Microsofts Xbox E3 conference re-cap

Ed Willey

Here we are, E3 2019 (un-)officially starts now. The first of the big conferences as EA decided not to partake this year, favouring smaller game-specific segments spread over a day. But enough about that, there’s a lot to get through…!

The show opened with a new trailer for Obsidians ‘fallout-in-space’, The Outer Worlds, and very nice it looks too. Lots of aliens, shooting aliens and one-liners and a release date of 25th Oct 2019, the same date it’ll be hitting Game Pass. Nice, solid opener.

Subverting expectation, the first real live people out on stage are not Phil Spencer, but Dom Matthews and Rhani Tucker from Ninja Theory (who Microsoft bought last year, remember) here to show off their totally not-leaked new game Bleeding Edge. A 4v4 multiplayer melee game, with a Borderlands-y attitude. Quite the departure from Hellblade, but one they say they’ve been working away on for a while. Technical alpha 27th June, so I guess we’ll get a better idea of what it’s all about then.

Wasting no time, we get a new trailer for Ori and the Will of the Wisps. The first Ori was an excellent platformer so it’s fair to expect big things from the sequel. Looks beautiful, coming 11th Feb 2020.

If you cross Diablo with the aesthetic of Minecraft you get Minecraft Dungeons a new spin-off, made by Mojang, coming Spring 2020.

Finally, Phil Spencer takes to the stage. It’s the biggest showing of games at any conference ever he beams, 60 games in 90 mins, with 14 of those being from Microsoft Game Studios and a whopping 34 releasing same day on Game Pass, not too shabby at all.

Respawns single-player Star Wars game is up next, with a shortened, edited look at the gameplay EA showed the day before. Still coming out 15th Nov this year.

Now time for a world exclusive, new horror game. Man wandering, lost in woods, looking for his dog, finds a cabin, finds a video camera, some sort of time loop?!? Blair Witch, the video game, looks suitably spooky. From the guys who made Observer, Bloober Team.

Cyberpunk 2077 time! New cinematic trailer, that concludes with the reveal that none other than Keanu Reeves stars in the game. Quite how they’ve kept this under wraps is impressive work given he’s done a bunch of mo-cap and voice over for the game. He’s on stage to reveal the release date, 16 April 2020. Get excited.

In quite the contrast, next along is Spiritfarer, a game about compassion and being the ferrymaster for those crossing to the other side. Building up your ferry as you go. Nice 2D art style, looks lovely.

Trailer for the new Battletoads, looks, ok, I guess. Moving on.

They really are blasting through these trailers… RPG Time: The Legend of Wright, amazing looking hand-drawn RPG thing, need to find out more about this, looks great!

Now we’re into the customary ID@XBOX montage, featuring no less than 22 games (hey Phil, whatever helps bump up that magic number, eh?). The full list of what’s show is; Dead Static Drive, Star Renegades, Afterparty, Way to the Woods, Creature in the Well, Killer Queen Black, UnderMine, Pathologic 2, The Lord of the Rings LCG, The Good Life, Blazing Chrome, Spiritfarer, Totally Accurate Battle SImulator, Secret Neighbour, Supermarket Shriek, Blair Witch, Unto the End, Night Call, Riverbond, Felix the Reaper, Ikenfell, Totem Teller. Some really nice looking stuff in there, and ALL coming to Game Pass.

Now to the stage comes Sarah Bond, head of partnerships for Game Pass. New titles coming to the subscription service are Batman: Arkham Knight, Metro Exodus (very recent!), Hollow Knight and Borderlands Handsome collection (awesome!). Solid bunch of additions there. Need more hours in the day.

Now news on Game Pass for PC, open beta starts today with over 100 PC games including Halo Masterchief Collection, for $9.99 month. In addition to your console Game Pass, unless…

You pick up the new Game Pass Ultimate which covers you for Game Pass on console and PC and adds Xbox live too, all for $14.99. Seems decent, especially if you game on both systems.

Back to trailer-fest. “Powered by satellite data and Azure AI” a brand new Microsoft Flight Simulator, looks pretty. If you like planes as much as many people like driving cars in Forza, this is 100% the game for you.

Classic RTS action up next with a short trailer for Age of Empires 2 Definitive Edition, remastered audio, 4K support, coming this Fall with a new campaign The Last Khans.

Goofy trailer for Wasteland 3 (are all the games this silly? I haven’t played them). Seems fun, especially if you like your RPGs isometric and turn-based.

Possibly named after a Sea of Thieves character, Matt Booty, head of Xbox game studios is here to tell us they’ve bought Double Fine Productions and brings Tim Schafer out to give us a new look at Psychonauts 2, which he does.

