Microsoft and the Xbox platform had to make a statement at this year’s E3. The show we saw on June 10, however, has us very excited for the future of Xbox. In addition to announcing several new exclusives from fan-favorite series, Microsoft has significantly bolstered its internal development studios so it can release great exclusives on a regular basis. Here are the announcements Microsoft made during the Xbox E3 2018 press conference.
New first-party studios and a vision of the future
Head of Xbox Phil Spencer revealed the commitment Microsoft is making to first-party exclusive games during the press conference. Alongside the new studio The Initiative, based in Santa Monica, Microsoft has acquired State of Decay 2 developer Undead Labs, Forza Horizon 4 studio Playground Games, Hellblade studio Ninja Thoery, and We Happy Few studio Compulsion Games.
Speaking of We Happy Few, it’s almost here! The game launches on August 10 for Xbox One, PC, and PlayStation 4.
Microsoft took a moment to touch on new cloud game streaming options, as well, which the company plans to bring to a variety of less powerful devices in the future. Phil Spencer also revealed that system architects have begun work on the next Xbox, but he didn’t elaborate on what form that will take.
We predicted Microsoft and 343 Studios could announce the sixth Halo game during the press conference, but it won’t be called “Halo 6.” Halo Infinite is the next chapter of the story, once again following Master Chief. It’s being created with the new “Slipspace Engine,” designed in-house for future Halo games, and will release on both Xbox One and Windows 10.
Our first look at Halo Infinite didn’t give us too many details on the story or characters, but we caught a glimpse of several forms of wildlife including deer and rhinocerous-like creatures. We also saw the famous Warthog vehicle, as well as a titular Halo ring – something the Legendary ending of Halo 5 alluded to.
The Coalition is working on the next chapter in the Gears of War saga, which was only called Gears 5 in its announcement trailer. The game will star Kait Diaz rather than JD Fenix this time around, though JD, Marcus, and Del all return.
The trailer showed off a variety of environments, including areas filled with trees, frozen lakes, ravines, and one section covered in red sand. Enemies also show variety, and a giant troll-like monster attacks with dual clubs – which you can turn against them.
Gears 5 comes to Xbox One and PC in 2019.
Alongside Gears 5, The Coalition announced a collaborative project with Funko and MediaTonic, Gears Pop. It turns the game’s famous characters into Funko Pop figures, and will be available on iOS and Android in 2019. No gameplay details were shared.
The Gears of War series will enter the turn-based strategy genre for the first time in Gears Tactics. Developed for PC – Xbox One was not mentioned – the Splash Damage-developed title mixes the characters, weapons, and environments from the series with turn-based tactics. It takes place 12 years before the events of the first game, and your squad and equipment will both be customizable.
Ori and the Will of the Wisps
We got a new look at gameplay from Ori and the Will of the Wisps, and it looks like it will expand on everything that made the original game so fantastic. In the video shown during the conference, we see Ori teaming up with a small owl-like bird – possibly the bird that hatches at the end of the previous game – and fly on top of it to avoid hazards. Ori will have access to a more brutal melee attack as well as a bow, and there also appear to be minecart-style obstacles similar to those in the Donkey Kong Country games.
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
That short teaser for a new From Software game shown late last year was not a Bloodborne sequel, as we had anticipated. Instead, it was for Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, a game that mixes together Japanese folklore with the studio’s legendary third-person combat. The character we see in the trailer, presumably the protagonist, has had all the skin and muscle taken off of his left arm, leaving only bone, but it doesn’t slow down his ability to leap through the air and deliver devastating attacks to monsters. Enemies have tricks up their sleeves, as well, and make use of whips and horses in combat.
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice will release in 2019 and is being published by Activision.
Bethesda Game Studios’ Todd Howard took the stage to talk about Fallout 76 ahead of Bethesda’s own conference later that day. Howard did not disclose the genre of the game – we’ve heard rumors it’s an online survival title – but did share that its world is four times the size of Fallout 4. It will be available to pre-order on June 15. Also, Fallout 4 is now available as part of the Xbox Game Pass program.
