E3 is dead, and in its place is a summer of announcement showcases. Great for gamers, but horrible for people who have to cover it. However this is our dystopian gaming future? On July 23rd Microsoft finally showed their hand as they unveiled titles from their first party studios as well as titles which will reach consoles first on their platform.
Leading off with their ?best foot?, 343 Industries showed gameplay of the long awaited chapter of the Master Chief?s adventures. Starting off with a somber cinematic of an orbital station creating the latest iteration of his famed Mj?lnir armor. It seems humanity had decided to reach out to Rico Rodriguez of Just Cause fame for armament advice as the Chief will take on ?The Banished? with a brand new grappling hook in tow.
Once the cinematic ended we were treated to a short gameplay demo video where the Chief and his sassy bearded savior needed to take out some anti aircraft guns. Having abandoned the Chief earlier than the team at Bungie, I was surprised that he is still murdering the species that made up the Covenant. Last I checked he was fighting glowing yellow bug things (The Prometheans). Chief showed off a bevy of new abilities such as grappling nearby objects and throwing them at enemies, throwing some kind of sticky grenade that launches enemies in the air (just like in Just Cause!). Once the scene of cleared of the slightly better looking familiar foes,
John-117 ascended a tower where he played a message where a Brute lamented how quickly humanity fell to his forces and that his thirst for battle will only be sated when the Chief faces him. After that cutscene ended Chris Lee, studio head of 343 Industries spoke about the title and it?s innovations, closing his segment stating details regarding multiplayer will come at a later date.
State of Decay 3
We zoom in on a campfire where a lone woman is crafting some sort of sharp implement, spooked by the ambient noises, she screams back to assert dominance. The scene changes to the day in a wintery forest…the same woman is slowly traversing the woods and comes across a grisly scene of a dead wolf. She moves in to investigate to find the wolf?s killer is still enjoying the corpse. We are shown that the killer is a zombified deer. End trailer…and show title card. State of Decay 3
Phil?s shirt didn?t announce anything
Famed graphic tees enthusiast Phil Spencer makes his first appearance at this presentation, wearing a Halo Infinite T-shirt. Phil mentions the presentation will showcase titles from 9 out of the 15 internal Microsoft studios. He also declares that all these titles will be available to those who pay for Game Pass making it the best deal in gaming.
Turn 10 can?t make faces, but they make some beautiful cars…Forza Motorsport
One of the titles that are ?best on Xbox Series X?, will be Turn 10?s latest effort Forza Motorsport. The first party racer from Microsoft that outpaced Sony’s Gran Turismo so bad that this time they?re dropping the number from their title. We are treated to a scene inside a photo studio/garage where every employee wears a racing helmet while working regardless if they?re driving or not. Interspersed are scenes of cars zooming along various race courses. Everything looks beautiful.
Next up Rare shows that they are still a studio with their hippy dippy title where a couple of travelers wander a vibrant world with majestic creatures. The trailer shows man and nature working in tandem and ends with the group of pilgrims doing a ceremony to revive an injured deer-like creature and then greeted by a deer-like spirit once the deer-like creature is restored and scurries off. I?m sure this title will sell like hotcakes if it wasn?t tethered down by being a Game Pass title ::end sarcasm::
Tell Me Why…this wasn?t called Life is Strange 3
Dontnod Entertainment presents an episodic title where two young people with powers seek to uncover the mystery of their past. Somehow this isn?t just Life is Strange 3. However as derivative of their own works this plot is, I will say the team at Dontnod know how to render people, I was marveling at how well they look and not just in the aesthetically pleasing kind of way. The first episode of this game will be out August 27th.
Ori and the Will of the Wisps
Gennadiy Korol of Moon Studios announces that Ori and the Will of the Wisps will come out on Xbox Series X with enhancements not found in the original. The presentation proceeds to show side by side the original version of the title versus the enhanced version, where this laymen was not able to tell the difference. But hey the cost of admission is just a tinge under 20 dollars depending on the tier of Game Pass you pay for?so that?s cool.
The Outer Worlds: Peril On Gorgon
Space Fallout New Vegas, or the game that isn?t Outer Wilds gets its first expansion set on the planet of Gorgon. The retro futuristic stuff looks fantastic, I?m sure it will delight players of the core title to have more adventures in that world.
