, and a ton of shots of horribly mutated enemies to dump ammunition into. Of course, the deadliest enemy is still the fanaticism of man. Metro Exodus will be releasing on February 22nd 2019 for the PS4, Xbox One, and Steam.
Kingdom Hearts 3
Who would have thought that such a well-known Japanese developed game like Kingdom Hearts 3 would have ended up at the Microsoft press conference? We got to see a new look at its Frozen inspired world, which takes Sora and the crew to the frigid north. Sora will be able to pull a link and shield surf down the frozen mountains.
We then got a look at some of Sora’s new abilities from other worlds. One of his new summons is a giant Simba made of fire. He can also utilize Rapunzel’s hair in the Tangled world to act like a grappling hook and whip for traversal reasons. We even got a new look at gummi-ship gameplay in all its Star Fox-like glory.
And finally, as if calling out to the fans, we got a huge lore dump. We see that Roxas will be a key plot point this time around. We see the return of Larxene, a villain who only ever got screentime in Chain of Memories talking about a female character falling to darkness. We got to see a shadowy Aqua pick up a keyblade in the world of darkness in front of Riku. Her eyes shined yellow meaning she is likely now being controlled by Xehanort.
Kingdom Hearts III will release January 29th, 2019 for the Xbox One and PS4.
Sea of Thieves
And now for your Sea of Thieves update. 4 million players have played over 91 million hours. We criticized Sea of Thieves for being something more of a proof of concept rather than a fully fleshed out game, but it’s getting two new expansion packs focused around the supernatural which might help flesh it out. Sea of Thieves Cursed Sails is releasing in July, which primarily deals with witchcraft and the undead, and Sea of Thieves Forsaken Shores will release in September, which will allow players to sail through a whole new fiery sea of torment.
Unfortunately, our brief look at Battlefield V didn’t tell us anything that the trailers at the EA press conferences left out. It was just a reminder that it will be available on the Xbox One X with all the bells and whistles that come along with it.
Forza Horizon 4
It’s time for some racing, a genre that Microsoft has always been known for supporting strongly with their Forza franchise. In a new cinematic trailer, we got to see a car screaming through various terrain, from country roads to dirt paths, snowy tundra to windy mountain highways. We even got to see offroad racing down those very mountains. In fact, the trailer seemed to be obsessed with one-upping itself. Why now drive through the farm, scattering the chickens. Why not drive off a cliff in a hovercraft and land on a swamp. Why not vault over that very same hovercraft in a motorbike.
Forza Horizon 4 will take place in Britain and will feature a shared open world that experiences dynamic seasons. Seasons will change driving conditions. Spring and summer roads might be easy to drive on but wet fall roads and icy winter roads will be slick. You might want to consider going off road or choosing another vehicle if the roads aren’t behaving. If it’s winter, you can even drive over a solid frozen lake. Players will be able to pick any vehicle they like, taking vastly different paths through the same world. Racers will be able to meet up find parties, and compete in events as the open world changes seasons seamlessly and for all players at once.
Yes, if there’s any sort of racing that you love, Forza Horizon will scratch that racing itch when it comes out for the Xbox One and PC on October 2nd. The Xbox One X version will be playable in full 60FPS. All versions will also be included in the Xbox Game Pass on launch.
We Happy Few
Now we get to see the fruits of the new partnership with Compulsion Studios and Microsoft Studios, the Xbox One version of We Happy Few. This dystopian psycho thriller has been in early access on game distribution platforms like Steam for some time. However, the full Xbox version will finally release on August 10th this year. The Xbox one X version will also support 4K resolutions and will sport other graphical enhancements as well. We Happy Few will also release on the PS4 and PC on the same date.
It’s time for your PUBG update, a game that Microsoft takes great pride in locking own the console exclusivity rights for. The trailer showed off several new maps releasing later this year and well as a new mode, “war mode.” It also teased a brand new map, a snow covered map that will be released in 2018.
Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition
It’s finally happening! Finally we are getting Tales of Vesperia HD. All the extra content that was originally locked to the PS3 HD remake is finally coming to the west in a new Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition, releasing this winter.
