GameCentral examines all the new announcements and trailers from the Xbox & Bethesda Showcase and what it means for Xbox’s immediate future.
There’s a Capcom event on Monday night, but apart from that, and a brief Final Fantasy 7 announcement on Thursday, Summer Game Fest and the Xbox & Bethesda Showcase are the only vestiges of the decades long tradition of E3. Previously, every video games company in the world would put on a show sometime in June but at the moment there’s no evidence that anyone else, including Nintendo and Sony, is going to make the effort this year. So how well did Microsoft hold the fort on their own?
The immediate problem for Microsoft is that they’ve never been very good at E3. Their live events have tended to ramble on for far too long and their online equivalents have been criticised for relying almost solely on pre-rendered trailers. Their showcase on Sunday evening was a much slicker affair though, with the majority of games showing real gameplay and due out within the next 12 months.
The style and pacing was much closer to a State of Play or Nintendo Direct and despite being 95 minutes long was a very easy watch. The 12-month rule was good in some ways but, as rumoured, it meant that many bigger name titles, like Fable and Avowed, weren’t even mentioned. Instead, the biggest draw was Starfield, which got a substantial unveiling during the show’s closing segment.
Hideo Kojima working on a cloud-based game and the re-reveal of Forza Motorsport were the other headliners, but surprisingly GoldenEye 007 wasn’t mentioned, despite the earlier leaks being pretty watertight – since they’d come about as a result of Microsoft’s own website.
Whether that means the deal with Nintendo and Io Interactive is off again is unknown, but at the very least it probably means the remake, or whatever it is, isn’t coming out for at least a year.
Below you can find summaries of all the other announcements and trailers, almost all of which are either published by Microsoft, a console exclusive of some kind, or already destined to appear on Game Pass from day one.
This wasn’t the most encouraging start to the showcase, especially as the obnoxiously sassy characters just wouldn’t shut up, but Arkane’s new vampire-themed first person shooter did look interesting if you tuned them out. It didn’t shy away from the horror elements as much as you might have imagined and while the set-up seems very contrived, with the sun blocked out and the island setting drained of water, there seemed to be a lot going on. The squad-based shooter elements appeared a bit incongruent next to the more sci-fi and fantasy elements, but while they often have rough edges Arkane games are always full of interesting ideas. Redfall is out in the first half of 2023.
Hollow Knight: Silksong
For years now fans have been waiting for more news on Hollow Knight follow-up Silksong, but no-one expected it to turn up at an Xbox event first. Except, apart from a brief bit of new footage there was no new information, with no indication of a release date. You can hope that it was following the 12-month rule but not every game was – Hideo Kojima’s project certainly isn’t going to be out that soon – so it’s still anyone’s guess as to when it’ll be out.
High On Life
At least we know this game, from the co-creator of Solar Opposites and Rick and Morty, is going to be out on October 2022 and it looks pretty great. The living weapons were reminiscent of Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath but with a much darker sense of humour, especially the one that’s shooting out its children at people. Mind you, the main plot of selling humans as drugs for a ‘hyperbong’ is pretty nutty too, so it all looks like it’s going to be suitably subversive.
Riot Games on Game Pass
Most Riot games are free-to-play anyway, so on the face of it bringing them to Game Pass doesn’t seem to make much difference, but having a lot of the paid-for content unlocked by default is a fairly big deal, especially for the bigger games like League Of Legends and Valorant. It also shows that Microsoft and Riot are serious about working together and probably will do so again in the future.
A Plague Tale: Requiem
An unusual preview in that this is just an ordinary multiformat game that’s also coming to PlayStation and Switch (as a cloud game). The sequel to A Plague Tale: Innocence was still looking good though and since the original was a surprise hit it should make the follow-up one of the bigger new games this autumn.
Microsoft Flight Simulator 40th Anniversary
It was a little unclear as to whether this will be sold as a separate edition but either way, Microsoft’s longest-running franchise is getting a new expansion in November, that includes helicopters, gliders, and a simulation of the Spirit of St. Louis and the Wright brothers’ first ever aircraft. New today though is a Pelican from Halo, which even seems to be able to travel into outer space.
Although the reception from fans have been mixed so far, the sequel to Overwatch will be released into early access on October 4, as a free-to-play game. It’s a multiformat title with cross-play, so there’s no special connection to Xbox, and as you can see it doesn’t really look very different from the original. Announced at the same time is a new character called (we think – they were a bit vague on that aspect) the Junker Queen. She’s a sort of Australian punk rocker type with heavy Mad Max vibes.
Ara: History Untold
Trailers for strategy games always tend to be vague, since there’s not rarely any action to show, especially with a turn-based game like this, but there was literally no information on what Ara: History Untold actually is. The tone did seem to be channelling Civilization though and given many of the developers at Oxide Studios have worked on the likes of Command & Conquer, Galactic Civilizations, and… Civilization itself it seems fairly easy to predict what kind of game it’ll be.
