Microsoft took the stage at this year’s E3 with what might be the most exciting and interesting lineup of games, hardware and services. With so many of their initiatives coming to a head, between streaming services, announced games from purchased studios, possibly new hardware reveals, and the fact that their main competition isn’t attending the show, Microsoft has nowhere to go but up.
Preamble aside, this is what they brought to the biggest stage in gaming this year that caught my eye.
THE OUTER WORLDS
They opened the show with some new footage from The Outer Worlds, the Obsidian, Fallout style first-person RPG. Personally, I’m not a big fan of the Bethesda style game, but the setting and scope of the game itself was a very attractive prospect.
The sci-fi trappings of this first person action RPG looks right up my alley aesthetically, and the gun play looks like it didn’t suck, which would be a nice change from every Fallout game. Also, I watched the player just shoot a quest giver in the chest, so this game looks like a blast. It comes out October 25th of this year.
Next up was Ninja Theory’s, Bleeding Edge. It’s a 4v4 melee focused competitive multiplayer game. It looks like a blend of Borderlands, Overwatch and For Honor. There wasn’t much in the way of details, except that it has attitude. Gnarly.
ORI AND THE WILL OF THE WISPS
The sequel to the very good Ori and the Blind Forest was once again, shown off, boasting it’s signature beautiful art style and tight platforming. In this short trailer, there wasn’t much in the way of information, but if it follows in the footsteps of it’s predecessor while iterating on some of the more irritating aspects of the game, then this could be a homerun. It’s out February 11th of 2020.
Next we were onto that Minecraft game that’s a dungeon crawler, apltly named Minecraft Dungeons. It’s a 4 player coop dungeron crawler that looks neat. I think the art style works with the isometric camera, and I gotta hand it to them, it’s a fairly cool concept that works well within the world of Minecraft. It’s due out next spring.
STAR WARS JEDI: FALLEN ORDER
We got to see more of Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, but there wasn’t much in the way of new footage. Instead, it looked as if it was made from the full demo they showed yesterday at EA Play, chopping it down into a more bite sized and exciting package. There were flashes of new footage, but nothing that really expanded on what was shown at EA Play. It releases November 11th of this year.
They showed off this spooky trailer with a dude running into a shack in the woods, where he was definitely going to die. There was also an adorable dog that traveled with him, that I’m sure is going to die, which makes this game an instant pass and also it gets 0/5 stars for even putting that idea in my head. That’s the official review for a game that comes out on August 30th.
The very anticipated Cyberpunk 2077 made an appearance in the form of what I assume is a cut scene in the game, it’s hard to know for sure though. There were lots of half robot people with guns, a self driving car, a robo-fist-fight between two men, lots of bleeping out of the bad words, a woman who can hack with her mind, and KEANU REEVES. And then Keanu Reeves, not content with blowing the minds of everyone for just being in the game, walked out on stage.
He was charming and wonderful and is precious and I love him. The crowd was eating it up, and so was he. Then he gave us the release date by striking an emphatic pose while pointing to the big screen that flashed to some more gameplay, quickly followed by an April 16th, 2020 release date.
I am very excited about Cyberpunk 2077 as a fairly recent convert to the camp of CD Projekt Red, and as you can probably guess, the grimy sci-fi aesthetic is definitely my jam.
Hell yeah baby, the Battletoads are back and they look like a Disney Afternoon cartoon. It’s a 3 person co-op brawler that has no release date. Hopefully, it’ll be as good as I remember Castle Crashers being. Realistically, it’ll be the best Battletoads game, but that isn’t saying much.
ID@XBOX MONTAGE/GAME PASS
A bunch of games were announced and highlighted in this ID@XBOX game montage. A lot of the stuff looked really cool and up my alley. I plan on investigating some of these games more in-depth at some point, but for now, just enjoy the trailer.
The montage was followed with the news that the games in the montage were all going to launch day and date on Xbox Game Pass.
They also announced that the entire Master Chief Collection is coming to game pass on PC, along with the news that the PC game pass launched today, and they’re bundling both Game Passes and Xbox Live Gold for $14.99. Which honestly, is a pretty great deal.
MICROSOFT FLIGHT SIMULATOR
Powered by Google Maps, there was a lot of pomp and circumstance around this iteration of Flight Simulator, and honestly, it looks absolutely solid and something that I could definitely see myself dumping an obscene amount of time into.
I’ve never been a big, “plane guy,” but I am definitely a, “seemingly mundane simulator game guy,” and this speaks to me in that regard.
THEY BOUGHT DOUBLEFINE PRODUCTIONS/PSYCONAUTS 2
With the announcement that Microsoft had purchased Double Fine, they celebrated their union by showing us a new trailer for Psychonauts 2. The game itself looks just as phenomenal as I’d hope, and seems like it’s striking the right tone while boasting a fairly interesting story for the follow up to one of my personal favorite games.
Psychonauts is easily one of my favorite games based on it’s tight gameplay, and great humor. Hopefully, almost 15 years later, the sequel can illicit similar feelings.
DRAGON BALL Z KAKAROT
HELL YEAH SON, THEY SHOWED OFF THAT GOKU GAME. It looks dope as hell, and it would be the ten thousandth time I’ve experienced the first 100 episodes of that show. I know nothing about the game, how it plays, how progression works, how many sagas are represented in it, but I’m definitely getting this game.
Anapurna came to show a game that revolves around a time loop and an emotional and gut wrenching story. It looks like you’re reliving the same time loop over and over in an attempt to get it right and not watch your wife die. It’s being billed as an “interactive thriller,” which means I’ll probably really like it and confuse my friends by talking about it so much. Or, it’ll suck. Who knows? It’s coming soon apparently.