The Division 2
We next got a cinematic trailer for Tom Clancy’s The Division 2. Once again it appears to be an open world team shooter/survival/RPG. However we got very few details in the trailer about anything other than the interesting post-apocalyptic world that it takes place in.
Luckily we got quite a bit more gameplay in the demo that followed. The party wandered through an abandoned mall searching for supplies and scavenging guns and resources. They come up on an encampment of survivors shortly afterward. We got to see how maps and objectives update automatically.
We also got to see a control point mission where the players took back a downed airliner from enemy combatants. In addition to your standard guns and grenades, we saw usage of incendiary rounds and “seeker mines.” We also got to see players get stuck in the environment as one player gets stuck in the mud. Enemies will have area specific damage points as well. The boss of the area was taken out by shooting him in the kneecaps first. The demo ended with all four players rushing a mini-gun at the capitol.
We will likely hear more about The Division 2 at the Ubisoft press conference. You can sign-up for the beta today. The Division 2 will release on March 15t,h and will be Xbox One X enhanced for 4K resolution and HDR graphics. It will also launch for the PS4 and the PC on the same date.
FastStart and the Xbox Game Pass
Microsoft is revamping the way games start by using machine learning. Apparently, a machine learning algorithm will learn about how gamers play games, allowing their games to start up faster. They are rolling out this functionality with selected titles in a June update. If we end up getting taken over by Skynet in a few years, now you know who is to blame.
In addition, Microsoft is adding many new titles to their Xbox Game Pass. Halo the Master Chief Collection is one notable title. In addition, several of the titles unveiled at this press conference will be part of the pass at launch. They also announced Ashen, Warhammer Vermintide II, Afterparty, and Phoenix Point as part of the Xbox Game Pass on the same day as their launch. Tom Clancy’s: The Divison, The Edler Scrolls Online Tamriel Unlimited, and Fallout 4 are also being added to Game Pass today.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider
Lara Croft Returns to the Xbox One with Shadow of the Tomb Raider. What has she gotten herself into? What hasn’t she? We see her climbing up clips, covering herself in mud to hide from enemies, fighting against heavily armed opponents, rolling through death traps, and much, much more. The game has a sort of duality aesthetic, contrasting Lara’s calm thinking side with her violent survivalist side. Fans can pre-order the “Croft Edition” right now for early access. Shadow of the Tomb Raider will release September 14th, 2019 and will be Xbox One X enhanced. It will also release for the PS4 and PC.
It looks like the skateboarding genre is coming back, exclusively to Xbox One with a new title called Session. We have very few details about it, but honestly we will take anything that will fill the hole that the Tony Hawk series left.
The Black Desert
The Black Desert is jumping off of PCs and on to the Xbox. The beta will begin in Fall 2018 and registration is open now. It has no release date, but it will be Xbox One X enhanced for 4K displays.
Devil May Cry 5
Welp, it looks like the rumors are right. Devil May Cry 5 is coming, and it looks awesome. Nero comes back with a robotic left arm and we got to see a short shot of Dante at the end riding a motorcycle. What was the rest? The same Devil May Cry goodness you always wanted. There was surfing on missiles, slicing through demons, an incredible rock soundtrack, and all the combo insanity you could want.
Devil May Cry 5 will also make use of a new graphical engine. Models and actors will be scanned into the game in full costume, motion captured and rendered in the in-game engine. It will release in Spring 2019 for the Xbox One, PS4, and PC.
Cuphead in The Delicious Last Course
Cuphead is getting brand new DLC. The legendary chalice is joining the battle as a new playable female character, Ms. Chalice. The DLC pack will include new levels, new weapons, and new bosses. Unfortunately we didn’t get to see much of them, but we know that one is Chef made of salt, and that the DLC will release in 2019.
Have you ever been playing a traditional top-down Zelda game and thought “this needs more furries?” Then Tunic is the game for you. It would be more proper to call Tunic an isometric adventure, as the world rotates around as you move. It looks like it will be a serious hit for the indie crowd.
