It’s E3 season once again, and as usual, Microsoft kicks off the slate of press conferences. With no Sony press conference this year, Microsoft has full reign of many of the big-name games coming out either this fall or early next year. Will our predictions reign supreme, or does Microsoft have some surprises in store for us? Here’s our recap of the major and not-so-major announcements during the Xbox E3 2019 briefing, along with links to our articles.
Microsoft kicked off its showcase with a sizzle reel featuring its Xbox Game Studios partners. Subsequently, Obsidian kicked off the show proper with new footage of The Outer Worlds. On display was a number of weapons and powers, along with a decidedly non-peaceful way to end a quest. Lastly, Obsidian’s The Outer Worlds is set to launch this fall on October 25th for Xbox One, PC via a timed exclusive on the Epic Games Store and PS4. If you’re on the fence about The Outer Worlds, then fear not, as it will come to Xbox Game Pass on launch as well.
Ninja Theory was the first developer to appear on-stage at Microsoft’s E3 briefing, to quickly talk about their new project, Bleeding Edge. This is their first project after getting acquired by Microsoft last year. With 4v4 team-based combat, Bleeding Edge looks to promote solid team play, and the abilities are shown off during the trailer certainly emphasize that fact. Bleeding Edge‘s technical alpha test will kick off later this month, on June 27th.
Afterward, Ori and the Will of the Wisps showed off some new footage of some bosses dripping with malice, acid, and all sorts of terrifying abilities. Although shown at last year’s E3, this year’s trailer packs a much more powerful punch. Moon Studios is promising that Will of the Wisps will come with a new save system and other quality of life changes, as well as some tweaks to player advancement. Ori and the Will of the Wisps is now set to launch on February 11th, 2020.
Minecraft Dungeons was next, showing off an entirely new project for the Microsoft-owned property. Minecraft Dungeons will be available in Game Pass immediately upon launch. An isometric ARPG featuring four-player co-op, both locally and online, Minecraft Dungeons looks towards a Spring 2020 release.
Phil Spencer appeared on stage after the first four trailers in order to welcome the stage audience and those watching at home to E3. Phil advertised the Xbox E3 briefing as the “largest showing of games anywhere, this year,” boasting that they had 60 games to show off at the show, including 14 games from Xbox Games Studios, and 30 additional games coming to Game Pass. Considering Microsoft has made a concerted push to get Game Pass into as many hands as possible, this is unsurprising, even as some of the news surrounding Game Pass was pre-empted by a leak shortly before the show began.
After Phil Spencer’s opening remarks, Star Wars Jedi Fallen Order appeared at E3 for the second time, showing off plenty of new footage. Much of this footage is more action-oriented, as opposed to the ebb and flow seen in the gameplay demo yesterday. There was no new information at Microsoft’s showcase, which is unsurprising, given the amount of time EA devoted to Fallen Order. Pre-orders opened yesterday for Jedi Fallen Order, ahead of its November 15th release.
Although initially looking like a cross between Alan Wake and Outlast, an entirely new first-person horror adventure was demoed on stage next, titled Blair Witch. Whereas the original 1996 movie covered a few young adults adventuring into a haunted woodland, the Blair Witch game seems to cover the story of a policeman and his search dog, on the hunt for a missing boy. Of course, any good horror game isn’t without creepy supernatural elements, which Blair Witch seems to have in spades. Blair Witch is set to release on August 30th for Xbox One and PC.
Cyberpunk 2077 was next up on stage, with a new pre-rendered trailer apparently picking up where the gameplay demo released last summer left off. There appears to be some deaths of some major characters shown off in the footage, but it’s unclear if you’ll encounter these deaths naturally, or be able to avoid them through careful negotiation. To close off the trailer, we were treated to a shot of Keanu Reeves helping up the player character, with Keanu coming on-stage to talk about Cyberpunk 2077. Afterward, Keanu gave it away to a trailer featuring a release date reveal: April 16th, 2020.
Spiritfarer came on-stage next, showing off some splashy and stylish visuals. Taking place on Spiritfarer‘s river of the dead, you are the very literal spiritfarer, ferrying souls into the afterlife. As the ferrymaster, you’re in charge of keeping your inhabitants safe, as well as upgrading and improving the boat. There’s no release date available currently, but Spiritfarer will be available via Game Pass for PC and Xbox One whenever it launches.