The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit
Square Enix made a surprise Life is Strange announcement during Microsoft’s show, revealing the free The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit. Available June 26, it stars an imaginative boy named Chris who has dreams of becoming a superhero and venturing into outer space. Unlike Life is Strange: Before the Storm, it’s being developed by original creators Dontnod Entertainment. It managed to tug at our heartstrings in just a few minutes.
Alongside a new trailer for Crackdown 3, which starred Terry Crews and showed off the game’s over-the-top action, Microsoft reiterated that the game will now release in February 2019. The video shown included giant mech enemies, “mad scientists,” and an enormous centipede-looking creature that had wrapped itself around a skyscraper. Terry Crews’ character also appears to have access to a gun that fires rubber ducks, and we’re way into that.
Microsoft and Square Enix confirmed that Nier: Automata will be coming to Xbox One on June 26, complete with its expansion and several pieces of cosmetic DLC. The game launches on the platform June 26.
4A Games and Deep Silver gave Metro fans a lengthy gameplay demonstration for Metro Exodus, showing off the mutant humans, sharks, and unrecognizable monstrosities that Artyom will be battling in his mission to save the world from total collapse. A train quickly moves survivors across the surface of the Russian rubble, as the game will not actually focus on the titular subway station this time around.
Metro Exodus launches on February 22, 2019.
Kingdom Hearts III
Square Enix showed off a new gameplay demonstration for Kingdom Hearts III, including a look at the world inspired by Disney’s Frozen. Elsa and Olaf make an appearance, and Sora has access to new ice-based weapons and abilities to take down his enemies. Characters from Tangled also make an appearance, as do those from Toy Story and Monsters, Inc.
Kingdom Hearts III is out January 29, 2019. Check out our hands-on preview.
Sea of Thieves
Rare’s Sea of Thieves will be getting two new expansions this year, which look to expand on the base game’s vision with dangerous and exciting new content. The teaser we were shown features a red orb showing off the “Forsaken Shores,” filled with craggily rocks that we’ll undoubtedly crash into.
Sea of Thieves: Cursed Sails will launch in July, while Sea of Thieves: Forsaken Shores will launch in September.
As promised by Electronic Arts yesterday, the conference included a very small taste of the Battlefield V campaign. We’re introduced to Nordly, a Norwegian resistance fighter fighting to rid her country of German occupation. It’s one of several “War Stories” included in the game, similar to what Battlefield 1 did in 2016.
Battlefield V is out October 19. Check out our hands-on preview.
Forza Horizon 4
Playground Games, now a Microsoft first-party studio, is once again in charge of the Forza series for Forza Horizon 4. The open-world racer takes players to Great Britain, where they’ll be able to experience dynamic weather and seasons. Areas we saw included frozen lakes, the countryside, dunes, and snowy, dangerous roads. This time around, the entire game world will be shared by all players, and they can cooperate to complete challenges, On Xbox One X, the game will run at 60 frames per second, a first for the Horizon games on console.
Forza Horizon 4 is out for Xbox One and PC October 2, and it’s included with Xbox Game Pass at launch.
PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds on Xbox One will soon get “Sanhok,” the map currently being tested for the Steam version of the game. The respawn-enabled “War” mode is also on the way to Xbox One, and Xbox players can expect to play a new snow-covered map this winter.
Tom Clancy’s The Division 2
Ubisoft chose not to wait for its own press conference to show the first gameplay for Tom Clancy’s The Division 2. The action moves from New York City to Washington, D.C. for the sequel, and takes place six months after the outbreak that killed much of humanity. In the demonstration, agents fight with heavily armored enemies outside a crashed Air Force One plane, and it appears we’ll be able to target certain body parts to damage enemies more severely this time around. There is also some degree of environmental destruction, as a character is trapped in rock before being freed with a few bullets.
The Division 2 is out March 15, 2019.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider
Square Enix showed off Shadow of the Tomb Raider during the press conference, giving us a chance to see some of the game’s dangerous puzzles and cinematic escape sequences. Lara appears to have accidentally triggered the apocalypse, and as a town is flooded with raging water, she is nearly crushed by a falling bell tower. Jonah, who we saw in both previous games, will be making a return, but Lara’s enemies are more dangerous than her friends – she’ll have to go up against a leopard.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider is out on September 14. Check out our hands-on preview.
