E3 2019 Xbox press conference round-up: New console and new Halo confirmed

Halo Infinite and Project Scarlett dominate the Xbox E3 2019 conference

Microsoft wants Xbox players to know that its focus is entirely on creating memorable video games — and the hardware needed to make them the best they can possibly be. Phil Spencer and his team shared 60 different video games over the course of more than 90 minutes, including smaller indie titles as well as big-budget exclusives. But it wasn’t all just about the software. Microsoft also highlighted its Project xCloud service, as well as the next-generation Xbox console arriving next year. Here is the biggest news from the Xbox E3 2019 press conference.

The games

Halo Infinite

Would it be a Microsoft E3 presentation without Halo? Halo Infinite got a much longer teaser trailer during the last moments of the press conference, introducing a new Pelican pilot character who rescues an injured Master Chief from the cold of space. The trailer shown was running in the new Slipspace engine, and featured an emotional moment with a hologram of the pilot’s wife and child. It also offered a voice clip of Cortana, who seems committed to reconciling with John-117.

The biggest news from Halo Infinite was not, however, about the game itself, but rather what it will be available on. Halo Infinite will launch on Xbox One and PC holiday 2020, but it will also be available on the new Project Scarlett console. Keep scrolling for more information on the hardware.

Gears 5

Gears 5 is shaping up to be the biggest console exclusive for Xbox One this year, and its new “Escape” mode was highlighted at the E3 2019 press conference. The mode tasks you with infiltrating the hive and planting a bomb before getting out alive, and will be playable with up to three people. There appear to be new robotic-type enemies, but we’ll have a chance to see for ourselves when the game launches on Xbox One and PC September 10. Those who purchase the Ultimate Edition can play it four days early, and pre-order purchases will also get a Terminator: Dark Fate character pack.

Cyberpunk 2077

We didn’t think we were going to get surprised by anything related to Cyberpunk 2077 this year, but CD Projekt Red managed to do so in the best possible way. Keanu Reeves will be a character in the game, and the actor hyped up fans during the presentation and revealed the game’s release date: April 16, 2020.

In the cinematic trailer shown during the event, protagonist V escapes from a heist after retrieving an augmentation chip, but loses his companion in the process. He is ambushed by the buyer in the deal after arriving at their apartment, but kills his captor. Before he can actually escape, he’s hacked and awakens to see Reeves assisting him. We’re not sure what it all means just yet, but it was flashy and shiny in the best way possible.

The Outer Worlds

Obsidian Entertainment is part of the Xbox Game Studios family now, and the studio was given the opening moments of the press conference to show off the futuristic weapons and abilities we’ll get to use. The Halcyon colony is the furthest in the galaxy, and has found itself at the mercy of corporate overlords who control nearly every aspect of the area. As either a hero or a villain, you’ll be able to challenge this ownership, using a mix of attacks that reminded us of the recent Rage 2. Obsidian is the master of role-playing action, and we’ll be able to play The Outer Worlds on October 25.

Bleeding Edge

Ninja Theory was acquired by Microsoft just prior to E3 2018, and one of the games it already had in development was the multiplayer action title Bleeding Edge. The four-on-four game features colorful and eccentric characters with names like “Daemon” and “Nidhogger,” who have access to weapons like fire breath, and motorcycles to quickly track down enemies. The game will be melee-focused, and a technical alpha test will be available on both Xbox One and PC June 27.

Ori and the Will of the Wisps

The long-awaited sequel to Ori and the Blind Forest finally has a release date. Ori and the Will of the Wisps will arrive for both Xbox One and PC on February 11. During the gameplay trailer shown in the conference, we saw Ori ambushed by a giant spider monster, as well as other creatures that launch electric blasts or fire. At the tail end, Ori is also seen flying on an owl, which is likely the one hatched from the egg at the conclusion of the first game.

Minecraft Dungeons

If you wanted a top-down action game in the same vein as The Legend of Zelda, then you’re going to want to pay attention to Minecraft Dungeon. The cooperative game is a standalone experience and supports both local and online cooperative modes. In addition to collecting weapons, you’ll search for hidden treasure and make use of magical attacks. During the trailer, this included an enormous laser blast. We’ll be able to play it on both Xbox One and PC in spring 2020.

Blair Witch

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An unexpected treat from near the beginning of the press conference, Blair Witch is a first-person horror game that appears to be cut from the same cloth as Outlast. Developed by the studio behind Layers of Fear, the game takes place in 1996 and stars a man tasked with locating a missing boy in a forest. As it’s a Blair Witch title, he makes heavy use of a camcorder to do so, which appears to show satanic imagery. The screen flashes red more than once, and we’re pretty sure we won’t make it out of this one alive.

Spiritfarer

E3 2019 saw the world premiere of Spiritfarer, an adventure game that blends elements of the simulation and building genres. With a house built on top of a boat, you play as Stella, a character who must “learn to say goodbye.” If the trailer is anything to go by, this includes saying goodbye to an anthropomorphic deer. The cartoony art style separates Spiritfarer from more realistic or pixel art titles, and we’re looking forward to learning more about Thunder Lotus’ project.

Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition

After the successful remastering of the original game, Age of Empires II is getting the 4K treatment, Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition will feature 4K resolution and remastered audio, and it will be available through Game Pass on PC this fall. Even better? The game will include a new “The Last Khans” campaign, which wasn’t included in the original Age of Empires II.

Psychonauts 2 and Double Fine

A new trailer for the sequel to cult hit Pyschonauts was shown during the E3 2019 press conference. Psychonauts 2 will be just as goofy as the original, with protagonist Raz seen platforming inside creatures’ mouths and jumping on their teeth. He says he has recently started a new job as a corporate drone. Bigger news than the trailer is news that developer Double Fine is now part of the Xbox Game Studios Family. Pyschonauts will still launch on PC, Mac, Linux, and PS4, as  well.

Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga

The Lego Star Wars series has been around for more than a decade, but it’s getting completely remade to encompass the growing stories told in the films. Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga will include content from all nine films — the original trilogy, prequel trilogy, and sequel trilogy. It will preserve the classic Lego sense of humor, with Kylo Ren seen making a snowman at one point in the trailer. The game will be available in 2020.

Forza Horizon 4: Lego Speed Champions

Speaking of Lego, Forza Horizon 4 is getting an unexpected expansion. Lego Speed Champions brings Lego versions of supercars, including the McLaren Senna. There are also Lego characters, obstacles, and debris, and the expansion will include new areas and new challenges. You won’t have to wait very long, as it will be released on June 13 for Xbox One and PC.

Phantasy Star Online 2

Phantasy Star Online 2 is finally launching in the west on Xbox One. Sega’s online role-playing game will include cross-play support, and it includes all bosses and battles included in the other versions of the game. They are all free to play, and the game will launch for Xbox One in spring 2020.

Tales of Arise

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Bandai Namco couldn’t contain its pre-E3 leaks, but Tales of Arise was officially announced during E3 2019. The latest entry in the long-running role-playing series makes use of a gorgeous engine with very high-fidelity visuals, but it retains the art style we’ve seen from the series in the past. It will be available in 2020, and we will be battling at least one giant dragon made of fire.

Elden Ring

From Software and George R.R. Martin are collaborating on a new game called Elden Ring, and it appears to be set in a world of Norse mythology. A god is seen hammering with a weapon that resembles Mjolnir, and a monster at the very end of the teaser resembles the Nameless King from Dark Souls III. Dark Souls creator Hidetaka Miyazaki is heading up the project and its visual style is instantly recognizable, but no release date has been given yet.

Battletoads

Battletoads was announced with a very brief teaser at E3 2018, and we got to see it in action for the first time this year. The game will feature a new 2D cartoony art style that translates it well into the modern era, and it will support three-player couch cooperative play. The classic hoverbike section that infuriated you in the first game is back, albeit with a different perspective. No release date has been offered yet.

The hardware

Project Scarlett

Microsoft did not give us a final name for its next-generation console currently known as “Project Scarlett,” but it did confirm some of the technical specifications we had heard reported. The console makes use of a custom AMD processor with Zen 2 and Navi technology, and it will utilize GDDR6 SDRAM. The system will use an SSD in place of a hard drive, and will be four times more powerful than the Xbox One X. This enables framerates of up to 120 frames per second and 8K resolution. It will also support ray tracing, and hundreds of developers are already working on the system.

Project Scarlett will be available at holiday 2020, but Microsoft isn’t ready to say if it will just be one console. We’ve previously heard reports that a second, lower-priced system will be released alongside it, possibly with a power level similar to the Xbox One X, but we’ll have to wait to learn more.

Xbox Elite Controller Series 2

The Xbox Elite Controller is getting an overhaul with “Series 2.” The revised controller features adjustable tension in the thumbsticks, allowing for more precision control. It also features newly designed bumpers, shorter hair trigger locks, wrap-around rubberized grips, three custom profiles for Gears 5, Apex Legends, and Forza Horizon 4, and an internal rechargeable battery with 40 hours on a single charge. It will be compatible with a wireless charging dock as well, so you can easily get yourself back to gaming.

The services

Project xCloud

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Google Stadia is shaping up to be a revolutionary option for those looking to play their favorite AAA games wherever they are, but Microsoft is offering its own robust streaming service in Project xCloud. Available for previewing in October and playable for the first time at E3, Project xCloud will offer two ways to stream. The first, like Stadia, will have you streaming from Microsoft’s servers to your device remotely, even if you don’t have a console. However, you will also be able to stream from your home Xbox console to separate devices for free —  this includes every single game you own on Xbox One.

Xbox Game Pass on PC

The Xbox Game Pass service has launched in beta on PC today. It currently costs $10 per month, but you can try the first month for just $1, and it will have over 100 games available by August. If you already have an Xbox Live Gold subscription and Xbox Game Pass on Xbox One, you can bundle them with the PC service through the Xbox Game Pass Ultimate bundle for just $15 per month.

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