It’s a while since anything has been seen of this disturbing looking survival horror but if you’re a fan of the work of H. R. Giger this is basically your dream (nightmare) game. We’re not sure how accessible it’s going to be for ordinary people, who don’t enjoy having their stomachs churned just by looking at the game, but it’s out fairly soon, on October 21.
Fintlock: The Siege Of Dawn
The new game from the makers of Ashen was announced at an Xbox indie showcase back in March but it wasn’t really clear what it was at the time. However, this new trailer was looking very impressive, with what seems to be some very acrobatic combat and movement. Ashen was always good but even without that pedigree this has definitely become one to watch.
News of a Minecraft real-time strategy only leaked on Thursday but that still meant this was less of a surprise than it might have been. It seems to feature both base-building and controlling large armies of followers, so it’s hitting all the old Command & Conquer buttons, although whether it can hope to make the genre widely popular again remains to be seen.
Giant mechs and farming simulators aren’t an obvious combination, but this trailer quickly sells the idea of a space farming sim. It seems to be more Harvest Moon/Stardew Valley than Farming Simulator but whether there’s any role-playing elements as well remains to be seen. It’s out in spring 2023.
The Last Case Of Benedict Fox
We’re not entirely sure what’s going on in this 2D platformer but the visuals are very nice. Whether it’s purely action-based or not isn’t clear but with the Tim Burton style tone and graphics it’s likely to find an eager audience. It’s also out next spring.
As Dusk Falls
Although this seems to be a Dontnod style adventure game, in the vein of Life Is Strange, we can’t pretend we find the graphic novel style graphics very appealing. The complete lack of animation seems very jarring, especially as there are normal 3D segments, but we’re not going to knock it for trying something different. The eight-player co-op wasn’t really explained but does sound intriguing and it’s out on July 19 and on Game Pass.
You could have been excused for assuming this was a low budget indie game but it’s actually a new title from Fallout: New Vegas developer Obsidian Entertainment, who are now owned by Microsoft. As with Grounded, which is coming out of beta this September, it’s an experimental game with a much smaller budget than something like Avowed. We’re all for all that, even if it is hard not to think of Monty Python when it comes to the animations. It’s due out this November. Oh, and as far as we know pentiment isn’t a word in English, but it may be derived from the Italian word for repentance.
Ereban: Shadow Legacy
Have you ever noticed how everyone always seems to be so angry in video game trailers? We’re not sure what the protagonist’s beef is in Ereban (something about being woken up?) but she seems to be some kind of assassin who’s allergic to light and can turn into cloud to evade enemies. We won’t find out for sure until the game launches in 2023.
If the acquisition goes through Diablo, like all Bethesda games, will soon be owned by Microsoft, although it’ll probably stay multiformat for at least this new sequel. The showcase focused on the new necromancer class, with gameplay footage taken from the Xbox Series X version rather than PC. It looked good, with a promise of almost 150 dungeons, the ability to build your own outposts, and a shared world where you take on bosses with lots of other players. It’s out next year.
Sea Of Thieves
Due to start its seventh season on July 21, Rare’s pirate-themed MMO seems to be as popular as ever, with the next expansion allowing you to customise your ship with its own name and your own personalised cabin.
We’re not sure what Ravenlok is supposed to mean but this indie game is obviously heavily influenced by Alice in Wonderland, which is now public domain so we don’t know why they didn’t just mention it by name. The art style is really nice though and if you played Echo Generation this is by the same team. It’s due out sometime in 2023.
This was our favourite of the indie games and by one of the original creators of Limbo and Inside. You wouldn’t guess that by looking at it, but it seems to be a very involved isometric puzzle adventure, with the ability to travel between different levels of reality/zoom. We’re exactly sure what the reason is for this, but it looks very intriguing. It’s due out next year from Annapurna Interactive.
Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty
If there was one obvious failing with the showcase it’s that the majority of all the games shown were, as usual, by American developers. It was over an hour before anything by a Japanese studio was mentioned, with this new Xbox exclusive from Koei Tecmo and Team Ninja. It’s by the same team that made Nioh and seems to be some sort of spiritual successor. It’s out in early 2023.
Persona 5 Royal
Apart from the Hideo Kojima project the only other Japanese announcement was that the director’s cuts of the three most recent Persona games are coming to Game Pass, i.e. Persona 3 Portable, Persona 4 Golden, and Persona 5 Royal. That’s all very good but Microsoft has been in the games business for over two decades now and to find them still scrabbling for scraps, when it comes to Japanese games, is disappointing.
At least they’re trying though and even if there were a lot of obvious games missing – which says a lot about when they’re likely to be released – the showcase was overall a positive one, with a lot to look forward to even just this year.
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