Impressions

 

It’s been my opinion for many years that Microsoft and Sony more or less trade back and forth in regards to who dominates a particular console generation. In the previous cycle, few would argue that the PS3 put up a decent fight until its final few years. By that same measure, ever since Microsoft’s disastrous E3 showing in 2013, where it unveiled the Xbox One, it’s felt as if they’ve been playing catch-up to Playstation in nearly every way.

Among the most visible manners in which they’ve been trailing has been in the quality, conciseness, and overall presentation of their E3 showcases. Less emphasis was placed on the games themselves, opting instead for bizarre, stilted tech demos, awkward expository verbal presentations by people with questionable public speaking skills, and cars being lowered from ceilings.

Meanwhile, Sony stripped their conferences back to a bare minimum, pausing only a few times in between avalanches of reveals, updates, trailers, and demos. It was, and continues to be, a classy, efficient, and thrilling way to announce the latest and greatest in gaming. This year, with a few caveats, is the year Xbox finally caught up.

Sitting in front of my laptop with a pen in hand, I began to remember the old Veggie Tales cartoons from my younger days as the seemingly endless parade of announcements threatened to set my paper ablaze. Yes, there were still a few too many Phil Spencer interludes. No, the bays of computers in the background seemed to serve no discernable purpose other than to make sure nobody forgot the logo of whatever game was being shown on stage at the time.

Yet, this year, more so than any since 2013, Microsoft seems to be making real strides towards addressing the enormous disparity between Xbox’s first-party lineup and that of PlayStation. To this end, they’ve acquired five new studios including The Initiative, Undead Labs, Playground Games (the makers of Forza Horizon), Ninja Theory (The developers of Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice), and Compulsion Games (who are currently wrapping up development on We Happy Few). There were some more details to be had on Xbox Game Pass, the subscription service that allows players to access new and archived games for a monthly fee, as well as technical advancements to make the service more efficient. Additionally, Phil Spencer teased the fact that the development of the next generation of Xbox consoles is currently underway, supporting rumors that the current cycle has only a few years left to live.

All of this was scattered amidst announcements for myriad exclusive franchise sequels, including trailers for Halo: Infinite, Gears 5, and Forza Horizon 4. For those with multi-platform sensibilities, this show certainly didn’t disappoint either, with trailers for a new game from From Software, the announcement of Devil May Cry 5, the news that Kingdom Hearts would be coming to the Xbox for the first time in franchise history, and the long-awaited trailer for Cyberpunk 2077.

All-in-all, Microsoft’s E3 2018 showcase was easily it’s best in recent memory, possibly ever. Xbox seems to have finally shed the “entertainment over games” attitude that has defined it since the launch of the Xbox One, and appears not only willing to say that it is finally putting games first, but to actually do so. It may have an uphill battle ahead to match or dethrone the console-exclusives-king that is Sony, but the bar has most definitely been raised for E3 2018.

 

Rundown

 

Halo: Infinite

  • Release Window: TBA.
  • The teaser wasn’t exactly brimming with details, but its got Master Chief and sure does look like a Halo game.

Ori and the Will of the Wisps

  • Release window: TBA 2019.
  • Still beautiful.

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice

  • Release Window: TBA.
  • New game from From Software (creators of Dark Souls and Bloodborne).
  • Seems to be inspired by Asian culture, at least visually.
  • Looks to have more verticality and mobility than previous titles by From.

Bethesda

  • Fallout 4 will be included with Xbox Game Pass.
  • Fallout 76
    • Release Window: TBA
    • A trailer was shown, hinting at an emphasis on base-building.
    • According to Todd Howard, this will be the largest Fallout game yet, at four times the size of Fallout 4. 
    • The game is a prequel to all previous games, and as suspected, is set in West Virginia.

The Awesome Adventures of Capitan Spirit

  • Release Date: June 26, 2018.
  • Developed by DONTNOD Entertainment, this will be an original story set in the universe of Life is Strange.
  • The story will focus on a young boy without a mother, living the life of an imaginative child.

Crackdown 3

  • Release Window: Feb 2019.

Nier Automata: Become as Gods Edition

  • Release Date: June 26, 2018.
  • This version will include all previously released DLC, as well as enhancements for the Xbox One X.

Metro: Exodus

  • Release Date: Feb 22, 2019.