Battletoads returned to E3 again this year, this time with some new gameplay footage in tow. Looking remarkably cartoony and toting those blasted hoverbikes, the three titular Battletoads will return at some point in the future in slick beat-’em-up action. No release date was given during the show, but we’ll hopefully see more of Battletoads before long.
RPG TIME: The Legend of Wright came after Battletoads, sporting an obviously hand-drawn art style. Coming from Japanese indie developer Desk Works, The Legend of Wright looks obviously inspired by Paper Mario, as well as the notebook doodles from your youth. RPG TIME: The Legend of Wright is slated to come to Xbox One sometime in 2020.
After the slate of new announcements was a new sizzle reel featuring [email protected] studios and their projects. With a fast-paced trailer packing 26 new games coming to Xbox Game Pass, the Xbox team, as mentioned above, is seriously looking to bolster the Game Pass library. Of course, some of this may be due to the fact that Game Pass as announced to be coming to PC earlier this month, with more games getting revealed at the show. Earlier this year, Microsoft announced that a premium service that blends both Game Pass and Xbox Live Gold. Today, Microsoft announced that the aforementioned bundle will be getting a new name, “Game Pass Ultimate,” and will pack in Game Pass for PC at no extra charge.
Microsoft Flight Simulator also made an appearance at this year’s E3 briefing, to the surprise of many. Drawing on satellite imagery and Azure AI, the trailer shown had a number of cityscapes and otherwise photorealistic locations shown. Considering it’s been 13 years since the original release of Flight Simulator X, this was a welcome surprise to E3. Despite being shown at the Xbox conference, Microsoft is referring the game as Microsoft Flight Simulator for PC, implying that Xbox fans will miss out on the premier simulation experience. There’s no word on a release date yet, but we’ll likely see Microsoft Flight Simulator again soon.
Microsoft Game Studios made another strong appearance at E3 with Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition. Boasting a new campaign, remastered audio and 4K resolution, this is imagined to be the “definitive” upgrade over the already existing Age of Empires II: HD Edition on Steam. There’s no specific release date yet, but Microsoft promises that Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition will release “this fall.”
In case you forgot that Microsoft bought inXile last year as a move to shore up the Xbox Game Studios, Wasteland 3 returned to E3 to remind you. Despite being set in a frozen, post-apocalyptic version of Colorado, Wasteland 3 this year packed a fair bit of humor into its trailer, with an incredibly drunken hobo narrating the trailer as if it were a tourist advertisement. There was also a brief shot of combat near the end of the trailer, but this was a trailer designed to sell you on the world of Wasteland 3 above all else. Unfortunately, there was no release date information given out during the show.
The singular new Xbox Game Studios acquisition may come as a surprise to many: Double Fine Productions joining the development slate for Microsoft. Studio head Tim Schaefer appeared on stage to talk a bit about the move for Double Fine, as well as show off a new trailer for the long-in-development Psychonauts 2. There’s still no release date set yet for Psychonauts 2, but Double Fine and Microsoft did confirm that it would come to Game Pass when it eventually releases.
Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga was officially confirmed at the Microsoft E3 showcase, after months of rumors. Despite adapting all nine mainline Star Wars films into the LEGO video game universe, if you’re worried about spoilers for the upcoming Rise of Skywalker, fear not: Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga isn’t slated to release until 2020.
Previously known as Dragon Ball Project Z, Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot was officially shown off at E3 for the first time. Though it was leaked along with the two other Bandai Namco games ahead of the show due to a security flaw in their website, the trailer shown off during the briefing showcased some gorgeous character designs, reminiscent of Dragon Ball FighterZ or Dragon Ball Xenoverse. An action RPG obviously focused on Kakarot, we’ll get our hands on Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot in 2020.
After a long development cycle that saw it teased on Tumblr and Twitter, interactive narrative mystery game 12 Minutes made a surprise appearance during the Xbox E3 show. Annapurna Interactive is publishing 12 Minutes, which is about a husband caught in a series of time loops as his wife is accused of murder. Looking to take place entirely within an apartment, 12 Minutes doesn’t have a release date yet, but we’ll likely see more of 12 Minutes before long.
Following up one indie game with another, Way to the Woods sees you controlling a stag with lighted horns as you attempt to, unsurprisingly, navigate back to the woods. Little information or release date was available at the show, other than it will come to Xbox Game Pass upon release.
