E3 2018 was Microsoft’s chance to reassure gamers that Xbox is still relevant and whilst it lacked any new major IP exclusivity announcements it made up for it with 18 others sitting amongst a showcase of 50 games in total. In short, Xbox did good. Very good.
The show opened with a clip of large landscapes filled with animals. I thought it was a brave move to open such a show with Zoo Tycoon 2 but it turned out that this was, in fact, the new Halo game – Halo Infinite. The short tease showed nothing of gameplay, as you’d expect, but did show us that Master Chief will be returning and judging by his helmet this could well be an origins story. I say that with very little knowledge of the Halo universe and basing it purely on an engine demo.
Ori and the Will of the Wisps.
I’ve still not played Ori and quite frankly it’s getting embarrassing now but the sequel to the much-loved game looked incredibly cute. Visually stunning with feels spilling from every pore, Ori is shaping up to be one game you shouldn’t miss, as was the first which I totally missed.
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
FROM SOFTWARE is back with
Bloodborne Shogun Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. There’s no mistaking this is a FROM SOFTWARE game, heck, it even showed the character dying. But the theme for the game is certainly a departure from Dark Souls and Bloodborne and it does look a lot more action-centric with crazy God of War like finishing moves and such.
Todd returns with enough swagger to fill a fairly sizeable swag bag. He wasn’t just there to look incredibly cool, however, and did bring with him some news on Fallout 76. Fallout 76 is set before all the other games (I think) in a wasteland unlike any we’ve seen before. I’ll be honest, it looked pretty similar, but Fallout is Fallout so it’s a winner already. Not much else was shown in terms of gameplay but you can expect to see more at 2:30 a.m. this morning if you’re a damn madman!
The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit
TAAoCS is a game set within the ‘Life is Strange’ universe and follows a wee chappie who uses the power of his imagination to have fun. Remember imagination, kids? It looks like it’ll be a fun little game filled with gut punches to make you bawl like a child. It’s also free to download on June 26th.
It’s officially releasing in Feb after roughly a million delays. Fortunately, the gameplay shown did look a lot like Crackdown on crack so fingers crossed it’ll hold up when we finally get our hands on it. There was no mention of the infamous destruction mechanic so who knows whether that will make it into the final game. Then again this was a trailer for singleplayer so that could explain its absence. Also, Terry Crews is a damn legend.
Nier Automata Become as Gods edition is releasing on Xbox One at some point this year. It’s enhanced for Xbox One X, naturally, and comes with all the previously released DLC.
Metro makes its return to the Xbox E3 stage after its reveal last year. They’ve ditched the remix of John Murphy’s 28 Days Later classic in favour of Massive Attack but it worked and I just wanted to share my shallow knowledge of music. Metro still looks suitably grim and incredibly atmospheric marking it as another game worthy of attention when it releases in February next year.
Kingdom Hearts 3
I know this game means a lot to people but I literally don’t even. In my notes I wrote; Frozen, Wreck it Ralph, some key sword thing, Hercules, Toy Story and some sulky women. I’m sure fans were losing their mind at this but it was lost on me, sorry. It looked nice, though.
Sea of Thieves
Sea of Thieves is getting some more content, sorry, content. It was a cheap shot, I admit. Cursed Sails and Forsaken Shores have already been announced but this trailer showed us a little of what we can expect from the updates. A new land awaits filled with spooky pirate ghosts, or ghost priates, and that’s your lot. Still, it’s nice to see the game getting continued support.
EA seem dead set on showing as little of this game as possible so why buck the trend at Xbox’s presser? The incredibly short trailer showed a snippet of one of the untold stories. It’s titled ‘Nordlys’ and focusses on a youngster who joins the Norwegian Resistance against the Nazi occupation. What little was shown looked alright but it appears as though the youngster may be female so you expect manbabies in crusty boxers to be hitting that dislike button like their lives depend on it.
Forza Horizon 4
This stole the show for me so allow me to indulge for just a moment. Forza Horizon is arguably one of the best racing games of all time and Forza Horizon 4 looks to stay true to that accolade. Set in the UK, racers will be participating in events through cities, old villages and the hilly highlands, in what looks like an incredibly diverse environment.
