E3: Xbox Conference Highlights

After a good conference at last year, another good showing was hoped for from the Xbox conference, and fans were largely kept happy, with the focus again on games games games, an appearance from a Hollywood superstar and ending with a tease of the next-gen console.  They showed off 60 games, including 14 from Xbox Game Studios, and some good news regarding Game Pass. So in no particular order, here’s our highlights of the Xbox presentation.

Next-Gen Console to Launch Late 2020

The launch of Microsofts next console will be launched late next year, at the moment called Project Scarlet, but will no doubt have a proper name by the time its in the shops.  Xbox supremo Phil Spencer gave us a video showing interviews with engineers working on the project, keen to let us know the impressive specs of the next stage of Xbox gaming. “Four times performance increases over the current generation”, graphical capabilities that will allow for 8K resolution and 120 frames per second, and a commitment to reduce load times thanks to built in SS that doubles up as virtual RAM.

A New Console, A Big Comeback

The Launch title for the new console will be the big name that launched the original Xbox, namely Halo, and we were given a nice cinematic trailer for Halo Infinite to marvel at.  A man marooned in space in a stricken ship, musing on being separated from his wife and child, discovers the lifeless but unmistakable figure of Master Chief, and reboots him with a surge of electricity.  Its then revealed that the original Halo has been fractured, before the ship comes under attack.  We even hear the voice of Cortana at one point, hinting at a comeback in the game.

Release Date for Cyberpunk 2077

When the words “CD Projekt Red” came up on the screen, a big cheer went up in the theatre because we all knew we were about to see more of the eagerly awaited Cyberpunk 2077.  With a stunning cinematic trailer, we certainly we’rent left disappointed with this sci-fi action game, and ther was a nice surprise at the end when one of the in game characters reveals himself to be played by Keanu Reeves!  The man himself the comes out to whip up the crowd by telling us what to expect from the game when we get our hands on it, and also revealing for the first time, the release date of 16 April 2020.

Be Afraid, be very afraid!

A surprise reveal to most came from Layers of Fear developers Bloober.  Their cinematic trailer stared out with the main character Ellis, an ex-cop, accompanied by his dog Bullet, go off into the woods to try and find a missing boy. As night falls we get cuts of video footage of strange goings on and it slowly dawns on the audience that this looks vaguely familiar, the home video camera style, the cabin in the woods, it can’t be can it?  Then the unmistakable icon that makes you realise this is The Blair Witch, relaesed for PC and Xbox on August 19th.

Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2

A new version of the Elite controller is on its way and available for pre-order, and the slick trailer showed us in details all its whistles and bells, that takes the precision and customisation level of a controller up another few notches.  This all comes at a hefty price however, and will set you back $180!  A lot of money, but it sure does look sexy!

Gears 5 gets a release date

The release date for Gears 5 was finally revealed, and we can get our hands on it on 10 September 2019.  Fans who can’t wait that long can play the beta test of Horde Mode a month prior to release on 19 August.  The trailer for the new Escape mode was revealed, which has players in co-op teams of three, infiltrate a Hive nest, plant a bio-toxic bomb, then fight their way out before its too late.  There was also a nice bonus of a Terminator exoskeleton to play as, for those that pre-order the game.

Game Pass Ultimate, the new tier of subscription

A new tier of game pass is now available that covers both Xbox and PC gaming, as well as including your Xbox Live subscription.  With the amount of titles already covered by the pass and the constant stream of games announced to be joining Game Pass on launch, its becoming a no-brainer for signing up.  With an introductory price of £1, and £11/month from then on, it would be silly not to sign up.

Surprising Forza Horizon 4 Expansion

You should expect the unexpected from the guys at Forza after the Hot Wheels expansion in  FH3, but this one took me by suprise, pleasantly so.  Its not unusual for a nice sports car to be wheeled on to promote Forza, but on second glance at the McLaren on the right side of the game, you realised it was actually a life sized lego model!  Cue the video for the latest expansion to Forza Horizon 4, Lego Speed Champions!  This combination shouldn’t work, but from the sction in the trailer, it looks like its going to be a hell of a lot of fun, and we only have to wait until 13th June to get behind the wheel.  I just want to know if my car will explode into a thousand little bricks when I crash!

Discover The Outer Worlds from October 2019

The Xbox show opened with this forthcoming game from Obsidian, The Outer Worlds, that struck me as something of a hybrid of Fallout and Borderlands. A big RPG adventure with a sense of humour that came across well in the trailer.  There looks to be all sorts of weird and wonderful weapons to use, and you certainly get plenty of opportunity to use them.  This could be a game to look out for, with a release date of 25 October 2019.

Plenty on offer with the yearly [email protected] Showreel

The now yearly tease of all the best upcoming Indie games had plenty to offer, with titles such as: Dead Static Drive, Pathologic 2, Star Renegades, Afterparty, Totally Accurate Battle Simulator, The Good Life, CrossCode, Creature in the Well, Killer Queen Black, Riverbond, Unto the End, Blazing Chrome, Felix the Reaper, UnderMine, Supermarket Shriek, Secret Neighbor, Ikenfell, The Lord of the Rings Card Game, Night Call, and Totem Teller. They’ll all be available as part of Xbox Game Pass when they launch.

Other Xbox Highlights.

  • Phantasy Star Online 2 is going to be available in the west for the first time in Spring 2020, with all available content in a free-to-play.
  • Microsoft Flight Simulator is returning on Xbox One and PC, powered by satellite data and Azure AI, the graphics look stunning, a game made to be played on a 4K screen.
  • Age of Empires 2: Definitive Edition sees a remaster of the classic PC Real Time Strategy game with 4K visuals, rupgraded audio, and a new campaign called The Last Khans. It’ll be available this autumn.
  • Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga.  Youve played most of the episodes before, but now all nine bricky adventures will be available in one package.
  • Way to the Woods,  a cute looking game starring two deer exploring the urban environments of Japan. Definitely one to play with the kids, and will be available on Game Pass at launch.
  • Dying Light 2 was highlighted with a  cinematic trailer showing the conflict between humans and zombies , featuring an infected character named Aiden. Dying Light 2 is out in Spring 2020
  • Crossfire X, which apparently has 650 million players on PC, will showcase its brand of urban warfare on consoles exclusively on Xbox in 2020.
  • Tales of Arise is the newest entry in Bandai Namco’s JRPG series, pretty standard fare for the genre but if this is your bag then its something to get excited by, sometime in 2020.

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