Gaming

E3 2018 Round Up – Microsoft

The trailer for Halo Infinite opened up Microsoft’s Xbox presentation this year. Not much was revealed except that it is apparently powered by a new engine they are calling Slipspace (a Halo reference). At one point in the trailer it showed multiple creatures in a herd which might imply we could be seeing much larger scale encounters in the new game. I’m wondering if might have to wait until E3 2019 before we see a real trailer.

Once Xbox chief Phil Spencer was out on the stage he made it pretty clear what was coming up with 50 games of which there’d be 18 exclusives and 15 world premieres. So a lot of games and they had to cram it all in around 90 minutes. Did they do it? I don’t think I could keep up!

A lot of notes were taken so I kept up as best I could:

  • Ori and the Will of the Wisps looks like a prettier, more detailed version of the last game. Seriously – the detail is turned right up.
  • Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice – Interesting fantasy samurai action game by From Software but this time published by Activision. Is it like Dark Souls? I’ll leave that for the fans to decide.
  • Todd Howard from Bethesda showed up to tell everyone that Fallout 4 is now on Game Pass. With their own press conference not far away there wasn’t much more mentioned except for a short trailer for Fallout 76. Apparently set in West Virginia, the map will be four times larger than the last game.
  • There’s a Life is Strange spin-off coming June 26th for free. Keep an eye out for The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit.
  • Not much more with Crackdown 3 but the new trailer had plenty more Terry Crews and it’s still looking like it’ll be a fun game. This time it seems your car can transform into different modes, including a tank.
  • Previous PlayStation 4 JRPG exclusive, NeiR: Automata finally arrives on the Xbox One with all the DLC bundled in.
  • Metro Exodus now has a release date: February 22nd.
  • More Sea of Thieves content on its way with two expansions: Cursed Sails and Forsaken Shores. Looks like skeleton crews on ships is coming… Could be fun!
  • PUBG on Xbox will soon be catching up to the PC version with the third map and war mode coming end of 2018.

The biggest surprise about Forza Horizon 4 was not that it was appearing (we all knew that) but that the local wasn’t either Japan or Hong Kong but Britain. The technology has received a substantial boost since the last game too. Not only is it the first in the spin-off series to hit 60fps but it’s dynamic weather system has been expanded to cover seasons too.

Lakes can freeze over during the winter opening up new routes during races. It’s almost like the Blizzard Mountain expansion from the last game drops in on a whim to change up the gameplay. Bikes are in there too but we have no idea if they are usable and there was even a hovercraft but that might be more an opponent for a race challenge than something you can take for a spin.

The Forza Horizon series is by far my favourite racing game series so I’m really looking forward to this next iteration. For players not into the more technical aspects of Forza Motorsport this is perfect and it’s finally taking place in Top Gear’s home country too so we might be lucky and see some familiar locales. The game arrives on October 2nd and will be on Game Pass too.

Phil popped up again (no tshirt changes this presentation) to make some big announcements on the developer front. Not only do they have a new studio set up called the Initiative (no game announced though) there were a few additional studios that have no been brought under the umbrella of Microsoft.

Forza Horizon developer Playground Games was long thought to “jump in” with Xbox thanks to their successes and rumoured Fable game while Undead Labs (State of Decay) makes a lot of sense but the surprises were seeing Compulsion Games (We Happy Few, arriving August 10th) and Ninja Theory (Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice). However, it should be noted that Ninja Theory’s expertise in motion capture would also make them a useful ally for teams wanting to produce that kind of fidelity in their games.

The Division 2 had a gameplay trailer that showed Washington DC being the victim this time. The demo started with an overgrown garden that looked amazing. The capital is a mess making this look more post apocalyptic than before. New toys like seeker mines and sticky traps. March 15 2019

Game Pass will soon be introducing a Fast Start system to help get you to games faster, up to 2x. The Division, Elder Scrolls Online, and the previously mentioned Fallout 4 are now in Game Pass too.

There was a rush of ID@Xbox titles too. For starters there’s RPGs Ashen, Below and Tunic. The Battle Royale genre expands yet again with Islands of Nyne. Super Meat Boy Forever, skateboarding with Session, the MMO Black Desert will have its console beta beginning later this year. Finally there’ll be more of Cuphead with The Delicious Last Course coming next year that gives players an additional character to play.

The Gears of War franchise is now branching out. Gears Pop! is a mobile game with Pop! vinyl versions of the Gears of War characters that is intended to be a friendlier take on the games but little more has been revealed at the moment. Gears Tactics was also revealed. Its still a long way from getting a launch date but it looks a lot like X-COM in how it plays. I’m really interested to see more of this as the style of squad encounters in the main games could lend themselves well to playing from a different perspective. Finally, Gears 5 continues the story from the previous game with the narrative now focusing more on Kait. It also looks like some time has passed as both Marcus and JD Fenix both look worse for wear to turn up the character detail.

Closing it all out was the trailer for Cyberpunk 2077 with the first new footage we’ve seen in years. Nothing yet on how the game plays but I’m hoping it’s closer to The Witcher 3 in play style than what people might think. The protagonist’s car might just be the new Roach. It’s a cool way for Xbox to close out and hopefully this is just the start of what’s coming for this game.

Overall it was a good presentation. I do wish more time was given to the ID@Xbox titles as they deserved more time than they were given and if it meant stretching things out a few more minutes I don’t think it would have been too bad as it was nicely paced and didn’t feel like it dragged out much at all. The big message from Microsoft was that they are in this for the long haul and there’s still more to come.

The full press conference is below via GameSpot’s YouTube channel.

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