Microsoft and Xbox are all about the games in 2019 and beyond
posted Sunday Jun 9, 2019 by Scott Ertz
While we never know exactly what to expect from an E3 presentation, we always know we'll see new games. Microsoft decided to dedicate as much time to that endeavor as possible, exhibiting 60 games, including 14 from Xbox Game Studios, and 34 titles which will premiere on the company's Xbox Game Pass subscription service. The presentation included a number of world premieres, both from first-party and third-party studios. Plus, we got a better look at Project xCloud and the next Xbox platform.
A highly anticipated game coming into E3 was Cyberpunk 2077. Xbox showed off a very long trailer for the game, ending with the inclusion of Keanu Reeves. Immediately following the trailer, Keavue Reeves himself came on stage to discuss the details of the game. You play as an outlaw, a role Keanu knows well, in a futuristic civilization where cybernetic body modification has become not just the norm, but an obsession. The game looks both beautiful and engaging, with visuals that are simply stunning. The game, which is based on the 1980s-era tabletop game Cyberpunk 2020, is slated for release in April 2020.
One of the surprise titles was Blair Witch, obviously based on the film. The game seems to take the responsibility of the title seriously, bringing some unique gameplay and storytelling features into the game. Just like the film, it uses a camcorder to help narrate the story, as well as help the player discover not easily seen content.
The highly anticipated Gear 5, the newest game in the Gears of War franchise was also shown off. The new Escape mode is what we got to learn about, care of a trip under the stage. This new mode is similar to the popular "zombie mode" in other games, but taking place within the Gears of War universe. It is very reminiscent of Left4Dead, but only 3 survivors instead of 4. The big twist is that you can create your own hives and challenge your friends to survive. The game releases on September 10, 2019, but will release to Xbox Game Pass 4 days early.
The company also wanted to spotlight ID @ Xbox, the indie developer network at Xbox. Xbox showed off a sizzle reel featuring dozens of new indie games, all coming to the Xbox. More importantly, all of the game featured in the reel will also premiere in Game Pass on launch day, making them available to all Game Pass subscribers.
The newest member of the Xbox Game Studio family is Double Fine, the studio behind the cult classic Psychonauts. Personally, this game is one of my all-time favorites and is a game I go back to every couple of years. As the company's first official announcement as part of XGS, Double Fine showed off a trailer for Psychonauts 2. It maintains all of the weird, dark humor of the original while picking up the story right where it left off.
Xbox Game Pass
While tons of new games will be premiering on Xbox Game Pass for Console, Xbox Game Pass for PC is official and available in open beta RIGHT NOW. The platform is launching with over 100 titles available for play. To join the beta, simply download the new Xbox app for Windows. In addition to the solo service, the company is announcing Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, which includes Xbox Game Pass Console, Xbox Live Gold, and Xbox Game Pass PC for $14.99 per month. You can try the whole thing right now $1.
We've talked at length about the possibilities that Project xCloud could bring about. The problem has been, how will it work, and how close is it to market? At E3 this week, Microsoft is giving the first hands-on with the platform. So, it's close to market, but how will it work? Project xCloud will have 2 modes: full cloud and hybrid cloud. The full cloud version will use hardware in a data center to stream to wherever you are. The hybrid model, however, will use your existing Xbox hardware to stream to your games to your devices. While there is no public pricing on the full cloud option, the hybrid model will be available starting in October and will be entirely free to use.
Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said that Xbox should be the center of the living room. While that was a great goal, not all gamers were into it. The feedback has been to focus the console on the gaming experience, and that is exactly what the next generation of Xbox hardware is all about.
A new AMD-powered processor is designed to make everything run faster. It is 4x more powerful than the Xbox One X, which is already the most powerful console on the market. Adding faster RAM and an SSD allows for 8K video, little to no load times, and significantly more engaging content. Studios are already working on content for this new console, and the reviews are in: it's going to make games far better. The new hardware will be available Holiday 2020, and it will launch with the definitive Xbox title: Halo Infinite.