One of the premier games featured during Microsoft’s E3 showcase was Gears 5. With a new trailer showing the various faces of the franchise, Gears 5 had little to show in the way of gameplay this year, but plenty of dates to show off. Gears 5 fans can take part in the Versus Multiplayer Tech Test on July 17th, with the Horde Mode coming on August 19th, running concurrently with Gamescom. The Coalition also revealed the release date for Gears 5: September 10th. The major stage show closed with the announcement of a new three-player cooperative mode Gears 5: Escape, which looks to be a mode where you and your team navigate levels fighting off different enemies to survive. Finally, a new partnership with Terminator: Dark Fate was announced, which will bring in characters from the upcoming movie into Gears 5 as multiplayer skins.
The Xbox Elite Controller is getting a facelift, as revealed during the Xbox E3 briefing. The second generation controller will come with more precise engineering and further capabilities, along with a vastly improved battery life. Further improvements, such as an integrated rechargeable battery and Bluetooth capabilities round out some of the more major changes coming to the Elite. The earlier version of the Elite boasted a hefty price tag, and the second-generation Elite is no different: $179.99 MSRP. The new Elite is available for preorder now.
Dying Light 2 returned to E3 again this year, though without Chris Avellone coming along this time. Taking place 15 years after the original, Dying Light 2 will star another infected protagonist, caught between warring factions in a city under siege. Little further information was shown about the world, but the trailer told us to expect Dying Light 2 in Spring 2020.
The next expansion for Forza Horizon 4 was announced after the dark trailer for Dying Light 2. As a bit of a palate cleanser, LEGO joins the Forza universe in Lego Speed Champions. If LEGO may not seem like a good fit for a realistic arcade racer that the Forza Horizon games aim to be, then you would do well to remember that there was a Hot Wheels expansion for Forza Horizon 3, which came packed with content. The already existing LEGO Speed Champions set features nine cars and one garage, and we can expect to see all of the cars in LEGO form in the expansion, releasing on June 13th.
Gears POP! came to E3 once again, this time with gameplay in tow. Starting off with a pre-rendered trailer that showed off the distinctive style of Funko POPs, we were later given a show of actual gameplay this year. You can preorder Gears POP! ahead of the release later this summer, though there’s no word on pricing or rating available at this time.
The first story expansion for State of Decay 2 was revealed during the show and is available now. The expansion is titled Heartland and features two competing narrative paths for you to follow. One woman is looking for her long-missing father, and another man is looking for a “hero.” You can check out the Heartland expansion now via Xbox Game Pass, or purchase it separately for $9.99.
Phantasy Star Online 2 makes its first official English launch on a surprising platform, the Xbox One. Boasting a new prerendered trailer, the announcement also means that PSO2 will be free to play on the Xbox One. After years of fans begging for an official localization, fans of the Phantasy Star Online universe will get their hands on PSO2 when it launches in Spring 2020.
The legendary free-to-play shooter series Crossfire X is making the jump to consoles in 2020 onto the Xbox One. Boasting hundreds of millions of players around the world, Crossfire is wildly popular in Asian territories and has until now only been available on PC. Smilegate is the developer of the PC version and will return to make the Xbox One version. Notable is the “first to console” tag appended to the CGI trailer, meaning it may come to other consoles later. Still, you can check out Crossfire X on Xbox One in 2020.
It may have been leaked before the show along with Bandai Namco’s other games, but that didn’t stop Tales of Arise from showing up in a big way. Proudly developed in Unreal Engine 4, it has largely abandoned the older aesthetic of the Tales of games and looks as though it might be a true competitor to other modern RPGs. Set in a fantasy realm where two worlds have intertwined existences and caste systems, it looks to have many more changes over previous Tales of games. Tales of Arise is confirmed currently to come to Xbox One, PS4 and PC in 2020.
Borderlands 3 showed up at Microsoft’s E3 showcase with a new trailer in tow, leaning into the all-out action and the variety of abilities that the four new vault hunters will have in Borderlands 3. Gearbox also used the stage presence of Borderlands 3 to announce that Borderlands: The Handsome Collection is coming to Game Pass, as well as officially reveal the existence of a new free DLC for Borderlands 2. Titled Commander Lilith and the Fight for Sanctuary, the DLC was hinted towards and eventually leaked prior to release. The DLC is free to all owners of the Handsome Collection, and considering The Handsome Collection is free on PS Plus right now and was free via Xbox Live Gold recently, many will get the DLC for free.
