Microsoft returned to E3 with an extremely solid press conference almost completely dedicated to games. If you ask the average gamer what Xbox is lacking, it’s definitely games, and Microsoft knows that. The show moved very quickly, and we have a lot to cover, so let’s go ahead and get started.
Immediately, a trailer kicks off the briefing. We see lots of nature, storms, caves, and wild animals. The camera also shows runes and what seem to be ruins, before we see a few soldiers walking through these ruins, and as the camera shifts to a farther perspective, Master Chief stands with his helmet in hand, watching out in the distance. Chief is then shown riding a Mongoose before we see part of a Halo ring, when the logo appears on screen: Halo Infinite. It is also advertised that Halo Infinite will be using the brand-new Slipstream engine. Microsoft mentioned this is the next chapter of Master Chief’s story, and that Slipstream was developed by 343 specifically for Halo.
Phil Spencer then takes the stage to a very loud and positive crowd reaction, and speaks a tiny bit about the trailer we just saw, then about how gaming is the great unifier that brings us all together. Next, Phil talks about how Microsoft has searched the globe for the best developers with the best games, and how at this showing, 50 games will be shown, 18 of which are exclusives and 15 world premieres. From this point on, it’s mostly trailer after trailer with very few stops in between. First up is Ori and the Will of the Wisps. This is a gorgeous trailer that somehow looks even better than the first Ori game, and teases new playable characters and combat through excellent looking gameplay. Ori and the Will of the Wisps has a vague launch window of 2019. Immediately following that, we are treated to a world premiere trailer of what seems to be a supernatural samurai type game from From Software and Activision. The trailer starts off with cinematics, then jumps to gameplay, showing how the controlled character will travel using grappling hooks and engage in sword combat, as well as some large, ugly monsters. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is coming in 2019.
Todd Howard from Bethesda is welcomed on stage, where he speaks about his friendship with Xbox that has lasted 16 years and started with Morrowind on the original Xbox. But Todd isn’t here to talk about the past, and he shows us a sneak peek at Fallout 76. A few details are confirmed: it does take place in the hills of West Virginia, it centers around Vault 76, it is a prequel to all other Fallout games, and it’s four times larger than Fallout 4. The trailer emphasizes that the game will be about attempting to rebuild humanity. Todd then says goodbye, and tells everyone they can see more on Fallout 76 at tonight’s Bethesda press briefing. Another world premiere trailer kicks off, showing an offering from Square Enix and DontNod. The trailer shows a young boy with a very high imagination — sometimes he is dressed as a superhero; sometimes he is playing with action figures. We discover the boy’s mother has died as him and his father speak briefly. The game is called The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit, and it is set in the same universe as Life is Strange. It isn’t revealed whether this is an episodic story or a one-off, but the game is confirmed to be released on June 26 for absolutely free.
Next up is an exclusive title, and it turns out to be Crackdown 3. Terry Crews is the main focus of the trailer, with his character showing off all of the powerups, mayhem, and destruction fans have come to love from this series. Nothing new is shown, but the previous leak of information stating the game was pushed back to 2019 is confirmed true, as Crackdown 3 will launch in February of next year. A brief trailer is then shown off for the Xbox One port of Nier: Automata: Become As Gods Edition. Nier arrives on Xbox on June 26, and will feature a slew of the game’s DLC and accessories. Also worth noting is that it appears, for now at least, that this will be a download-only title. Afterwards, a great trailer for Metro: Exodus shows off tons of story elements, like a crazy cultist and some type of Russian military leader speaking throughout the cinematics, before some gameplay. Metro: Exodus still looks just as beautiful as it did last year at E3, and the monsters are some of the most awesome looking ones I have seen in a game. Metro: Exodus launches February 22, 2019.
Phil Spencer is back to introduce a new RPG from an inventive Japanese studio working on a legendary series — a franchise first on an Xbox console — Kingdom Hearts III. Mostly, the trailer takes place in what will be a world based on Disney’s Frozen. Someone is trying to turn Elsa to the darkness, but, of course, Sora isn’t going to stand for that. A sizzle reel starts, showing off worlds from Wreck-It Ralph, Toy Story, Tangled, Monsters, Inc., and Hercules. Gummi ship flight and combat is also briefly shown, which got a great response from the crowd. The next video starts, and stats for the amount of players of Rare’s Sea of Thieves are shown. An awesome trailer implies a new map for Sea of Thieves, along with some very dark and evil enemies. At the end, two upcoming expansions are named: Cursed Sails, coming in July, and Forsaken Shores, launching in September. A brief trailer for Battlefield V shows off a bit more of the War Stories we saw yesterday during EA’s conference. No details were given, but this is definitely a single player mode trailer, and it looks beautiful. Then is the exclusive world premiere of Forza Horizon 4. A gorgeous trailer showcases cars racing in different seasons. Ralph Fulton from Playground Games comes on stage with a few folks who are playing the game. Ralph mentions that FH4 takes place in Britain, complete with dynamic seasons in a shared, open world. A lot of emphasis is put on seasons, as the seasons will change in game, with each change making the world a much different place. Worth noting is that everything from in-game time of day, weather conditions, and season is synchronized — everyone playing the game at one time experiences the exact same thing. Forza Horizon 4 launches on October 2 for Xbox One and Windows 10.