Forza Horizon 4 also features a fully connected world, meaning all racers you meet in the game are actual people. Multiple events can be happening at any one time in Forza and you may even cross their paths.
One of the biggest highlights of Forza Horizon 4, however, is dynamic seasons. The entire world you race in changes depending on the season. During winter the springs and lakes will be frozen over, unlocking new areas of the map. In the autumn leaves will begin falling from the trees painting the roads in orange and brown. Forza Horizon looks visually sublime and the gameplay mixed with dynamic weather and seasons nearly caused me to have an accident in my pants.
It was after Forza that Phil took to the stage to announce a ridiculous number of acquired studios. You can’t have competition if you buy them all out, right? Undead Labs (State of Decay), Ninja Theory (Hellblade), Playground Games (Forza Horizon) & Compulsion Games (We Happy Few) are all now officially part of Microsoft Studios. A brand-new studio has also been formed – Santa Monica based – The Initiative.
The acquisition and creation of these studios shows that Xbox is dedicated to continuing work on exclusive content, and whilst we won’t see any new games from them yet it lays out exciting prospects for the future. That being said, Phil did drop mention of the open-world RPG that Playground is working on – assumed to be Fable.
We Happy Few
Okay, I lied a bit because We Happy Few is a new game coming very soon. August 10th to be precise. We Happy Few has been floating around for a while now but the story trailer that was shown at E3 makes me incredibly excited to get my hands on it. Bioshock x 1984 x Equilibrium (massively underrated film btw) has me sold.
Sanhok is coming to Xbox One this summer alongside War Mode and a winter map later on in the year. Surprisingly there was only one other Battle Royale game shown during the conference.
Tales of Vesperia
The definitive edition of Tales of Vesperia is hitting Xbox at some point this winter. The new edition is the same base game with crisper visuals and will include all the additional characters and content.
The Division 2
For some reason, Ubisoft has it in their heads that cooperation in online games is well-structured and civilised. It isn’t. The scripted Division 2 gameplay played out fairly similarly to the the reveal of the very first game, albeit in a shiny new wrapper. Visually the game looks great but even from the short bit of footage, it looked very similar gameplay wise. That may not be a bad thing mind as I never played it. Beta sign-ups are also available now.
A weird machine-learning algorithm is being introduced which means games will load faster or something. I zoned out a little there if I’m being honest but one chap in the audience bloody loved the news. I did, however, perk up a little when it was announced that The Division, Fallout 4 and Elder Scrolls Online are hitting Game Pass today. Halo MCC is also coming to Game Pass at a later date and it was reiterated that exclusive titles are coming to Game Pass on release. Yes, that includes Forza Horizon 4.
So many games were shown here so I’ll just add the trailer.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider
2012 is back in fashion as Shadow of the Tomb Raider brings upon the Mayan Apocalypse. Shadow of the Tomb Raider will be the final instalment of the rebooted origin story and it looks to be going out in style.
If you were pissed that EA didn’t announce Skate 4 at its EA Play conference then fret not as Xbox has your back. Session is basically Skate and it’s coming exclusively to Xbox at some point in the future. I didn’t realise I needed a new skating game until I saw this trailer.
It’s an MMO game that I’m sure was shown off at last years E3 conference. Guising as a professional journalist I should probably confirm this but it’s getting late and I want my sleep. If you like your games with spells, wizardry and fantastical settings then this looks to be right up your street.
Devil May Cry 5
Dante Nero is back and he has white hair (because he always did and I got confused between Nero and Dante, sorry). Devil May Cry 5 is the true sequel to DmC 4 because that’s how numbers work. DmC5 is allegedly the best game action game that the studio has made but then again you wouldn’t openly admit it’s worse than its predecessor. DmC looks like DmC with over the top fight sequence all presented in an incredibly slick manner so fans shouldn’t be disappointed with this one.
Cuphead – The Delicious Last Course
DLC for Cuphead is coming and with it a brand-new character – Ms Chalice. The DLC will include a new island, new weapons and new charms and it’s releasing next year.
Tunic (aka Fox Zelda)
Tunic is stylish looking isometric (ish) RPG/Platformer in a similar style to the old Zelda games. Quite frankly it looks damn pretty and a lot of fun. It’s also being developed by a sole spirit which makes an already impressive game look that evermore impressive.