Kingdom Hearts 3

  • Release Dates
    • Japan: Jan 25, 2019
    • Other: Jan 29, 2019
  • The iconic series will be coming to the Xbox platform for the first time in franchise history.

Sea of Thieves

  • An expansion titled Cursed Sails is slated to release in July of this year, while a second, dubbed Forsaken Seas will launch in September.

Battlefield V

  • Release Dates
    • Origin/EA Access and Delux Editions: Oct 16, 2018.
    • Standard Edition: Oct 19, 2018.
  • Just in case you forgot, this game is still happening.

Forza Horizon 4

  • Release Date: Oct 2, 2018
  • The game will take place in Britain, in an open, shared world.
  • Dynamic days/nights and seasons will have a dramatic impact on gameplay, even opening up new areas and unlocking community events.
  • Joining co-op will be seamless.
  • The Xbox One X will support 60FPS gameplay.

New Studio Acquisitions

  • The Initiative – a new studio based in Santa Monica.
  • Playground Games – creators of Forza.
  • Undead Labs – developers of State of Decay.
  • Ninja Theory – the people behind DMC Devil May Cry and Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice.
  • Compulsion Games – the studio about to ship We Happy Few.

We Happy Few

  • Release Date: August 10, 2018.

Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds Updates

  • Release Window: Winter 2018.
  • New maps and modes, including one called “War Mode.”

Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition

  • Release Window: Winter 2018.
  • This is the first time this title will have been brought to the west.

The Division 2

  • Release Date: March 15, 2019.

ID@Xbox

  • There were roughly a million indie games teased, including:
    • Waking
    • Super Meat Boy: Forever
    • Raji
    • Planet Alpha
    • Sable
    • Harold Halibut
    • Bomber Crew
    • Children of Morta
    • The Wind Road
    • War Groove
    • As well as numerous others my eyes and hand were too slow to catch in time.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider

  • Release Date: Sept 14, 2018.

Session

  • Release Window: TBA.
  • This appears to be a new skating game, though there are few other details at the moment.

Black Desert Online

  • Release Window: Fall 2018.

Devil May Cry 5

  • Release Window: Spring 2019.
  • Reuniting the franchise with its original creators, the developers have promised “a true DMC sequel” with “world-class visuals” and the best gameplay the series has seen yet.

Cuphead: The Delicious Last Course

  • Release Window: TBA 2019.
  • This expansion will feature an entire new isle to tackle, as well as a new playable character: Ms. Chalice.

Tunic

  • Release Window: TBA.
  • A Zelda-like that borrows some visual inspiration from games like Monument Valley, Tunic was developed by just one person. Other than that, we know very little about it.

Jump Force

  • Release Window: TBA.
  • A new game from Bandai Namco, this title sees characters from Dragon Ball, Naruto, and One Piece all collide for what’s sure to be a colossal fight.

Dying Light 2

  • Release Window: TBA.
  • Set during the “modern dark ages.”
  • This time around, the developers will be augmenting their kinetic parkour and brutal melee combat with systems to make your decisions matter. How you resolve conflicts, which factions you choose to align with, and who you decide to help will have lasting impacts on the way the world looks, how the game plays, and how the story progresses.

Battletoads

  • Release Window: TBA.
  • Other than the promise of three player co-op and other “broad, non-specific feature declarations,” there is very little known about this amphibious return.

Just Cause 4

  • Release Date: Dec 4, 2018.
  • Yep, it’s pretty much a Just Cause game. Blow some stuff up, blow some more stuff up, and find some stuff to blow up in between.

Gears of War

  • Gears of War Pop
    • Release Window: TBA.
    • Available on mobile platforms.
    • Dramatically cuter than any previous installment.
  • Gears of War Tactics
    • Release Window: TBA.
    • Taking place twelve years before the original GOW, Tactics is developer The Coalition’s first foray into the turn-based strategy genre.
    • There will be a character-focused story and loads of squad customization options for players.
  • Gears 5
    • Release Window: TBA

Cyberpunk 2077

  • Release Window: TBA
  • The trailer, while light on both story and gameplay details, is pretty rad.

Keep your browsers updated after Bethesda’s conference tonight for my impressions and full rundown, and don’t forget to check back tomorrow for details on Square Enix, Ubisoft, and Sony’s showings as they happen.

 

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