Saturday may have technically been the first day of the E3 show, but Sunday kicked things into overdrive. Three separate shows dominated the schedule, and two of those were from some of the biggest names in the business. Gamers were treated to dozens of game announcements, a tease of the latest hardware, and news of one big buyout. We’re here to cover all the basics so you don’t have to go hunting through piles of articles.
With Sony mystifyingly absent from this E3, Microsoft was left as the sole stage to reveal third party games from publishers without their own conferences. If there was a theme to Microsoft’s press conference, it was “We learned from our mistakes”.
Their recent and aggressive buyout of developers has demonstrated that they’ve learned the importance of having exclusive software, and they finally had the chance to show off their impressive slate of upcoming games. Meanwhile, their stealth reveal of the next XBox, codenamed Scarlett, managed to avoid the tragic pitfalls of the XBox One reveal from a few years ago.
After the disaster of the XBox One reveal, Microsoft was clear to emphasize that the next gen Scarlett will be designed as a gaming console through and through rather than an all around entertainment hub. While the technology here wasn’t actually showcased, those on the stage did spout out some impressive numbers. It should support 8K resolution and impressive frame rates of up to 120 as well as new rendering technologies like ray tracing.
All told, it’s supposed to be four times more powerful than the XBox One. And with Project Scarlett scheduled for release in late 2022, we should expect to see a more formal reveal in time for next year’s E3.
Games Pass and Project xCloud
The Game Pass has quickly become one of the best Netflix-style gaming services around, and Microsoft is happy to double down on it. The conference revealed the long rumored announcement that Games Pass will now be available on PC as well. Major AAA titles like Batman: Arkham Knight and Metro Exodus (as well as many more) have been added to Games Pass as of Sunday evening.
Project xCloud will further expand Microsoft’s games as a service offerings. This streaming service is clearly their answer to the Google Stadia. A paid version of Project xCloud will let gamers without a console to stream games to practically any device. But those with an XBox console can use their device as a private server for streaming completely free of charge. Project xCloud will work on the current generation, and public trials are scheduled to go live in October.
XBox Elite Wireless Controller (Series 2)
Microsoft has generally been good about producing quality hardware for serious gamers, so it’s no big surprise that they’ve announced a new version of the Elite controller. This is a serious piece of hardware with substantial grips and a built-in battery, but it won’t come cheap. When it releases in November, the new Elite gaming controller will set you back $180.
CD Projekt Red’s ambitious shooter RPG has been one of the most anticipated games for years, and fans won’t have to wait too much longer. In addition to dropping a truly impressive new trailer, it was finally given a release date for PC, XBox One, and PS4: April 16, 2022. But the real excitement came when Keanu Reeves stepped on stage and revealed he’d be lending both his voice and his likeness to the game.
Microsoft has added another new studio under their increasingly eclectic holdings with a buyout of Double Fine Studios. Phil Spencer spoke to the audience with his trademarked goofy sense of humor, and we were even given a gameplay trailer for the sequel to cult favorite Psychonauts 2 which looks to be doing an exceptional job of capturing the tone and themes of the original. Fortunately for PS4 owners, it’s still a cross-platform title.
The last couple of months have seen a lot of hints that Game of Thrones creator George R.R. Martin will be working with From Software for a new title in the vein of Dark Souls. The video, while pretty, didn’t demonstrate much beyond revealing that the project is in fact real. While Microsoft obviously has little interest in announcing it, chances are good this will be a cross-platform title.
But comments from Martin indicate that it will combine his penchant for building brutal fantasy worlds with the morbid aesthetics that the Soulsborne games are known for. Rumors are that it will make use of more linear, segregated environments and evoke the early Megaman games by letting you pick the order in which you play stages and adopt new powers from each boss you kill.
Gears of War and Halo
Microsoft has been aggressively buying out companies to develop new properties, but that doesn’t mean that their legacy brands are being left to wither on the vine. The new tactics-based Gears of War wasn’t on display, but the audience did get a glimpse of Gears of War 5 along with some new gameplay details.
New additions include a three player cooperative mode that asks you to escape from enemy territory and licensed content from the new Terminator movie. It will continue the story of Gears of War 4 with Kait as the central character. It’s scheduled for release this September.
Unfortunately, Halo fans will have to wait a little longer. Halo Infinite is moving a significant period of time forward in the series timeline and has you stepping into Master Chief’s boots at a place and time where humanity is at the brink of extinction.
The developers have talked about their intent to capture the sense of scale and wonder that the original Halo was known for, so you can expect massive environments with multiple ways to navigate your surroundings. Halo Infinite will be a launch title when Project Scarlett drops at the end of next year.
