Microsoft: E3 Conference – An In-Depth Look

It’s E3 time again and what did Microsoft have in store for their Xbox fans. Phil Spencer, the ever popular and passionate head of Xbox hosted the event, as has become the norm since 2014 when he took over as head of the division (as it is Spencer has been E3 regular since 2010 for Microsoft).

50 games were showcased, with 18 exclusives (and these include some games with windows 10 cross play). So, a lot of games were covered, which I’ll not be able to cover in their entirety here, but here are my highlights from the evening.

So as Phil says, “Lets Jump in!

Well the show started without delay and directly into a teaser trailer. What we see is a forest, animals in the wild, scenes akin to Africa, all seems tranquil, until army soldiers are spotted, we cut to an ultra-wide shot, a view over the Serengeti like vista, and then, an image all Xbox gamers know well, a helmet, they helmet of the Master Chief.

Halo Infinity Featuring the all new Slipspace Engine developed by 343 Industries the story will continue after Halo 5 with the focus set around the Master Chief rather than the mixing of characters that we saw in Halo 5. Hopefully we will see a much more fulfilling single player story this time around as well.

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Credit: Microsoft

No release date has been announced at this stage.

Ori and the Will of the Wisps

No new details were given but a new teaser trailer for the new Ori side scrolling adventure platform game and visually from what has been teased, it is looking as stunning as to be expected from the people at Moon Studios, so expect more guardian spirit in 2019!

…Please stand by

Bethesda studios joined the party with Todd Howard doing a small talk on their historic ties with Microsoft and Xbox going back to Elder Scrolls: Morrowind (now available on backwards compatibility) and an extended trailer for Fallout 76. What we learnt tonight is, a gaming world that is four times the size of that from Fallout 4, which was already vast in its own right! All I will say for now is, Take me home, to West Virginia.

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Credit: Bethesda

Fallout 76 is set for a November 2018 release

The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit

Fans of Life is Strange maybe excited by this one by Dontnod entertainment. Featured within the same universe we have the story of a young boy called Chris whose main thoughts are about adventure but also relates to the rather real-life situation of growing up without a mother and with a father who’s drinking is showing to be out of hand. This one reminds me of the coming of age stories that have been popular with Hollywood, but hopefully with the same levels of strong story telling that we saw from Life is Strange, this one will be one that is well remembered. Also, big news, this game is being released for free, on June 26th.

Crackdown 3

This one has been a long time in the works, by Scottish developers Reagent Games (working with original crackdown developers Ruffian Games and Realtime Worlds David Jones (of Lemmings Fame) & Sumo Digital we have a teaser trailer that features once more Terry Crews showing the strong arm of the law blowing everything up in sight with multiple weapons and tanks. The original was a huge hit, so we shall see if the third instalment can match the original in its open world destructive law enforcement.

Release is set for February 2019

Metro Exodus

The second game featured to be set in a post-apocalyptic world focuses on the Russian wilderness. And is a follow up to Metro: Last Light. Considered as a survival horror first-person shooter, there will be a vast story that lets you explore what has become of Russia and surviving the multitude of mutated monsters adds to the challenge on top of the different warring factions all after power.

We’ll be looking at a February 2019 release for Metro Exodus.

Sea of Thieves

A new teaser trailer for this popular pirate adventure game, which while only released in March, has come out to show us not one, but two expansions, the first, Cursed Sails and followed by Forsaken Shores. Cursed Sails will add new NPC crews into the open waters and expect them to be rather undead! While the Forsaken Shores is pretty much as the name suggests, it isn’t sounding inviting, but it will demand to be explored!

Cursed Sails is set for a July 2018 release with Forsaken Shores a month later in August.

Forza Horizon 4

Another game with Scottish involvement and introduced by studio head Ralph Fulton from Playground Games introduces the Forza series to the British Isles, where you can race in several different UK locations, including the Scottish Capital, not seen since the original Xbox game Project Gotham Racing 2. The game features all four seasons of the year and includes fully dynamic weather systems. So ice racing over a lake in the Lake District appealing to you? Then that is an option, also If you fancy racing a hovercraft as well? Well that can be done too!

