E3 2019 is in full swing as Microsoft have held their annual press briefing presentation. 60 games were featured, 14 from Xbox first party studios. New features, new consoles, and some wonderful surprises were in store. Iain Boulton shares what he’s learned from the presentation.
Keanu Reeves is too precious for this world – and he’s in Cyberpunk 2077
Let’s quickly get one of the major announcements of the show out of the way, Cyberpunk 2077 is arriving April 16th 2020 on Xbox, PS4 and PC. We also got to see a new trailer setting up the sci-fi story even more. It just expanded on what we already knew in the first place about the game itself. If you haven’t checked out the gameplay demonstration from last year, take a look.
The genuine shock moment of the Cyberpunk 2077 presentation from Xbox? Keanu Reeves turning up in the trailer to tell us we’ve got a city to burn. The audience and the collective internet – including this writer – all understandably lost our f**king minds. And then Keanu took to the stage in person to greet everyone to talk very briefly on his involvement. If there is a moment greater – even sweeter – than “You’re breathtaking!” “No, you’re breathtaking!” at this year’s E3, it will be one memorable conference.
Keanu is on a roll at the moment, John Wick 3 is another hit, he’s about to appear in Toy Story 4, he’s filming Bill and Ted 3 and now he’s going to be a main focal point of one of the biggest games in 2020. Did we mention he’s just the internet darling right now?
Fancy pre-ordering Cyberpunk 2077? We’ve got an Amazon link below for Xbox and PS4.
Interesting indie titles inbound!
There were a handful of indie titles on display in the various trailers showcased and several of them got my attention. First up was beautifully animated Spiritfarer that is a management game where you must transport spirits to the afterlife. I didn’t necessarily pick this up on the trailer but the premise is curious and I think there may be a very emotional core to the gameplay as well. The game is also due on Playstation 4 but my first look was here on the E3 presentation from Xbox.
Another gorgeous looking game that I would be eager to play is Way to The Woods, a game from Anthony Tan. This third person game sees you take a journey with a Deer and Fawn who must embark through an abandoned world of the unknown to get home. It looks very mystical and, again, looks like it will have an emotional core. Sometimes the best games are the simplest of experiences.
Leaving the cuteness and beautiful animation behind, the last title that I found myself interested in was 12 Minutes. A game that presents itself as an interactive thriller where players are controlling one man who is repeatedly living the same 12 minutes during a potential home invasion. We didn’t see much of the gameplay but the intrigue and set up certainly picked up my attention.
Lego Forza is the add-on we never thought we’d need
Forza Horizon 4 is a wonderfully pretty driving game and it’s still quite popular. I haven’t played it in a while but I think I may need to return to Horizon soon as Microsoft has decided to team up with Lego to bring more awesomeness to proceedings. The Speed Champions pack, launching later this week, takes players to a Lego Horizon world where everything is – unsurprisingly – lego. It’s a bit of a surprise novelty add-on but I think it’s something most fans of the racer would be keen to have some fun with.
Xbox Game Pass brings PC on board for its Ultimate Tier
One of Xbox’s trump cards at the moment is the Xbox Game Pass. The subscription service that lets gamers enjoy most of Xbox’s first party games from release day along with other popular games. E3 was the place to formally reveal that it won’t just be for the console. Xbox confirmed that Game Pass for PC is coming and it’s currently in Beta phase at the moment which gamers can trial.
They’ve also launched their ultimate tier of membership for the Game Pass that includes both console and PC game passes and an Xbox Live Gold Membership. That’s quite a number of games – including Gears 5, Sea of Thieves, Forza Horizon 4, Crackdown 3 and more available for a monthly cost of £10.99. It’s a good time to have a look as they’re offering the membership’s first month for £1. Don’t delay if you want to see what the fuss is about.
Blair Witch is back? As a game?
Blair Witch was one hell of a horror hit when the original found footage film hit cinemas all the way back in 1999. Since then, it hasn’t had the best of rides in attempting to create its mythogly. Book of Shadows anyone? But it seems we will be returning to those haunted woods as a new horror game – Blair Witch – will debut soon on Xbox. Walking horrors seem to a norm now in gaming, while I’ll likely watch someone else play this, this is a promising introduction.
Flight Simulator takes to the skies once more and it’s wonderfully pretty
Microsoft unearthed one of its classic properties for the next generation. Flight Simulator will be returning in a new edition to Xbox and Windows 10. It looks absolutely beautiful in 4K and could be a wonderful way to spend a nice Sunday afternoon. Just imagine having a chilled flight from London to New York? Or maybe go on a trip around the world? I can’t remember the last time I played Flight Simulator on a PC – likely many, many, many, years ago – but this reveal has my attention.
Gears 5 brought fire, literally.
The next chapter of the Gears of War franchise will arrive in September. An interesting Billie Eilish inspired trailer to show off the potential emotional turmoil approaching our heroes. However, the campaign wasn’t the focus for Gears 5’s presentation, it was all about the co-op. Flames literally came out of the stage to show off Escape, the new game mode where three players must infiltrate hives, plant explosives and escape. Sounds easy, doesn’t it? It will be interesting to see how Escape plays out but there is promise with gamers being able to build and share their own unique Escape Hive Maps.
An extra incentive to gamers pre-ordering or playing Gears 5 from launch is getting the Terminator Dark Fate character pack. So if ever wanted to play as a T-100 tackling The Horde, then here’s your chance.
Let’s take games everywhere!
Game streaming seems to be the next big thing on the horizon. Google will be using it for their Stadia console and Xbox are looking to do something similar. Project xCloud will allow gamers to stream their Xbox One gaming to a variety of devices. The service will go into preview in October and could challenge Sony’s Playstation Now. It’s an interesting concept but this writer still needs to see it fully in action to appreciate it.
Halo’s next chapter will arrive on the next generation of Xbox
They teased it at the start of the presentation but there will be a new Xbox console coming Christmas 2020. The console is currently codenamed Project Scarlett and is aiming to provide not only the most powerful version of the Xbox yet, but it also aims to help reduce loading times to make the gaming experience fluid and uninterrupted. If that wasn’t enough, the next Halo – Halo Infinite – will be a console launch title. A nod back to when the first Xbox was released with the blockbuster first-person shooter.
That’s a general run down of things that stayed with me after the conference. There were plenty more games and reveals but these were ones that left an impression on me. I thought, generally, a pretty decent E3 Xbox presentation for 2019. We could have done with some gameplay from Gears 5 and Halo Infinite but I get the feeling a bigger reveal is coming down the road. In recent years, Xbox’s turn to focus more on games than the entertainment aspects they had previously chased has helped improve their standard as a gaming console and I’m eager to see what the next 12 months bring.
What were your highlights of Xbox’s E3 presentation? Sound off in the comments below! Don’t worry if you missed the presentation, you can view it below.