The bungled release of Fallout 76 has left Bethesda in a bad place, and they didn’t have any news on new iterations of Elder Scrolls or Fallout to placate fans. Instead, they took the tact of spotlighting some of their other subsidiary studios. While fans weren’t able to get a taste of any new open world RPGs, there was a ton of fresh and compelling games spotlighted at the conference.
Arkane Studios, the name behind the celebrated open-ended stealth series Dishonored, has been off the map for a while. The conference revealed that they’ve spent this time working on a new game that emphasizes time loops and emphasizes the same sort of improvisational player-driven gameplay and open and detailed environments that Dishonored was known for. Details are scarce, but the new trailer captures the style we can expect to see.
The studio behind the underrated survival horror gem The Evil Within is coming back with a mysterious new game that has you rooting out supernatural forces in modern day Tokyo. While they were quick to emphasize that this is an action-adventure rather than survival horror game, the supernatural undertones in the trailer are still unsettling. You can expect a healthy dose of horror in this upcoming release.
The sequel to the Doom reboot from a few years ago isn’t a new game, but we got some new details as well as a firm release date. Doom Eternal will employ the same chaotic gunplay and ultra-violence of the last game but up the scale significantly. Players will be returning to an Earth overrun by demonic forces, but their journey will also bring them all guns blazing to Heaven. It will also include an asynchronous multiplayer mode where two players take control of demons and one plays Doomguy. It will release November 22.
By most accounts, Fallout 76 has been an unmitigated disaster (and one that continued to get worse in the months after release), but Bethesda at least seems committed to righting the ship. A new update will bring in a feature that players have been begging for since the start: human NPCs. The addition of a proper main quest and interactive NPCs should bring things more in line with what people love about the mainline Fallout series. The update will be free and release this fall.
You can’t throw a rock without hitting a battle royale mode these days, and Fallout 76 is getting in on the fun too. Nuclear Winter mode pits 52 players in a battle to the death. While it’s not ready for full release yet, a sneak peek will be starting tomorrow.
Those curious about Fallout 76 will have the chance to check it out at no risk. A free trial will be available from June 10 to 17 on consoles and PC. Free players will even get to check out the new Nuclear Winter mode.
Bethesda was only able to say that they’re still “working hard” on the much anticipated Elder Scrolls VI, but that doesn’t mean that Scrolls fans are left with nothing to do. Both of the currently active Elder Scrolls games are getting some updates in the coming months.
MMO Elder Scrolls Online recently saw a new expansion, but players will get even more to do with a new dungeon adventure called Scalebreaker. Meanwhile, mobile card game Elder Scrolls Legends will see a new expansion known as Moons of Elsweyr. Finally, the free to play mobile game Elder Scrolls: Blades will be ported over to the Nintendo Switch. Cross-play and cross-progression support with mobile copies will be included.
Indie game publisher Devolver Digital is easily one of the smaller companies with a conference, but their pre-filmed conferences have become legendary for blending together violent, Dadaist humor and sharp industry satire in a style that resembles late night Adult Swim offerings. This year’s was no different, and while there were plenty of game reveals, the real star of the show is the show itself. It’s well worth watching.
Devolver’s parody of proprietary game launchers went all in. The announcement, which features eight “bootleg” versions of their more popular games, was funny in its own right, but it’s actually a real product you can purchase on Steam for just under five bucks. There are off brand versions of Hotline Miami (Hotline Milwaukee), Enter the Gungeon (Enter the Gun Dungeon), Catsylvania (Gato Roboto), and more.
Devolver’s take on the battle royale is a bit different from the typical shooters that players have come to expect. In Fall Guys, 100 players are thrown into a colorful obstacle course and tasked with being the last one standing. The bright pastel design, harmlessly cartoon violence, and bright and expressive characters should make for a game that’s fun for the whole family.
A tonal opposite to Fall Guys, Carrion characterizes itself as a “reverse horror” game. You’ll play as a horrifying monster that’s been trapped in a facility and wreaks havoc on all the humans in its wake as it tries to escape out into the world. The low fi retro design is something of a trademark for Devolver games, but the mechanics look to build on traditional platforming and action games in some very interesting ways.
Finally, Enter the Gungeon and The Messenger will each be getting new downloadable content. Picnic Panic will bring the ninja courier of The Messenger into a new bright and tropical climate with plenty of old friends along the way. It’s free for owners of the original game. House of the Gundead, meanwhile, will transform the traditional topdown shooter into something resembling a light gun game. In a bold move, Devolver will actually be selling standalone arcade cabinet versions of the game as well.