Expect to see Forza Horizon 4 in October for both Xbox (also enhanced for the One X) and Windows 10

We Happy Few

First seen at E3 a couple of years ago and available under early release in the Microsoft Store, We Happy Few finally has a proper release date, we will see this 60’s style LSD trip of a survival game released this August. Prepare to be creeped out with this compelling game and don’t forget to take your joy!

Also announced, is that Compulsion Games, who make We Happy Few are now part of the Microsoft Family.

The Division 2

The third post-apocalyptic game to show during the Xbox showcase is Tom Clancy’s The Division 2. Where some kind of virus has taken hold of Washington DC turning it into a wasteland. Urban warfare has hit the streets of the US Capitol and from the trailer, we see the team shoot it out on board a crashed and destroyed Air-force One

Expect to see a release in March 2019.

Devil May Cry 5

A teaser trailer was shown for the next story in the Devil may Cry franchise, 10 years after the release of the last game. What makes this standout is that the series director Hideeaki Itsuno is back to look after the new game as well. What we know so far is, this continues where the last game left off and ignores the spinoff DMC: Devil may Cry game that was released giving us the original characters from the 4th game in the series.

Expect a release for Spring 2019.

Dying Light 2

It’s time to take your parkour and zombie fighting up to another level, as the forth post apocalyptic game of the evening was announced. Follow up to the award winning Dying Light, we see the location change to a location within the United States (or what is left of it) after the zombie virus from the original has clearly spread. Changes within the new game sees warring factions aiming to control the city and your choices play its part in how the city shapes out.

All we know for now release wise is that it will be released during 2019.

Gears of War 5

Just a story teaser trailer for now, but we at least have it confirmed that we will see Gears of War 5 during 2019 and will feature Fenix Junior and Kait Diaz who we saw introduced during the forth instalment in the series.

Additional highlights

These are some additional games that were only shown very briefly but worth mentioning.

Cuphead? More Cuphead? Well it’s another Bafta winner and the original was a tonne of fun, so they are bringing the hype machine in for a 2019 release with a follow-up.

A new exclusive for Xbox is a new isometric RPG game where you play as an adorable little fox who happens to be savvy with a sword, the games called Tunic and has a Zelda like feel to the game style and due in 2019

Bandai Namco showed a little peak of their new game, Jump Force. Parallel universals, good and evil, where the worlds have somehow merge into a single universe. It’s a new superhero game that appears to feature the characters from Dragon ball Z, Naruto, Death Note and Once piece and is expected to arrive during 2019.

Old school gaming makes its name known in a game seen originally on the NES and Amiga as Battletoads is all set for a comeback in 2019. No real information was given bar a comical teaser. Hopefully, we will hear more as the year goes on.

Gaming exclusives was a big talking point at the Xbox showcase and one announcement that made waves was that Microsoft have added Ninja Theory to the family, yes the developers behind the Bafta winning Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice are now an exclusive Xbox & Windows 10 development studio.

On a final note, Phil Spencer briefly talked about the future of the brand and this will be in two areas, play anywhere via streaming, onto any device, be it another Xbox, on your desktop/laptop or on your phone, and the aim is to have this run as flawless as it would if you were running it on your own Xbox.

The second is confirmation that the next gen Xbox gaming system is in development with the use of “consoles” which could likely mean a similar setup as to what we have now, with a 1080p and 4k systems, or maybe pushing the boundaries with 4k and 8k systems. What hardware might these run? It is anyone’s guess, but my guess would suggest a continuation with their hardware tie in with AMD and making use of a Ryzen core and possibly tied in with a Radeon Nevi or whatever next gen GPU hardware they plan for beyond then.

The only disappointment I have from the showcase, is the lack of VR. Microsoft have invested in the augmented reality headsets that work great with games on the Steam platform for Windows, but is this a missed opportunity to add this technology onto the Xbox? Only time will tell with this one.

By Andrew Scorgie

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