GEARS OF WAR 5
So they started off this Gears of War 5 trailer with some slight body horror stuff that was very uncomfortable to look at, and I’m not sure if Bound By Blood is the subtitle or just a catchphrase about the game, but whatever. After that profoundly disturbing sequence, it was clear that this presentation wasn’t about the story mode.
Instead, they blasted off some fireworks for a while and then zoomed in under the stage to show off a multiplayer mode that has you and your team plant a bomb in an enemy base and then escape from said base. It sure seemed like a lot of production and effort to go into just to show off a new mode, but whatever. Also, there were wrestlers under the stage who were gonna play the mode on Mixer, so that was bizarre.
Then there was a hip hop remix of Crazy Train that featured Lil’ Jon, I think? There was also a character who pulled out an electric knife and stabbed a bunch of fools which looked cool, but since it’s a CG trailer, who knows how it’ll actually play? From said electro-knife lady, I assume that this mode is a class-based affair, and one person is the gun-man, and there’s lady-knife, and probably bomb-dude or something. But that could be just me projecting.
It’s a three player focused co-op mode that looks interesting, but didn’t seem worth all the effort they put into showing it off. It all felt disjointed and weird and also if you preorder you can play as a Terminator. So never mind about the disjointed thing, this entire sequence was never “jointed” to begin with.
It releases on September 10th this year and can be played a few days early by buying the expensive edition or playing via Game Pass.
ELITE CONTROLLER II
They announced a new Elite Controller with more features, dongles, Bluetooth, a rechargeable battery and charging dock. It all seemed like smart innovations and needed redesigns, but will probably also be expensive as hell.
I really want an Elite Controller, but cannot justify paying $150 for a controller, no matter how good it is.
DYING LIGHT 2
A new trailer for the very exciting Dying Light 2 was shown off, focusing on choices and “remembering who you are” and other ethical quandaries. I saw a zombie climb the player like a ladder, so that’s uncool and definitely not welcome.
I liked Dying Light a whole bunch, but I felt like I lacked any agency and also hated the weapon durability system, although, to be fair, it wasn’t as egregious as it could’ve been. Still, I hate that mechanic in games, but for Dying Light 2, I can make an exception.
Also it’s out next year.
FORZA HORIZON 4
They rolled out a sports car made of Lego pieces to promote Forza Horizon 4 and their upcoming crossover with the toy manufacturer. Yes, Lego. Everything was Lego, people, cars, animals, fences, and other stuff were all made of those delightful little bricks. Not since Forza Horizon partnered with Hot Wheels, have I been more curious about playing a Forza game. It looks like a lot of fun and will be available on June 13th.
Bad. All of this is bad. It’s a mobile game in the vein of Clash Royale and looks terrible. Seriously, it looks gross, and appears to be little more than an attempt to suck money out of people. Also, Funko Pop figures are ugly and terrible.
PHANTASY STAR ONLINE 2
For a long time, a lot of people have been clamoring for this MMO to finally get localized and get a proper western release. I have no reverence for Phantasy Star Online or the MMO genre in general, so this doesn’t seem like anything I’d be interested in. It comes out next year and is exclusively coming to Xbox.
I’ve made my thoughts on Borderlands as a series clear, and this trailer didn’t do much to change them. It looks exactly like what you’d expect from a sequel to Borderlands 2, which I guess is what people want. But in an age where games like Destiny and The Division exist, I’m curious to see how Borderlands 3 does against other loot shooters. I just wish they would have tried to do some more interesting things as opposed to just doubling down on what’s worked in the past.
They also released a new piece of DLC for Borderlands 2 to link the stories of the two games, which I’m pretty sure is free.
It comes out September 13th of this year.
GEORGE R.R. DARK SOULS (ELDEN RING)
With no gameplay and just an ambiguous as hell CG trailer, it sure felt like something both From Software and Georgie boy would make.
I don’t have any love for either From Software or the throne man himself, Mr. R.R. Martin, and this detail-packed trailer did nothing to sway those feelings.
They were extremely brief and vague when it came to their streaming initiative, Project X-Cloud, but it sounds like it’s launching this year, and you can even use your Xbox One as a sort of home streaming device, allowing you to stream to other devices on the same WiFi connection.
There was a lot of hype and boasting about the technology and connectivity around the next Xbox console to kick of this next segment. Focusing in on the more tech heavy bullet points like the processor in the console, ray tracing support, SSD inclusion, backwards compatibility and so on and so forth. No real visual element aside from various studio heads talking about how powerful this technology is.
The way they’re positioning this next console seems to be a direct response to how the Xbox One was lambasted upon reveal. Instead of superfluous features, they chose to focus on performance, and how it’s for games and gamers. Nothing about TV or movies which, while it almost definitely will support other forms of entertainment, won’t be a focus at all.
Releasing holiday of 2020, we didn’t get a name aside from the code name, Project Scarlet.
Announced as a Project Scarlet launch title, we were treated to what I assume is a cut-scene from the game Halo Infinite. All I can surmise from this trailer is that, once again, things are bad, and Master Chief got saved by someone so that he can save everyone else. Also he misses he digital, blue, cyber-girlfriend who lived in his head for a while until she went bonkers.
And just like that, you now know the entire plot to all of Halo.
Then everything ended. It all just stopped. And not one mention of Fable at all! Sure we got Keanu Reeves, but I really, really wanted the Fable rumors to bear fruit. It’s all exciting stuff, but doesn’t solve the issue of big releases this year. They’ve got Gears coming this year, but not much else.
It really felt like the entire Xbox brand is just going to lay low for a while, restructuring it’s offerings and services, so that they can come back next winter to release an incredibly, fully featured console.
But next year, it seems like Microsoft is gonna hit consumers hard and make sure people feel good about the brand by the time the next console drops.