This title gets the distinction of forcing me to actually pay attention to the trailer, as the opening narration was a bit self depreciating. Grounded is a survival game from Obsidian. You?re one of up to 4 characters that has been shrunken down and stuck in the vast landmass of someone?s backyard. Fight off insects, build structures and survive in hopes that you can revert to your original size. It?s pretty much Honey I Shrunk the Kids…the game. The title enters early access on July 28th…and I know I will probably feed some people to the spiders and go it alone.
Avowed – Obsidian?s Skyrim
Finally the CEO of Obsidian Entertainment, Feargus Urquhart reveals the studio?s next big title. Avowed will be the studio?s attempt at making a medieval RPG…think skyrim, but probably less shouting.
As Dusk Falls
Int./Night is a new studio that is creating an interactive drama set in the American Southwest. A young family passing through to their new life out west and a couple of runaways entwine their destinies in a sleepy town in Arizona. The trailer implies the plot takes place over several decades and if the protagonists sort out this mystery with powers, I?d suggest Dontnod call their lawyers asap.
No one wants to see your vacation videos Ninja Theory
Up next the team at Ninja Theory talk briefly about Senua?s Saga Hellblade II. First is it will talk place in Iceland, second it will be built using the Unreal 5 Engine (looks like Sony?s 1% ownership of Epic won?t prevent the engine from being used on other platforms). Then the member of Ninja Theory who is presenting mentioned that footage of their research trip is on their YouTube channel. I?m sure that video will get a lot of views (at the time of writing, the video has 67k views…so clearly gamers don?t have enough to play).
Jack Black is the ?Mote of Light?and he will be signing a song in the title from the formerly independent Double Fine Studios. The trailer shows an acid rock influenced world inside a brain which Raz states has not seen a visitor in a while. Merit Badges are still the means the young psychonaut cadet gets his powers and the trailer shows off a time dilation power, which allows him to slow objects to a crawl. I?m still excited about the title (afterall I already paid for it via Fig, Double Fine?s own crowdfunding platform).
At this point, my interest level has waned drastically and I?m gonna group everything else left in this block…via bullet points!
- Destiny 2 and it?s content will be coming to Game Pass, and optimized version of the title will come to the Xbox series X
- Console Launch Exclusive titles include
- Stalker 2
- Warhammer Darktide
- Tetris Effect Connected, the original title with multiplayer modes
- The Gunk, I guess Mario Sunshine without the Mario
- The Medium
- New Genesis PSO2, we went from no Phantasy Star Online…to an overload of it.
- Crossfire X, a shooter that?s super popular in Asia, but unheard of in the States
- Existing titles will be enhanced for the Xbox Series X and these enhancements will be free (SMART DELIVERY!). Titles getting this treatment will include
- Forza 4
- Gears 5
- Sea of Thieves
- With Game Pass, Xbox Series X will launch with over 100 titles
- Still no Launch Date (Holiday Season is as close as we got) or Price?
…One More Thing
Hoping to end on a high note, Matt Booty returns to mention that while this showcase didn?t show work from every studio in the Microsoft Games Studios, here?s a teaser for a title from Playground Games. The trailer has a fairy traversing a fantastic world as a narrator drones on about heroes, villains and their tales. The trailer takes a turn as the fairy is eaten by a frog and the Narrator reminds the viewer that not all stories end well as the camera pans up to show a landscape shot of a kingdom in the horizon. The title Fable pops up on screen…cue show ending footage montage and that?s a wrap!
Overall the concept that a majority of the titles shown will be available to a Game Pass subscriber is a strong selling point for the Xbox Brand. Even though the sentiment in gaming circles is Microsoft doesn?t have enough exclusives and is diluting the need to purchase their hardware by making their titles available on PC, I don?t think the general public will care. This Netflix-ish model might very well be the future of gaming and while Sony and other publishers have dipped their toes into it, Microsoft has jumped in head first. I won?t lie when I said only a small fraction of the titles shown during this presentation interested me, but I?ll still buy their ebony obelisk…just give me a price and date already.