Another one that went over my head, sorry, but it’s some kind of fighting game with characters from different universes. I’m not completely ignorant so I wrote down; Dragon Ball man, Naruto and a crazy-eyed guy with a hat. I’m concerned the last observation may be racist but I assure you it’s non-intentional. The game looks fuckin’ nuts and even though I haven’t got a clue what was going on I liked the look of it.
Dying Light 2
Dying Light is one of my favourite games of this generation so you can appreciate that I lost my shit at this reveal. Dying Light 2 looks to build upon what made the first game great – the brutal melee combat mixed with makeshift weapons, parkour and centred in a world filled with all kinds of messed up creatures.
That said it wouldn’t be a sequel without a little niche and Dying Light 2 is heading down the evolving gameplay route. Choices you make in the game have an effect not only on the story but the world itself. The example in the trailer showed the outcome of completing a mission in two different ways with genuinely different outcomes. Many games give the illusion of change based your choices but Dying Light 2 looks to really stay true to its word.
A new, 2.5d, Battletoads games is releasing on Game Pass next year. That’s all I’ve got I’m afraid.
Just Cause 4
Just Cause 4 was leaked a couple of days ago by Steam nonetheless but it was expected to be showing during Square Enix’s press conference on Monday. Instead, it was shown during Microsoft’s E3 conference and it’s shaping up to be just as chaotic as the third. Just Cause 4 is bringing all the gadgetry and firepower from the 3rd game and if the final scene of the trailer is anything to go by this game is going to be nuts.
Biggest disappointment of the show goes to Gears POP! When the Gears logo appeared on-screen the crowd went wild only for the rug to be pulled from beneath them when it was announced that the new Gears game is, in fact, some strange POP! mobile game. The game might turn out to be alright but when you’ve got a million people expecting a Gears 5 announcement it’s a bit of a kick in the nuts.
Rod Fergusson then went on to talk about a new Gears experience. Nope, it wasn’t Gears 5, it was instead Gears Tactics. Gears Tactics is a PC exclusive that looks a hell of a lot like XCOM so it should tickle the fancies of turn-based strategy gamers out there.
Now you’re talking. Gears 5 was, of course, announced alongside a snippet of a cutscene followed by some fast-paced stitched gameplay. I’m pleased to report that Gears 5 looks like a Gears game. Marcus is still alive and kicking but has, for whatever reason, taken his beard and glued it onto the face of his son – JD. There’s a certain admiration there for sure.
The cutscene follows the death of an unknown character which has left Kait feeling a tad upset. Gears 4’s cliffhanger ending was also brought into light when Kait showed the squad her Locust necklace (spoilers). It looks like her past is going to cause friction between the group, setting Kait on a path of discovery. The following gameplay was also incredibly Kait-centric so maybe she’s the titular character in Gears 5. Who knows? I don’t.
AI, Streaming and Next Box
Phil ended the conference with talks of a new AI (Microsoft AI) which will be used to create more believable in-game AI and vaster environments. A new streaming tech was also teased allowing gamers to stream console-quality games to any device they own. The very final word was that the Xbox hardware team is already at work developing a new Xbox console. This is both a kick in the balls for Xbox One X owners but also indicates that Xbox is now going to be an evolving platform rather than running a 7-yearly life cycle. Either way, it’s an exciting time for Xbox fans unless you’re an X owner in which case you might be feeling bitter.
But wait. In what was a classy as fuck move by Xbox, the stage got hacked and the lighting cut out before we were shown the first trailer for Cyberpunk 2077. The trailer itself was capture from in-engine footage but didn’t show any gameplay as such. It instead painted a great picture of what we can expect from Projekt Red’s next game.
Cyberpunk, as you’d guess, is set in a futuristic world not dissimilar to Blade Runner. The trailer showed who we can assume to be the game’s protagonist riding around in an old-school Lamborghini x Mustang looking vehicle. It looks like you’ll also be dealing with all manner of folks in Cyberpunk from the street-dwellers in the slums to gang bosses and the corrupt wealthy. There’s a lot to digest so I suggest you check out the trailer.
Xbox did a good, showcasing 50 games, 18 of which were exclusives, in one of the best shows it’s had in recent memories. GG Xbox.