Phil Spencer comes back out and says Microsoft is increasing its investment in their existing franchises, but also amplifying investment in new worlds. With this, Spencer announces The Initiative, a brand new Microsoft-owned Studio. That’s not all, though; Microsoft has purchased a few studios: State of Decay 2 developers Undead Labs, Playground Games (which is working on an open world game we’ll hear more about later), Ninja Theory, and Compulsion, creators of the upcoming We Happy Few. With that, a brand new trailer for We Happy Few was shown along with a release date of August 10 for the finished product. A neat trailer for PUBG showcases the maps in the game so far, as well as teases a release window of Summer 2018 for the Sahnok map, and Winter 2018 for a snow themed map. Then is another world premiere trailer, this one for Tales of Vesperia Definitive Edition. No details were given, just that it will be coming in winter of 2018. The next trailer — also a world premiere — mentions how a virus outbreak devastated Washington, D.C., and now people are fending for themselves in urban warfare. America is on the brink of collapse, and it is all due to an enemy from inside America’s own government. Touted as a new Civil War, it is revealed we are watching a trailer for Tom Clancy’s The Division 2. Gameplay footage shows multiple players taking part in a mission near a downed airplane. Teamwork is the name of the game here, and it seems to be an even bigger focus than it was in the first Division. Satisfyingly, we watch the team take down a huge, juggernaut-looking soldier surrounded by armor together in a lengthy boss fight. Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 drops March 15, 2019.
Next, the success of Xbox GamePass is touted, and FastStart is announced as a way to get gamers playing quicker. FastStart gets you into the game twice as fast by identifying and downloading the files needed to actually get started. FastStart will come to select games in the June Xbox update. Also, Fallout 4, The Division, and Elder Scrolls Online are available on GamePass starting today, and all three are enhanced for Xbox One X. Finally, a gang of ID@Xbox titles are announced at breakneck speed, all of which will be available at launch on Xbox GamePass. Some of these titles include Super Meat Boy Forever, Ashen, Afterparty, Warhammer: Vermintide 2, Dead Cells, but there are many more. Next is a brand new story trailer for Shadow of the Tomb Raider, revealing that some of the villains from Trinity, the antagonists from the previous two entries, are back. A dark tone has surrounded this game since it was initially revealed a few months back, and it almost seems like they are making Lara out to be a bad guy in this installment. We will have to wait until September 14 to find out, though The Croft Edition of Shadow of the Tomb Raider can be pre-ordered for early access to the game. A lengthy in-engine trailer, set to hip-hop music, for skateboarding game Session is shown. Session was crowdfunded via Kickstarter last November, but Microsoft has picked it up as a console exclusive. Zero details are given. Black Desert still looks very pretty, fast-paced, and action-centric’ nothing special of note is in this trailer, almost as if it’s just a reminder that the game is still coming to Xbox.
One of the best trailers of the show is the Devil May Cry 5 world premiere. Featuring both Nero and Dante, along with tons of demons and monsters to destroy, Devil May Cry 5 launches in Spring 2019. Hideaki Itsuno, director for DMC5, is on stage with Matt Walker, the game’s producer. Hideaki is very hyped that DMC is back, and this gets a huge pop from the crowd. It has been 10 years since Devil May Cry 4, and they both feel as if this is the best action game they’ve ever created. After that is a short trailer for “The Delicious Last Course,” a Cuphead DLC expansion coming in 2019 and featuring a new island, as well as new enemies, weapons, charms, and, of course, bosses. The next Xbox exclusive is a game called Tunic from a studio called Finji, which is apparently made up of one person. Tunic looks extremely charming, as it uses an isometric view of its cartoonish world, where players explore as a weapon-wielding fox. The sound and look are pretty retro, seemingly taking cues from the old school Zelda games. No release date is revealed, but it is a console launch exclusive.