Back to back trailers again, Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga, will cover all nine films, with fresh levels, not just re-hashes of the previous game apparently.

Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot, coming early 2020. Looks very anime, I’m out of my depth here…

One of the stand-outs for me personally, 12 Minutes, a top-down interactive thriller, which seems to take place entirely within a single apartment, where you have to break a time loop. Looks GREAT. Produced by Annapurna Interactive, a subsidiary of the movie company of the same name.

Way to the Woods, you play as an adult deer leading a child deer around an odd looking real-world, coming 2020. Ok.

After some exciting pyrotechnics, Rod Ferguson from The Coalition is here to tell us about Gears 5. It’s out 10th Sep 2019 for starters, and you can play it early if you have Game Pass Ultimate. On 17th July there will be a multiplayer test, then in Aug a Horde mode test, but now a trailer for a brand new mode, Escape, looks like a 3 player PvE co-op thing. They also have trapped some famous wrestlers under the stage to play it, I don’t really understand what is happening it’s quite odd. One more thing, they have a tie-in with the new Terminator film, Dark Fate. Ok then.

Time to talk tech! The much rumoured new Elite controller is shown in video form. Lots of tweaks and additions look very nice, I would like one. Though the full name of ‘Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2’ seems a little overly long.

Dying Light 2 cinematic trailer with a tag of Spring 2020 followed speedily along by the next add-on for Forza Horizon 4: Lego Speed Champions, which to be honest, looks like a lot of fun, was accompanied by a giant Lego car onstage, and it’s out THIS WEEK, Thurs 13th June to be exact.

More Gears now, this time the mobile game tie-in with Funko-Pop. It looks pretty much like Clash Royale, tagged with the astoundingly vague “Pre-order soon”.

State of Decay 2 is getting a narrative story expansion, following the stories of two characters looking for missing loved ones. Heartland expansion is out TODAY. Well, go download it then.

A giant Sega logo is up next, preceding one of the more puzzling announcements of the evening. Phantasy Star Online 2 is coming to Xbox in early 2020. Curious. Is this still a big deal?

Phils back now, to announce that a game with 650 million (really?) players is coming to Xbox. Crossfire X by Smilegate is coming in 2020. I honestly have no idea who or what this game is, but 650 million Koreans is a LOT.

It’s at this point that I’m thinking there isn’t a whole lot of the 90mins run time left and we’ve had no xCloud, no new console, no Fable and no Halo. Let’s hope we don’t run out of time.

Trailer-fest part 37 now. Tales of Arise will continue the long-running JRGP series, coming in 2020.

Borderlands 3, still on for 13th Sep 2019 and now you can play the free Borderlands 2 DLC, Commander Lilith and the Fight for Sanctuary. Again, leaks spoilt this, but hey, what you gonna do.

Talking of leaks, the From Software and George R. R. Martin collaboration gets the trailer treatment next. All cinematic though, so we’re still none to wise as to what’s this is going to be, other than likey souls-esque. Elden Ring is its name.

More Phil, finally getting to the future tech. xCloud is having a public hands-on at E3, so if you’re in the area go try it out. There will be two types of xCloud, one uses the Microsoft data-centres, the other uses your home console, kind like Remote Play on Playstation it sounds. Will be opening up in Oct for people to get their hands on. No mention of supported devices, or bandwidth requirements, strange.

Finally a sizzle reel for the new box. Project Scarlett, the name has been doing the rounds for a while. Talk of custom-built AMD processor, hardware-based ray-tracing, SSD hard-drive, GDDR6 RAM, aiming to eliminate load times, “most immersive console ever”, “four times as powerful as an Xbox One X”... expect it ‘Holiday 2020’.

Feels like a slightly missed opportunity, given there’s no Sony show, to really smash out some solid details about the new tech, but I guess they just aren’t quite there yet. Oh well. Sounding like it’ll be very much on par with PS5, given what’s been said about that so far.

Here’s the big finish… A new cinematic for Halo Infinite. A guy, seemingly adrift in a ship, finds Masterchief floating in space and revives him, only to go on to show that the Halo ring has been partly destroyed. Halo Infinite will be a launch title for the currently code-named Project Scarlett console, so we won’t be seeing it til late 2020. We still nothing about the gameplay, except the obvious, which is a shame as after the scant trailer at last years show, many were hoping to learn a little more about the next entry in Mastercheifs story.

So, there you have it. That’s what 60 games in 90 mins looks like. A couple of nice surprises and a couple of disappointments too, but after a frankly exhausting amount of games, I’m off for a lie-down.

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