Cyber Punked at the end.
This year Xbox pulled out all the stops to make it the biggest and best E3 they possibly could. Deciding to focus on a quantity over quality approach, Microsoft talked about 50(51?) games today, making this article impossible to do game by game. So, a bit of housekeeping, the major third party games that were featured on stage (Fallout &76, Kingdom Hearts 3, Just Cause 4, etc…) will be discussed when their studio’s conference’s reaction goes live. This article is all about Xbox and their games.
Holy Crap there are still a TON of games to talk about. Easily the biggest announcements of the day were Halo Infinite and Gears 5, book-ending the show with awesome trailers. Halo did its thing to kick the presentation off by having a vague yet graphically amazing trailer showing the game in a whole new engine. And closing the show was a cinematic for Gears 5 previewing the story and showing where they planned to take the franchise. It is especially interesting however, to note that both games are returning to their old roots in some way. The setting of halo is very reminiscent to the first game, and Gears explicitly states that they are going back to where it all started.
Speaking of going back, major new reboots were announced. Devil May Cry 5 really is happening, and a brand new battletoads game is in the works. Although the latter is looking like a next-gen game as there wasn’t even a rendering of the frogs, we only got the logo. Devil May Cry however, is coming back in a huge way, a flashy new cinematic showing off Dante and his look from DMC 4 had a ton of personality and charisma. Amplifying the hype with cool weapons, an interesting supporting cast, and genuinely fun gameplay.
Jumping forward in time to more recent hits however, From Software finally announced their new game. The Japanese samurai-inspired game Sekiro Shadows Die Twice looks just as brutal as any game from From would expect. The combat looks fluid, the story is intense, and graphically it looks so beautiful in the art style, feeling like a perfect mix of classic Japanese literature and the real world. That wasn’t the only game to impress on all of the most important areas upon announcement. Dying Light 2 was announced to the surprise of many delighted fans. And, after such a huge success of a game the design team decided to build on what they already had rather than trying to reinvent the wheel on mechanics and gameplay as so many games do. Instead this game is heavily dependent on your choices. What you do in the world affects how the world responds to the environment that they are in.
Not to mention we got updates on plenty of games announced in previous years. Ori and the Will of the Wisps still looks beautiful and the platforming looks just as great as the last one. The story looks like it will hit all the same emotional levels as the last game and that is really cool to see. They seem to be shading a little light with the dark. Crackdown 3 was also shown again and I am happy to admit that I was wrong. Crackdown 3 looks like it will be a lot of fun, and I swear if I don’t get to hear Terry Crews say all of his catchphrases I will revolt.
The indie titles came out strong this year, with we happy few showing a really cool new trailer, Tunic wowing the audience with a colorful and interesting trailer, and a hot sizzle reel to add on top. The games shown here were super cool and all were artistically and thematically interesting. The indie reel went a little too fast to get good glimpses of all of the games, but the ones that they did show in length looked really good. These games don’t look anything like 2018 releases and some may even be pushed back as far as 2020. These games will be worth the wait though.
It wasn’t all new though, some games got some pretty surprising DLC announcements. The first DLC announced was as expected for Sea of Thieves. The new trailer showed a bit of story and added a destiny style boss with a whole new area to explore, if it comes with fresh story and missions, it looks like this could be the DLC to really help this game rebound after a bad start. One game that didn’t need to rebound was Cuphead, Xbox’s runaway hit last year and easily one of the biggest contenders for game of the year last year. This announcement was especially surprising considering how complete and finished the game felt. Once it was over I didn’t feel like i got shortchanged from the experience. Quite the opposite actually, this DLC feels like a very Nintendo style drop. It definitely wasn’t needed, but I am definitely going to appreciate having a reason to go back to Cuphead after all this time.
Metro Exodus, Forza Horizion 4, and Jump Force round out the biggest titles shown during the actual press conference. All were pretty expected, but the reveals/info we received about them were all pretty solid. Metro Exodus showed off in a big way with probably the coolest trailer of the show mainly because of the music. Forza is set in the UK. Trading Australia for a more compact and dense map shared with everyone. And Jump Forced showed a trailer that is pretty jarring at first to see Goku, Monkey D. Luffie, Naruto, and Freeza in hyper realistic HD. This is one you just have to see for yourself.
By the end of the conference I saw Gears 5 and thought for sure that the conference was over. Things were wrapping up and we could all get on with our lives. While that was mostly true, Microsoft and CD Projekt Red couldn’t let everyone walk out without one more surprise. A huge new trailer for Cyberpunk 2077 premiered and not only did it look beautiful, it explained the whole game world in just a few short minutes.
Overall the conference was a huge success, Microsoft came in and fixed their biggest issue, games. This hole that they dug themselves into won’t be easy to dig themselves out of quickly. But, this is a good start, the games that were shown off were quality and looked like a lot of care and love were going in to each game to make sure they came out right. This means that 2018 is pretty much a wash for the company. Nothing is coming out for them this year that is simply on the same scale as what everyone else is producing. Look out for them in the coming years though. With gamepass growing every day and the announcement of 5 new game studios in Microsoft’s corner, things are looking better for Microsoft than they have in a very very long time.