Phil Spencer speaks about his visit with Bandai Namco in Japan to see their new game, which we’re shown a trailer for. Jump Force is a fighting game that takes characters from beloved Shonen Jump anime series DragonBall Z, One Piece, Naruto, and Death Note and jams them together. No gameplay is shown, but Jump Force is visually stunning, and will definitely be a hit for anime fans when it releases next year. Yet another world premiere trailer shows us a post apocalyptic world in a city where people are fending for themselves and doing the best they can, while others are hanged by the neck for stealing food. First-person parkour and freerunning, along with melee combat, is a big focus here. The implication that choice is a major factor in this game is driven home as the logo for Dying Light 2 hits the screen and we are shown a demo of part of a mission where choice is imperative; Dying Light 2’s world and inhabitants will change, possibly drastically, based on the decisions you make. Developers Techland isn’t willing to give so much as a release year for their upcoming game, though. Next up is a very short but comical trailer for a new Xbox exclusive in a revival of Battletoads! Battletoads! will feature three player couch co-op and hand drawn 4K 2.5D graphics. Following the Battletoads! trailer is a world premiere for Just Cause 4, which seems to focus on tornadoes, but aside from that, nothing else really stands out. It seems like standard Just Cause fare, though the trailer is absolutely gorgeous. December 4, 2018 is when you can get your hands on Just Cause 4.
Heading towards the home stretch, we’re given the biggest E3 trolling in recent memory. “World premiere” rings out through the theater as the Gears of War skull logo showed on the screen, when the chainsaw bayonet of a Lancer saws through the logo and out jumps… a Funko Pop version of Marcus Fenix, with other popular Gears characters joining him after. Gears of War Pop! is coming in 2019. The crowd is so silent you can hear crickets chirp. Rod Fergusson of Gears of War 4 developer The Coalition takes the stage, saying how excited he is to take Gears of War to new places, like with the mobile game and for the upcoming turn-based strategy PC game, Gears Tactics. Gears Tactics takes place 12 years before the first game in the series, and looks a heck of a lot like XCOM 2. Fergusson is also excited to announce the next game in the core Gears of War story, simply titled Gears 5. Coming some time next year, Gears 5 will follow Kait on a journey to discover some things about herself, but all may not be as it seems. In a cinematic trailer, someone has died and Kait is visibly broken. She needs to go on a journey to find out about her grandmother’s pendant, which she received at the end of Gears of War 4, and that pendant is a Loust symbol. Kait defies orders to set out on her search; she is joined by Del, as J.D. and Marcus stay behind. Many different types of locales are shown, from lush jungles and snowy mountains, to the standard dark and gritty Gears of War staples of caverns and abandoned buildings. There are new threats, with a few looking like a fusion between organic biology and the game’s current era human tech. Based on the gameplay footage, Gears 5 looks really polished already. Fans will be excited to dive back into this series in 2019.
Phil Spencer steps back on stage to recap what we’ve seen, reiterating that gaming is Xbox’s number one focus moving forward, then talks about a couple of things Microsoft is doing to cement the future of Xbox. Microsoft AI is being developed to ensure smarter and better AI enemies and companions in games. Cloud gaming is something Microsoft is very interested in moving forward, as they want us to be able to play our console games anywhere on any platform — even a smartphone. Before saying goodbye, Phil teases the tiniest morsel of information that Microsoft is already working towards their next console. As he’s ending the show, the room and screen go black, as if the conference is being hacked and taken over. Command prompts and computer code litter the screen, as the username “Red” is typed out. One last world premiere trailer shows us the first ever footage of CD Projekt Red’s new title, Cyberpunk 2077. So much is going on in this trailer, but it definitely lives up to the cyberpunk name, with awesome futuristic weaponry, vehicles, buildings in the city,and more. This game looks like it came straight out of Blade Runner, and as much as I would love to dive into more detail, you just have to see this one for yourself. No release date is listed, but rumor has it we will see CD Projekt Red’s followup to the award-winning Witcher 3 in June of 2019. The trailer ends and we are shown a sizzle reel of everything we witnessed throughout the conference.
Microsoft threw a TON of information at us and seems to be learning from their past mistakes, like not giving Xbox owners enough games. With 50 games and 18 exclusives shows, as well as Microsoft’s acquisition of five new studios, Xbox seems to finally be heading in the right direction, and their outstanding conference may just give Sony and Nintendo a run for their money. For more details on what you’ve read in this article, and more on the entire week of E3, stay right here at Geeks + Gamers.