Devil May Cry 5
Dante and demons are back in Devil May Cry 5, the long-awaited sequel from veteran developer Hideaki Itsuno and Capcom. It appears to star Nero, as well, who is featured more heavily in the teaser trailer. The game’s tone seems to be darker than past games – it reminded us of Ninja Theory’s DmC: Devil May Cry – but it still retains the humor we expect. According to Itsuno, it’s the best game he’s ever made, and it is being developer with fans in mind before anything else.
Cuphead in the Delicious Last Course
If you loved last year’s cartoony action-platformer run-and-gun Cuphead, more of it is on the way. Cuphead in the Delicious Last Course is an expansion for the original game that includes access to a new playable isle, new bosses, new weapons, and new abilities. In addition to Cuphead and Mugman, it also introduces Ms. Chalice as a playable character.
Cuphead in the Delicious Last Course is out for Xbox One and PC in 2019.
Developed by tiny studio Finji, Tunic is an action-adventure game starring an adorable Fox, and the gameplay trailer shown during the press conference reminded us of old-school Zelda games. The combat has a much quicker pace, however, with enemies’ attacks requiring quick reflexes. Its visuals are both detailed and simple, and the creatures we saw suggest something sinister in store for players.
Tunic arrives in 2019.
If you’ve ever wanted to see Dragon Ball Z, Naruto, and One Piece characters battle together in a universe-colliding action game, then Bandai Namco have you covered with Jump Force. The exact reason for these series blending together remains unclear, but we do know you’ll be able to give Frieza a good whooping.
Jump Force is out in 2019.
Dying Light 2
Techland’s Chris Avellone took the stage to show off Dying Light 2, an ambitious sequel that looks to build on the original in a big way. This time around, nearly every decision you make in the zombie apocalypse will have a lasting effect on the world around you. In the gameplay demonstration shown, it’s explained that helping out certain peacekeepers nearby can give citizens access to clean water and the area will subsequently begin to rebuild, but you can also thumb your nose at morality and battle against them, instead. There will also be dialogue choices, and Techland ensures no two players’ games will be alike.
Yes, it’s 2018 and we’re getting a new Battletoads. Featuring three-player couch cooperative play and a 2.5D visual style, it will support 4K resolution and looks to continue the goofy beat-‘em-up antics of the original game.
Battletoads is coming in 2019.
Just Cause 4
A Steam advertisement spilled the beans on this one a little early, but Avalanche Studios and Square Enix revealed Just Cause 4 during Microsoft’s show. The game will once again star Rico in his fight against the private Black Hand army, and it will feature wingsuits, gunships, drones, and enough explosive weaponry to level an entire country. The previous game suffered performance issues on consoles, so we’re hoping the issues have been ironed out for the sequel.
Just Cause 4 is out December 4.
Microsoft closed its show with a look at CD Projekt Red’s Cyberpunk 2077, which literally took over the conference by “hacking” into the screen. In the world premiere of the game, we’re shown the studio’s dystopic vision, which mixes widespread crime with flying cards, androids, and at least one man bun. Protagonist V is a “hired gun on the rise” in Night City, and he’s attempting to make it as an elite mercenary and, most likely, engage in a series of well-written side quests.
Cyberpunk 2077 is an extremely violent game, and we see nearly every character in the trailer pick up a weapon and attempt to kill something. We can’t wait to learn more and find out who’s still standing, but no release date was given during the trailer.
The following games were mentioned either during Microsoft’s sizzle reel or in passing over the course of the conference.
- Outer Wilds
- After Party
- Kingdom Two Crowns
- The Golf Club 2019
- Warhammer Vermintide 2
- Fringe Wars
- Conqueror’s Blade
- Raji an Ancient Epic
- Super Meat Boy Forever
- Planet Alpha
- Islands of Nyne Battle Royale
- Harold Halibut
- Bomber Crew
- Children of Morta
- The Wind Road
- Generation Zero
- Dead Cells
- Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition
- Black Desert Online