What if… anime was real? Bandai Namco is going to answer that question. Apparently all the anime villains have invaded our world and everything is screwed. So it’s up to Shonen Jump heroes like Goku, Luffy, and Naruto to take villains like Frieza and Yagami Light down. It’s an action game, and it appears to be very similar to the Dynasty Warriors musou style of gameplay. It’s being developed by Spike Chunsoft for Shonen Jump’s 50th anniversary and it will release in 2019 for the Xbox One and PS4.
Dying Light 2
Dying Light is getting a sequel, and it looks pretty amazing. It will have a fluid parkour system that will allow you to run away from the undead by leaping across rooftops. You can fight the undead both with firearms and with brutal melee combat. But the biggest new reveal is the game’s new choice system.
The choices you make over the course of the game will change not only the narrative but the levels you play. We were shown an example where the protagonist takes on a mission to take down a group that is hoarding a local water supply. After doing so, access to clean running water allows civilization to rebuild and thrive. Players will also be able to drink water to replenish their stamina. Unfortunately, the mission was at the behest of a militaristic group called the peacekeepers, and anyone who defies them within city limits it brutalized and beaten, including the player character.
The player can just as easily team up with the bandits and sell water on the black market. While this makes you rich and gives you access to new resources, it also attracts an unsavory element to the city, bringing a new danger to more peaceful residents.
Dying Light 2 does not yet have a release date, but we do know it will release on the Xbox One, PS4, and Steam.
Battletoads is back. The trailer told us nothing. In fact, the trailer was a joke about how the trailer told us nothing. It’s going to have hand-drawn graphics and three player couch co-op and I hope, I hope to the heavens, that we get another mind meltingly hard Turbo Tunnel level. Battletoads will release in 2019 for the Xbox One and PC.
Just Cause 4
The Just Cause franchise comes back and the main villains are… tornadoes? The trailer literally ended on the protagonist surfing a car into a tornado with a rocket launcher. There’s nothing about that sentence I didn’t like, but I am incredibly confused. It will release on the Xbox One, PS4, and PC December 4th, 2018.
Gears of War is getting a… Funko Pop themed mobile game coming out in 2019? Great, but I really wish they would have announced…
No, that’s not what I was talking about, though it’s a pretty interesting concept. It’s basically Gears of War meets XCom. Supposedly battles will be faster than traditional turn based battles, but will still be cover based tactical affairs. It’s worth checking out, but I really wish they would have announced…
Yes, after two fake outs we finally got an announcement for Gears of War 5, stylized as Gears 5. Players take control of Kate, who has been having mysterious dreams recently. She abandons Marcus Fenix to follow those dreams, separating herself from the rest of the gears crew. Gears 5 will be a part of the Xbox Game Pass at launch when it releases in 2019.
Finally, we were given our first look at CD Projekt Red’s Cyberpunk 2077. It was mostly a world building trailer, where we got to see everything from smart cars, to robotic implants, all with the neon pink punk aesthetic that cyberpunk is known for. Cyberpunk 2077 will release for the PS4, Xbox One, and PC.
What was most surprising about this year’s Xbox Press Conference was the sheer variety in the games they showed.
Most of the time, Microsoft caters to a very specific sort of gamer; what you would think of if you were thinking of a gamer stereotype. It’s the sort of young teen to 20 year old male gamer that loves shooters.
However, after many years of failing to impress at E3, they obviously realized they needed to broaden their fanbase. We saw one of the biggest announcements for Kingdom Hearts yet at this conference, and it was long thought to be a property that was Sony exclusive in all but name. We saw a revival of Battletoads for the retro crowd, Jump Force for the anime crowd, Tunic and We Happy Few for the indie crowd, Tales of Vesperia and Nier: Automata for the JRPG crowd and so much more on top of their standard names like Halo, Gears, and Forza.
This is variety we usually see out of Sony, and now that we have seen this all at the Xbox Press Conference the biggest question is, what does Sony have left? If we don’t get a good answer to that question, then Microsoft has a real chance of winning this year’s E3.