The third and final Bandai Namco game leaked prior to the Xbox briefing is perhaps the most interesting. A new partnership between FromSoftware and George R.R. Martin in creating a dark fantasy world leads us to Elden Ring. Looking like a FromSoftware game through and through, there were a number of gorgeous (yet CGI) shots of armor-clad people surviving a dark age, after the titular Elden Ring was lost some time ago. We’ve got no information on a release date at this time and the original leak had little information about the game world itself, other than it was an “open world.” Still, we can expect Elden Ring to launch for Xbox One, PS4, and PC.
Moving away from the game announcements for a bit, Phil Spencer game back on stage to talk about Project xCloud and console streaming. There’s been a concerted push in recent years to get major games on devices that wouldn’t otherwise have access to them. Project xCloud is the latest show of such research, with Microsoft hoping to get E3 attendees to test out streaming major, first-party games on devices like smartphones and low-power tablets.
With Google Stadia and plenty of other publishers looking towards streaming as the “future of gaming,” regardless of your thoughts on the matter, getting to play Halo 5: Guardians on a smartphone is still a massive technological leap. The current console generation kicked off with Microsoft looking towards adopting streaming as a focus, and while it’s safe to say that it took a while to get there, Microsoft does make use of streaming games on the Xbox One when possible now. Of course, the focus on game streaming was just a lead-up to Microsoft teasing their next-generation hardware: Project Scarlett.
Microsoft began talking about Project Scarlett with team members talking about what sorts of issues they find troublesome in current-generation games. Thinks like loading screens, seamless play, massive, fully realized worlds; while there’s no doubt that the current generation of hardware has made strides towards pushing the hardware to its limits, much of the future focus is placed squarely on technical features and issues that weren’t even discussed when the Xbox One launched.
Microsoft hopes, then, to future-proof their next console as much as possible. By working with AMD to develop a new custom CPU using current Navi and Zen 2 architecture, Project Scarlett will aim for “8K resolution,” and boast top of the line DDR6 RAM. Additionally, hardware-accelerated raytracing will feature in Project Scarlett, currently a feature only available to high-end Nvidia graphics cards. Lastly, Microsoft was able to boost the power of the system by using the SSD as virtual RAM. All of these technical features were unimaginable when the Xbox One launched, and yet, are now garnering top billing. No images of the console itself were shown off during the show, a privilege likely reserved for next year’s E3. Microsoft closed discussion of Project Scarlett by promising a Holiday 2020 release date.
Of course, you can’t launch a major new console without some sort of system seller. Microsoft, before even delving into the trailer itself, announced that Halo Infinite would launch with Project Scarlett during Holiday 2020. This also suggests that we won’t see Halo Infinite on PC during its initial launch window, in order to get more people to adopt Microsoft’s new console.
Either way, the Halo Infinite trailer, much like the last one, is very un-Halo-like. Set aboard a Pelican dropship floating in the far reaches of space, one poor pilot is awoken by a decompression alarm and quickly fixes it. Time passes for the pilot, who sports a scraggly beard the next time we see him. After he picks up a friendly signal, the pilot brings the Master Chief on board, before the Pelican is quickly caught in a tractor beam pull. The trailer ends with Chief looking to face whoever their unwanted visitors are.
The trailer also reveals a broken and shattered Halo ring, something that was not present at the end of Halo 5. Although Microsoft confirmed that Halo Infinite takes place after Halo 5, the scenes suggest that the story business from 343’s Halo games might get soft rebooted. Still, it’s notable that the trailer had zero gameplay to show again, meaning Microsoft wants to play Halo Infinite closer to the chest than previous games. We’ll be able to see Halo Infinite for ourselves when it and Project Scarlett launch in Holiday 2020.
That wraps up the Xbox E3 2019 showcase. Packed full of games, Microsoft still found some time to tease their next hardware iteration, as well as talk about some exciting changes coming to Game Pass. Some of our predictions turned out right on the money, but some people might be disappointed by a lack of a new Fable game or no focus on Minecraft news. Either way, Microsoft had an opportunity to bring big guns to E3 with Sony’s absence this year, and clearly delivered.
If you want to know more about this and other announcements happening at E3 then be sure to check out our E3 2019 Coverage Hub.